PETITION FROM THE MASTERS OF THREE WHALING VESSELS
CONCERNING THE WOODS SET ON FIRE BY THEM IN TEMPLE BAY, LABRADOR,
THE GOVERNOR'S REPLY.
RECORD BOOK, ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND. Volume 4, page 48.
Pitts Harbour, Labrador,
23rd July, 1767.
To His Excellency Hugh Pallisser,
Governor of Newfoundland & Labrador, &c., &c.
Whereas the Woods in Temple Bay were last night set on Fire by some People belonging to some Whaling Vessels from the Plantations, contrary to the Statute of the 10th & 11th of William 3rd, We the Undersigners Masters of the Said Whaling Vessels, beg leave to assure Your Excellency that it was not wilfully nor maliciously done, that We have the utmost abhorance to all such audacious unlawfull proceedings as have been practiced on this Coast contrary to the said Statute, and to the exceeding great prejudice of ye Publick, and assure Your Excellency that you may always depend on our strictly conforming to your Regulations for preventing them, and the like shall never happen in future within your Government from negligence in us, which we are sensible is equally prejudicial to the Publick, as if done wilfully; and as your Officer can testify that immediately on his coming to us with your Order, we took every possible means in our Power to stop the Progress of the Flames & our People are now actually employ'd therein, therefore when we have succeed in totally extinguishing the Fire according to your Orders, We humbly intreat you will be pleased to forbear any further proceedings for this offence against the said Statute, and if you please to permit us to proceed on our respective Voyages, We will enter into any obligations you please to prescribe for conforming to what we have above promised.
ISAAC FREEMAN, Master of the Speedwell of Boston.
BENJ'N. BERRY, Master of ye Good Intent of Boston.
JOS'H. DOANS, Master of ye Sarah of Boston.
The above is a Copy of a Petition from three Masters of New England Whaling Vessels, who with many others were concerned and present at doing the mischief therein mention'd, the rest escaped before they could be apprehended, and left the Woods Burning, upon these three acknowledging their fault, and appearing to be penitent and sincere in what they promised, Gov'r. Pallisser (tho' he was by no means satisfied that the woods was not set on fire wilfully) permitted them to proceed on their Voyages, in confidence that the Gentlemen in Boston concerned in those Vessels, will testify their disapproving all such proceedings of the Masters of their Vessels on this Coast, by turning them out of their employ, which if they do not do, more rigorous measures must be pursued in future, without shewing so much regard to the Interest of the Employers; there is some room for hoping this may be prevented, since the Whalers in general have behaved this Year more orderly, and with fewer insolences and Provocations to the King's Officers than heretofore, and such of them as have been question'd and talked to by the Governor himself have promised to behave in future within this Government better, and as become good Subjects, & acknowledge the advantages they find by submitting to the Government Established here, for immediate decisions of disputes that arise amongst themselves in the course of their Whale Fishing, which otherways would be totally stop'd, by all kinds of violences and mischiefs ensuing amongst a multitude of such Crews of the most disorderly People from the different neighbouring Colonies, all disputing, contending and obstructing each other, none but a few from New England have been offenders this Year, who still are the most difficult to reduce to Order, such is the baneful effects of one or two turbulent spirits, capable of infecting a whole People.
This is address'd to you by the Governor's direction as Owners of the three above Named Vessels, for your particular information, and of any others concerned in the Whale Fishery, to whom you may please to communicate it, hoping thereby to find assistance for stoping those disorders, and that the Masters of the Whalers from New England may be instructed by their respective Owners, to behave when within this Government, as becometh them. To what I write by ye Govrs Orders, I have only to add, that,
I am Gentlemen,