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Petition of the Merchants


Mr˙ Alderman Hayley presented the following Petition, which was read:

To the Honourable the Commons of GREAT BRITAIN, in Parliament assembled:

The Petition of the Merchants, Traders, and others, of the City of LONDON, interested in the AMERICAN Commerce, Sheweth,

That your Petitioners are deeply concerned to observe, by the votes of this Honourable House, that a Bill is brought in "to restrain the Trade and Commerce of the Provinces of Massachusetts Bay and New-Hampshire, and the Colonies of Connecticut and Rhode-Island, and Providence Plantation, in North America, to Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Islands in the West Indies; and to prohibit such Provinces and Colonies from carrying on any Fishery on the banks of Newfoundland, or other places therein to be mentioned, under certain restrictions, and for a time to be limited:" Your Petitioners beg leave to represent that the said Bill, should it pass into a law, will, in its operations, deprive thousands of his Majesty' s loyal subjects of their actual subsistence, and reduce them to extreme distress, even that of famine, the said Provinces not generally raising Corn sufficient for their support, and by this Bill they will he prevented from receiving any supplies from their sister Colonies, and precluded from their natural resource, the Sea.

That your Petitioners have reason to believe that very great numbers of men bred and employed in the Fisheries, who in hardiness and intrepidity are not exceeded by any in this extensive Empire, will be impelled by the pressing calls of hunger and want, to such a conduct as may be productive of devastation and bloodshed, which may endanger the peace and welfare of that part of his Majesty' s American Dominions; or be induced to emigrate to the Islands of Miquelon and St˙ Pierre, there to fish for the French, and give our rivals the means of supplying the market in Europe, and thereby render it difficult for us to regain that valuable branch of commerce.

Your Petitioners beg leave further to represent, that there is now due from the said Provinces and Colonies to the City of London, very large sums of money; that their remittances are principally made by means of the Fisheries, and consequently the ruin brought on those Colonies will ultimately fall on Great Britain.

That among the other grievances of which our fellow-subjects in America so generally complain, is of their being deprived of Trial by Jury, in particular cases, and the extension of the jurisdiction of Admiralty Courts; which grievances your Petitioners, with much concern, find are not only continued, but extended by the present Bill, and


they think it their duty to represent to the Honourable House, that it is their firm opinions that the disquietude which universally prevails in the minds of their fellow-subjects in America will not be removed unless lenient measures be pursued, and their grievances redressed.

Your Petitioners therefore most humbly pray that the said Bill may not pass into a law.

Ordered, That the said Petition do lie upon the table until the said Bill be read a second time.