A. B. (Alfred Burdon) Ellis.

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The garrison of this new work consisted of an ensign and
twenty-five men, who were relieved from St. George daily.

It has often been asserted that the Dutch attack on
Elmina was unjustifiable, on the grounds that, in 1637, there
was no war between -the Netherlands and Portugal. This
.is, however, a mistaken view. There was no kingdom of


Portugal in existence in 1637, for, since 1580, when Philip II.
laid violent hands upon it, Portugal had been a province
of Spain, and Holland and Spain were the deadliest foes.
The acknowledgment of the independence of the United
Provinces, which the House of Nassau had succeeded in
wringing from Philip III., was repudiated by Philip IV.
when he renewed the war with Holland in 1621. On land
the Spaniards, under Spinola, gained some advantages, for the
Dutch soldiery could not stand against the veteran Spanish
infantry, then the best in Europe ; but at sea the Dutch were
uniformly successful, and they wisely made use of their naval
superiority to harass the Spaniards in every part of the
world. In 1624 they defeated the Spanish fleet off Lima,
and their expeditions to Brazil and to the Gold Coast
can only be regarded as part of this policy, Portugal
being then an integral portion of Spain. When the
Portuguese, in 1640, taking advantage of the distracted
condition of Spain, achieved their independence under
the House of Braganza, war broke out between Portugal
and Holland on the question of the possession of Brazil;
and it was during the progress of these hostilities that
the Dutch attacked and captured Fort St. Anthony, at
Axim, and finally expelled the Portuguese from the Gold
Coast. At the ensuing peace Portugal ceded all its
possessions on the Gold Coast to the Dutch, the latter,
in turn, renouncing all pretensions to sovereignty in Brazil.
The Portuguese occupation of the Gold Coast thus
lasted from 1482 to 1642, a period of one hundred and
sixty years, and traces of it may still be found in the
languages of the negro tribes. From this we may infer
that on the Gold Coast, as in Congo, Angola, and Cachao,
the Portuguese mingled more with the natives than did
their successors, whether Dutch or English. Among the
words of Portuguese origin still used on the Gold Coast
may be mentioned " palaver/' from palabra ; " caboceer,"
from cabeceiro ; " piccaninny," from picania ; " custom,"
from costume ; and " fetish," from feitico ; while the
familiar "dash me/' i.e., "give me," comes from the


Portuguese das me, from which, naturally, the word "dash,"
meaning a "gift," is also derived. The existence of these
words, nearly two centuries and a half after the Portuguese
were driven from the coast, shows that they must have
mixed with and influenced the natives to some considerable
degree. Although the Dutch remained on the Gold Coast
for two hundred and thirty-two years there are no similar
traces of their occupation, nor are there even now many
words derived from the English language in general use.
Many of the names given by the Portuguese to places
on the Gold Coast still remain, translated into English,
but in the majority of cases their designations have been
supplanted by the native ones. Amongst the former we
have Cape Three Points (Cabo de Tres Puntas], Gold
Coast (Costa del Oro\ and Devil's Mount (Monte de
Diablo] \ but the River Prah is now never spoken of as
the Rio de San Juan, and no one would know Ampeni
under the title of Terra Pequena. A few Portuguese
names exist in a corrupt form. The principal are Ancobra
River (Rio Cobrc), Elmina (La Mina], and Cape Coast
(Cabo Corso].

1643 1668.

-Return of the English to the Gold Coast Growth of the slave trade
The English form settlements Disputes between the English and
Dutch The Dutch seize Cape Coast Castle Holmes's expedition to
the Coast De Ruyter's expedition The treaty of Breda.

THE success which attended the efforts of the Dutch to
obtain a footing on the Gold Coast encouraged the English,
some years before the capture of Elmina, to recommence a
coasting trade, and several voyages were undertaken without
any remarkable occurrence. The first record of any attempt
made by England to establish a regular trade with the
Gold Coast is in the charter granted by James I. in 1618, to
Sir Robert Rich and some merchants of London, for raising
a joint stock for a trade to Guinea. Under this charter
vessels were despatched, but the profits of the undertaking
.not being found to answer expectation, the proprietors
withdrew from the Company, and the charter was suffered
to expire.

In 1631 Charles I. created a second Company for trade
to Africa, granting by charter to Sir Richard Young, Sir
Kenelm Digby, and other merchants, the exclusive trade
to the Guinea Coast, between Cape Blanco and the Cape
of Good Hope, together with the adjacent islands, for a
period of thirty-one years. At this time the legitimate trade
to West Africa had sunk into comparatively insignificant
proportions beside a new trade that had arisen, namely the


trade in slaves, in which all the western nations of Europe
were now engaged. As early as 1452 slaves had been
purchased at Elmina by the Portuguese and carried to
Europe, and the traffic in slaves, such as it was, remained
in the hands of that people until 1470, when the Spaniards
established a mart and introduced negro slaves to Spain,
the Canaries, and, subsequently, to the West Indies. As
long as the wretched aborigines of the West Indies were
sufficiently numerous to perform the labours demanded of
them by the Spaniards, the negroes were considered very
inferior workmen; and, in 1503, Ovando complained of
their importation to Hispaniola, where they continually
escaped to the woods and formed into predatory bands;
but as the Indians succumbed to the cruelties of their hard
task-masters, negro labourers became necessary to supply
their place. In 1517 the traffic became firmly established
.-under Papal authority, and it increased so rapidly that
by 1539 the annual sales amounted to between ten and
twelve thousand. Of all the nations of Europe, England
was the last to embark in the slave trade, and the earliest
attempt was made by Sir John Hawkins, as a private
adventurer, in 1563. On his return to England, Elizabeth
expressed her dissatisfaction that negroes should have been
forcibly taken from their native land, but his subsequent
successes against the Spaniards induced her to adopt other
views, and in 1565 the British slave trade may be said to
have been established.

At first the British trade in slaves was but small, but when
England commenced the colonisation of the West Indies,
and the Dutch West India Company, in 1627, introduced
slavery to their colony of Manhattan, in North America,
there became such a demand for negro slaves that the
African Company of 1631 was induced to build forts and
trading posts on the African coast for the protection of this
commerce. Their charter granted them an exclusive trade
to Guinea, but the trade practically remained open, for
-adventurers of other nations entirely disregarded their pre-
tensions, and even English private adventurers continued


to make voyages to the coast. Whenever the Company had
reason to suppose that such a voyage was contemplated,
they applied for the detention of the vessel. Thus we find
that in 1637, upon an information laid by the directors, the
ship Talbot, which had been equipped to trade upon the
coasts of Guinea, Benin, and Angola, "to take nigers and
carry them to foreign parts/' was ordered to be stopped ;
but such detentions appear to have been of rare occurrence,,
for the English private adventurers kept their purpose care-
fully concealed until they were clear of English ports.

The Dutch could not have regarded the appearance of
the English upon the Gold Coast with any great favour, but
they do not appear to have offered any open opposition to
the formation of establishments by the English Company.
Their position on the Gold Coast was somewhat peculiar.
The Portuguese, though they were established only at
Elmina and Axim, had claimed, and for a time had cer-
tainly exercised, a sovereignty over the whole littoral of
the Gold Coast ; but the Dutch, though they had acquired
all the privileges of the Portuguese by right of conquest, and,
subsequent to the capture of Elmina, had built forts at
Butri, Shamah, and Anamabo,* in order to control the
natives, and engross the whole trade, exercised no such
sovereignty. They claimed and exercised a jurisdiction
over the native towns in the immediate vicinity of their
forts and " lodges/' but nowhere else ; and the various petty
kingdoms of the Gold Coast were regarded as entirely inde-
pendent. No doubt the latter had contrived to regain some-
thing of their independence during the fifty years' struggle
between the Dutch and the Portuguese, and at its conclusion
were not inclined to resubmit to another yoke. The Dutch,
then, could hardly resist the establishment of trading posts
by the African Company so long as they were not formed at
those places which were already in Dutch occupation. All
that was necessary for the English to do was to obtain
permission to build from the king of the state in which they

* Anama, " bird " ; bo, " rock."


proposed to establish themselves, and the Dutch could dniy
oppose them by diplomacy and intrigue.

The African Company proved a success until the out-
break of the Civil War in England, when the nation was so
fully occupied at home that it had no time to spare in foreign
adventures. The Dutch seized this opportunity of improving
their position at the expense of the English ; the Swedes
also appeared and established themselves at Christiansborg,
where they built a fort; and though in 1651 the 'grant to
the African Company was renewed and confirmed by the
Commonwealth, it is said to have suffered losses to the
extent of three hundred thousand pounds. It is not known
with certainty what forts or "lodges" the Company had
built on the Gold Coast, but at all events it had a fort at
Cormantine before 1651, for in that year the Council of
State approved of a report upon the Guinea trade which
had been drawn up by the Council of Trade, in which it
was recommended that the African Company should have
the exclusive trade for twenty leagues on each side of their
two chief factories, namely, Fort Cormantine, on the Gold
Coast, and the River Cerberro (Sherbro), near Sierra Leone.
This exclusive trade was to last for fourteen years, and all
the rest of the coast of Africa was to be free to all comers.

The Danes were the next nation to endeavour to obtain a
share in the profitable business of exporting negroes to the
New World. In 1657 they drove the Swedes out of Chris-
tiansborg, and shortly after built a small fortified factory on
the summit of a hill about a quarter of a mile to the east of
Cape Coast Castle, at a village called Mamfro, or Omanfo ; *
but they do not appear to have engrossed much of the
trade, and the great rivalry was between the Dutch and the

The African Company had not succeeded in establishing
itself on the Gold Coast without some molestation. In 1652
a frigate had to be sent out from England to protect its trade
from the interference of the Dutch, and in 1653, the Swedes,

* Man, or Oman, "town"; fo, "people."

E 2


having encroached upon the Company and expelled some
of its factors from places bought by it at Accra, Lord Am-
bassador Whitelock was instructed to represent the case to
the Swedish Court and insist upon reparation being made;
but it was not until 1660 that serious disputes arose be-
tween the English and Dutch. In that year the Dutch so
encroached upon the trade of the African Company that the
English Ambassador at the Hague formally remonstrated
with the Dutch Government on the subject, but to no pur-
pose. Indeed, instead of obtaining redress for the grievances
complained of, his interference seems only to have produced
fresh aggressions, and the Colonial State Papers for the years
1660, 1661, and 1662, are full of complaints, made by the
agents of the English Company, of Dutch interference with
their trade. In August, 1661, the English ship Merchant's
Delight was seized by the Dutch and carried to " Castle de
Myne/' as Elmina was then called by the English, where the
crew were imprisoned by the Dutch Director-General, Jasper
Van Hewson. In November, 1662, further complaints were
made of Dutch aggressions at " Comendo " (Kommenda) and
" Cape Corso " (Cape Coast). At neither of these places,
say the complainants, had the Dutch any factories, but they
endeavoured to prevent the English trading, and the Dutch
war vessel Golden Lyon fired at the boats of an English
ship which attempted to land at Cape Coast.

Relations between the Dutch and English on the Gold
Coast were in this strained condition when, towards the close
of 1662, Charles II. granted to a new Company a charter of
incorporation by the title of " Company of Royal Adven-
turers of England Trading to Africa." This Company
engaged to supply the British West Indies with three thou-
sand negro slaves annually, and it consisted of many persons
of rank, amongst others the King's brother, James, Duke of
York. According to the proposals for the settlement of this
Company,* dated January, 1663, the posts on the Gold Coast
were to be "Cape Corso, Anashan, Kommenda, Aga, and

* Dom. Chas. II., vol. Ixvii., No. 162, Cal. p. 36.


Acra." Aga is evidently Egyah, a small village near Cor-
mantine, and Anashan, or Anchiang, is another small village
about two miles to the west of Anamabo, in the then State of
Fanti. The Castle of Cape Corso (Cape Coast) was to be
the head factory, and the residence of the agent for the whole
Gold Coast. Two merchants, a gold taker, a warehouse
keeper, two accountants, and three younger factors were to
reside there, and the garrison was to consist of fifty English
soldiers and thirty negro slaves, with a captain, and four
sergeants or corporals. Anashan was to have a sergeant, ten
English soldiers, and eight negroes, and the other factories
two soldiers and two negroes each.

From the fact of no garrison being specified for Cor-
mantine fort, we may infer that that post was to remain in
static quo, and that the posts now mentioned were either
newly projected ones, or ones which were to be placed
on a new footing. Anashan, Egyah, and Kommenda seem
to have been new posts, but it is doubtful if Cape Coast
was, for the " Castle of Cape Corso " is referred to as if it
were a building already in existence. The question as to
when Cape Coast Castle was built is involved in great
obscurity. Smith, Surveyor of the Royal African Company,
who visited the Gold Coast in 1727, says the Portuguese
founded it in 1610; while Barbot (1687), says it was built by
the Dutch shortly after the capture of Elmina. Neither of
these gives any authority for his statement, and Barbot
contradicts himself in two other places, saying in one that
the Dutch "had a pretty good fort at Cape Coast, which
they bought of the factor of one Carolof, who had built it
for the Danish Company," and in the other that "Cape
Coast is famous for the castle the English built there." In
any case Smith is in error, for there is abundant evidence to
show that the Portuguese had no fort at Cape Coast, and
Barbot's statement that it was built by the Dutch is directly
traversed by the complaint made by the African Company
in November, 1662, in which it is said the Dutch had no
factory at Cape Coast. There seems, therefore, but little
doubt that Cape Coast Castle was built by the English, but


at what date is uncertain. The probability is that it was
built shortly before the formation of the Company of 1662,
perhaps in 1662, for there is no mention made of it before
January, 1663. It has been stated that one reason of Cape
Coast being selected as the chief post of the new Company,
was that it formed part of the marriage portion of Catherine
of Braganza, whom Charles II. married in 1662 ; but this,
if true, is certainly very peculiar, considering that the
Portuguese had been expelled from the Gold Coast by force
of arms twenty years before, and had since renounced all
claim to their possessions in that part of the world in favour
of the Dutch.

The formation of the new Company led to remonstrances
from the Dutch Company, and on June , 1st, 1663, John
Valckenburgh, " Director General of the North Coast of
Africa and the Island of St. Thome," on behalf of the States
General, protested against the action of the English agents.
He maintained that, by right of conquest from Portugal, the
whole coast of Guinea now belonged to the Dutch, and
complained that the English had set up a factory at Tacorary
(Takoradi), "under the protection of Shamah, under which
Tacorary, Saconde, and Abrary have always been tributary."
He further complained that, in 1647, the English had
encouraged the Dutch "vassals" at Cabo Corso to rebel, and
had now, with their shipping, raised the blockade of the place.*
From this it will be seen that the Dutch were now taking up
a new position, and were disposed to claim a sovereignty
over the whole Gold Coast, though such a claim ill accorded
with the fact that the right of the English to Cormantine,
where they had been established since before 1651, had
never been called in question. However, in this protest they
only made specific complaints of the action of the English in
two places, and, as far as Takoradi was concerned, they were
in the right, as they had had a fort there for some years.
Their claim to Cape Coast does not seem to have rested
upon any solid foundation.

* Col. Papers, vol. xvii., No. 34. Indorsed "The First Protest of ye


But the Dutch did not limit themselves to mere pro-
tests. A few days after, they suddenly surprised and
seized the English castle at Cape Coast, and gave large
presents to the King of Fetu, "and his capeshiers"
(caboceers), to induce him to exclude the English
altogether from that place. They likewise bribed the
"King of Fantyn and his capeshiers" to attack the
English fort at Cormantine, and persuaded the King of
Aguna to seize John Cabessa, " who was a great defence
to Cormantine." " Had not Captain Stokes arrived, it is
to be feared that the Flemish flag would be on Cormantine,
as it is now on the Castle of Cape Corso."* Some of
the aggressions of the Dutch seem to have preceded their
protest, for the English agents complain that on May 28th
the. King of Aguna, instigated by the Dutch, had plundered
their factory at Winnebah. However, the Dutch do not
appear to have been uniformly successful in their en-
deavours to prejudice the natives against the English,
for, from a letter from Captain Stokes, it seems that the
latter succeeded in making a treaty with the King of
Fanti, and had arranged to build a fort at the new post
of Anashan.

In consequence of the complaints from the agents of
the Company, and no doubt because the King himself had
a pecuniary interest in its welfare, Sir George Downing,
the Envoy to the States General, was instructed to
demand full and speedy reparation for the Dutch
aggressions. In the meantime the Dutch made a second
protest, to the effect that Captain Stokes, "Commander
in Chief of the English Forces upon the Coast of Africa,"
had erected a factory at Anashan, "upon the Stranel,
under the jurisdiction of the country of Fantyn." They
alleged that no person with a knowledge of the coast
of Africa could be ignorant that the Portuguese, as the
first discoverers, had maintained the Gold Coast against
all comers, and that the Dutch Company, which had

* Col. Papers, vol. xvii., No. 60.


obtained it at the expense of much treasure and blood
from the Portuguese, ought to be left undisturbed,,
especially in the neighbourhood of Anashan, as the
"whole strand of Fantyn," with the traffic therein, had
been made over, in March, 1629, to the States General
and the Dutch West India Company.* This protest was
handed to Captain Stokes on board the Marmaduke, by
Huybert Van Gazeldoncq, Chief Factor, at the Fort Nassau
Tot Moree.

Sir George Downing failed to obtain any satisfaction
from the States General, and, influenced by the Duke of
York, who, as Governor of the Company, took a strong
interest m its progress, Charles II. despatched Captain
Robert Holmes-f- to the West Coast of Africa, in ft\& Jersey*
with secret instructions to seize the Dutch fort at Goree,
which was then considered to be the key of West Africa.
This was done without any previous declaration of war
against Holland being made, and Charles II. has on this
account been blamed ; but it must be remembered that the
seizure of the Castle of Cape Coast by the Dutch could only
be regarded as an act of war, and that consequently the
Dutch must be considered to have been the first to com-
mence hostilities. Neither must it be forgotten that not-
withstanding this high-handed proceeding on the part of
the Dutch, Charles II. did not take any measures of reprisal
until after application to the States General for reparation,
had failed.

Holmes captured Goree, left a small garrison in the fort,
and ran down to the Gold Coast. On April Qth, 1664, he
arrived off Takoradi ; the Dutch fort there, Fort Witsen,
was taken by storm, and an English garrison left in it. On
May /th he retook the Castle of Cape Coast, placed in it
a garrison of fifty men, with supplies and ammunition for
six months, and left a number of workmen and a quantity

* Col. Papers, vol. xvii., No. 77.

f Afterwards Sir Robert Holmes, the barbarous destroyer of the open
town of Brandaris on the Schelling, and who has been termed " the
cursed beginner of the Dutch wars."


of materials for its repair. From Cape Coast he proceeded
to Mori, where he reduced Fort Nassau, and then sailing
to Anamabo, captured the fort and drove the Dutch out
of Egyah.* Having thus taken all the Dutch posts on
the Gold Coast, except Elmina and Axim, he returned to
England. With the exception of Cape Coast Castle and
Mori Fort, the places thus captured were rather fortified
houses than regular fortifications ; the garrisons of the two
former barely numbered twenty men, while those of the
smaller posts consisted of two or three men only ; and as the
Dutch were completely taken by surprise, Holmes 7 expe-
dition was not such a glorious affair as has commonly been

The natural result of the action of Charles II. in de-
spatching Holmes to the West Coast of Africa was the
outbreak of war between England and Holland, during which,
it may incidentally be remarked, a Dutch fleet ascended
the Medway and destroyed our shipping ; while to recover
the lost possessions in West Africa, and to reduce the
English forts and factories on the Gold Coast, Admiral
de Ruyter was despatched with thirteen sail. De Ruyter
arrived at Goree on October nth, 1664, and as the breaches
in the fortifications, made at the time of the capture by
Holmes, had not yet been repaired, the place surrendered.
He then ran down the coast, destroying the English factories
at Sierra Leone, Cape Mount, Mountserrat (Mesurado), and
Ccestus (Sesters), and anchored at Elmina. On December
25th the Dutch attacked Takoradi with a small force, but
being repulsed, returned with a body of a thousand natives
and captured the place. The English were stripped naked,
the town burnt, and the fort blown up, for it was only a
small place, mounting seven or eight patereroes, and of great
expense to maintain. The ruins of this fort, it may be
remarked, were visible until quite recently.

The main object of De Ruyter's mission was the capture
of the Castle of Cape Coast, and he next proceeded there,

* Dom. Chas. II., vol. cxiv., No. 19, Cal. 235.


but finding that the landing-place was swept by the guns
of the Castle, and that the natives, whom the Dutch had
tried to corrupt, were determined to assist the English, he
abandoned the attempt, merely expressing his astonishment
that the Dutch should have been so short-sighted as to
allow the English to get a footing there. From Cape
Coast he went on to Mori, and after retaking Fort Nassau,

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Burdon) EllisA history of the Gold Coast of West Africa → online text (page 5 of 34)