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THE PARTICULARS OF THE CASE OF NICHOLAS DARBY, MERCHANT.
RECORDS OFFICE. REFERENCE C.O. 5/114.
He was the first Person who began to Establish a Fishery on the Coast of Labradore from Great Britain. He first embarked in this Hazardous undertaking in the year 1765, taking with him 150 men, All his Majesty's European Subjects, and found that Coast to answer the highest Expectation, he had formed of the Richness of its Fishery for Whale, Seal, Cod and Salmon but not being able to prevail on any of his Men to Winter there he sustained a considerable Loss during the Winter by Burning of his Houses and, Boats and Destruction of, his Salt by the Esquemaux Indians. This check did not however Intimidate him from prosecuting his Designs but having commenced Partnership with Mr. Michael Miller a very eminent Merchant at Bristol in order to enlarge his Capital, he embarked the following Summer 1766 with 180 men from England, and Ireland and an outset in Vessels Fishing Tackle &c to the amount of upwards of £8000 which can be produced by an account of Particulars, He was then encouraged by Governor Palesser who assured him he should have his particular attention and protection. This year he met with Tolerable Success and the most flattering prospect of future Advantages and some of his men consented to winter there but not being accustomed to the nature of the Fisherys on that coast in the Winter Season (and having no French or Canadian to Instruct them in the art of that Fishery he sunk a considerable sum). In the year 1767 he still pursued his Fishery with 160 Men, and in October of the same year the Esquimaux Indians came down upon a Party of his Men who were making preparations for the Whale and Seal Fisherys, murdered three of the said Men, and drove the rest from their post, they then Burned and Destroyed his Boats and Effects—which Effects amounted with the Disappointment of wanting them to more than £4000; This Disaster entirely dissolved the Partnership of the said Michael Miller and Company; In the year 1768 the said Darby applied to King and Councel for some Relief setting forth his Losses that he sustained from these Wild Lawless People but had not any Relief; In the year 1769 he rose some Friends which enabled him to fit out from London in a small way and he sailed from the Port of London in May of the same year in a Vessel properly qualified with a Fishing Certificate &c he then proceeded to the Coast of Labradore and dispatched a Vessel in July with a cargo of Wet Fish for the London Market. This Vessel intitled him to take a proper place to carry on the Whale and Seal Fishery in the Winter which he did agreeable to the Instructions he received from time to time from Governors and Commanders
on that Coast but as he had attempted several times to carry on the Winter's Fishery by people from Great Britain and had failed in the Execution of the same from want of their being acquainted with the Nature of the Fisherys on that Coast he then engaged one Lawrence Biddy with two or three more Canadians on Shares to carry on the Seal Fishery on the usual Custom and Method as they had when the French was possessed of that Coast, those men had wintered on that Coast more than 18 years when the French was in possession of Canada and they assured him at the time of his engaging them that they had taken the Oaths of Allegiance and that they were happy to serve as Subjects of Great Britain and during their Servitude they behaved with the greatest respect and obedience to him, Lieutenant Samuel Davis who had then the command at York Fort was acquainted at the time the said Darby Engaged those Men as was Captain Chapman of Ottolons Sloop of War who then had the Station on that Coast and several more Gentlemen employed in his Majesty's Service and the said Davis Chapman and others never once pretended to hinder the said Darby from employing the said Lawrence Biddy and those others beforemention'd till on or about the 11th August 1770 when Lieutenant Samuel Davis found that the said Lawrence Biddy and others had made a great Voyage, killing upwards of 1500 seals which would contain near 50 Tons of oyl with Skins &c. would amount to near £1000 a large sum taken merely by the knowledge of this Lawrence Biddy and others mentioned, and eight English or Irish which made the Complement of said Darby's Crew to 12 in number—about the said 11th August as the said Darby was sending his Oyl to Bradore a Post belonging to John Lymburner a Merchant in Quebec, and had agreed with one William Grant Agent to the said John Lymburner that the said Darby's Oyl should be shipt of for London. That on said 11th August about 8 o'clock in the Evening the said Samuel Davis came to the House of Nicholas Darby aforesaid at Forteaux Bay with about 12 Marines under his Command with Bayonets fix't and then Entred the said Darby's House with two of his Marines, pretending that he came in search of contraband goods and the said Samuel Davis with one of his men searched the said House but found nothing contraband therein. Whereupon the said Samuel Davis proceeded to the said Darby's Warehouse where he seized all the said Darby's Oyl to the amount of about 145 Casks with about 1500 Seal Skins with Boats Cordage &c. The said Darby asked the said Davis in a civil manner if he had either Govr. Byron or Captain William's authority for acting as he did; said Davis answered that he neither wanted Byron nor William's Orders for the colour of his Coat was sufficient to convince the said Darby of his authority he then called the said Darby an Impertinent puppy or to that effect and that he would send him off the Coast in Irons and Flog him as a Justice of Peace and the next day he sent an Officer of Marines to Bradore, and brought off 39 Casks of oyl which in a piratical manner took off the post of John Lymeburner Merchant in Quebeck the said John Lymeburner's man came the next day to Forteaux Bav and made a Demand of the said 39 Casks which he refused to deliver and the
said Davis then took all the said Darby's Oyl and what Effects the Boat would carry and proceeded to Ghatteaux Bay leaving an officer of Marines in possession of Darby's House and Effects that remained the said Darby was drove to the greatest Distress in attempting to pursue his Oyl and seek for Justice in a small open Boat; and on his applying to the said Davis for a Passage round to Saint John's with his Oyl which the said Davis refused, the said Darby then asked the said Tavis for one of his large Boats He then told Darby that he had forfeited all his Boats and Effects for employing three Frenchmen and Threatened him the second time to Flog him and that he might starve on the Coast like a Villain as he was for all which proceedings the said Darby is now deprived of all his Substance and drove of the Coast with only one single Dollar in his Pocket and is now in London destitute of Friends or money for other Particulars he referrs to the affidts. of three of the said Darby's servants which are sworn before Lord Mansfield as well as the Certificate from Captain Williams Commanding Officer on the Coast when the said Davis took Darby's Oyl which is hereunto annexed.
Case of NICHOLAS DARBY.