p. 1858 JOINT
[Enclosure in No. 763.]
COPY OF GOVERNOR PALLISER'S REMARKS ON THE PRESENT STATE AND MANAGEMENT OF THE NEWFOUNDLAND FISHERY.
1718-1793, pp. 3-14.
The first and most important National Object from the Fishery, as set
forth in the Preamble to the said Act, is the raising and maintaining a
Number of Seamen for speedy manning our Fleets in Times of Danger ; it
therefore in the First Place provides for preserving, extending, and
improving the Ship Fishery in Preference to all others, that being the
ancient and by far the most if not the only advantageous Method to the
Nation, therefore it grants to the Ship Fishers, and from Britain only, many
and great exclusive Privileges; and in every Part of the Act relating to
Inhabitants and Bye Boat Keepers, is a Clause for preserving inviolable to
the Ship Fishers those Rights and Priveleges ; notwithstanding which the
Ship Fishery is now wholly dropt and excluded by Encroachers and
Monopolizers, the Inhabitants under Merchant Suppliers, by which every
Rule and Order ordained by that excellent Act, for the Prosperity of the
Fishery, is rendered ineffectual for the Purpose intended by it ; One Consequence
of which is, the French employ more Ships, raise Ten Times the
Number of Seamen, catch more Fish, and the Yearly Return of Men directly
to England, from our exclusive and extensive Fishery, without Bounds, is
scarce One Eighth Part of the Number that Yearly return directly to France
from their Fishery, though limited to the worst Parts. This appears by the
compared State of this Year's Accounts of Ships and Men employed by both,
We have, according to the Accounts I have collected, 16,000 People
remaining in that Country during the Winter, but I am satisfied they are
20,000 of which 10,000 are Men who are all totally lost, for they (a very few
excepted) have no Employment during the Winter, but live a most savage,
detestable, wicked Life, spending their Time in Idleness, Debaucheries, and
Excesses, and running in Debt on their next Year's Wages.
As the Value of the Labour of Seamen is undoubtedly the greatest of all
labouring Men, for Defence of the State or for bringing in Wealth from
abroad, so Ten Thousand of them being lost to this Nation for either of those
Purposes, during Six or Seven Months every Year, is alone a Matter
deserving serious Consideration.
These Inhabitants never become either good Fishermen or good Seamen;
or if they were so, they are always out of Reach to be of Use for manning
our Fleets on any Occasion, as effectually so as if they were taken and
carried to a French Prison before a Declaration of War.
Inhabitants such as above described are no Security to the Country, but
the contrary ; for they always have and always will join an invading Enemy,
as well from Necessity as Inclination, on such Occasions, and Three Fourths
of them are Roman Catholicks.
Those Inhabitants, besides being a Loss to this Country, are a Nuisance
to that, particularly by their great Consumption of Wood for Fuel, causing
a Scarcity thereof at Hand for the Use of the Fishery, and this lays the
Country more and more open to an invading Enemy.
By an Inhabitant Fishery, the Regulations in the Act for employing
Green Men for the Increase of Fishermen and Seamen, is totally defeated ;
nor have we such Increase, though the Public supposes it is our best Nursery ;
nor can there be any Fishing Admirals of Harbours, consequently the Law,
and all the Rules and Regulations, together with the Power of executing
them, are in Effect superseded, and every National Good intended by the
Law is defeated ; they are the unfittest People to be employed in the
Fishery, being habituated to Idleness, Debaucheries, and Wickedness ; they
are Strangers to the Mother Country, to Government, Religion, and good
Order, which is the Mother of Labour and Industry, therefore they are
neither laborious nor industrious, they have no Motive to be so, for they are
no better than the Property or Slaves of the Merchant Suppliers, to whom,
by exorbitant high Prices of their Goods, they are all largely in Debt, more
than they can ever work out during Life ; they have hitherto had no Means
of freeing themselves from that State of perpetual Servitude, therefore the
Fishery still went on, though universally allowed to be Yearly declining.
People doomed to perpetual Servitude are ever wishing for change of
Masters, so when Men find an Opportunity of becoming free and independent,
they will certainly embrace it ; therefore, now that the French have a
Territory in the Midst of the Fishery, there is no Doubt but these People will
fly there, as many have already done, with their Boats, Tackle, Fish and all,
or become Fishers for them, beginning a fresh Score for Supplies with them,
which great Numbers have already done ; thus the Fishery and Men also are
on the Point of being lost, who will hereafter be wholly employed for the
French both in Fishing and clandestine Trade, to the utter Ruin of our
Trade and Fishery.
The next most important National Object from the Fishery, as set forth
in the Preamble to the Act, is to increase the Consumption of the Produce
and Manufactories of this Kingdom, and for promoting Trade and Navigation.
How an Inhabitant Fishery operates in this Respect may be judged
of from the following Facts :
These 16 or 20 Thousand Inhabitants, as well as others employed in
Fishery, are subsisted and supplied as follows :
With a very small Quantity of Provisions of any Kind,
scarce sufficient to victual the Men that navigate the Ships for their Passage out.
With almost all their Beef, Pork, Butter, Linen, and some Manu-
factories clandestinely brought in.
|From the Plantations .
With all their Bread, Flour, Rum, Sugar, Melasses, some Beef,
Pork, Pease, and sundry other Articles, amounting the last Year to £.102,304. 3s. full Nine
Tenths of which is immediately paid for in Bills of Exchange upon England.
|From Foreign Countries
A considerable Quantity of every Kind of Goods and Manufactories
used in the Fisheries, as well from the French as from other Countries, brought by the Salt
Ships ; besides many Foreigners are concerned with our People in the Shipping so employed.
The present Managers of the Fishery pay Wages, &c. with these
Provisions, Necessaries, and Cloaths, at most exorbitant Rates ; thus the
Wages, though nominally high, is reduced very low, the Men become
their Property, and cannot get out of the Country, nor afford to wear
but little Cloaths, especially as they are idle, and drink such immense
Quantities of Rum, and thus they become averse to and unfit for Labour ;
but were they to return to England Yearly, they would get all Necessaries
and Cloaths from 1 to 500 per Cent. cheaper, as they would not be idle
or running in Debt during Six or Seven Months ; but on the contrary,
earning more Money, they would certainly become good industrious People,
and expend more of the Produce and Manufactories of this Country ; besides
30,000 such Men passing and re-passing every Year, that alone would employ
above 200 Ships more, which would also create an Increase of the Consumption
of our Manufactories, and be an immense Encouragement to Shipping,
Trade, and Navigation.
The other great National Object from the Fishery, as set forth in the
Preamble to the said Act, is by Returns for the Fifth from Foreign Countries,
of great Quantities of sundry useful Commodities to the Increase of His
Majesty's Revenues ; this Object is equally injured by an Inhabitant Fishery,
they, for afore-mentioned Reasons, being neither laborious, industrious, nor
able Fishermen, there is not Half the Quantity of Fish taken as would be,
it is not so well cured as it ought to be, which is the Cause of such great
Quantities of bad Fish going to Market, which spoils the credit of English
Fish, keeps the Prices low—consequently the Return, and the King's
Revenue, is thereby proportionably lessened.
Upon the Whole, if no Inhabitants were allowed, but the Fishery to be
laid open and free to all the King's Subjects, and carried on by Ship Fishers,
or even if the Ship Fishery was only restored to the original Footing, as
directed by the Act of the 10th and 11th of William the Third, it most
certainly would occasion double the Quantity of Fish to be taken, a Yearly
Return of more Men to England than now returns to France; instead of
Two or Three thousand Men, as at present, we should have, in Time of
Danger, a Yearly Return of 30,000 always ready for our Fleets ; this Addition
of Wealth and Strength to the State would always be increasing.
The Fishery would certainly thereby be effectually secured, and so
extended and improved, as would provide Employment for all our Men, and
none need be seeking Employment in Foreign Countries : By this Method
only all illicit Trade and Dealings of our People with the French and other
Foreigners can be effectually prevented.
The Consumption of the Produce and Manufactories of this Country,
also Shipping Trade, and Navigation, would be greatly increased.
More than double the Quantity of Fish would be taken, be better cured,
carried to Market at a cheaper Rate, in better Condition, and fetch a better
Price, to the great Increase of the Importation of useful Commodities, and
of the King's Revenue.
By encouraging our Ship Fishery to the Northward, the French
Fishery there would be greatly lessened, as our People would share with
them the exceeding fine Conveniences ready made (which they will not do,
whilst they have Expectations of getting Property) ; and a Ship Fishery
there, in common with the French, is agreeable to our own Laws, most for
the Benefit of the Nation, and strictly agreeable to Treaty ; but to allow
only an Inhabitant Fishery there, and our People to hold and possess as
Property the Fishing Conveniences (which they are contending for, to the
Exclusion of all Ship Fishers, as they have done in all other Parts of Newfoundland) will be contrary to our own Laws, contrary to the National
Interest, and directly contrary to the Privileges granted by Treaty to the
French; for Inhabitants will, in the Absence of the Ships, destroy all their
Works, both English and French, then build new ones, and call them their
own Property, and claim a Right to be protected therein.
A few Monopolizers, whose particular Interests are incompatible with
the true Interest and Security of the State, endeavour to have it believed,
that to restore the Fishery to the State it ought to be, and as is provided by
the Act of the 10th and 11th of William III. is impracticable ; but the
following Proposals being duly considered, and improved by abler Heads,
will provide effectual Cures for some, if not all the present Evils, without the
least Injustice to any One.
As the ancient and constant Custom by which an Person gained an
exclusive Right of possessing any Fishing Conveniency ever was by a
Certificate from the Governor or Commodore of the Convoy, that such
Person had performed the Conditions required by the Proviso in the Act of
the 10th and 11th of William III. to entitle him to such exclusive Possession,
and those Certificates described the Situation and Dimensions of the Places
for which they were granted, and set forth that due Proof had been laid
before him by the Fishing Admirals of the Port (who by Law are the
Guardians of their own Rights and Privileges) that the Place had never
been a Ship's Room since the Year 1685, let it be ordered that all Persons
holding Possession of any Place by virtue of such Certificates, shall, on or
before the Day of
produce such Certificates to the
Governor, to be by him examined, and he, being satisfied of the Authenticness
thereof, to enter them in a Book of Record, to be carefully kept for
that Purpose in the Fort at St. John's, and a Copy with the Board of Trade ;
and all Persons now possessing Places by virtue of such Certificates so
produced and registered, to be confirmed in their Possessions, with all Works
and Buildings thereon, according to the true Intent and Meaning of
All Places whatever, that are not held by Certificates of a Right
to possess them as above mentioned, should remain public and free for all
British Fishing Ships, and be deemed Ships Rooms, according to the true
Intent and Meaning of the Act, after the Death of the present Possessors,
the present pretended Owners.
Whereas all the Land is in the Crown, and no Governor has ever
been vested with Power to give or grant it away, it is necessary that the
Proviso in the Act that says, “Provided always, that all such Persons as since the 21st of March 1685 has built, cut out, or made,” &c. should be
farther explained as to the Nature of the Tenure by which Possession of a
Fishing Conveniency is to be held under that Proviso of the Act ; (that is
to say) whether such exclusive Possessions are to be only for Life of the
original Proprietors, or whether they are to be considered as Real or Personal
Estates, different Governors having determined Causes various Ways, which
produces infinite Numbers of Disputes, to the great Obstruction of the
Fishery ; causing great Expence and Loss of Time to those concerned, and
to the Public, by a vast Number of good Places lying Waste because of such
disputed and obsolete Claims.
That nothing but a Ship Fishery be permitted in that Part of
Newfoundland lying between Cape Bonavista and Point Riche, or on any
other Part of the Coast of Newfoundland that was not actually in the
Possession of the English when the said Act was made, nor on the Coast of
all the conquered Lands and Islands now annexed to the Government of
Newfoundland; but that the Whole of the Act of the 10th and 11th of
William III. be hereafter in full Force in those Lands and Islands, except