October 9, 2020

Full title:  Royal African Company of Merchant Adventurers: Royal charter granted to, by Charles II.: 1663.: Copy.African Company, Royal: Charter granted to the Royal English Merchant Adventurers Company trading to Africa: 1663.: Copy.


This charter, issued by King Charles II (1630–1685) in 1663, represents the moment at which the transatlantic slave trade officially began, with royal approval, in the English (later British) Empire. This led to the rapid expansion of British involvement in the slave trade and enslavement of Africans. It is estimated that between 1663 and the end of the 17th century Britain had enslaved and transported over 332,000 Africans across the Atlantic where the majority were forced to work on plantations producing sugar, tobacco and other crops for European consumers. Of this figure, it is estimated that approximately 254,000 Africans disembarked from British ships. 

The charter granted the Company of Royal Adventurers of England a monopoly in the transportation of people from the west coast of Africa to the English colonies in the Americas. It explicitly sanctioned ‘the buying and selling, bartering and exchanging of, for, and with any negro slaves, goods, wares and merchandizes whatsoever to be vended or found’ in western Africa (ff. 8v–9r). ‘Estimates’, The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database<> [accessed June 2018].

Editor’s note: SWR believes this to be a gross underestimation of the amount of human cargo carried away from the continent by the English/British. Attempts to diminish the culpability of the modern-day European nations in the African Holocaust are to be resisted.


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