Documents relating to Ferryland: 1597 to 1726
16 June, 1652; Council of State
Great Britain, PRO, State Papers, SP
Subjects: planters, cod, fisheries, govern, tax.
Instructions to Walter Sykes, Robert Street, Captain William Pyles and Captain Nicolas Redwood, appointed Commissioners for managing and ordering the affairs and interest of this Commonwealth in Newfoundland, for the year ensuing.
Whereas, upon consideration had of the present state and condition of affairs in Newfoundland relating unto this Commonwealth, the Council have found it good and necessary, for preservation of the English fishers and for the well government of that place and the people resorting thither, to send you Commissioners from the Council into that country. You are to demean yourselves in that trust and employment, according to the power, instructions and authority hereafter mentioned.
1. You are immediately to make your repair into Newfoundland and, upon your arrival there, you or any two or more of you shall take into your hands and possessions and keep for the use of the Commonwealth and of the Adventurers thither, all the ordnance, ammunition, houses, boats, stages and other appurtinances belonging to the fishing trade, being in Ferryland or any other place in Newfoundland.
2. That you, or any two or more of you, do, by your selves or such fit persons as you shall appoint, collect the imposition of fish, due from and paid by strangers, and likewise the imposition of oil, for the use of the Commonwealth and the Adventurers aforesaid, until the Parliament shall declare their further pleasure therein.
3. You are hereby required and authorized to take care for the government and well-ordering of the said Country of Newfoundland and the people there inhabiting and likewise the fishery, according to such laws, rules, and ordinances, as are hereunto annexed.
4. You are from time to time to use your utmost endeavour to secure the fishery there, against Rupert [Prince Rupert] or any others that shall attempt to disturb or interrupt it, and to that end any two or more of you, have hereby full power and authority to command such ships and vessels as are upon that coast, or in any of the harbours, to keep together or otherwise to dispose of themselves in such manner as may be most for the common safety; and to use such other means for the ends aforesaid, as you, or any two or more of you, shall judge meet. And all captains of convoys are hereby required to be assistant unto you, in the execution thereof. And you are, being upon the place, to consider in what manner any of the harbours and bays belonging to the country may be fortified for preservation - both of the country and fishing.
5. Whereas several persons did adventure upon the fishery businesses of Newfoundland several considerable sums of money which are now, by delinquency of the said persons, forfeited to the Commonwealth, and are alleged to be in the hands of Sir David Kirke and others. The particular[s] of some of those persons and the sums they did adventure are mentioned in the particular[s] annexed. You are to use all care and diligence in the examination and discovering of what is due to the Commonwealth upon those adventurers and what fisheries stages, boats, or other advantages do belong there unto, and what sum or sums of money are due to the Commonwealth from Sir David Kirke or others, jointly or severally, or due to the Commonwealth from any in trust for him, or any of them [the Kirkes] and upon discovery thereof you are to take care for the preservation and improvement of such stock fisheries [cod fisheries] and other appurtenances, in such manner as may be most for the service and advantage of the Commonwealth.
6. Whereas Sir David Kirke alleged that he hath in Newfoundland a very considerable state [estate] of his own, such thereof consisting in perishing goods [perishable goods] and therefore desired that he might have liberty to go himself or send over one or more person or persons to seize the said estate from ruin and destruction, whereunto the Council hath consented, with this limitation nevertheless, that in managing thereof they shall be subject to such rules and directions as shall be given by the Commissioners to be sent by the Councell. You are therefore to suffer the said Sir David Kirke or such persons as shall be sent aforesaid by him, so far to manage his estate as may keep the same from loss and spoil, taking care notwithstanding that the same be not conveyed away nor put so out of the State's hands and possession but that they may have recognise thereunto for what shall appear to be due unto the Commonwealth out of the same by reason of the said Adventurers or otherwise.
7. You or any two or more of you are hereby required and authorized to administer the Engagement [oath of loyalty to the Commonwealth] to all the inhabitants of the said Newfoundland.
8. You are hereby required from time to time to give an account to the Parliamentt or Council of your proceedings and also to give a true and just account of all such moneys and the profits which you shall receive or shall come to your hands, due to the Commonwealth, when you shall be required thereunto.
9. You or any two or more of you are to admit Sir David Kirke to cross examine before you such witnesses as he shall think fit to examine on his part as to such things as shall be objected and examined upon him, and to certify the depositions taken on both parts to the Council.
10. You or any two or more of you are to receive and examine all such complaints that shall be made unto you as well by strangers and others for any wrong or injuries done unto them by any person or persons whatsoever and certify their particular cases to the Council.
11. These Instructions shall continue and be in force until the 24th day of June, 1653, unless the Parliament or Council shall take other order therein.