The Royal African Company was formed for the purpose of establishing trade in West Africa. In addition, it served to gather resources and free labor. As a result, the Company was essentially the colonial commercial arm of the British Empire in the region West Africa upon forming in 1660.
EARLY YEARS OF THE ROYAL AFRICAN COMPANY
While a somewhat independent company, it would make use of the Royal military. Because of this, the Company was able to enforce its claim from other colonial superpowers. The Royal Navy also captured British ships operating in the Company’s territory. Britain’s war with the Netherlands resulted in some hard times for the company towards the end of the decade. This war came about as a result of aggression from the Company towards the Netherlands.
INVOLVEMENT IN THE SLAVE TRADE
Things picked up for the Royal African Company as got more support from the Crown. It increased forts and military presence in West Africa and pursued gold and silver. Most noteworthy is the Company’s much more active role in the slave trade at this time. Between the 1670s and 1680s, the Company delivers 90,000 to 100,000 slaves to British-held colonies.
As the 18th century began, the Royal African Company took part in regional conflicts. This served as a means of defending its interests and relationships. The Company would loosen its grip in the late 1680s as multiple ships were allowed to operate in West Africa.
This didn’t dent the Company’s finances much as it received a fee from merchants operating in West Africa. With the increase of ships came the increase of slaves heading to the Americas. The Royal African Company got out of the slave trade around 1731. As a result, it moved on to gold and ivory. It ceased operations two years after the 1750 African Company Act.