1736, 25 September, Copy of letter by Lee, Captain, Governor of Newfoundland to Board of
Trade [CO194/10, ff. 25-28v]
May it Please your Lordships:
In Pursuance of your Lordships Letter to Me, of the 26th of May last, I have endeavour'd, since my arrival in Newfoundland, to give all the Encouragement in my Power, to the Fishery of the said Island, according to the several Instructions, I rec'd last year from his Majesty; and the time of my Return to Europe, being now very near, I shall Endeavour to send your Lordships, such Observations, to several of the Queries, contain’d in the said instructions, as have occur’d to Me this year, during my Stay
in this Country; to which I shall annex the Scheme of this years Fishery, which contains, I beleive, as much of the said Fishery, as has been transmitted to your Lordships in former Schemes; and I must Observe to you, that there are some Places in this Island, where there is very great Fishing, of which your Lordships may not have had any particular Account of, particularly the Fishery of Fogo, which is to the N.oward of this Harbour, about the Lattitude of 50d : 00" N°. as likewise the Island of st. Peter's, the Harbours of great & Little Burin, with several other Fishing Ports on the Western Shore, whose Fishery has been of good Account of late years, the particulars of which could never be Obtain'd by his Majesty's Ships, the said Coasts abounding so full of Rocks of which there are no Charts to be depended upon, nor very seldom Pilots, whose Judgement can be of any Service.
I am hereby to inform your Lordships, that the Complaint, which has been made unto you, that the French contrary to 13th & 14th Articles of the Treaty of Utrecht, do fish, and have made Settlements at Port Bask, near Cape Ray in the Westward Part of Newfoundland, and that they are supply'd with Provisions from France, and that they carry on their Furr Trade there, during the Winter Season, has been without foundation and I am to acquaint your Lordships, that Pursuant to your desire, I have made the most particular Enquiry, I could; into that Affair; and accordingly gave my Orders to Cap[t]. Willm. Parry of his Majesty's Ship the Torrington, that during his Cruize to the Westward of this Island, he should make the best Observations, he could, about that Affair; whose Answer to my said Orders, I shall transmit to your Lordships, at his return from the said Cruize, he inform’d Me by his Letter, that he had Recd the following Accounts, from Thomas Salmon Esqr: One of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace, at Placentia; Capt Rowland, and several other Persons of that Place who had often been at Port Bask, That there are three or four French Inhabitants, who Reside there constantly, That they have taken the Oaths to our Government, That tis true they make a Winter's Fishery, and are Supplyd with Craft from the English Fishing Ships belonging to Pool, who fish annually at St: Peter’s; That they do catch some few Furrs, That One Capt. Robt. [Cleave] generally takes off their Fish, Oil & Furrs, That they are Supply'd with nothing from France, and That they send nothing to [France], but that their whole produce, is taken off; by the English of St. Peter's.
Pursuant to 2d Article, of his Majesty's Instructions to Me, to Observe the Act of Parliament, of the 10th and 11th years, of the Reign of King William the third; in Relation to Murthers, Felonies, and other capital Crimes, committed in or upon Newfoundland, or the Islands thereunto Belonging, Capt William Parry aforesaid, having brought hither, One James Kelly, who he had received on board at Placentia, at the instances of the Justices of the Peace there, the said Kelly being Suspected to be concern' d, in a Murther of One Levimore at Reneuse, which Kelly, I have Order'd to be Carried by the said Capt. Parry Prisoner to England, I have also Order'd Capt Parry to Receive on board, two Material Evidences against the said Kelly.
I must here Observe to your Lordships, that the Conviction of Persons, who have been guilty of Murthers, Felonies, and other capital Crimes in this Island, by their Tryalls in England, is very difficult, for such People, who are the chief Evidences will always if Possible Abscon'd to avoid being carried, as such, to England, and I can't but say they have good reasons for their so doing; for on such Occasions, besides their loss of time, by their absence from their Home in this Count] ry] by which they must inevitably lose the next years Fishing, after the Tryall of the suspected Murtherer, [?] Felon, the Evidences are left to return to their Families, at their own Expence, which may put them very much behind hand, if not ruin them in their affairs, This I thought proper to Submitt to your Lordships approbatio[n]
The 4th Article of his Majestys instructions, relates to the suppressing the engrossing of Commodities, tending to the prejudice of the Fishery, herein, I am to Observe to your Lordships, tis the common Practice of the People, called Merchants here, to engross all Commodities, as often as they havre Opportun[ity] without any consideration, to whose Prejudice it may be, nor can I find any mea[ns] to prevent this by my Authority, as every Person pleads his right to lay out his o[wn] Money.
By the 5th Article, I am to acquaint your Lordships, of the Arms, Ammunition, and Stores, in the Garrison of Placentia, of which, they are pretty well provi[ded] tho', I must let your Lordships know, that the Company of ColIo: Philips Regime[nt] in Garrison there are entirely unprovided with small Arms, which Account, I have from the Officers, and of which, I think it necessary to acquaint your Lords[hips]
In answer to the 7th Article of his Majesty's Instructions, I have used my utmost endeavour for the due Observation of the Act, passed in the 15th Year of King Charles the second, (for the Encouragement of Trade) Pursuant to which Act, I lately made Seizure of a Ship in this Port, come from Lisbon, who Contrary to the said Act, had some Wine, Oil, and Sugar, which he imported here, the [?] Ship was Condemned by Court of Admiralty, and sold for 120 £ Ster: at Publ[ic] Sale: Capt. Parry of his Majesty's Ship the Torrington, did also seize a sm[all] Sloop at Trepassey, having some Tobacco on Board, which he had Ship't in Marry Land [Maryland], and for which, no Bond had been Given, to Land it in any of hi]s] Majesty's Plantations.
Pursuant to 14th Article, I had by Me the Act, (to Encourage Trade  Newfoundland, which I duly as possible Observ'd, I must say, that I beleive the Admirals of the respective Harbours, do not take any care to hinder Vessells from throwing out Ballast, or [Press] Stones, which is very frequently done in the Several Harbours, to the great Prejudice of them.
In answer to the 22d Article, the By Boat keepers, Masters of Fishing Ships, don't carry over such Numbers of fresh Men, in proportion to their respective Companies of Seamen, as the act directs, many of them are not furnish'd with proper Certificates, of having made Oath before their Sailing from England; that they do carry such Numbers of Green Men; I don't know what Account the Custom House Officers, at the Ports, they come from may keep, but the Admirals here have no sort of Account, but what your Lordships see in the Fishing Scheme.
As to the 23d Article the Inhabitants employ such People, as they can hire, without any regard to the said Act.
The 27th Article is, wether the Admirals are carefull to maintain Peace & good Government in the Harbours, and on Shore, to which I must Observe the Admirals, are cheifly Employd in their own Fishing, and frequently are Absent a Month at a time on the Banks; When the said Act was made, I believe there were no Justices of the Peace in Newfoundland, and those who are in that Station at Present, being collected from the better Part of People inhabiting this Country are much more Capable, of preserving good Government ashore; as requir'd of them, by the [Words] of their Commissions, while what disorder may happen in the harbours, is generally settled by the Officers of his Majesty's Ships, on this Station, and in case of difference, both Parties generally agree to our final Determination, and Submit thereto.
In answer to the 50th Article, of his Majestys instructions of the Plantation Goods brought to Newfoundland, those innumerated by Acts of Parliament are only Rum, Tobacco, Sugar, and Molasses, I could never find that they Export these Commodities hence, to any Foreign Parts, by any indirect Trade but the use made of them is to pay of their Servants Wages, very Often in a scandalous manner, at exorbitant Prices, very much to the Prejudice of such Servants, who have any Families.
In answer to the 51st Article, the Merchants in New England carry on a great Trade to this Island cheifly by their Rum, and Provisions, they comonly sell for Money, or Bills of Exchange, which they carry hence to New England, and which is of great help to them, in answering their Trade; which they import from Great Britain
In answer to the 52d. Article, There are a great many Publick Houses, in this Country, particularly in St. John's Harbour, I Endeavour'd what in my Power lay, to keep them in some Order, and did Oblige the keepers of the said Houses to have licenses from Me, which I gave to None but such for whose Orderly Behaviour, I had Assurance, they will trust the Common People here & thereby Receive great part of their Wages, and I am certain there is no method to Prevent it [26v] while Rum is imported.
In answer to the 57th Article, the New England Traders do intice, & Carry thither People of any sort, from this Country, any of the Inhabitants will readily assist them therein, for any private Advantage of their own.
In answer to 58th Article I have prevented the foregoing Practice, as much as lay in my Power, and did Oblige all Masters of New England Ships, that came in my way, to give Bond, not to carry away Seamen &ca. notwithstanding which there will never be wanting frequent Opportunities of their carrying off Passengers, both before the arrival of the Convoy, and after their Departure: I can't imagine any way to prevent this great [Evil], unless some Fine were laid on Masters of Ships, carrying Persons from Newfoundland to New England, without proper leave, which Fine I beleive Cannot be Laid without a new Act of Parliament, which might be of great Use in many Cases to the Trade of this Isla[nd] which I submit to your Lordships better Judgement.
In answer to 59th Article, relating to the Complaint of the English Consuls, Merchants, Residing in Spain, Portugal, & Italy, which complaint I beleive are very just, since it appears very true that the French Fish, has sold of Late years, at the Price of One Dollar p Quintal, at least, in the Italian Markets, more than the English Fish, the reason of which according to my Observation, is no ways from the badness of the Salt, or for want of sufficient Quantity the common quantity of Salt for one hundred Quintals of Fish, being ten Hogsheads, and I must observe to your Lordships, that the greatest Reason, I can find, is, the fish being sent hence to Foreign Markets, before it is cur'd in such manner as it should be. Of this I have had certain proof this Year, the Occasion of which is as follows. The Sack Ships from Europe who come cheifly Loaded with Salt, & some other Commod[ity] pay therewith in Part, and the rest by Bill on their Merchants in London, according to the best agreement, they can make with the Boatkeepers now the Master[s] of the said Sack Ships are always Jealous of each other, and Contriving what shall carry their Fish first to Market, to which purpose they frequently Ship their Fish before tis cured which thereby suffers in the Passage so much, as to fall considerably in the Price, and tis generally Beleiv'd many of the Mercht[s]. concern'd in the sack Ships, will suffer considerably on the said Account this Year.
In answer to the 65th Article, I am to Observe to your Lordships, that the Memorials and Petitions laid before you, from Bristoll, Pool & Dartmouth against the Justices of the Peace have been cheifly Form'd by Masters of Merchan[t] Ships, who are very Often very ignorant and very impudent Fellows, and particularly behave as such to the Justices of the Peace in the Execution of their duty. I have been often troubled thereby [&] have Affidavits which have been sent Me from Inhabitants of other harbours, as well as the information of the Captains of his Majesty's Ships, How much the Justices of the Peace are frequently insulted & Male treated by Inhabitants, Boatkeepers, but more Especially Masters of  Merchant Ships, The present Justices of the Peace are mostly of those Gentlemen; who were Chosen and approved of by my Predecessors, and where I have had Occasion to Appoint any new Ones, I have entirely acted in that Affair by the Generall consent and Desire of the better sort of the Inhabitants and this I am very well assur'd of, they are Composed of the better sort of Inhabitant in this Island
If in what I have here mentioned, I have been imperfect, I hope your Lordships will excuse it and as I hope to be in England early the next Spring shall be very ready to wait upon you and give the best Answers I am capable of, to such Questions as your Lordships shall Propose.
I am your Lordships
Most Obedient Humble Servant
St. John's Harbour Newfoundland
September 25th. 1736
I have herewith inclosed to your Lordships
the Bonds taken from Masters of New England
Ships, as also the Scheme of the Fishery for
1735 with this years, because I found some
mistakes in that, which I sent your Lordships