p. 1010 C
FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BRITISH FISHERY ON COAST
OF LABRADOR, 1767.
C.O. 194. VOL. 18.
By His Excellency Hugh Pallisser Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, & all the Islands and Territories dependent thereupon, Commander in Chief of all His Majesty's Forts and Garrisons, and Ships & Vessels Employ'd within the said Limits.
Sundry Merchants and Adventurers in the Fishery, having by Memorial in behalf of themselves and others, represented to me several matters for the Encouragement of the Fishery on this Coast of Labrador, particularly that it would be an Encouragement to the Ship Fishery, if Fishing Ships who may first clear and make New Fishing Places and erect New Stages and other conveniences on this Coast of Labrador, could be permitted to enjoy them to their own use, so long as they continue to resort to and use them with Fishing Ships Yearly and no longer, and on ceasing so to use them, the same to become Publick and common. To the said Memorial I think proper to make the following declaration.
I have advised with the present Ship Adventurers upon the Coast, & have consider'd the said proposal, and applied it to the Words, intent and meaning of the Statute of the 10th & 11th of William 3d in favour of Ship Fishers, and find that the several good Rules and Regulations ordained by that Statute (and which must be observed here) were founded on and are a confirmation of the Ancient customs and usages established and observed by the Ship Fishers amongst themselves, before there was any Statute Law for regulating the Fishery; therefore, it being the general opinion and consent amongst the Ship Adventurers that the aforesaid proposal should become a rule and custom amongst them, that is, for the Ship Adventurers (but none else) who now have on hereafter may first make New Fishing Places, and erect New Stages and other Works on this Coast of Labrador, to enjoy the same whilst they continue to use them from Year to Year successively, with Fishing Ships arriving Yearly from Britain, Lawfully qualified as such, with the usual Fishing Certificates on the Oath of the Master, of their being Mann'd as is prescribed by the said Statute, and the Fishing Admirals themselves strictly to conform to this Rule, and in the exercise of their Authority to hear and determine
in the first instance, all disputes arising in their respective Harbours, about the choice of Rooms in turns as Ships respectively arrive &ca to pay regard to the plea of those Ship Adventurers who have, or hereafter may first make any New places and erect New Stages and other Works thereon, and to adjudge the same to them on their return, or such part thereof as may be in proportion for their number of Men according to their Fishing Certificates then to be produced, and for that Year; I therefore approve of this proposal becoming an Established Rule, because it appears to me as represented (vizt) Reasonable and agreeable to the intent of the said Statute, for the Encouragement and Establishment of the Ship Fishery, but it is always to be understood, that nothing is to be construed to take away any of the Lawfull Authority and rights belonging to the Fishing Admirals, to judge all matters which concerns the privileges belonging to the Fishing Ships according to the said Statute and the above Rule, nor to invest any Person whatever, with an exclusive property or possession of any places or Fishing Works in this Country, so as to give any right or pretence for any Persons to damage or take away such Works once erected, or to let for Rent, Sell, Mortgage, give away or bequeath the same, nor to Establish any Inhabitants thereon, or on this Coast, nor to dismiss or leave any of their Men in this desolate Country (except such as is hereafter provided for) all which is inconsistent with a Publick and free Ship Fishery, causes the Fishing places to be ingross'd by a few, the Ship Fishers to be excluded, and the Fishing Trade to be contracted into the Hands of a few to the very great loss of the Publick, and advantage of our Rivals in that valuable Trade, therefore all places and Works thereon must become common and Publick after the first Erectors thereof once cease to use them, or any part of them during one Season, with qualified Ships and Men as above prescribed, and a Register to be kept of the whole.—
All Inhabitants, Settlements and possession upon this Coast of Labrador, between the Limits of the Government of Quebec, and the Limits of the Hudson's Bay Companies Charter, are forbid by His Majs Proclamation of the 7th Octr 1763, and all Persons who had then made any Settlements here, under pretended Grants from any of the Governors of the Colonies, or on any other pretence, are by the said Proclamation warned to withdraw and quit the same; therefore, and for better securing the Ship Fishers Works from being destroy'd in their absence, no person can be permitted to stay on this Coast in the Winter, till His Majesty's farther pleasure shall be known, except the Masters of three of the first arriving Fishing Ships at or within ye Limits of each principal Harbour hereafter Named, may chuse to leave each a Crew of Twelve Men (who agree to stay) and no more, for the Winter Sealing Voyage &ca the Foremen or Skippers of such privileged Crews to be prudent trusty Men, and to be furnished with a Certificate from the Master of the Fishing Ship to which they belong, who is to be answerable for the conduct of his Crew so left, and to make good any damages they may commit to the Fishing Works; The Masters of the three first arriving Ships who intend to use this privilege, must in future declare it in Writing, to the Fishing Admiral at each principal Port, on or before the first day of August each Year, this is allowing full as
many Crews as there are Posts within the Limits of each Port fit for the Seal Fishery, and this preference thereof given to the first arrivers, is intended as a reasonable and usefull reward and Encouragement to the most Adventurous and Industrious Ship Fishers; besides this Limitation of the number of Winterers, is absolutely necessary for preventing constant quarrels about those Sealing Posts, and likewise many other quarrels, outrages, disorders, and even frequent shocking murthers that yearly happen, amongst numbers of such People staying in this desert Country, likewise to prevent quarrels, murthers and Acts of Violence against the Natives of the Country, by which they will be provoked to be always our Enemies, and to obstruct the Fishery.—
And as a farther Encouragement to the Ship Adventurers on this Coast, a strong Block House is erected in Pitts Harbour, with an Officer and a Guard Established there, under the protection of which they may leave any number of Boats, Craft and Fishing Utensils in perfect security during the Winter; and it is intended to erect others such for the same purpose, at other convenient Places along the Coast.—On this footing the Fisheries on this Coast must remain till the King may please to order it otberways.
Given under my hand in Pitts Harbour Labrador 10th Augt 1767.
Endorsed: Establishment of the Ship Fishery in Labrador. 1767.