The Labrador Boundary


Privy Council Documents


Volume IV
Contents




[24 July, 1675.]

July 24.
Bristol frigate in
St. John's Harbour,
Newfoundland,
1675.


p. 1772                                         C



No. 733.

REPORT OF SIR JOHN BERRY

ON CONDITIONS IN NEWFOUNDLAND.



CAL. STATE PAPERS AM & W. I., 1675-1676, p. 259

        628.  Sir John Berry to (Sec. Sir Joseph Williamson). Arrived 11th instant in St. John's Harbour and found H.M.S. Swann with 40 ships, the greatest part bound to a market. Has sent two able persons as far as Capes Bonavista and de Race to call in all the harbours, bays, creeks, &c., and take exact account as directed, and to declare his Majesty's pleasure to all the Planters. Has already done it in this Harbour, and they promised obedience, but the greatest part are too poor to remove unless his Majesty will send a ship for them, and at last they must be put on the Parish wherever they come. A labouring man will get in a summer season near 20 1., and their daily food comes out of the sea, while such a person would not get 3 1. in England. Has made diligent inquiry into all those things laid to the Planters' charge by the Merchants and finds most of them false, manifested in this single point. Summoned the Admirals and Commanders of 45 ships, and told them he thought it would be convenient that no stages, flakes, storehouses, or anything else should be pulled down, but preserved till next season; several old and experienced Commanders were for the preservation of all, but three-fourths were for taking them down, making many pretences that they had been at great charge and labour to build them, and why should another enjoy their goods next year? In conclusion told them his Majesty's Charter forbids that any spike or nail should be drawn, but everything entirely preserved, and he would take particular notice of those that should offend, and acquaint his Majesty therewith. All these things are laid to the Planters' charge. It is a common practice with the Commanders to brew beer, wood their ships, and sell the remains of the stages and houses to the sack ships. Has had experience of it 20 years since in a voyage here, and taken them in the very act of doing it since he came here. The charge laid to the Planters of enticing the men to stay behind and neglect their families is as true as the former; for when the voyage is ended, to save 30s. or 40s. for their passage, the Commanders persuade the Planters to receive them, and the seamen to tarry behind, as some Commanders have confessed, pretending they knew no order to the contrary. As to buying wine and brandy from New England in exchange for fish, has ordered them all to give account of all the wine, brandy, and other goods they have bought this year, with names of ship, master, and where she belongs. These

p. 1773

Planters are not so bad as the Merchants make them, but some “self-ended” persons have a mind to engross all into their own hands. It is the opinion of several experienced Commanders that if those people be removed from this Country, his Majesty's subjects would in few years find the ill-effects of it, for undoubtedly the greatest part would settle among the French, where they are already invited with great promises, or else for New England; they implore his Majesty's favour to continue, and promise all obedience to what orders shall be given. Several of the ships whose Merchants made such a clamour for convoy are scattered up and down, and going away without taking any notice of him. Designs to sail in August for the Bay of Bulls, there to make up the fleet, and to sail thence 20th Sept. at furthest, unless the ships cannot be ready. The fishers are like to make an indifferent good voyage, having taken about 200 kintalls per boat; the “Caplinge scoole” of bait is gone, which is a great detriment. St. John's is an excellent Harbour, large enough for 100 sail, with a narrow entrance and very high land; a small charge may fortify it to keep out a considerable fleet, and several think that, if the inhabitants be taken away, the French will soon possess it, to the loss of several advantages his Majesty's subjects yet enjoy, it being in the middle of the land. Has inquired in this Port, and cannot find that any New England vessels have been here with the goods before mentioned; but, on the contrary, that New England has taken good quantities of those goods from hence, the product of which is shipped in English vessels for a market. Has given account to Mr. Sec. Coventry and Mr. Pepys to the same effect. Endorsed, “R. 23, Aug. 1675.” 3 pp. (Col. Papers, Vol. 34, No. 118.)

[1927lab]


 

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