Custom House Records: Letter Book, 1805-8

Pages 403-407

Cardiff Records: Volume 2. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1900.

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Letter Book.

23 September 1805 to 2 March 1808.

Custom H° Cardiff,

21 June 1806.

Sir,—Agreable to the directions contained in your Letter recd this day We beg leave to inform you that there are five Pilots occasionally acting in this Port and as we are informd by one of them (who has been in that practice upwards of twenty years) subject to no authority or control. We are Sir

Your most Obdt Serv'ts

T. B. I. D.

I. T. Swainson Esqr

Custom H° Cardiff.

23d June 1806.

Sir,—Since we wrote on saturday respecting the jurisdiction over the Pilots in this Harbour, it has been suggested to us by the Town Clerk that it is vested in the Constable of the Castle Senior Alderman & Bailiffs of the Town of Cardiff. Yet we have reason to think, as we before stated from the authority of the oldest Pilot, that no control or jurisdiction has ever been exercised over them.— We are, Sir, &c.

T. B. I. D.

I. T. Swainson Esqr


To the Rt Honble The Lords Commissrs of H.M. Treasury. My Lords,

Being engaged in a considerable Mercantile Trade at Newport in Monmouthshire, I take the liberty to state to your Lordships the very great inconvenience to which the trade of that Port is subject in consequence of the present necessity of every Ship's papers being taken by the Masters to Cardiff, a distance of 12 miles before the Cargo's can be landed, and of the Masters attending there in person, accompanied by a respectable person sent by the Merchts as Bondsman, before the vessels can clear out for Ireland or any foreign Port, which occasions much delay & extraordinary expense and a reason to many for not bringing their Vessels to the Port, who would otherwise come there.

I therefore humbly beg leave, on behalf of myself & the other mercantile part of Newport, to submit to your Lordships the propriety of appointing a proper Officer at Newport to supersede the necessity of Masters of Vessels going to Cardiff for ye above purposes, and trust that as the same indulgence has been granted to other Ports relatively situated as Newport is to Cardiff, where an increase of Trade has taken place in the Minor Port, your Lordships will graciously condescend to comply with this request, especially when the fact of the trade having increasd in the proportion of 10 to 1 in the course of the last ten years is stated, & can be clearly demonstrated; indeed it appears by the last Quarterly Accot of the Export from Newport that upwards of 80 Sail of Shipp[in]g laden with Coals only, have cleared out for Ireland, independent of a considerable Iron Timber and Bark Trade.

Humbly praying your Lordships to take the matter into Consideration, I remain, my Lords, &c. &c.

Thos Edwards Junr

Newport, Monmouthshire;

August 2, 1806.

The Lords Commrs of H.M. Treasury are pleased to refer the aforegoing Petition to the Commrs of H.M. Customs, who are desired to consider the same and report to My Lords what in their opinion may be fit to be done therein.

Whitehall Treasury Chambers;

17th Augt1806.

Geo: Harrison.

Thos Edwards Petition

refd to Customs.

To the Collr & Compr of Cardiff for their observations & report taking care to return the same.

By Order of the Commissioners.

G. Delavand.

Cust: Ho: Cardiff.

19th Aug: 1806.

Honble Sirs (No 66.)

Pursuant to your Honors order of the 14th Inst., we beg leave to report on the Petition of Mr T. Edwards Junr which we have returned enclosed, that the statements therein are very erroneous, inasmuch as no necessity exists for Bondsmen to come to Cardiff with the Capts to clear out, as all Masters of Vessels clearing here obtain sufficient Bondsmen at this Town which is much larger & more populous than Newport, nor have we for many months had an instance to the contrary; nor is he correct when he says upwards of 80 Vessels cleared with Coal only for Ireland independent of a considerable Iron Timber and Bark Trade—the N° of Coal being 71 & the whole number cleared being precisely 79 not independent of, but including the considerable Iron, Timber and Bark Trade he speaks of, and the greater part of those wou'd have stopped at Cardiff had there been a supply here, several Masters having put in here in their Boats to inquire for a Stem (the Coals of Cardiff being more markeatable in Ireland) which not being able to obtain they proceeded to Newport, added to which the Number at this Season is always much greater, for in the two Winter Quarters very few foreign Vessels come either here or to Newport on account of the dangerous Navigation; nor are Captains put to the inconvenience he describes, of going 12 miles before the Cargo can be landed, on the average 29 Vessels in 30 come in Ballast.

But was the Petitioners Statement correct we cou'd not for a moment suppose that your Honors woud permit the business of this Port to be so totally deranged as it must be, were the Officers at our Creek permitted to have the management of any part of our foreign trade which so universally belongs to the Head Port & which we are confident without our personal attention woud soon get into a state of confusion, as it is with much difficulty we can (in their present Coasting Trade which is very considerable) keep them correct to their time & statements, having often occasion to address them on this head—on the mere assertion of an Individual who as we find on inquiry has not long lived at Newport & has lately entered into a speculative Concern in a single Colliery there; nor have we the smallest doubt but your Honors will at one view see the impropriety of at all attending to the application of an individual of this sort, who grounds his Petition on the behalf of himself & other Merch[an]ts but unsupported even with the names of those Merchants; was it admitted in such an instance we are persuaded that an inhabitant of every Creek calling himself a Merchant wou'd in like manner be continually troubling your Honors with such groundless Petitions. As a further confutation of the Petitioners application the Collector thinks it proper he shou'd add, that was the statement true, he himself wou'd most probably be a greater sufferer than the Petitioner as he is a very considerable proprietor, with some of his near relations and many of his friends, in the Canal at Newport, the prosperity of which depends entirely on the quantity of Coals shippd from thence, the whole being brot down the same & the Railways belonging to it, but he is quite confident was the Petition granted, not a Vessel more in a whole year woud enter the Creek on that account.

In short, we are of opinion and humbly report that the Petitioner has no real cause of Complaint & that this application is such, as neither the Lords of the Treasury or your Honors ought to have been troubled with.

We are, &c. &c.
T. B. I. D.

Under date 5 October 1806, the Officials of Cardiff write to those of Newport: "On applying to the Corporation here respecting Cardiff, we find their Charter directs no Controll over the Pilotage, consequently the present Pilots are acting under no particular jurisdiction."

(No 73.) Cust. Ho. Cardiff.
9th Oct. 1806.

Honble Sirs,

Pursuant to your Honors order of the 3d Ulto No 80 transmitting us a Copy of a Bill for the better regulation of Pilots & directing us to collect & report such information & observations as we can obtain on ye subject.

We beg leave to report that we have applied to the chief Magistrate of this Corporation who informs us that he has examined the Charter under which they are governed but cannot find they have any power or controll over the Pilots acting here, & that consequently they are under no kind of jurisdiction whatever.

We have also to report with respect to our Creek of Newport, that we have obtained information that the Pilotage there is similarly circumstanced, as the business is generally undertaken by any one that can procure employment for which they agree in the best manner they can. Our officers there have inquired whether the Corporation have any Authority over the Pilots & they find they have none.

We are, Honble Sirs, &c.,
T. B. I. D.

Honble Commissioners.

The Officials report to London that in the 20 years ending 5 Jany 1800, 343 vessels only were cleared from Cardiff for foreign ports, making an average of 17 per annum; but the yearly number had increased to 347 for the year 1806.