Addenda: March 1675

Pages 598-601

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 17, 1699 and Addenda 1621-1698. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1908.

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March 1675

March 1. 1,124. Sir Robert Southwell to the Vice-Chamberlain. Desiring him to obtain, if possible, information from St. Malo as to the French trade at Newfoundland, the number and tonnage of ships engaged in it, the rules by which the fishery is governed, the profits of the trade, the number of the inhabitants, the effect of fortifications in securing them against the Indians, and as to whether the planters do not interfere with the fishing, but leave it to be wholly managed by the shipping. Draft. 2 pp. Endorsed with the date. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 21.]
March 18.
Spitle Court.
1,125. John Gould to Sir Robert Southwell. The experience of many years shows that the right way of managing the Newfoundland trade has not yet been adopted. It is that of managing the fishery by the inhabitants and not sending ships, as the trade cannot bear the expense of their rigging, and riding in harbour all the fishing time. The French, who have two-thirds of the trade now, will soon engross it all, if other measures are not taken, which will not be while those are consulted who make their profit in letting out ships and in sales of the fish so caught. If the fishery were well governed, the fish might be sold at from sixteen to twenty rials a quintal. Signed, John Gould. 1 p. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 22.]
March 20. 1,126. James Houblon to Sir Robert Southwell. Respecting the Newfoundland Trade. Already abstracted under date in a previous volume of this Calendar, No. 475. 4 pp. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 23.]
March 25. 1,127. John Gould to Sir Robert Southwell. I cannot possibly move from home being engaged in most needful business. Without all doubt the Newfoundland fishery can only be managed by people in the country; and those who oppose it do so from their private interest. Signed, John Gould. 1 p. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 24.]
March 25. 1,128. Petition of the gentry, owners of ships and merchants in Exeter and other West Country Ports to the King. The settling of a Governor and inhabitants in Newfoundland will be destructive to trade, to the increase of seamen and to the King's revenue. (1) The planters will at once take up all the choicest places on the shore, and yet the land is too cold and barren to support them. (2) They will destroy the stages and embezzle the iron-work of ships left behind. (3) They will destroy the trees and timber. (4) The inhabitants being debauched by poverty will debauch the seamen, more particularly (5) since they will be able to sell them spirits and tobacco. (6) The planters have a practice of engrossing all salt and provisions, to the prejudice of the fishermen. (7) They breed no mariners, but rather entice seamen to join them, whereby the wives and children of the mariners who stay with them become a burden to their parishes. (8) The trade hitherto has always been encouraged; if now burdened with impositions it might utterly sink, whereas (9) if it were made free to the Adventurers as formerly, many more ships would be employed and many more seamen trained. (10) The specious reasons and pretences of those who call themselves the West Merchants (whom we disown) should not be listened to. Large sheet. Endorsed, Read at the Committee, 25 March, 1675. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 25.]
March 25. 1,129. The Humble Remonstrance of the Merchants of the Western Ports to the King. The Newfoundland fishery for eighty years past has employed two hundred and seventy ships, with great public advantages to the dealers in victuals, to the King's revenue and to the country at large. The fishermen go out in April and return about Michaelmas, leaving their remnants of salt and provisions in boats, hauled up and covered with rends against the next spring. But meanwhile some of the looser and ill-governed sort of people have stayed behind in the island, who have created past disorders, breeding no seamen, enticing real seamen to join them and ruining the trade. The shipping from England diminishes, because the inhabitants draw the best fishermen to them and destroy or embezzle the ships and stores left behind from the winter, take the best fishing places and debauch our men. A very lengthy document. One large closely written page. Endorsed, Read at the Committee, 25 March, 1675. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 26.]
March 25. 1,130. The advantages of carrying on the fishery of Newfoundland by fishing-ships. 1. The increase of seamen. Twenty-five years ago the West Country abounded in seamen and over two hundred ships went to the fishery. 2. The trade was worth £300,000 a year to the nation. 3. The ships employed over 2,000 men, of which one quarter every year were green men. 4. The ships returned at Michaelmas, when, until Candlemas, these men could follow other callings and yet were fit to serve the King in time of war. 5. About one hundred more ships were employed in fetching salt and other matters belonging to the trade. 6. When the trade was thus managed fish were one fourth cheaper, and buyers were sure to have their fish delivered according to their contracts. 7. Thousands of handicraftsmen were employed in making provisions for the fishery. 8. This employment formerly bred more seamen than all England, except London.
Disadvantages to England of Inhabitants and Boat-keepers in Newfoundland. 1. It lessens the number of shipping. 2. It destroys the increase of seamen. 3. Inhabitants do not use English provisions and manufactures, which will deprive thousands of employment. 4. They get what they want from France, Ireland and New England to the prejudice of British trade. 5. Inhabitants and boats which carry off our choice men prevents us from employing more than a third of the ships that we used. 6. Fishing by inhabitants makes fish dear, and loses trade to this nation, for they supply foreign markets. 7. Inhabitants and boats occupy all the choice places in the harbours and drive the shipping away. 8. If liberty be given for inhabitants to be increased and harbours to be fortified, the Adventurers will be ruined. 9. The inhabitants destroy our stages and debauch our men. 10. The country cannot subsist inhabitants, being nothing but bogs, woods and rocks. The whole, 2 pp. Endorsed, Presented by Mr. Parrett and read at the Committee the 25 of March, 1675. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 27.]
March 25. 1,131. The French manner of carrying on the Newfoundland trade. 1. They use ships, not inhabitants or boats. 2. They have a ship of war to accompany them, so that they are not protected by fortification. 3. They fish at too great a distance to disturb us. 4. Fortifying particular places is no protection, the fishery is two hundred miles long. He that is master of the sea is master of all that coast. 5. Planters ought not to settle within six miles of the coast. 6. Government is destructive to the trade by granting licenses for the sale of liquor, which debauches the seamen. 7. Governors have monopolised the trade. Witness, Sir David Kirke. 1 p. Endorsed, Presented by Mr. Parrett and read at the Committee, the 25 of March, 1675. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 28.]
March 30. 1,132. A paper handed in by Mr. Parrett respecting Newfoundland. 1. It has been largely demonstrated that the Newfoundland trade managed by fishing ships has been most advantageous to the country. 2. Planters and boatkeepers are the cause for the decrease of the trade. 3. If Newfoundland be settled, most of the fish will be brought by New England and Ireland and transferred to foreign markets. 4. Thus our navigation and seamen will be decreased, and many thousand families dependent on the trade will be ruined. 5. Fishing by planters makes fish dear. 6. If Newfoundland be settled the trade will be ruined, yet the inhabitants could not sell fish as cheap as the Adventurers with fishing ships. 7. The Adventurers can sell fish as cheap as the French by contract, and consequently can afford it as cheap in the market. 8. No. others can afford it equally cheap. 9. Merchants cannot obtain fish at a certain rate from the planters as they can from the fishing ships. 10. If the present few planters be so prejudicial to the trade, the increase of these will destroy it. 1 p. Endorsed, Presented by Mr. Parrett and read at the Committee, 30 March, 1675. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXV., No. 29.]