Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Volume 5, January 1723 - December 1728. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1928.
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Journal, May 1725
Mr. Sharpe, attending, according to appointment, together with
several merchants trading to New York [folios 98, 122], who
complain against three Acts lately passed there, relating to the
Indian trade, and Mr. Leheup, agent for that Province, being
likewise present, the said Acts were severally read, viz:—
An Act for the encouragement of the Indian trade and rendering of it more beneficial to the inhabitants of this Province, and for prohibiting the selling of Indian goods to the French.
Passed in 1720.
An Act for the further and more effectual prohibiting of the selling Indian goods to the French.
Passed in 1722.
An Act for continuing the Acts made for prohibiting the selling of Indian goods to the French, with some alterations.
Passed in 1724.
as also the merchants' answer to the reasons for supporting the said Acts, transmitted with Mr. Burnet's letter of the 9th of August, 1724, mentioned in the Minutes of the 15th of the last month; whereupon Mr. Sharpe acquainted their Lordships that he was instructed by the merchants, before he entered upon the merits of the said Acts, to complain of Mr. Burnet's exposing in print their petition against the continuance of the first mentioned Act, His Majesty's reference, the representation and even the Minutes of this Board on that subject, and of the harsh expressions used against them in the answer of the Committee of Council of New York to their said petition.
The Report of the Committee of Council of New York, of the 6th of November, 1724, was then read, paragraph by paragraph; and as to the situation of the several nations of Indians, with respect to New York and the city of Albany, Mr. Sharpe acknowledged some mistakes of the merchants at their former hearing, and admitted it to be, as set forth in the beginning of the said report, with respect to the Five Nations themselves; but it was alledged that there were other Indian nations in alliance with the Five Nations, that were looked upon as English Indians, and that the nations in such alliance may be interrupted by the French forts from trading with the English: that there are several far nations to the northwards of Canada, whence the best furs are brought thither, though all the Western Indians come, as alledged in the said memorial: in reply to the answer given in the said report, that only the carrying goods to the French, which are proper for the Indian Trade is prohibited, it was said that the merchants never contended or meant that the prohibition extended to more than goods proper for the Indians, the trade in other branches remaining as it was, but then the same was represented as inconsiderable: as to the assertion of the said Committee that there has been every year since the passing the first mentioned Act more furs exported from New York than in the year immediately before the passing it, the merchants deny that more furs were imported into this kingdom in the subsequent than in the years preceding the said Act, and referred to the Custom House accounts; however, if it had been as the report sets forth, yet they said that before the year 1720, there being large quantities of furs carried from New York directly to Holland, upon a complaint thereof in Parliament, and that the Dutch had beaver cheaper from our plantations than we, an Act was passed here in the 8th year of His Majesty's reign, whereby beaver fur is restrained, as other enumerated commodities, to be exported from His Majesty's Plantations in America to this kingdom only, and those furs, that before the said Act used to be carried to Holland, are since included in the account from the Custom House of furs imported: in respect to the allegation of the Committee "that the principal of the goods proper for the Indian market are only of the manufacture of Great Britain or of the British Plantations, and that the French must be obliged to buy all their woollens (the strouds especially) in England"; Mr. Sharpe said, the merchants much questioned if that were strict fact, and the more for that they were very well informed that the French were come to make all the woollen goods proper for the Indians (except strouds) better than we do, and that as to strouds, they had of late fallen into a method of making them, but Mr. Sharpe admitted that New York had the advantage, in point of trade, over Canada, did not these Acts hinder them.
And as to what the Committee urge concerning the advanced price of strouds at Montreal among the French, above what they are with us at Albany, the merchants did not controvert that fact, with respect to the price, which only the private traders among the French (not belonging to the Canada Company) give for strouds to the company, but said the company monopolize the Indian trade, as far as in them lies, ingross the woollen goods proper for it, and set their own price on those private traders, who but for this Act of New York now complained of, might have been supplied with proper goods from New York, and made returns in furs from the far nations of Indians to the northward of Canada, whose correspondence with the English the French interrupt; and in general, it was alledged that, if all the nations of Indians and those, with whom they trade in those parts, were not prohibited by this Act from trading as they please, His Majesty's subjects would have a greater and more beneficial trade than they now enjoy. The remonstrance, taken notice of by the Committee as made by the merchants of Montreal to Monsieur Vandreuil, their governor: "That if the trade from Albany were not by some means or other encouraged, they must abandon that settlement": Mr. Sharpe observed could only be from the French private traders by way of complaint against their own company there, and admitted that what the Committee alledge against furnishing the French with Indian goods from New York would be of weight, were it shewn that the French at Canada in general could not otherwise be supplied therewith; but on the contrary, some of the merchants present asserted that strouds are made of late in France and sent to Quebec, and that though strouds and duffles were absolutely necessary in an assortment of goods for the Indians, yet they were not the main of the cargo, which was made up of goods which the French have, many of them as cheap if not cheaper than we: that there were several far Indians, who do not now trade with us, but with whom we might entertain a beneficial commerce by means of the private French traders. In answer to what is said by the Committee: "That the whole purport of the Act was to incourage our own people to go among the Indians and to draw the far Indians through our Indian country to Albany and which (as they alledge) has produced these effects": the merchants affirmed the contrary as to the consequences of the Act, it being thereby prohibited to our traders to go to the far Indians, and not to be expected those Indians should come to us, as well by reason of their great distance, as on account of the interruptions they must probably meet with from the French and the influence of the private traders; and the merchants further alledged that most of the furs of late at New York were bought of persons, who privately traded with the Indians, and had submitted to pay the penalties of the Acts, upon a presumption that they would be repealed here in Great Britain, in support of which allegation an affidavit of Messrs. Groesbeck and Schuyler, was read. The merchants added that the price our New York traders were forced to allow the Indians is double (as they are informed) to what the French give for furs, so that the French buying them so much cheaper can undersell us to the Dutch and other foreigners: that the French private traders of Canada are prohibited to trade with the English, and by this Act of New York we are doing their business for them, and they will vend their own strouds, a sort of goods which they have now learned to make themselves. In reply to the Committee's assertion "That rather greater quantities of European goods have been imported into New York since the passing the first Act complained of, than at any time before it in the same space of time," it was said that the manifests and Custom House accounts referred to were general, not distinguishing the goods proper for the Indian trade from others, and that, if examined into, it would appear that the exportation of goods from Great Britain proper for the Indians has very much lessened since the said Act, and of which the greatest part was sold to the private traders. What the Committee advance "That none of the people of New York travelled into the Indian countries to trade before the passing of this first mentioned Act" was denied by the merchants, who acquainted their Lordships that they were well assured that several traders did go from New York to the far Indians before that time, and doubted not to have had sufficient proofs of the same and other facts relating to the Indian Trade, but that several people, who could make proof, have been intimidated by the Governor from giving evidence in this affair.
Mr. Sharpe then proceeded to take notice that the allegation of the Committee of their "having now above forty young men who have been several times as far as the lakes a-trading," (by some of which lakes he observed, according to his instructions, our Indians are bounded), seems to admit that the Indians were not inclined to come so far as Albany to trade with us, and that they must have gone beyond the lakes to have traded with the far Indians.
The merchants acknowledged, as to the quantity of woollen goods sent to New York, they had lately sent more than at any time since the passing these Acts, on a supposition they would be repealed, but they apprehended the greatest part of the said goods would lie in their factors' hands, if the prohibition against dealing with the French private traders continued. Mr. Sharpe more particularly said, that however these Acts might prove of advantage or prejudice to the trade of His Majesty's subjects in general, they ought to be repealed for the following reasons.
1st. That whereas His Majesty's Governors of the Plantations are instructed not to pass Acts there, which may affect the trade or navigation of this kingdom, (as he apprehended these Acts did in a very singular manner), without a clause inserted therein for suspending the execution thereof till His Majesty's pleasure should be known, the said Acts had no such clause.
3rd. For that the said Act was of a very unusual and extraordinary nature, as to the manner of laying the penalties, and the persons appointed to tender the oaths to those who should be suspected; and that the power of entering houses, fining and committing to goal, ought not to be left at large to commanding officers, who might sometimes be inferior persons, and where there might prove any prejudice or malice, the tender of the oaths might be repeated so often as to make the traders liable to great vexation, if not ruin, at the humour of an officer who might have conceived any groundless prejudice against them, and this without any judicial tryal or appeal.
Lastly, for that merchants or factors were subject by the said Act to great forfeitures and penalties on the single oath of an informer, who is thereby to have the whole goods discovered in the trade prohibited and one half of the penalties.
And in conclusion Mr. Sharpe submitted to their Lordship's consideration whether several of these particulars were not contrary to the laws of England, and these Acts of New York therefore void of themselves by the Statute of the 7th and 8th of King William the third, for preventing frauds and regulating abuses in the Plantation Trade.
Their Lordships then, judging it too late for Mr. Leheup to make answer to what Mr. Sharpe had offered in behalf of the merchants against the said Acts, and for Mr. Sharpe to reply, agreed to proceed in hearing them on this day seven night at ten in the morning.
Colonel Philipps, Governor of Nova Scotia, attending, as he had been desired, their Lordships took into consideration the petition of Mr. Salmon [folios 76, 100, 119], read the 6th of the last month, as also the affidavit of Henry Bishop and Mrs. Elizabeth Barns, both mentioned in the Minutes of the 14th of the same month, in relation to Colonel Gledhill, Lieutenant Governor of Placentia's having ill treated the said Salmon's wife and daughter, and to his monopolizing the trade of that place to himself to the almost ruin of the petitioner.
And their Lordships, asking Colonel Philipps what he knew of this matter, he said, that he had heard nothing in relation to the first part of the said complaint, but as to Colonel Gledhill's concerning himself in the fishery and trade of Placentia, he believed that was true: their Lordships, after some further discourse with Colonel Philipps upon this subject, were pleased to order that Mr. Snowden, who attended the Board the 14th of the last month upon Mr. Salmon's complaint, as also Mr. Salmon's sister, and the said Mr. Henry Bishop and Mrs. Elizabeth Barns, be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with them on Tuesday morning next.
Their Lordships also acquainted Colonel Philipps with the subject matter of Mr. Toshach's petition, mentioned in the Minutes of the 18th of February last, praying a recompence for a house taken from him for His Majesty's service, as being comprehended within the new fortifications at Placentia, and desired Colonel Philipps would let them know whether the allegations of the said petition were true; whereupon Colonel Philipps acquainted their Lordships that the said Mr. Toshach had a house at Placentia, which was demolished by Colonel Gledhill, as set forth in the said petition, but that he could not say what title he had to the land upon which the same was built; whereupon ordered that Mr. Toshach be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with him thereupon on Tuesday morning next.
A letter from the Duke of Portland, Governor of Jamaica,
dated the 8th of February last, was read, and the papers, therein
referred to, were laid before the Board, viz:—
Papers therein referred to.
The Duke's speech to the Council and Assembly, their addresses, and the Duke's answer.
Three Acts passed the 26th January, 1724–5.
Mr. Snowden, Mr. Salmon's sister, Mr. Bishop and Mrs. Barns, attending, as they had been desired, their Lordships took into consideration the petition of Mr. Salmon [folios 116, 159], read the 6th of last month, as also the affidavit of the said Mr. Bishop and Mrs. Barns, both mentioned in the Minutes of the 14th of the same month, in relation to Colonel Gledhill, Lieutenant Governor of Placentia, having ill treated the said Salmon's wife and daughter, and to his monopolizing the trade of that place to himself to the almost ruin of the petitioner; and their Lordships, after some discourse with them upon the facts mentioned in the said petition and affidavits, acquainted them that they had given directions the 14th of last month that copies of the several papers, in relation to this matter, should be sent to Colonel Gledhill for his immediate answer thereunto [folio 189].
Mr. Toshach attending, as he had been desired, upon his petition, mentioned in the Minutes of the 18th of February last, praying a recompence for a house at Placentia, which was in the year 1720, taken by Colonel Gledhill for His Majesty's use, being comprehended within the limits of the new fortifications there, and their Lordships desiring to know what title he had to the said house, he laid before them an original grant from Monsieur Subercasse, then Governor of Placentia, dated the 15th of April, 1706, to Jean Faure, commonly called Laplant, as also the original Bill of Sale from the said Faure to Mr. Toshach, and a certificate from John Huxford, store keeper at Placentia, and William Carvill, clerk of the works there, that the said house, being in the limits of the new fortifications, was delivered up to Colonel Gledhill, as set forth in his said petition; and Mr. Toshach acquainting their Lordships that the said Huxford and Carvill were in England, and were able to give their Lordships a further light in this matter, as also Major Handy, late one of the officers at Placentia, ordered that the said gentlemen be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with them on Thursday morning.
Mr. Sharpe, attending again, with several merchants trading to New York [folios 102, 156], as also Mr. Leheup, agent for that province, according to appointment the 5th instant, Mr. Sharpe acquainted their Lordships, that since their last attendance a gentleman, now present, who had resided sometime in the province of New York, was arrived from Bristol, who with some other persons concerned in the manufactury part of the fur trade, were ready to be examined upon oath to some material points against the Acts, lately passed in the said province for regulating the Indian Trade, particularly as to the consumption of furs here being rather less than more since 1720; and also as to the advancement of the price of that commodity since the passing those Acts, both here and at New York, and to several other matters.
Mr. Smith, a cutter of beaver here in London, and vendor of the same to the hatters, being sworn, was examined as follows, viz: the said Mr. Smith being asked whether he was an importer of furs, he answered no; to the question whether the consumption of furs here was now more or less than of late years, he answered that it was now less than before the passing the said Acts, by reason of the present dearness of beaver; and being asked how he knew the consumption was less, he answered that his own consumption was less, and though he knew not what quantity other persons consumed, he had heard the same complaint from others. Being asked in what particular years the consumption of furs here had lessened, he said that in the years 1720, 1721 and 1722 we had a pretty good consumption of that commodity; but that in 1723 furs grew dearer than they had been, and the dealers could not procure them. He was then asked whether the dearness of furs here proceeded from their dearness at New York or other Plantations, which he said he did not know. Being further asked what furs were exported hence to Holland or other foreign parts, he said he knew nothing of the quantity of our exports, but that beaver was lately bought cheaper in Holland than here; and upon inquiry of him what country beaver that was, he said he believed it was from Hudson's Bay. To the inquiry what difference there was in the price of beaver in Holland and here, he answered that it was six pence per pound cheaper in Holland than it could be bought here, where it was now risen to five shillings or 5s. 3d., and Hudson's Bay beaver, which is the best sort, to about six shillings a pound.
Mr. Nathaniel Curl, being then sworn, was likewise examined as follows, viz: the said Mr. Curl being asked whether he knew the price of beaver here in the year, 1720, he said he could not tell it upon his memory, without recourse to his books; what it was in 1721, 1722 and 1723, he said to the best of his remembrance it was at 3s. or 3s. 2d. per pound in 1721, and continued cheap till within about a year and half, and the consumption more than now, the price of beaver having gradually advanced sixty or seventy per cent.: what was the occasion, he answered that he had heard the importation was less of late from New York, several ships having arrived from thence with very small quantities of furs.
Mr. Sharpe hereupon urged that the diminution of the consumption here proceeded from the great price of skins at New York; and Mr. Miranda alledged that, of all the beaver imported from New York in the last two years, there was not a fourth part, but what was had from the French private traders.
The said Mr. Smith being asked in what manufactures beaver is made use of here, and what quantity of skins may be exported to Holland, he said that we have little consumption of beaver but in hats, and that he does not know of any New York skins having been sent to Holland these two years.
Mr. John Peloquin, being sworn, upon several questions being asked him, he said that he arrived at Bristol from New York in August last, that he had lived in New York four years and a half, and knew very well these Acts relating to the Indian Trade had proved fatal to all the traders at New York and Albany; that he had bought skins of the French; but being asked in what years, Mr. Sharpe observed that his answering that question might be of ill consequence to himself, if it were since the passing the said Acts, and said he believed their Lordships did not expect Mr. Peloquin should accuse himself. Mr. Peloquin then proceeded, and said he had not paid any penalty for having bought the said skins; that most of the skins, lately imported from New York, were bought off the French private traders there, who several of them paid the penalties of the said Acts. Being thereupon particularly asked how he knew that fact, he said he had heard so: whether he had been present in any court of judicature, when persons had been convicted for trading contrary to the said Acts, he answered he had not, but that the Treasurer of the province told him two persons had given him, the said Treasurer, bonds for payment of £200, being penalties on the said Acts, which he said were the complaint of every trader at New York: that he had particularly heard Mr. Schuyler, one of the present members of the Assembly for Albany, complain of the said Acts: that as to strouds, he knew the French at Canada had strouds from England through France, and believed they might sell them cheaper that way, than if they bought them of us at New York: that the French private traders carry on a considerable trade with the Indians on their own account, and bring furs north of Quebec to our dealers in the province of New York: that in 1722 a large quantity thereof was brought from Quebec, notwithstanding the severe laws at Canada against it; and that, as to the said Acts of New York relating to the Indian Trade, everybody in general there, except the legislature, complain of them; and that it was the general opinion there, these Acts would fall short of the Governor's intentions, which he believed, however, to be good. Mr. Peloquin being asked whether the French traders do not use to go among our own Indians, he said he had heard some of the French declare, and he apprehended, that the goods they have from us are for the far Indians, and that he never had heard that any of them came among ours: that many of the French live among the Indians and supply the other Indians all about: upon enquiry concerning the number of Indian traders at New York, whether they were more or less since the passing these Acts complained of, he said there was yet little difference, but that upon passing the said Acts, their strouds lay on the traders' hands and have ever since been a drug there: that the spring was twelve months he sold strouds for nine pounds a piece, which before would have sold for ten pounds, and that many others could not sell at so high a rate as he did or on any account. Mr. Peloquin further said, that he thought it impracticable for us to trade with the far Indians, as long as they can be supplied by the French with the goods they have occasion for; and being asked if he knew at what price the French company sold their strouds, and whether they sold them under £9, he said they did not sell them under that price, nor could afford to sell them cheaper than we: that the said French company's agents buy strouds for them here in England upon licence, which they obtain from the Court of France, and without which he believed such trade was against the laws of France. It was then urged by a person concerned here in the manufacture of hats, that the French buy their beaver cheaper in Europe than we do, and will consequently outdo us in that trade, if we cannot procure beaver as cheap as they, to which he apprehended these Acts of New York were an impediment. It being observed that strouds were lately sold by the French of Canada for double what they are sold for at New York, it was answered that beaver was purchased by the Canada company for half the price given for it at New York, and that the French could afford to lower the price of their strouds as they found occasion.
Mr. Leheup then proceeded to answer the complaints and allegations of the merchants, and first, as to the printing their petition with His Majesty's Order of Reference thereupon and other papers relating to the said Acts, he said it was no new thing; for that he had seen several printed cases wherein Orders of Council, Votes of Parliament and other proceedings, or so much thereof as might be to the purpose, were inserted: that the merchants, in their said petition to His Majesty, having asserted several falsities in facts, the Government of New York were under a necessity of rectifying the same, and had no other way of doing it so well, as by annexing a map to their answer and printing the same, which the Governor did by advice of seven of the Council of that province for the reasons set forth, in the conclusion of their report to the said Governor viz: "That what they said might be exposed to the examination of everyone in New York, where the truth of the matters of fact is best known, and that the correspondents of these merchants might have the most publick notice to reply, if they should think it proper, or to disown in a publick manner that they were the authors of such groundless informations." As to the complaint of the merchants that several unjust reflections were made upon them in the answer to their petition, Mr. Leheup said that related only to a few of the merchants, who, having endeavoured to impose on His Majesty, did in his opinion deserve the reflections made in the said answer, which he conceived to be very just. And as to the blame laid on the Governor on account of their being published, he said the Council having recommended to him to print their report, it would have been unfair to suppress any part of it; that the intention of the legislature of New York in passing the Acts complained of, was to extend their frontiers, improve their correspondence and intercourse with the Indians, and thereby prevent the danger arising from their being influenced and instigated by the French against His Majesty's subjects, as some of them have of late been against the people of New England: that it is our interest to have a direct trade ourselves with the Indians, and not to let the French have a profit therein, as hitherto they have for some time had, through the indolence of the people of New York in not discovering this their interest sooner: that these merchants themselves admit New York has all the advantages against Canada by situation, for trade in general with the Indians, but do say, however, that there are some Indians north of Canada with whom the French have the intire trade, and that these Acts interrupt our trade even with some of our own Five Nations of Indians; the later of which assertions Mr. Leheup absolutely denied, and referred himself to the report of the Committee of the Council of New York, where an account is given of the situation both of the Indians, with whom the French trade, and of the said Five Nations [page 8 in the printed collection]; and as to the Indians north of Canada, he said they did not supply the French with the greatest quantity of their furs, and that the trade with them could not be intirely ingrossed by the French longer than they supply those Indians with goods cheaper than we do. In relation to the French making strouds themselves, he said the merchants produced no proof of it: that he believed, as had been said by some of them, that strouds might be sent annually from this kingdom to France for the Canada trade, but that by the length and danger of the voyage, especially about the entrance of and up Canada River, the French were obliged to sell their goods at a higher rate than we could afford them: that their voyage to Canada could not be performed above once a year, whereas our ships go safely twice and often three times a year: that besides strouds and duffles, rum is a necessary commodity for the Indians, which according to the said report [page 10] of the Committee of the Council of New York, the French have not an opportunity of getting nigh so cheap, but from the people of New York; and as for other goods necessary for the Indians, he admitted that the French do furnish them with some sorts, but not cheaper than we do, and he alledged that the French could not get off those other goods without our strouds and duffles, etc., which are the principal parts of the assortments for the Indians, whereby our general trade to New York has increased, as appears from accounts from the Custom House. He observed that the merchants admit what has been alledged, concerning the extravagant prices at which the French sell their strouds at Quebec and other parts of Canada, and particularly said that strouds are now sold at Montreal for £20, which they used to sell at £13 before these Acts, and that whether the French private traders or their Canada Company carry on the Indian trade, it is equally prejudicial to us. And as to the difference in the quantity of furs imported, before and since the passing of the said Acts, he referred himself to the Custom House accounts: that the allegation of some of the merchants that the consumption of beaver is less here by reason of the advance in its price at New York within this year and half, is not supported by any proof; and he affirmed that the rise of beaver proceeded from the demand for it in England, and that it appears the same quantity has been imported into this kingdom as formerly, upon which the market here is regulated: that the importation of beaver from the French was not prohibited at New York, only the sending to the French such goods as are proper for the Indians, and which it is our interest on all accounts the Indians should have immediately from ourselves; that the greatest part of the beaver comes from those Indians, which lye to the westward of Albany, with whom we are better situated to trade than the French; and as for any other beaver the French have, we are allowed to take it of them in exchange for English manufactures not proper for Indians. As to the objection of our Indian traders being restrained from trade with several nations of our own Indians, and obliged to enter into bond, to prevent their so doing, he said that regulation did not obstruct our trade with those Indians, whilst they were southward of a certain line described in the latter of the said Acts, where those Indians are settled nearer to Albany, and to several of our plantations in the province of New York, but it was very reasonably intended to prevent our traders dealing with those Indians, when they found them northward of the said line, which country, being chiefly possessed by the French, such trade might draw our Indians amongst them, and at the same time our traders are licensed to trade directly, (even in the French country), with all the northern Indians, where we had not a prospect of any trade till of late; that it is apparent these Acts have had a good effect from the several far nations coming lately to Albany, whose names had not been heard of before, as particularly specified in the said report of the Council, though he allowed that many of the people of New York, who either did not so well understand the publick interest or were ingaged in trade with the French, might four or five years ago be against altering the former channel of trade: that as to the Governor himself, he had no particular interest in these Acts further than that of the publick is concerned, which it was his duty to promote. In answer to the allegation that the advance in the price of furs here was a consequence of these Acts of New York, Mr. Leheup said that, if the same quantity be imported as formerly, such advance must be occasioned by a greater demand, and it might so happen that furs might be dearer at New York without raising the price here proportionably, the merchants being governed by the markets here, and furs being imported from other parts; and some of the manufacturers present being asked particularly concerning the imports of furs to England by the Hudson's Bay Company, they said their imports were increased of late, and that the price of beaver from Hudson's Bay had risen here in proportion to that from New York; but that the price of both was lately fallen, the Hudson's Bay beaver from six shillings to about 4s. 10d. per pound, and the New York much the same in proportion: as to what was urged by the merchants that our importation of beaver, since it was made an enumerated commodity, ought to be so much larger by the quantity, which before that time used to be sent directly from our Plantations to Holland and other foreign parts of Europe, Mr. Leheup observed, that it does not appear what quantity (if any) of furs was carried directly from New York to Holland or other parts of Europe, and that though this trade might be lessened upon the first alteration of its channel, it was now gradually increasing, and, (as the Council of New York set forth, [page 12]) many far Indian nations, whose names were not heard of at New York before these Acts, were striving who should come first to trade with us. As to the merchants' allegation of their having great quantities of strouds lying on hand with their factors at New York, he said it did not seem probable that those goods should lye by for want of vent, because the said merchants admit they have sent greater quantities this spring than ever, which he could not allow was on any presumption that these Acts would be repealed, but by reason of the demand for the Indians, as is mentioned in the said report of the Council [page 13], and that the safety of the province, as well as benefit of trade, is greatly concerned in them, by extending our alliance with the Indians, who, though the French have great influence with many of them by their missionary priests, may not improbably be gained from them by interest, and not only the frontiers of New York, but of His Majesty's other Plantations better secured. As to the nation called the Praying Indians, who consist of some of our Mohawks and others, that deserted from us in the late war and are now situate not far from Montreal, Mr. Leheup referred himself for an account of them to Mr. Colden's printed memorial [page 22], but observed that the merchants admit, and the affidavit of Mr. Groesbeck and Schuyler, produced at the last hearing, confirms, that if the present regulation of the Indian trade at New York be approved and continue, those Indians must remove, because of the trade between New York and Montreal, (wherein they were chiefly imployed) ceasing, if they do not bring beaver for our Christian goods or such as are not for a supply of the Indians, and in all probability the said Indians must fall in again with those in our interest. As to the objection of the Governors being directed by His Majesty's instructions not to pass any Act, whereby the trade and navigation of this kingdom might be affected, without a clause suspending such Act till His Majesty's pleasure should be known, and that none of the Acts complained of had any such clause, Mr. Leheup said he did not apprehend the trade or navigation of this kingdom to New York was any way prejudiced by the said Acts, but rather the contrary, and he referred to the 23rd and 24th articles of His Majesty's said instructions to Mr. Burnet, whereby he is particularly directed to prevent any trade or commerce between His Majesty's subjects and the French plantations. In respect to the oaths injoined by the said Acts, he said the commanding officers at Albany and others required to administer them had no profit therein: that he did not apprehend any persons were obliged by the said Acts of New York to accuse themselves more than on several occasions by Acts of Parliament relating to the Customs and Excise here, particularly by the late Act concerning the duties on coffee, tea, chocolate and candles; that where there was so great an extent of land to be secured, an oath was the only way left to inforce the law, and no precaution therein could be too great; and if there were any objection to the oaths, it should be from the factors at Albany, who are chiefly concerned in them, and not the merchants here that there was no profit, as alledged, to any private person for another's refusing to take the said oaths. And as to an appeal, for which Mr. Sharpe had alledged there was no provision in the Acts, Mr. Leheup said that they, being silent on that head, he apprehended there might be an appeal of course: that because several merchants appear against these Acts, it was not a necessary consequence that they were not good, or prejudicial to trade and the public interest of this kingdom and His Majesty's plantations, in as much as the Act of Navigation, which has been found so beneficial, had many opponents amongst the merchants: that it must be allowed it is better for us to have beaver originally from the Indians, though at a distance, than from the French at our own doors.
He then prayed their Lordships would please to report to His Majesty upon the subject matter of the merchants' petition; and for further satisfaction concerning the said Acts, he referred to Brigadier Hunter, late Governor of New York, and desired that as the said report of the Committee of Council there was more full than what he had said upon several points, the same might be taken as what he had to offer, in answer to the merchants' said petition.
Inquiry being made, since it has been represented on behalf of the merchants, that the generality of the people of New York were against these Acts relating to the Indian trade, whether any application had been made to the General Assembly against them, the merchants said they did not know, but concluded, if it was not done, it might proceed from their judging such application would be disagreeable or fruitless.
Mr. Sharpe on behalf of the merchants, and in reply to Mr. Leheup, represented to their Lordships that it was admitted on all hands that the channel of the Indian trade at New York has been altered by the Acts complained of, before which there should have been shewn some great inconveniencies in the former method of trade, or plain benefits in the new: that it appears the trade was formerly carried on by means of the French private traders and not the Canada Company, for the benefit of the English merchants, who had the beaver then from the far Indians, in lieu of our woollen manufactures; and he insisted that the advantage of that trade was then with us, and said that after four years' experience it is evident by the Custom House accounts that our importations are rather lessened since these Acts: that the Parliament having not long since lessened the duties on furs might be a reason for augmenting the importation. But if it were now greater, there ought to be deducted from the account what used to go to Holland, before furs were made an enumerated commodity, which the merchants said was twenty or thirty thousand skins annually: that, in the Custom House accounts at New York, skins are often entered by hogsheads, so that their number is not thereby to be known nor what they are; and of the skins lately imported from New York, it is believed by the merchants, four-fifths of them were bought of the French private traders, and not of the far Indians themselves: that the report of the Committee of the Council of New York upon the merchants' petition, is a defence which they were appointed to draw up, but not supported with proofs, either of any inconvenience in the former or advantage in the present method of the Indian trade. That in relation to the security of New York there does not anything appear in the former method of the said trade, that might endanger the alienating the Five Nations of Indians from our interest, the French going to the far Indians being not what could affect our Five Nations. And that the French, being many of them intermarried with the northern Indians, will probably hinder them from coming to us: that the price of furs being risen both here and at New York, and our importations decreased, are manifest disadvantage in the trade: that from Amsterdam the merchants were lately advised the price of beaver there had declined on account of a large quantity from France: that the whole stress in support of these Acts turns upon a supposition of the French having strouds only from New York; whereas they have both of their own manufacture and from England, and can have them cheaper from Europe than at New York: that the Canada Company buy no strouds at New York, nor give permission to their private traders to do it, the trade between us and the Company being prohibited: that the trade with the far Indians cannot be carried on, but by means of the French private traders, and we supplying these traders with strouds and their selling these strouds to the far Indians, and bringing back their skins to us at New York in exchange, is a carrying on a beneficial trade with the far Indians by us at New York by the means of the French private traders, who are no more than the hands or instruments of carrying on this trade with the far Indians by us, they being retailers for us and making New York the mart of this trade: that whoever secured these private traders secured the benefit of this trade, and as we could supply them cheaper than the French Company, were we at liberty to do so, we should by their means get the trade from the Company, who could not carry it on with the far Indians any more than us, but by the means of these private traders, but if we were to be restrained therefrom, then the private traders would be forced to go to the Canada Company, and so throw this trade wholly into their hands; so employing the French private traders by us, does not turn the trade into the hands of the French kingdom, which could only be done by carrying it to the Canada Company, but imploying these traders secures the trade to us, as the only way to keep it out of the hands of the Company: that the western Indians alone are not sufficient to supply what furs we could take off, besides that the northern are the better, and skins are particularly known by their goodness: that the nations conquered by our Five Nations beyond the falls of Niagara, which is between Cataraqui or Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, may be interrupted by the French from commerce with us: that the great price of strouds now at Montreal does not proceed from the scarcity of them there, but is the price the Company set on their private traders, since these Acts of New York and by reason of them: that the affidavit of Mr. Groesbeck proves that there are strouds made by the French themselves, which are known by a difference in the make. And in respect to the voyage to Canada, though they should have but one return in a year, they may then carry sufficient for their purpose: that in an assortment for the Indians, strouds is but a small part thereof, and six or seven per cent. alteration on that particular commodity will make but a very inconsiderable difference upon the whole: that Mr. Leheup has not answered as to the quantity of beaver usually sent to Holland, which ought to be added to the account of our imports. To shew the demand we have had for beaver, some of the manufacturers acquainted the Board that 800 dousen of hats, whereof great part were beaver, were sent at once to Leghorn about three years ago, and 100 dousen by one person, all beaver, to the Spanish West Indies; and that the present advanced price of beaver they judged to be from our not having it from the French private traders, who can only supply us with the quantities we usually had. Mr. Sharpe then proceeded, in reply to the suggestion that the French might bring us beaver, if we sent them only what are called Christian goods, or such as are not in demand for the Indians; whereupon he said that, if the French traders have not goods from us proper for the Indians, they cannot bring us their beaver: that as to these Acts not being within the meaning of the Governor's instructions relating to Acts, which affect the trade and navigation of this kingdom, he apprehended the diverting the Indian trade of New York from its old to a new channel, might be said to affect the trade of this kingdom. And as to the 23rd and 24th articles of the Governor's said instructions, relating to trade with the French, he submitted the same to the consideration of the Board. In relation to the oaths, he said that the Act imposing them was so drawn, that it was not easy to be understood, who were the persons imployed to discover the clandestine trade; and that the merchants and factors would undergo any penalties rather than take the said oaths: that they never contended that the Governor had any part of the forfeitures laid by the said Acts, but that all the goods found in such clandestine trade were forfeited to the informer: that the said Acts are directly contrary to the laws of Great Britain, and that it was not fit to incourage oaths of this nature, which lay men under such great temptations to perjury. In conclusion of what had been offered, Mr. Sharpe said he was instructed by all the New York merchants here, and likewise the dealers and manufacturers of furs, to assure their Lordships upon their strictest credit, that they firmly believed, if the said Acts were continued, the New York trade was undone, and therefore to pray their Lordships would please speedily to lay the said three Acts before His Majesty to be repealed, as well as to report, what they shall judge proper upon the said merchants' petition referred to them.
Brigadier Hunter, late Governor of New York and New Jersey, attending, as he had been desired, their Lordships had some discourse with him in relation to the three Acts, passed at New York in 1720, 1722 and 1724, for preventing the selling of Indian goods to the French, and desired he would let their Lordships know his opinion concerning them, whereupon he acquainted their Lordships that he conceived the said Acts were of great use, as they kept the Five Nations of Indians, bordering upon New York, firm to the English interest, and as in the end it would be a means to draw over several other nations of Indians to the same interest, since they would not be supplied with those goods they are in want of so cheaply as from the English: that in a few years Montreal, (one of the French settlements), would be intirely deserted, that place being wholly subsisted by trading with New York, and selling the goods bought from thence to the Indians: that as for strouds, which is the chief commodity the Indians are in want of, he was very well informed that the French could not make them themselves, and that all the strouds the French sold to the Indians, had before been purchased of the English, and that he himself had seen English strouds brought from Quebec: that during the time he was Governor, the Five Nations of Indians had sollicited him to pass an Act to the same purpose, and assured him that without it some other nations of Indians would be lost from the English interest.
A letter from the Council of Antego to the Board, dated the 22nd of February, 1724–5, in relation to Colonel Hart's complaints against them [folio 286], and desiring the Board would give them an opportunity of being heard, before they should make any report concerning the same, was read, whereupon ordered that the said letter from the Council be taken into further consideration when any complaints, as aforesaid, shall be received against them.
A letter from Mr. Burchet, Secretary to the Admiralty [folio 96], dated the 5th instant, in answer to two letters from Mr. Popple, and inclosing an extract of one from Captain Cooper, in relation to a French schooner taken by him in Carlisle Bay at Barbados, was read.
Major Handy, attending, as he had been desired, as also Mr. Carnaby, clerk of the works at Placentia in Newfoundland [folios 119, 163], their Lordships had some discourse with them, in relation to Mr. Toshach's house, said in his petition, (mentioned in the Minutes of the 6th of the last month), to have been seized by Colonel Gledhill, Lieutenant Governor of Placentia, being comprehended within the limits of new fortifications there, and their Lordships asked these gentlemen what they knew concerning the said house, whereupon they acquainted the Board, that they knew the house, very well, that it was within the limits of the fortifications there, and that it had been seized, as alledged in the abovementioned petition.
A letter from Mr. Dummer, Lieutenant Governor of the Massachusets Bay, dated the 31st of March last, was read, whereupon a letter inclosing a copy thereof to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, for His Majesty's orders thereupon, was agreed and signed.
A letter from the Duke of Newcastle, dated the 20th instant, referring to the Board a memorial from Mr. Stevenson [folio 161], desiring the Duke of Portland may be instructed to pass a law in Jamaica, to continue the old Revenue Act and the laws depending thereon, for one year longer, to commence from the 1st of October next, was read; whereupon ordered that the draught of a representation be prepared accordingly, as also the draught of an instruction, as proposed by Mr. Stevenson's said memorial, and of a letter for inclosing the same to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, one of His Majesty's principal secretaries of State.
A representation upon the Duke of Newcastle's letter of the 20th instant [folio 160], (mentioned in yesterday's Minutes), inclosing a memorial from Mr. Stevenson, was agreed and signed, as also a letter for inclosing to the Duke of Newcastle the said representation, and the draught of an instruction to the Duke of Portland, Governor of Jamaica, impowering him to pass a law there, to continue the old Revenue Act and the laws depending thereon, for one year longer, to commence from the 1st day of October next, as desired by Mr. Stevenson's aforesaid memorial.