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Galton Papers - slave trading in Africa

Slave trade and the Galton family

Slave trading in Africa - document 1.

Letter from Isabella Douglas to Joseph Strutt, 22 January 1792 [MS3101/C/E/5/16/10]
Extract from pages 2 & 3:

'&You will no doubt be surprised to hear that my brother is again quitting his native country & will sail for Africa in less than a fortnight having been appointed a few weeks ago a writer to the company of merchants trading to that country - I have been very unhappy about him & was at first startled at the idea of his encountering those savage climes, & even beheld it with horror - but on consideration I think the situation is a more eligible one than any he is likely to attain here & I find the geographers give so favourable an account of the climate that my fears are in a great measure quieted - the place he is I believe to reside at is James Island about a mile in circumference delightfully situated almost in the middle of the River Gambia on which the company have a fort mounted with cannon & a garrison which preserves the right of trading in that River - independent of the salary which is 0 p[e]r an[nu]m a writer has the privilege of trading in the country to any amount he chooses - the staples of which (gold dust, elephants teeth &, grieved am I to add human beings) turn to good account in England & the West Indies - the writers rise by seniority thro the different departments till they ascend to the governorship which is two thousand pounds yearly - their employment in the company's service does not take up above three or four hours daily, & the remainder of their time they may appropriate as they please&'

Letter from Archibald Douglas

Slave trading in Africa - document 2.

Letter from William Archibald Douglas to Isabella Strutt, 15 April 1799 [MS3101/C/E/4/3/4]
Extract from pages 1 & 2:

'I have the pleasure to acquaint you that my capital daily undergoes some increase, and with the support I feel I shall in future receive from your valuable husband, I think my stay in this country cannot exceed 3 years. I am just closing a considerable sale I have effected for one of our late Governor in Chief, and tomorrow enter on another for my friend (and whom you will most likely one day see at Derby, he having a god daughter at school at Duffield) the Captain I returned to Africa with - The only thing I am now in want of to make a rapid fortune is a regular supply of India Goods from England, to sell for Gold Dust, to the Whites wholesale, and to the Natives retail. A man who turns his attention to these modes of commerce may do great things in Africa in a very short time, infinitely more than by directing his sole attention to the slave trade - a trade that certainly no man can embrace but from necessity - at present that necessity does not exist here, as from the great opposition that prevails, there is very little to be made by the slave trade.'

Letter from William Douglas

Slave trading in Africa - document 3.

Letter from William Archibald Douglas to Joseph Strutt, 1 April 1799 [MS3101/C/E/5/4/3]
Extract from pages 2 & 3:

'To shew you the emolument the execution of such an indent would produce I beg leave to annex a list of the cost in Europe and the selling prices in Africa. And as I have now entirely abandoned the slave trade, I shall be able to turn the whole of the indent into Gold Dust in about 2 months after the arrival of the same, so that I should have it in my power to make the Remittance within the limited time, say 12 months from the date of purchase&&emolument = salary or profit From page 3:&&I am therefore very anxious not to lose one moment respecting this shipment of the present indent. As I am now the only man in the Castle that does not buy slaves, and as there is likely to be a great opposition among the captains, so as to make them pass all articles that are in much demand for Gold Dust, or slaves only, the greater part of the Gold Dust in this part of the coast will most likely come into my hands&.'


The Galton Papers - introduction
The Galton Papers - the gun trade
The Galton Papers - family life at Dudson
Sources for the study of the slave trade
Birmingham Archives and Heritage Service