© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London | Licence: CC BY-NC-ND
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London | Licence: CC BY-NC-ND

'Bance Island, River Sierra Leone, Coast of Africa'

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From the Collection


The original watercolour for the coloured aquatint published in Corry's 'Observations upon the Windward coast of Africa' (London 1807). Bance Island was once the property of the Royal African Company, lying 15 miles up stream of the mouth of the Sierra Leone River. In 1749 it was acquired by a group of London merchants. 'They rehabilitated the fort, built dwellings for local factors and slave pens; eventually they constructed Africa's first golf course in the 1770s, making the island, so far as visiting merchants and captains were concerned, the most agreeable spot for slave trading on the coast. One visitor described the sportsmen dressed in whites, attended by African caddies in tartan loincloths; golf was, he declared, 'very pretty exercise', after which they would repair to a meal of roast ape, antelope or boar washed down with Madeira wine'. (Blackburn, 'The Making of New World Slaver', p.389). Approximately 13,000 slaves were dispatched to the Americas from here between 1748-84. By the 1790s, the island’s then owners, John and Alexander Anderson, argued they had a right to trade, enshrined by an Act of Parliament. Forts like Bance Island were important points in the slave trade. Here Africans captured inland were taken and locked up while slave traders came to collect them for the voyage to the Americas. Part of the Michael Graham-Stewart slavery collection.
Credit Line: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection. Acquired with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund

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© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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