British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

and a like duty upon all negroes imported into the island of Dominica, also certain duties upon foreign sugar, coffee and cocoa, and upon the importation of any of these articles into this country, if for home consumption, they were further chargeable with duties as foreign plantation produce. In order to evade the payment of the import duty at Dominica, the negroes were seldom landed, being generally removed immediately from the British into the foreign vessels, and consequently did not appear upon the books of the Customs, and for a similar reason the negroes exported in foreign bottoms from Jamaica were in many instances clandestinely carried off. The foreign sugars, coffee, etc. imported into the Free Ports under this Act, being subject to the foreign duties on importation into Great Britain were also clandestinely landed and re-exported under the colouring of British produce. If a neglect of the Officers in carrying the laws of trade and revenue into execution could ever be justified in any case it would be in the present. I know not a single reason, nor have I ever heard any argument from the West India merchants, or planters, which was not founded upon partial and interested grounds, why foreign plantation sugar, coffee, cocoa, cotton wool, dye stuffs, and in general every other article, the growth of the foreign West Indies (rum and molasses excepted) exchanged for British manufactures etc. should not be imported through the medium of our Islands, on the same terms as the like goods of British plantation produce.

By 13th of His Majesty1 the duties upon negroes was reduced to 2/6 and immediately thereafter the legal importation from Jamaica increased, from 235 to upwards of 2,000, and in the year 1784, the latest period to which the accounts are made up, the number exported amounted to 3,964. Dominica being captured in the year 1778, the Free Port Act was suffered to expire, and has not since been renewed. . . .2


45
BAHAMAS: EVIDENCE OF JOHN MILLER (AND OTHERS) BEFORE THE COMMITTEE FOR TRADE 1 May 17873

Mr. John Miller, Merchant, trading to the Bahama Islands, Mr. William Bryan and Mr. Tiddiman Kerr, Captains of vessels employed

____________________
1
13 Geo. III, cap. 73.
2
On 19 June 1784 (B.T. 5/2), with Dominica restored to Britain, the Committee for Trade had considered a memorial from the planters, merchants, and settlers there for the reopening of their two free ports.
3
B.T. 5/4, PP. 267-70. A Bill had been prepared for four free ports in Jamaica and one each in Dominica and New Providence in the Bahamas, and the West India Committee was asked to send witnesses to comment on the proposals. As a result of their representations, Grenada too was given a free port in the new Statute (27 Geo. III, cap. 27) which was made permanent in 1792 (32 Geo. III, cap. 37), when free ports in Bermuda and Exuma in the Bahamas were added.

-324-

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