The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 4

This post is best read in conjunction of part 2 of this series. While part 1 provides further context, it is part 2 that introduces and explains the current series of sketches of City of London aldermen (senior councillors) who were directors of the slave trading Royal Africa Company (RAC) and the evidence of this involvement. Here, as was also the case in part 3, we continue running chronologically through them by their date of election or appointment and drawing on the sources indicated at the start of part 2. In some instances we are also directing attention to contemporary organisations responsible for memorials and other references to these slave traders that require actions such as removal of object, renaming or a more rigorous historical framing.

Sir Thomas Beckford (1618-1685). Elected to the Court of Aldermen 1679. His wife (sister of Sir William Thomas, Bart.) married four times, Sir Thomas being her second husband. Her fourth was Sir Henry Fermor, Bart. Beckford was alderman for Aldgate, having previously been a common councillor for Billingsgate. He was a member of the Clothworkers’ Company and also its master. He was knighted in 1677, the year in which he became Sheriff of London. HIs brother Peter Beckford was the grandfather of the notorious slave owner and Lord Mayor of London William Beckford, a number of family members were major slave owners. There is a Thomas Beckford in Pettigrew’s list of RAC directors and this alderman would appear to be a possible match for him; however Woodhead doesn’t mention the RAC in his entry on this Thomas Beckford and he isn’t to be found in the Davies index, so further research is required to verify whether or not this is the Thomas Beckford invoked as an RAC director in Freedom’s Debt. As we’ve already noted, Pettigrew is inconsistent in his use of the honorific ‘Sir’ and so the fact it isn’t used for Thomas Beckford in his RAC list doesn’t resolve the issue. Some sources refer to this Thomas Beckford as ‘Sir’, others don’t, while at the time of writing Wikipedia labels him Major Thomas Beckford. His Wikipedia entry as it currently stands doesn’t mention the RAC or slave trading but records him as a prominent Tory politician and supplier of cloth to the Royal Navy (which was a crucial enabler of the barbarous activities of British slave traders). Aside from Davies, Pettigrew gives two other sources for his RAC list: Eveline Cruickshanks, Stuart Handley, and D. W. Hayton, eds., The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1690–1715, 5 vols. (Cambridge, 2002) and Minutes of the Court of Assistants, T 70/76–99. We have checked The History of Parliament for the years Pettigrew indicates and can find no Thomas Beckford, and since he isn’t in Davies either, it follows that unless Pettigrew made an error or used additional sources without indication, he picked up the name from the Minutes of the Court of Assistants after it had been missed there by Davies and Woodhead. Unfortunately it seems these particular records at the National Archives in Kew haven’t been digitised. Chasing up exactly who the Thomas Beckford on Pettigrew’s list is or if it is there in error requires a trip to Kew and even when the records in question can be consulted they may not resolve the matter. Other possible but less likely fits for this Thomas Beckford would include members of the same family who seem to have lived in Jamaica such as Thomas Beckford (1682-1731) and Thomas Beckford (1711 -1746).

Sir Dudley North (1641-1691). Elected to the Court of Aldermen 1682 and also Sheriff of London that year; knighted the following year 1683. 4th son of the 4th Lord North, and brother of the 1st Earl of Guilford (Lord Chancellor) and of Roger North (author of the Examen and of Lives of the Norths). He was an early advocate of Free Trade, and is described by Macaulay as ‘one of the ablest men of the time.’ North was an alderman for Farringdon Without. He was a member of the Mercers’ Company and also its master. North was also an MP and a director of the Levant Company (sometimes called the Turkey Company). Davies and Woodhead both note he was not only a director but also a deputy governor and sub-governor of the Royal Africa Company, the former stating in his 1957 book (page 162): “Dudley North, the Turkey Merchant, is said by his biographer (his brother Roger North) to have entered the African Company and accepted office into it in order to learn the method of trading in a joint stock, hitherto unfamiliar to him. Thereby he made himself and his talents known to others.” In Davies’ index he appears as Sir Dudley North, the honorific being correctly used since he was knighted, and Pettigrew taking his cue from this 1957 work lists him in the same way. Woodcock refers to him as Hon Dudley North, which is also correct since this abbreviation for the courtesy title Honourable can be applied to the sons of Lords in the UK. North’s History of Parliament online entry notes the Royal Africa Company roles recorded Davies and Woodhead, and includes the following: “On the recommendation of his brother Francis he was nominated sheriff in 1682 by Sir John Moore, the retiring lord mayor. Though defeated at the poll by the Whig candidates, he took up office, selecting the juries for the trials of the Hon. William Russell and Algernon Sidney, and presiding at their execution…. North’s political career came to an end with the Revolution… He was examined by a committee of the House of Commons under Paul Foley about his assumption of the sheriff’s office in 1682, and by the Lords on an accusation of packing juries for the treason trials. But nothing came of either inquiry… his Discourse upon Trade (was published in 1691), which ranks him among the predecessors of Adam Smith.” There are arguments over whether North has any significance as an economist; it has also been suggested that his brother Roger North re-wrote Discourse upon Trade and should be given the credit for any innovatory elements in it. At the time of writing Wikipedia’s Dudley North entry does not mention his involvement in the slave trade or directorship of the Royal Africa Company, although it does say: “During the Tory reaction under Charles II he was one of the sheriffs forced on the city of London in 1683 with an express view to securing verdicts for the crown in state trials.”

Portrait of Sir Dudley North (1641 – 1691) by unknown artist taken from Wikipedia, where as noted above there is currently no mention of his involvement in the slave trade. It is also worth noting that the National Portrait Gallery website has nine different pages dedicated to portraits of this Sir Dudley North – including the public domain image we’ve taken from Wikipedia – without any indication that he is a slave trader. The NPG are also selling prints of this human trafficker without suitable critical or historical framing. This should be corrected and if the original items are displayed at the NPG in London then they also require proper labelling, although we think it would be better if these pictures were donated to a museum dedicated to exposing the horrors of slavery.

Sir Samuel Dashwood (1643-1705). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1683. Son of Francis Dashwood (Alderman 1658), grandson of Edmund Sleigh (Alderman, Sheriff 1654-5) and elder brother of Sir Francis Dashwood, Bart. He married the sister of John Smith, Speaker of the House of Commons. His eldest daughter was mother of the first Lord Archer, and a younger daughter married Sir Thomas Saunders Sebright, Bart., from whom the later Baronets are descended. Dashwood was an alderman for Cheap and Aldgate wards. He was a member of the Vintners’ Company and its master in 1684. Dashwood was a sheriff, lord mayor and MP. Between them our main secondary sources record that as well as being a Royal Africa Company director (as were other members of his family), Dashwood was a director of the East India Company and the Levant Company (see, for example, his History of Parliament online entry). Politically he was a Tory which by the 1680s – as we noted on our entry on him in part 1 of this series – was the party to which most of those running the Africa Company belonged. At the time of writing Dashwood’s Wikipedia entry does not mention his involvement in the Royal Africa Company, the East India Company or the slave trade.

Sir Benjamin Newland (c1633-1699). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen. 1683. Son-in-law of Robert Richbell (Alderman 1661) and father of Sir George Newland, M.P. for the City 1710-4. Newland was alderman of Vintry ward after being a common Councillor for Tower and an MP for Southampton. He was a member of the Grocers’ Company. Newland’s father-in-law via his marriage to Anne Richbell was alderman Robert Richbell, who as we noted in in part 3 of this series was a business associate of the lord mayors and Royal Africa Company directors Sir John Moore and Sir Thomas Bludworth; we also noted it is possible Richbell owned plantations in Barbados but further research is required into this. Woodhead taking his cue from Davies lists Newland as being not only a director but also a deputy governor and sub-governor of the Royal Africa Society. Davies comments on page 69 of his 1957 book: “With this purely mercantile element in the company’s stock may be joined such men as Benjamin Newland who bought goods at the company’s sales… All of these, if not ‘merchants’, were members of the business community of London….” Davies also notes on page 162: “Before the Revolution, some Sub-Governors received knighthoods during their term of office.” In a footnote Davies lists Newland among these men. Newland’s History of Parliament entry suggests he was a typically corrupt Tory businessman of the time; “In April 1695, during the Commons’ investigation of Sir Thomas Cooke’s payments (see below) to MPs while governor of the East India Company, it was revealed in the accounts of his intermediary, Sir Basil Firebrace, that Newland had been paid two separate sums of £1,000 and £280 on 19 Nov. 1693 and 22 Jan. 1694.” Pettigrew includes Newland in a footnoted list of MPs who were RAC directors (Debt, page 46) and on his RAC directors list, but says nothing more about him in that work. At the time of writing Newlands’s Wikipedia entry makes no mention of his involvement in the Royal Africa Company and the slave trade, but it does note: “His coat of arms has been placed on a shield on Southampton’s Bargate.” This slaver insignia should, of course, be removed from the medieval gatehouse.

Hants Field Club illustration showing the coats of arms to be found on the Southhampton Bargate – including those of the slaver Sir Benjamin Newland that require removal.

Jacob Lucie AKA Lucy (1627-1688). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1683. Alderman for Dowgate and Aldgate. The standard secondary sources used here provide no reference to Lucie belonging to a City livery company. Woodhead indicates family connections to Flanders and the Dutch church and states: “There is no evidence that he was a Citizen… plantations Barbadoes, Antigua… Tory… ‘very right’…” Davies invokes him as typical of those colonial and West India merchants holding Royal Africa Company stock (page 67), and also notes – as does Woodhead – that he was not just a director but for a time a deputy-governor of this slave trading operation. Pettigrew lists him as a RAC director but says nothing else about him in Freedom’s Debt. At the time of writing Lucie doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry. Davies refers to him as Lucy, the other sources used render his surname as Lucie.

Sir Peter Paravicini (1637-1697). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1683. Le Neve (Pedigrees of Knights, p. 412), who writes the name Pallavicini, says that he was born in Italy, came over to England a poor lad and was butler to Charles Torreano, a London merchant, whose son married his daughter. Alderman for Queenhithe. Paravicini belonged to the Merchant Taylors’ Company and was its master. He was a director of the East India Company as well as the Royal Africa Company and a common councillor for Tower before being appointed an alderman. Davies lists him in his index but doesn’t mention him in the main body of his text. He is missing from Pettigrew’s RAC director list, obviously an oversight because Paravicini is found noted as such in the sources the Freedom’s Debt list was complied from as well as in Woodhead. At the time of writing Paravicini does not have a Wikipedia entry.

Sir Benjamin Bathurst (c1638-1704). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1683. Grandson of Lancelot Bathurst (Alderman 1593), father of the 1st Earl Bathurst, grandfather of the 2nd Earl (Lord Chancellor) and ancestor of the succeeding Earls. He was alderman for Cripplegate. The standard secondary sources used here provide no reference to Bathurst belonging to a City livery company. He was an MP and held senior directorship posts at both the Royal Africa Company (deputy-governor and sub-governor) and the East India Company (deputy-governor and governor), as various sources including his History of Parliament online entry record. Woodhead lists him as a high Tory. At the time of writing Wikipedia doesn’t mention Bathurst’s appointment to the upper chamber of the City of London council but does note: “With his senior appointments in the Royal Africa Company and the East India Company, Bathurst was heavily involved in the slave trade. The Royal Africa Company was set up in 1660* to trade along the west coast of Africa. It shipped approximately 100,000 African slaves to the Americas (primarily the Caribbean) as part of the total Atlantic slave trade of 3.1 million by British and Portuguese traders. In 1700, Bathurst purchased Cirencester Park with earnings from commodities including Gold, Silver, cloth and spices as well as the proceeds of slavery. It is still owned by the Bathurst family. When Bathurst died, he left a fortune great enough to endow all three of his sons with country estates.” Wikipedia also currently states: “He was deputy governor of the Levant Company in 1686-87 and governor in 1688-89 and 1695. He was also Deputy Governor of the Leeward Islands.” Pettigrew in Debt includes a Bathurst with the honorific Sir, Davies in his index has both this Bathurst and an unknighted Benjamin Bathhurst. An obvious candidate for the second person of this name would be Sir Benjamin Bathurst’s son Benjamin Bathurst (1692-1767); however the latter’s History of Parliament online entry does not include RAC directorship in a skimpy and probably incomplete list of offices held. The Wikipedia entry for the younger man currently states: “His father was heavily involved in the slave trade through the Royal African Company and the East India Company. Bathurst was himself a supporter of the slave trade, in his position as MP.” Whether Davies made a mistake by including two individuals called Benjamin Bathurst in his index or this is another omission from Pettigrew’s list is something that requires archival research to resolve. Davies lists the unknighted Bathurst serving as an RAC director in 1703-4, so around the time Sir Benjamin died and not quite a decade after his 1957 work lasts lists Sir Benjamin serving as an RAC director; by using the secondary sources we deployed it isn’t possible to conclude the second Davies listing couldn’t possibly refer to the older man on the grounds it is unambiguously after his death. See also the entry for Sir Gabriel Roberts (below) for a further example of the Pettigrew RAC director list losing an unknighted name where Davies includes both it and the same name prefixed with Sir; on the basis of other secondary sources we can conclude Pettigrew’s omission is an error in the instance of Roberts.

The Hermitage Museum website has an English language page about a portrait of Sir Benjamin Bathurst (from the circle of John Riley, 1646-1691) with no indication of the leading role he played in the slave trade. This should be corrected on the English language page and in any other languages where the information is omitted. If the original item is displayed at the Hermitage Museum or satellite operations then it requires proper labelling, although we think it would be better if this picture was donated to a museum dedicated to exposing the horrors of slavery.

Sir John Buckworth (c1623-1687). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1683. His funeral sermon (December 29th, 1687) is preserved in Wilford’s Memorials, pp. 604, 5. He was father of Sir John Buckworth, Bart., Whig candidate for the City in 1707 and 1708. The elder Sir John Buckworth was an alderman for Coleman Street and a member of the Fishmongers’ Company. For a discussion and dismissal of an alternative 1602 birthdate for Buckworth see Marine Lives here, this source invokes Woodhead but doesn’t engage with his birthdate which is a year later than the one they provide. That this alderman is the John Buckworth being invoked is clear from Woodhead and to a lesser degree the date Davies gives for his first service as an RAC director; his son of the same name would have been about 12 years-old at that time and his grandson also called John Buckworth hadn’t been born. This Buckworth wasn’t just a director of the slave trading RAC but was also a deputy-governor there and a director of the Levant Company. His son, the first Buckworth baronet, was a Sheriff of London but not an alderman. Clearly the Buckworth baronets of Sheen (later Buckworth-Herne and Buckworth-Herne-Soame baronets) provide yet another instance of a family elevated to the peerage on the back of their involvement in the slave trade. The current baronet is Sir Richard John Buckworth-Herne-Soame (born 1970), we think it would be a good idea if he renounced his title and contributed at least some of the inherited assets he has to slavery reparations. At the time of writing Sir John Buckworth (c1623-1687) doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry but there is one for his son Sir John Buckworth (1662–1709).

Portrait of Sir John Buckworth attributed to John Riley (1646-1681). Chantry Fine Art who seem to be attempting to sell the painting for £7,500 call Buckworth ‘an important London merchant’ on their website; Davies describes him as ‘a commissioner of the Mint’. The information that he was a slave trader should be added to the Chantry pages about him and on other sites that carry the picture (including Marine Lives linked to above). Elsewhere the painting has been described as a: “Portrait of Sir John Buckworth, (c.1602-1687), bust-length, in a mantle and a lace collar, in a sculpted cartouche with identifying inscription ‘Sr. Jυon. Buckworth 1663’ (lower left). Oil on canvas 29 7/8 x 24¾ in. (75.8 x 62.8 cm). Provenance. The sitter, and by descent. Somerford Park, Cheshire. Sir Arthur Bryant, ‘The remaining contents of Myles Place, The Close, Salisbury’; Christie’s, London, 5-6 September 1985, lot 681. E.C.R. Morris, 1985.” It should go without saying that hawking portraits of slave traders is potentially damaging to the reputations of all those involved in such sales and it would be better if this picture of Sir John Buckworth was donated to a slavery museum.

Sir Gabriel Roberts (1635-1714/5). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1687. Alderman for Broad Street. The secondary sources we are using do not identify him as being a member of a livery company. Both Davies and Woodhead identify this Gabriel Roberts as not just being a director but also a deputy-governor and sub-governor of the Royal Africa Company. He was also a director of the Levant Company (and deputy-governor there for a quarter of a century) and the East India Company. Woodhead notes: “Tory… Bro of William ROBERTS, bro-in-law of George HANGER Da Dorcas mar Sir John Fryer Bt, LM, 1720”. The entry for Roberts also provides an example of a scanning error in Rulers of London online, Woodhead’s RAC in the original print edition becomes RAG in the scanned version when listing Roberts’ positions at this joint-stock company (we checked it against the print version and it is rendered RAC). Pettigrew includes Sir Gabriel Roberts in his list of RAC directors but misses his nephew, the unknighted Gabriel Roberts (c.1665-aft.1734) who also features in the Davies index. The History of Parliament online entry for the younger Roberts confirms his directorship of the RAC and his relationship to Sir Gabriel Roberts and a number of other City of London slave traders, describing this MP as: “2nd s. of William Roberts, Vintner, of St. Katherine Cree, London by Martha, da. of Francis Dashwood, Turkey merchant and alderman of London, sis. of Sir Samuel and Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Bt… He could boast a formidable mercantile pedigree, being a grandson of Lewis Roberts, East India and Turkey merchant and author of The Merchant’s Mappe of Commerce (1638), and a nephew of Sir Gabriel Roberts (d. 1714), deputy-governor of the Royal African and Levant Companies.” See the entry for Sir Benjamin Bathhurst (above) for a further example of the Pettigrew list losing an unknighted name where Davies includes both it and the same name prefixed with Sir. At the time of writing Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for Sir Gabriel Roberts but the page it has on his nephew currently notes his directorship of the Royal Africa Company, the East India Company, the Levant Company and the South Sea Company. Right now the Wikipedia entry for the younger man concludes by indicating how this dynasty provides yet another example of a family who made its way into the peerage on the back of slave trading: “He left an only son Philip by his second wife. This son, Major Philip Roberts, married Anne Coke, daughter of Edward Coke and took the name of Coke in place of his patronymic in 1750. He was the father of Wenman Coke, MP and ancestor of the Earls of Leicester.”

Sir Jeremy Sambrooke AKA Sambroke (died 1704). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1687. He married the sister of the wife of Sir William Hedges (see our entry on him below – Alderman, Sheriff 1693-4) and was father of Sir Samuel and Sir Jeremy Sambrooke, Baronets. Sambrooke was alderman for Cripplegate and belonged to the Haberdashers’ Company. He was a director and a sub-governor of the Royal Africa Company. He was also a director of the East India Company (deputy-governor 1683-4). Davies notes he was one of several men ‘who on their return from service in India invested part of the proceeds in African stock…” (page 69). Pettigrew adds nothing to this but includes Sambrooke in his RAC directors list. At the time of writing this Sir Jeremy Sandbrooke doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry. John James Baddeley in his The Aldermen of Cripplegate Ward from A.D. 1276 to A.D. 1900 gives Sandbrooke half-page coverage and doesn’t seem to know much about him: “…he was chosen one of fifteen persons to prepare bye-laws for the “new bank” (Bank of England)… He was a noted merchant, and left his estate to his son, who married a daughter of the Lord Keeper… One of his daughters married Sir Humphrey Edwin (see our entry on him in part 6 of this series), Lord Mayor, 1697. He had a house by the Guildhall…”

John Gardner AKA Gardiner (died 1690). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1687. Alderman for Cordwainer. He’d previously been a common councillor for Langbourn. Gardner was a member of the Skinners’ Company and its master in 1678. Both Davies and Woodhead list him as an RAC director, the former indicating in his index an alternative spelling of his surname. Pettigrew has John Gardiner in his list of RAC directors but writes about John Gardner in the main body of his book. The information Davies (pages 67 and 129) and Woodhead provide about Gardner matches the man described in Pettigrew’s book and it seems the mismatch between the name in the Freedom’s Debt RAC director list and the rest of the same publication is simply another instance of the inconsistent use of appellations found throughout this text. Neither Pettigrew – nor his editors who should also bear at least some of the blame – had much of an eye for consistency of usage and in places this slovenly approach has resulted in the author missing relatively minor but nonetheless interesting details. The longest passage about John Gardner AKA Gardiner in Freedom’s Debt is on page 51, and in it Pettigrew omits the pertinent but not crucial fact that Gardner was not only a former RAC shareholder (see Woodhead also) but had been a director of this joint-stock company: “John Gardner was a Barbadian sugar trader, a former shareholder in the African Company, and one of the merchants who elected to purchase a license from the African Company to trade independently. He imported Barbadian sugar on a truly vast scale. In 1686, he brought in £28,394 from the West Indies. The Whig journalist John Oldmixon observed, ‘The opening (of) the African Trade was . . . more owing to his [Gardner’s] Contrivance and Industry than any other Person or Persons whatsoever.’ According to Oldmixon, the Gardner and Bawden firm worked hard to prevent Dalby Thomas, spokesman for the plantation interest before becoming the African Company’s governor on the coast of West Africa, from creating a company that would monopolize all trade from Barbados to London. The interlopers of the 1670s and 1680s, then, were a group of established, wealthy, and powerful merchants who often traded and lobbied in support of the broader campaign for trade outside that of the long-distance enterprises like the Royal African and East Indian Companies. Far from being a band of pirates and buccaneers, the majority of these men were prominent and successful merchants with great political as well as commercial experience.” At the time of writing this John Gardner does not have a Wikipedia entry.

Robert Bristow (1643-1707) Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1687. Alderman for Wabrook. Bristow was a member of the Grocers’ Company and its master in 1692. As well as being an RAC director, he was a director of the Bank of England (see Woodhead but also the History of Parliament online entry for his grandson Robert Bristow which begins: “Bristow was the grandson of Robert Bristow, who migrated to Virginia about 1660, made a great fortune there, returned to England, where he bought estates in various counties, including property near Winchelsea, founded a merchant’s business in London, and was a director of the Bank of England from 1697 till his death ten years later.”) See also James George White’s History of the Ward of Walbook in the City of London (privately printed, London 1904, page 259) where it is recorded this alderman was: “the son of Robert Bristow of Herts. He was a merchant of London and a Director of the Bank of England.” Woodhead tells us Bristow was also a West Indies merchant with property in Southwark and land in Essex. Davies merely includes Bristow in his index, and Pettigrew who has a Robert Bristow in both his list of RAC directors and independent slave traders does no more than drop his name into a footnote (page 130). Archives such as the Robert Bristow. Records, 1688-1750. Accession 22953, Business records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, provide more extensive information about him. Bristow’s biographical information on the Library of Virginia webpage we link to reads as follows: “Robert Bristow (1643-1707) settled in Virginia about 1660 and purchased valuable estates. He returned to London, England, about 1680, but retained control of his property in Virginia. Upon his death, his grandson Robert Bristow (d. 1776) was bequested the lands in Virginia which consisted of estates in Gloucester, Lancaster, Stafford and Prince William Counties.” The same page describes the scope and content of the archive material (purchased 1948) as follows: “The ledger entries are for shoes, buttons, cloth, thread, and tobacco. The letter book reflects the Bristows’ activity in Virginia trade and includes instructions to the managers of their plantations. Other letters concern shipment of tobacco, various financial transactions, and clothing for plantation slaves. Recipients of letters includes Thomas Booth (d. 1736), the manager of Bristow’s lands in Gloucester County, and Frances Willis among others.” This makes it very clear that Alderman Bristow was a slave owner as well as a slave trader, as do various other secondary sources including The Slavery Connections Of Marble Hill House by Dr Laurence Brown: “Sir John Hobart (1693-1756), had married, as his second wife, Elizabeth Bristow (d. 1762) in 1728. She was the daughter of Robert Bristow (1643-1707) a planter and merchant who owned extensive estates in Virginia on the coast of Mobjack Bay. After the Navigation Acts restricted inter-colonial trade, Robert Bristow migrated from Virginia to London in 1677 so that he could continue his business as a merchant. In 1702, Bristow is listed as one of eight owners of the vessel Calabar Merchant which embarked 238 enslaved Africans at the port of Calabar (in South-East Nigeria) (see www.slavevoyages.org, voyage 21258, Calabar Merchant, 1702) for Virginia. A quarter did not survive the Atlantic crossing. Upon Bristow’s death he left his estate and slaves in Virginia to his grandson, so the Hobart’s do not appear to have directly benefited from these plantations. (see Ludwell Montague, “Landholdings in Ware Neck 1642-1860”, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 60: 1, 1952, pp. 69-71). At the time of writing Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for Alderman Robert Bristow but there are entries for his son Robert Bristow (1662–1706), grandsons Robert Bristow (1688–1737) and John Bristow (1701- 1768) and great-grandson Robert Bristow (1712–1776), who were all MPs. As well as owning plantations and the elder Robert Bristow being a director of the RAC and an independent slave trader, the whole family was also enmeshed in human trafficking by various members being directors of the East India Company and the South Sea Company, as recorded in the History of Parliament entries for those who were MPs.

Portrait of Robert Bristow (1688–1737) by Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723). The sitter is the slave owning and slave trading grandson of Alderman Robert Bristow who inherited his namesake’s slaves and plantations in Virginia and was a director of the East India Company and the Bank of England. This portrait is featured on the Art UK website where there is currently no labelling or tagging to inform visitors that it depicts a slave trader and slave owner. The work is currently housed in the Bank of England Museum, although in our view it would be better to display it in a museum dedicated to slavery or colonial barbarism. On 1 December 2020 Reuters (Bank of England cannot ignore history of slavery, governor says by Reuters Staff) and The Telegraph (Bailey promises Bank will face up to historic slave trade ‘dilemma’ by Tim Wallace) carried stories about BoE governor Andrew Bailey’s position on the slave trade, seemingly taken from an economic history seminar he participated in at King’s College London the previous week; both media outlets suggested the BoE would be taking down its portraits of slave trading directors and governors. Reuters paraphrased this, The Telegraph ran the following as a direct quote: “The Bank has commenced a thorough review of its collection of images of former Governors and Directors to ensure none with any such involvement in the slave trade remain on display anywhere in the Bank.” Before running the words just cited, The Telegraph story features the following quote that indicates Bailey’s statement may contain ambiguities when it comes to the BoE Museum: “What we can’t deny is, while we have no time for the so-called values of (the) past in condoning slavery and the slave trade, our institutional standing as the Bank of England benefits in some parts at least from the continuity of our existence. That is in a sense the dilemma that we face – as well as some of the pictures of my predecessors that sit on the floor above me, whose past is being subject to more scrutiny.” The BoE Museum is housed in this institution’s main building on Threadneedle Street (although its address is Bartholomew Lane – which runs alongside the northern edge of the building – and as far as we can tell it is below rather than above the floor on which Bailey has his office). It will be worth checking in due course if the Kneller Robert Bristow (1688–1737) portrait is removed from there. See our entry on Sir James Bateman (below in part 5) for another example of a slaver portrait in the BoE Museum. It may be the case that Bailey is unaware that there are portraits of slavers in the BoE Museum. The Art UK website highlights works held in public collections.

William Jolliffe (c1622-1712). Appointed to the Court of Aldermen 1687. Son of William Jolliffe, who was half-brother of John Jolliffe (Alderman 1658). His second wife was daughter of the 6th Earl of Huntingdon, and his third, sister of Sir John Trenchard, Secretary of State. He was an alderman for Vintry. Beaven doesn’t record him as belonging to a livery company but his entry as an MP in the History of Parliament online says he was a freeman of the Mercers’ Company.. That source lists his directorship of the Levant Company and the New East India Company but not the Royal Africa Company. Davies and Pettigrew both list him as an RAC director but neither have anything to say about him. Woodhead in Rulers of London makes it clear through the details provided that it is this alderman William Jolliffe who was a director of the slave trading Royal Africa Company for the years 1699-1706. At the tine of writing this William Jolliffe does not have a Wikipedia entry.

Sir John Fleet AKA Fleete (c1647-1712). Elected to the Court of Aldermen 1688. He was alderman for Langbourn. He was a member of the Coopers’ Company and its master in 1689. Before he became Lord Mayor his livery was transferred to the Grocers’ Company, where he was also master. Prior to the 18th century the Lord Mayor came from one of the so-called 12 great companies – the first to come from a minor company and hold the top job seems to have been the Cooper Sir Robert Willimot, who became lord mayor in 1742. Fleet was sheriff in 1688 and Lord Mayor in 1693. He was not just a director but also held the position of sub-governor at the Royal Africa Company. Likewise he acted as governor of the East India Company for many years (with statutory intervals),, as well as being an EIC director for many years (with statutory intervals), so Fleet was up to his eyeballs in blood from the slave trade. Woodhead notes Fleet was trading to the West Indies and other parts. He was also an MP and is implicated in corruption in Parliament involving amongst other things the East India Company, whose interests he vigorously defended in the Commons (see his History of Parliament online entry). Fleet is found in the Davies index as Sir John Fleete, with a footnote on page 161 making it clear that this is the lord mayor dealt with here since the many details provided match Beaven and Woodhead’s entries for Fleet. Pettigrew includes Fleet as Sir John Fleete in his RAC director list but otherwise refers to him throughout his book as Sir John Fleet without an additional vowel at the end of his name; as we have made clear, the RAC director list there appears to have been put together in a slapdash fashion and this is not the only inconsistency of use between it and the main body of text in Freedom’s Debt. At the time of writing Fleet’s Wikipedia entry doesn’t mention his deep and long involvement in the slave trade.

Sir William Gore (1644 – 1707). Elected to the Court of Aldermen 1690. His son married a daughter of the 4th Earl of Northampton. He was alderman for Coleman Street. Gore was a member of the Mercers’ Company and its master in 1695. He was Lord Mayor of London in 1701-2. Pettigrew is the only one of the secondary sources we are deploying to suggest Sir William Gore was a Royal Africa Company director but we think it possible this is an error and he intended to invoke Sir William Gore’s son, the Tory MP William Gore (c. 1675–1739) who wasn’t knighted. Davies lists neither Sir William Gore nor his son William Gore in his index. Woodhood in Rulers of London 1660-1689 stops his research into City of London councillors the year before Sir William Gore’s election and so isn’t any help; he does mention Sir William Gore “LM 1701-2” in his entry on Walter Hampton, a common councillor for Coleman Street, where it is recorded Gore married Hampton’s daughter Elizabeth – but this marriage and the fact Gore was a Lord Mayor are all Woodhead records about him. At the time of writing Sir William Gore’s Wikipedia entry mentions his appointment as a founding Director of the Bank of England in 1694 and says he served as governor of the Hamburg and Levant Companies but there is no mention of the slave trade, although there should be because Beaven records him as having been a director of the East India Company. The younger Gore’s History of Parliament online entry lists the offices he held as: “Dir. Bank of Eng. (with statutory intervals) 1709–12, S. Sea Co. 1711–12, R. African Co. 1723–7… Commr. sewers, Tower Hamlets 1712”. This History of Parliament online entry also notes: “Gore himself was active in the same circles as his father, as a naval contractor, in the Old East India Company (pledging £1,000 of its advance loan in 1698), and in the Bank, where he succeeded to his father’s directorship.” So we can see that both father and son are deeply embroiled in the slave trade/black holocaust. We have checked Davies and the relevant part of the History of Parliament, the only other source Pettigrew provides for his RAC director list is archival records of the Royal Africa Company – and so it is these that require perusal to determine whether or not Sir William Gore was – as Pettigrew indicates – a director of that company. As will be evident from other entries on this blog, Pettigrew is inconsistent in his use of the honorific sir and in a footnote on page 46 listing MPs who also served as RAC directors he correctly includes William Gore without an honorific (but the book’s index erroneously carries this entry under the heading “Gore, Sir William”). Pettigrew also includes Sir William Gore on his list of independent slave traders but given his somewhat random deployment of honorifics it is possible that here also he should be invoking the son rather than the father. However, in the case of independent slave trading – as with the Royal Africa Company directorship – it is possible that both the father and son are guilty of crimes against humanity but a careful checking of primary sources is required to determine whether or not this is the case. Davies has missed one Gore (and possibly two) in his index listing of RAC directors. At the time of writing the Wikipedia entries on both men omit mention of their involvement in the slave trade – and while the full extent of this has yet to be determined, it is clear they held directorships and other interests in companies that engaged in human trafficking. Sir William Gore’s son and William Gore’s brother John Gore (c. 1689–1763) was like his sibling an MP and a director of the slave trading South Sea Company (see John Gore’s History of Parliament online entry).

Portrait of Sir William Gore Lord Mayor of London by unknown artist. This is featured on the Art UK website where there is currently no labelling or tagging to inform visitors that it depicts a director of the colonialist and slave trading East India Company who was possibly also a director of the slave trading Royal Africa Society (although as we’ve indicated further research is required into this). The picture is currently housed in the Guildhall Art Gallery, although in our view it would be better to display it in a museum dedicated to slavery or colonial barbarism. The Art UK website highlights works held in public collections. Note the Guildhall Art Gallery is owned and run by the City of London council and abuts their local authority HQ (home to statues of the slavers and high ranking City of London council officials John Cass and William Beckford); as we’ve previously mentioned flanking this gallery’s entrance are larger than life busts of the slave trade investors Wren and Pepys (also a slave trade enabler through his role with the navy), as well as a bust of the individual most notoriously associated with English colonial massacres in Ireland, Oliver Cromwell. See our previous entry on Sir Robert Clayton for another portrait of a slaver at the Guildhall Art Gallery and why there is an urgent need for this collection to be fully audited for problematic works.

Sir Thomas Cooke (c.1648-1709). Elected to the Court of Aldermen 1692. He was an alderman for Queenhithe. Cooke belonged to the Goldsmiths’ Company and was its prime warden in 1691. He was Sheriff of London in 1692 and also an MP. Cooke features in both the Davies index and Pettigrew’s RAC director’s list, other textual references in both books make it clear that they are invoking this alderman and sheriff. He was also a director, deputy-governor and governor of the East India Company and is implicated in further colonial exploitation through his directorship of the Royal Fishery Company of Ireland; he is also thought to have been a director of the New England Company. Cooke’s History of Parliament online entry provides some insight into this slaver: “Cooke was known as the ‘dictator’ of the Old East India Company on account of his autocratic and domineering style of administration as its governor, and his name became a byword for corruption and bribery… The obstacle to his holding office (as lord mayor) was only a self-imposed one, ‘not being able to go through the great fatigue of the lord mayoralty, because of his great indisposition’. By taking the unprecedented step of asking to be excused on health grounds, even though he was fit enough to serve as governor of the East India Company, he gave a snubbing demonstration of his priorities and the City proceeded to a new election…” The entry moves on to the East India Company bribery scandal under Cooke’s ‘watch’: “three huge payments, two of over £20,000 and one of £30,000, had been made to unknown persons between April 1693 and January 1694; that this ‘was a new course since Sir Thomas Cooke came to be deputy governor or governor’; that five MPs, Sir Samuel Dashwood, Sir John Fleet, John Perry, Sir Joseph Herne and Cooke, had been present when these were sanctioned; and that Sir Thomas had refused to reveal who had received the money, even to fellow committeemen of the company, claiming that he was bound by oath to keep its secrets. Sir Basil Firebrace did, however, admit to the committee that he had used some of the money to win over to the company interlopers like himself, and Members also learned that Sir Edward Seymour’s friend, Thomas Coulson, had been granted an extraordinarily favourable saltpetre contract…” The rotten borough system – which today only survives in the City of London itself – very much lent itself to such corruption. At the time of writing this Thomas Cooke doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry.

Sir William Hedges (1632-1701). Elected to the Court of Aldermen 1693, he had previously been a common councillor for Bassishaw. Brother of Sir Charles Hedges, Secretary of State to William III. and Anne. He was knighted in 1688 and Sheriff of London in 1693. He was alderman for Portsoken. Hedges belonged to the Mercers’ Company and was its master in 1688 and 1700. He was a director of the Bank of England, the East India Company and the Levant Company. He further participated in colonial exploitation by being governor of Bengal 1682-4. What’s listed so far is recorded by Woodhead and Beaven. Woodhead also lists Hedges as a Royal Africa Company director, as does Davies in his index. Hedges isn’t on the Freedom’s Debt list of RAC directors, this seems to be one of a number of oversights as Hedges appears in the source material on which Pettigrew drew. Woodhead also notes Hedges was brother-in-law to another slave trader, Jeremy Sambrooke (see above). At the time of writing Wikipedia makes no mention of Hedges’ involvement with the Royal Africa Company or the slave trade but does detail his work with the East India Company. Hedges has achieved a kind of posthumous infamy as a colonial exploiter due to the publication of his diaries. These were issued as The diary of William Hedges, esq. (afterwards Sir William Hedges), during his agency in Bengal: as well as on his voyage out and return overland (1681-1697) transcribed with introductory notes by R. Barlow and illustrated with extracts from unpublished records by Colonel Henry Yule (Hakluyt Society, London 1887-89).

Sir John Johnson (1639-1698). Elected to the Court of Aldermen 1696 and knighted the same year. He was an alderman for Farringdon Within and previously a common councillor for the same ward from 1681-96 (and as such is included in Woodhead’s Rulers). Beaven records him as belonging to the Drapers’ Company and as being its master in 1697. This Johnson was a director of the East India Company as well as the Royal Africa Company. He is listed in Davies’ index as Sir John Johnson and would appear to be included in Pettigrew’s RAC directors list as John Johnson without the honorific; we have already noted Pettigrew is inconsistent in his use of honorifics and draws on Davies as a source, so it seems likely his John Johnson is the same person as the Sir John Johnson invoked by Davies. Woodhead indicates that this John Johnson was a goldsmith by trade and worked with men called James Johnson and Henry Johnson; although we haven’t researched the matter, we think it unlikely this is the shipbuilder Sir Henry Johnson (c.1659-1719), who is nonetheless implicated in the slave trade both through his building and ownership of sailing vessels and in his role as a director of the East India Company. While Davies mentions Sir Henry Johnson he does not list him as an RAC director but there is a Sir Henry Johnson in the Freedom’s Debt RAC director list, which may or may not be invoking the shipbuilder. Since Sir Henry Johnson’s name comes neither from Davies recording him as an RAC director (he doesn’t) nor the only relevant History of Parliament online entry, it would be necessary to check the archival records to determine whether Pettigrew has picked up on something Davies missed or has made an error. Returning to Rulers, it enables us to identify Alderman Sir John Johnson as the man in the Davies index of RAC directors because both use the same RAC officer dates and crosschecking with Beaven confirms he was knighted. Woodhead lists this councillor as John Johnson rather than Sir John Johnson but his details match those in The Aldermen of the City of London Temp. Henry III-1912. Pettigrew also includes a John Johnson in his list of independent slave traders but we have yet to determine who this is and if it this is the same person who is in his RAC director list, or someone else with the same name.

Continued in part 5.

Return to part 3, return to part 2, return to part 1.

Notes.

*The 1660 date here is for the first charter given to the Company of Royal Adventurers trading to Africa, which was replaced with one that included slave trading in 1663, the latter charter being sold on to the Royal African Company a decade later. On pages 57-9 of his 1957 book, Davies details an attempt to restructure the Royal Adventurers and finally the abandonment of this project: “The complicated scheme for writing down the old stock and grafting part of the old debt on the new stock was abandoned. Instead there was to be a new company which would purchase for the sum of £34,000 all the assets of the Royal Adventurers. With this money the old company was to pay its shareholders 2s. in the £ and creditors 8s in the £, both in cash… In all essentials this simplified scheme was carried into effect, and there was thus a more formal break between the two companies than would have otherwise been the case. The Royal African Company had a distinct capital, a new name, and eventually a fresh charter. On the other hand, there was much informal continuity, the premises, many of the shareholders, and some of the officials of the new company being the same as the old… The subscription book of the Royal African Company lay open from 10 November to 11 December 1671, in which time two hundred persons underwrote stock to the value of £111,600… One-twentieth was called in January 1672, one-twentieth and two-tenths at the end of the same year, three-tenths in 1673, and the remaining four-tenths in 1674…” Since the initial capital for the Royal Africa Company was called up in 1672, this seems to us a more appropriate date for its founding than the 1660 used in Wikipedia. It is worth noting that what we’ve quoted from the Sir Benjamin Bathurst page on Wikipedia matches the Wikipedia entry for the Royal African Company. There are continuities between the Royal Adventurers and the Royal Africa Company but in our view there are sufficient discontinuities for them to be treated as separate entities – and so we are not suggesting that the 1660 date is necessarily incorrect, although we think 1672 dating is preferable.

8 thoughts on “The City of London & The Slave Trade Part 4

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