Anomabo became the focus of intense European trade rivalry in the 17th and 18th centuries, partly because of its easy access to a rich hinterland and partly because the local Anomabu were themselves powerful and astute traders. From the middle of the 17th century, European companies vied with each other in the quest for rights to establish and maintain a trading post at Anomabu.
The earliest lodge was built in 1640 by the Dutch using earthwork, changed hands four times – from the Dutch to Swedes, then to the Danes, back to the Dutch and finally to the English. In 1674, the English built a small fort using more durable materials and called it Charles, after the reigning monarch King Charles II.
However, it was abandoned in order to concentrate efforts and costs on Fort Carolusburg at Cape Coast. Even though the English demolished Fort Charles in 1731 to prevent its capture and use by another European company, the French sneaked in and built a fort where Fort Charles once stood. In 1698, the English Royal African Company ‘licensed’ ship captains not in its employment upon the payment of a 10 per cent ‘affiliation fee’ to enable them to trade in its areas of monopoly.
There followed a flood of ‘Ten Presenters’ trading at English forts, often outnumbering the company’s own ships. Anomabu became a popular haunt of ‘Ten Presenters’ (until their licensing was stopped in 1712), exporting vast numbers of slaves.
The Dutch Director-General at Elmina, Engelgraaf Roberts, quoting an English captain on Anomabu Slave trade exports stated in 1717, “From January 1702 to August 1708 they took to Barbados Jamaica a total of not less than 30,14 slaves and in this figure are not include transactions made for other ships sailing to such Islands as Nevis, Montserrat, St. Christopher, for the South Sea Company, the New Netherlands and others which would increase the above number considerably, and of which Annemaboe alone could provide about one third.”