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FURTHER EXTRACTS FROM EVIDENCE BEFORE COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO ENQUIRE INTO THE STATE OF TRADE TO NEWFOUNDLAND (1793).
Mr. Thomas Street being then examined, said, He is a Merchant, resident at Poole, trading to Newfoundland, and has been so many Years.—And being asked, Whether he thinks the Establishment of a Custom House at Newfoundland an Injury to the Trade and Fishery of that Island ? he said, So far from its being an Injury, he thinks it has been of great Advantage to the fair and lawful Trader.
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Richard Routh, Esquire, Collector of the Island of Newfoundland, being called in, said, During the Time of his late confinement by Illness, he had made some Observations on the state of the Trade and Fishery of Newfoundland, which he begged to deliver in to your Committee, and the same are as follow :
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The Evidence, Mr. Ougier, has thought proper to inform the Honourable Committee, that the Trade was in a flourishing State till the passing the Act of the 15th of the King. I will venture to say, that whatever Utility and Importance the Act of the 10th and 11th of King William the Third may have been in the Infancy of the Fishery, when there were only in each Harbour in Newfoundland a very few Adventurers or Families, perhaps Two or Three at the End of the Fishery residing there, it cannot be deemed sufficient, or in any Way competent to the Regulation of the Trade and Fishery at this Time, or for the internal Regulation of an Island, when there are now hundreds of Inhabitants in every Situation, and some thousands in many ; I submit therefore, if an illiterate Man, without Knowledge or Information, for such the Fishing Admirals must and ever have been, is competent to hold Courts and decide between meum and tuum. Many of that Class can scarce read or write, and some I have seen that could only make their Marks. Another Remark I have to make ; that admit they were equal to all these Points, they are at Sea, on the Banks of Newfoundland, Seven-eighths of their Time, and cannot attend to the Duties of such their Situation ; add to it, they depend too much upon their Employer to be able to decide so disinterestedly as would be necessary ; and for these Reasons, I conceive, the Act has been rendered useless and obsolete for many Years.