The Labrador Boundary


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Volume IV
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No. 725.

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR SETTLEMENT OF NEWFOUNDLAND UNDER REGULAR GOVERNMENT.



CAL. STATE PAPERS, AM. & W. I., 1661-1668, p. 558.

        1730. Reasons for the settlement of Newfoundland and the trade under Government. First, in respect of his Majesty's interest. It is the greatest if not the only nursery for seamen, and when the trade flourished it bred 10,000 yearly. Under a Government it produced 50,000l. customs yearly, by the product of fish sent to foreign countries, and foreigners permitted to fish paid 51. per cent. to the Governor, but for want of it the French have encroached, possessed three of the best harbours, mounted 30 or 40 guns in each place, and use all means to debauch his Majesty's subjects to live under their protection. Secondly, in respect of the trader's interest. When the trade flourished under a Government it brought to the nation 500,000l. per annum, but since then not one-third so much. No harbours being fortified and there being no settled Government, the traders are liable to all pirates and enemies, all stages, boats, fishing crafts, &c. are destroyed by the planters or the fishermen that came first, whereby the fishermen are obliged to a month's delay and 20 per cent. loss, so that foreigners undersell them in all markets. The cutting down and firing of the woods near the sea will prove the destruction of the trade if not speedily prevented; the tippling houses where the poor fishermen spend all they get might be prevented; also the encroachment of houses and gardens on land fit for drying fish. The chief harbours are spoilt by casting ballast into them, great abuses are committed by unseasonable fishing, and the west country owners at the end of the year send their men to New England to save their passage home, by which fishermen are made scarce, and many serviceable seamen lost. By reason of a late Act for turning the planters six miles into the country, the chiefest have gone to New England, and the rest will go to the French, who are so well fortified that in case of a war they would quickly possess the whole country; for by a late proclamation of the French King, every master of a ship is allowed five livres for every man and three for every woman he carries to Newfoundland. Thirdly, in respect of the inhabitants. By settled Government and harbours fortified they will avoid the abuses of the ungoverned seamen who deal with them as they please, they will be preserved from sea rovers and enemies, have a minister to christen, bury, marry, and instruct them, whereas now they live like brutes. And they will have equal justice, which will

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greatly encourage all except those who desire to live under no government, but in all things to be their own carvers. Two copies. 2 pp. (Col. Papers, Vol. XXII., Nos. 68, 69.)

        1731. Capt. Robinson's proposals to the King concerning Newfoundland. Because Sir David Kirke's Government was careless or severe, it does not follow that if there be a bad Governor over a Plantation that therefore the Governor and the Plantation shall be removed, and so the country left to any other nation or people whatsoever, but rather that a better Governor be appointed and his Majesty's honour and interest still maintained. The destruction of stages, houses, woods, and harbours; the want of justice; breaking the Lord's day and having no offices of christianity, his Majesty being Defender thereof so that the very natives take notice of it, are some of the consequences of the want of a Governor. Arguments as to whether Newfoundland ought not to be kept from an enemy when it may be done at 1 per cent. on the fish. If the French should take it, whereas they now employ about 400 sail and 18,000 seamen, and the English 300 sail and 15,000 seamen, they would employ near 700 ships and 30,000 seamen, and the English be shut out of 700,000l. yearly, besides which the French would make double that sum. The great advantages of the Newfoundland fishery as a nursery for seamen. If the French should add what the English have planted there to what they possess already in Canada, Nova Scotia, and other places thereabouts, they would be bad neighbours to his Majesty's flourishing Plantations of New England, New York, and Virginia. 2 pp. (Col. Papers, Vol. XXII., No. 70.)

[1927lab]


 

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