England's Interest

England's Interest:
A Brief Discourse
Royal Fishery.
A Letter to a Friend.

The Second Edition.
Printed by J. Southby, at the Harrow in Cornhill. 1696.

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1. ENGLAND's Interest:
A Brief Discourse
The Royal Fishery, &c.


I Was honour'd with Yours; in Answer:

The Coasts of Great Britain do yield a Continual Sea-harvest of Gain and Benefit, to such as Diligently apply themselves to the Fishing Trade.

The Summer-fishing for Herrings, beginneth about Midsummer, and lasteth some part of August. The Winter-fishing for Herrings lasteth from September to the middle of November: Both which extend in place from Boughones in Scotland to the Thames Mouth.

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The Fishing for Cod, at Alamby, Whirlington, and Whitehaven, near the Coast of Lancashire, from Easter until Whitsuntide.

The Fishing for Hake, at Aberdine, Fiscard, and other places between Wales and Ireland, from Whitsuntide to St. Jamestide.

The Fishing for Cod and Ling, about Padstow, within the Land, and of Severn, from Christmas to Mid-lent.

The Fishing of Cod on the West part of Ireland, (frequented by those of Biscay, Galicia, and Portugal) from the beginning of April until the end of June.

The Fishing for Cod and Ling on the North and North-east of Ireland, from Christmas until Michaelmas.

The Fishing for Pilchers, on the West Coast of England, from St. James-tide until Michaelmas.

The Fishing for Cod and Ling upon the North east of England, from Easter until Midsummer.

The Fishing of Great Staple-Ling, and many other sorts of Fish lying about the Islands of Scotland, and in the several parts of the British Seas, all the Year long.

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Out of these infinite Swarms and Shoals of Fish in His Majesty's Seas, the Herring, Cod, and Ling, taken by the Dutch, were by the most experienc'd Authors (even when they had not half their present number of Busses) valued, communibus annis, at no less than Ten Millions of Pounds Sterling.

Nor will the aforegoing Estimate seem strange to such as consider, That in Anno 1669, by the Account Taken in Holland of the Number of the Subjects of the States-General, they appear'd, Two millions Four hundred thousand Souls, of whom (besides those employ'd in their Inland Fishing) Four hundred and Fifty thousand were then maintain'd by Fishing at Sea, and the Traffick that depends thereon.

Now the Dutch transporting Fish to foreign Parts, Returns for it are made them as followeth, viz.

From France, Spain, and Portugal, in Bullion, Coyn, Honey, Oils, Prunes, Wines, Wool, &c.

From the Streights, in Allom, Currans and other Grocery-Wares, Money, Oils, Sattins, Silks, Velvets, &c.

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From the East Countries, in Clap-board, Copper, Corn, Deal-boards, Dollers, Flax, Hemp, Hungary-Guilders, Iron, Pitch, Soap-Ashes, Steel, Tar, Timber, Wainscot, Wax, &c.

From Germany, in Barratees, and many other Frankfort Commodities Button-Plate for Armour, with other Munition, Fustins, Glass, Iron, Milstones, Rashes, Rhenish-wines, Rix-Dollars in abundance, Steel, Silks, Velvets, &c.

From Brabant, in Hul-shop, Lace, Ready-Money, Tapesteries, &c.

Thus Holland, (whose Product is only a few Hops, Madder, Butter, and Cheese) is render'd the mighty Storehouse of all Foreign Products and Manufactures; from whose infinite Miscellany of Goods their Merchants are furnish'd with such sartible Commodities as enables them to Trade from Port to Port, without danger of glutting any Markets, to the great encrease of their Riches and Navigation.

If Holland (which is but One hundred and Eighty Milesin circuit) reap so much Advantage, and such a number of the Dutch can subsist by Fishing on our Coasts, how [Page 5] vast a Trade and Commerce would a full Fishery in England beget! The very Herrings usually taken by Five hundred Busses would yearly afford His Majesty for Custom on Commodities return'd for them, several Score thousand Pound: And the Produce of such Herrings (taken without the Expence of any Foreign Commodities) being added to that of the usual exported Products and Manufactures of these Kingdoms, will Yearly much exceed the Amount of all our Annual necessary Imports, and cause such an overbalance of Trade, as will turn the Scale in our Favour, stop the Export of our Monies, and oblige our foreign Chapmen to send us BULLION, to make good the Difference.

The Want of Seamen enough (in time of War) at once to Man our Navy, and Navigate our Merchantmen and Colliers, is detrimental to England, more than the Charge of the War. Now, the Men of War and Merchantmen require many Seamen, and breed few. The Collier indeed brings up several Apprentices, but generally spends near as many as he makes. The great Nursery of Seamen is the Fishery, [Page 6] where each Buss brings up (it may be) six, eight, or ten NEW MEN every Year. Nor is their Value inferiour to their Numbers; many brave Officers have been train'd up in that School; and the Fishermens Business lying where our Danger lies, makes them know how the Sands shift, and where the Rocks and Shelves are, and consequently, most Able Coasters and Admirable Pilots.

King CHARLES the Second well knowing the many Advantages would Accrew to England from a Regular and Well-order'd Fishery, and that a Joint Stock and Company was absolutely necessary and requisite to carry on the same, was pleased, by his Letters Patents under the Great Seal of England, bearing date the Twenty-fifth Day of September, in the 29th Year of his Reign, to constitute several Persons of Honour, and others therein nam'd, and such others as thereafter from time to time should be admitted into their Company and Society, to be Traders and Adventurers with them; to be one BODY-POLITICK and CORPORATE, in Deed and in Name, by the [Page 7] Name of, The Company of the Royal Fishery of England; to have perpetual Succession; thereby also giving and granting unto the said Company, and their Successors, divers Beneficial Clauses, Powers, Privileges, and Immunities, in order to the better Government of the said Company, and Management of their Affairs; as by the said Charter appears.

Whereupon about Ten thousand pounds being subscrib'd, the Company sell to work, and in a Three Weeks Voyage One of their Doggers brought them in Thirty thousand Cod; and their Small Craft took in proportion: But the Dutch and Spaniards being engag'd in a War with France, the French seiz'd the Vessels and Goods of the Company, as Dutch, (being some, or most of them, Dutch-built and mann'd) which Loss, by reason the Company's Stock was far too small, for so great an Undertaking, at that time put a stop to their further Proceedings: In which Misfortune the Truth of that old Maxim in Trade and Manufactory was evident, That where there are but few employ'd, they will be found too [Page 8] many: And where there are numbers, they may be thought too few.

However, Merchants must not give over all Trade, because some Ships have been lost, (Bought Wit is best.) The bringing of the New-River-water to London, (that now turns to such prodigious Advantage) was not Atchiev'd upon the first Attempt: The Company having throughly weigh'd and consider'd all former Inconveniencies and Impediments, and how to avoid them, will now set to work with a Sufficient Stock; and in order thereunto, have caus'd as well the said Letters Patents for their Incorporation, as the Constitution, Laws, Articles, Terms or Conditions of Subscription, and bringing in Persons into the said Company, to be Members of, or Traders or Adventurers with them therein, to be fairly engrossed and made publick in Books now Open'd for receiving subscriptions for Three hundred Thousand pounds, being the Sum propos'd for their present Stock; or, at least, One hundred and Fifty thousand pounds for them to begin withal; the Money subscribed is made payable by Equal Portions, at [Page 9] Ten Quarterly Payments, and 3 per Cent. allow'd to the Subscribers of the first Hundred and Fifty thousand pounds, by equal Portions out of their three first Quarterly Payments, but no Money made payable till thirty days after publication of the compleating the said Subscription for the said first Hundred and Fifty thousand pounds; of which Notice hath been given in Print, to the end such persons in England, Scotland, or Ireland might not be excluded the Benefit of the said 3 per Cent. as (by their early Subscribing) should be dispos'd to entitle themselves to the same.

And the better to keep the Capital Stock entire, one Tenth of the Clear Profits only is set apart for paying Sallaries, &c. to the Managing Members, Officers Servants, and the Parts and Shares of every one setled: So that in case of Loss in any One Year, the main Stock is first to be made good out of the next; Thus the Salleries of all Officers will entirely depend upon their good Conduct and frugal Management of Affairs.

Now divers Persons of Quality, and Merchants, and others, towards the effectual [Page 10] carrying on this Good Work, have already subscrib'd about One hundred and Twenty thousand Pounds. And, for your encouragement in like manner to promote the same, I shall here insert the Words in Lex Mercatoria, fol. 172, written by that famous Merchant Gerard Malynes:

Now, to shew you truly (saith he) what the Charge of a Buss will be, with all her Furniture, as Masts, Sails, Anchors, Cables, and with all her Fishery-Implements and Appurtenances, at the first provided all new, she being between Thirty and Forty Last, will cost Five hundred Pounds, and may continue twenty Years, with small Reparations: But the Yearly Slite and Wear of her Tackle and War-Ropes, with her Nets, will cost Eighty pounds.

And the whole Charge for the keeping her at Sea for the whole Summer, or three Voyages for the filling of an Hundred Last of Cask or Barrels, VIZ.

100 Last of Barrels 72 100 Last of Barrels fill'd, and sold for l. 10 per Last, is - l. 1000
Salt l. 88. Beer l. 42. Bread l. 21 151
Bacon & Butter 18
Peas & Lillies 6
Mens Wages, for 4 Months 88 Charg. deduc. l. 335
l. 335 Gotten l. 665
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Here (saith he) plainly appeareth, that is gotten Six hundred Sixty five pounds in one Summer, whereof if that you deduct One hundred pound for the wearing of Ship, and the Reparation of her Nets against the next Summer, yet still there is Five hundred Sixty five pounds remaining one Year, rating the Herrings sold but at Ten pounds per Last; which are commonly sold by the Hollandersat Dantzigfor Fifteen and Twenty pounds.

And soon after, Barrel-Fish is prov'd no less advantageous to the Takers.

As to your Suggestion, That the Dutch Build cheaper, can Sail with fewer Hands, afford cheaper Freight, and Undersell us.

Granting it true, That theDutch now build cheaper, you must own English-built Ships are much stronger, and abler to brook the Seas, and will last twice as long; for which Reason, in above three parts of the World, they are more in request and yield better Freight; Where then lies the Odds? But pray what should hinder the Company from Building as Cheap as the Dutch.

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For Timber of their own growth, the Dutch have none, but are forc'd to Buy it in Germany; whereas we have Timber sufficient, and at Reasonable Rates, growing in England; and in many places of Ireland much stately Timber lies wasting and decaying, for want of Mony to make the Ways passible to some Rivers: Which done, we can have it two thirds cheaper than the Dutch.

For Instance, the great Wood in the County of Wexford, near the Slane, wherein is Timber enough to build several thousands of Herring-Busses. Now, Two or Three thousand Pounds would not only make a Way to the said River, but so effectually clear it, as to render prodious quantities of Timber profitable both to the Proprietors and the Publick, which at present is of little Advantage to either.

Iron Holland produceth not, their Bolt-Rods are drawn out in Germany; Whereas with the Offal of the Timber used in building Busses, and Forest of Dean-Cinders and Iron Stone, (which Mettel makes most excellent Iron) sufficient quantities may be made [Page 13] in Bar at Nine, and drawn out for Bolts at Eleven Pounds per Tun; which is not Two thirds what the Dutch pay for theirs.

Nor need the Company to divert any part of their Stock from the Fishery, or to be at expence (in cleansing Rivers to come at Timber; or) for setting up Ironworks, &c. No, the Proprietors of the Lands that produce such Materials, by the Companys great Demands, being assur'd of a certain Market, will from thence receive sufficient Encouragement, to improve their Estates, by such Undertakings.

Hemp the Dutch have from the East Countries; but now we have found out the right way of Retting and Dressing the Hemp our own produceth, it appears in goodness Second to none. Nor can sufficient quantities be wanting in this Nation, since by Experience it is found, that such Marsh-Land as formerly would not yield forty Shillings an Acre, by being laid under Hemp, is at present Improv'd to five pounds: and the Methods are known that will render the Companys Cables, Cordage and Twine near a fourth part cheaper than the Dutch can afford them.

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Sail cloath is at Fulham, (by Mr. Culliford and Mr. Evernden) already brought to equal perfection with the best Holland's Duck (as appears by that served into His Majesty's Stores) and they meeting with due Encouragement, our Artizans (universally allow'd the Bestupon Earth for Improvements) may, perhaps in few Years, as far excel Others in Duck, as they out do the Germans in fine Steel-works; which tho' They first invented, yet now We make and sell to them.

Masts, Tar, and Deals the Dutch have from Norway, where (if we send Sea made Herrings, we shall in a great measure hinder the Yearly Exportof our Mill'd. Moneythither, and yet) those Materials will stand the Company in no more than they do our Neighbours: for, allowing that Flemish-built Ships are by Five Shillings a Tun more advantageous for fetching Lumber from thence (than ours non in fashion): yet surely the Danes and Swedes are able to bring us their own Commodities as cheap as others can fetch them.

Nor do we (as our Neighbours) entirely depend upon East-Country Naval Stores: [Page 15] No, in case either of Exaction or Rupture, we can be supply'd by our Plantations in America, where all sorts of them are to be had in abundance, and at so easie Rates, that Merchants already build Ships there above a fourth part cheaper than in England.

Pitch is now made at Reasonable Rates, of a Stone abounding in Shropshire, which (after Two Years Tryal) is found of such an excellent nature, that Heat only causeth it to penetrate deeper into Plank, and Cold cannot make it crackle off.

In Building, for Strength, Stowage, and Sailing, English Shiprights know no Master.

Now, as to the Dutch Sailing cheaper, because with less Hands, (none envies them that Happiness) they lose more (in proportion) at Sea than we do, occasion'd by their Undermanning their Ships; or else what should hinder the Company from having their Ships and Vessels built rigged, and mann'd after the Flemish Fashion? Yet the Objection holds only in Merchants Ships, to carry their Fish to Market; their Busses and Fisher-boats carry more Men to catch Fish than are needful to sail their Vessels: And in the Greenland Voyages [Page 16] each Ship (to Man their Shalloops when a fishing) must have five times the Crew that can Navigate her: So that their Sailing cheaper than us, is either of no force against the Fishery, or it is also of force against our Merchant men and Colliers; and to discourage our Fishing upon this Consideration is all one as to bid us quit all Navigation whatsoever, and abandon our selves to the Mercy of all Comers.

Provisions we have of our own growth Meat and Drink in Ireland, and in many parts of England, are as cheap again as in Holland, which produceth no other than Butter and Cheese; and those too are cheaper with us than with them: And 'tis observ'd, that what the Dutch Fishermen save by Eating of Grout, they Drink (more than ours) in Brandy.

Salt the Dutch are oblig'd to fetch from France and Portugal, Holland yielding them none for their Fishery: But in England enough to supply all Europe can be made and is now offer'd (to the Company, for their Fishery) at Twelve-pence per Bushel, deliver'd on board: And this on Salt is of so noble a quality, that it will [Page 17] remove all those Mischiefs which at present (in the Fishery) have relation to Salt.

We have many Convenient Tide-Haven-Ports, as at Hull and Harwich, to the Northward, and Dover,Rye, Portsmouth, Southampton, Cowes, Weymouth, Dartmouth, Cattwater, Hamos, Fowey, Falmouth, Hilford, Scilly, and Milford, Westward; where at low-water all of them are either a small Chingle or hard Sand; so that our Ships and Vessels may easily haul ashore, and Wash and Tallow at pleasure.

Creeks and commodious places are not wanting to lodge our Busses safe when not employ'd, so as to prevent Wear of Cables, Charge of Watching, Danger ofFire, &c. and several of the said Subscribers having been concern'd in the Dutch Fishery, will be able to manage ours with all possible Foresight, Frugality, & Good Husbandry, and frame such a Body of Instructions, for well Curing, true Packing, &c. as may bring our Fish into repute, and be sufficient to give Light to each other Particular, that can rationally be suppos'd to be of moment for the Safety and better managing the Fishing Trade.

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Besides, the Dutch have above a Hundred Leagues to sail before they come to their Fishery, and there they lye at the Mercy of the Winds, for want of a Port to Friend; and in case of unloading, they have as far back again; which takes up a great deal of Time, hinders their Business, and endangers the loss of their Markets. It is true, they have their Yagers or Dogger-Boats, many times to take off their Fish atSea, and refurnish them with Cask, and other Necessaries: But if it happens to be a rowling Sea, they must lye still, and wait for a Calm. Whereas we have this so Valuable a Treasure at our Feet, the Fish upon our own Coasts, so near our Shoars, that in Case of Storm, unloading taking in of Provisions, or the like, it is seldom above four or five hours Work (and most commonly not so much) to recover a Harbour, and, without loss of Time, to put to Sea again; the Work of Unloading Repacking, and sending our Fish away to the next Market, still going on, in all Weathers; and from some parts of His Majesty's Dominions, before the Dutch can arrive in Holland, we may be at our Markets in [Page 19] France, Spain, orItaly, and so anticipate our Neighbours.

Heretofore the Hamburgers used also to Fish for Herrings with Busses; but being Yearly frozen up one month longer than the Dutch, by that one twelfth Disadvantage were beaten out of the Trade. Now, the Shoars of England are bold; the Coasts High Land, and easily discover'd; several of our Cape-Lands (opposite to France and Holland) make Eddy Bays, whose depth of Water is mean, as 6, 8, 10, or 12 fathom; the Tydes (on our Coast) are small and Anchor hold, generally stiff Clay, Chalk, or hard Gravel; so that we need not dread Winter Storms; besides the Advantage of lying in a moderate Climate, and in the very Center of the Trade of Europe, affords us Opportunity of sending to foreign parts from divers of our Ports at all Seasons of the Year. But the Coast of Holland lies extream low, (and consequently is most subject to be hazey and foggy) hath many Shoals andSands, some of which lay so far off at Sea, that many times Ships are stranded before they see Land. Their [Page 20] Ports likewise are oft choaked up with Quick-sands, which makes it dangerous for all great Ships to approach them. Their Havens also are commonly frozen up some months together, and a North-west Wind (generally blowing the greatest part of the Year) makes Holland a Lee, and England a Weather-Shore: So that many times, whilst they lye Wind-bound, or frozen up at home, we can supply the Markets abroad.

The Dutch, you note, are already setl'd in the Fishery.

I Answer: Not many Years since, we imported Silk-Stockings from the Levant; yet now the Stream is turn'd, and we send them thither.

Trade often shifts from one place to another: The King of Portugal, in Anno 1500, having discover'd the Passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, and by it diverted the Course of Trade driven by the Venetians, from Alexandria and the Red-Sea, to his Port of Lixbon; kept Factors in Antwerp, to vend there his Indian Commodities; which drew several Merchants [Page 21] from divers Parts, to reside there, and made the Trade of that pleasant-seated City great and eminent. But when about Anno 1602, the Dutch began to Rival Portugal in that Trade, the Merchants of Antwerp immediately foreseeing that they should be Out-done, resolving not to loose the Advantage of the Skill they had acquir'd in Indian Commodities, remov'd to Amsterdam, by which means they Improved their own Estates, and left Antwerp bare.

England being as much happier than Holland in its Scituation, Ports, and Havens, as superior to it in the Native Growth and Production of its Soil and Seas for Commerce, affording us Trade (as it were) without Art or Labour, whilst our Neighbours are oblig'd to force theirs by Assiduity in both. A Royal Fishery, if Establish'd here, where (besides all other Advantages) no Duty is paid upon the Fish we Export, must needs bear away the Bell from those who pay ten per Cent. Custom: and Where Trade goes, Merchants follow.

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You alledge, The Dutchare more painful, hardy, and better able to fish than the English.

I answer: Our Men run daily more Hazard and suffer greater Hardships in other Voyages, than in Fishing: And for hard Labour, certainly the working of a Mine is incomparably beyond that of a Buss. And as to the Genius of our People, it is remarkable, that such Boys and Country Fellows as at Yarmouth, Scarborough, &c. are once hired into the Fishing, and come to feed on the Fish they catch, which for Variety and Delicacy (being fresh taken) is a Treat beyond what is to be had on Shore: It improves them at such a rate, that of pitiful Weaklings at Land, they come to be hearty, stout, and healthful persons; and upon tryal, find it so much to their liking, that not One inTwenty but take to the Sea for good and all.

You say, Irish Cattel were prohibited to keep up Rents, and making Fishcheap in Englandwill hinder the sale and consumption of Flesh, and thereby make Rents fall.

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I ans. The Profits of Land do not wholly consist in Breeding. The Fishery will cause a vast Expence of Butter, and make Farmers run much upon Dairies; the Business whereof (tho' perform'd by the fair Sex) turns to as great Advantage as the hardest Labour the Husbandman can spend his Time in. Now, tho' in Breeding, all the Labour, Hazards ofRearing, hard Winters, &c. are the Farmer's, the greatest Advantage arising from Cattel still accrews to the Grazier, Drover, andButcher: But, in a Dairie, all the care andpains is taken by the Good Housewife and at her return from Market the Farmer receives all the Profit to himself, and so with Ease can Pay his Landlord.

The Royal Fishery (as is shown) will also occasion Imployment for many Thousands of both Sexes, who, tho' now thro' Poverty, live only upon Bread, Water, Pulse-Roots, and the like, when once they have the Rewards of their Labours in their Hands, will not Punish their Carcasses to spare their Purses, but drink Strong Beer, and eat Roast Beef, &c.

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But supposing (for Argument sake) Victuals should not remain at a very excessive rate, yet where a greater Consumption causeth a quick Market, tho' at a midling Price, (if the Proverb be true) Light Gains will make a heavy Purse.

Besides, in England many Acres are now set for Five or Ten Shillings an Acre, and the Tenants scarce able to pay that, which under Corn might yield the Farmer three orfour pounds, now abate in grazing, and plough up more Pasture, and Flesh will hold its price.

If to this you Answer, We often see Corn so cheap, that the Farmers are broke by it, and what would they do with greater quantities?

It's reply'd; The Reason why Farmers sometimes want Vent for their Grain, is, because we have not always Store, and therefore Merchants make no Provision for the Trade: But if we yearly sow such quantities of Corn, beyond the Expence of the Nation, as Merchants may be no less certain of a constant Supply here than they are in the SOUND, (where the Country [Page 25] depends as much on their Harvest, as France does on its Vintage) Plenty will soon create a Trade; the Advantage of ENGLANDS lying so much nearer than DANTZIG, to the places where Foreign Corn is expended, together with the Allowance granted by the 25 Car. II. upon the Exporting thereof, will sufficiently encourage Merchants to deal therein.

Besides, most of our Ships are sent light to Bilboa and Lisbon, (now what loads our Ships helps our Navigation) and our Exports to Lisbon not answering our Imports from thence, the more we send them in Corn, the less their Wines will cost the Nation in READY MONY, or BILLS of EXCHANGE, which is all one.

But if you alledge, Sowing Quantities will make Corn cheap, and that will also make Rents fall.

I Answer; Yearly catching Quantities of Fish, and sowing much Corn, will (morally speaking) render England less subject to a Famine, which (as Sir Walter Rawleigh truly observes) never happens here, but it [Page 26] enriches Holland for Seven Years after, they having, in a Dearth, for the Corn they sold us in a Year and a half, (according to that great man's estimate) carried away no less than Two Millions of Pounds Sterling, to the Impoverishment of the People, Discredit of the Merchants, and Dishonour of the Land. Besides, Are Provisions cheaper? There needs less Taxes in time of War, a less Rate will maintain the Poor, Housekeeping will be less chargeable, theLabourer will require less Hire, and the Artisan afford his Work cheaper; which must fall the Price of all our Products and Manufactures, and consequently enlarge their Exports and Expence at home. Now, if (according to the Proverb) a Penny sav'd be a Penny got, where's th Hurt the Fishery will do the Landed-Man?

But supposing there were only Five hundred pounds Sterling in England, an Ox could hardly be worth a Penny, nor the Mony Rent of all England be Five hundred pounds per annum. Now, Gold or Silver-Mines England hath none, and (in time of Peace) we have no way to get [Page 27] BULLION from other Countries, but by foreign Trade, to which nothing can more conduce than cheap Fishing, and the cheap working our Native Commodities, as Copper, Lead, Iron Tin, Allom, Copperice, Coals, Wool, &c. and cheap making the Manufactures that compose the Exports of the Kingdom; and that is not to be effected, except Labour be cheap, which it can never be where Provisions are dear.

Now, the more the Nation abounds with Fish, Corn, &c. still the greater will its Exports be; and when the Wheel is set a going, Trade will beget Trade, as Fire begets Fire, and still the more it encreaseth, the more will Industrious People from all Parts flock to us, and Crowds will not only force cheap Labour, but improve our Londs, encrease our Manufactories, and enlarge our Product far beyond the whole Expence of our Nation, and thereby (in proportion) add to its Wealth and Treasure for Merchants exporting the Surplus, will in Returns bring back Gold, Silver, and other Valuable Commodities, which, in England, that hath Property by succession of Contracts, will diffuse amongst its Inhabitants, whose [Page 28] number, will still encrease with our foreign Trade, and as they augment, will more and more improve our Lands, by encreasing the Vent of our Product and Manufactures, even in the very Expence of them that are added, one man that works having (perhaps) five or six that only eat and wear. And much Vent will cause many Workmen. And thus, as the consumption of the Native Product, and the number of Persons (made rich by their Labour and Industry) enctease, and the Choice of Tenants and Chapman is enlarg'd, a kind of Competition amongst them must and will make Rents and Lands Advance in proportion: Witness Holland, and such of our Lands in England as lye near great and populous Corporations.

You Object, Our Treasure is much exhausted.

I Answer: The greater the Dearth, the more Care should be had to Seed the Ground, lest the Famine encrease; the more our Wealth is diminish'd, the greater cause we have to lay hold on the Fishery, which (as is shown) so much enricheth our Neighbours, [Page 29] and, by parity of Reason, must abundantly add to our Treasure.

You reckon, Two thousand Five hundred Persons in a whole Year are hardly able to make a Fleet of Nets, only for Five hundred Busses; and because England hath many Wasts, and much unimprov'd Lands, conclude we shall want Hands to carry on the Work.

Now, Sir, be pleas'd to consider, That a full employment of the Hands we have is the best way to get more: For, Such as our Imployment is for People, so many will our People be: That in England (besides Voluntary Charity) the Poor Rate in the latter end of King CHARLES the Second's Reign, came to Six hundred sixty five thousand Three hundred sixty two pounds Sterl. per Annum; and we have Reason to believe it now much higher: Whereby it is evident, what vast numbers of Beggers and Idle Persons now live upon the Publick, without return of Labour for their Bread. Consider likewise of what a happy and invlting Nature the easie Business of the Fishery is, affording Work to each Member of a Family; Boys and Girls may do the [Page 30] work of spinning Twine; even the Lame, the Weak, and the Aged of both Sexes may fit dry and warm, and yet earn their Livelihoods by Braiding Nets, and picking Oakum, &c. nay, the very Blind may get their Bread by turning Wheels; and you'll find reason to conclude, that were our own Poor set to work, we should not longer need to have our Nets made or mended at Enchuysen in Holland. Now, as a constant Employment of such Poor will be a continual ease and comfort to them, by amusing and diverting them from thinking of their Poverty, or other Misery, so will it aleviate the Nation's Burthen, and in some measure be a Repeopling of us too, by adding so many lost Hands to the Service of the Publick.

It is hoped, by conquering, or at least streightning our Enemies, we shall shortly oblige them to an honourable Peace, and the War ended; what an Advantage will it be for Soldiers, to find in the Fishery work ready to their Hand, the want whereof hath formerly occasion'd many (when disbanded) to leave the Kingdom, or take the Road.

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Nor need we fear, but the many Thousands of English, Scotch, and Irish Mariners that serve our Neighbours, will return home, when so certain and so profitable an Employment as the Royal Fishery is set on foot here, who doubtless will be able to Catch, Cut, Pack, Salt, andCure Fish for us, as well as they used to do for them, and consequently to teach others.

Should Hands be yet wanting to manage the Fishery, the Parliament can easily make good that Defect, by enacting, That all such single Persons as (by the Statutes of 43 El. 2. 1 Jac. 25. 21 Jac. 28. and the 3 Car. 4.)the Churchwardens and Overseersof the Poor are impowered to put out Apprentices; together with all such other as shall be put out Apprentices by any Corporations, or other publick Charities, (upon due request made on behalf of the said Company, should by such Churchwardens and Overseers, or by a Justice of the Peace, be bound Apprentice to the said Company) for Seven Years, to learn One of the Two and thirty Trades that relate to the Fishery, for whom the Companys Interest will oblige them to [Page 32] provide the soberest and best Workmen of each Trade. And how to prevent their deserting the Companys Service, can be shown beyond Objection.

Now, this being altogether Impracticable in Holland, for several other Reasons as well as their having no such Numbers of Poor Children to put out Prentice, wil much Overpoise the present Advantage of the Dutch's Low Interest at 3 per Cent. (the efficient cause of all their Wealth and Grandeur) and consequently confirm to us ou Fishery, together with all that long Chain of Blessings inseparably link'd to it.

For, allowing the Charge of Fishing with each Buss to consist, 1/3 in the Buss and Rigging, 1/3 in Victuals, Nets, &c. and 1/3 in Seamens Wages, and the whole to be Nine hundred pound.

That neither our Buss and Rigging, no Craft and Victualling will cost us so much as the Dutch must pay for theirs, is already shown: Yet however admit they did, and their Charge should together amount to Six of the said Nine hundred Pound, the Three hundred remains for Wages.

[Page 33]

Now if the Company the first Year have but 1/3 of a Busses Crew their own Servants, (bateing what is paid more to Officers till their own Apprentices are fit to command) it will save them One of the said Three hundred Pound. And supposing that the next Year the Company should have one half of a Busses Crew to be their own Servants, it would then save them One hundred and Fifty of the said Three hundred Pounds. And thus their Fish would stand them the first Year in about Ten, and the next in near Fifteen per Cent. less than the Dutch; ard so propotionable to the number of their Servants, their Profits will encrease, till at length paying little or no Wages, they may afford to sell Fish to the Hollanders cheaper than they can catch them.

If to this you Object, The Company's Servants will loyter, &c. and catch few Fish.

I Answer: Such a Method for making each perform his Duty is already propos'd, as is Objection-Proof.

[Page 34]

For want of having been bred up to Trades, many of our Poor now either leave the Land, perish for Want, or come to untimely Ends; But the Companys Apprentices being, in the Fishing Season, employed at Sea, and working at other times ashore, at that of the said Two and thirty Trades relating to the Fishery, to which they are bound; when their Time is out, will be able to get their Livelihoods either at Sea or Land. And if to render them more capable of Serving their Country, the Company shall at four a Clock each Saturday in the Afternoon, cause them (when ashore) to Muster and Exercise, (altho only with Staves) and, for Diversion, to play at Cudgels, or fence, and reward the Conquerors with the Liberty of wearing a small Ribbon, whose different colour of Red, Blew, &c. should distinguish them to be Captains, Lieutenants, &c. and should cause them to be called and Respected as such, by the rest of their Fellow-Servants till next weeks Tryal of Skill; how soon would Emulation beget Address! and what a Treasure and Strength to England would each Thousand of such Sea-Militia be, always [Page 35] ready for Service, both by Sea and Land, and yet no Charge to the Nation till actually in it.

Now as to your main Objection, Stockjobbing.

I confess, many worthy Enterprizes, as working Mines, setting up New Manufactures, and the like, have been baffled by it; for, when by Stockjobbing Shares were raised to Above their Intrinsick Value, the first Undertakers, that perfectly understand the Work (being generally such as have spent much of their Time, and almost all their Estates, in acquiring that Skill) have been tempted to sell out; and Ignoramus's coming in their places, for want of due Measures, the whole Business hath fallen to the Ground.

About Three Years since, Monsieur de Ponchartrin, one of the French Ministers of State, concerted how to Stockjobb the Dutch East-India Company, in hopes to breed a Confusion in Holland; but the pressing Occasions his Master had for Moneys obliged him to desist from putting it then in practice. And, to see such a Trade as of late [Page 36] hath been driven, is sufficient to make men conclude Stockjobbing is not always carried on by meer Merchants.

To prevent which, it is hoped, that next Session of Parliament it will be made Penal for any to sell more Shares or Stock in a Company, or Joynt-Undertaking, than they actually have Credit for (in their own Names) in the Books of such respective Company or Undertaking, except where the Vender sells in quality of Executor or Administrator to any Person deceas'd, or as Guardian to any under Age or Lunatick; and in Cases where the Proprietor of such Stock or Credit sold (being in remote parts) hath under Hand and Seal given Special Power to sell the same.

And also, that it will be Enacted, That all Contracts shall be null, where the Shares or Stock sold is not (within three days after) actually Transfer'd and Accepted in the Books of each respective Company or Undertaking.

To Your Objecting, The greatness of the Undertaking;

I answer: The Flemings were long setled in the Manufacturing of our Wool, yet (in [Page 37] Edward the Third's time) when we set about it our selves in good earnest, we effectually fix'd that Rich Staple in England. The Dutch likewise, for many Years after, had the Dressing and Dying of our Woollen Manufacturies; but when we undertook the Work, they were soon deprived of that Advantage. Which so great Benefits our Country would have yet wanted, had not any set about them, because all had thought them too big to be accomplished.

To conclude, we may easily assert and maintain the just Right and Title Providence hath given His Majesty to that Richer Mine than both Indies afford, the Fishery of the Brittish and Irish Seas; And that without quarrelling with our Neighbours: for by only a frugal and industrious Management of Affairs, We shall quickly become Sole Masters of the Fishing Trade. For Shame then let not Englishmen longer say, (with Solomon's Sloathful)— There's a Lyon in the way.

Surely we have reason to believe our great KING, who Ventures his Royal Person so freely, for the Preservation of these his Kingdoms, will not deny the Assistance of [Page 38] his Special Grace and Favour, to a Work that in so great a measure will contribute to our growth in Trade and Treasure.

And what just Encouragement may we not hope for from the Parliament, seeing in the Preamble of an Act passed in 14 Car. II, cap. 28, it is declar'd, That the Publick Honour, Wealth, and Safety of this Realm, as well in the maintenance of Trade and support of Navigation as in many other respects, doth in an high degree depend upon the Improvement and Encouragement of the Fishery, &c.

Thus, Sir, what has been Collected Answers your Letter; if at your Coming to Town you shall think fit to peruse the Books of the said Company, lying at their HALL in Thames-street near the Three Cranes, and at the Office of Puckle and Jenkins, Publick Notaries in Popes head: alley over against the Royal Exchange, London (where: in as well the said Letters Patents, Constitution, as all the Terms of Subscription, are fairly engross'd) notwithstanding the many idle Reports so industriously spread abroad to Obstruct this Undertaking, (by such, perhaps, as envy the Strength and Happiness that would accrew to England by a well regulated Fishery) doubt not but you'll receive full Satisfaction.

London, Sept. 30.
James Puckle.
This is the full version of the original text


beer, dearth, famine, goods, trade, want, war, wealth

Source text

Title: England's Interest: OR, A Brief Discourse OF THE Royal Fishery. IN A Letter to a Friend.

Author: James Puckle

Publisher: J. Southby

Publication date: 1696

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: Date: 1696 Bibliographic name / number: Wing / P4160 Physical description: [2], 38, [1] p. Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: Wing / 820:31

Digital edition

Original author(s): James Puckle

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) whole


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > pamphlets

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.