© 2020

The Prince of Slavers

Humphry Morice and the Transformation of Britain's Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1698–1732


Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance book series (PSHF)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Matthew David Mitchell
    Pages 1-8
  3. Matthew David Mitchell
    Pages 51-91
  4. Matthew David Mitchell
    Pages 93-129
  5. Matthew David Mitchell
    Pages 131-184
  6. Matthew David Mitchell
    Pages 185-216
  7. Matthew David Mitchell
    Pages 217-226
  8. Matthew David Mitchell
    Pages 227-301
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 303-317

About this book


“A wonderful achievement... smart, beautifully written, interesting, informative. Morice himself is an intriguing character... We have so few really rich studies of individual slave traders that this too is a major contribution.”

Randy J. Sparks, Tulane University, USA

Much scholarship on the British transatlantic slave trade has focused on its peak period in the late eighteenth century and its abolition in the early nineteenth; or on the Royal African Company (RAC), which in 1698 lost the monopoly it had previously enjoyed over the trade. During the early eighteenth-century transition between these two better-studied periods, Humphry Morice was by far the most prolific of the British slave traders.  He bears the guilt for trafficking over 25,000 enslaved Africans, and his voluminous surviving papers offer intriguing insights into how he did it.

Morice’s strategy was well adapted for managing the special risks of the trade, and for duplicating, at lower cost, the RAC’s capabilities for gathering information on what African slave-sellers wanted in exchange.  Still, Morice’s transatlantic operations were expensive enough to drive him to a series of increasingly dubious financial manoeuvres throughout the 1720s, and eventually to large-scale fraud in 1731 from the Bank of England, of which he was a longtime director.  He died later that year, probably by suicide, and with his estate hopelessly indebted to the Bank, his family, and his ship captains.  Nonetheless, his astonishing rise and fall marked a turning point in the development of the brutal transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans. This book is an invaluable read for scholars of financial and commercial history.


Humphry Morice slave trade transatlantic slave trade the Middle Passage British slave traders African produce slave ships Royal African Company human trafficking Commercial history fraud Bank of England Africa Anglo-African trade slavery

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Sewanee: The University of the SouthSewaneeUSA

About the authors

Matthew David Mitchell is Assistant Professor of British History at Sewanee: The University of the South, USA.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Prince of Slavers
  • Book Subtitle Humphry Morice and the Transformation of Britain's Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1698–1732
  • Authors Matthew David Mitchell
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Economics and Finance Economics and Finance (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-33838-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-33841-1
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-33839-8
  • Series ISSN 2662-5164
  • Series E-ISSN 2662-5172
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVIII, 317
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 2 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Financial History
    History of Britain and Ireland
  • Buy this book on publisher's site