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Governor and Commander in Chief
in and over the island of Newfoundland

To His Excellency John Campbell Esq.




The humble activities of the Principal inhabitants, Planters, and Boatkeepers residing in Conception Bay, Newfoundland.

That being informed by his majesty's Justice of the Peace for this District, that your Excellency would wish to know our sentiments relative to an intercourse with America in order that the same may be laid before the Secretary of State. We shall therefore in the most concise and best manner our abilities will admit of, set forth the reasons why in our opinions the trade with America in British Ships should be permitted.

The Continent being so near this Island, when bread, flour, cattle, lumber, naval stores wanted. Vessels might be sent there for those articles, and return again in a month or five weeks, when vessels to Great Britain or Ireland would do well to go and return in ten weeks and consequently during that period, bread and flour would rise to an exorbitant price, and the poor inhabitants of this country, of which this Bay is one fourth, unable to purchase at such price, must undergo the severest hardships, which always has and ever will be the case, while the merchants settled in the Trade are the sole importers, from Great Britain.

We would particularly remark to your Excellency, that numbers of ships which carry European goods to America, when they are permitted to load something to pay a freight would be encouraged to proceed to Newfoundland to buy fish, but being obliged to come down in ballast prevents them, which must in a few years prove fatal to this country; for these strange ships called Sack-Ships are the vitals and linews of this trade, the settled merchants (some few excepted) selling their fish to them for Bills of Exchange, which they gather from the Planters for goods, this induces the merchants to give the Boatkeepers a good price for their fish, and encourages many adventurers to embark in this trade; for being many of them of small capital, are obliged to sell the fish they receive from the Planters to these Sack-Ships; or to the merchants who contract to load them, for Bills to remit to Great Britain in the fall, for the goods they brought out in the spring on credit; therefore every encouragement ought to be given to these Sack-Ships; otherwise the fishery and trade must decrease, these merchants not being able to send fish abroad on their own accounts as they must wait perhaps six months for remittances.

It is very observable that when there are no ships sent out to purchase fish, the price is low and satt ? which they bring from Portugal and Spain very scarce, by which many Boatkeepers have suffered greatly and some totally ruined, their whole voyage not being sufficient to pay the merchants and the servants wages.

There are some very capital settled merchants trading to the land, who would (in case there was a total prohibition of American produce) import quantities sufficient to supply their dealers in the different bays and harbours; but should any unforeseen accident happen, by which the merchants in one port of the land should not be supplied with their articles, (which has been the case often) the Boatkeepers in that port must wait till the ships can go and return from Great Britain or Ireland, or be obliged to cruise in open boats for salt provisions and losing their fishing season and paying dear if they procure it at any prices.

We would not wish to detain your Excellency too long and have only to add that we pray a free importation of the produce of America may be granted in British ships, for the reasons assigned and that the Governor for the time being, may have it in his power to give license to any such ships or vessel on it being made appear to him that such importation will tend to the good of this country, the fishery and trade thereof in general.

We are with profound respect
Your Excellencies most obedient and
most devoted humble servants



Contributed by: Barbara McGrath
Transcribed by: Ivy F. Benoit (April 2001)
Page Revised: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)
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