America and West Indies
July 1724, 21-25

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Institute of Historical Research

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Cecil Headlam (editor) and Arthur Percival Newton (introduction)

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1936

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168-185

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'America and West Indies: July 1724, 21-25', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 34: 1724-1725 (1936), pp. 168-185. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=72393 Date accessed: 22 September 2014.


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July 1724, 21-25

July 21274. John and David Lequesne to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Replies to Queries on Sugar and tobacco trades, 14th May etc. Propose reduction of duties etc. as others, 30th May-18th June. Signed, John Lequesne, David Lequesne. Endorsed, Recd., Read 21st July, 1724. 3 pp. [C.O. 388, 24. No. 150.]
July 21.
Whitehall.
275. Council of Trade and Plantations to the Committee of Privy Council. In reply to 17th April, propose conditions proper to be contained in a grant of lands petitioned for by Col. Vetch and other Officers, (i) All royalties, dominion and government to be absolutely reserved to the Crown. (ii) An annual quit-rent to the Crown of 14 lb. of hemp water-rotted, bright and clean, and fit for making cordage for the Navy, for every 100 acres granted, that shall be inclosed, planted, cultivated or improved. The said quit-rent to commence within four years after improvement inclusive, or cultivation: to be double the 12th year, and treble the 20th, and so to continue for ever after, etc. The said hemp to be delivered to H.M. Receiver, at such places as he shall name, not exceeding 10 miles from the ground where the hemp grew, free from all charges to H.M. (iii) In four years time the patentees to transport to the land granted 400 families, (iv) and to cultivate 800 acres, (v) and to build one or more stockaded towns for the defence of their Plantations. (vi) If at any time H.M. shall think it necessary to erect a fort or forts on any part of the lands hereby granted such place shall be assigned for that end, but if any buildings are already erected upon it, reasonable satisfaction shall be made to the Proprietors. (vii) One full 20th part of the land granted shall be reserved to H.M. as a nursery for masts and timber for the Royal Navy; the said 20th part to be marked out by H.M. Surveyor General etc. (viii) The Patentees not to export to any foreign parts out of H.M. Dominions any Naval Stores etc. (ix) All subjects of Great Britain to have liberty to fish upon the coasts and to build stages to cure their fish etc. etc. (x) H.M. Surveyor General of the Woods to be present at the laying out of the lands etc. (xi) No Patentee to sell his share of the land until he shall have been six months in actual possession, and shall have cultivated the same, or at least that he have not liberty of selling a greater part of his share than he shall have improved. No Proprietor to buy another's share till he shall have cultivated and improv'd his own. (xii) The grantees shall not have leave to sell to any one person or to any other in trust for him above 500 acres. [C.O. 218, 2. pp. 43–48.]
[July 22].276. Anonymous paper on the Sugar trade. Cf. 30th May-18th June. Refers to complaints against recent exorbitant additions to the Governor's emoluments, which can only be raised by the poor planters laying taxes which affect the trade of the mother country etc. "Another great evil of late years etc. is the depriving the Governor and Council of any jurisdiction or direction over the station ships of war, etc., the only reason for which that was ever heard of, was that Governor Beeston put in the purser of the Falcon to be Commander after the Captain's death, over the head of another Officer, contrary to the rules of the Navy, and that under the command of this purser, the said ship was taken by the enemy, this hath been made use of by the Lords of the Admiralty to deligate their jurisdiction to the will and purpose of every private Captain of the Station ships, so as the said ships altho' a very great expence to the Nation, yet have done little or no service for many years past in the West Indies, haveing left the headlands always unguarded, and consequently the trade both going and coming exposed to the pirates and Spanish guard de coast ships etc., so as the said pirates becoming masters of those seas etc. have risen up like mushrooms under the very noses of our said men of war, for near nine years, and we never heard that they took more then two in America" etc. Argues case for placing H.M. ships under the direction of the Governor and Council. The remedy of the late Act for restraining ships of war from carrying merchandize is become worse than the disease, for those appointed to take care of the ships from Jamaica to the Spanish coast, loaden cheifly with our woollen goods, and for which silver and gold are the usual returns, raise a contribution of 12½ p.c. convoy money of all traders, except 8 p.c. from one or two, which puts the English trader on much worse foot than Dutch or French etc. Another abuse is raising the species in most of our Colonies from time to time, whereby the debtor defrauds the creditor, so as many families have been ruined here in England who have traded thither, and this hath usually been done by contrivance of Governors for their privat advantage, though contrary to Instructions, Proclamations and even Acts of Parliament etc. The great ravages made on the coast of Guiny by pirates, by the loss of near 100 ships in two years, are deep wounds given to our colonies as well as to our trade and navigation etc. Sugar works should be encouraged abroad so as to increase supply and cheapen it, and the planter relieved of all fears of disobliging Governors, which cannot be so long as the latter remain their own Chancellors and navigation as dangerous as it now is by pirates and the guard de coast vessels, the latter of which are undoubtedly supported underhand by the Spaniards in Europe, or their Governors in America durst not give commissions to pirates who have taken divers English vessels under pirate colours and afterwards got them condemned as lawful prize in divers of their Governments etc. On the faith of treaties our merchants fit out large adventures and fall into the hands of an enemy one dreams nothing of, and for that reason no resistance is made, but if there is up goe the pirate colours, at sight whereof our men will defend their ship no longer. An expedient which would soon put an end to this destruction of the British trade, would be to suffer the Governor of the nearest Colony where these unlawful captures are made, on due proof thereof, to grant the person injured forthwith letters of reprizal etc. Endorsed, Recd., Read 22nd July, 1724. 12 1/2 pp. [C.O. 388, 24. No. 155.]
July 22.
Whitehall.
277. Council of Trade and Plantations to the Duke of Newcastle. Communicate report from the Agent of Carolina, relating to M. Couturier (?. April 30th) received since letter of 23rd April. Autograph signatures. 2 pp. [C.O. 5, 382. No. 38; and 5, 400. pp. 189, 190.]
July 22.
Whitehall.
278. Mr. Popple to Governor Burnet. Encloses Memorial, Representation, Reference, and Minutes of Council of Trade relating to Act for the encouragement of the Indian trade etc. (?. 23rd July), for his answer as soon as possible. [C.O. 5, 1124. pp. 352, 353; and (rough draft) 5, 1079. No, 138.]
July 22.
Whitehall.
279. Mr. Popple to the Duke of Bolton. His Grace having entered a caveat in this Office against an Act passed in Jamaica in 1722, for settling the N.E. part of the Island, enquires what objections he has and whether he desires to be heard by Counsel etc. [C.O. 138, 16. pp. 484, 485.]
July 22.
Whitehall.
280. Mr. Popple to Governor Hart. Encloses copy of Order in Council (4th July), upon the Board's letter of April 17, "whereby you will take notice of H.M. goodness to you "etc. [C.O. 153, 14. pp. 153, 154.]
July 23.
Whitehall.
281. Same to Mr. West. Encloses, for his opinion thereon, "six Acts passed in Antigua 1723 and 1724". [C.O. 153, 14. pp. 154–156.]
July 23.
Whitehall.
282. Same to Same. Encloses, for his opinion thereon in point of law, three Acts of New Jersey, (i) for an additional support of the Government, and making current £40,000 in bills of credit etc. (ii) concerning the duty of the Commissioners appointed to manage the loan offices in the respective counties etc. (iii) for the better putting in execution the Act for regulating of fences. [C.O. 5, 996. pp. 135, 136.]
July 23.
Whitehall.
283. Same to Same. Encloses, for his opinion in point of law, 9 Acts of Pennsylvania, passed in 1723. (i) for emitting £15000 bills of credit, (ii) for the better putting in execution preceding Act etc. (iii) for respiting executions upon certain judgments of Courts etc., (iv) directing the process of summons against freeholders, (v) A supplementary Act to No. i. (vi) for regulating and establishing fees, (vii) for emitting £30,000 in hills of credit, (viii) to rectify proceedings upon attachments. [C.O. 5, 1293. pp. 337, 338.]
July 23.
Whitehall.
284. Same to Lt. Governor Sir Wm. Keith. I have laid before my Lords Commissioners your letter of 12th Dec., giving you reasons for creating a paper currency. But as the bills for that purpose were not received till some time after, they have not yet had time to consider the same. Their Ldsps. have nothing further to add to their letter of 19th June, 1723, till they have considered the said Acts, which they have determined shortly to do, when you will receive their observations etc. In the mean time, I am to desire you will give directions to the proper officer, that all Acts and other papers which you shall for the future transmitt to the Board, may be abstracted in the margin, in order to prevent the delays which the making such abstracts when the papers are-received here, must necessarily occasion. [C.O. 5, 1293. pp. 339, 340.]
July 23.
Whitehall.
285. Mr. Popple to Mr. Willard. Acknowledges letters and papers of 30th May and 31st Dec, 1723, and 30th May last. Concludes: "My Lords Commissioners desire that for the future you will transmit those accounts directly to their Lordships." [C.O. 5, 915. pp. 405, 406.]
July 23.
Whitehall.
286. Same to Governor Shute. Requests him to send to him the papers relating to the Massachusets Bay transmitted by Mr. Willard, 30th May. [C.O. 5, 915. p. 408.]
July 23.
Whitehall.
287. Same to Mr. West. Encloses, for his opinion in point of law, Act of Barbados, 1721, to preserve the freedom of elections and appointing who shall be deemed freeholders and be capable of electing or being elected Assemblymen or Vestrymen, or to serve as jurors to try real actions etc. [C.O. 29, 14. p. 401.]
July 23.
Kensington.
288. Order of King in Council. Approving Representation of 15th July, and ordering the Council of Trade and Plantations to prepare an Instruction to the Duke of Portland to pass an Act accordingly. They are to insert therein the necessity of passing such an Act, and the ill consequences that will otherwise attend the Island, according to the report of Mr. Attorny and Mr. Sollicitor General, etc. Signed, Edward Southwell. Endorsed, Recd., Read 24th July, 1724. 2 pp. [C.O. 137, 14. pp. 357, 358v.]
July 23.
Kensington.
289. Order of King in Council. Appointing Samuel Moore to the Council of Jamaica. Signed, Edward Southwell. Endorsed, Recd. 31st July, Read 5th Aug., 1724. 1 p. [C.O. 137, 14. ff. 361, 362v.; and 137, 46. No. 42.]
July 23.
Kensington.
290. Order of King in Council. Approving representation of 14th on Indian trade Act and ordering accordingly. Signed, Edward Southwell. Endorsed, Recd. 3rd, Read 5th Aug 1724. 21/8th pp. [C.O. 5, 1053. ff. 221–222v.]
July 24.
Whitehall.
291. Council of Trade and Plantations to the Duke of Newcastle. Enclose following to be laid before the King. Autograph signatures. 1 p. Annexed,
291. i. Same to the King. In pursuance of Order of 30th April etc. By the accounts of imports, exports and home consumption, 1702–1722, which we have divided into four different mediums of five years each, it dos appear that the greatest alteration during that time, in the state of the tobacco trade, has been in the last five years vizt. Christmas 1717–1722, during which time the imports and exports have been considerably increas'd. But by the like mediums taken upon the sugars, it does appear the home consumption of this commodity has gradually increas'd for the whole term, and is now near the double of what it was twenty years ago; it likewise appears that our exportation of sugars in the last five years of this term, was less than in the five years immediately preceding them. Since therefore the sugar and tobacco trades are very different in their circumstances, we shall find ourselves under a necessity of separating our considerations concerning them, and humbly crave leave to begin with what relates to the sugar trade. The imports and exports of all American commodities should naturally depend on the demand there is for them in European markets; on the quantity of land improv'd in our Colonies; on the good or bad seasons there; and upon the security of navigation: But many other causes have been assign'd for the decrease in our exports of sugars,—such as the great charges attending our Navigation—the duties lying upon sugars at home—the 4½ per cent, paid in specie at the shipping of them in Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands—the importation of French sugars into Ireland —the great expence our planters are at in cultivating this commodity, some of our Sugar Islands being almost worn out, especially Barbados where many more hands and much more manure is requisite than in the fresh lands now planted by the French in Hispaniola— the great increase of the French Plantations in Hispaniola and Martinico and of the Dutch at Surinam and in the East Indies—and lastly, the extraordinary increase of our home-consumption, proceeding from the general use of tea and coffee, which reason alone might have been sufficient to account for the decrease in our exportations; But if the luxury of other countries be increased in any proportion to ours, in these particulars, both our sugar works and our exportation should have increas'd in proportion to these new demands, if this branch of our commerce had not lay'd under great discouragements. Notwithstanding the best inquiry we have been able to make, we are very imperfectly appriz'd what duties or incumbrances lye upon French, Dutch or Portuguese sugars etc., but according to such information as we have had, the duties on sugars in Martinico and the other French Plantations are about 2 p.c. and payable by the person who ships off the sugars from thence to France; the exact duties payable upon their importation into France we cannot learn, almost each Province having different priviledges, and the local duties and gabells, which may properly be term'd inland duties, are upon the consumption in France. At Rochell sugar pays 50 sols the 100l. wt., and upon exportation most of that is repaid or drawn back; at St. Malo it pays nothing on importation, and only a small duty on export to foreign countries, but upon carrying it into the towns of France it pays large inland duties; Brazils, Muscovadoes and powder sugars pay in Holland ten pence the 100l. and three pence and one third of a penny more additional duty established about 1688 or 1700, besides three per cent ad valorem; our sugars are commonly valued about twelve to fourteen guilders the 100 l. English Barbados and Leeward Island sugars are generally enter'd in Holland as Paneel sugars from St. Thomas, which pay on the 100l. 6 stivers besides 1/3d. additional duty, wch. is 3 stivers, and 3 p.c. on the value making 7 to 8 stivers. So that in all our dutys on sugars came to 16 stivers the 100l. when sugars were about the price which they are now; the duty upon export o f refin'd sugars from Holland was one guilder five stivers or about 2s. 3d. pr. £100. But for the encouragement of refining houses, they redue'd it about the beginning of the first war to one half; and Dutch sugars imported into Holland from their Colonies in the East Indies, pay no duties at all. But the duties and incumbrances upon British sugars taken in the Colonies where they are made and upon their importation into Great Britain, are very heavy; which must necessarily give a great advantage to foreigners. Some of these have already been mention'd, and might indeed more properly follow here; because we do not find that either the extraordinary charges attending our Navigation, the duties payable upon sugar either in the Plantations or at home, the importation of French sugars into Ireland, or the great expence of cultivation, have in any sort diminished the usual importation of this commodity into Great Britain. On the contrary, importation is rather increas'd from a cause we shall afterwards assign; But undoubtedly all these difficulties and many others have proved great discouragements to the British planters and have enabled foreigners to go to market much cheaper than we can. We are informed that the Dutch import near 7000 tons of sugars yearly from the East Indies only, which cost there about 7s. per hundred, and pay no duty upon their importation into Holland, whereas the common price of sugars in Barbados, before they are shipp'd off, at a medium of late years may be computed at about 15s. the hundred besides the duty of 4½ p.c. paid in specie there, and 3s. 4d. per hundred upon their importation into Great Britain, and altho' 2/7½, part of this duty, is drawn back upon re-exportation, and 8½d. only remains, yet this being added to the charge of insurance, debentures, Custom-House fees, demurrage occasion'd by Custom House holidays, and all the other charges incident to shipping, does very much discourage the carrying of this commodity to a foreign market. Such is the inequality between the trade of the Dutch and that of your Majesty's subjects in this commodity; nor is that between the French and us much less; for besides the freshness of their land the French King gives great incouragements to all persons that settle in his Colonies, as freedom from quit-rent for certain terms of years, and the loan of materials proper for their business; and altho' we cannot certainly say to what value these incouragements amount; yet by the effect we find that the French are enabled to sell their sugars at least five shills. in the hundred wt. cheaper than your Majesty's subjects; and that they do actually import great quantities of their sugars, not only into your Majesty's Colonies upon the Continent, but even into your Sugar Islands, from which cause has proceeded some small increases of late years in the importation of sugars from Jamaica. But if these sugars have been enter'd at home as the produce of our own Colonies, your Majesty must have been much defrauded in your duties. There is likewise too much reason to apprehend that great quantities of foreign sugars are imported into Ireland; for altho' the use of tea and coffee is very much increased there, yet the exports of sugars from hence to Ireland, 1718–1722, have been about one-fifth less than they were in the five preceding years. The French planters have for many years receiv'd not only the greatest part of their provisions from your Majesty's Northern Colonies and from your Kingdom of Ireland, but likewise negroes and cattle from some of the British Sugar Islands; without which assistance it is generally believ'd they could not have been able to have gone forward with their sugar works; and therefore if in the infancy of these Colonies a stop had been put by law to so pernicious a practice, 'tis probable the French plantations had never increased to so considerable a degree; but now they are got to so great a head as to be able in some measure to stand upon their own legs, particularly in Hispaniola, we must humbly submit to you r Majesty's great wisdom whether it may not be advisable to connive at this trade and carry the French sugars for them to foreign markets, rather than let them be the carriers themselves; and so much the rather because by this trade the Northern Colonies upon the Continent are probably enabled to pay the ballance which they yearly owe to Great Britain, not having commodities of their own produce to exchange against those they receive from us.
Most of the forementioned difficulties are peculiar to the Sugar trade. But there are some other disadvantages which the dealers in sugar share in common with all the rest of your Majesty's subjects trading to the British Plantations in America, namely the great depredations made by the pirates, and the Spanish Guarda Costas, particularly upon the ships coming from Africa with negroes, upon whose safe arrival the very being of the Plantations depends, which has occasion'd an excessive rise in the rates of insurance. From the same cause likewise our ships being freighted home, are for their own security oblig'd to come in fleets, wch. occasions their arriving later at foreign markets, and likewise much dearer than the French, by the addition of demurrage to their other charges. Upon this head we are sorry to observe that great complaints are made by the merchants in general of the negligence of the men of war in their several stations abroad, more particularly at Jamaica, where the inhabitants are yearly at £5000 expence in equipping armed sloops for the security of their trade; and as this charge must naturally fall upon the produce of the island, their sugars must bear the greatest part of it, and consequently come so much the dearer to market. The French and Dutch shipping, as we are inform'd, go out generally full freighted for their Plantations, but the contrary is affirm'd of ours, which must naturally be a further charge upon all the produce of our Colonies. We have not been able to learn what prices the French, Dutch and Portuguese sugars have borne for twenty years last past in foreign markets; but it is evident from what has been already observed, that they can afford to sell much cheaper than your Majesty's subjects; for the duties and incumbrances abovemention'd are so great a burthen upon the British sugars, that after all the charges attending them deducted, in a plentiful year they have barely paid the expence of their making, and the foreign markets have been sometimes so much clogg'd with French, Dutch and Portuguese sugar that they have sold from ten to twenty per cent, lower than our sugars could possibly have been exported from hence. Some years since brown sugars in Barbados sold from 23s. 9d. to 26s. 3d. the hundred, and in London from 50s. to 65s. the hundred. But of late years 17s. 6d. has been reckon'd a very good price in Barbados, and from 25s. to 28 or 30s. the hundred, is esteem'd a very good price in London. This is a very natural consequence from the great increase of foreign Plantations: for whilst this trade was wholly ingross'd by the Portuguese, as it was before we planted Barbados, Sir Josiah Child observes that white sugars were sold at seven pounds or eight pounds the hundred, but within the compass of his memory our Plantations redue'd the price to 50s. or three pounds the hundred, and had quite beaten their muscovado sugars out of use in England. From all the particulars abovemention'd, it is evident the French and Dutch have a very great advantage in this trade over your Majesty's subjects, and that unless some means be speedily applied for putting this trade upon a better foot, in all probability the British Planters, far from, being able to supply foreign markets, will not make sugar enough for the consumption of your Majesty's own Dominions. Many remedies have been offer'd for this purpose by the merchts. and planters, to which we shall add what has futher occurr'd to our observation upon this head. Some remedies for this evil, we confess, are rather to be wish'd for than expected, whilst so many particular appropriations obstruct the way to the reduction of our duties upon this commodity. Many general charges upon shipping have likewise the sanction of Acts of Parliament, and the money thereby levied is appropriated to the repairs of peers, harbours and light-houses; a list of these charges which make us sail upon very unequal terms with our neighbours is hereunto annex'd. It were however much to be desir'd that the duty of 4½ p.c. payable in specie upon the shipping of sugars in Barbados and the Leeward Islands might be taken off, because the lands in some of these islands, especially Barbados, being much decay'd, even without this tax they carry on their sugar works, as hath already been observ'd at a very extraordinary expence. It were likewise to be desir'd that the whole duty paid upon the importation of sugars into Great Britain might be drawn back upon the re-exportation, and the loss the publick revenues would thereby sustain, as well as by the reduction of the 4½ p.c. in the islands, might, in our opinion be made good by a small duty upon loaf and refin'd sugar consum'd at home. We conceive it would be a great incouragement to the merchants if the debentures for their drawbacks were punctually paid them in a reasonable time, not exceeding one month, if the fees for these debentures were taken off, and the number of Custom House holidays abridg'd. And considering of what importance it is that the Plantations should be regularly furnish'd with negroes at reasonable prices, the coast of Africa ought always to be carefully guarded and the traders there effectually secur'd from pirates and from the depredations of the Spanish guarda-costas on their arrival in the American seas, who under the colour of lawful commissions commit frequent acts of piracy upon your Majesty's subjects, in direct violation of the treaties now subsisting between the two nations, which has occasion'd so great a loss to the British merchants trading to those parts that they think themselves justly entituled to letters of reprizal, as the only means left them for reparation. These evils might in great measure be prevented if the Captains of your Majesty's ships of war did their duty more exactly in their several stations abroad, repeating their cruizes more frequently, guarding the headlands and keeping a particular look out to the South West side of Hispaniola; But we are convinced by experience that this is not to be expected so long as the Captains of the men of war shall continue to be independent of the Governors and Councils of the respective Plantations where they are ordered to attend; We would therefore humbly propose to your Majesty that for the future all Captains of your Majesty's ships may be instructed to receive orders from time to time from the Governors and Councils of the respective Colonies in America where they shall be stationed for the preservation and security of the British trade in those parts, which we are inform'd is the practice of other nations. Such an Instruction duly complied with would be of great advantage to your Majesty's subjects in general, inasmuch as it would abate the present excessive rates of insurance, it would likewise save the Colonies much expence, particularly Jamaica, etc., ut supra. The merchants and planters are of opinion that it would be a great encouragement to your Majesty's sugar islands if the importation of foreign sugars into Ireland were prohibited, and the duties in Great Britain upon rum and molasses of the produce of your Majesty's Plantations abated. They desire that no duties may be laid upon the importation of black or white servants into any of your Majesty's Colonies,—That the planters of the late French lands in St. Christophers who at present hold them by a very precarious title may be better secured,—That the Island of Nevis may be relieved from the terror of their capitulation with the French the last war, not being able to pay the £42,000 for which their ransom was stipulated, and that the inhabitants of Mountserrat may obtain some redress for the losses they suffer'd when they were taken and plundered by the French after the Peace of Utrecht. It has also been proposed that the produce of the British Plantations in general might be exported, under proper regulations, directly from the place of their growth to any foreign market to the southward of Cape Finisterre; but as this is a matter of great consequence and would occasion a very material change in the Acts of Navigation, we shall humbly crave l eave to lay before your Majesty the several objections that have been made to it, as well as the several reasons that induce us to believe that this proposal might prove beneficial to the commerce of Great Britain. The general objections to this proposal with respect to the Plantations, have usually been, that your Majesty's Colonies in America might thereby become independent of their Mother m Country, that the Northern Plantations, more particularly New England, have already shewn too great a desire of being so, and that it would be contrary to the policy of all wise Governments, who secure the trade of their own Plantations entirely to themselves. But in case it should be thought advisable to make this alteration in the Laws of Trade, the method which we should humbly offer to your Majesty for doing it, as we conceive, would stand clear of these general objections, because we would propose that this permission should be restrain'd to British ships belonging to British owners dwelling in Great Britain, and duly navigated according to law, that such ships clearing from some port in Great Britain might be permitted to sail to your Majesty's Plantations to take in a loading there, consisting of the produce of the said Plantations and to carry the same to any foreign market to the southward of Cape Finisterre; provided they were obliged afterwards to return to some port in Great Britain and unload there before they were allow'd to return again to any of your Majesty's Colonies in America. This proposal thus guarded, far from making the Colonies independent of Great Britain, would in our opinion tye them faster to us, inasmuch as by this means we should necessarily be the carriers of their product, which would naturally diminish their navigation and increase our own; and if the Plantations in general were restrain'd from exporting any commodities whatsoever in their own shipping to foreign markets in Europe, excepting fish, the dependance of our Northern Plantations who are at present very powerful in shipping, whose produce is much the same with our own, and whose trade and interest too much interfere with ours, would in all probability be more firmly secured to us; For as the law now stands the Northern Colonies do carry on a considerable trade to foreign ports in Europe with lumber, corn, and fish, which gives them too great an intercourse with foreigners and puts them under a temptation of furnishing themselves with many commodities from abroad, which they ought only to receive from Great Britain. But it still remains to be consider'd what effect this new method of trading to the Plantations may have upon the general trade of Great Britain; and upon this head likewise some objections have been offer'd, namely that according to the present establish'd custom of navigation, sailors are paid their wages in the second port of delivery, from whence it would happen that much of our money would be spent abroad in foreign ports where the Plantation cargo should be unloaded; and that these ships would probably be under a necessity of re-fitting in the same ports before they could be in condition to take in a fresh freight for Great Britain, which would likewise occasion a further expence of our money abroad; It has also been said that some of the enumerated commodities, particularly rice, may be re-exported to several parts of Portugal from Great Britain, as cheap as directly from the Plantations, and have a greater chance of coming to a favourable market; to which has been added the general objection of the danger of trying experiments in trade and of putting commerce out of it's usual channel. This last is an objection, not only to the present proposal, but even to all other new attempts in trade; and therefore we shall content ourselves with observing that if this had been an establish'd maxim with our ancestors, many beneficial branches of trade which we now stand possess'd of, had never fallen to our share, more particularly the woollen manufacture. But as to the assertion of our being able to re-export r ice or any other enumerated commodity to Portugal from Great Britain as cheap and to better effect than we can do it directly from the Plantations; we beg leave to say it would seem to us very improbable, because of the inevitable increase of charge upon a second voyage. As to what regards the paymt. of sailors' wages in foreign parts, we would beg leave to observe that this custom of paying wages to sailors in foreign parts is a very pernicious one, and has been taken notice of as such by an Act pass'd in the 8th year of your Majesty's reign, for the more effectual suppressing of piracy, whereby it is already provided, under certain penalties, that no master of a ship shall pay above the one half of the wages due to his sailors in any foreign port; and indeed considering this practice has been the main cause of the sailors' debauchery, extravagance, desertion and piracy, and of the ruin of their families at home, it were to be wish'd that the masters of trading ships might be further restrain'd in this particular and brought nearer to the custom of your Royal Navy where the sailors are furnished with necessaries whenever they want them, but receive no wages, let the voyage be never so long, till their return to Great Britain. The charge of re-fitting these ships in foreign ports still remains unanswer'd, and there is no manner of doubt that whatever expences may be necessary for this purpose, must be laid out when occasion shall require it, which may very often happen to be in foreign ports; But as your Maty, has two ports of your own in the Mediterranean, that is to say Gibraltar and Port Mahon, if proper stores were lodged there by British merchants for that purpose, even this expence might in many cases fall into the hands of your Majesty's own subjects, and if it should not, it would still be worth consideration whether the advantages expected from this change in the course of trade, will not over-ballance so small an inconvenience, which naturally leads us to the reasons that have been offer'd in favour of this alteration. It is alledg'd that the present duties and incumbrances on sugars and tobacco from the British Plantations are so very great that after the charges of commission and unloading paid, it often happens in a plentiful year that they do hardly pay the planters' original cost in making of them; after wch. it is very unlikely those commodities should be able to bear a second freight another charge of loading, a second commission and a repetition of all those other charges payable upon shipping at the Custom House and elsewhere, which have been taken notice of in a former part of this report as grievances upon trade, but all these they must pass through before they can find their way back again to a Southern market; from whence it happens that our re-exportation of the enumerated commodities to the southward is very inconsiderable, except in the article of rice for some few years of late to Portugal, which in all probability has been owing to the goodness of the commodity rather than to any other cause, tho' some persons attribute it to the cheapness of freight from hence in ships that go to fetch wine from Portugal. By this new regulation therefore it is probable we should gain a new market for the produce of the British Plantations. We should certainly be enabled to sell them much cheaper than we can at present, and all the profit accruing from their sale would be a new acquisition to the ballance of our trade. It is likewise very probable that we should thereby greatly increase our Navigation, by becoming the carriers of many commodities from the Mediterranean, Levant, Spain and Portugal to the northward; for the Dutch are almost always at war with the Algerines, and the Genoese who are at present the greatest carriers in the Mediterranean, are so likewise, for which reason they dare not venture to sea but in large ships, and the two most bulky commodities they have to freight with are rice and paper. But no place whatsoever produces better rice than Carolina, if any so good, and therefore if this permission were granted for the enumerated commodities, of which rice is one, we might thereby much diminish the navigation of the Genoese by interfering with them in so necessary a part of their freight. Before we conclude what we have to offer upon this subject, we must however observe, that your Majesty's revenue may be affected by this proposal unless care be taken to secure to your Majesty a duty in the Plantations upon the embarcation of these commodities equal to the duty left upon the re-exportation of them respectively from Great Britain to any foreign market, tho' the re-exportation of the enumerated commodities to the Southward is so inconsiderable at present that very small loss would accrue from this alteration to your Majesty's revenue. And whereas some of the commodities at present imported from the British Colonies, are so immediately necessary for the carrying on certain manufactures in Great Britain particularly naval stores of all sorts, beaver skins and peltry of several kinds, it might be adviseable to except these and all other commodities that may fall directly under the same description, out of this new regulation, in case the same should be approved of, that they may come out the dearer upon re-exportation to foreigners. And we humbly submit this matter to your Majesty's great wisdom, and beg leave to proceed in offering what may have further occurr'd to us for the benefit of the Sugar Trade.
Tho' the French and Dutch planters have many advantages over your Majesty's subjects in this trade, yet it is certain that the greatest is that proceeding from the freshness of their lands etc. The most natural way therefore would be to follow their example and plant fresh lands with sugar canes, and in order to promote so necessary a work, in our humble opinion all possible means should be employed to compel the people of Jamaica either to plant or surrender those great tracts of lands in that island proper for sugar canes and indigo, which at present lie uncultivated. It is likewise humbly submitted to your Majesty's judgment, whether it might not be for the benefit of this trade that your Majty. should be generously pleas'd to take off the restrictions which lie upon such persons as shall settle in Tobago who are at present debarr'd by a particular Instruction from planting sugar there, tho' we are inform'd that no island in your Majesty's dominions is more capable of producing that commodity, nor better furnish'd by nature with rivers proper for turning mills necessary for grinding of the sugar canes. Encouragement likewise should be given for planting all other islands belonging to your Maty. capable of producing sugars, etc.
We now humbly offer what has occurr'd to us relating to Tobacco. We have already observ'd, from the Inspector General's accounts, that this trade is at present in a thriving condition; and the merchts. concern'd in it in the Memorial laid before us relating to the Tobacco trade, seem to have very little to desire. They say the late Act for enabling H.M. to put the Customs of Great Britain under one or more Commissions and for better securing and ascertaining the duties on tobacco and to prevent frauds in exporting tobacco etc., having given great incouragements, they have nothing further to ask of your Majesty, but that the coast of America may be well guarded, and that your Majesty would be graciously pleas'd to interpose with the several Princes of Europe that the British Tobacco, manufactur'd and in leaf, may be imported into their dominions upon as easy terms as the tobacco of other nations, and to pay no further duties upon their removal out of one part into another of the said dominions respectively than they paid at their first entrance, and indeed considering how fully we have deliver'd our sentiments to your Majesty on the Sugar Trade, wherein we have already taken notice of all the incumbrances which affect the trade to your Majesty's colonies in general and humbly propos'd such methods as appear'd to us most proper for removing them, we shall have less to offer upon this subject. The merchants trading to Virginia and Maryland have alledged no other reason for the excess in the imports or exports of tobacco, but the increase of people in Virginia and Maryland who have made fresh plantations there. As to the duties or incumbrances on tobacco, the merchants do not complain of any at the places of its growth, and the duties laid upon it by Parliament here at importation are three farthings per pound paid down, and bond for———. The prices of tobacco at home and abroad vary according to the crops, quality and quantity imported from America, and the quantity, made in Europe; but what the prices either of tobaccos are at foreign markets, the Virginia and Maryland merchants know not. Neither have we been able to learn what duties or incumbrances lie thereon abroad, save that the tobacco land pays about a double landtax both in the Dutch Provinces and the Empire. That British tobacco on importation into the province of Holland pays about 4s. duty on the cask of 6 to 700lb., and two per cent. more on the value;—That at Hamburgh all English product pays about two pr. cent. on the value;—and that Spanish tobacco pays the same with ours. This is all we have been able to collect from the merchants; but we think it our duty to take notice that your Majesty's subjects have many rivals in this as well as in the Sugar Trade, that there are great plantations of tobacco in several parts of Europe; In the entries of our Office in 1707 we find a very full account of these Plantations (B.T. Trade D. f 465); and since the merchants more immediately concern'd in this trade have been so very short in their informations to us concerning it we shall beg leave to insert what we have collected from our books upon this subject.—Here follows an account of tobacco grown in Holland etc. in 1707, concluding;—"It appear'd by letters from merchants at Riga and Revel that about 13 years before, that is in 1694, the consumption of the Plantation tobacco of this Kingdom was very great in those parts, amounting yearly to about 800, or 1000 hogsheads as well in roll as cut, which was sold at very high prices, but that at that time (vizt. 1707) we were almost beat out of those markets by the cheapness of Dutch tobacco imported there to double the quantity of what us'd formerly to be sent from hence, and that the Dutch had so far ingross'd the tobacco trade in the North, that several parcels of our Plantation tobacco had lain in the merchants warehouses at Riga and Revel five, six or ten years." We have but too much reason to believe that these plantations are rather increas'd than diminished since the time the abovemention'd report was made; and therefore if we do really continue to export greater quantities than formerly, and the increase in the Inspector General's accot. for the five years from Xmas 1717—1722 does not in some measure arise from the frauds lately discover'd in the tobacco trade, the share we preserve in this commerce must be chiefly owing to the peculiar quality of our tobacco which creates a demand for it in some foreign parts, more particularly in France at present; and therefore it is necessary that all proper means should be taken to discourage the importation of bad tobacco from our Colonies, which we hope may in some measure be prevented by the late act. It were likewise to be so desir'd that all the general grievances on the Plantation trade already touch'd upon in the former part of this report upon the Sugars, might be remov'd, whereby the tobacco planters may be enabled to make this commodity cheaper; but more particularly that the negroes trade may be well secur'd and the coasts of America better guarded than heretofore. And considering the Pursers of your Majesty's ships of war do exact a very great price for the tobacco which they retale to the sailors, no less than nineteen pence for the pound, it were reasonable they should be oblig'd to purchase whatever tobacco they may want for this purpose, in Great Britain, whereby the trade of our own Colonies would be promoted and your Majesty's revenues increas'd etc. We are sensible our representation is not so perfect as we could have wish'd it might have been; for the informations we have hitherto receiv'd are deficient in many particulars, which might possibly have been amended if we had taken time to write to your Majesty's Ministers and Consuls in foreign parts and to receive their answers to the several queries in the Order of Council; But as this would have requir'd much time and considering we were directed to use all convenient dispatch in our inquiry, we thought it our duty to lay the same before your Majesty, in the best manner we could, without further delay. Annexed,
291. i. Returns by the Inspector General of Customs of imports and exports of Sugar and Tobacco 1703–1722.
291. ii. Charges attending a sugar ship of 100 tons from the Plantations in respect to the ship only. Total, £44 11s. 2d. [C.O. 389, 28. pp. 175–219; and (covering letter only) 388, 78. f.104.]
July 24.292. George Bampfeild to [? Mr. Popple]. Desires that an Act of New York for setting the estate of Thomas Lewis, late of the City of New York may be laid before H.M. for confirmation. Signed, Geor. Bampfeild. Endorsed, Recd., Read 24th July, 1724. 3/4 p. [C.O. 5, 1053. ff. 220, 220v.]