Reference Number: L0448
Date: 20 January 1776
Extent: 1 item
Provenance: No known provenance

Description: Printed Ship and Goods ‘SG’ Policy for the ship ‘Lady’s Adventure’ to sail from Jamaica to London with ‘liberty to touch at Madeira or any of the Leeward Islands.’ The policy is for Messrs. Alexander Gordon & Co. and probably documents the trade in Madeira wine to British colonies, in this case to Colin Mackenzie. The Gordons of Letterfourie in Banffshire, started developing a merchant business in Madeira wine through James Gordon in 1730. He was joined by his brother Alexander Gordon and they established the business in London and Madeira, later returning to London and Scotland, leaving James Duff, their nephew, in charge in Madeira. Duff became a partner from 1769. It is likely that both James and Alexander were subscribers to Lloyd’s. In the eighteenth century, British merchants dominated the trade in wine from the Portuguese Atlantic island of Madeira. Geographically, Madeira was an important crossroads in trade networks as the direction of prevailing winds made Madeira made it a natural and important stopping-off place for ships heading from Britain to both the Americas and to India. Ships put in at Madeira to take on fresh provisions and to pick up Madeira wine. The network operated by the Gordons, centred on Madeira, London and Banffshire, extended across the globe: India, the West Indies, North America and the Baltic were key nodes operated from their London counting house. The Gordons’ main market was the West Indies but the manuscript exclusion clause on the policy indicates the problems for their trade in the late 1770’s. The manuscript clause states in case of ‘American capture or seizure or consequences thereof’ and refers to the American War of Independence, which had a negative effect on the Madeira wine trade to North America and the West Indies, as seizure of goods and ships happened more frequently during the war, leading to the Gordons looking to India for further markets.

Notes: For more information on ship and voyage policies see the Underwriting Souls exhibition “insuring the Guipuzcoa”