p. 1151 N
LETTER FROM GEORGE CARTWRIGHT, TO LORD DARTMOUTH.
LABRADOR, DARTMOUTH PAPERS, 1774, SEPT. 12TH, pp. 116-224.
12th Sept. 1774.
* * * *
As Your Lordship kindly gave me leave to inform you of the success and progress of the fisheries on this Coast, I think myself peculiarly happy in enjoying such an indulgence, and shall endeavour to give Your Lordship all the information in my power.
When first I came, in the year 1770, the fisheries were on the decline; all the Newfoundland Merchants, except Noble & Pinson were grown tired of them finding it would not answer their end to carry on business here without erecting a variety of buildings, and being liable to loose them all the next Season, if any other Vessel should arrive before them; they therefore contented themselves with sending their Boats to catch fish when the Season was over in Newfoundland, and withdrew all their people towards the latter end of September. Mr. Pinson hearing that great Voyages of Seals had always been Kill'd on this Coast, and finding that Codfish were plentifull about Chateau as in Newfoundland, determin'd to remove the greatest part of their business from Couche hither; they having four Vessels, and determining to send them out every Spring as early as possible, were not afraid of loosing their possessions by the prior arrival of any other, and saw they should be able to seize all the best Posts, by getting first on the Coast, but the murther of Mr. Darby's Crew at Cape Charles by the Indians, deter'd him from extending their business farther from Chateau than Bad-Bay, a place net quite a mile's distance from the Blockhouse; that, and Seal Island Chateau, were the only Sealing Posts, without the Streights of Belleisle, in possession of the English when I came, and they had not one Salmon Post.
I settled in Charles River, the Salmon season being then over made preparations for the Winter, fix'd a Sealing Crew at Seal Island, Cape Charles, & kept a Sawing, and a Furring Crew in Charles River. In 1771 I established a Salmon fishery in Charles River, a Cod fishery at this place, kept one Crew Sealing on the Island, and another Boatbuilding in St. Lewis's Bay. The same year Noble & Pinson built a Cod-fishing room in Lance Cove, Temple Bay, kept a boat building Crew, and continued their two Sealing Posts as before.
The next Spring (1772) finding that I liv'd undisturb'd by the Indians, and observing how much those People were reform'd by the pains I had taken with them, they took the advantage of my Vessel's not arriving, owing to her being cast away on the Island of Fogo on the Coast of Newfoundland, and seiz'd upon both my Sealing, and Salmon Posts, which obliged me to establish new ones, the former in White Bear Sound, the latter in the River Colleroon, which empty's itself into the head of St. Lewis's Bay. Noble & Pinson the same year held their former possessions except Seal Island Chateau (which was taken from them by Mr. Slade) and fix'd another Sealing Crew in Lance Cove: These viz: four Sealing and two Salmon Posts were all that were occupied at the time I first troubled Your Lordship for redress and protection; at the same time setting forth that the establishing property was the only effectual way to encourage Adventurers, and make the fisheries flourish. The event has fully prov'd the truth of my assertions, for the resolutions of Your Lordship's Board, and His Majesty's Order in Council in consequence thereof, were no sooner known than no less than two Salmon and five Sealing Posts were added to the former number, yet, notwithstanding the above order, Noble & Pinson took the advantage of my misfortune last year, in being delay'd coming out, by the sickness and death of the Indians, and dispossessed me of my Salmon Post in the Colleroon, but this Summer the Governor has been pleased to restore both that, and Charles River to me again, and confirm'd them in the possession of Seal-Island, to which, I cannot help thinking, I have a prior, and better title than they.
This Year Seven new Salmon rivers have been occupied, and there will also be some more Sealing Posts, but how many I do not yet know, our House have taken up one.
Last Winter prov'd a very bad one for the Seal-fishery, all the Adveuturers in that branch lost a deal of money. This summer has turn'd out well for both salmon and Cod-fish. The latter begins to revive again, and Your Lordship may depend upon it 'tis not only unnecessary, but even impolitic to force people into that branch of business, as it must of course increase in proportion to the Sealing with all Adventurers from Great Britain, but those from Quebec, I fancy will never enter much into it, as their Servants are hired on different terms, and they rather chose to return to their family in Summer, than remain here to go through the drudgery of a Cod-fishery. The obliging all who keep business here, to have annually one, or more Vessels regularly clear'd out from Great Britain &c. is a point which, in my private opinion, ought by no means to be dispens'd with.
I find that this Coast is now annex'd to Quebec, and that the Canadians are to be reinstated in all their former possessions. This, I'm afraid, will affect many of us greatly, particularly our House, as we have put ourselves to a very great expence in erecting Houses, and other conveniences, and may possibly be oblig'd to quit all, in favor of a Canadian, who may produce an old, unheard of Grant which he never made use of. Charles river is the only place we have that ever was occupied by them, and that only occasionally. As it will be a difficult matter for all the British
Adventurers to meet in order to consult on a Memorial, I take the liberty of humbly requesting the favor that Your Lordship and Your Board will take us under your protection, and do with us as it shall seem best.
His Majesty having now an incontestible right of disposing of any part of this Coast by Grant, I once more renew my request to Your Lordship to procure me all that part of the Coast, contain'd between Cape Charles and Cape St. Lewis, and the Islands which ly within those limits, reserving to all people a right of carrying on a Cod-fishery in any part thereof, and cutting what wood they may have occasion for, for the use of the same.
We have lately sent a Crew to Sandwich Bay, to take possession of the rivers there, and Kill Furs this Winter. The Esquimaux Indians have not been near us this Summer, the great indulgencies the Moravians met with from Government have enabled them to engross all the Trade of those People to our no small disappointment and loss, for we have upwards of £30 in goods on our hands which are not saleable anywhere else.
We should have occupied three more Salmon rivers this Summer but unfortunately the Vessel, which one of my Partners and myself were coming out in ran upon a Rock off the Lands end, and 'twas a miracle she carried us safe into Cork where we were oblig'd to leave her, and purchase another, in which we proceeded to this place, and had the misfortune to carry away our Masts about half Seas over; these accidents caused so much delay, 'twas too late in the season to attempt new Rivers.
Our Shalloway is this instant return'd from Sandwich Bay where she left our Furriers in possession of the Salmon Rivers; they saw no sign of any European ever having dwelt there; it is a place much frequented by the Nescaupick Indians, a People who subsist by hunting, they are good Furriers, speak broken French, are Roman Catholics, and have traded with the Canadians many years. One family have been here this Summer and sold us about fifty pounds worth of Fur.
Next Summer I propose taking a cruise as far to the Northward as the Season will permit, to visit all the Indian Tribes, and try if I can find out proper places for Summer Sealeries, and Whale fishery. Enclos'd is a List of all the Posts occupied by those British Merchants who carry on business without the Streights of Belleisle.
Wishing Your Lordship a good winter, and that Health and Happiness may attend yourself, and family, I beg leave, with the utmost respect and gratitude, to subscribe myself
much obliged and most Obedient