Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Volume 14, January 1776 - May 1782. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1938.
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[MINUTES OF ENQUIRY INTO THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE WEST AFRICAN TRADE.]
fo. 248A. (fn. 1)
Mr. Camplin. Secretary to the African Committee, attended,
pursuant to the minute of the 11th instant, and delivered in to
their lordships the following books and papers, vizt.,
75. Journals and ledgers bound in vellum.
7. Journals or ledgers unbound.
5. Letter books bound.
1. Book intituled Expenditure in Africa.
A bundle of papers belonging to the out forts.
fo. 249A. (fn. 1)
Likewise a paper as ordered in the minutes of the last meeting, exhibiting the annual grants of Parliament for the support and maintenance of the forts and settlements in Africa, from 1757 to 1776 inclusive.
Their lordships thereupon proceeded to inspect the several journals and ledgers of the Committee, beginning with those of the year 1757, and having entered into an examination, what the several balances may have been in favour or disfavour of the Committee within the period abovementioned, the said balances as far as the year 1775, (that of 1776 not being yet come to hand) were extracted and ordered to be transcribed.
Their lordships taking into consideration the several investments of the monies granted by Parliament and the expenditure of the same by the officers and servants of the Company in Africa, and requiring what was the mode of registering and keeping those accounts, the Secretary, Mr. Camplin, laid before their lordships a book intituled Expenditure in Africa, giving a summary view of the said accounts from the year 1769 to the year 1775, the same having been drawn up and prepared by him since the period of his being in office.
The said book appearing to afford such information, and to conduce so much to an accurate and speedy survey of these complicated accounts, their lordships thought fit to direct, that it should be carried back from the year 1769 to the year 1757 inclusive: and Mr. Camplin was requested to assist in the compilation proposed.
Their lordships requiring a more specific account of the appropriation of the indents by the officers and servants of the Company on the Coast, desired the Secretary to the Committee to furnish them with the Day Books for Cape Coast Castle and the out forts for the years 1774 and 1775.
Their lordships understanding that Mr. Charles Miles, a factor and one of the assistants in the Accomptant's Office at Cape Coast Castle, was on his return to that place, ordered, that he should be desired to attend tomorrow morning at ten o'clock.
Mr. Camplin, Secretary to the African Committee, attended,
when Mr. Charles Miles, mentioned in the minutes of yesterday,
was called in, and their lordships questioned him to the several
particulars as follows, vizt.
Have you been in the service of the African Company ?
In what part of Africa did you serve ?
Cape Coast Castle.
Have you ever been employed in the Accomptant's Office at Cape Coast Castle ?
Who was Governor there ?
Was you employed in that Office in the year 1775, when the Jamaica Planter storeship arrived at Cape Coast Castle ?
Did your employment in the Accomptant's Office give you an opportunity of being informed in what manner the cargo of that storeship was distributed on her arrival there ?
In what manner was it distributed ?
The outforts sent in all their accounts to Cape Coast Castle and the whole cargo of the storeship was distributed to the Governor of the said Castle and those of the outforts, to pay the several advances made by them; and such I understand to have been the constant proceeding, but it fell short of the debt.
How were the several garrisons furnished for that year, the cargo being so distributed ?
The Governor advanced the furnishings.
Are the goods and merchandize advanced by the several Governors to defray the furnishings of the garrisons of an equal quality with those sent out in the storeship, or are they goods of an inferior quality, but of the same nominal value ?
They are goods of an inferior quality passed at the same nominal price.
The whole of the cargo of the storeship being paid to the several Governors for their advancements, do they not apply such cargo to the purposes of their own private trade?
Certainly they do.
In cases of succession to the forts, who supplies the new governor with goods, etc., if he is not of circumstance to supply such fort ?
His friends amongst the superior officers out of their own private fortunes advance them to him by way of loan.
Did you resign the Company's service when you returned to England ?
I did. on account of my health.
Do you intend to go to Africa again ?
I do intend to go on Monday next.
Are you now reinstated in your employment by the Committee ?
Do you know who is Governor of Cape Coast Castle at this time ?
My brother Richard Miles.
Do you know when Governor Mills resigned ?
Do you know if any body and who has paid Governor Mills what he advanced for supplying the forts before his resignation ?
Do you know who has advanced for supplying the forts since Governor Mills resigned ?
Ordered, that Mr Camplin, Secretary to the African Committee, be requested to attend their lordships in Committee during the continuance of their present enquiries into the state of the Coast of Africa, referred to them by command of his Majesty.
Mr. Camplin, Secretary to the African Committee, attended, and, pursuant to the minute of the 14th instant, delivered in to their lordships the Day Books for Cape Coast Castle and the out forts for the years 1774 and 1775.
Ordered that Mr. Camplin be desired to furnish their lordships with a state and condition of the forts on the Coast of Africa reported in the year 1757, as likewise of the state and condition of the said forts, last received: as also the invoice books.
Ordered that the Secretary do write to Mr. Stanley, Secretary to the Commissioners of the Customs, to desire, that he would move that Board to give directions to the Collectors at Liverpool and Bristol, to furnish their lordships with a list of such ships belonging to those ports as have cleared out in the African trade from the year 1750 to the year 1756, both inclusive, distinguishing the names of the ships, the masters' names, where bound, and the number of slaves, distinguishing each year.
Mr. Coghlan, one of the merchants subscribing to the memorial
presented to the Board at their meeting on the 18th instant,
[vide folio 55] attending, with Mr. David Dunn, commander of a
ship in the African trade, they were called in, when their lordships
questioned Mr. Dunn to the several particulars as follows, vizt.,
How long and to what parts of Africa have you traded ?
I have traded to the Gold Coast of Africa since the year 1763.
What ship did you command upon your last voyage ?
The Friendship, in the London trade.
Have there been any and what alterations in the state of the trade in general since you have been concerned in it ?
The trade in general has suffered greatly since I have known it, both as to the difficulty of obtaining slaves, and the price at which they are purchased; in the year 1763 a male slave might be bought at about £13 sterling, which now costs £23 gold, which is become a necessary article in the purchase of a slave, is obtained by the free trader with great difficulty. We are obliged to send Manchester and India goods up to Cape Apollonia to be bartered for gold, and to wait its return; this is a delay of several weeks. In my last voyage, for one hundred and twenty ounces of merchandize I got only forty ounces of gold.
How do you value ounces of merchandize and ounces of gold ?
The ounce of merchandize I rate at 40s. value, and that of gold at £4 sterling, so that all above eighty ounces of merchandize was loss upon the exchange; in the purchase of a slave we must give two ounces of gold.
Was gold a necessary article in the purchase of a slave when you first knew the trade ?
No, we bought them with manufactures; gold was then brought home, now we carry it out.
Do not the servants of the African Committee carry on trade at the forts ?
Does this trade operate as an obstruction to that of the free merchant adventurer ?
Certainly as a great obstruction: the forts command great advantages, which the free trader cannot have, and the black merchants prefer trading with the forts, inasmuch as they incur no risk or expence with canoes which they must do in resorting to the ships: the Governors have the advantage of lodging their goods and slaves within the several forts without charge, and by bartering daily with the natives, have an opportunity of collecting all the gold that is to be got on the Coast.
Does the Governor of Cape Coast Castle send home orders for indents of goods on account of his private trade ?
He does: I carried out a cargoe of goods last voyage consigned in parcels to the several forts, and the owners were Messieurs Shoolbred. Ross and Mills.
Was not Mr. Ross then of the Committee ?
Is not Mr. Mills the brother of Mr. David Mills, Governor of Cape Coast Castle ?
Did you deliver these goods at the several forts accordingly ?
I did: and in return took up slaves, which I carried to Saint Vincent's.
How many slaves did you take from the Coast ?
In all three hundred and sixty one, of these I received about two hundred and twenty prime slaves from the Company's forts, the rest I had from the Dutch at Mourxe, Cormantine and Appam.
What did you barter with the Dutch for their slaves ?
Brandy, India goods, and gunpowder: the Dutch General and Governor Mills concerted this exchange between themselves: the Dutch General gave an order on Governor Mills to pay me part in slaves, and he repaid Governor Mills in gold; the rest that I received at the Dutch forts was in slaves.
Are the slaves at the forts sold at a higher price than those bought of the black traders ?
They are, and generally from an ounce and a half to two ounces advance.
Are ships consigned to the forts dispatched with more expedition than those of free adventurers ?
A ship consigned to the Governors will get expedited so much sooner than a free trader, that they generally find it necessary to barter the best part of their assortments with the Governors.
Does not this competition between the sedentary trade and that of adventurers operate to raise the price of slaves, and sink that of British manufactures ?
Certainly it does; it gives the black merchant a handle to manage the markets for slaves, which they do with great policy, to the great encrease of the price of slaves, and to the lowering that of the manufactures of this country; in seventeen hundred and sixty three the price of negroes stood at about eight ounces for men and six for women, the ounce being then at 36s., now the price stands at 11½ for men and 9½ for women, and the ounce is now at 42s.; in the meantime the manufactures of Great Britain are much lessened in their demand, and the East India goods at least are doubled; the number of slaves likewise that come to market is much reduced; this must be the consequence, when the same quantity of goods can be obtained for a less number of slaves.
With what commodity is the slave purchased in the first instance ?
The slave, in the first instance, is purchased in the interior parts of the country with gold.
What becomes of that gold ?
The chiefs in the interior amass it, and occasionally come down to the Coast and buy up all the goods and commodities there to be had, so that sometimes the forts are stripped of all their furniture and effects.
Are the Dutch forts in good condition ?
Are the English ?
Not so good.
Mr. Coghlan, mentioned in the minutes of the 19th instant,
attending with Mr. Chalmers, commander of a ship in the African
trade, they were called in, when their lordships questioned Mr.
Chalmers to the several particulars as follows, vizt.,
How long and to what parts of Africa have you traded ?
I have been in the African trade eleven years; I have traded to the Gold Coast.
Have you been concerned for the Company's servants on the Coast, or for the free traders ?
For the free traders.
When you first went on the Coast, what was the price of slaves ?
In 1766 men and women slaves were sold at nine and seven ounces.
Have the articles of gold, slaves and ivory undergone any alterations in their prices since you have been engaged in the African trade ?
The prices of all these articles have been greatly enhanced; when I first knew the trade, there was no want of gold, it was purchased at about £4 sterling per ounce in the original cost of the goods; considerable quantities of it were exported from the Coast and brought home, now it is much risen in price, and slaves cannot be bought without a proportion of gold paid in exchange for them; ivory is still to be had in considerable quantities, but the servants of the Committee buy the greatest part of it: there is now a ship in the Port of London with great quantities of ivory on board on their account: the price of this commodity, when I first resorted to the Coast, was from eighteen to twenty pence, now it sells for half a crown.
To what do you impute the difficulty which the merchant adventurers find in getting gold for the purposes of their trade on the Coast ?
I impute it wholly to the interference of trade carried on at the forts by the Committee's servants. The Governors there collect in small quantities all the gold which the black people bring in exchange for the spirits, which they retail to them daily in small quantities. Spirits, bought at twenty two pence per gallon, are charged at five shillings; rum bought at 1 - is charged at do.: this gives the servants of the Committee great advantage over the free trader, in as much as they collect great quantities of gold in this manner, and at the same time raise great profits by the rum and spirits they exchange for it. whereas the free trader buys his gold at a loss, and finds great difficulty in obtaining it at all; by these means the forts command the slave trade to the detriment and exclusion of the free trader.
What may an ounce of gold, bartered in this manner, be bought for ?
An ounce of gold purchased by spirits will stand the Committee's servants in about 50 - first cost sterling value.
From what house principally have the servants of the Committee their consignments ?
Chiefly from the firm of Messrs. Shoolbred, Ross and Mills.
Is the price of slaves at the forts different from the price of the slaves sold by the black traders ?
Slaves are sold at the forts at an advance of about an ounce and a half.
This being the case. what induces the merchants to trade with the forts ?
The delay of carrying on a free trade amongst the black people is so much greater than that of trading with the forts, that most people make up their cargoes with the servants of the Committee, though at a higher price; I traded intirely with the black people, and was seven months on the coast in my last voyage collecting three hundred and eighty negroes.
Does not this create a competition between the trade of the Company's servants and that of the free merchant adventurer ?
Is the price of slaves thereby enhanced, and the number of them diminished ?
The price is greatly raised by the means of this competition, and the number of slaves brought to market is lessened by the encrease of price; 9½ and 11½ women and men slaves.
Is the delay so much complained of occasioned by this private trade ?
I conceive it is; when I was first engaged in trade, the dispatch was much greater; there is now, as nearly as I can compute, three months' difference in the delay of a trading ship.
Are the number of trading ships decreased ?
They are; when I first resorted to the Coast, there were on the Coast twenty four sail, last year there were but fifteen.
Did any of the ships carry out indents of goods to the Governors ?
Yes, there were two ships came to the Coast in 1776, vizt., Captain Bowle and Captain Martin; the latter belonged intirely to Messrs. Shoolbred, Ross and Mills; Captain Bowle was part on his own account, and also took on board an indent of goods as ordered by Governor Mills, for which he was to pay him in slaves.
Do you think the forts as now managed operate to the prejudice or advantage of the general trade ?
I think the forts as now managed are a great disadvantage to the publick trade; they do not serve as any protection to the trade, or to British subjects, whom they suffer to be insulted under their guns.
Have you seen instances of this ?
I have; I saw a captain of a ship taken into a black town and flogged; this happened last year, and the Governor, though privy to it, did not interpose; Mr. Brew and his servants were fired at by the blacks, and one of his slaves killed thereby. The Governors of the forts have so much concern in trade with the blacks, that they will not fall out with them.
Has the trade carried on at the forts any and what advantages over the free adventurer's trade ?
Many and great advantages; the Governors have their goods sent out in the Committee's ship free of freight; the fort to lodge them in, there is a slave hole in each fort, the Company's craft; and by their residence on the Coast they have the preemption of slaves, and of collecting in small parcels all the gold that they can employ in the purchase of slaves: I have heard they employ people to go into the country to intercept the traders in the pathways, and tempt them down to the forts.
Are the British manufactures lowered in their price ?
They are much lowered in price in the proportion of 30 per cent.
Do all the forts trade in slaves ?
They do all trade: the seconds in command are no more than factors to the Chief of Cape Coast Castle.
What proportion of the general trade have the forts ?
They have at least half the whole trade of gold, slaves and ivory: and the free merchant adventurer must in the end be totally excluded.
Read a letter from Mr. Henry Garnet. Master of Merchants Hall. Bristol, to Mr. Cumberland, dated February 17th. 1777, acknowledging the receipt of his letter touching the trade to Africa, and the utility of the forts and settlements on that coast, and promising to collect the opinion of the African merchants thereupon as soon as possible, and lay the same before their lordships.
Mr. Coghlan. one of the merchants subscribing to the memorial
presented to the Board at their meeting on the 18th instant.
[vide folio 55] attending with Mr. Thomas Bennett, commander
of a ship in the African trade, they were called in when their
lordships questioned Mr. Bennett to the several particulars as
How long and to what parts of Africa have you traded ?
I have been in the African trade since the latter end of the year 1748: I have traded to the Gold Coast.
How long have you been master of a vessel ?
I have been master of a vessel since the year 1764.
What was the price of slaves in 1748 ?
From six to eight ounces per man. the price on an average about £10 sterling.
What was the price of an ounce of gold when you was first on the Coast, and what did they reckon the barter price ?
There was a profit on gold in 1748: an ounce of gold might be purchased by English goods from 30 – to 50 – prime cost of the said goods.
How many ships were upon the Coast when you was first there ?
I have seen from twenty to twenty five ships at one time in Annamaboe Road; some of the large ones would carry six hundred slaves.
How long was you there in 1748 in freighting a ship ?
I was six or seven months freighting, trading chiefly with the natives.
What quantity of ivory was there ?
There was plenty of ivory at Cape Lahoe and the Ivory Coast.
What quantity of gold did you ever bring over, or know to be brought over ?
I have seen Captain Keith from Rhode Island have eight hundred or one thousand ounces of gold on board.
Have you known any difference in the prices of India or English manufactures since you first went ?
The British manufactures of cloth are lowered in price, so likewise are India goods; baffs and long cloths used in 1764 to go for ten ackeys, now they go for eight; they were commanding articles in the trade for gold.
Was it usual at that time to purchase a slave with any gold ?
I never saw gold paid or demanded in the purchase of a slave at that time.
What did you do with your gold ?
Brought it home.
At what time did you perceive that gold was a necessary ingredient to purchase a slave, and that the price of slaves rose ?
When I first went master in the year 1764, when the war was over, I found it necessary to supply myself with gold for the purchase of slaves.
Where did you purchase gold ?
I purchased it all the way down the Coast.
When you so found gold necessary, what was the price of slaves ?
I gave from eight to ten ounces to the natives; to the forts twelve ounces.
Why did you give more to the forts than to the blacks ?
To compleat my number of slaves.
What quantity of gold on the average in the assortment did you generally give ?
Six ackeys of gold to the natives; none to the forts, they did not demand gold from us.
To what do you impute the not having gold to bring home, the high price of slaves and the low price of goods ?
I think it was owing in a great measure to the Governors of forts being allowed to trade.
How does the Governor's trade affect you ?
The Governor can always supply himself with gold from the retail sale of rum and tobacco upon the Coast.
Where do they get the gold from ?
The townspeople pay in gold.
What do the people in the forts do with the gold ?
They give it in payment for slaves, part in gold and part in goods.
What do the negro merchants do with the gold ?
Gold is taken as a portable medium of commerce: this makes the gold an article in the purchase of a slave.
Do you think that there is the same number of slaves to be purchased as formerly ?
No. I do not think there is the same number.
Is not the giving a higher price for slaves the cause of fewer slaves being brought for sale ?
The increase of price creates a scarcity of slaves: for while the black trader has stores from hand to mouth he seeks to extend his trade no further: so that if he can satisfy his wants for one slave, he will not bring two to market.
When was you last on that coast, and who was your owner ?
I sailed the latter end of 1774. Mr. David Hamilton of Bristol was my owner.
Where did you go then ?
To the Gold Coast.
Did you then get gold on the Coast ?
Yes. I called to windward and bought all the gold I could.
What quantity of gold did you buy in 1774 ?
About four hundred ounces.
What upon an average was the prime cost of gold ?
Some I bought at very little loss of the prime cost of my goods here: some at considerable loss, and ounce of gold cost me about £5.
Where did you go to next, and with whom did you trade ?
I then went to Annamaboe and traded with the natives.
Did the Governor receive any goods of you ?
No. Mr. Bell, the Governor, was then realizing, and sold no slaves: he was coming home.
How many slaves did you take in, and at what price ?
I bought four hundred and twenty slaves, at eight ounces for women, and ten do, for men of the natives.
How long did you lay ?
From New Year's Day to the 8th of March, being a single ship. I got the greater dispatch.
Do you recollect the number of vessels that were upon the Gold Coast in 1774 ?
I left twelve or fourteen sail of vessels on the Coast.
Do you think there are as many ships now trading to the Coast as were in 1748 ?
Very few merchant adventurers now engage in the African trade.
Where did you go with the 420 slaves ?
I called at St. Vincent's and then went to Jamaica; I disposed of my slaves at £42 per head on an average: the first voyage in 1748 we were limited by our owners to £22, at the Leeward Islands; I could not get a market there and sold at Jamaica about £28 or 30, this was then esteemed a good price.
Did you ever hear of any improvement made by the Governor's or Company's servants by opening paths, etc. ?
Never; it could not be supposed the Governors would lay out money to open the trading paths, because in that case the slaves would become more plentiful for the private traders, which is what the Governors do not wish.
Have you ever seen the Governors or Councils deliver slaves on board ships for their own account ?
I have known they have done it in 1766; in consequence of which I applied to the Committee here against Governor Mutter for trading in slaves, and he was turned out; I got bills of lading; I believe the Governors continue to trade.
Are the forts of any use to the free traders ?
I conceive that the forts are of no manner of use to the free trader; I never saw or had any protection from them; if I had any disputes, I was always obliged to settle them myself; I never heard of any material improvements made by the forts; it would not be to the Governor's interests to open the paths, as it would tend to accomodate and encrease the free trade, and counteract their monopoly; I was fined by the natives for not hoisting my colours, and giving them beef not to their liking; my trade was stopped; I did not apply to the fort for protection knowing they would give me none, it not being their interest to quarrel with the natives.
Did you trade with the Governor at Cape Coast Castle for gold ?
I did trade with Governor Mills at Cape Coast Castle for gold; I had fifty ounces of Governor Mills; I gave him India goods in exchange; so that the gold was bought at about £5 10s. the ounce.
Was there any ship there then ?
One ship from Liverpool with goods, and five or six New Englandmen, with rum and gold, buying slaves.
Was there no other trade carried on by them at that time, no gunpowder ?
No; there was no trade with New England for gunpowder; gunpowder was much in demand at the forts; I had one hundred barrels, they would have given 8 ackeys for one third of a barrel.
Do you think that it is owing to the mismanagement of the servants of the Company that the trade is thus reduced with respect to the free trader ?
I look upon it that the mismanagement of the forts, and their being allowed to trade, is a great cause of the trade's decay: the Governor keeps the back trader in debt to them, and thereby monopolizes the trade: I could trade no where but at Annamaboe.
Do you think if the Company is supported by more money, that the free traders will be benefited, or on the contrary ?
The more Government money the forts have, the more it must distress the free trader: they give presents from the Company's stores to bring down the trade to them, by paying factors in the towns, and giving presents to the Cabboceers out of the Committee's indents.
Do you think, if the trade on the Coast was put under proper regulation, that it could be recovered to the public advantage ?
I think the African trade might be made of great advantage to this country: and the first object in my opinion towards this, would be to prevent the Company's servants carrying on any trade at the forts.
Do you think the trade is now on a worse footing than when in the Royal African Company's hands ?
The Trade cannot be upon a worse footing: there is a double monopoly against the free trader in the Governors, and the black traders: in gold, slaves and ivory, the forts have more than half of the trade, greatly more: the whole will in the end fall into the Committee's servants.
What was the average price of your goods upon the whole cargo ?
An ounce of goods was about 40s. an ounce of gold £5 10s.
Is there any danger of this trade falling into the hands of the French ?
The French have not traded upon the Coast lately.
Is there any trade between the Governor and the Dutch forts ?
The Governors of the forts carry on a trade with the Dutch Governors.
Did you ever see any Dutch ships on the Coast, or any English vessels laden from Holland ?
English ships have gone to Holland for part of their cargo: a ship sailed from the River last November belonging to Mr. Dalziel, late Governor of Whydah. who took part of her cargo in Holland: The Peggy. belonging to Shoolbred. Ross and Mill, went to Holland about autumn twelvemonth, and on her return to the Downs, was stopt, and fifty barrels of gunpowder taken out of her in the Downs.
G. Anno 1758. An account of the expenditure in Africa stated under the several heads from the books received from the Coast; also a book with the same accounts stated for the years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, 1773, 1774 and 1775.
And Mr. Camplin was examined touching the papers delivered.
When he said, that he produced the Paper B. to shew when the debt to the servants first commenced, and how it has gradually accumulated; that he produced the Papers Nos. C. D. E. and F. to shew the number of people employed in the Company's service in Africa at different periods; that the Paper G. were exhibited for the sake of a comparative view of the several articles of expenditure, stated under the several heads, as extracted from the books sent from Africa; and being examined as to the rate of exchange, in which the said accounts are kept, he objected to the method as vague and indeterminate, the books being kept in three different rates of exchange; and said, that the Committee, in the year 1773, in consequence of his representation, ordered the mode to be altered, and every article to be reduced to one rate of exchange, vizt., that which is denominated Company's pay, which the servants had always stated as a fixed permanent exchange of 50 per cent; that the books for the year 1775 were so altered; but, upon a close inspection, he finds the fallacy still remains, to demonstrate which, he produced the Papers Nos. H. and I., whereby it clearly appears, that near 20 per cent, or one fifth part of the whole money annually sent to Africa, for the support and maintenance of the forts and settlements, is by one stroke of policy, transferred into the Governor's own pockets.
Being asked if the supplies sent out by the annual storeship, are applied by the Governors to the uses for which they are sent.
He replied the books clearly shew that they are not so applied.
Being asked if the Committee ever sent orders to their Governors for regulating the trade in Africa.
He answered, that the Committee, in almost every letter, directed their Governors to preserve the trade free and open to all his Majesty's subjects.
Being asked if those orders were obeyed.
He replied, that for certain reasons he feared most of the salutary orders made by the Committee, were either evaded or disobeyed by their servants in Africa.
Read a letter from Edward Stanley, esquire, Secretary to the
Commissioners of the Customs, to Mr. Cumberland, dated
February 27th. 1777. acquainting him, that the Register General
of Shipping has represented to the said Commissioners the
impossibility of preparing from the books in his office any satisfactory account of such ships belonging to the Port of Liverpool
as have cleared out from that port for the Gold Coast and Whidah,
Copy of the representation of the Register General of Shipping thereupon.
Read a letter from William Crosbie. esquire. Mayor of Liverpool, dated February 21st, 1777. in answer to Mr. Cumberland's letter of the 18th instant, requesting a report of the general state of the trade to Africa, and signifying, that the merchants of Liverpool have appointed a Committee to take the matters therein contained into further consideration, who will forthwith make their report thereupon.
Read a letter from William Crosbie, esquire. Mayor of Liverpool, dated February 28th. 1777. transmitting.
The report of a select Committee of the merchants and traders of Liverpool to the Coast of Africa on the state of the African trade, the condition of the forts, etc.
Mr. Coghlan attending with Captain Chalmers, mentioned in
the minute of the 21st February, they were called in, and their
lordships questioned Mr. Chalmers to the several particulars as
I think you was upon the Coast in 1775 ?
At what time ?
You know most of the ships that were then on the Coast ?
Some of them.
Were the ships Best, Mercury, Unity, and Britannia there ?
I believe they were.
Do you remember a bring called the Davis, an American ?
Yes, a New York vessel.
In what did she trade ?
Could she part with any quantity of rum in proportion to the slaves ?
I cannot say.
Was the King George there ?
Yes, he carried off no negroes.
The brig Hector ?
Did the American vessels take in their slaves at the forts ?
One ship did trade with the forts entirely.
Duncan, a Rhode Island vessel ?
He mostly traded with the forts.
Were these vessels all supplied with slaves from the Gold Coast ?
No, some of the slaves were from Lagos, Gaboon and Benin.
Was it a custom to bring slaves from these places ?
Yes, small vessels were sent from Annamaboe for that purpose.
When brought to Annamaboe, how were they passed as Gold Coast slaves ?
There is no passing one slave for another, the slaves of the Gold Coast are easily distinguished.
What were the price of these slaves ?
About nine pounds a head.
If there were 100 of these slaves from Lagos, etc., would a man give as much for them as for Gold Coast slaves ?
Out of 100, perhaps I might pick 50 that would sell as well as Gold Coast slaves, and therefore would take them; Lagos are good slaves, Calabar not so good as Benin.
You would not buy these if you could get Gold Coast slaves ?
Certainly not, but it is in failure of getting Gold Coast slaves, we accept these.
Are the slaves brought from these places to the Gold Coast called Gold Coast slaves ?
They are called so.
What might the number of slaves brought from these parts be in a year ?
400, 500 or more.
What articles are sent to purchase these slaves ?
Chiefly Dutch goods, brass pans. etc., etc.
From whom are these articles procured ?
From the Dutch garrisons.
Do you remember the Snow Woortman ?
Yes, one Fox was master.
Had not Captain Mill the same vessel before ?
Yes, he was brother to Governor Mill.
What number of American vessels were on the Coast in 1775 ?
I cannot say.
When the American vessels come, do they trade with the Governors of the forts for the rum they bring ?
What is the general price of rum ?
It goes on the Coast in exchange for slaves at 160 to 180 gallons, and the cost in America is about 15d. including cask.
Are there many Dutch goods imported by the English ?
A good many.
How are they obtained.
Several ships clear from London to Rotterdam and Africa; I cleared thus last year under orders from Mr. Brew; the Peggy Martin, formerly Mill. came into the Downs with goods from Rotterdam in her way to Africa.
How many ships from America, and what number of slaves did they generally take ?
7 or 8 vessels from New England, which took from 150 to 300 slaves each.
Do you of your own knowledge know of any trade with the Governor immediately for gold or bills of exchange ?
Have you of your own knowledge known £23 sterling given for slaves ?
My slaves stood me in £23 sterling prime cost of goods without reckoning charges.
Explain the matter of giving what you call so many ounces of gold, and so many ounces of trade for a slave ?
An ounce of gold is reckoned two ounces of trade, therefore if a slave cost 12 ounces of trade in which an ounce of gold must be given, then 10 ounces of trade are actually given, together with 1 ounce of gold equal to two ounces of trade.
If then the gold is 84s. an ounce and the trade ounce is 42s., there can be no loss by giving gold, as 2 ounces of trade are equal to 1 ounce of gold ?
The loss is in the purchase of the gold, which must first be bought by goods, and to purchase an ounce of gold, goods to a greater value than 84s. must be given; therefore to whatever sum the goods given for an ounce of gold, amounts more than 84s. is a positive loss.
How many ounces of gold did you purchase last voyage ?
4 or 500 ounces which cost me £6 sterling per ounce, after making a calculation of the goods given for the gold in barter.
Did you ever carry dollars ?
No, but I have seen silver given in the purchase of a slave.
What was the exchange on silver ?
I do not know.
Do they ever adulterate the gold ?
Yes, and the black traders will not take all dust, but must have some rock gold.
Ordered that Mr. Camplin, Secretary to the African Committee,
be desired to furnish their lordships, for their inspection, with the
following books and papers, vizt.,
Cape Coast journals and ledgers from the year 1736 to the year 1740.
Cape Coast journals and ledgers for 1744 to 1st July, 1745.
A book containing the number of slaves, exported annually from the Gold Coast of Africa.
Lists of the number of slaves exported from the Gold Coast in the years 1773 and 1774.
Read a letter from Edward Stanley, esquire, Secretary to the
Commissioners of the Customs, dated April 9th, 1777, to Richard
Cumberland, esquire, transmitting,
A book containing an account of the tonnage of the several ships cleared from Great Britain to Africa from 1st January, 1757, to 1st January, 1777, with the names of the said ships, distinguishing to what part of the Coast the same were bound, "as far as such distinction can be made."
An account of the amount of the value of the imports into that part of Great Britain called England from Africa, the 1st of January, 1756 to the 1st January, 1776.
An account of the amount of the value of the exports from that part of Great Britain called England to Africa from the 1st of January. 1756. to the 1st of January. 1776.
Mr. Coghlan and Mr. George Burton. merchants of London,
together with Captain Chalmers and Governor Roberts attending
were called in, and their lordships proceeded to question the said
gentlemen to the several particulars following.
In any of your voyages to the Coast of Africa did you purchase any slaves that were not Gold Coast slaves, and if you did, at what prices ?
Yes. I purchased at Annamaboe 130 Lagos slaves at £16 for women and £20 for men prime cost of goods.
When was this ?
In October. 1775.
How many slaves from other parts of the Coast, and from places not under the forts, etc., do you suppose may be annually brought to the Gold Coast ?
From Lagos. Benin. Gaboon and Calabar, about 800: from the Windward Coast about 1000; and from the Dutch and Danish forts, about 1500.
Mr. George Burton, merchant of London.
Are you the owner of the ship Jamaica Planter in the West India trade ?
What number of slaves were exported in the said vessel from the Gold Coast in the year 1775 ?
N.B. The returns from the Governors on the Coast of Africa mention the said ship to have had in that voyage 350.
Mr. Coghlan, merchant of London.
Do you know whether at any time since 1758, slaves brought from other parts of the Coast of Africa to the Gold Coast. have been sold there as Gold Coast slaves ?
Yes. it was a fraud to which inexperienced people were liable. and within the period of enquiry 42 Gaboon slaves were sold to one of my captains in that trade as Gold Coast slaves, out of which number the captain buried 40 before his arrival in the West Indies.
Were you ever on the Coast of Africa ?
In the year 1744. and excepting a small interval of time, till the year 1752.
What settlements on the Gold Coast have you been at ?
At all; and Governor of Dixcove.
Was there any gold exported from the Coast in your time?
What quantity annually do you suppose ?
In the year 1744 about 2000 ounces per week; the general annual export of gold was about 100,000 ounces.
What price were slaves at, at that time ?
From 9 to £10 per head, in ounces 6 to 8 ounces, which ounces were then at 30s. per ounce or thereabouts.
What do you think was the general number of slaves anually exported from the Gold Coast ?
From 10 to 12,000, that is from the Gold Coast, 10,000 and from Whydah, 2000.
Mr. Camplin attended, and pursuant to the minutes of yesterday, delivered to the Board for their inspection the following
books and papers, vizt.,
A book intitled "Annual Register of Slaves exported from the Gold Coast from the year 1768 to the year 1771, by Governor Petrie."
List of slaves exported from the Gold Coast in 1773.
List of slaves exported from the Gold Coast in 1774.
22 Journals and ledgers for 1737 to 1744.
Their lordships proceeded to examine the said books and papers, and it appeared from the book intituled, An Annual Register of Slaves exported from the Gold Coast of Africa, that in the year 1768 it had been a practice in making the return of the slaves exported from the Gold Coast, not to include those brought from the Windward Coast, but to deduct the number so brought from the gross amount; but from the paper intituled, List of Slaves exported from the Gold Coast in 1774 and 1775 it appeared, that in those years the former practice was omitted, and the slaves brought from the Windward Coast to the Gold Coast, were included as Gold Coast slaves.
Their lordships next proceeded to compare the said papers intituled An account of slaves exported from the Gold Coast in 1775 with a book received from the Custom House intituled "A list of vessels that have sailed from the Port of Liverpool to Africa from the year 1750 to the year 1776" and found that the said paper and the said book differ in many instances respecting the number of slaves exported from the Gold Coast, of which the following are some examples.
The Brooks, Noble, entered in the paper 465 in the Liverpool return only 450, and the like variations respecting the number of slaves included in the Company's lists, more than were actually exported, also appeared from the evidence of Mr. Coghlan, a merchant of London, who exhibited a letter from Bristol as a proof of his assertion.
On the 8th of April, when the African Committee attended the
Board, they requested, that the books and papers belonging to
them, which were delivered by their Secretary for the inspection
and information of their lordships in the foregoing enquiry, should
be returned, and it being ordered, agreeable to the request of the
Committee, that the said books and papers should be returned,
they were accordingly delivered back to their Secretary on the
9th April, vizt.,
73 journals and leidgers bound in vellum, 7 journals or leidgers unbound, 5 letter books bound.
1 book intituled Expenditure in Africa.
A bundle of papers belonging to the outforts.
A paper, exhibiting annual grants of Parliament for 1757 to 1776.
Day book of Cape Coast Castle and the outforts for the year 1774 and 1775.
The invoice books.
And all other books and papers exhibited only for the inspection of the Board.
And on the … the following books and papers
received 18th April, were delivered back to the Secretary of the
African Committee, vizt.,
A book intituled Annual Register of Slaves exported from the Gold Coast from the year 1768 to the year 1771, by Governor Petrie.
2 papers intituled List of Slaves exported from the Gold Coast in the year 1773 and 1774.
22 journals and leidgers from 1737 to 1744.