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African Diaspora Newsletter No.11 - Major Research Paper
Regional “Colonial” Trade in the Americas: Jamaica and The South Sea Company, 1713-1748

Nadine Hunt

The Major Research Paper will examine the flow of trade goods and enslaved Africans to Spanish colonies via Jamaica. Focusing on the official years of trade between the South Sea Company (SSC) and Spanish agents at Vera Cruz, Porto Bello, Cartagena and Caracas, the paper intends to highlight the significance of regional trade and networks in the Americas.

Utilizing Colonial Office series 142/13-18 held in the Public Record Office, the records document international ships and their contents, landing at Kingston, Jamaica between the years 1683 to 1807. The goods imported and exported include wine, beer, fish, ivory and an assortment of items. Primary Spanish sources include the Negros y Esclavos documents held in Archivo General de la Nación, Colombia. The documents deal with various aspects of social, economic and legal history of New Granada including trading slaves with Jamaica.

Secondary materials include The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database on CD-ROM. The database includes voyages of 27,000 ships, which demonstrate the migration of enslaved people from West, Central and parts of South-eastern Africa to the Americas. However the database lacks voyage material to demonstrate the trade in slaves between Jamaica and Spanish America. Colin Palmer’s work on Human Cargoes: The British Slave Trade to Spanish America, 1700-1739 (1981) and L. Rudnyanszky’s PhD dissertation “The Caribbean Slave Trade: Jamaica and Barbados, 1680-1770” (1973), both authors have highlighted the trade in African slaves between Jamaica and Spanish America. The slave trade was not insignificant, because both writers were able to depict a lucrative industry in the re-sale of slaves.

Recent research exploring trade networks between Central America and Jamaica include Verene Shepherd (2003) and Rina Cáceres Gómez (2004). Shepherd examines the economic significance of regional commerce between Jamaica and Spanish colonies during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Cáceres Gómez surveys several African communities along the Spanish Caribbean coast and links their arrival to the inter-island slave trade based in Jamaica.

Selected Bibliography:
Eltis, David; Klein, Herbert S., Richardson, David and Behrendt, Stephen D., The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database on CD-ROM. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999
Lovejoy, Paul E. and Trotman, David V., Eds. Trans-Atlantic Dimensions of Ethnicity in the African Diaspora. London: Continuum, Black Atlantic Series, 2004.
Palmer, Colin A. Human Cargoes: The British Slave Trade to Spanish America, 1700-1739. Illinois: Illinois University Press, 1981.
Rudnyanszky, Leslie Imre. “The Caribbean Slave Trade: Jamaica and Barbados, 1680-1770.” PhD, Notre Dame University, 1973.
Shepherd, Verene. “Caribbean Links: Slavery, Economy and Trade Routes”. African Diaspora: The Making of the South Atlantic World, International Conference on the African Legacy in the Atlantic World, Curaçao, July 2003.
Sperling, John G. The South Sea Company: An Historical Essay and Bibliographical Finding List. Boston: Baker Library, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, 1962.

Department of History, York University,  Toronto, Canada
Email: nigerian@yorku.ca
Fax: (416) 650-8173