Slave traders

There were many different people involved in the transatlantic slave trade. In Bristol there were the ship owners and merchants, as well as slave-ship captains and crew. The ship owners might invest money in a slaving voyage as well as providing the ship. Merchants invested money in slaving voyages, in equipping the ship and in the goods that were traded with Africa. The roles of slave traders, ship owners, and merchants often overlapped. In West Africa, those involved were the caboceers (traders) on the coast and the enslaved Africans who were captured and sold to the slave ships. In the Caribbean islands and the Americas, there were the slave traders’ agents who sold the enslaved Africans and the plantation owners who purchased the enslaved Africans when they arrived in what was known as the ‘New World’ .

Pictured here is a page from the accounts book of the first slaving voyage of the ship the Africa. It gives much information about the finances of the trade. The eight owners seem to have made a small loss on this voyage, but four of them were happy to try again on a second voyage. This extract shows the payout of £641 1s and 6d (or £641.71/2p) to each investor. This would be about £32,050 today. The final payment was of £39 2s 6d six weeks later (about £1,950 today).