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House in Committee


And the said Petitions were severally ordered to be referred to the consideration of the Committee of the Whole House, to whom the said Bill is committed.

A motion
was made, and the question being put, that Mr˙ Speaker do now leave the Chair,

The House divided — Yeas 97, Noes 24.

So it was resolved in the Affirmative.

Then the House resolved itself into the said Committee.

Mr˙ David Barclay called in.

He appears as Agent for the Committee of North American Merchants, and means, with the permission of the Committee, to examine some witnesses in support of their Petition.

Mr˙ Brook Watson called in.

He is a Merchant, and has some acquaintance with the Fisheries of North America.

Question. What acquaintance has he with that trade?

Answer. I would beg permission in the first place, to acquaint the Committee what is the foundation of the evidence I shall lay before them.

In 1765, and the beginning of 1766, I was called to the Bar of this House, to give such information as I could with respect to the Fishery of North America; from that time I took great pains to get further information on that subject, by writing to my correspondents versed in that business; and in 1766, I went to North America, and there I had corroborated the information I had before received; and from that information, I then formed a state of the Fisheries, which I would beg leave to refer to. The paper is in my pocket.

The title of the paper is, "State of Exports from Great Britain to, and Fisheries of, North America, in 1764."

Fisheries of New England, meaning the four Provinces.

Produce of the Cod Fishery, 300 vessels of fifty tons each, on an average, each navigated with eight men, caught 240,059 quintals of Fish; (the quintals being 112 pounds each;) of which 240,059 quintals, 102,265 was deemed merchantable Fish; (i˙ e˙) Fish fit for the European market, where freight and all charges upon it at that time, it was valued at twenty Shillings per quintal, the sum of £102,265. The remaining part being 137,794 quintals, is called Jamaica Fish, (i˙ e˙) Fish fit for the West India market, and that was valued at fourteen Shillings per quintal, including freight and charges, and amounted to the sum of £96,455 16s.

The whole quantity of Fish produced 3,600 barrels of Cod Oil, part of which was carried to the West Indies, and the remainder to Great Britain, and valued at an average at forty Shillings per barrel, making the sum of £7,200, which added to the sum of the Cod Fishery, makes £205,920 16s.

Then follows the produce of the Mackerel, Shad, and Alewife Fisheries. Ninety Mackerel Sloops and Schooners employed; burthen about forty tons each, on an average; navigated with six Men; caught on an average 200 barrels each, making 1,800 barrels for the West India market, valued at 22s˙ 6d˙ per barrel, makes £20,050.

Ten thousand barrels of Shad and Alewife for the West India market, at 12s˙ 6d˙ per barrel, makes £6,250.

Whale Fishery.

One hundred and fifty Sloops, burthen seventy tons each on an average, three-fourths navigated with thirteen Men each, and the other fourth with seven, caught as follows:

Two thousand tons of Spermaceti Oil, sent to Great Britain, and there valued at twenty-four Pounds per ton, makes £48,000.


One thousand five hundred tons of common Whale Oil, shipped likewise to Great Britain, at sixteen Pounds per ton, makes £24,000.

Sixty tons of Whale Fins, shipped also to Great Britain, at three hundred Pounds per ton, makes £18,000.

Total produce of the Whale Fishery, £90,000.

Total produce of the New England Fisheries in the year 1764, amounts to £322,220 16s.

Then follows the number of tons of Shipping, and of Men employed in the New England Fisheries.

In the Cod Fishery.

Three hundred Cod Vessels, of fifty tons each, navigated by eight Men, makes 15,000 tons of Shipping, and 2,400 Men.

Two hundred and forty thousand and fifty-nine quintals of Cod Fish, taken by those vessels, require 13,225 tons of Shipping to carry them to market, each one hundred tons of which shipping being navigated by eight Men, require 1,050 Men to navigate them; thus the Cod Fishery then employed 28,225 tons of Shipping, and 3,450 Men.

Shipping and Men employed in the Whale Fishery.

One hundred and fifty Whale Sloops of seventy tons each, three-fourths navigated with thirteen Men, and the other fourth with seven, is 10,500 tons of Shipping, and 1,728 Men; 3,560 tons of Shipping to carry them to market, each one hundred tons, requiring eight Men to navigate them, makes 3,560 tons of Shipping, and 284 Men.

Hence the Whale Fishery employed in that year, 14,060 tons of Shipping, and 2,012 Men.

Shipping and Men employed in the Mackerel Fishery.

Ninety Vessels of forty tons each, navigated with six Men, makes 3,600 tons of Shipping, and 540 Men.

Thus the whole of New England Fishery, employed 45,880 tons of Shipping, and 6,002 Men, in 1764.

That is the whole state of the New England Fisheries.

Q. Whether he believes that the Fisheries have increased or decreased since 1764?

A. Believes they have increased very much.

Q. What markets are the Fish sent to?

A. The Fish taken by the people of New England is in part sent to the Spanish and other European markets, and the rest to the West Indies.

Q. Has he ever received any remittance from Europe, for proceeds of Fish — I mean from Spain to Portugal?

A. I do yearly receive remittances from Spain for Fish shipped from North America, but not from the New England Fisheries. My trade is not carried on to those Provinces.

Q. What is his opinion of what will be the consequence of our not supplying the European markets for one season — whether it probably would not be the loss of that trade?

A. I can only give my opinion on this question. I conceive, that should the New England Fishery be stopped, the markets which have been supplied from thence, cannot be supplied from any other part.

Q. Whether he has known any person concerned in the Whale Fishery on the Coast of North America from Great Britain?

A. I shall speak freely on that subject. I was concerned in it myself in the year 1760, or 1761. A considerable sum of money was subscribed to carry on the Whale Fishery in the River and Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and Straits of Bellisle, from Great Britain, which money was put into my hands in order to manage and direct the Fishery. Ships were to be fitted out from hence; and notwithstanding every precaution was taken, such was the event, that I believe three-fourths of the capital was sunk, and the Fishery given up.

Q. Whether he knows of any Rum of the manufacture of New England, sent to Quebec?

A. I have known 1,100 tons of British Brandy shipped from the Port of London in one year; and that trade is now supplanted by the Rum trade from New England.

Q. What return do the New England Merchants receive for the Rum sent to Quebec?

A. A great deal of Money, and a little Wheat.

Q. Whether the number of Men employed in the Cod and Whale Fishery were Sailors — I mean Navigators?


A. I believe there is no constraint by law to oblige people fitting out their Ships from New England, to employ any number of green men; and that none of them are navigators, strictly so called, though I believe them all very good Seamen. The reason why I think so is, that their Cod Fishery is fitted out on shares; their men have a share of what they take home; they take none but stout able-bodied men, who are accustomed to the Seas. The Whale Fisher can carry none but good Seamen; for those Vessels which carry thirteen men, do so, that they may man two Boats; the others, which carry seven men only, can man but one Boat; they must be expert rowers, and the few men left in the Vessel must know how to work her. As to the people employed in the Mackerel Fishery, I believe to be young people, by that means trained up for the other Fisheries.

Q. Whether the Mackerel and Cod Fisheries are carried on at the same time, or succeed one another?

A. The Cod Fishery is carried on from February to September, (or October, I believe,) the Mackerel Fishery can only last during the Summer months, Jun˙, July, and a small part of August.

Q. Whether there are eight Men to every hundred tons of Shipping actually employed to bring the produce of these Fisheries to market?

A. As a Merchant, I believe that such Vessels as are sent from New England to the Spanish and other European markets with Fish, are seldom navigated with less than eight Men to the one hundred tons. From this Kingdom, perhaps I should navigate them with seven; for our Seamen are better, and more used to square-rigged Ships than the Americans.

Q. What sort of Vessels are employed in bringing the Fish to the European market?

A. I believe the Vessels usually employed in carrying Fish from New England, are square-rigged, double-decked Vessels, burthen from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and sixty tons.

Q. How are they rigged?

A. When I said square-rigged Vessels, I did not mean Sloops and Schooners, but Ships, Snows, and Brigs.

Q. Whether Brigs and Snows are not chiefly employed in that navigation?

A. I can' t say whether it is so or not.

Q. Whether Brigs and Snows do not require fewer Men to navigate them than Ships of the same burthen?

A. I believe a Ship of one hundred and sixty tons will not take more Men to navigate her in the Western Ocean, than a Snow or Brig of the same burthen.

Q. Whether Vessels of one hundred and sixty tons actually carry twelve Men?

A. I believe such as are bound to Europe from New-England with Fish, do not carry less.

Q. Whether he means that the twenty Shillings per quintal, is Currency or Sterling?

A. I meant Sterling money of Great Britain.

Q. Is the Fish dearer or cheaper now, than in 1764?

A. I believe cheaper.

Q. What is the price of New England Fish at present?

A. I can' t say.

Q. Is the New England Fish better than what is taken by Ships fitted out from Great Britain?

A. A great deal better.

Q. What are the returns from Spain and Portugal in payment of the Fish?

A. Bills of Exchange returned to the Merchants of London, in payment for British Manufactures sent by them to North America, and some little part of the proceeds of the Fish is returned in Salt.

Q. Whether the Hooks, Lines, and small Cables, Nets, and other materials for carrying on this Fishery, is not exported from this country?

A. I believe every thing, except Salt, and the Timber of which the Vessels are built, is carried from this country.

Q. Is not the nett proceeds of the Fish remitted to this country?

A. I believe it is.

Q. Whether the circumstance of their catching their Fish cheaper has not been the cause of their success, and whether these Fisheries could not be carried on out of Newfoundland.


A. The only Fishery I was ever engaged in, was the Whale Fishery, which I never heard was carried on with success out of Newfoundland.

Q. Whether, if a bounty were given on the Newfoundland Whale Fishery, as well as on the Greenland Fishery, the whole Fishery might not be carried on as advantageously there?

A. I believe not. My reason is, that the bounty on the Greenland Fishery is confined to Ships of a certain size; the Vessels proper for carrying on the Whale Fisheries in the American Seas are small, swift sailors, and easily managed. The Whale Fishery in the Greenland Seas is confined to a certain distance, where they are sure of finding Whales, or not at all; the Vessels from North America sometimes take their Whales on that Coast, sometimes on the Coast of Africa, and the Brazils, and even as far South as the Falkland Islands.

Q. Whether most of the Newfoundland Fisheries don' t return to this country to winter?

A. I believe they do.

Q. Whether the Whale Fishery fitted out from England before mentioned, did not fail on account of the ignorance of the people of this country in the Spermaceti Whale Fishery?

A. The Fishery which was fitted out under my direction was not for Spermaceti Whale, but for the Bone Whale; Spermaceti Whales are seldom if ever found in the River or Gulf of St˙ Lawrence, or the Straits of Bellisle.

Q. Whether the Fish Ships do not carry back the Manufactures of Spain, and other countries, to North America?

A. The returns are very trivial from thence, except in Salt.

Q. Whether there might not be other advantageous returns carried back?

A. I have no doubt but there might; but the articles are so bulky, that it would be difficult to smuggle them.

Q. If care was not taken by our Ships to prevent smuggling, would not such articles be smuggled?

A. If care was not taken to prevent smuggling, the Americans would doubtless smuggle all they could.

Q. Does he not know there is great smuggling in America?

A. I do not know. I never smuggled.

Q. What are the Ships' crews composed of, who carry the Fish to foreign markets?

A. North Americans, I believe, in general.

Q. Whether the capital employed in the Fisheries be North American or English, in the greater proportion?

A. I believe there are men of property in North America engaged in the Fisheries; but in general, the Fisheries are carried on with the capital of Merchants in Great Britain. I mean that the Merchants of Great Britain have given credit to those of North America, and that that credit is partly employed in the Fisheries, and that the returns are made in the produce of the Fisheries. The information I wish to convey is, that if a Merchant of England should trust a person concerned in the Fishery of North America, that person failing, the Merchant of England would lose his debt; and that this is all the concern the Merchants of England have in the New England Fisheries.

Q. Do the Merchants of England then intrust the North Americans with their property without any views of profit?

A. The Merchant has no doubt of compensation for the risk he runs.

Q. Whether he apprehends that the credit given by the Merchant of Great Britain is for this or that particular trade, or in general?

A. The Merchants of England when they supply Goods and necessaries for the Fisheries to those of New England, do it on commission, and give them credit for a certain time, if not then paid, they receive a legal interest for it till it is paid.

Q. Whether any part of the Fishery on the Coast of New England, &c˙, is necessary for the support of the New England people on shore?

A. I believe that very little of the Cod Fishery is consumed in New England.

Q. Is the Shad and Alewife a necessary there?

A. I believe in some parts of New England it is.

Q. Whether methods used at Marblehead to cure the


Cod Fish does not make it more valuable than that cured at Newfoundland?

A. The nature of their Cod Fish is such that the part fit to be sent to Europe is more valuable at many of the Spanish markets than any other Fish, and particularly at Bilboa — it is owing to their being obliged to go so far to take the Fish; hence it lays so long in the hold of the Ship that it grows more mellow than Fish cured immediately after they are taken out of the Sea.

Q. Whether the New England people do not cure their Fish in such a manner as to make it more valuable?

A. There are natural advantages attending their Fisheries which I would explain. They go to take the first share of Fish in the month of February, when the wind generally blows from the Westward, that wind carries them to the bank where they take their Fish; the Ships going from Great Britain there would have a much longer voyage, and meet with that contrary wind.

Q. Whence arises the greater value of their Fish? Is it from the method of curing it?

A. I believe that all the advantage their Fish has over that of Newfoundland arises from the causes already stated; and in the next place, as they take their Fish in deeper water, they take larger Fish, which are held in greater estimation; and further, I would observe, that Vessels carrying on the Newfoundland Fishery out of Great Britain are, fifteen-sixteenths of them, double-decked, square-rigged Vessels, fit to bring the Fish to Europe; hence they are not so fit for carrying on the Fisheries as the Schooners of New England; and if such square-rigged, double-decked Vessels were employed in taking the Fish, a great part of it might perish before they could get into a place to cure it.

Q. Whether he believes the method of curing Fish in New England does not make the Fish better for land carriage than that of Newfoundland?

A. I believe not.

Q. What markets would Bilboa and other Spanish Ports resort to for Fish if they could not get the Fish of New England?

A. It is hard to say. The Pope might grant them a dispensing power to eat flesh in the time of lent, and they might not eat Fish at all; but if they had not that Fish from New England, they could get it from no other place.

Q. Whether the Non-Importation scheme, if strictly adhered to, would not destroy their Fishery?

A. There is no doubt of it.

Q. Whether there are not great quantities of salted Mackerel consumed in New England?

A. Believes very little.

Q. How many Ships from St˙ John sail to Lisbon with Baccalxo?

A. Can' t say.

Q. How many from New England?

A. Believes the Portugal market takes very little. It goes to the Spanish market — Bilboa, he believes, takes three-fourths.

Q. How is Lisbon and Oporto served with Baccalxo;

A. From Newfoundland, totally.

Q. Whether all the Ships employed in the Fishery for this Kingdom do not go to the banks of Newfoundland?

A. I believe they must all go to the banks before they arrive at Newfoundland, where they generally lay up, and carry on their Fishery in Shallops.

Q. Whether they don' t fish in as deep waters, and catch as large Cod, as the people of New England?

A. The New England Fishermen do not all go to the banks of Newfoundland; there are other banks, such as those of the Isle of Sable, Cape Sable, and the Isle of Shoal.

Q. Whether the Fish are not as large on the banks of Newfoundland as in any other place?

A. I have no doubt but the Fishing Vessels out of Newfoundland do take as large Cod as the New England Vessels; but in general not.

Q. What' s the price of a gallon of Rum now at New England?

A. I can' t say what it is now; but a year back about one Shilling two Pence, sterling.

Q. What is the price of a gallon of Rum at Barbadoes, or any other of the West India Islands?


A. I never had any concern in that trade; I speak at random; perhaps two Shillings four Pence, or two Shillings six Pence.

Q. What is the reason that the people in New England can distil Rum cheaper than they can in the Islands?

A. They carry cargoes from New England of Lumber and Fish to the Islands, with the proceeds of which they purchase Molasses, which they distil into Rum, and carry part of it to Africa, where they buy Slaves and carry them back to eat up the Fish.

Question repeated.

A. The Jamaica Fish, which is not fit for the market, they sell at the foreign Islands in the West Indies. The French are not allowed to distil the Molasses, therefore they sell it cheap, and take in return Fish and Lumber, which the New England people would not sell elsewhere.

Q. Whether the Fishermen are employed all the year in the same Fisheries, or in succession?

A. I did not say the Seamen were employed in different Fisheries; I said, that the Mackerel Fishery could only employ them during the Summer months, and I will now add, that when the Cod Fishermen come home, they lay up till they go out again the next season, and the like with the Whale Fishermen. Some of the Ships employed in carrying the Fish to Europe may come here from Spain to load with the Manufactures of this country for North America.

Q. Is there not a trade of consequence with the Ports of Alicant, Barcelona, and other Ports of Spain, for inland consumption?

A. I believe that they casually send to such Ports; but such is the nature of their Fish that it will not bear land carriage, therefore is generally consumed in their sea-ports.

Q. Whether it is not carried to the Ports of Italy?

A. I believe very little.

Q. Is there not a trade established in the Baltick from Christianstad and Archangel, in order to rival our Fisheries?

A. Fish taken in the Baltick is called Stock Fish — that is, Cod cured by the frost, and do not hold in that estimation with our Fish.

Q. Whether if upon a supposition the trade to the Ports of the Mediterranean from America being stopped, it would not give advantage to the trade of the Baltick?

A. A very probable consequence.

Q. If Spain could not provide herself with New England Fish could she supply herself any where else?

A. I can' t tell.

Q. Will France supply it?

A. France having free access to the Ports of Spain would supply them with Mud Fish.

Q. Whether the people of Great Britain carry on the Newfoundland Fishery with equal advantage with France?

A. No doubt with much greater advantage.

Q. How, if this restriction takes place, are the West Indies to be supplied with Fish?

A. The West Indies would not be supplied in that case.

Q. Are Christianstad or Archangel in the Baltick?

A. No.

Q. Is Christianstad in Russia or Denmark?

A. In Denmark.

Q. Does he know of the Fish trades established there?

A. I do not; but believe it is particularly in the Stock Fish, with which the Navy have been supplied.

Q. Is the Stock Fish equal to our Cod Fish.

A. There is not any Salt used in curing Stock Fish, and it bears a greater price; it is much drier, and does not weigh near so much in proportion to its bulk.

Q. Is it used in the Mediterranean in the room of our Cod?

A. Can' t say.

Q. Whether it is for the interest of Great Britain to have the Newfoundland Fishery supplied with New England Rum, or with British Corn Spirits?

A. I believe it is the interest of this country to supply the Fisheries with every necessary on the cheapest terms, and that New England Rum is supplied them at a much lower price than British.

Q. Whether there is not a trade between Russia and the other Powers of the Baltick, with the Mediterranean for Stock Fish?

A. I can' t say.


Q. Whether it is not exported from Christianstad and Archangel?

A. I don' t know whether Spain and Italy use Stock Fish or not; that it is exported from those parts I am certain.

Q. Whether Stock Fish was not formerly used on board the King' s Ships?

A. I believe it was.

Q. Is it now?

A. Don' t know.

Q. How many Vessels sailed from New England for the Cod Fishery, to the banks of Newfoundland?

A. I believe that the Vessels from New England which proceed on the Fishery in February, do not generally go so far as the banks of Newfoundland.

Q. Whether the refuse Fish and Lumber which goes to the West Indies, the Merchants to whom they are consigned are not sometimes authorized to sell the whole, both Ship and Cargoes, and send home the proceeds to this country?

A. Yes.

Q. From what Ports do the Shipping employed in the New England Fishery fit out?

A. The greater part of them from Marblehead, Salem, and Cape Anne, for the Cod Fishery, and for the Whale Fishery from Nantucket.

Q. Whence do they draw the materials for carrying on their Fisheries?

A. From Great Britain all.

Q. Whether, supposing the trade of New England was stopped for five years, the Vessels fitted out in England for the banks of Newfoundland would not supply the markets with Fish now supplied by New England?

A. I believe not, and that a very valuable part of the Fishery belonging to Great Britain would thereby be lost.

Q. Whether that is matter of fact, or of opinion?

A. Of opinion.

Question repeated.

A. It is not possible for me to say what will certainly be the consequence of such a stoppage.

Q. Whether the banks of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia would not supply the loss of the New England Fisheries?

A. Nova Scotia is an infant Colony; it has not a capital to support this Fishery.

Q. Whether if the New England Fisheries were stopped they could not be carried on from Great Britain?

A. I am of opinion that the stopping of one Fishery, and the creation of another, would take up much time, and in the interval the trade would be lost.

Q. Whether there is not an established Fishery on the banks of Newfoundland from the West of England; and if the Fisheries of New England were stopped, they would not increase to supply its deficiencies?

A. The West country people carrying on the Fishery on the banks of Newfoundland would no doubt exert their endeavours, but their efforts would fall short.

Q. Why?

A. In the first place, one great material necessary for carrying on the Fisheries is men, and you have them not; the next is money, and I am pretty clear their capitals are fully employed; having, therefore, neither men nor money, nor Ships built for the trade, hence I think it could not be carried on.

Q. How do you know they want men?

A. On this foundation I have given my opinion: that now, when all Ships are supposed to be at home, I have been obliged to pay thirty-eight Shillings per month for Seamen, when this time twelve months, I paid only twenty-eight Shillings.

Q. How does he know this country will not furnish a capital to carry on this trade to any degree?

A. I have no doubt but if Government would supply Men, Money, and Ships, they will find Merchants enough to carry it on.

Q. How does he know the Merchants of this country will not furnish Money to carry on this trade?

A. Only from general knowledge that the Merchants' capitals, who are concerned in the Fisheries, are already fully employed.

Q. Is the trade of this country carried on by Government, in Men, Ships, or Money; or are not the Merchants


capable of carrying on the trade of this country to any extent?

A. I believe, that were the New England Fisheries to be stopped, the Merchants who carry on the Newfoundland Fisheries could not furnish, at this time, either Men or Money to carry on such additional Fisheries.

Q. How does he know that?

A. I deliver it as my opinion, from general commercial knowledge only.

Q. Whether he knows there ever was a time when the trade on the banks of Newfoundland have been stopped for the want of Men?

A. Have no doubt but that during the late war, when Men were scarce, that the Newfoundland trade decreased; but since the peace it has increased very much, which I attributed to the facility of getting Men.

Q. Does he know of any time when the Newfoundland Fishery stopped for want of Men?

A. Can' t point out the precise time when stopped; but have heard from the Newfoundland people complaints of the great difficulty of getting Men, when the Nation was lately arming against Spain.

Q. Whether Nova Scotia and Quebec could not carry on these Fisheries?

A. Nova Scotia and Quebec have neither Vessels nor Men of their own; nor could they be supplied with either but from New England, even should you supply them with all the Money necessary for carrying them on.

Q. Whether the New England people do not get our countrymen to fish for them?

A. Believe not.

Q. Whether there is not among the West country fishermen a general complaint of want of employment?

A. Do not know of any such complaint.

Q. Did he ever know it?

A. Don' t recollect I ever did.

Q. Whether the people of New England can' t fit out their Vessels cheaper than those sent from the West of England?

A. I have no doubt but the people of New England can carry on the Fishery at a much less expense than any other people.


Mr˙ Stephen Higginson.

Q. Of what country is he?

A. From Salem, in the Massachusetts Bay; a Merchant.

Q. Whether there is as much Corn and other Provisions produced in that Province as will supply the inhabitants?

A. Apprehend not.

Q. Whether there is sufficient Corn and other Provisions produced in all the New England Provinces for their support?

A. No.

Q. From whence do they receive additional support?

A. From the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and New-York, chiefly.

Q. Whether he is acquainted with the trade of the Fisheries carried on in New England?

A. Not much acquainted with the Whale Fishery, but have considerable knowledge of the Cod Fishery.

Q. How many Vessels are employed in the Cod Fishery?

A. About seven hundred Vessels.

Q. Of what burthen are they?

A. Five hundred of them estimated from forty to seventy tons; the other two hundred from about fifteen to forty.

Q. How many hands do seven hundred Vessels carry?

A. On an average they carry about six.

Q. How many hands are employed on shore for the Cod Fishery?

A. About half the number are employed in curing the Fish that there is in taking of them.

Q. How many Vessels employed in carrying the Fishery to market?

A. Should imagine about three hundred and fifty, from seventy or eighty tons, to about one hundred and seventy or one hundred and eighty; they carry about eight hands, one with another.


Q. What would these people do if the Fishery was stopped?

A. I can' t readily resolve that question; suppose they would remain where they are as long as they could subsist, in hopes of being engaged in their old employment.

Q. But when that hope failed, and they could no longer subsist?

A. Then they will probably go elsewhere.

Q. Whether they would settle at Halifax?

A. In general, I think not.

Q. Why?

A. Several reasons; one is, the Fishermen in Salem and other Towns are a very quiet and steady set of men. They esteem the people of Halifax to be dissolute, and of a quite contrary turn. I think, therefore, they would not sit down among a people so different in their manners. Another reason is, that they think the Government of Halifax is arbitrary, and have a terrible notion of it. Another; those who have been there, have disliked the country very much, as being inhospitable, and affording but a very hard and coarse fare.

Q. Would they go to Miguelon and St˙ Pierre, and fish for France?

A. Don' t think they would generally; from Marblehead some perhaps would.

Q. Why would they from thence?

A. Because the people there are of various Nations, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Dutch; but the others are born in the Towns where they live, have tenements and freeholds there, and would not leave their place of abode, I conceive.

Q. From whence do the Manufactures used in New England come?

A. I suppose from Great Britain.

Q. How do they pay for them?

A. By the proceeds of the Whale and Cod Fisheries chiefly.

Q. Do you receive Molasses in return for Fish?

A. A great quantify.

Q. What do they do with it?

A. It is chiefly manufactured into Rum; part is consumed in America, and part exported.

Q. Are the Merchants of Massachusetts Bay in debt to Great Britain?

A. Certainly.

Q. If the Fishery is stopped, what other means of paying their debts?

A. I know of no means but the articles of Pot and Pearl Ash, Lumber, Furs, Ships, and Flaxseed.

Q. What would that be in comparison to the debts?

A. Very small.

Q. Whether, supposing the Fishery stopped in New England, and allowed in Nova Scotia, they would not follow the Fishery in Nova Scotia?

A. I don' t think they would.

Q. Whether there is not a constant export of Provisions from New England to the West Indies?

A. There is from Connecticut and the Massachusetts; they export Cattle and other live stock.

Q. Whether Indian Corn is not exported to the West Indies?

A. Don' t know that there is any.

Q. Is not Provisions carried to Newfoundland?

A. They supply the Newfoundland Fishery considerably, with Rice, Bread and Flour.

Q. Why the Spaniards and Portuguese, of Marblehead, would be more afraid of going to Halifax, than Miguelon and St˙ Pierre.

A. I don' t know that they would.

Q. If they send their Fish to Spanish markets this year, would they not bring back the proceeds to America, and not to Great Britain?

A. I imagine the proceeds of the Fish would centre here this year as usual.


Called in again.

Q. Whether the Indian Corn and Flour exported from the Bay for the Newfoundland Fishery, is not imported from Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New-York?

A. It is. The Bread and Corn exported to Newfoundland


Fishery, is not one eighth part of the Corn and Flour imported from the Southern Colonies.

Q. Is not part of the Exports to Spain the manufacture of New England?

A. No.

Q. Does he know whether the Debt due to the Merchants of Great Britain is regularly paid or not?

A. They have been paid with less punctuality for the four or five years last past than before.

Q. To what do you attribute that?

A. To their having imported, in the years 1770, 1771, and 1772, more Goods than was sufficient for their market.

Q. Do the Merchants of England still continue to trust the Americans?

A. I know of no instance of their having refused to give them credit.

Q. Whether this Bill will enable the Merchants to pay their debts better?

A. Certainly not. The alteration will be quite the reverse, and will cut off the source of payment.

Q. Does he understand the state of the French Fishery on Newfoundland?

A. Not particularly; but have learnt from our Fishermen that they have of late increased it.

Q. If the Fishery from New England was stopped, would not the French have a part of it?

A. Suppose they might.

Q. Is he acquainted with the method of the French Fishery?

A. Yes.

Q. Do the French fish for themselves, or buy it of the New England Fishermen?

A. I never heard of their buying any.

Q. Can the French cure the Fish as well as New England men?

A. I don' t imagine they can; for the same reason that the Newfoundland Fish is not so well cured, the climate being more subject to fogs.

Q. Whether, if the Provinces are restrained from fishing, their nets would not rot, and materials become unserviceable?

A. They certainly would very soon.

Q. Whether, if this Bill takes place, the Provinces would be in distress for want of Provisions?

A. I imagine they will.

Q. Whether the people of Nantucket who follow the Whale Fishery, will not be ruined by its being stopped?

A. They must be entirely ruined.

Q. Could the people of Great Britain cure the Fish as well as the New England men?

A. They may as dry, but the quality of the Fish will be inferiour.

Q. Is there not a Coast Fishery for the supply of fresh Fish?

A. A vast deal. In the sea-ports of Massachusetts Bay, quarter of the people live on fresh Fish.

Q. Does it extend to the four Provinces?

A. Not in the same degree.

Q. What would become of those articles, Potash, &c˙, if not exported?

A. I suppose the manufacture of Pot and Pearl-ash would cease till the trade opened again.

Q. Whether the Non-Exportation Agreement would not affect the Merchants here, as much as the Bill?

A. I believe not; those articles being not above three-twentieths of the whole.

Q. Does he know any thing of the sale of the Fish in the Spanish Ports, and of the consumption inland?

A. Yes.

Q. Whether the New England Fish is sent as far inland as the Newfoundland Fish?

A. The early spring Fish from New England is sent further, it being much tougher, and for this quality a much greater price is given than for the Newfoundland Fish.

Q. Do you know this to be fact?

A. I do.

Q. Whether Fish cured in Newfoundland is carried to Portugal, and thence to the Brazils?

A. Can' t say.

Q. Whether the Non-Importation Agreement will not prevent their sending the Fish to the West India Islands?


A. Apprehend not.


Mr˙ John Lane.

He is a New England Merchant.

Q. What sum of Money is due to London only from the four Provinces in New England?

A. I believe there may be near a million of Money due.

Q. Whether remittances made from those Provinces for the last twelve months, have not been as good as heretofore?

A. I found no great difference.

Q. Whether, in case no interruption is given to the trade to New England, that his house will not as freely give credit to their correspondents there as heretofore?

A. Certainly I should trust them as usual, if there was no interruption in the trade.

Q. How are the remittances usually made?

A. In Oil, Pot and Pearl Ashes, Whale Fins, and from returns for the Cod Fishery from Portugal and Spain.

Q. Whether the returns are not chiefly made from the Fishery?

A. I take the Cod Fishery to be one third, or near one half.

Q. To what sums have those returns amounted in a year?

A. The Cod Fishery is about 220,000 or £230,000, and that is half nearly of the remittances; the other articles are as follows: from New England, from May, 1772, to May, 1773, in Oil, near £100,000; in Pot and Pearl Ash, near £40,000; Furs, £75,000; Whale Fins, £5,000; Lumber, £3,500.

This is to the Port of London only.

The whole amount is about £155,000.

From May, 1773, to May, 1774, the quantity and value was increased; Oil, £114,640; Pot and Pearl Ash, £35,800; Furs, £9,300; Whale Fins, £3,500; Lumber, £2,500.

Q. What sum does he think might be returned in these articles in that year?

A. I apprehend about £420,000.

Q. How long has the debt of £1,000,000 been accruing?

A. It is very difficult to say; but I suppose a debt to such an amount might accrue in less than three years.

Q. Is not interest paid after the year' s credit expires?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it punctually paid?

A. Our interest is paid on a running account; and if we are ever paid, we are paid interest as well as principal.

Q. Can a constant losing trade be carried on?

A. We have other resources in this trade; namely, in Ships built purposely for sale, with their freights from the West Indies, besides Bills of Exchange in return for Lumber; but the Lumber is to no great amount.

Q. Does this trade yield a profit?

A. It certainly does.

Q. Whether the interest on the principal is not included in the remittances?

A. It certainly is.

Q. How long has the debt of one million been accruing?

A. It is impossible to answer that question; believe I can only speak with respect to myself; we never tell one another how long our debts have been due.

Q. Whether you give more than one year' s credit?

A. Never; but we think ourselves well paid if we receive our money in two years, and then expect interest on our principal.

Q. Whether the Merchants of New England must not be ruined, and become incapable of paying their debts, if this Bill should pass?

A. Yes, if it is carried into a law and remain so.

Q. Whether the nine-tenths of all the remittances are not conveyed by means of the Fisheries?

A. I have made no calculation of it, but believe it is not much short of it.

Q. You said that the amount of the Fisheries came to about £220,000 in one year?

A. I mean only the Cod Fishery, and not the Whale


Fishery; and both Fisheries together are almost our whole dependence.

Q. Whether this million Debt has not accrued within these six months?

A. I can' t tell how to answer that question. We have exported Goods as usual for the five or six months preceding the Non-Importation Agreement.

Q. Whether considerable fortunes have not been made in this trade?

A. I don' t recollect any great fortunes made; that is, I don' t remember any person retiring from this trade on having made an easy fortune by it.

Q. Are there more failures in that trade than in any other?

A. I think not; the trade is confined in a few hands; I recollect only one house having stopped payment.

Q. Is it now in fewer hands than formerly it was?

A. By the failure of that House, it is lessened, but not more than that one.

Q. Have not many withdrawn themselves from this trade?

A. Some have considerably.

Q. Where?

A. At Bristol.

Q. Why have they done so?

A. I can give no particular account why; the Bristol people use to complain of want of remittances.

Q. Would a Merchant withdraw himself from a gaining trade?

A. Certainly not.

Q. Whether quick returns on small profit, are not the life of trade?

A. It certainly is; but we have not had such good fortune with America; but quick returns can' t be had in the nature of things from Massachusetts Bay.

Q. Whether the trade to New England has been increased, or decreasing?

A. Increasing for several years.

Q. Can a trade increase without adequate payments?

A. The payments are adequate, though they come slowly.

Q. Whether trade in a few hands is as beneficial as when it is in more hands?

A. Don' t know how to answer this question.

Q. Whether he is acquainted with Mr˙ Reeve, of Bristol?

A. Yes; he was a North American Merchant, and carried on as large a trade as any house in London.

Q. Was he not ruined by the American trade?

A. He had many bad debts, and therefore could not satisfy the demands on him.

Q. Has he not heard that his misfortunes proceeded from other causes?

A. Has heard so.

Q. Whether the Merchant who gives improper credit must not be ruined by that trade in which he gives such credit?

A. This is the case in every trade in the world.

Q. If the Resolutions of the Congress should be adhered to, will it not equally affect the remittances to the Merchants of Great Britain as this Bill?

A. I don' t think so.

Q. Whether the Merchants do not carry on business, as carriers, profitably, though the parties to the trade are losers by it?

A. This question, as to the New England trade, is immaterial, as the Ships in the trade belong generally to the Americans.

Q. What is the annual value of the Exports from Great Britain to New England?

A. About 440,000 or £450,000.

Q. In what manner then is the million of Debt to be paid off in two years?

A. I said it might be done in two or three years, taking in all our resources.

Q. Whether he apprehends that in any trade where credit is given, the whole of the debt can be paid at any one time?

A. I don' t well understand this question; I rather think it may be done, but it is not usual.



Mr˙ Seth Jenkins. He comes from the Island of Nantucket; there are between five and six thousand inhabitants there, men and boys, employed in the Whale Fishery; they have no other employment there. About twenty families can be maintained from the produce of the Island, which is fifteen miles long, and three broad. There is only one Harbour there, and one hundred and forty Vessels belong to it; one hundred and thirty-two of which are employed in the Whale Fishery, burthen from fifty to one hundred and fifty tons. They belong chiefly to the people called Quakers; nine-tenths of the people on the Island are Quakers. They sail at all seasons of the year for the Whale Fishery; they fish on all parts of the Coast of America, sometimes on the Coast of Africa, and the Coast of Brazils, and even as far as the Falkland Islands. The longest time of a voyage is twelve months; some make two or three trips in a year — I mean those that fish on the Coast of America. The Island is supplied with Corn and other Provisions for their support, from Virginia, Carolina, New-York, Philadelphia, and Connecticut; four sail go in a year to North Carolina, for Provisions and Naval Stores; two or three in the constant trade to New-York, and two in the constant trade to Philadelphia. They bring back Ship-Bread and Flour. The people of this Island receive all their Manufactures from Great Britain, chiefly from London, and pay for them by remittances in Oil. The whole number of the Whale Fishery Ships from North America, is three hundred and nine; they come, forty-eight of them, from Boston Bay, eight from Falmouth, six from Martha' s Vineyard, fifty-five from Dartmouth, forty-five from Rhode-Island and Providence, twelve from New-York, three from Connecticut, one hundred and thirty-two from Nantucket.

Q. In case this Bill should pass, and the trade was restrained, and Fishery prevented, what would the inhabitants of Nantucket do?

A. I think these people would be induced to stay at home, in hopes that so severe a law would soon be repealed.

Q. When they could no longer subsist on the Island, what then would they do?

A. They must emigrate to the Continent, and settle there in the best manner they could.

Q. Would they go to Halifax, and settle there?

A. No.

Q. Why do you think so?

A. Because it is a Military Government, and the soil of the country is very bad; and there is nothing to induce them to go there.

Q. Whether you have known any Vessels go from England to the Coast of Africa to fish for Whales?

A. Yes; two or three; but they caught no Fish. I fancy it was because they did not know how. It requires long experience — the Spermaceti Whale Fishery especially.

Q. If the inhabitants of Nantucket are obliged to emigrate to the Continent, and settle there, whether the fishermen would return to the Island again?

A. It is impossible for me to tell.

Q. Whether the inhabitants of the Island don' t depend for their subsistence on the Fish they catch on the Coast?

A. Not so much as on those they catch abroad; some from Towns of the Provinces do, but not in general.

Q. How long could they subsist without the Fishery?

A. Perhaps three months.


Mr˙ Speaker resumed the Chair.

Sir Charles Whitworth reported from the Committee, that they had heard the Petitioners, the Merchants, Traders, and others, of the City of London, interested in the American Commerce, in support of their Petition by their Agent, and had made a progress in the Bill; and that he was directed by the Committee to move, that they may have leave to sit again.

Resolved, That this House will, to-morrow morning, resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House, to consider further of the said Bill.