BACKGROUND: ROYAL AFRICAN COMPANY, the British company that dealt in the Slave Trade with Africa. This company was deeply involved with the Slave Trade beginning in 1660 and continued until 1731 when it took up trade in gold dust and ivory from Africa. The Royal African Company was a slaving company set up by the Stuart family and London merchants once the former retook the English throne in the English Restoration of 1660. It was led by James, Duke of York, Charles II's brother. Originally known as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa, it was granted a monopoly over the English slave trade, by its charter issued in 1660. With the help of the army and navy it established trading posts on the West African coast, and it was responsible for seizing any rival English ships that were transporting slaves. It collapsed in 1667 during the war with the Netherlands – the very war it started by having company Admiral Robert Holmes attacking the Dutch African trade posts in 1664 – and re-emerged in 1672, having been merged with those of the Gambia Merchants' Company into the new Royal African Company, with a royal charter to set up forts, factories, troops and to exercise martial law in West Africa, in pursuit of trade in gold, silver and slaves. In the 1680s it was transporting about 5,000 slaves per year. Many were branded with the letters 'DY', after its chief, the Duke of York, who succeeded his brother on the throne in 1685, becoming James II. Other slaves were branded with the company's initials, RAC, on their chests. Between 1672 and 1689 it transported around 90,000-100,000 slaves. Its profits made a major contribution to the increase in the financial power of those who controlled London. In 1698, it lost its monopoly. This was advantageous for merchants in Bristol, even if, like the Bristolian Edward Colston, they had already been involved in the compound. The number of slaves transported on English ships then increased dramatically. The company continued slaving until 1731, when it abandoned slaving in favor of trafficking in ivory and gold dust Charles Hayes (1678–1760), mathematician and chronologist was sub-governor of Royal African Company till 1752 when it was dissolved. Its successor was the African Company of Merchants. The Royal African Company's logo depicted an elephant and castle. From 1668 to 1722 the Royal African Company provided gold to the English Mint. Coins made with this gold bear an elephant below the bust of the king and/or queen. This gold also gave the coinage its name—the guinea.
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