Primary Documents

Western Charter of 1634

King William's Act of 1699

Gov. Osborn's Commission, 1729

Palliser's Act, 1775

Judicature Act, 1791

Judicature Act, 1792

Judicature Act, 1824

Royal Charter, 1825






King's Subjects to have free Trade to Newfoundland.


No Alien to bait or fish in Newfoundland.


No Ballast, &c. to be thrown out of any Ship into the Harbours, but carried on Shore.


No Person to destroy any Stage or Cook Room, &c.


Every Fishing Ship first entering Harbour, shall be Admiral during that fishing Season, &c.


Second Ship Vice Admiral


Next Ship Rear Admiral


Persons possessed of several Places shall make his election which to abide in.


And give his Resolution to any After-comer in 48 Hours after Demand.


In case of Difference, Admirals to proportion the Place.


Persons who since 1685 have detained any Stage, Cook-room, &c. shall relinquish the same to the publick Use of Fishing Ships, &c.


No Fisherman or Inhabitant of Newfoundland, to possess any Stage, &c. until all Fishing Ships be provided &c.


Provisio


By-Boat Keepers not to meddle with House, Stage, &c., belonging to any Fishing Ships


And to carry 2 fresh men in 6. Inhabitant obliged to employ 2 such fresh men. Master of Fishing Ship to carry 1 Fresh Man in 5.


And make Oath thereof. Certificate gratis.


Every fifth Man a Green-man.


Marks of Boats of Train-fats not to be obliterated, &c.


Standing trees not to be rinded, nor Woods fired.


Necessary fuel excepted, &c.


Sayne not to be annoyed, nor Nets, Baits, &c. stolen.


Robberies, &c. in Newfoundland may be tried in any Country in England by Commission of Oyer & Terminer.


Admirals in Newfoundland to see the Rules, &c. in this Act executed, keep a Journal &c. and deliver a copy thereof to the Privy Council.


Admirals to determine Differences between Masters of Fishing Ships and Inhabitants.


Party aggrieved may appeal.


Inhabitants to observe the Lord's Day, and not sell any Liquor thereon.


8 & 9 Wm. III, C. 24


9 & 10 Wm. III, C. 23


5 Geo. II, C. 28. Whale Fins, Oil, and Blubber, Imported by Greenland Merchants, not liable to the Duty of 12d. per lb. charged in the Tunnage Acts, nor for Whale Fins, &c. taken in Newfoundland



King William's Act of 1699
Reproduced from Keith Matthews. Collection and Commentary on the Constitutional Laws of the Seventeenth Century Newfoundland. (Memorial University of Newfoundland: Maritime History Group, 1975) pp. 202-218.

Imperial Act 10 and 11 William III, Cap.25

An Act to Encourage the Trade to Newfoundland


King's Subjects to have free Trade to Newfoundland.

"Whereas the Trade and Fishing at Newfoundland is a beneficial Trade to this Kingdom, not only in the employing great Numbers of Seamen and Ships, and exporting and consuming great Quantities of Provisions and Manufactures of this Realm, whereby many Tradesmen and poor Artificers are kept at work, but also in bringing into this Nation, by Returns of the Effects of the said Fishery from other Countries, great Quantities of Wine, Oil, Plate, Iron, Wooll, and sundry other useful commodities, to the Increase of his Majesty's Revenue, and the Encouragement of Trade and Navigation; "Be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That from henceforth it shall and may be lawful for all his Majesty's Subjects residing within this his Realm of England, or the Dominions thereunto belonging, trading or that shall trade to Newfoundland, and the Seas, Rivers, Lakes, Creeks, Harbours in or about Newfoundland, or any of the Islands adjoining or adjacent thereunto, to have, use, and enjoy the free Trade and Traffick, and Art of Merchandize and Fishery, to and from Newfoundland and peaceably to have, use, and enjoy the Freedom of taking Bait and Fishing in any of the Rivers, Lakes, Creeks, Harbours, or Roads, in or about Newfoundland, and the said Seas, or any of the Islands adjacent thereunto, and Liberty to go on Shore on any part of Newfoundland, or any of the said Islands for the curing, salting, drying and husbanding of their Fish, and for making of Oil, and to cut down Woods and Trees there for building and making or repairing of Stages, Ship-rooms, Trainfats, Hurdles, Ships, Boats, and other Necessaries for themselves and their Servants, Seamen, and Fishermen, and all other Things which may be useful or advantageous to their Fishing Trade, as fully and freely as at any Time heretofore hath been used or enjoyed there by any of the Subjects of his Majesty's Royal Predecessors, without any Hindrance, Interruption, Denial or Disturbance of or from any Person or Persons whatsoever; and that no Alien or Stranger whatsoever (not residing within the Kingdom of England, Dominion of Wales, or Town of Berwick upon Tweed) shall at any Time hereafter take any Bait, or use any sort of Trade of Fishing whatsoever in Newfoundland, or in any of the said Islands or Places above-mentioned.

II. And for the preserving the said Harbours from all Annoyances; Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That from and after the twenty-fifth Day of March one thousand seven hundred, now next coming, no Ballast, Prest Stones, or any Thing else hurtful or to annoying any of the Harbours there, shall be thrown out of any Ship or otherwise, by any Person or Persons whatso-ever, to the Prejudice of the said Harbours, but that all such Ballast and other Things shall be carried on Shore, and be laid where they may do no Annoyance.

III. And it be further enacted by the Authority Aforesaid, that no Person or Persons whatsoever shall (at his Departure out of the said Country, or at any other Time), destroy, deface, or do any Detriment to any such Stage or Cook-room; or to the Flakes, Spikes, Nails, or any other Thing whatsoever thereto belonging,as he or they shall fall into at his or their coming into the said Country, but that he or they shall (during his or their Stay there) content him and themselves with such Stage or Stages only as are needful for him or them, and shall also (at his or their Departure thence) leave all such his or their Stage or Stages, without doing or causing to be done any wilful Damage to any of them; and that for the repairing of such Stage or Stages as he or they shall so take, during his or their Abode there, the same shall be done with Timber fetcht out of the Woods there, and not by the ruining, breaking down, demolishing, prejudicing, or any wise injuring the Stage or Stages of any other Person or Persons whatsoever.

IV. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That (according to the ancient Custom there used) every such Fishing Ship from England, Wales or Berwick, or such Fishermen as shall, from and after the said twenty-fifth day of March, first enter any Harbour or Creek in Newfoundland, in behalf of his Ship, shall be Admiral of the said Harbour or Creek during that Fishing Season, and for that Time shall reserve to himself only so much Beech or Flakes, or both, as are needful for the Number of such Boats as he shall there use, with an Overplus only for the Use of one Boat more than he needs, as a Privilege for his first coming thither: and that the Master of every such second Fishing Ship, as shall enter any such Harbour or Creek shall be Vice Admiral of such Harbour or Creek during that Fishing Season; and that the Master of every such Fishing Ship Coming next, as shall enter any such Harbour or Creek, shall be Rear Admiral of such Harbour or Creek during that Fishing Season; and that the Master of every Fishing Ship there, shall content himself with such Beech or Flakes, as he shall have necessary Use for, without keeping or detaining any more Beech or Flakes, to the Prejudice of any other such Ship or Vessell as shall arrive there; and that such Person or Persons as are possessed of several Places in several Harbours or Creeks there, shall make his or their Election of such Place as he or they shall choose to abide in; and shall also, within eight and forty Hours after any Aftercomers into such Place or Places shall demand such his or their Resolution touching such his or their Election (if the Weather will so soon permit, or so soon after as the Weather will permit) give or send his or their Resolution to such After-comer or After-comers, touching such his or their Election of such Place as he or they shall so choose to abide in for the Fishing Season, to the End that each After-comer or After-comers may likewise choose his or their Place or Places of his or their Abode there; and in case any Difference shall arise touching the said Matters, the Admirals of the respective Harbours where such Differences shall arise, or any two of them, shall Proportion the Place to the several Ships; in the several Harbours they fish in, according to the number of Boats which each of the said Ships shall keep.

V. And whereas several Inhabitants in Newfoundland, and other Persons, have, since the Year of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty-five, ingrossed and detained in their own Hands, and for their own private Benefit, several Stages, Cookrooms, Beeches, and other Places in the said Harbours and Creeks (which before that Time belonged to Fishing Ships, for taking of Bait, and fishing and curing their Fish) to the great Prejudice of the Fishing Ships that arrive there in the Fishing Season, and sometimes to the Over-throw of some of their Voyages, and to the great Discouragement of the Traders there;" Be it further enacted by the Authority of aforesaid, That all and every such Person or Persons, as since the said year of our Lord our thousand, six hundred eighty-five, have or hath taken, seized or detained any such Stage, Cook-room, Beech, or other Place for taking Bait or Fishing, or for the drying curing, or husbanding of Fish, shall on or before the said twenty-fifth Day of March relinquish, quit and leave, to the publick Use of the Fishing Ships arriving there, all and every the said Stages, Cook-rooms, Beeches and other Places for taking Bait and Fishing, and for the drying, curing and husbanding of Fish.

VI. And for the preventing the in-grossing and detaining of all such Stages, Cook-rooms, Beeches and other Places, by any Person or Persons for the Time to come; Be it enacted by the Authority that no Fisherman or Inhabitant of Newfoundland, or any other Person or Persons whatsoever, shall, at any Time after the said twenty-fifth Day of March, seize, take up or possess any of the Stages, Cook-rooms, Beeches or other Places, which at any Time since the said Year of Our Lord one thousand six hundred eight-five, did or at any Time hereafter shall belong to any Fishing Ship or Ships, for taking Bait or Fishing, or for drying, curing or husbanding of Fish, before the Arrival of the Fish-ing Ships out of England, Wales, and Berwick, and until all such Ships shall be provided with Stages, Cook-rooms, Beeches and other Places for taking Bait and Fishing, and for drying, curing and husbanding of Fish.

VII. Provided always, That all such Persons, as since the twenty-fifth Day of March one thousand six hundred eighty-five, have built, cut out or made, or at any Time hereafter shall build, cut out or make, any Houses, Stages, Cook-rooms, Train-fats, or other Conveniencies, for fishing there, that did not belong to fishing Ships since the said Year one thousand six hundred eighty-five, shall and may peacably and quietly enjoy the same to his or their own Use, without any Disturbance of or from any Person or Persons whatsoever.

VIII. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all and every Person or Persons whatsoever, that shall go over with their Servants to Newfoundland, to keep Boats on a Fishing Voyage, commonly called By-Boat keepers, shall not pretend to or meddle with any House, Stage, Cook-room, Train-Fat, or other Conveniency, that did belong to fishing Ships since the Year one thousand six hundred eighty-five, or shall be cut out or made by Ships, from and after the said Twenty-fifth Day of March one thousand seven hundred.

IX. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that every Master of a By-boat or Bye-boats shall carry with him at least two Fresh men in six (viz.) one Man that hath made no more than one Voyage, and one Man who hath never been at Sea before; and that every Inhabitant shall be obligedto employ two such fresh Men, as the By-boat Keepers are obliged for every Boat kept by them; and that, further, all Masters of fishing Ships shall carry with them, in their Ship's Company, at least one such fresh Man that never was at Sea before, in every five Men they carry; and that the Master of each such By-boat, and each such fishing Ship, shall make Oath before the Collector, or other principal Officer of the Customs of the Port or Ports from whence such Ship intends to sail, that each Ship and By-boat's Company have such fresh Men therein as this Act directs; and that the said Officer or Officers is and are hereby impowered and required to administer the aforesaid Oath to the said Masters of Ships and By-boats, and give a Certificate thereof under his Hand, without any Fee, Gratuity or Reward for so doing.

X. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That every Master or Owner of any fishing Ship going to Newfound-land (after the said twenty-fifth Day of March) shall have in his Ship's Company every fifth Man a Green-man [that is to say] not a Seaman, or having been ever at Sea before.

XI. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That no Person or Persons, whatsoever, shall at any Time after the said twenty-fifth day of March, obliterate, expunge, cut out, deface, or any wise alter or change the Mark or Marks of any Boat or Boats, Train-fat or Train- fats, belonging to any other Person or Persons, whereby to defraud or prejudice the right Owner or Owners thereof, nor convert to his or their own Use any Boat or Boats, Train-fat or Train-fats, belonging to any other Person or Persons, without his or their Consent or Approbation, nor remove nor take away any such Boat or Train-fat from the Place or Places where they shall be left by the Owner or Owners thereof, except in Case of Necessity, and also upon giving Notice thereof to the Admiral of the Harbour or Place where such Boat or Train- fat shall be left by the Owner or Owners, to the End that the right Owners thereof may know what is become of them.

And be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That no Person or Persons whatsoever shall, at any Time after the said twenty-fifth day of March, rind any of the Trees there standing or growing upon any Occasion whatsoever, nor shall by any Ways or Means whatsoever set on Fire any of the Woods or the said Country or do or cause to be done any Damage, Detriment or Destruction to the same, for any Use or Uses whatsoever, except only for necessary Fuel for the Ships and Inhabitants, and for the building and necessary repairs of Houses; Ships, Boats, and Train-fats, and of the Stages, Cook-rooms, Beeches and other Places for taking Bait and Fishing, and for drying, curing and husbanding Fish there; and also that no Person or Persons whatsoever shall, at any Time after the said twenty-fifth Day of March, cast Anchor, or do any other Matter or Thing, to the Annoyance or hindring of the haling of Sayns in the accustomary baiting places, or shoot his or their Sayn or Sayns within or upon the Sayn or Sayns of any other Person or Persons whatsoever; and also that no Person or Persons whatsoever shall, at any Time after the said twenty-fifth Day of March, steal, purloin or take out of the Net or Nets of any other Person or Persons whatsoever, lying adrift, or drover, for Bait by Night, nor steal, purloin or take away any Bait out of any fishing Boat or Boats, or any Net or Nets belonging to any other Person or Persons.

XIII. And whereas several Persons that have been guilty of Thefts, Robberies, Murders, and other Felonies upon the Land in Newfoundland, and the Islands thereunto adjacent, have many Times escaped unpunished, because the Trial of such Offenders hath heretofore been ordered and adjudged in no other Court of Justice, but before the Lord High Constable, and Earl Marshall of England; For Reformation thereof, and for the more speedy and effectual Punishment of such Offences for the Time to come, Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that all Robberies, Murders and Felonies and all other Capital Crimes whatsoever, which, at any Time or Times after the said twenty-fifth day of March shall be done and committed in or upon the Land in Newfoundland, or in any of the Islands thereunto belonging, shall and may be enquired of, tried, heard, determined and adjudged in any Shire or Country of this Kingdom of England, by virtue of the King's Commission or Commissions of Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol Delivery, or any of them, according to the Laws of this Land used for the Punishment of such Robberies, Murders, Felonies, and other capital Crimes done and committed within this Realm.

XIV. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the Admirals of and in every Port and Harbour in Newfoundland for the Time being, be and are hereby authorized and required (in order to preserve Peace and good Government amongst the Seamen and Fishermen, as well in their respective Harbours, as on the Shore) to see the Rules and Orders in this present Act contained, concerning the Regulation of the Fishery there duly put in Execution; and that each of the said Admirals do yearly keep a Journal of the Number of all Ships, Boats, Stages, and Train-fats, and of all the Seamen belong-ing to and employed in each of their respective Harbours, and shall also (at their return to England) deliver a true Copy thereof, under their Hands, to his Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council.

XV. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in Case any Difference or Controversy shall arise in Newfoundland, or the Islands thereunto adjoining, between the Masters of fishing Ships and the Inhabitants there, or any By-boat Keeper, for or concerning the Right and Property of fishing Rooms, Stages, Flakes, or any other Building or Conveniency for Fishing or curing of Fish, in the several Harbours or Coves, the said Differences, Disputes and Controversies, shall be judged and determined by the fishing Admirals, in the several Harbours and Coves; and in Case any of the said Masters of fishing Ships, By-boat Keepers or Inhabitants, shall think themselves aggrieved by such Judgment or Determination, and shall appeal to the Commanders of any of his Majesty's Ships of War, appointed as Convoys for Newfound-land, the said Commander is hereby authorized and impowered to determine the same, pursuant to the Regulation in this Act.

XVI. And to the End that the Inhabitants, Fishermen, Seamen, and all and every other Person and Persons residing or being at Newfoundland, or any of the said Islands, or other Places, may with all Devotion join in their solemn Prayers and Addressies to Almighty God, for the obtaining of his Blessing upon their Persons and Endeavours; Be it hereby enacted, that all and every the Inhabitants of Newfoundland, or the said Islands or Places adjacent near thereto shall strictly and decently observe every Lord's Day, commonly called Sunday; and that none of the said Inhabitants (who keep any Tavern, Alehouse, or other publick House for Entertainment) shall entertain or sell, vend, utter or dispose of to any Fisherman, Seaman, or other Person whatsoever upon any Lord's Day or Sunday, any Wine, Beer, Ale, Cyder, strong Waters or Tobacco, or any other Liquor or Liquors whatsoever.

XVII. And whereas by an Act of Parliament made in the eighth and ninth Years of his Majesty's Reign, intituled, An Act for granting to his Majesty a further Subsidy of Tunnage and Poundage upon Merchandize imported, for the Term of Two years and three Quarters and an additional Land Tax for one Year, for carrying on the War against France; and by another Act made in the ninth and tenth Years of his Majesty a further Subsidy of Tunnage and Poundage, to-wards the raising a yearly Sum of seven hundred thousand Pounds, for the Service of his Majesty's Household, or other Uses therein mentioned, during his Majesty's Life, an additional Duty of twelve Pence on every twenty Shillings Value of all Goods and Merchandizes imported (all Manner of Fish English taken excepted) is granted to his Majesty, his Heires and Successors; And whereas some doubt has arisen, whether Oil, Blubber and Fins taken and imported by the Company of Merchants of London trading to Greenland, are not liable to the said Duty: Be it therefore enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all Wale Fins, Oil, and Blubber, taken and imported by the Ships of the Company of Merchants of London trading to Greenland, were not nor are intended to be charged or made liable to the Duty of twelve Pence for every twenty Shillings Value of Goods imported, charged in the aforesaid Acts, but that the Whale Fins, Oil and Blubber, taken and imported as aforesaid, and that all Whale Fins, Oil and Blubber of English Fishing, taken in the Seas of Newfoundland, or any of the Seas belonging to any of his Majesty's Plantations or Colonies, and imported into this Kingdom by any of his Majesty's subjects in English Shipping, were, and are hereby declared to be free of the said Duties, as all Fish of English taking; the aforesaid Acts, or any Thing therein contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.









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