LON-A0853B: An incomplete Post Medieval lead alloy cloth seal of the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa dating AD 1660-1675.

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
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Unique ID: LON-A0853B

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

An incomplete Post Medieval lead alloy cloth seal of the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa dating AD 1660-1675. The seal has had its tabs removed and been rounded off possible for reuse as a token.

Obverse: Central shield showing an elephant in profile with a castle above, on a canton the reduced arms of England, crest above, flanked by two natives.
Obverse inscription: Two rosettes THE:COMPANY:OF:ROYALI: ADVENTVRERS
Reverse: Blank
Reverse inscription: None

Dimensions: diameter: 38.14mm; weight: 20.05g.

Another Company of Royal Adventurers seal on the database is LON-BEF885.

Egan (1995 No.291 Fig.38) writes "The Adventures' cloth trade appears relatively well represented among London finds of seals for just one decade of operation, with more than half a dozen examples recorded. It is perhaps possible that when the original Adventures leased trading rights in the Gambia for ten years (from 1669) to a group known as the Gambia Adventurers, the latter (who were still commercially active as late as 1683) might have continued to use the cloth seals of the former company. Alternatively, these seals might have remained in use even longer by the new Royal African Company (for which similar arms were published in 1677, fig. 38)."

Elton (2017:207) writes "A large inner disc from a four-disc cloth seal for the Company of Royal Adventures Trading to Africa. The missing inner disc would show a large DV ligature at the centre with the remainder of the inscription from the front of the seal, two rosettes OF.ENGLAND.TRADEING.TO.AFFRICA around. The DV ligature is thought to stand for Deo Volente (God Willing)."

References: Egan G. 1995. Lead Cloth Seals and Related items in the British Museum, British Museum Occasional Paper 93.

Elton S.F. 2017. Cloth Seals: An Illustrated Reference Guide to Identification of Lead Seals Attached To Cloth, Archaeopress Publishing Ltd.

"The Royal African Company was a slaving company set up by the Stuart family and London merchants once the former retook the English throne in the English Restoration of 1660. It was led by James, Duke of York, Charles II's brother.
Originally known as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa, it was granted a monopoly over the English slave trade, by its charter issued in 1660. With the help of the army and navy it established trading posts on the West African coast, and it was responsible for seizing any rival English ships that were transporting slaves.
It collapsed in 1667 during the war with the Netherlands - the very war it started by having company Admiral Robert Holmes attacking the Dutch African trade posts in 1664 - and re-emerged in 1672, having been merged with those of the Gambia Merchants' Company into the new Royal African Company, with a royal charter to set up forts, factories, troops and to exercise martial law in West Africa, in pursuit of trade in gold, silver and slaves.
In 1698, it lost its monopoly. This was advantageous for merchants in Bristol, even if, like the Bristolian Edward Colston, they had already been involved in the compound. The number of slaves transported on English ships then increased dramatically.
The company continued slaving until 1731, when it abandoned slaving in favour of trafficking in ivory and gold dust."

Evidence of reuse: tabs removed and rounded off

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1660
Date to: Circa AD 1675
Period of reuse: POST MEDIEVAL

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 20.05 g
Diameter: 38.14 mm

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Stuart Wyatt
Identified by: Mr Stuart Wyatt

Materials and construction

Primary material: Lead Alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: London (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Greater London Authority (Greater London Authority)
District: City and County of the City of London (London Borough)
Parish or ward: Vintry (London Borough Ward)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: TQ3280
Four figure Latitude: 51.5035277
Four figure longitude: -0.09955492
1:25K map: TQ3280
1:10K map: TQ38SW
Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Fieldwalking
General landuse: Open fresh water
Specific landuse: Running water

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LON
Created: About one year ago
Updated: About one year ago

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