Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations: Volume 3, March 1715 - October 1718. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1924.
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Journal, May 1718
The Secretary acquainted the Board, that Capt. Priswick [vide supra] had been at the Office, and desired their Lordships might be informed of Col. Codrington's being at present in Holland, till whose return, which he said would be in six weeks, the Captain prayed the Board would suspend the further consideration of Col. Codrington's petition for some lands in St. Christophers, as mentioned in yesterday's minutes, to which their Lordships agreed.
A letter to Mr. Secretary Craggs, relating to the project of a treaty of commerce [fo. 213, 226] between His Majesty and the Republick of Venice, at present under consideration of the Board, was signed.
Mr. Micklethwaite and Mr. Bampfield, agents for Barbadoes, attending, communicated to their Lordships the copy of a letter from the Committee of Correspondence in that island to the said agents, relating to an Act [fo. 214, 223] passed there in 1715, concerning licentiate lawyers; and their Lordships resolved to consider the same with the said Act.
The following papers, relating to a charter [fo. 187, 239] proposed
for insuring ships at sea, were read, vizt.:—
Reasons of the Bristol merchants against the charter for insuring ships, &c.
Letter to the Secretary from the petitioners for a charter of incorporation for insuring ships and merchandizes, dated 24 April, 1718, inclosing the following papers, vizt.:—
Answers to the reasons given against incorporating a number of persons for insuring ships and merchandizes at sea.
Thirteen certificates from the most eminent merchants and traders in the principal trading ports in G. Britain and Ireland in favour of a corporation for insuring ships and merchandize.
An Account of some losses by private insurers.
List of Private insurers and office keepers who have proved insolvent.
Whereupon their Lordships agreed to hear by counsel, the petitioners for and against the said charter on Wednesday the 14th instant at eleven of the clock in the morning, and ordered that the solicitors on both sides be acquainted therewith; as like wise that they have copies of such papers on that subject as they shall desire.
A representation, directed to be prepared at the last meeting, relating to an Act [fo. 216, 227, 308] passed in Carolina, whereby a duty of 10 per cent. is laid on all British goods, was agreed and signed.
The Secretary acquainting the Board, that Mr. Marsh [fo. 212, 229] had signified he should be ready to attend their Lordships in behalf of the petitioners against an Act of Antigua, entituled, an Act to indemnify Anthony Brown and John Elliot of the aforesaid island gent. &c. when their Lordships should appoint, their Lordships agreed to hear the said petitioners on Wednesday morning next, and ordered that Mr. Marsh have notice there of accordingly.
Mr. West attending, according to appointment, their Lordships
proceeded in considering several Acts of Antigua, whereof, those
entituled as follows, were read, vizt.:—
An Act for raising 5 per cent, on dry goods, and laying an additional duty on wines, &c. imported.
An Act to revive an Act for laying a duty of powder on trading vessels.
An Act for repairing the fortifications on Monks Hill &c. and other fortifications and platforms—all three passed in 1715.
An Act for raising a tax of 12,000l. money for defraying publick debts and charges—passed in 1715/16.
The Act, entituled, an Act for encouraging the importation of white servants, was likewise read, together with Mr. AttorneyGeneral's report thereupon, and several observations were made on the said Acts, and agreed to be transmitted to the Governor of the Leeward Islands.
Ordered that Mr. West [fo. 213] have the copy of such of the Governor's instructions as relate to the passing of laws, and that he have liberty at any time to peruse such papers in this Office as relate to any of the Acts of the Plantations, or about any Acts whatsoever which concern the trade of this Kingdom.
Ordered that the Acts of Antigua, entituled.
An Act to indemnify Anthony Brown &c. from a certain bond and articles of agreement for building a church &c. passed in 1715/16.
An Act to prohibit the importation of French or other foreign sugars, rum, &c. passed in 1716.
to Mr. West.
An Act for constituting a court merchant—passed be sent to Mr. West for his perusal.
Mr. Walker [fo. 218, 288] attending, as desired, he was acquainted that their Lordships understood he had something to offer concerning the Barbados Act, entituled, an Act impowering licentiate lawyers to practise as barristers in this island, passed in September, 1715, and being asked, what he had to say on that subject, he informed the Board, that for his own part he had nothing to offer, but that the Attorney-General of Barbados had writ to him, to move for a hearing, relating to the said Act; whereupon Mr. Walker was directed to bring to their Lordships in writing, a memorial of what he shall think fit to represent in this matter.
Mr. Lodwick, with several other merchants trading to New York [fo. 202, 205], attending, presented to their Lordships an Order of Council of the 23rd of the last month, referring to the Board a petition from the said merchants against an Act, passed in that province in December, 1717 for paying and discharging several debts of the said province, and putting several quantities of plate into the hands of the Treasurer, to be applied to publick uses, and for making bills of credit, &c. together with a representation from themselves to the Board, containing reasons for stopping all proceedings at New York upon the said Act till his Majesty's pleasure be known, which Order, petition and representation, their Lordships resolved to take into consideration at the first opportunity.
An Order of the Lords of the Council, dated the 23rd of last month, referring to this Board the petition of several merchants, trading to New York [fo. 224], against an Act passed in that province in December, 1717 for paying and discharging several debts of that province, and putting several quantities of plate into the hands of the Treasurer to be applied to publick uses, and for making bills of credit &c., as mentioned in the minutes of the last meeting, was read, together with the copy of the said petition; as likewise a representation from the said merchants, containing their reasons for stopping all proceedings upon the said Act; whereupon a letter to Brigadier Hunter Governor of New York for inclosing copies of the said, Order, petition and representation, in order to his immediate transmitting the said Act to this Board for their Lordships consideration, was drawn up, agreed and ordered to be transcribed.
A letter from Mr. Secretary Craggs, dated this day, signifying the King's pleasure, that this Board forthwith lay before His Majesty the said project of a treaty of commerce with Venice, with such observations as they shall judge proper, was read; whereupon their Lordships resolved to take the same into further consideration on Thursday morning next.
Mr. Weston [fo. 132, 173, 290], Solr. for the lords, and others who petition for a charter of incorporation for carrying on the fishery, attending, and desiring the Board would soon report upon the order, referring the said petition, he was acquainted, that the Board would give that matter all necessary dispatch; in order to which, he would do well to hasten Mr. Solicitor-General's report upon the heads of such a charter, received from the petitioners, and referred to him.
Mr. Boon, agent for Carolina, attending, presented to the Board the copy of a letter he had received from that province, by order of the Assembly there, dated the 8th of March last, relating to their miserable condition [fo. 220, 237] and apprehensions from the Indians, which was read; and Mr. Boon was desired to prepare and bring to the Board, as soon as he could, a memorial of what informations he has concerning the conditions of the said province which he accordingly promised.
Mr. Boon being withdrawn, their Lordships agreed and signed a letter to Mr. Secretary Craggs, for inclosing to him the said copy of a letter from Carolina, in order to receive His Majesty's directions thereupon.
Two anonymous letters to the Secretary of this Board, dated the 26th and 28th of April last, relating to some laws of Pennsylvania [fo. 232, 334], the surrender of the government of that province &c. by Mr. Penn, were read; and their Lordships agreed to reconsider the same at another opportunity.
A letter from Mr. Marsh [fo. 196, 316], solicitor in behalf of Col. Morris of Antigua, lately suspended by the Governor from the Council of that island, desiring to have a copy of the minutes of the said council, which were read at this Board when Doctor Wickham attended upon that affair, was read; whereupon their Lordships agreed that he should have a copy of the said minutes accordingly.
Their Lordships proceeding in the consideration of the Acts of the Island of Antigua, the Act passed there in 1716, intituled, an Act for reinforcing an Act for repairing the fortifications on Monks Hill &c. was read, and found to be expired.
Mr. Marsh [fo. 220], Doctor Wickham and others, attending with Sir Edward Northey as council for the petitioners against the Act, passed in the said island of Antigua in 1715/16 to indemnify Anthony Brown and John Elliot from a certain bond and articles of agreement for building a church &c. Sir Edward moved their Lordships for further time to prove the allegations of the petition, referred to this Board by Order of Council of the 9th of February last, to which their Lordships agreed, Mr. Marsh promised to inform their Lordships as soon as he should be ready to lay the proofs, expected from the said island, before the Board.
Mr. West attending, the Acts of Antigua as undermentioned
were severally read, vizt.:—
An Act to prohibit the importation of French or other foreign sugars, rum, &c.
An Act to revive an Act for laying a duty of powder on trading vessels.
An Act for laying an additional duty on wines, &c. imported.
An Act for raising a tax of 13,000l. money and to defray publick debts and charges.
An Act for erecting and building a new church in the town of St. Johns in the room of the present parochial church there, and for raising a yearly tax for maintaining the same.
An Act to quiet present possessors of lands to limit actions and avoid suits in law, and
An Act for constituting a Court Merchant.
All passed in 1716, 1716/17 and 1717.
Importation of foreign sugar.
And in relation to the said Act to prohibit the importation of foreign sugars [fo. 328], the extract of Mr. Dunbar's letter, mentioned in the minutes of the 22nd of last month, on that subject, was again read; and the draught of a representation directed to be prepared, in order to the repeal of the said Act.
As to the said Act for erecting and building a new church &c. passed in 1716, and that for erecting a court merchant passed in 1717, their Lordships having no objections thereto agreed to let them lye by probationary.
Upon the Act to quiet present possessors, Mr. Attorney-General's report relating to it was again read; and their Lordships gave directions for preparing a letter to General Hamilton, Governor of the Leeward Islands, to inclose to him a copy of the said report, with orders to endeavour the passing, by the first opportunity, a new Act conformable to Mr. Attorney's opinion, and to signify to him that the Board should otherwise be obliged to lay the present Act as soon as possible before His Majesty for repeal thereof.
Ordered that Mr. Solicitor-General be desired to hasten his report upon the petition [fo. 201] and heads of a charter referred to him by the Secretary's letter of the 23rd of the last month, relating to the fishery of this kingdom.
Mr. Cracherode bringing to the Office the original surrender [fo. 144] of the government of the Bahama Islands by the Lords Proprietors, which he had got inrolled, the same was laid before the Board, and ordered to be entered in the books, kept for the said Islands.
A letter from Earl Stanhope [fo. 267], dated yesterday, referring to the Board the extract of one from the Czar's Minister, relating to the Acts of trade and navigation which affect the subjects of the Czar here, was read, together with the said extract, and a copy of Mr. Solicitor-General's report thereupon; and directions were given for collecting the several papers in this Office which were last under their Lordships consideration relating to Muscovy.
Mr. Joshua Gee [fo. 232, 344], one of Mr. Penn's trustees, attending, the two anonymous letters, mentioned in the minutes of the 6th instant, relating to several Acts of Pennsylvania, Mr. Penn's surrender &c. were communicated to him; whereupon he desired copies thereof, which were accordingly ordered him, and he promised an answer in writing in a few days; in the meantime, he said, some Acts had been transmitted from Pennsylvania, which he believes are in the hands of another of Mr. Penn's trustees.
And ordered that Mr. Carkesse [fo. 237], Secretary to the Commissioners of the Customs, be desired to acquaint this Board, whether foreign ships, arriving in any ports of this kingdom, may unlade part of their cargo, without being subject to unlade the whole, or pay duty for that part not unladen.
Further ordered, that Mr. Carkesse be desired to move the Commissioners of the Customs, that this Board may have an account of the amount of port charges paid in the port of London, including light-money and all other charges.
Whereupon a letter for transmitting the said accounts to the Lords of the Treasury, and desiring payment thereof, as likewise of the salary due to the Secretary, and under-officers in the service of this Commission, was signed.
Two letters from Mr. Carkesse [fo. 235], Secretary to the Commissioners of the Customs, both dated the 10th, in answer to those writ him the 9th inst. relating to port-charges and light money, and to ships unloading part of their cargo, and carrying the rest away, without paying duty for more than the goods unladen, were read.
Mr. Boon [fo. 216, 220, 227], agent for South Carolina, attending, presented to their Lordships a memorial, as likewise the copy of a letter from that province, dated the 8th of March last, and of an address from the Assembly there to his Majesty, all relating to the miserable condition of his Majesty's subjects in those parts, on account of the Indian War, which memorial was read, and Mr. Boon at the same time acquainted their Lordships that he had presented the original address, whereof the abovementioned is a copy, to Mr. Secretary Craggs, to be laid before his Majesty.
Their Lordships then made a further progress in reconsidering the project of a treaty of commerce [fo. 235, 268] with Venice, and gave directions for transcribing part thereof with their Lordships observations.
The Lord Onslow, Sir Alexr. Cairnes, Sir Justus Beck, Mr. Cole, Mr. George Jackson, Mr. John Emmett and several other gentlemen and merchants together with Mr. Reeves and Mr. Serjeant Pingelly, their counsel, attended, according to appointment, in behalf of the petitioners for a charter of incorporation for insuring ships and goods at sea [fo. 218, 269]; and several of the petitioners for a charter of incorporation for insuring ships and goods at sea; and several of the petitioners against such a charter, attended likewise with Mr. Serjeant Page and Mr. Talbot, as counsel for the merchants of London; and Mr. Serjeant Erle and Mr. Hungerford, as counsel for the merchants of Bristol, who petition against the said charter. His Majesty's Order in Council of the 2nd of February last, referring to this Board, and to Mr. Attorney and Solicitor-General the petition of several merchants for an incorporation to insure ships and goods at sea, was read, with a copy of the said petition; as also his Majesty's two other Orders in Council of the same date, referring in like manner to this Board and to Mr. Attorney and Solicitor General the petitions of several merchants of London and Bristol, praying to be heard against such charter of incorporation, were read, with the annexed copies of the said petitions.
Mr. Reeves thereupon opened the petition for a charter, in substance as follows, vizt.:—That such a charter would be for the benefit of trade, by increasing navigation and commerce, and that for carrying on this undertaking, considerable sums have been subscribed; he said it was not to be controverted—that there is no objection in law against a corporation in the manner this is proposed—and that it was plain that by it merchants would have the advantage of safe, easy, cheap and expeditious insurances for their ships and goods—and as to the reasons which had been offered against the charter, Mr. Reeves alledged, that they were either contradictory or inconsistent, or that they were imaginary, and not such as must necessarily follow upon the erecting such a company— that it must be allowed there would be greater security to the insured from a corporation than from any private insurers, the fund of a million of £sterl. being sufficient to answer all losses—and if there should be such difficulties as in some of the papers before the Board it is suggested there would arise, upon settling losses and making up averages with a company, or if the company should not in other respects answer what is proposed, nobody would insure with them, but would continue to insure with the present insurers, and by consequence such a charter would not affect the petitioners against it—on the contrary, if the company should adjust accounts and dispatch business to the satisfaction of those who insure with them, as it would be the interest of the company to do; the private office keepers here in London might indeed suffer by not having so much imployment as at present; but if the company should prove of such a general advantage to the publick as 'tis presumed it will, the interest of ten or twelve office-keepers ought not to be put in balance with a greater good—that as this charter is not intended to be exclusive, such a considerable number of merchants as have signed the petitions from London and Bristol against the charter may if they think fit imploy the office keepers and follow the present method of insurance; and as above a thousand other merchants have either petitioned for or shewed their approbation of the company proposed they will undoubtedly insure with the company, so that both methods may be practised.—As to the objection that the present under-writers of policies of insurance will quit the business after a company is established, and such persons being then diverted to some other imployment would not resume their former practice of insuring, and the publick would consequently be left to the mercy of the company, Mr. Reeves said, that the underwriting policies of insurance is an accidental and not the sole business of the merchants, and therefore it would not be reasonable to say that the erecting this company could oblige such merchants to quit the trade they were engaged in.—Upon the suggestion that there is no occasion for such a company and that insurances of ships &c. cannot be upon a better foot than they are at present, Mr. Reeves observed, that at some particular seasons of the year, and for some particular voyages, such as to the West Indies or the Baltic, it is not easy to get immediately insurances; and that for great sums in any voyages whatsoever it was always difficult and required time to procure good insurance, which the company would constantly be ready to supply.—That as to the good opinion foreigners have of our present insurances, whereby merchants abroad are engaged to make use of them, and as to their being made now so cheap that those foreigners are able to allow, as they actually do, one or two per cent. for insuring the insurers, it was to be considered, that if our insurances came into greater credit as they would probably do by the good management of the company, foreigners would be the more encouraged to insure with us, especially if by the great security they would find in so large a fund as the company's stock, the premiums now allowed for insuring insurers should become unnecessary.—That if it be an advantage to have more places to go to than one for insurances, it is an argument in favour of the company, which not excluding those who at present carry on that business would be another place for merchants to insure at.—That in the late war the losses by insolvencies upon insurances were very great, and the whole sum insured was hardly paid in any one considerable loss; that our merchants formerly insured at Hamburgh and Amsterdam, which it would be an advantage to this Kingdom to prevent by safe insurances at home such as might be most effectually depended upon from a company.—In conclusion, Mr. Reeves said, that the two chief objections to the company are vizt.:—1st. That a company by low premiums at first would beat the present subscribers of policies of insurance out of the business, and then raise the price of insurances as high as they pleased, and secondly, That upon any dispute with a company it would be much more chargeable and difficult to recover what might be justly due from them having so great a stock and consequently power."—In answer to the first of these objections, he said, that the company being not proposed to be exclusive, it would be against their interest not to insure as cheap, as particular persons with whom merchants would still be as much at liberty to insure as before.—And in relation to the difficulties supposed to be in case of dispute, to recover any just dues from the company, Mr. Reeves referred to the heads of a charter, where the method proposed for the company's answering any demands would appear as quick as could reasonably be desired; and therefore he said, he hoped their Lordships would please to report to his Majesty in favour of the petitioners for the company abovementioned.
Mr. Serjeant Pingelly then proceeded on the same side, and laid before their Lordships the inconveniences of the present management of insurances; and the advantages likely to accrue to the publick from the charter proposed.—As to the inconveniences, he said, that for long and hazardous voyages or for large sums to be insured, they go about to collect hands to subscribe the policies of insurance, and such large sums being divided into several parts, because the subscribers are unwilling to risk too much upon one bottom, it is not only difficult, but takes up much time to procure insurances, which is an impediment to trade.—That after the premiums for insurances are paid to private persons, if the ship or goods comes to misfortune, a great part if not the whole insurance is often lost, in cases of dispute, for that as many different actions at law are required as there are particular subscribers, who stand each on their own bottoms; that such multiplicity of law suits occasions great expence as well as loss of time; and he referred to the list of insolvencies, which has been laid before the Board, whereby it would appear, how ill the merchants have been served by private insurers.—In relation to the advantages to the publick from the charter proposed, Mr. Serjeant Pingelly urged as a great benefit to the publick, the safety and security there will be to the insured from the sufficiency of the fund deposited, and which has been proposed to be made unalienable.—That there will be greater dispatch by the company in the issuing policies, and distributing of losses than can be expected from private persons; and if it be apprehended, tho' there is no room for such fear, that payments may be neglected by the company, a clause of limitation may be inserted in the charter, whereby it shall cease upon such neglects.—That as this will tend to quicken trade, it will of consequence be of more profit to the merchant and benefit to seamen.—That foreigners will be the more induced to insure with us when they find they may save the premiums sometimes given for insuring the insurers.— That the constituting this corporation is just and lawful, the intended charter not excluding any persons who are not of the society, and not being within the description of a monopoly.—That private insurers may as well be expected to continue that business, as we see particular bankers continue at the same time with the Bank of England.—Mr. Serjeant Pingelly further added that this charter would effectually remedy the inconveniences mentioned in the statute of the 43rd of Queen Elizabeth concerning insurances and averages, and which were not sufficiently provided against by that Act.—That if the largeness of the fund only be alledged as an objection to the company, the same argument would hold against any man that had a greater stock than his neighbour or against co-partner ships.—That if this undertaking by a company succeeds, it must be by the satisfaction they give to those who deal with them, and self interest will ingage them to preserve than destroy themselves, in which last case the company only will sustain the loss.
Mr. Serjeant Page, in behalf of the merchants of London who petition against a charter for insuring ships &c. then proceeded to answer what had been offered by Mr. Reeves and Mr. Serjeant Pingelly as abovementioned for such a charter and said, that the adverse party did not complain of any grievance or inconvenience in the present method of insurance, but are projectors of what they imagine may be a benefit to trade, and which more probably will be a great prejudice to it, besides that he must contend that such a charter would not be according to law, for that not only all monopolies are against law but even whatever tends to a monopoly, which he alledged such a charter would to.—That a stock of 100,000l. would more than answer all the insurances to be made in England, whereas the projected company say they have a million subscribed, and if that be so, no single person would be able to contend with them when incorporated.—That by such a stock they may afford to lose in the beginning by insuring cheaper than particular persons can afford to do, till after a little time there will remain none but the company acquainted with the business, and if it prove a monopoly in effect, tho' not in words, it will be the same thing.—That merchants who at present imploy their money to answer the insurances they subscribe, will imploy it otherwise when the company shall be erected, and will not be ready to return again to the business of insurance, tho' the company should fail of performing what they pretend to, and use the publick ill; that such inconveniences from a company are not so much to be expected at first as when the present insurers have left off that business.—And supposing the establishment of such a company were a matter indifferent in itself, Mr. Serjeant Page said, he presumed the Board would not advise the trying an experiment only for the sake of a project, when the insurances for ships were already upon so good a foot.—That it would not be prudent to put trade into hazard, where there was no apparent necessity; and he urged that the people already in an imployment ought not to be deprived of it without due proof of some inconvenience to the publick from their management.—In answer to what had been suggested on the other side concerning law suits, and the better dispatch of business, by a company than by particular persons, Mr. Serjeant Page observed, that there is a great difference between law suits against a company and those against private persons, the former being more able by the power of a large stock to answer the expence, to protract time and avoid justice.—That as private men must answer for themselves separately it is easier to prosecute one suit against a company who will be more likely to create disputes, than particular men, and in case of a war, wherein any considerable losses should happen, it would be worth a company's while to use shifts and evasions to avoid the payment of those losses.—That when a corporation is once settled, it is difficult to dissolve them, tho' they should not answer the ends of their charter, and after such dissolution it is not easy to determine, what method, if any, would be left for their creditors to recover their just debts.—As to the dispatch of business, the difficulty, he said, would be the same to get policies executed by the company as by private insurers, for that the company would have a committee to approve of policies to be signed, and have stated hours, whereas the present offices for insurances are open at all times, and if persons are absent at one office there are others constantly to go to.—That if a merchant fits out a ship at a season of the year, or for such a voyage, as the governors or officers of the company do not approve, they may think it their interest to be absent, and when other offices are laid down their merchant has no opportunity of insuring at all. Mr. Serjeant Page further observed that tho' the merchants of London are divided upon the subject of this charter, yet those who petition against it are the most in number and such as are most considerable for fortunes and estates, and that those who are solicitous for a company are such as probably think to share the profits of such company and tho' some of them are men of repute and good business, yet most of them are inconsiderable for estate or trade.—That several are known not to be merchants, and that the certificates produced in favour of a charter, are chiefly from inland places not much concerned in foreign trade.—That one great advantage which attends the present insurance offices and cannot be expected from a company, is, that in case of dispute and when there is occasion to make proof of a policy, the servants of the office keepers being witnesses to the policies signed by particular persons, it is much easier to prove such policies, than it would be to prove the policies of a corporation whose officers, it may be, dare not prove the policies that may be contested with their superiors.—And, in relation to foreigners, he said their commissions for attending a company for insurances, would be as chargeable as now, for procuring insurances from private offices.—That there is no such company abroad.—But that this would very much affect foreign trade, which when once fixed it is not easily to be altered, and that no change of trade ought to be attempted, where no inconvenience appears in the present method.—That in the course of nineteen years, and most of them time of war, the petitioners for a charter have been able to make appear no more than 6000l. loss by private insurers which is but inconsiderable, considering the time and circumstances.—And Mr. Serjeant Page concluded, that Mr. Attorney and Mr. Solicitor-General having been attended by council on both sides on this subject, and the matter having been fully heard, they had reported to His Majesty their humble opinion "That the making an experiment in a thing of this nature, if it should prove amiss, would be of the utmost consequence to the trade of this nation, and that it so highly concerns trade and commerce, that it will be proper for the consideration of Parliament," and Mr. Serjeant said, he hoped their Lordships would not for the considerations abovementioned, advise His Majesty to grant such a charter.
Mr. Talbot proceeding likewise, in behalf of the Merchants of London, petitioning against a charter for insuring ships, said, they were happy in having their petition referred to this Board, who have the trade of the kingdom more immediately under their consideration.—That the petitioners for a charter, made specious pretences indeed, such as the improvement of trade, incouragement of seamen and advantages to the publick, which if they could be made appear, the merchants of London who at present oppose it, would rather join to promote it.—That hitherto there had been no such company, yet many and great insurances had been made to the satisfaction of merchants both at home and abroad, and that at this time the insurances made in the method hitherto practised with so much success are no more ineffectual than formerly, no more dilatory, but in good credit and the insurers ready to pay when losses happen of which good performance of the present insurers the nation feels the effect.—That there is no complaint of the insufficiency of the present insurers, and as there is no occasion for such charter the inconveniences that would attend the granting it ought with more reason to be avoided.—That it would destroy the present insurers, and if granted in terms exclusive would be against law.—That as it has been alledged, that the company will follow their interest in giving satisfaction by their insurances, so their interest will likewise lead them to exclude all private insurers. —After which Mr. Talbot enlarged to the same effect as Mr. Serjeant Page had done upon the following heads, vizt.:—The companies being able by their stock to lose at first, and after beating out the private insurers, retrieve upon the publick such loss; the private insurers not resuming their business when once dispossessed of it; the turning persons out of their present imployments, and the advantage of having actions against several single persons rather than against a corporation.—And Mr. Talbot further added, in relation to the 6,000l. loss, with the petitioners for a charter have found in nineteen years from private insurers, that the sum was inconsiderable, and that corporations were not exempt from failing, in which case much greater losses might be apprehended to the persons insured—that the generality of the merchants here were easy in the present method of insurance as well as strangers abroad, and that there being a great deal of difficulty and prejudice apprehended, to trade by a corporation, he hoped their Lordships would not advise so dangerous an experiment.
Mr. Serjeant Erle, in behalf of the merchants of Bristol, who petition against the said charter, objected that it was far from being agreed on both sides, as had been suggested, that such a charter as proposed is consistent with law, it tending apparently to a monopoly. That before such a charter be granted some mismanagement of the present undertakers of insurances ought to be proved, or incontestable advantages arising from the charter made out.—That he knew of no difficulties in getting insurances from substantial persons for as large sums as have been hitherto required, nor have the council for the charter named any person that wanted a larger insurance than could be procured there.—And as to what had been observed relating to multiplicity of law suits and charges in cases of dispute where several particular persons underwrite policies of insurance, Mr. Serjeant Erle said, that the determination of a suit with any single subscribers for the most part concluded all the rest, but that a suit with a corporation was quite a different thing.— That the statute above quoted of Queen Elizabeth left the business of insurance at liberty.—And that the gentlemen concerned for a company, have not, as it might be expected they should, applied to the legislature in an affair of such importance to the trade of this kingdom.—He then inlarged, in substance, as Mr. Serjeant Page and Mr. Talbot had done in relation to the ruin of the present insurers, who, he added were men of integrity, and no malepractice laid to their charge.—The advantage of having many offices of insurance to go to, which a charter would effectually soon prevent.— The difficulty of obtaining dispatch in insuring with a company, as great, if not more than by attending private persons, since any one member of a committee of the company by raising doubts may obstruct what business he thinks fit.—That foreigners rather than contend with a company will pay more than the presentsmall præmiums given for insuring insurers.—And as to the differences taken notice of in the Act of Parliament abovementioned which impowers the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London to decide them,—Those matters were generally made up privately by merchants and application seldom made to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen on account of the delay and tediousness and several inconveniencies to persons concerned which Mr. Serjeant Erle alledged would be the like case to persons who should be obliged to attend a company or committee of a company to adjust accounts upon losses.—And in conclusion, he referred to Mr. Attorney and Mr. Solicitor General's report with whom he hoped their Lordships would concur, and not advise the present experiment that may prove so dangerous to trade, which he said was of too nice a nature to be constrained.—And if such a company could be thought reasonable, it would be a hardship that London should have such a privilege, exclusive of the out ports of the kingdom.—And that he hoped their Lordships would consider the worth of the petitioners both of London and Bristol against the charter, the petition from Bristol being signed by the mayor and eleven of the aldermen of that city.
Mr. Hungerford. who appeared with Mr. Serjeant Erle in behalf of the merchants of Bristol, represented to the Board, that it was agreed on all sides, if the intended charter for insuring ships imployed a monopoly, it ought to go on no further, and he declared he was of opinion it would center in a monopoly in effect, he urged that power seldom keeps its bounds.—And instanced the new East India Company, who, by Act of Parliament were not to be exclusive of others.—That there were two persons who then traded separately to India, whom the Company at last found means to bring into their body when other methods failed; and as the Company imposed an oath on their members, as other companies may, those separate traders were soon swallowed up by the Company, and so the trade became in effect exclusive.—He likewise instanced the Bank of England which by its influence had rendered a land bank abortive.— That it is best judging of what may be expected from what we have found by experience.—And tho' such a charter as is now proposed should provide that any others besides the company may insure ships, yet the number of the present insurers would probably be much abridged by their coming into the company which at last would ingross the whole business.—In relation to the clause proposed to be in the charter to inforce the company's appearance to suits in four days the sooner to determine differences with them, Mr. Hungerford objected that notwithstanding such a clause, if they should decline appearing, it would be difficult and tedious to compel them to it, or to vacate their charter.—And he instanced that the African Company in a particular case had not been brought to an appearance in four years.—But on the contrary he observed that arrest more immediately affect private persons than any process can do a company so that the latter cannot so easily be compelled to what is just.—And touching upon some of the points abovementioned to the same purpose as the other gentlemen against the charter, Mr. Hungerford concluded that the people who keep the present insurance offices should be considered as persons in an honest and fair livelihood and not to be deprived of it without some reasonable objection against them—which he conceived such a charter would effectually do, it tending in its nature to a monopoly and stockjobbing which he could not think their Lordships would ever incourage.
In reply to what was answered as above by the counsel for the petitioners against a charter, Mr. Reeves, in behalf of the petitioners for it, referred to the petition it self for the names of the subscribers, who were men of substance and consideration and not such projectors as represented by their adversaries—That they desire not to exclude any others from the business of insurance, but only to erect an additional office of insurance whereby greater advantage might accrue to the public—That as to the legality of the charter proposed, he said, that in the report of Mr. Attorney and Mr. Solicitor-General, no notice is taken of its being illegal or tending to a monopoly— That if the objections be true that the generality of merchants are resolved to follow their former method of insurance, the charter desired will not tend to a monopoly—That the argument of there never having been such a corporation will extend against everything, tho' never so good in itself, if the same has not been done before— That foreigners are not so unacquainted with our Corporations, but that they will understand, a million of pounds sterling to be a good security for their insurances, and as for stockjobbing, the fund proposed for this company being fixed and not imaginary, it is not adapted for stockjobbing—That the objection concerning the proof of policies, in order to put the same in suit is, groundless, for that the company can only act under their common seal, which will be less trouble to prove than in the present method of insuring where there is occasion for witnesses—That the 6,000l. loss by the failure of private insurers was only a specimen of such losses, and much less than the whole of what might have been proved—That many insurances are now made abroad, even for some of our own merchants, which it would be of advantage to the kingdom to have made here—In support of which, Mr. Reeves proposing to have the affidavit of Mr. Emmet read, Mr. Serjeant Page and Mr. Serjeant Erle objected thereto, as being irregular, and what ought to have been mentioned before the council for a charter came to their reply, besides, that Mr. Attorney and Mr. Solicitor-General had declined the reading of that affidavit on the hearing before them; whereupon the gentlemen on both sides were acquainted by the Board that they were not confined to the strict rules of proceedings in the courts of justice, but that their Lordships should at any time receive what information might be offered them from either side— Mr. Reeves then proceeded and said he was not instructed concerning what had been mentioned about a land bank, and the management of the East India Company &c. but that the African Company was an instance where a company and separate traders carried on the same commerce, and the separate traders had much the advantage of the company, so that it is not a necessary consequence, that companies tho' not exclusive do in the end destroy a separate trade— And as to the objection raised that the certificates before the Board from several cities and towns in favour of a company are not from places concerned in foreign trade, Mr. Reeves observed that Leverpoole, Chester, Plymouth, Biddeford, Yarmouth, Falmouth, New Castle upon Tine, Dublin and Cork, from whence certificates of the most considerable merchants there, had been sent in favour of the company, could not be said to be inland towns, or denied to be places engaged in foreign trade.
Mr. Serjeant Pingelly subjoined and insisted that the certificates abovementioned were from the most proper places—That the petitioners for a company, desire only that such persons as are willing may come to insure with them—That insurances by a company will not extinguish other insurances, but afford another market for insurance—And the objections to the oppressions that might be occasioned by the power and large stock of the company proposed, would be an objection against all companies whatever— That if any particular inconveniences have been found in charters already granted they may be provided against by proper clauses to be inserted in this—That the expence of a suit at law with a company is very little more than that with a private person, and that in case of a dispute with the company, there will be occasion but for one action—That if the company should fail answering the payments expected, their credit and business would consequently fail—And he concluded, in reply to what had been said of its being proper to make application to the Legislature before such a charter be granted, that the granting of charters according to law is the prerogative of the Crown, and that therefore he hoped, the Board would recommend to His Majesty the granting such a charter as desired, which he was of opinion would not only be lawful, but greatly tend to the improvement of trade, and produce the other advantages thereby proposed to the public.
A letter from Mr. Nivine [fos. 238, 269, 270, 275], signifying his not being able to attend the Board this day, as he had been desired, and praying their Lordships would give him time till the middle of next week, was read; whereupon ordered that he have notice to attend on Wednesday next accordingly.
A letter from Col. Bennet, Govr. of Bermuda, dated 29th of March, 1718, relating to some doubts that have occurred to the pirates, [fo. 181, 328] which have obstructed their surrendering upon His Majesty's proclamation, was read, and a letter inclosing an extract of the said letter to Mr. Secretary Craggs, was agreed and ordered to be transcribed.
A letter to Mr. Secretary Craggs, ordered yesterday, to be prepared, for inclosing the extract of a letter from Col. Bennet, Govr. of Bermuda, dated 29th of March, 1718, relating to some doubts, that have occurred to the pirates, which have hindered several of them from surrendering upon His Majesty's proclamation, as also a former report to the Lords of the Council of 20th February last, relating to commissions to be prepared for impowering the Governor to pardon them, was agreed and signed.
Three affidavits from some merchants, in favour of a corporation [fo. 239, 299] for insuring ships, &c. at sea were read; and ordered that copies of the said affidavits be given to those who petition against the said corporation.
Mr. West attending, their Lordships proceeded in considering
several Acts of the Leeward Islands, vizt.:—
An Act for the good government of negroes and other slaves in this Island.
An Act for laying on French sugars [fo. 267, 275], rum and melosses imported, both passed at Nevis, 1717.
Which Acts with Mr. Solicitor-General's report upon them, and a letter from Col. Jory, desiring the said Acts may be confirmed, were read; whereupon ordered that a representation [fo. 273] be prepared to his Majesty for his Royal Approbation of the first mentioned Act; and their Lordships agreed that the latter should lye by probationary [fo. 267, 275].
Then the Acts of St. Christophers undermentioned, were severally
read, and the notes, as expressed, under the title of each Act, were
agreed to by Board, vizt.:—
An Act to ascertain the bounds of possessions in the late French ground, passed in 1715.
No objection, expired.
Additional Act to an Act to ascertain the bounds of possessions in the late French ground, passed in 1715. No objection.
An Act for the settlement of the militia, passed in 1715. To lay by.
An Act to explain part of the Militia Act, past in 1716. Expires August, 1718.
An Act laying a duty on sugars exported to any other island in this Government for the use of the fortifications, passed in 1715.
To lay by.
An Act regulating fees of the several offices and courts, passed in 1715.
To lay by.
An Act for raising a levy to discharge the publick debts, passed in 1714.
An Act to repeal a clause in the common law suit, passed in 1715.
An Act raising a tax on trade to defray the publick charges, passed in 1715.
A letter from Col. Spotswood [fo. 49, 93, 283] Lieut. Govr. of Virginia, dated the 27th of February last, was read, and the accounts of the revenue of 2s. per hogshead in Virginia from the 25th October, 1717, therein referred to, was laid before the Board.
A memorial from Don Bernardo de Guardia and Mr. Diharce, [fo. 99] praying copies of the several papers before this Board relating to the Spanish belandra seized, and some time ago condemned at Jamaica, was read, and the said gentlemen were acquainted that their Lordships would consider thereof, and give them an answer in a few days.
The draught of a representation upon the petitions, memorials and other papers received from the Marquis de Wignacourt [fo. 224, 274], Mr. Coram and others, who desire a settlement between New England and Nova Scotia, was agreed and ordered to be transcribed.
Their Lordships proceeded in considering the two Acts of Jamaica
passed there the 31st of August, 1717, entituled,
An Act for relief of widows and orphans in relation to deficiencies, and
An Act for the more effectual punishing of crimes committed by slaves.
read with Mr. Attorney-General's report.
which Acts were read, as likewise Mr. Attorney General's report thereupon; and their Lordships had no objection against either of the said Acts, but observed, that the first mentioned Act would be of no further use, the Act to which it refers being repealed; and as to the Act for the more effectual punishment of crimes committed by slaves, their Lordships agreed to let it lye by as probationary.
A representation upon the petitions, memorials and other papers received from the Marquis de Wignacourt [fo. 272], Mr. Coram, Armstrong and others, who desire a settlement between New England and Nova Scotia, as agreed at the last meeting, was signed.
Mr. Mackburney, Secretary to the Company for the Royal Fishery, attending, as desired, their Lordships had some discourse with him, concerning the charter granted for such a company in the reign of King Charles the 2nd and the charter for a fishery company which several lords and others have lately petitioned for; and being particularly asked, what the said company had done for promoting the fishery; he said the Board of Trade had formerly required an account thereof from him, which, upon changes in the ministry, he had not completed; whereupon their Lordships desired the said account as soon as he could perfect the same; as likewise a copy of the said charter, for which he promised to move the company, and added, that he believed the said company would put in a caveat against any new charter.
Mr. Nivine [fo. 267, 269, 270, 328], Agent for Antigua, attending, their Lordships had some discourse with him concerning the Act, passed at that island in 1716, to prohibit the importation of French or other foreign sugars, rum, &c. Whereupon he was directed to bring to their Lordships in writing what he had offered in favour of the said Act.
Mr. West attending, their Lordships then took into consideration
the two Acts undermentioned, passed at Montserrat in 1715, which
were read vizt.:—
An Act to repeal the Acts entituled, the six pound Act, and
An Act for raising a levy or tax.
To which their Lordships had no objection, but observed, that the former Act not reciting the title of that, which was thereby intended to be repealed, it actually repealed nothing, and that the latter Act has had its effect.
And upon the Act passed in the said Island of Montserrat in 1704/5, entituled, an Act for quieting possessions and better securing the title of land [fo. 292], Mr. West was desired to consider the same, and to compare it with the Act passed in 1702, for quieting men's estates &c. which is repealed.
The Act passed at St. Christophers the 10th of January, 1715/16, entituled, an Act for the good governing of servants, ordering the rights between masters and servants and to encourage the importation of servants, was read; and their Lordships agreed to let the same lye by probationary.
Their Lordships proceeded to consider several Acts of the Massachusets Bay, and the letter from Mr. Tailer of the 21st July, 1716,
then Lieut. Governor of that province, transmitting the said Acts,
was read; as were likewise the Acts passed there in 1715, whereof
the titles are undermentioned; the notes agreed by their Lordships
upon each Act being expressed under each particular title, vizt.:—
An Act in addition to an Act for erecting of a powder house in Boston.
No objection, to lye by.
An Act to prevent the oppression of debtors.
No objection, to lye by.
An Act for preventing damage to the housing and other estate, within the several towns of this province.
To lye by.
An Act in addition to the Act, entituled, an Act against counterfeiting the bills of credit of this province, passed in the 3rd year of Her late Majesty Queen Anne.
No other objection, but remark to the Govr. the instruction about fines and forfeitures being granted to the Crown.
An Act in further addition to the Act for encouraging the killing of wolves, made in the 5th year of the reign of King William and Queen Mary.
No other objection, but remark instructions as above.
An Act for maintaining and propagating of religion.
No objection to it.
An Act for reviving and further continuing of an Act entituled, an Act to inable creditors to receive their just debts out of the effects of their absent and absconding debtors, made and passed by the Great and General Court or Assembly at their session upon the 26th day of May, 1708 in the 7th year of the reign of Her late Majesty Queen Anne.
An Act for the encouraging the raising hemp within this province.
An Act for holding and keeping a Superior Court of Judicature Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery, within and for the County of Hampshire.
Qr. any such Act repealed.
An Act to prevent the unnecessary journeying of the representatives.
An Act for the better regulating of town and proprietary meetings.
An Act in addition to the Act, entituled, an Act for the regulating of townships, choice of town officers, and setting forth their power made and passed in the fourth of William and Mary.
An Act in addition to an Act, entituled, An Act for the settlement and distribution of the estates of intestates, made and passed in the fourth year of the reign of King William and Queen Mary.
Upon consideration of Mr. Lowndes's letter [fo. 211, 290], mentioned in the minutes of the 29th of the last month, relating to Captain Taverner, who has been imployed in the survey of Newfoundland; directions were given for preparing an answer to the said letter.
The letters undermentioned from Capt. Doucet, Lieut. Govr. of
Annapolis Royal, to the Board, as likewise one to the Secretary,
were read, and the papers therein severally referred to laid before
their Lordships vizt.:—
A letter from Capt. Doucet, to the Board, dated the 6th of November, 1717.
1st. Form of an oath proposed to the French inhabitants.
2nd. Answer of the said French inhabitants.
Another letter from him to their Lordships, dated 1st of February, 1717/18.
A second letter from Captain Doucet to the Board, dated 1st February, 1717/18.
Copy of an address of officers and British inhabitants of Annapolis to the King.
A third letter from him to the Board, of the 6th February, 1717/18.
1st. Copy of Capt. Southack's letter to the Lieut. Govr. of Annapolis Royal.
2nd. Representation of the inhabitants and merchants of Annapolis Royal to the Lieut. Governor.
A letter from him of the same date, to the Secretary.
A fourth letter from Capt. Doucet to the Board of 10th February, 1717/18.
1st. Mr. Doucet's letter to Mr. Melanson at Minos, dated December 5th, 1717.
2nd. Mr. Doucet's letter to Father Felix, Priest at Minos, dated December 5th, 1717.
3rd. Mr. Melanson's answer, dated 25th January, 1717/18.
4th. Answer of several French inhabitants.
The extract of a letter from Mr. Burchal to Mr. Cuningham, dated at St. Christophers the 10th of March last, signifying that the English settlement at Crabb Island has been destroyed by the Spaniards [fo. 301.]
Lieut. General Carpenter, Govr. and Col. Kane, Lieut. Governor of Minorca [fo. 211, 295], attending, General Carpenter presented to their Lordships a memorial concerning the making of salt in that island, which was read; and it being observed to them, that Mr. de Soulies was the first that appeared to the Board to have proposed the setting up salt works there, Col. Kane said, he had writ to the Government here some years ago upon that subject, but that no resolution had been taken thereupon; and General Carpenter acquainted the Board, that the said De Soulies' application to Parliament, and representing the making salt at Minorca so much more considerable a thing than he looks upon it to be, had prevented him from addressing His Majesty or this Board concerning it, but that he was willing with the other officers upon that island to make the experiment.
Mr. West being present, their Lordships then proceeded in considering several Acts passed in the province of the Massachusets
Bay in 1716; and upon reading nine of the said Acts, and no objections arising thereupon their Lordships agreed to let them lye by
An Act for granting unto His Majesty an excise upon wines, liquor and other strong drink sold by retail.
An Act for the more effectual discovering of the rateable estates within this Province for a just and true valuation thereof.
An Act relating to the Great Bridge in Billerica.
An Act stating the fees of the Custom House officers within this Province.
An Act in addition to the Act for regulating fees, made and passed in the 4th of King William and Queen Mary, taking the fees of the officers of the Court of Admiralty.
An Act in further addition to an Act relating to sureties upon mean process in civil actions made and passed at a session of the Genl. Court or Assembly the 8th November, 1693, in the 5th of King William and Queen Mary.
An Act for further continuing an Act for the better regulation of swine going at large, in addition to the Act for the regulating of fences, cattle, &c. and for the explanation thereof made and passed by the Great and General Court or Assembly at their session upon Wednesday the 10th of February, 1713 in the 12th of her late Majesty Queen Anne.
An Act for the change or alteration of the surname of Spencer Bennet, alias Phipps, of Cambridge, Esqr.
An Act for appointing and assessing a tax of 11051l. 13s. 10d. upon polls and estates.
The Acts passed at the same time, whereof the titles are undermentioned, were likewise read, and Mr. West was desired to consider the Act in further addition to the Act for making lands and tenements liable to the payments of debts, made and passed in the 8th of King William, wherewith Mr. Dummer, agent for that province, was ordered to be acquainted.
The Act for reviving and further continuing, an Act directing how rates and taxes to be granted by the General Assembly shall be assessed and collected made and passed upon the 31st of May, 1699 in the 12th of King William the 3rd, was found to have expired in 1717; as likewise the Act for granting to His Majesty several rates and duties of impost and tonnage of shipping.
And upon reading the Act for the further continuing of an Act, entituled, an Act against hawkers, pedlars and petty chapmen, made and passed by the great and general Court or Assembly at their session, upon Wednesday 27th May, 1713, in the 12th of her late Majesty Queen Anne, with the said Act, entituled an Act against hawkers, pedlars and petty chapmen. Ordered that the Govr. of the Massachusets Bay be writ to for the reasons for passing the last mentioned Act.
The Act passed at Barbados in 1715, entituled, an Act impowering licentiate lawyers to practise as barristers in this Island [fo. 223, 346], being delivered to Mr. West for his consideration and opinion thereupon, ordered that Mr. Walker, who has made application to the Board in relation to the said Act, as also the Barbados agents, be acquainted therewith.
Capt. Taverner [fo. 281, 290], Surveyor of Newfoundland attending, the papers undermentioned, which have been lately received from him, were laid before the Board, vizt.:—
Copies of letters from Mr. Secretary Stanhope (now Lord Stanhope) to Capt. Taverner and to the Lords of the Treasury.
Copy of Capt. Taverner's 2nd report relating to Newfoundland.
Account of French ships and inhabitants at St. Peters, &c.
Capt. Taverner's remarks upon some proceedings at Placentia.
Copies of Col. Moody's orders to Capt. Taverner with the French declaration and oath to be administered to the French inhabitants.
A new chart or a new map of Newfoundland from Cape St. Marys to Cape Lahun, surveyed by Capt. Taverner,
and the said copies of letters from the Lord Stanhope were read; Capt. Taverner being particularly asked about printing the chart abovementioned, he said he had no objection to its being printed at the publick charge.
Capt. Taverner being withdrawn, their Lordships agreed the draught of a letter from the Secretary to Mr. Lowndes [fo. 281] in answer to his of the 24th, which was mentioned in the minutes of the 29th of the last month, relating to the said Taverner.
Mr. Mackburney [fo. 226, 291], Secretary to the Fishery Company, attending, presented to the Board a copy of the charter granted to the said company by King Charles the 2nd in the 29th year of his reign; and the said Mr. Mackburney being withdrawn, their Lordships agreed the draught of a representation to his Majesty upon the petition of several lords and others for a new patent for carrying on the fishery, referred to this Board by Order of Council, mentioned in the minutes of the 24th of February last, and directed the said draught of a representation to be transcribed.
The draught of a representation upon Col. Philips's memorials [fo. 284, 292] mentioned in the minutes of the last meeting relating to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, was agreed and ordered to be transcribed.
Mr. West attending, his report upon an Act passed at Montserrat [fo. 276, 347] in the 4th year of her late Majesty's reign, entituled, an Act for quieting possessions and for the better securing and confirming the titles of land in this Island, was laid before the Board.