Inquiry into the slave trade
HLRO Main Papers (3 May 1792)


PART 1.
Slaves.

Windward Coast from Isles de Los to Cape Le Hou.

Captain Deane.

[...] killed in the Fray. Being asked, If he knew of any other Instance of Slaves made so by Violence? replied, He did not. He knew of public Wars, but no other Instance of private Violence. Being asked, Whether the Government of those Countries authorized or connived at Transactions of this Sort? Captain Deane replied, They do not publicly; whether or not privately he cannot say: The Plunderers would be sold themselves, if discovered. Being asked, Whether the Natives of those Countries go armed, in order to prevent such Outrages? he said, They generally are armed, those who can afford to purchase them, with Muskets; the others with Side-arms. This they do to defend themselves from Wild Beasts, which are very numerous on the Windward Coast (of which only Captain Deane speaks), and it may be also to protect themselves from their Countrymen; but of this Captain Deane is not sure. Being asked, Whether there are not a great Number of Slaves brought down from the Back Country to be sold? he replied, There was a great Number; and added, they make the greater Proportion of those sold. Being asked, Whether the Prince of the Country has not some Duty upon, or some Interest in, the Slaves that are publicly sold? Captain Deane replied, He has an Emolument upon every Slave publicly sold, and generally attends the Sales to receive his Duty; and for this Reason he has an Interest in preventing Slaves being made so by Kidnapping and Violence. Captain Deane, however, is of Opinion, that notwithstanding this, the Princes of the Country sometimes privately encourage those Acts of Violence.

Gold Coast.

Mr. Norris.

In the Fantyn Nation, a considerable Portion of the Community are Persons born Slaves. These have peculiar Privileges, and under them enjoy many Advantages which the Slaves of the neighbouring Countries do not; - for Example, a Slave born in the Household cannot be sold at the Caprice of his Master. Mr. Norris being asked, whether there are any Slaves in that Country arising from Delinquency, and whether there are any brought out of other Countries? replied, There are a few Ashantees, and others, domesticated in their Families. The Fantyn Country also furnishes annually about 2,000 Slaves, who become so for Delinquencies and Debt.
  Mr. Norris being asked, whether the Privileges stated by him to belong to the born Slaves in the Fantyn Country, extended to the Slaves purchased or acquired? replied, The Distinction is this; a Slave that has been purchased or acquired may be disposed of at Pleasure; but a Slave born within the Walls cannot be sold at the Will of his Master, unless guilty of Crimes, in which Case he may be sold.
 

Mr. Norris does not conceive that Crimes are often falsely imputed to them in order to made them Slaves; in some Cases it may happen, but not frequently. Accusations may sometimes proceed from Avarice or Resentment, but the Decision is always before a Magistrate. In Cases of Adultery the Fine is always to the Advantage of the Husband; and if the Fine, which is fixed at the Price of a Man Slave, is not paid, the guilty Person is sold.

  Mr. Norris being asked, what are the Parts of the Gold Coast where the European Traders come to purchase Slaves? replied, The Places for purchasing Slaves are Appollonia, Axim, Cape Three Points, Acqueda, Dixcove, Boultrou, Succundee, Chamah, Commenda, Elmina, Cape Coast, Mouree, Annamaboe, Cormantine, Tantum, Appam, Wynnebah, Baracoe, Accra, Pram-pram, Ningo, and Whyudah; but the latter is not properly on the Gold Coast.
  The British, Dutch, and Danes are the European Nations who, in Consequence of having Forts there, possess the Trade of the Gold Coast. The British purchase about 6,000 Slaves there annually, perhaps some Years a few more. As Annamaboe is the great Mart of Trade, the British Ships anchor in that Road, and send their Boats to the different Forts from Appollonia to Pram-pram inclusive. Mr. Norris cannot enter with Precision into a Detail of the particular Forts so as to specify the Trade of each, but referred himself to Governor Miles, who has resided long there, and might perhaps be able to give the Information required on that Head.
  The Dutch procure about 2,500 Slaves annually on the Gold Coast, chiefly at Elmina and Accra; the Danish Ships usually lie at Accra, and carry off about 1,500 Slaves annually, which are procured chiefly there, the Remainder at Ningo and their Settlements near the River Volta.
  The French, Portuguese, and American Vessels sometimes visit this part of the Coast; but having no Settlements there, enjoy but little of its Trade; but should the French accomplish their Intention of establishing themselves in the Vicinity of Annamaboe, they may expect an equal Share of this Trade with the British.
  The English Merchants purchase these Slaves of the Black Traders, all resident upon the Coast, who come by them in several Ways. The Black Traders go to certain Marts or Fairs, where they meet other Traders, and purchase Slaves of them. In what Manner the Black Traders, who bring the Slaves to the Frontiers, come by them, Mr. Norris does not know. Being asked, whether from Conversation or other Means he had reason to suppose that many of these Slaves were Captives made in War? he replied, He does not think this applies to the Gold Coast, but in other less civilized Parts of the Country he has no doubt Outrages may be committed for the Purpose of making Slaves. The Object of making Slaves as One Sort of Plunder, may be a concurrent Cause of War; but they have the same Motives for War as the European Nations,
 
such

Slaves.
PART 1.
such as Ambition, Avarice, Resentment, &c. &c. The Inhabitants of the interior Parts are less civilized; and among them there may be predatory Wars; but it is not so with the Ashantees or the Fantees.

Gold Coast.
Mr. Norris.

In the Countries Mr. Norris has been describing, he by no Means thinks there are People who employ themselves in Kidnapping for the Purpose of making Slaves.  
Being asked in what Manner the Slaves purchased are paid for? he gave the following Account:  
At Whydah, the Slaves are partly paid for in Cowries, and partly in Goods; on the Gold Coast, partly in Gold Dust, and the Remainder in Goods. Nine Tenths of the Gold Dust we receive for Goods is paid back again for Slaves.  
Being asked what Proportion of the Price paid for Slaves is paid in Gold Dust, and what in Goods? he said, About One Sixth Part is paid in Gold Dust, and the rest in Goods. At Whydah One Fourth in Shells or Cowries, and the Rest in Goods. Our Goods are carried up the Country to pay for the Slaves. The Gold Dust, which is not produced on the Spot, comes from the Ashantee Country, which is Five Days Journey at Least, perhaps Ten. There is a greater Demand for Gold at Annamaboe than the Country produces. The Quantity of Gold has diminished from the Practice of burying it with the Dead, and from the additional personal Ornaments which the Progress of Civilization has introduced among the Inhabitants.  
Mr. Norris being asked what is the Proportion of Slaves which the different Nations of Europe annually export from the several Parts of the Coast? replied, The Whole of the very extensive Coast of Negro Land supplies the following Numbers yearly.  
Mr. Norris presumes that
 
 
Slaves.
General Account of the Number of Slaves exported annually.
Gambia furnishes annually
700
 
Isles de Los, and the adjacent Rivers
1,500
 
From Sierra Leone to Cape Mount
2,000
 
Cape Mount to Cape Palmas
3,000
 
Cape Palmas to Cape Appollonia
1,000
 
The Gold Coast
10,000
 
Quilta and Popoe
1,000
 
Whydah
4,500
 
Porta Nova, Eppee, and Bidagry
3,500
 
Lagos and Benin
3,500
 
Bonny and New Calabar
14,500
 
Old Calabar and Camaroons
7,000
 
Gabon and Cape Lopez
500
 
Loango Melimba, and Cabenda
13,500
 
Majumba, Ambris, and Missoula
1,000
 
Loango St. Paul's, and Benguilla
7,000
 
 
______
74,200 
 
Of these the British purchase about
38,000
 
  the French
20,000
 
  the Dutch
4,000
 
  the Danes
2,000
 
  the Portuguese
10,000
 
 

______
 74,000

 
Besides the above Supply to the European Nations, and to the Portuguese at Brazil, the Americans have hitherto purchased a few Slaves. The King of Morocco also, and the different States of Barbary and Upper Egypt, are supplied with considerable Numbers of Negroes; and besides many are taken from the Eastern Coast to Persia and the East Indies.  
From the Countries bordering on the Senegal and Gambia, the Emperor of Morocco draws his Recruits for his Black Cavalry; and from the same Quarter, including the Tract of Country down to Sierra Leone, many Slaves are collected for the Supply of the different States of Barbary; and from the Mundingo and Sousa Country, Caravans travel across the Continent to Upper Egypt with considerable Numbers of Negro Slaves, who are forwarded from thence, either from Alexandria by Sea, or marched through Asia Minor to Constantinople. On this Account the Tract of Country on and between the Rivers Senegal and Gambia furnishes but few Slaves to the Europeans.  
With
 

close window
image
back to top of page