Sep 24, 2020 - Sale 2546

Sale 2546 - Lot 204

Price Realized: $ 1,875
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
SIGNED BY THE MAN WHO LAUNCHED THE AMERICAN SLAVE TRADE (SLAVERY & ABOLITION.) Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick. Letter regarding the early English Puritan settlement of Providence Island. Autograph Letter Signed, "Warwicke," to his son-in-law Edward Montagu. 2 pages, 12 x 7 3/4 inches, plus detached address leaf with mostly intact wax seal; moderate scattered foxing, folds. "Warwick House" [London], 13 February 1650

Additional Details

Robert Rich, the Second Earl of Warwick (1587-1658), was an important figure in the history of the colonial Americas. He was active in the Virginia Company, the Somers Isles Company (Bermuda) and the New England Company, and was involved in the 1628 patent for the Massachusetts Bay Colony as well as the 1631 Saybrook Colony. The city of Warwick, RI is named after him. He has gained increasing infamy in recent years for a cargo landed by one of his privateer ships to Virginia in 1619: the first enslaved Africans brought to British North America. The 1619 Project recently launched by the New York Times is named after that turning point in history, and in a sense is also named after the Earl of Warwick.
The document offered here does not relate directly to the slave trade, but rather to one of the Earl's failed side projects. English Puritan adventurers seeking wealth and religious freedom had established a settlement in 1630 on Providence Island, a small Caribbean island off the coast of Nicaragua (it is now part of Colombia as Isla de Providencia). The Providence Island Company's shareholders included Robert Rich, Edward Montagu, deputy treasurer Henry Darley, James and William Feinnes, and others. By 1641, the colony had failed, unable to surmount the difficulties presented by poor soil, climate, and attacks by the local Spanish. To settle the outstanding debt, the final meetings of the Company members and their heirs were held in 1649 and 1650.
In this letter, the Earl of Warwick explains that a difficulty in discharging the debt owed by himself and Henry Darley ("Hary Darly") to Alderman Cordell is due to a delay on Darley's part, promising to secure payment at a meeting of the company: "I received yours about the bond wherin my selfe and Hary Darly and others stand bound to Mr. Alderman Cordele for 1000£. I have treated with Mr. Cordell 'bout it and have offer'd to pay of him near 700£ . . . and Hary Darly did promise he would pay the other part . . . but Hary Darly hath so defer'd the ending of it as hath given me some trouble. . . . I will doe my best to include you in my payment to save you harmles. For the rest I have tould Mr. Fines and Hary Darly that if they will go to a meeting of the rest of the Gent. of the Company, I will propose to them to lay downe evry man his proportion to discharge the debt." A postscript notes that "Your milke pans are made and ready such as you saw at Mr. Heders at Bedington and shal[l] be sent you downe when you give me order for them and how to be sent."