p. 1800 C
REPORT OF CAPTAIN NORRIS ON NEWFOUNDLAND AFFAIRS.
& W. INDIES,
1697-1698, p. 137.
Captain John Norris, R.N., to Council of Trade and Plantations.
I think that the fishery of Newfoundland cannot be better than under its
old constitution. If you wish to make part of the country defensible in case
of war, I think St. John's harbour the most advantageous place by nature.
The country is so woody and mountainous that an enemy can't easily march
to it and cannot possibly bring cannon by land to the place ; hence the
redoubt built by Colonel Gibsone may be sufficient defence against such
attacks. As to the sea, the narrow entrance to the harbour and the great
height of the land on both sides create such eddy-winds and calms that an
attack would be very difficult, especially if you approve of a boom and chain
being fixed across the harbour's mouth. On the north side, at a place called
One-o'clock, is a convenient place and distance from the boom for a battery
of from fourteen to eighteen guns. Right against it on the south side is
another place for three or four guns. These two places, in addition to what
is already, would, I believe, make the harbour defensible. I think that if
planks and materials were sent there at the time of the convoy's going, the
labour of their ships-companies might complete the work this year. The
battery on the north side should have a place to put powder in. To man
these batteries I think that the inhabitants would suffice, but for the care
of the guns and stores there should be gunners and store-keepers ; but that
power should have no influence over the inhabitants for fear of prejudicing
the trade ; and to prevent any abuses by mismanagement the convoy for
the year, together with the Admiral and Vice-Admiral of the port, should
examine all the stores to check embezzlement. I would suggest whether,
against the outbreak of war, it would not be proper to have dormant commissions among the
inhabitants to summon the people for the defence of St. John's
until the King send what may be proper, allowing them pay while the service
lasts. This power should in my opinion be subordinate to the Admiral of the
port, if one be there, because the masters of the merchant-ships may probably
have seen more service than any of the planters, and the planters in general
are a kind of servants to the merchant-men. To fix the boom there must
be an iron bridle to go over the rock on the north side, and a crab or capstan
on the south side to heave the boom across. Signed, Jno. Norris. 2½ pp.
Endorsed, Reed. Read 17 March, 1697-8. (Board of Trade, Newfoundland,
3. No. 96 ; and 25. pp. 182-184.)