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Merchant houses

Sandbach, Tinne & Co

From the Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Founded in 1782 in Demerara, now part of Guyana, Sandbach, Tinne & Co., were shipowners, produce brokers, general merchants and plantation owners, exporting sugar, coffee, molasses and rum from the West Indies. James McInroy came to Demerara in 1782, and planted or acquired a sugar plantation soon after his arrival. By 1790 he was joined by Samuel Sandbach, Charles Stewart Parker and George Robertson, and the company, McInroy Sandbach & Co. was founded. At first the head office was in Glasgow under the name McInroy Parker & Co., and in 1804 a branch was founded in Liverpool, which later became the company headquaters. In 1813 Philip Tinne was taken into the partnership and the company became known as Sandbach, Tinne & Co in Liverpool, and McInroy Sandbach & Co in Demerara (in 1861 changed to Sandbach Parker & Co). They were importers and exporters, shipping and estate agents, mainly concerned with sugar, coffee, molasses and rum, but also in 'prime Gold Coast Negroes' (J Rodway: 'History of British Guiana', 1893). The families intermarried and the sons and sons-in-law entered the business.

Although the company passed through a number of name changes, Sandbach Tinne & Co., is the name by which the company is generally known. Branches of the company were opened in Glasgow (briefly), Montreal (West India Co.) and Trinidad.

The records held at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies collections include correspondence between McInroy Sandbach & Co. of Demerara (now Guyana) and McInroy Parker & Co of Glasgow [later Sandbach Tinne & Co of Liverpool] concerning sugar, rum, coffee, and fishing and cotton trades, shipments, the purchase and sale of estates, and political and economic conditions in the Caribbean and Europe, covering the period from 1807 to 1882.

The Senate House Library also holds a collection of correspondence relating to the trade of Sandbach, Tinné and Co. with British Guiana, from 1808-1909, MS 677, including correspondence with McInroy, Parker & Co. of Glasgow (9 letters, 1817-1829), with McInroy, Sandbach & Co. of Demerara, British Guiana (about 40 letters 1815-1852), with Blackwood, Conor and Co. from 1879 and with Sandbach, Parker and Co. from 1870. The letters concern the shipping of coffee, rum, sugar, cotton, and other merchandise to England, and contain incidental references to French, Dutch and English plantations in Guiana, financial arrangements, the state of crops and the labour force, and the use of machinery in plantations e.g. for cane-grinding. 

Other records for the firm are held at the Guyana University Library; the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich; the Lancashire Record Office; the Liverpool Record Office and the National Museums Liverpool, Maritime Archives and Library.


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