Explore thousands of records from the Royal African Company. Findmypast has digitised thousands of passenger lists and records from the Royal African Company and provided them for free to search. The original passenger lists and records are housed in The National Archives in England.
In the results, you will find an image of the original document and a transcript of the vital details. The amount of detail in each transcript will depend on the context of the record and the condition and legibility of the original record. For further search tips and clarification about the transcription of these documents, view our search tips below.
Race – Please note that the terms used in historical records reflect attitudes and language at the time and may now be considered derogatory or offensive. This field is only available for individuals who were recorded as ‘black’, ‘negro’, or ‘mulatto’. See our search tips below for a further explanation of the descriptions found in this field.
Status – This field will provide you with an indication as to why your ancestor appears in these records. For example, there are arrival and departure lists, lists of all the names of people who have lived and died at specific forts over a period of time, lists of people who have deserted the forts, and much more.
Series and piece descriptions
Year range of the records
The digitised images may provide further details about your ancestor or give you more information about why their name appeared on this particular document. On the lists of the deceased, you may find your ancestor’s place of death. Other records may include your ancestor’s nationality or a description of your ancestor. For example, we can find multiple entries for Peter Cloice. Cloice arrived at Cape Coast Castle in 1734, and early records note that he was a soldier. However, later records beginning from 1741 describe him as a blind mulatto soldier receiving half pay. The final record for Peter Cloice (also spelt Cloyce) tells us that he died on 22 May 1766.
Use the previous and next arrows on either side of the image to browse through the records.
The records found in this collection are retained by The National Archives, part of their T 70 series Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading with Africa and successors. They contain the names of thousands of individuals who travelled on board the Royal African Company’s ships to and from Africa as well as the names of those who lived and died at the numerous company forts.
The Royal African Company was a mercantile company from 1660 until it was dissolved in 1750. The company was first incorporated as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa. Then it was reconstituted in 1672 as the Royal African Company of England. The Royal African Company held a monopoly over trade in West Africa. Until the 1730s, the company participated mainly in the slave trade to the British colonies. The Royal African Company was a crucial part of the transatlantic slave trade. The transatlantic slave trade was an abominable part of world history. It was a system that enslaved millions of African men, women, and children over several centuries. After years of campaigning for the abolition of slavery, the slave trade was abolished in Britain in 1807.
Since its formation, the Royal African Company established forts and trading posts along the African coast. The company set up its headquarters at Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana). They brought traders, merchants, miners, carpenters, native interpreters, and even distillers to build their forts and African trading posts. You will also find the names of thousands of British soldiers who travelled with the company. From Africa, the company brought men, women, and children as slaves to the colonies, as well as gold, wax, and ivory. After the Royal African Company lost its monopoly of the slave trade, it focused its attention on the ivory and gold markets.
Please note that the terms used in historical records reflect attitudes and language at the time and may now be considered derogatory or offensive
The transcripts reflect the 17th and 18th century’s practice of describing non-white European individuals as ‘black’, ‘negro’, or ‘mulatto’. The transcripts will not include a race field if it was not explicitly noted in the original records.
Researchers may use the Race field to find those individuals identified in the transcripts as ‘black’, ‘negro’, or ‘mulatto’. Note that we have standardised the spelling of ‘mulatto’, which is spelt in various different ways in the original records. The original records contain all three of the foregoing terms and, while the distinction between black and mulatto is generally adhered to, sometimes the terms are used interchangeably – the same man may be described as mulatto and black/negro in different records.
Not all black or mulatto individuals are described as such – sometimes the records (or the transcripts) are silent in this respect. Therefore, if you find a man by searching, without a name, for the search term “mulatto”, for instance, you would then want to repeat your search under his name, removing the search term “mulatto”, to fetch all possible references to him
Where an individual is given only one name in the original record, this name has been transcribed in the first name field.
The spelling of West African names are likely to vary.
Where possible, forenames have been partly standardised (and abbreviations expanded). Surnames are mostly shown with their original transcription.
Freemen of the company can be found by selecting ‘freemen of the company’ under status or by searching the occupation field for Bristol/Liverpool/London merchant.
Occupations have been standardised and their abbreviations expanded where possible. For example, “sergeant” is spelt many ways but has been attributed a single spelling in the transcripts.
The fort field includes two places called James Fort and Fort James. One fort is in Accra and the other on James Island in the River Gambia. It is not always possible to distinguish one from the other; therefore, there are four values in the dropdown list for these two places.
Other than James Fort mentioned above, the names of forts have been standardised where possible, mostly to their modern names.
Note that ‘Guinea’ covers a very large area and isn't the same as modern Guinea-Bissau.