what relates to exclusive Possessions under the afore-mentioned Proviso in
For preventing any Fishing Conveniences being lost (as great
Numbers now are) whether from Obsolete Claims, long Suits depending
about the Rights and Titles, or from Idleness of some, or Inability or
Obstinacy in others, let it be ordered, that notwithstanding any Right or
Title that have or may be acquired to such Places under the abovementioned
Proviso in the said Act, if any of those Places hereafter lie
unoccupied or unused for the Fishery during One or Two Fishing Seasons,
the same to be become public and free for the Use of all British Fishing
Ships, and be deemed Ships Rooms.
Conformable to the aforesaid Act, and according to ancient
Custom, no Ship shall be deemed a Ship Fisher, or enjoy the Privileges
thereto belonging, nor the Master exercise the Authority of an Admiral of a
Harbour, except such as arrive from Britain, cleared out at the Custom
House as such that Same Year, and employeth at least Twenty-one Men and
Boys actually brought with her that Season, and who are engaged to return
after the Fishery is over; and that occupieth and useth a public Ships
Room, and not a hired One, or that is held and possessed as private
Whereas by sundry unlawful Practices of Inhabitants destroying
the Stages, Flakes, and other Conveniences belonging to the Ship Fishers,
during the Absence of the Ships in the Winter, the Ship Fishers have been
ruined, and excluded from the Fishery, and those inhabitants become
unlawful Possessors of all the old and best Fishing Conveniences, which by
Law ought to be preserved for the Use of Ship Fishers only—let it be
ordered, that in all Harbours where there are, or hereafter may be, any
Ships Rooms, the same shall be inviolably preserved for the Use of Ship
Fishers only ; and if any Damage is done to any such Stages, or other
Conveniences thereto belonging, in the Winter during the Absence of the
Ships, all the Inhabitants of that Place shall be obliged to make good such
Damages immediately on the Arrival of the Fishing Ships ; and the Fishing
Admirals of the respective Harbours to be authorised by Law to compel such
Inhabitants to restore such Ships Rooms, and the Fishing Conveniences
thereto belonging, into the same State and Condition in which they were left
the preceding Season ; and till such Damages are so repaired, the Masters of
such Fishing Ships to be authorized to occupy and use any Stage or Room
possessed by any Inhabitant in that Harbour, that he pleases to make Choice
of ; for the Ship Fishers, according to the above-mentioned Act, must never
be disappointed of their Voyage, where there is or ever was any lawful
All Admirals transmitting to the Governor or Commodore a
Report of the State of their Fisheries in their respective Harbours, as
directed by the Act of the 10th and 11th of William III. on producing from
the Governor or the Captain of any of the King's Ships a Certificate of the
Receipt thereof, such Admiral Ships should be entitled to some Privilege or
Reward ; printed Forms for such Reports to be delivered gratis to every
Fishing Ship when she clears out at the Custom House in Britain.
No Laws, Rules, or Regulations that ever have or can be made for
such People as the present Inhabitant Fishers of Newfoundland are, will ever
be of any Use, without Pains and Penalties being annexed to Offences
against those Laws.
The encouraging and obliging the Men to return Yearly to England.
The greatest Part of the Fishermen now residing in the Country,
called Planters or Master Boat Keepers, are a Kind of Prisoners or Slaves to
their Suppliers, who, to prevent their Return, threatened them with a Gaol
for Debt ; which Debts have been contracted by shameful Impositions and
Oppressions, for the Purpose of keeping them there. Those Creditors know
it is not possible ever to be paid those debts in Newfoundland ; nor are
those Debts, if they were to be strictly examined into, either lawful or just.
Suppose it should be enacted, that all such Fishermen so in Debt at this
Time, contracted there, who may hereafter return from Newfoundland to
Britain, should be exempt from Arrest for such Debts so long as they
continue to go to and return from Newfoundland Yearly to Britain.
No Debt whatever contracted in that Country by any Fisherman,
or Servant serving for Wages, should be recoverable.
It is the Practice of Inhabitants to engage men to serve Two
Summers and a Winter : It should not be lawful for any Men to bind
themselves to serve in that Country for more than Six Months, or for One
It is the general Practice of Masters to credit their Fishermen
Servants to the Amount of their whole Wages, above Half of which is most
commonly Rum : Thus, when their Time is out, they are distressed, and
necessitated to stay, having nothing to pay their Passage ; they must steal
for their Subsistence, or sell themselves to the Plantations, which Thousands
do from this Cause.
For Remedy of these Evils, no Deductions from any Servants
Wages for Liquor should be lawful, nor for Supplies of any other Kind in
Newfoundland exceeding Shillings.
Every Master should by Law be obliged to pay, out of the Wages
of each Man he employs, the Passage Money for the Man's Passage Home to
the Master of a Passage Ship, in the same Manner as by Custom they now
pay for the Passage out of any Man they hire on his Arrival. This
Encouragement to Ships will make a certain Provision of a sufficient Number
of Ships to carry all the Men Home ; but now from the Uncertainty of
getting such Freights very few Ships put up for Passengers Home.
No Dietors, or People who entertain Fishermen or Servants in the
Country in the Winter, on the Credit of their Wages, should be allowed in
Newfoundland ; all such Men, as well as their Entertainers, being Idlers, and
a Public Loss.
As farther Encouragement for Shipping to bring Home Men from
the Fisheries, suppose that every Ship bringing Home at the least
Men Passengers from the Fisheries was to be entitled to some Privileges ;
such as, in Times of Press, such Ships to be allowed a certain Number of
Men free from Press, in the same Manner, and for the same good Purposes,
as the Greenland Ships have now by Act of Parliament, for the Encouragement
of that Trade, a Protection for a certain Number of Men. Masters of
Ships to be entitled to such Protections, on producing what may be judged a
proper Certificate of the exact Number of Men he has actually landed in
Britain, or in His Majesty's Dominions in Europe : Thus the exact Number
returning will be nearly known.
As a farther Security for the Return of the Men, let it be unlawful
to pay any Servant's Wages in Newfoundland otherways than by Bills of
Exchange for the Balance due, such Bills to be drawn payable to the Man
only; but to make such Bills negociable, they may be payable to the Man's
Order, provided he indorses it after landing in the King's Dominions in
Europe, in the Presence of a Justice of the Peace, such Justice attesting
such Indorsement: A Form of the Bills to be used for this Purpose to be
annexed to the Act.
The Prosperity of the Fishery requires, in all Disputes and Differences,
short, speedy, and unexpensive Issues; and the Act of the 10th and 11th of
William III. directs, that certain Disputes and Differences shall be
determined on the Spot, in a summary Way, by the Admirals, appealable
to the Captains of the King's Ships. But under the present Management of
the Fisheries there are no Admirals for hearing and determining such
Matters; which is the Occasion of many endless Disputes, to the great
Obstruction of the Fishery, and Loss to the Public. It is therefore
absolutely necessary to restore the Ship Fishery, to renew, support, and
extend the Admirals Powers ; but no Admirals, no Captains of King's Ships,
no Commodore nor Governor, should meddle in any Matters but what are
purely relative to the Fishery, for preventing Obstructions thereto, for
preserving the Peace, keeping good Order amongst the Fishermen, and for
immediate Trial of Capital Offences; but all Matters of Disputes amongst
Merchants concerning their Accounts, or Matter relative to Trade, should be
heard and determined only in Britain. This will prevent People staying in
the Country ; also remedy such incredible Practices of Knavery and unfair
Dealings as no Trade whatever can prosper under, and which cannot
otherways be remedied.
When the Fishing Admiral's lawful Authority is restored and supported,
and the Country cleared of a Number of idle Men in the Winter, there will be
no Want of Justices of the Peace. It is they that have put an End to the
Ship Fishery, by not suffering the Fishing Admirals to act in the respective
Harbours ; and such Justices being all People concerned in Trade, they use
their Authority for no other Purpose but to favour Monopoly, and are guilty
of the most shameful Partialities and Injustices, to the very great 'Prejudice
of the Fishery.
To prevent the great Loss to the Fishery and to the Public by so many
Men running from that Country to the Plantations every Year, let it be
ordered that no Vessels belonging to, or bound to or arriving from any of the
Plantations, shall be allowed to stay in any Part of the Government of
Newfoundland after the 10th Day of October, on which Day the Fishermen
are usually discharged ; nor any such Vessel be permitted at any Time to
take on Board any Men Passengers without a Permit in Writing from the
Governor only, on Forfeiture of such Vessels having on Board more Men
than for their Navigation, at the Rate of Men per Hundred Tons.
This will also prevent any People from the Colonies coming to Newfoundland
to carry on the Fisheries, to the Prejudice of the British Merchants and
Shipping, contrary to the Meaning of the Fishing Act.
Notwithstanding far the greatest and best Parts of the Fishing Coast
belongs exclusively to the English, and the French are limited, and to the
worst Parts, whilst ours is without Bounds.
That France has a certain Yearly Increase of 2,670 Seafaring Men from
their Fishery, whilst we lose One or Two thousand that run away every Year
to America, and no Rule observed for increasing our Seamen, or preventing
the Fishermen and Seamen running to America.
That the French Fishermen kill as much Fish per Man as our
Inhabitants, notwithstanding our boasted Advantage of carrying it on by
Inhabitants. It must also be noted, that in the Limits to which the French
are confined between Cape Bonavista and Point Riche, they have scarce
Half the Time for catching Fish that our People have to the Southward,
where the Fish is equally abundant during that double Time for catching
That great Part of the Fishing Conveniencies on the prime Part of the
Coast for Fishing is lost, by the Inhabitants possessing them, as Property ;
few or none of them employing Half the Number of Boats and Men as Ship
Fishers would on the same Places, besides the many Conveniencies that lie
Waste, because of the infinite Number of disputed Claims to Places which
none of them can make out a Right to, being originally Ships Rooms ; yet
they exclude the Ships.
That in those Harbours to the Northward, where we have this Year had
a few Fishing Ships, those Ships who brought out their own Men killed Two
Thirds as much more Fish as our Inhabitant Fishers in the same Harbours :
This Gain in the Quantity of Fish is, I apprehend, greater and more certain
Profit to those concerned and to the Public, than what is got by peddling
monopolizing Trade of supplying a few slothful miserable Wretches for the
Winter's Subsistence, and in Idleness ; besides, the Employers of the Men in
Ships would always likewise have the Benefit of supplying them at Home, by
which the Men will get their Necessaries cheaper, consequently Wages then
will fall, and they will expend no Foreign Manufactories.
Thus it appears the Public would be a very great Gainer, though no
more Men than at present should be employed ; but if the Fishery was to be
laid open and free to all His Majesty's Subjects, as by Law it ought to be,
the Ship Fishers encouraged, supported, and restored to their Privileges,
there would be so many more Places, so much more Time, and so many more
and better Men employed, as would, without the least Doubt, cause double
the Quantity of Fish to be taken ; consequently the Public Gain, and the
King's Revenue, would be doubled, besides the far more important Acquisition
of 30,000 Men, in constant Readiness to Man our Fleets for Security of
the State ; and give us such a noble Superiority over our Enemies or Rivals,
as would be a certain Means of preventing War : But whilst the French
manage their Fishery so well, and we ours so ill, they will always be able to
harass us with fresh Wars every Four or Five Years.
On the Fishery on the Coast of Labrador, within the Gulph of
St. Lawrence only, was employed 117 Sloops and Schooners, with 1,563 Men,
who killed 104 Whales, which yielded on an Average 140 Barrels of Oil, and
2,000 Weights of good Bone, all killed within a Space of 30 Leagues, and
between 14th May and 10th July. The Winter Seal Fishery on the same
Coast, carried on by 107 Men, yielded 500 Tons of Oil, besides Fur ; and the
Furs from the Indians was very considerable ; so that the Value of the
Whale, Seal, Cod, Salmon, and Furs, upon that Part of the Coast only, was
at a moderate Computation £.100,000, and not One Old England Ship or
Seaman employed therein, nor a Seaman raised thereby for the Service of the
Fleet— Such is the Effect of letting the Newfoundland Fishery run into
Monopoly, that the rest of our Merchants, if they cannot have a Monopoly
likewise, will let the New England Men, or Frenchmen, or any Body run
away with it.
The New England Men sell the Fish, Oil, and Bone to the French at
Petit Nord : The Settlers from Canada all deal with the French at
Newfoundland, St. Pierre's, and directly with France.
(Signed) HUGH PALLISER
18th Decemr 1765.
Office of Committee of
Privy Council for Trade, A true Copy.
Whitehall, 11th March 1793.
Chf Ck Com. Cl Trade.