The Labrador Boundary

Privy Council Documents

Volume IV

[5 May, 1675.]

(1023.) Whitehall,
5 May, 1675.

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No. 732.




        The Council approve and direct the issue of all necessary orders in accordance with the following report of the Committee:—
        Wee have in Obedience to your Majesties Order in Councill of the 12th of February last past taken into Consideration the Petition of Mr. Hinton, and all the papers presented by him touching the necessity of placeing a Governor at Newfound Land for the advantage of that ffishery. Wee have also in pursuance of the said Order perused all the Petitions, Papers, Orders, and Resolutions touching this Affayre, either as the same hath been Transacted formerly at this Board, or before the late Councill of Plantations.
        Wee have also sent Advertisement to all the Western Ports, and did for severall dayes heare their Agents, and other Principall Merchants of the Exchange concerned in their Opinions and discourses either way, some for the Encouragement of a Colony and Governor, but many more against both; And the Points that seemed to be made out very cleer vnto vs were as

        1.  That the French have of late yeares applyed themselves with great industry, and publick encouragement vnto the Fishing Trade, vpon one of the sides of Newfound Land, so that the English serve none of the Marketts of France as formerly they did, but on the contrary the French are found in many other of the Foreigne Marketts as early as the English themselves.

        2.  That the People of New-England, do on their own Coast take great quantityes of large Fish, about sixty Thousand Kintalls a yeare, and by encreasing the Trade there, bring much detriment to that of Newfoundland.

        3.  That for some late yeares the Fish has fayled in Newfound Land, the Adventurers have lost many of their Shipps in the late Warrs, especially in that with Spain, and the late Warrs have much diminished the hands which vsed to take ffish. The Inhabitants and Planters, who contrary to their old Charter live within Six Miles of the Sea, have destroyed the woods, do continue to destroy whatever the Adventurers leave yearely behinde; They possesse early the Places of greatest Conveniency before the Adventurers returne, and which is very pernicious do most of them sell wine and Brandy, whereby the Seamen are withdrawne form their Labor, and many seduced

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to stay in the place, while their Farnilyes do thereby become Burthens to their respective Parishes at home.
        From all which Reasons 'twas easy to beleive there was a decay of the Trade as to England, and that the Complaynst thereof were very just. But as to Mr. Hintons proposall for curing all by a Governor We could not finde that a Governor could cure any part.

        1.  Because the Planters who are now there in Number Eight Hundred or One Thousand, do live scattered in Five and Twenty severall Harbours betwixt Renouse and Bonavista, which are allmost Eighty Leagues assunder.

        2.  That in all the Winter when the abuses are many of them done, there is no passing by Sea or Land from One Place to another, so that neere Forty Harbours would have no Government though a Governor were in the Country.

        3.  That besides the Charge of Forts, and of a Governor which the Fish Trade cannot support, 'tis needless to have any such defence against Forreigners, the Coast being defended in the Winter by the Ice, and must in Summer by the resort of your Majesties Subjects, for that place will allwayes belong to him that is superior at Sea; So that vnlesse wee saw proper Reasons for a Coloney, We could see none for a Governor; And against a Coloney there are not onely the rigours of the Climate, and infertility of the Land, which, as is alleaged, oblige all those who are there all the Winter to Idlenes, and inclines them to Debauchery, But they cheifely consume the Products of New England, the Shipping of which Country furnish them with French Brandy, and Madera Wines in exchange for their Fish, without depending for any supply from hence; And We had reasons to presume that if the Climate and Soyle could favor a Colony, they would rather adhere to New England, and in time tread in the same stepps, to the losse of those many advantages, which at present, by the Method things are in, we yet enjoy. For We could not hope for a like Regulation on the Product of this Place, as on the Products of your Majesties other Plantations, because Fish cannot beare the Charge of comeing home, but must goe directly to the Marketts abroad.

        Our next enquiries were concerning the French, and by what Methods they proceeded in this Trade, and We have not found that they do otherwise mannage it, then by the Adventurers Ships that yearely goe out and returne back; 'tis true they have a Fort at Placencia in the South part of the Island, with some Gunns in it, which are to defend them from the Indians, who at certayn times come off from the myane and molest them in their Beavor Trade, for which Trade onely, and not for ffishing they doe Inhabite there; and we were the more convinced herein when by computing and Comparing the Charge of Catching Fish to the Adventurer, and to the Planter, Wee found the former could doe it cheaper then the latter; which turn'd our whole Enquiry to finde out whether the French have any thing which enables them to Catch Fish Cheaper, or any Art in the preserving, to make them sell dearer then the English; And by the various Accounts of the Merchants who

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appeared (though differing in Opinion) Wee had reason to beleive, that the English do in generall still preserve a superiority in the Trade, They Catch it as cheap, Cure it as well, come as early to Market, can there sell as dear, and afford it as cheap as any the French can doe.
        So that after Consideration of the whole Matter, We had recourse vnto those Rules which were formerly on like occasion setled in Councill by your Majesties Order of the 10th of March 16701 and We found them all so proper, and effectuall for the advantage of this Trade, as to need onely some few Additions to make the Trade revive and flourish, And those Additions We humbly propose to your Majestie as followeth.

        1.  That all Plantation and Inhabiting in that Country be discouraged; And in order herevnto, That the Commander of your Majesties Convoy have Commission to Declare at his goeing this yeare, your Majesties will and pleasure to all the Planters, that they come voluntarily away, and in Case of disobedience, that your Majestie will beginn the next yeare and so from time to time as often as your Convoys are sent thither, to putt in execution the ancient Charter, which strictly forbidds any planters to Inhabit within six Miles of the Shore from Cape Race to Cape Bonavista; and finding any of them within that District, to Seize, bring away, or send them home as Offenders, to Answer their Contempts, and the Mischeifs before recited, which have been occasioned by such their Inhabiting contrary to the Charter; And in this single point (as We humbly conceive) does consist the validity and good effect of the whole Regulation.

        2.  We further humbly Offer that the Convoy who is now goeing, may have Instructions to help and assist those in their Transportation who shall be desirous vpon this intimation of your Majesties pleasure to returne home; And to Declare, that in Case they shall rather chuse to betake themselves to any of your Majesties Forreigne Plantations, That the Governors are now writ vnto, and Commanded by your Majestie to receive them with all favor, and afford particular help and assistance towards their setlement; and such Letters We humbly propose to be speedily sent vnto the said Governors.
        Also that the said Convoy, besides those points wherein he is already Instructed by the Lords of the Admiralty, be further Ordered to enquire if any Strangers doe in this time that they are in warr with each other, come there to Fish vnder the pretext of being English, and in Case of any Jealousy, to enquire into their passes and Sea-Breifes, and by what meanes, or whose Authority they have procured the same. Also to make enquiryes into the State of the French Trade, the Number of their Ships, and whether the same are this yeare more or lesse then formerly they have been; And of all his Observations and Journalls there, to send a Duplicate vnto this Committee.

        3.  That your Majesties Council Learned be directed (as formerly they were) to enquire into and review the Powers formerly given by your Majesties Charter of Confirmation for the Trying of Treasons, Felonies, Murthers &c. done in that place, and that if the same be in any thing deficient, or Incon-

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venient, that they Report what sort of Judicature would be convenient to be Erected for the hearing and determining of such, offences.

        4.  And when the same is Reported, and your Majestie shall in Councill settle and determine into what hands the administration of that Power shall be placed, That then the Mayors of the Westerne Ports be required to Renew their Charter, with the additionall Rules and Powers above-mentioned. Also that the same Charter may be printed, and a Proclamation Issue to enforce the observation of all that shall be established thereby, for the better exciting of all persons to their Dutyes who are concerned therein, or Obliged to take notice of the same.

        Whitehall Aprill 15th 1675. Anglesey, Craven, G. Carteret, J: Williamson, Robert Southwell.



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