The Welshpool Gold Cup

Contributed by National Museum Wales Cardiff

Cup made in London from 'purest Guinea gold', given to Welshpool church by Thomas Davies 1662 © National Museum of Wales

Thomas Davies gave this gold cup to Welshpool church to thank God after surviving the dangers of West Africa.Welsh people played a real but almost invisible part in the early development of the English empire. This gold communion cup is rare and important evidence for this story, explaining how Thomas Davies from Welshpool worked for the English in West Africa and gave the cup to his home-town church as thanks to God for surviving the experience.

Davies worked for the English East India Company on the Guinea coast of West Africa 1662-1663, first as a factor (trader), then as Agent in charge of Company operations. The Company traded for gold and forbade its employees to deal in slaves, though Davies was also a Barbados plantation owner and must have owned slaves. As Agent he oversaw the handover of the Guinea trade to the Company of Royal Adventurers, which would focus explicitly on the slave trade.

Disease, accidents and fighting (mostly with European rivals) killed many Europeans in West Africa. No wonder Davies was grateful to survive.

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