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  • Radburn- WMQ Apr 2015

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Guinea Factors, Slave Sales, and the Profits of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Late Eighteenth-Century Jamaica: The Case of John Tailyour

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>William & Mary Quarterly
Issue number2
Number of pages44
Pages (from-to)243-286
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In 1783 Scottish native John Tailyour arrived in Jamaica, where he hoped to make his fortune after a string of failed business ventures in North America. Fifteen years later he retired as a rich man. His newfound wealth came in large part from his career as a “Guinea factor,” a merchant who sold captive Africans from newly arrived slave ships. During his years as a Guinea factor, Tailyour sold 17,295 Africans into slavery through a traumatizing process that channeled captives to different buyers according to their age, sex, and health. Tailyour’s history reveals the important ways that Guinea factors shaped the transatlantic slave trade within the Americas and, in doing so, powerfully conditioned the lives of the Africans they sold into slavery. The rapidity with which Tailyour built his fortune also suggests that the fabled profits of the slave trade were available for men who sold slaves in the Americas rather than investing directly in slave ships. Tailyour’s case thus encourages future historians to look beyond the notorious Middle Passage and focus on the slave trade within the Americas.