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Letter from Edmund Jenings to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Jenings, Edmund, 1659-1727
November 27, 1708
Volume 01, Pages 693-694

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[B. P. R. O. B. T. Virginia. Vol. 13. O. 21.]

Virginia November ye 27th 1708

May it please yor Lordsps,

It was the 11th of last moneth and the Fleet then sailed, before I had the honor to receive yor Lordships of the 15th of April concerning the Negro Trade Since which I have endeavoured by the means of the proper officers, and the informations of the ancient Inhabitants, to answer Yor Lordps Commands, and in Order thereto have herewith sent yor Lordships an account of all the Negros imported into this Colony from the 24th of June 1699 to the 12th of October last past distinguishing those imported by the Royal African Company (679), and those by seperate Traders (5928), wherein yor Lordships will perceive the latter have had much the greater Share. As to the particular Rates at which those Negros have been sold, they have been variable according to the different times of their coming in and the quality & ages of the Slaves, but the medium for men & women may be reckoned from 20 to 30 pounds a head for those sold by the Company & from 20 to 35£ a head for the like kinds sold by the seperate Traders, who in genll have sold theirs at a higher rate than the Company.

How the Country was supplyed with Negros before the Trade to Africa was laid open in the year 1698. I have endeavoured to Inform my Self from some ancient Inhabitants conversant in that Trade as well as by recollecting what hath happened in my own knowledge, & find that before the year 1680 what negros were brought to Virginia were imported generally from Barbados for it was very rare to have a Negro ship come to this Country directly from Africa since that time, and before the year 1698. the Trade of Negros became more frequent, tho not in any proportion to what it hath been of late, during which the Affrican Company sent several Ships and others by their Licence (as I have been informed) having bought their Slaves of the Company brought them in hither for Sale, Among which I remember the late Alderman Jeffrys & Sr Jeffry Jeffrys were principally concerned, but all this time the price of the Negros was currant from £18 to 25 per head for men and women & never exceeded that Rate. Whether the opening the Trade to Africa having created an Emulation between the Company and the Seperate Traders

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which should outbid the other in the purchase of their Slaves there, or whether the dexterity of their Factors there in taking advantage of the prevailing humour of our Inhabitants for some years past of buying Negros even beyond their abilities, or the Concurrence of both, hath raised the Rates of Negros so extravagantly I shall not pretend to determine but this I may venture to say that it will be much harder to lower the price again now tis raised unless there be the same Freedom of Trade continued as formerly for tho the Inhabitants of this Country in genll will not be so fond of purchasing Negros as of late being sensibly convinced of their Error which has in a manner ruined the Credit of the Country yet there will still be some that must, & others that will at any rate Venture to buy them, & if the Company alone have the Management of the Trade, they'l find pretences enough to keep up the price if not to impose what higher rate they please, which the buyer must submit to, knowing he cannot be supplyed by any other hand. As for Vessells trading directly from this place to the Coast of Africa I never knew of any nor is the same practicable this Country not being provided with Comoditys suitable for carrying on such a Trade. This is the best account I am able to give in Answer to yor Lordships Commands, wherein if I have failed or mistaken in any point I beg yor Lordships favourable Construction thereof Since I can with truth assure your Lordships that no man hath a greater Desire to serve yor Lordships than

My Lords
Your Lordships
most obedient servant