The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume II

[23 May, 1769.]

Instructions for commanding in Chief the Squadron to be employed this yre at & about Newfoundland &c. &c. &c.


p. 458                                           C

No. 109.




ADM. SEC. OUT-LRS. VOL. 95, pp. 88-103.
By &cª   

    Whereas we have thought fit to appoint you to be Commander in Chief of the Squadron of His Majesty's Ships and Vessels intended to be employed in protecting the Fisheries of His Majesty's Subjects at and about the Island of Newfoundland the Islands of Anticosti and Magdalen and upon the Coast of Labrador from the River St John to the Entrance of Hudson's Straits and have already directed you to take the said Squadron under your command You are hereby required and directed to repair on board the Antelope, one of the Ships of the said Squadron now at Spithead and proceed in her, without loss of time to Newfoundland; taking with you such other Ships and Vessels of the said Squadron as may be ready for the Sea, and leaving orders for the rest to follow you as soon as they are so.
    You are to call off the several Ports named in the Margin, in your way down Channel, for any Fishing Ships or Vessels bound to Newfoundland which may be ready and whose Masters may be willing to accompany you, and, having seen them as near to the Coast as may be necessary for their Security—You are to proceed in such manner as you shall judge best for carrying into Execution the following Instructions.

    Whereas you have received His Majesty's Commission appointing you Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Island of Newfoundland, the Coast of Labrador from the Entrance of Hudsons Straits to the River St John, the Islands of Anticosti Magdalen &cª and of all the Forts and Garrisons erected or that shall be erected in the said Islands or on the said Coast, and also His Majesty's Instructions for your Government therein You are to take particular care to act in all respects conformable to what is

p. 459

required by the said Commission and Instructions and any other Instructions you may receive from His Majesty relating to the aforesaid Island of Newfoundland or any other parts within the limits of your Command: taking care to prevent all illegal Trade during your continuance on that Station, and also to secure and protect the Fisheries and Coasts from Piratical Ships or Vessels, which you are to use your utmost endeavours to take or destroy.

        You are, agreeable to an Act of Parliament of the 10th and 11th years of King William the 3d, entitled "an Act to encourage the Trade to Newfoundland" (which you will receive herewith) to be aiding and assisting to the Admirals, Vice Admirals and Rear Admirals of the respective Ports and Harbours of Newfoundland, from time to time as need shall require, in preserving the peace and good Government among the Seamen and Fishermen, and in apprehending Offenders.

    You are to be careful that there be not taken into the Ships under your command to be transported to Newfoundland, any Seamen or others than such as do belong to them, And, as you are not to lend any of the Ships Companies to any of the fishing ships, so neither are you to suffer to be taken on board them any sort of Fish either by way of Merchandize, Freight or otherwise excepting what shall be necessary for the use and spending of the Ship's Companies.—

    And whereas the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations have represented to us that it is very prejudicial to this Kingdom that the Fishing Ships do not bring home from Newfoundland the Complement of Men they carry out, many of them being enticed away to New-England and others left in the Country; for which reason they have desired we would give you directions to signify to the Masters of all British Ships at Newfoundland that they take care to bring home the number of Men they carry out (except in case of Death), for that otherwise they will be prosecuted at their return you are to let the Masters know the same accordingly, and to use your best endeavours to oblige them thereto, as far as in you lies.

    And whereas no foreign Ships or Vessels whatever (except as is herein after excepted) have any right to fish at or about Newfoundland and the Commanders of the Ships of War bound as Convoy thither have, at all times past, been directed not to allow of their fishing in those parts; it is therefore His Majesty's pleasure that you take especial care to prevent the same and

p. 460

that his orders given herein be strictly complied with; And, if you shall meet with any Foreign Ships fishing at or about Newfoundland, you are to oblige them to desist and depart from off the Coast, excepting Ships and Vessels belonging to the Subjects of His Most Christian Majesty, fishing agreeably to the 13th Article of the Treaty of Peace concluded with France at Utrecht in the Year 1713 and to the 4th, 5th, and 6th Articles of the Treaty of Peace concluded at Paris the 10th day of February 1763; Copies of which you will receive herewith.

    And whereas, by the said Articles of the Treaty of Paris, it is stipulated that the Province of Canada, with all it's dependencies as well as the Island of Cape-Breton, and all the other Islands and Coasts in the Gulph and River of St Lawrence, and all that depends upon them shall belong to the Crown of Great Britain; but that the Subjects of France shall have the Liberty of catching and drying their Fish upon a part of the Coast of Newfoundland only, to wit, from Cape Bonavista to the Northward and as far as Point Riche but not to remain there beyond the time necessary for that purpose, agreeable to the said 13th Article of the Treaty of Utrecht by which the property of the whole Island of Newfoundland is ceded to Great Britain; and His Majesty has, by the said 5th Article of the Treaty of Paris, consented to leave to the Subjects of the Most Christian King, the Liberty of fishing in the Gulph-of St Lawrence, upon condition that they do not exercise the said Fishery but at the distance of Three Leagues from all the Coasts belonging to Great Britain, as well those of the Continent as those of the Islands situated in the Gulph of St Lawrence, and, as to the Fishery out of the said Gulph, it is thereby stipulated, that the Subjects of the most Christian King shall not be permitted to exercise the said Fishery but at the distance of fifteen Leagues from the Coasts of the Island of Cape Breton; and that the fishery upon the Coasts of Nova Scotia or Arcadia and every where else out of the said Gulph, shall remain upon the footing of the former Treaties, You are therefore to use your utmost Care, diligence and attention, that the several Stipulations herein beforementioned and referred to, be duly and strictly performed, according to the Tenor and Intention thereof, as far as they shall come within the limits of your Command.

    You are to exert your best endeavours to encourage and support the Whale Fishery in the Straits of Belle Isle, and more particularly the Fishery in York Harbour and on the other parts of the Coast of Labrador, and to hinder any Trade or Intercourse being carried on by any Persons whatsoever, other than the Subjects of Great Britain, with the Inhabitants of that Country, which of right belongs solely to His Majesty; and you are likewise to protect the Salmon and Seal Fishery along the Coasts, and likewise the Fisheries

p. 461

carried on by His Majesty's Subjects in the Gulph of St Lawrence near the Islands of Madelaine &cª; and to settle and guard the Fishery, not only at Placentia and St Johns, but as far to the Northward, upon the Coasts of Newfoundland and upon those of the Continent of Labrador as your Command extends; taking care to prevent the Subjects of France from giving them any disturbance by Acts of Violence or Injustice, or by any Evasion, contrary to the Spirit and Intention of the said Treaties and the provisions contained in the Statute of 10th & 11th of William 3d Chap. 25th, and also to prevent the French from catching or drying Fish, except within the Limits and distances and in the manner beforementioned—

    You are, at the same time, to be careful that the Subjects of His Most Christian Majesty may not be interrupted in their Fishery, as stipulated by, or to be exercised pursuant to the Treaties of Utrecht and Paris beforementioned, or in the drying their Fish upon the Coast of Newfoundland according to the said Treaties; and you are to use your best endeavours to prevent His Majesty's Subjects from giving them any disturbance in their said Fishery or in drying their Fish as aforesaid, by any Acts of Violence or Injustice or by any Evasion contrary to the Spirit and Intention of the said Treaties; and,

    Whereas great Complaints were made by the Court of France that several Acts of Violence were committed in the Year 1763 on the French Fishermen at Newfoundland by the Commanders of His Majesty's Ship's stationed on that Coast, in burning their Boats and driving them off the Coast before the Season for fishing and drying their Fish was expired, whereby the Fishery of the Subjects of France with those of Great Britain was greatly interrupted; And whereas it is the firm Intention of the King to maintain, with the utmost Justice, Probity and good Faith, as well the Subjects of France as those of his own Dominions, in the enjoyment of that Fishery which. is allowed them in common with His Majesty's own Subjects upon the Coast of Newfoundland between Cape Bonavista and Point Riche, & elsewhere within the Distances prescribed by the Treaties of Utrecht and Paris beforementioned You are hereby positively enjoined, in pursuance of His Majesty's express Commands signified to us for that purpose, to abstain, and to use your utmost endeavours to prevent the Commanders of His Majesty's Ships or any other of His Majesty's Subjects, from giving any Interruption to the Subjects of France in carrying on that Fishery which they are allowed by Treaties to enjoy in common with the King's Subjects within the limits therein described as aforesaid; either by burning their Boats or by any violent or unfair proceedings; And you are to take care that the French be suffered to remain on the said Coast so long as they shall be actually engaged in the employment of fishing or drying their fish. But,

p. 462

    The French having, in the Year 1765 claimed a Right of fishing on the Coasts of the Island of Belle Isle, at the Entrance of the Straits of that name, between the North part of Newfoundland and the Coast of Labrador on the Ground of it's being an appendage to the former, Commodore Palliser was directed the succeeding year to examine whether that Island was situated nearest to the Coast of Labrador or to that of Newfoundland, to determine which it belonged to, and to permit or restrain the French fishing on the Coast of that Island accordingly; and Mr Palliser having, in consequence thereof, reported to us by his Letter of the 25th of August 1766, that he had forbid them resorting to that Island it lying indisputably nearest to Labrador We signify the same for your Information and Guidance, in case the French should attempt to fish on the Coasts of the said Island of Belle Isle in the approaching Season.

    And whereas, pursuant to the 24th Article of the said Treaty of Paris, Possession of the Islands of St Peter and Miquelon has been given to France, and, from their Vicinity to the Island of Newfoundland and other Parts of His Majesty's Dominions in North America an illicit. Trade may be attempted to be carried on between the British, Indian, or any other Inhabitants of His Majesty's Dominions, and the Subjects of France residing in the said Islands of St Peter and Miquelon, or employed in the Fishery by virtue of the said Treaties, or between His Majesty's said Subjects and other Subjects of France, or of other powers trading or pretending to trade to, or with the said Islands of St Peter and Miquelon. In case any endeavours shall be used to carry on such illicit Trade as aforesaid, You are to be particularly attentive to the same, and prevent, if possible, all Communication whatever between the said Islands of St Peter and Miquelon and any part of His Majesty's Dominions in North America, contrary to the plain and direct meaning of this Instruction. But,

    The French having, in the Year 1766 claimed a Right of fishing on the abovementioned Islands of St Peter and Miquelon the Duke of Richmond, one of His Majesty's then principal Secretaries of State signified to us, that, thô we cannot admit that by the Treaties subsisting, the French have any right to the said Claim of fishing between those Islands and the Coast of Newfoundland and therefore that no such Concession ought to be made to them, Yet, as Commodore Palliser had reported that he had not found it immediately necessary to His Majesty's Service to interrupt the French Boats fishing on the Coasts of those Islands. It was His Majesty's pleasure that we should instruct him to hold. the same Conduct 'til further Orders, or 'til the behaviour of the French, by an abuse of that Liberty should make it necessary for him to alter it, You are also to hold



Partnered Projects Government and Politics - Table of Contents Site Map Search Heritage Web Site Home