British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

account could not too soon be transmitted for their Lordships' consideration, and I beg leave to observe that already very numerous are the Americans, who are covered by the Spanish qualifications, although the first of them which I have met with is only dated the 21 May 1786. When I say one hundred, I am certain I am far within compass; every American vessel who trades to the West Indies will call at Trinidada to receive Spanish qualifications.

This traffic, I must take the liberty of observing, brings to the King of Spain a considerable revenue. It will increase the ship building of America, and raise the numbers of her seamen, while on the contrary it will decrease the British shipping and seamen in these Islands, these Americans will take off our rum, and carry it to America, so that our vessels will shortly have no trade to those states, they will be again the carriers between these Islands and America. For such is either the want of knowledge, or something worse in most of our officers here, that, if a vessel comes under Spanish colours, and produces anything Spanish, she must be a Spaniard and as such is granted certain privileges, or if under an English ensign, must be a true Englishman.

Their Lordships will I am sure see the necessity of something being immediately done in this Spanish American business, and I hope they will approve of what I intend doing.


44
THOMAS IRVING TO THE COMMITTEE FOR TRADE 28 November 17861

In obedience to your Lordships' commands, I have the honour of submitting to your Lordships the following plan for opening two Free Ports, one in the Bahamas and the other in Bermudas, with some previous remarks on the effects of the Free Ports established by the 6th of His present Majesty in the West Indies.

At a period almost coeval with the establishment of Colonies from Europe in America, a traffic or commercial intercourse began to take place between the subjects of the respective European Powers for the mutual convenience of supplying each other's wants. After the reduction of Jamaica by Oliver Cromwell, the Spanish inhabitants chiefly removed themselves, and their families, to the Plantations of St. Domingo in Hispaniola, and to Settlements on the mainland,

____________________
1
B.M. Add. MSS. 38,345, ft. 208-11; and in B.T. 6/75, pp. 743-50. Thomas Irving was a merchant with experience of trade in America and the West Indies. He had been a member of the Council of South Carolina in 1772. He gave evidence before the Committee for Trade in March 1784 on the possibility of obtaining the supplies recently secured from the American colonies from Canada and the Maritimes. He was now Inspector-General of Imports and Exports and Registrar of Shipping. 'There are abundant signs', says Dr. G. N. Clark, 'that Irving began a new era in the Inspector-General's Office' ( Guide to English Commercial Statistics, 1696- 1782, Lond. 1938, p. 32).

-321-

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