p. 1800                                  C



No. 749.

REPORT OF CAPTAIN NORRIS ON NEWFOUNDLAND AFFAIRS.



CALENDAR OF STATE PAPERS, AMERICA & W. INDIES, 1697-1698, p. 137.

         301.    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.)

[1927lab]


 

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