[NAC, MG 11, CO 194/5, ff. 91-96] William Taverner, “Remarks on the Present State of the English Settlements in Newfoundland...” (Received by the Board of Trade 19 March 1713/14) Footnote



Remarks on the present State of the English Settlements in Newfoundland Setting forth many of the abuses which are committed through the neglect of the Admirals not acting according to ye present Act which have prov’d so detrimental to her Maty’s Subjects residing & tradeing there; That the ffishing & Trade of that Country is almost ruin’d thereby. Footnote


The Admirals which are appointed by the Newfoundland Act to decide differences in relation to ffishing rooms &c. having intirely neglected it in all its parts; Indeed at their first arrival they claim their prorogative as pr sd Act, as farr as it suits with their own Interest & no farther; except a particular friend of theirs shoud arrive with a ffishing Ship, in such case should this Ships ffishing rooms of that Harbour be taken up before he arrives they often dispossess some planter or other for him, pretending that his title is no good to the room he possesses. When the Commanders of men of warr some years before adjudged it to be the sd planters right. Footnote


These things are often done and several of the Inhabitants fishing Voyages ruin’d thereby. Its common that what is done one year in rotation to ffishing rooms is contradicted the next, So that the ffishing rooms are not Setled to this very day, many times those Admirals never were in the Land before nor know any thing of the matter; In which case some old west Country master, commonly takes care, that the sd Admiral shall do nothing but what he pleases, those are the patrons that are commonly called Kings in that Country, who Sacrafice other peoples Interests frequently, to Serve their own: The Admirals are Some of the first men that cut down the roofes of their Stages, Cook rooms & ffleaks, which paves the way for the Inhabitants to ffollow their example, who in the Winter Season generaly carry away all the remainider; Its certain the Admirals are Seldom or never at Leisure, to hear any complaints whatsoever, except one of their favorites is the plaintiff. Footnote


Ships from Lisbon and other fforreign parts ffrequently ffish in the Land


without clearing out from any Custom house in England according to the Act, Nay Several ffish yearly which never were in England, and yet are Admirals, when they arrived the first Ship in port in Newfoundland, which our Ships from England qualifyed according to ye Act have Seldom or never taken any notice of, and I am satisfied none of the Admirals ever made a representation of this to ye Government as directed by the present Act, Besides those Ships aforementioned carry great quantitys of wine & brandy, to Newfoundland which is very destructive to that trade, as pr example, those Ships can carry nothing to Newfoundland from those parts but Wine, Brandy, Salt, Sugar & oyle; When Salt is scarce; they generally use this method: when the planter comes to buy a certain quantity of Salt, yes says the Ship Master you may have it; but you must take a Butt of wine, & a quarter Cask of Brandy, with every ten hogsheads of Salt, this the Buyer is often obliged to do, otherways his men must Sitt Still and catch no more fish; The ten hogheads of Salt will make but one hundred Quintals of ffish, and many time the price of the Salt, and the wine & brandy forc’d upon them, which they have no occasion for, amounts to 75, or 80 Quintals of ffish, This I think is as great a hardship upon the ffishers, as ever was heard of, and if not remov’d its impossible for the greatest part of the Inhabitants of Newfoundland ever to prosper by the ffishing trade, Those Gentlemen are Frequently Soliciting, to gett their wine & brandy Sold, by those means every Inhabitants house is a Tavern , and often the Ship Masters retale wine & brandy in their Stores, The New England traders bring vast quantitys of Rumm, which they retale out of Stores & onboard their vessels, it is plain that between all those taverns, Stores, & vessels which retale liquors as afores’d, that drunkeness abounds exceedingly, I have often Seen from 100, to 200 men drunk of a Sabath day, in the monoth of Septr at Some places when rainy weather, it is rare to see a ffisher man Sober, No drunken man can do his Masters business, in catching or cureing ffish and consequently


consequently the ffishing trade must Suffer very considerably thereby, I realy believe, that for profanation of the Sabath, swearing & drunkeness no place in the World is like it. Footnote


The New England traders bring vast quantitys of Tobacco, which I believe Seldom or never pays the plantation duty, Footnote by retaleing their tobacco & rumm they Inhance all ye money brought to Newfoundland from England & fforreign parts, and carrys it to New England, where they Sell it at 50 pr Cent: advance, otherways woud be brought to Brittain. Footnote the other part of their produce they Sell for ffish, which ffish they Sell to those Masters of Ships that come out of Brittain for Bills of Exchange, on the Brittish Merchts; Footnote those bills they carry to New England and Sells them at 40, or 45 p.Cent: The New England traders never loads ffish in Newfoundland and carrys it to ye proper Markets upon their own Accots: which is a detriment to the trade, ffor no Ship or Vessel, can Encourage that trade; but such Who catches ffish, or carrys it to the proper Markets, Those New England traders its certain, are very discouraging to those ffishing Ships from England, and planters in Newfoundland, which carry their men and most of their necessarys yearly out of England, and that have no other way to make returns to old England, but by selling their ffishing for Bills of exchange, to pay their mens wages for that Season, and to Buy goods to carry to Newfoundland ye nixt Season, which bills they are often disapointed of, by the New England men, for when fish is plenty in Newfoundland, and bills Scarce, the New England traders, do Sell their fish for a Rial or two cheaper in the Quintal, than the others can do, by this means they get bills, and those Gentlemen from England as afors’d, are oblig’d to house their fish in Newfoundland, and rendered uncapable of paying their mens wages or buying ye necessarys in England for ye next Season as afores’d: Footnote In my Opinion, Should the ffishing in Newfoundland be carryed to ffrance, Spain, Portugal or Italy, in Brittish Ships and the Oyles, ffurrs, & bills of Exchange brought directly to


to Brittain, that the whole yearly produce of the Newfoundland trade, would center in England once every twelve months.


The Masters of Ships in Newfoundland generaly Endeavors to force their goods upon the Inhabitants; especially the poorer sort, who generally pays dearest: Say they if he makes a good voyage; we shall be all pay’d, and if he does not, Says every one to himself, I will be quick enough to gett my payment, by this means they have a Jealous eye the one over the other; If the ffishing do not prove so good as expected, Some of these Masters will fall upon them before the ffishing Season is half over, take away their fish before half made; another comes and takes away his train, Footnote and many times there comes a third who has more men than them and takes it away from the former, He that has most men is sure to have the greatest share; this is a common practice in Newfoundland, they never acquaint ye Admirals with these proceedings, before they do it, neither do the Admirals trouble themselves with it afterwards; But ye consequence lyes here, The planters men will catch no more ffish, because they have no hopes of getting any wages, the planter is ruin’d, and all ye rest of the Creditors unpaid; which if they had given him the liberty to make his ffishing voyage, might have paid them all; The Merchts of England have Suffered exceedingly by this unparallel’d thing, there being no precedent for it in the whole Christian world, I am fully Satisfied, that by this thing and ye multiplicity of liquors Imported into Newfoundland yearly, that ye Trade thereof have Suffered more, than by the ffrench plundering it So often in the Late warrs.


Its most certain that the Admirals in Newfoundland, have never taken any care about ye good of that trade, and their reasons generaly given for it, are, that they came to Newfoundland to mind their Owners Business, and as nothing was allowed them to defray the charges of keeping Courts, they coud not do it.


Proper heads for an Act of Parliament for encouraging the Trade & ffishery of Newfoundland, which will remove the present difficultys in labours under, humbly offered to the Honourable the Lords Commrs: of Trade & Plantations by William Taverner.


That no person or persons whatsoever residing in any of her Matys: Dominions, shall at any time after the [blank] day of [blank] have liberty with their Ships or vessels to ffish in Newfoundland but what shall clear out of Some Custome house in Brittain, the Islands of Guernsey & Jersy, and that every ffishing Voyage Successively, and to carry with them to Newfoundland a Certificate from the Custome houses or Custome houses afores’d Signifying the same, which Certificate the Master Shall produce to the person or persons hereafter mentioned when the s’d Master or Masters comes to the s’d person or persons to demand a draught of his or their ffishing Room or Rooms.


That all Masters of Ships or vessels arriving in Newfoundland designing to make a ffishing voyage shall be obliged to produce a Certificate as afores’d otherways not to have liberty to ffish in any port or place whatsoever.


That whosoever shall attempt to ffish in any port or ffishing Creek without first comeing to the person or persons appointed by this Act and producing a Certificate as afores’d, or refuseing to accept of such a draught for his or their ffishing Room or Rooms as those person or persons shall give him or them, Shall be liable to a Severe penalty which shall be levyed out of his or their readiest effects.


That no Allien or Stranger whatsoever (except the ffrench) Shall Trade or ffish in any part of Newfoundland &c. under forfeiture of their Ships Vessels & goods.




That no ffrench Subject or Subjects whatsoever ffish or Trade without the Limitations Stipulated by the late Treaty of peace with ffrance Vizt: to the South of Cape Bonavista or to the westward of Port Rich or in any harbour, Creek port or place between Cap roy & Cap Race under forfeiture of Such Ships vessels & goods.


That a penalty be laid on all persons that Shall not carry their Ballast & press stones ashoar according to the present Act.


That a penalty be laid on all persons whatsoever belonging to Ships Inhabitants or by boat keepers that Shall at any time after the [blank] day of [blank] cutt or break down any Stage or Stages, Cook room or Cook rooms house or houses ffleak or ffleaks, Train ffatt or Train ffatts belonging to any Ship or Ships. Footnote


That no wine nor brandy may be imported into any parts of English Settlements in Newfoundland (except of the growth & pre [produce?] of the western Islands in Ships clearing out from England for Newfoundland) but what shall be first landed in Brittain, and from thence exported to Newfoundland and that ye master or masters of the s’d Ships or Vessels In which the fores’d wine & brandy Shall be exported to Newfoundland as afores’d, Shall take a Certificate out of the Custome house or Custome houses certifying the Same, which Certificate the s’d Master or Masters Shall be obliged under a penalty to produce within ye [blank] days after his arrival to ye person or persons appointed in the s’d Act. Footnote


That all wine & brandy exported from Brittain, to Newfoundland Shall have the drawback of all duties & excise secured or pay’d at its Importation into Brittain. Footnote


That no Tobacco be Imported into any part of the Brittish settlements In Newfoundland &c. but what Shall be first landed in Brittain, and exported from thence to Newfoundland taking of the drawback as usual. All Masters of Ships or Vessels to be oblig’d to take a Certificate out of the Custome house where the tobacco is so exported, and that ye Master of s’d Ship or Vessel at his arrival in Newfoundland produce the s’d Certificate to a person appointed for that end otherways to undergo a penalty. Footnote



That no Rumm be imported into any part of Newfoundland but what is brought directly in the Same bottom from ye West Indies to Newfoundland without putting into any port or place excepting cases of Necessity under a penalty.


That all ffishing Ships or Vessels from Great Brittain the Islands of Guernsy & Jersy qualified as afores’d Shall be accomodated with ye most convenient ffishing Rooms Successively on after the other as they arrive according to ye number of boats they Shall [keept?] and no more.


That for ye good of the Trade & quite of her Majestys Subjects in time comeing all ffishing rooms Stages & houses be Survey’d and draughts taken of the Same That all draughts of ffishing rooms &c. properly belonging to planters may be given to them which will be a Sufficient proof of their lawfull titles hereafter. That all draughts of ffishing rooms as shall appear properly belonging to ffishing Ships at their Arrival, that is to say Such of them as will answer best to ye number of boats that ye s’d Masters shall keep on their Ships that Season.


That due care be taken by the Surveyor in examining all persons upon Oath in case any difference shoud arise about ye right of ffishing rooms &c. when Surveryd as aforesd that thereby Justice may be done to all her Majestys Subjects residing in & Trading to Newfoundland.


That all Masters of ffishing Ships & planters Shall be obligd to meet yearly on ye last day of may at ye Harbour of Banavista, Trinity, Perlicant, Carboneer, St. Johns, Bay of Bulls, fferryland & Trepassy, and on the first day of May, at ye Harbours of St. Marys, Great Placentia, St. Laurence, St. Peters & ffortune &c. Then & there yearly on ye foresd days, excepting when they fall on Sunday in such case ye day after, to elect out of their number a proper person to serve as Judge, for the respective Harbours & places adjacent for that year, which persons so elected, shall be oblig’d once to keep a Court once every Week in ye ffishing season, and once every month in ye winter season in every of their respective Harbours, to decide all manner of differences that may occur in ye Trade & ffishing, in those harbours & places adjacent for which they shall be so elected, except in cases of life & death.


That all Harbours & Creeks where ther [sic] may be trade & ffishing & no Judges elected for ye sd Harbours & Creeks, the traders & ffishers thereof shall



repair to those Harbours where the Judges reside and are most contiguous to them, where they shall have ye same right to vote at ye elections, as if they lived in ye same Harbours where the Elections are, and ye same Justice done in all cases whatsoever. Footnote


That at ye end of every ffishing season all Masters of ffishing ships shall be oblig’d to deliver ye draughts of their ffishing rooms to ye persons Elected as aforesd in order to be given to Commanders of ffishing ships ye next ffishing season, Likeways that all Commanders of ships at their Departure leave ane Accot of their boats, Lumber & other things in the hands of ye persons aforsd , as also to satisfie them by a Certificate or otherways that they have left their Stages, ffleaks, houses, & Coopk Rooms intire according to ye Act, That ye persons elected as aforsd take ye greater Care that ye Stages, fleaks, houses, & Cook Rooms be not destroyd or demolished in ye winter.


That a person be appointed to go to all ye Harbours as aforsd where [ye] Judges reside in ye months of August & Septer to hold Courts yearly after ye nature of a quarter sessions, that if any person thinks himself wronged by the Judgement or determination of any of the Judges aforsd in any matter or [disp]ute whatsoever brought before them, he may appeal to ye D per[son?] [app?]ointed whose decision shall be ye final determination in NewfLd


That in case it should so happen that a Master of a ffishing ship or Inhabitant should be elected as aforsd, & not remain ye winter in Newfoundland in such case to proceed to a new Election, when ye person as aforsd shall in Agust [sic] or Septer keep Court in that Harbour.


All Persons whatsoever to be oblig’d to attend the Courts aforsd when summonsd or warrants given out for them by the Judges elected as aforsd.


That those Elected may have some allowance for their charge & trouble for keeping Courts by ffees or otherways as shall be thought ffitt.


That Planters who since 1685 have built any Stages &c. Not belonging to ffishing ships since that time may enjoy them.


That Masters of ships, Planters & boatkeepers do carry from Brittain the Islands of Guernsey & Jersey to Newfoundland every ffishing Voiyage two ffresh men to every boats crew.


That no marks of boats or Train fatts be defaced or cutt out; no boats or train fatts carryd off ye place by any but ye owners, under a penalty



That if any person in case of necessity should want any of the foresd boats, or train ffatts to apply himself to ye Judge of that Harbour where ye Boats & Train ffatts lye.


That whereas the wood & trees of Newfoundland have been very much waisted & destroyd, by rinding ye trees, & setting ye woods on fire to ye great detriment of the ffishery, by makeing ye water bitter after great rains, which has occasiond ye Codd to leave the Coast for several years after, and timber growing very scarce for ye Inhabitants use occasiond thereby.



No person to Interrupt another in hauling a sein or stealing bait as in ye present Act, under a penalty.


That no Ship or Vessel come in by night where netts are commonly sett excepting stress of weather, under a penalty & paying ye damage.


All Robberers, Murderrers, guilty of death may be secured in Newfoundland & sent to Brittain to be tryd according to Law.


Sundays to be decently observd, & the breakers therof to be severly punisht.


No person to retail, Wine, Brandy, Rum, Bear, ale, Cider, or strong waters, but such as shall have licence from ye Governour of Placentia or some other person appointed under a severe penalty.


None that have Licences to sell liquor on ye Sabbath day under a penalty.


No person whatsoever sell any tobacco on ye Sabbath day under a penalty.


That all penaltys so levyed shall be applyed towards the repairing ye ffortifications of Placentia and building fforts in other ffishing harbours, where it shall be though most proper for the advantage of the Newfoundland.


All persons elected as aforsd take due care that ye Act in all its parts be duely & punctualy observd, that they keep Journals of all their proceedings in their Courts, & of all ships, boats, men, quantity of ffish & Train Oyle caught in ye season, and what port the sd ffish & Train Oyle shall be exported to, by the nearest estimation they can make, within their several Jurisdictions, to deliver ye sd Journals to ye person appointed aforsd to come ye Circuits in ye months of August & Septer under a severe penalty



That the person aforsd who is appointed to go the Circuits in months of August & Septemr, who ought to be well acquainted with that Trade, shall carefully & dilligently examine all matters & things whatsoever relateing to ye peace & tranquillity of ye Country and good of that Trade in General, to hear all appeals, to examine all Journals when he receives them from ye Judges in ye respective Harbours as aforesd, to send ye sd Journals with his own to the Privy Council of Great Britain under a penalty.


That all whale finns, Oyle & blubber taken & made in Newfoundland & imported into Brittain may not pay any duty, and the sd Oyle allowd to be retaild as Brittish.


That all Brittish salt exported for Newfoundland may not pay the 12d for every 20 shillgs value, calld ad valorum, but taken off for encouraging the exportation of Brittish salt to Newfoundland.