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Royal African Company Essay

1153 words - 5 pages

England’s interest in Africa for trading purposes can be traced back to 1481 when two Englishmen prepared for an expedition to the Guinea Coast. At this time the King of Portugal, John II asked Edward IV of England if they could not continue with the expedition because of Portugal’s claim to the Guinea Coast, and Edward complied. It was not until 1536 when William Hawkins, father of famous shipbuilder in the Elizabethan era Admiral Sir John Hawkins, made the first three voyages and traded with Brazil. Hawkins went back in 1553 to the Gold Coast and sold goods mainly for gold near Elmina on the South Coast of present day Ghana. He then traveled inland to Benin where they obtained pepper and ...view middle of the document...

On December 18, 1660 Charles II granted Prince Rupert a charter for this very purpose the name of the company would be called, The Company of Royal Adventures into Africa. The land that the charter granted was the adjacent islands on the west coast of Africa from Cape Blanco to Cape of Good Hope for a period of a thousand years. There is a part in the charter that states the purpose of the company and that is ‘ “setting forward and furthering of the trade intend in the parts aforesaid and the encouragement of the undertakers in discovering golden mines and setting of plantations there” ’. There was never mention of slaves. There were five ships that went the Henritta, Sophia, Amity, Griffin, and Kingsale. This charter was ultimately a failure. There are no records of even an attempt to find gold mines; the climate affected the men in such a way that prevented them of doing so. There was a small cargo sent back to England that sold for 1,567 Pounds when it was triple that to fund the journey.
After this failing, a business like policy approach was taken when a new charter was granted on January 10, 1663. The previous charter was inadequate for raising funds and a lack of leadership to direct affairs. The new company was called The Company of Royal Adventures of England Trading into Africa, the territory the charter gave also expanded from the Cape of Good Hope to the Cape of Sallee on the Coast of Morocco. The charter this time included the buying and selling of Slaves, goods, and merchandise. Charter required shareholders to elect a governor, sub governor, deputy governor, and a court of assistants. This new company was predicted to out trade and be more successful than the East Indian Company. If this was to be true it needed more stock, thus a public declaration was made that any one of the kings subjects could subscribe for shares no less than 400 pounds each. Between December 1662- September 1663 twenty-five ships were sent to the West Coast of Africa. Again, unsatisfactory product put the company in financial strain. This is a result of the opposition from the Dutch West India Company.
To solve this problem Charles II sent Sir Robert Holmes to protect the company rights and in attempt to promote the charter, ordered all gold from...

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