"The Insurances you desire on the [slave ships] Othello & the Royal Charlotte shall be taken care of & executed immediately"Colonial Slave Trade & the Boston Massacre - Autograph Letter Signed "Hayley & Hopkins," 2 pages, 7.5" x 9". London, April 26, 1770. Integral leaf addressed to "Messrs Saml & Will. Vernon/Merchts./Newport," noted "Via Boston" with a circular "20/IV" postal marking. On watermarked, laid paper. A nine line transcription of the November 18, 1769 letter previously written begins this letter with the notation "The above is Copy of our last respects. The bill therein mentioned was paid..." In part, "Capn. Duckett at Bristol wch Vessel we understand sailed from thence a few days ago but our Agent has neglected sending up the Invoice to us...We have just now recd your favours of 10th and 11th March by Capn. Gilbert..." The Boston Massacre had taken place on March 5, 1770. Continuing, "We are much obliged to you for the contents of that of the 11th respecting the horrid Massacre at Boston. The Insurances you desire on the Othello & the Royal Charlotte shall be taken care of & executed immediately...We have the 6 bills of Exche you enclose us to £900, five of which are accepted & will be placed to your credit the other being that for £90 on Alexr. Spiero of Glascow is gone thither for acceptance...The Tea & other goods wch you desire may be shippd provided the Revenue Acts are repealed & not otherwise...the Tea duty is not repealed & as far as we can understand is not likely to be so..." The duty on tea eventually led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
Hayley & Hopkins was a major insurance firm in London. In addition to insuring goods sent to Newport and other ports in the American colonies, they also insured slave ships from Newport to Africa and then to the port of unlading in America. Brothers Samuel and William Vernon of Newport were merchants who traded goods with all the maritime nations of Europe, the West Indies, and Africa. They made much of their wealth trafficking in slaves. Between 1725 and 1808, Newport ships took approximately 100,000 Africans into slavery. At the height of their slave trade, the Vernon brothers had as many as eight slave ships at sea. Letters specifically mentioning ships involved the colonial slave trade are rare and desirable. This one concerns insurance on the lives of slaves, not as life insurance but as merchandise insurance. Glassine repairs on verso of integral address leaf. Fine condition.
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