Abstract: The First Duke of Chandos and the Royal African Company

Matthew David Mitchell


In 1720 an aristocratic clique led by James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos, bought a controlling stake in the Royal African Company. Convinced that the trans-Atlantic slave trade, at one time the RAC's main line of business, "is not to be carried on with any advantage" after the loss of the company's monopoly over British trade with Africa, Chandos fundamentally shifted the company's strategy, focusing its resources on the search for new African botanical and mineral resources that could be sold in England. Though this approach did not pay dividends, it did provide an example of how corporately organized firms behave when their legal and political environment turns decisively hostile.