Addenda: December 1691

Pages 624-627

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

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December 1691

Dec. 4.
On board the
in Plymouth
1,287. Charles Hawkins to Lords of Trade and Plantations. Enclosing answers to several queries submitted by them as to Newfoundland. Signed, Charles Hawkins. ½ p. Annexed,
1,287. I. Answers to several heads of enquiry concerning Newfoundland. (1) From Renouse to Bonavista there are 261 planters, 149 women, 309 children, 1,331 servants. Winter-fishing lasts from the middle of September to the end of October, from which time till the end of March they wood, fell stocks, saw wood, and make oars, from Renouse to Bay Verd, and prepare for the summer voyage, which lasts from the first week in May to the third week in August. In Trinity Bay and Bonavista they make no winter voyage, but from September till May they wood and fur, and then fit out for their summer's fishing, which lasts from the middle of June to the 10th of August, the fish not coming sooner on that coast, though in greater abundance than to the southward. The charge for the outset of a boat with five men for the season is £100, so that 200 quintals of fish (which often they do not exceed) does but bring in their first expense. This year some have made 500, some 400, but most 300 quintals, and six hogsheads of train per boat. The difference may be imputed to the carefulness of the men. They fish a small distance from the shore in boats, built in the country, which, fully laden, will make out 9 quintals of cured fish, which may wait at least six weeks from the first taking before it is fit to be shipped. This year's fish has been generally sold for 12s. per quintal, but for some years past from 8s. to 10s. Train this year is £10 to £14 a ton. I do not find that the Western Charter was violated in any material way.
(2) The Colony is unable to support itself. It has all its fishing craft and most of its provisions from England. New England sends provisions to about 300 tons yearly, which is brought in small vessels, which load refuse-fish for Barbados. (3) The planters do not destroy the woods, but have destroyed some of the Adventurers' boats, though so secretly as not to be discovered. All places, except St. Johns and Ferryland, are well furnished with wood to build landing-stages. (4) The planters do use the ships' room, but resign their place to the fishing ships when they come. (5) No damage is now done to stages by the by-boat-keepers, for the Adventurers lodge their stages, except the beds, which they break up and carry home for fuel. (6) The by-boat-keepers have no fishing craft from New England. (7) They have little sustenance from the land. In Trinity Bay and Bonavista they take £2000 value in furs, but little to the southward. (8) New England men import provisions from their own country and from the West Indies, which some invest in refuse-fish for Barbados, others in merchantable fish for Spain and Portugal, others for drapery and cordage, which are brought from England, others for wine, brandy, and oil, which they carry home. Servants have often stayed behind by reason of debt. (9) This year the planters employed 275 boats, 1,331 men, took 81,550 quintals of fish and made 325 tons of train. The planters sell their fish at the same price as the Adventurers, though at a greater charge by 30 per cent. (10) The New England men fish between their own coast and Nova Scotia, in small vessels of fifteen or twenty tons, carry it home to cure, and thence transport it to Bilbao where it is sold a dollar a quintal higher than Newfoundland fish, owing to its size. (11) This year there are no fishing ships; but their custom is for the master and company to have one third of the fish and train for their wages, paying no other charges than for boards and oars bought in the country. The allowance of provision is the same as in other voyages. (12) This year 88 sail of ships loaded 100,450 quintals of fish, of which 18 ships were for Cadiz, 6 for Alicant, 5 for Lisbon, 7 for Oporto, 23 for Bilbao, 14 for Barbados, 4 for the Western Islands, 3 for New England, and 8 for England. (13) No encouragement is given by masters for men to stay behind, nor did any stay last year. (14) The Western Charter is observed by all, so far as I could learn. (15) The French are best seated for fish and fur. They fish as we do, only they cure upon a beach and we upon flakes, which makes their fish more valuable by 3s. a quintal. They make generally 400 quintals of fish per boat. This year 14 sail were reported at Placentia, and 6 at St. Peters. They usually leave the country by the 20th of August. (16) There were in Placentia 250 inhabitants, and in St. Peters 220. The French merchants sell provisions to the planters at first cost besides the freight, and the planters sell their fish to them at 20 rialls per quintal, for which they take payment in goods and money. (17) The French inhabitants employ themselves in wooding and furring in the winter. (18) I could not ascertain what quantity of fish the French take or at what charge. (19) The French begin their fishing voyage at the end of March and end the 20th of July, leaving at the end of August for their markets in Spain and Italy. (20) Since the war the French trade has decreased in the land, in what proportion is unknown. (21) The French have only Placentia fortified. It was taken in 1689 by a privateer Captain, Herman Williamson, with thirty-five men, which he landed eight miles from the place. He surprised and took the place by night, imprisoned the Governor and all the inhabitants for six weeks and then left it, lading his ship with plunder. He threw all his guns but five into the sea, and left those five at St. John's, for their Majesties' service, where they now are. In May following a privateer of 24 guns and 140 men came to Ferryland to take vengeance, but Williamson, who was there, so briskly engaged him that he left the place and went to Bay-bulls. There he plundered the inhabitants and took a New England ship and a Dartmouth Ketch. In August following another privateer of 30 guns and 200 men arrived at Ferryland, and took a London ship and two more vessels. This last May, it is reported, a Governor and two hundred men arrived at Placentia from France to fortify the place. Last year sixteen English sail were taken by the French on the coasts of Newfoundland and New England, this year two. (22) There were in Placentia seven Englishmen married to French women, who in peace held a friendly correspondency, but now none. (23) No foreigners fish upon the Eastern coast except the French. (24) There is no certain account of French trade upon the Bank. From Canada ten sail have yearly laden thence with furs. The French in time of peace never suffered us to trade with Indians. What commerce we had was directly with them. (25) No other nation trades here, so far as is known. (26) No further account can be given of the French trade, as there is no correspondency between them and us. The places inhabited by us have this year been supplied by our English merchants residing at Cadiz, Lisbon and Bilbao, with fifteen foreign bottoms, laden with provisions and linen cloth. The New England men have yearly carried hence to their own country from 100 to 150 seamen and fishermen, which have remained there to the damage of the adventurers and planters. Signed, Charles Hawkins. 7¼ pp. Endorsed, Recd. at the Committee, 11 Jan. and 27 June, 1692.
1,287. II. Abstract of the foregoing. 1 p. The whole endorsed, Recd. 15 Dec., 1691. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXVI., Nos. 92, 92 I.–II.]
Dec. 21. 1,288. Account of ships sent out by the Royal African Company from 1684 to 1691:—
1685 38 ships.
1686 32 "
1687 24 "
1688 24 "
1689 9 "
1690 6 "
1691 3 "
1 p. Endorsed, Recd. from the African Company, 21 Dec., 1691. [Colonial Papers, Vol. LXVI., No. 93.]