‘A Business of Much Difficulty’: a London Slaving Venture 1651-1654
The English slave trade from the coast of West Africa developed slowly in the first half of the seventeenth century. The trade was formally a monopoly of the Guinea Company, but private consortia of merchants also participated. As these traders were operating in violation of the monopoly, very little is known about the scale of the trade, modus operandi and profitability of these ventures. Using records of the High Court of Admiralty, this paper uncovers the organisation, progress and fate of one London-based venture during the period of the Commonwealth.