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Seth Jenkins and Benjamin Lyster


Lord Rockingham moved that Mr˙ Barclay might be called and examined first; but on Mr˙ Barclay' s declining to give evidence, (not hailing personal knowledge of the facts) Mr˙ Jenkins was called.

Duke of Richmond. What is your profession?

Jenkins. A Mariner, in the Newfoundland Fishery; a Master of a Vessel.

Duke of Richmond. Do you know the Island of Nantucket?

Jenkins. Yes I do.

Duke of Richmond. How many inhabitants has it?

Jenkins. Six or seven thousand.

Duke of Richmond. By what do they exist?

Jenkins. The Fishery of Cod, and of Whale, &c.

Duke of Richmond. What is the size of that Island?

Jenkins. Fifteen miles long, and three broad.

Lord Camden. From whence are the inhabitants, fed?

Jenkins. From the Main, from Jersey, new-York, &c.


Lord Camden. Do they not grow Corn and Provisions to feed themselves?

Jenkins. Not enough to feed twenty families.

Lord Shelburne. If this Bill passes will it not injure them greatly?

Jenkins. Certainly.

Lord Shelburne. How?

Jenkins. They must migrate or starve.

Lord Shelburne. Where will they migrate?

Jenkins. To the other Colonies in New England.

Lord Townshend. Will they not settle in Nova Scotia?

Jenkins. No.

Lord Townshend. Why not?

Jenkins. It is a barren country, and the Government, they think, is Military.

Lord Townshend. Did you never hear of the tract of land on the Bay of Fundy, which belonged to the neutrals — cleared, but not settled?


Jenkins. I have, but the quantity is so small that it is no object.

Lord Townshend. Nor of another tract called Lunenburgh, settled by Germans, so fertile by the overflowings of the tide that they take crops from it every year without diminishing its richness?

Jenkins. Small spots.

Duke of Richmond. If this Bill takes place, from whence is the Island to have its Provisions?

Jenkins. I understand they are to have none at all.

Duke of Richmond. Cannot they be supplied from New England?

Jenkins. Impossible.

Duke of Richmond. Why?

Jenkins. Because New England has not enough for herself.

Lord Sandwich. Does not New England export Provisions to the West Indies?

Jenkins. No Corn.

Lord Sandwich. Nor live Stock?

Jenkins. Some.

Lord Sandwich. Are there not many Sheep in the Island?

Jenkins. A considerable number.

Duke of Richmond. If this Bill passes, can the Islanders build Ships for their Fishery and trade?

Jenkins. No.

Lord Sandwich. From whence comes the materials for their Ship-building?

Jenkins. From London.

Lord Sandwich. Their Timber?

Jenkins. They grow it, and have it from the Main.

Lord Sandwich. Their Iron?

Jenkins. From the Colonies.

Lord Sandwich. Their Masts?

Jenkins. From New England?

Lord Sandwich. Their Rigging?

Jenkins. All from London.

Lord Sandwich. So then the Timber, Iron, and Masts of the Americans; these, I think, are a pretty considerable part of the Ship, and only a part of the Sails and Cordage from Britain.

The next witness that was called was Mr˙ Brook Watson, who introduced his examination with the following words: If this noble House will allow me, I will lay before them such a state of the Fishery as may be found to give more satisfaction than answering single questions. I will, therefore, first read an account of the North American Export, as it was in the year 1764.

Lord Gower. Is that account taken from Custom House Books, or is it an account from private information.

Watson. My Lords, the way this account was made is this: upon the question of the repeal of the Stamp Act being agitated, the Merchants had a meeting to procure an account of their Exports to North America. A box was provided, and in it every Merchant put a paper, on which was written the account of his Exports to each Colony. The total is upwards of £2,700,000.

Lord Gower. Has this account been compared with that of the Custom House?

Watson. It has not; the Merchants never thought of comparing an account which they know to be true, with another which they were sure must be false.

Lord Sandwich. I should wish Mr˙ Watson would give his reasons for saying the Custom House accounts are false.

Watson. It is impossible they should be otherwise; Merchants, when they make their entries, always enter more than they ship, in order that fresh Goods being sent on board may not want fresh cockets and other expenses, so that the Custom House entries will always be beyond the truth.

He then read an account of the British Fishery; distinguished under many heads of Ships, Schooners, Shallops, &c˙, the Tonnage, Men, Fish, Value, Returns, &c. This is a part of the evidence in which accuracy must be the greatest merit; and therefore to trust one' s memory, would be an impertinence to the reader.

Duke of Richmond, Does Mr˙ Watson think the Fishery is increased since 1764?

Watson. Very considerably.

Duke of Richmond. What may be the value of the New England Fishery?

Watson. Three thousand Pounds a year.

Duke of Richmond. If by this Bill they are deprived of it, can they make it up by turning to any thing else?

Watson. Most Certainly not.

Duke of Richmond. Will they be able then to make returns to this country?

Watson. No.

Lord Shelburne. Do the New England Provinces abound in Provisions?

Watson. They abound in live Stock, but not in Corn.

Lord Shelburne. Have they superfluity enough to supply Nantucket?

Watson. They have not Bread enough for themselves, and therefore certainly can spare none?


Lord Sandwich. I desire that Mr˙ Lyster may be called to the bar.

What is your profession?

Lyster. A Merchant Adventurer from Poole, in the Newfoundland Fishery.

Lord Sandwich. How long have you been in the trade?

Lyster. Thirty-eight years.

Lord Sandwich. Were you ever in Newfoundland?

Lyster. I am there every season.

Lord Sandwich. What share of the trade have the Towns of Dartmouth and Poole?


Lyster. About two-thirds; Bristol, Weymouth, and other places, have the rest. The two Towns have four hundred Vessels employed.

Lord Sandwich. How many Seamen does the British Fishery employ?

Lyster. In all about twenty thousand.

Lord Sandwich. What new men does it breed?

Lyster. Three thousand annually.

Lord Sandwich. Could the British Fishery increase sufficiently to supply those markets now supplied by New England?

Lyster. Certainly.

Duke of Richmond. As cheap and as good?

Lyster. Yes; at Bilboa the New England Fish has a preference, but it is trifling.

Duke of Richmond. Do they not build their Ships and navigate them cheaper?

Lyster. They may.

Lord Sandwich. Does the Navy ever get any Seamen from the New England Ships?

Lyster. I never knew them in my life.

Davis, a Mariner, was then called, whose evidence was a confirmation of the preceding, and he asserted that a Ship of two hundred tons from our Ports for the Fishery, carried out one hundred Men; but a New England one only twelve or fifteen.

Lord Sandwich, upon this, remarked to the House what a great difference there was between our own Fishery and that of Boston, &c˙, in breeding Seamen, and that the New England Men were of no use to the Navy, as, by Act of Parliament, they could not be pressed.

Duke of Richmond. Could our own Fishery be ready for the next season to employ twenty thousand tons additional, in lieu of the Provinces of New England?

Lyster, It would be necessary; more than half of the New England Fishery will be over before the Act takes place, and a good year' s fishery may make up the rest.

Duke of Richmond. You acknowledged that the New Englanders could build and navigate cheaper than you, and that their Fish had the preference at Bilbao; will not the French then run away with a considerable share of it?

Lyster. I think not; since the last peace the French has not more than supplied their home consumption.

Duke of Richmond. Perhaps, then, you think it would be advantageous to this country to have the New Englanders cut off forever from this Fishery?

Lyster. I do.

Duke of Richmond. Will you enlarge your trade upon account of the change?

Lyster. I and many more shall and have done it in expectation.

Duke of Richmond. Your profit then will be greater if it passes? [ Lyster hesitated a little.]

Lord Camden. You expect a profit from this Bill individually to yourself?

Lyster. I must run the hazard; if the Bill is passed and then repealed, I shall be a sufferer.

Commodore Shuldham.

Lord Sandwich. You have been for some time Governour of New-foundland?

Shuldham. For three years.

Lord Sandwich. How many Men does the British Fishery employ?

Shuldham. Seven thousand Seamen.

Lord Sandwich. How many fresh Men does it form annually?

Shuldham. About two thousand two hundred.

Lord Sandwich. But what is the total of all Ports.

Shuldham. It will amount to twelve thousand.

Lord Sandwich. Passengers and all, and those left in Newfoundland?

Shuldham. Including them the total will be twenty-three thousand.

Lord Sandwich. Does the New England Fishery supply the Navy with any Seamen?

Shuldham. None; or at least a very trivial number, perhaps half a dozen in four or five hundred.

Lord Sandwich. Do they get Seamen from us?

Shuldham. They do sometimes.

Lord Sandwich. Did you ever know any outrages practised by the New England Fishers upon the British ones?

Shuldham. I have; they have burnt and destroyed the stages, and done them other mischief.

Lord Sandwich. Are they not assistant to the French Fishery and Settlements at Pierre and Miquelon?

Shuldham. They supply them with Provisions; almost support them.

Lord Sandwich. Then the New England Provinces have Provisions to spare?

Shuldham. I suppose so, by their supplying the French.

Duke of Richmond. Are those Provisions of their own growth, or do they import them?

Shuldham. I do not know.

Lord Sandwich. Do not the New England Fishing Ships carry on an illicit trade with the French?

Shuldham. Considerably; their Ships meet at Sea, and they supply them with Provisions, Rum, Stores, and the Ships themselves, and return loaded in part with French Manufactures.

Lord Sandwich. Do you not, upon the whole, think that cutting off the New England Fishery forever, would be an advantage to Britain, relative to the Navy?

Shuldham, Indeed I think so; I apprehend there would be more Seamen for us.

Sir Hugh Palliser was then called and questioned to the same points as Mr˙ Shuldham, He confirmed the whole of his evidence, and was of the same opinion as to Lord Sandwich' s last question.