Autograph letter by Samuel Grey to William Pole



In the transatlantic slave trade, usually, a group of investors were needed to finance a single voyage. William Pole had been invited in as an investor by William Davenport, a Liverpool merchant involved in the slave trade. Cowrie shells and beads were used extensively as trade goods for enslaved Africans. The shells were imported to Europe from the Indian Ocean, but the uncertain supply led Davenport with his investors to establish the Bead Company in Liverpool in 1766. This letter from Sun Fire Alliance in 1768 advised William Pole, who was later to become Mayor of Liverpool, of the premium “to insure £8000 - in one Warehouse Brick and Slated in Beads, Harangoes [a form of bead] and Cowries used in the Guinea Trade.” With stock insured by the Sun Fire Office for £8000, the warehouse represented a large amount of ready currency essential to Davenport’s slave trading operations and gives an insight into the effect of the transatlantic slave trade on the growing economy of Liverpool.