Ploughs and Politicks: Charles Read of New Jersey and His Notes on Agriculture, 1715-1774

By Carl Raymond Woodward | Go to book overview

Seven: Fisheries

ALTHOUGH in modern America fish culture is not commonly regarded as a branch of agriculture, the British works on agriculture in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries frequently dealt with the subject. Worlidge Systema Agriculturae was one of these. The section "Of Fishing" occupies ten pages, and treats of Angling, of Taking Fish by Nets, Pots, or Engines, and of Fish-Ponds.

It is easily understood how such a treatise would be of interest to the farmers of colonial America, for fish comprised a major source of food in the New World. To the colonial agriculturist, fishing might be an important side-line to farming. It is not surprising, therefore, that Read devotes a part of his agricultural notebook to fisheries, particularly since, as we have seen, in 1763 he established a commercial fishery on the Delaware River.

Pertinent to his fishing enterprise are the description of his shad net, made in 1760, the diagram of a fishing weir, and the recipe for making glue from sturgeon. The last item reflects a colonial industry that reached beyond the scope of the household. It is of special interest in this setting because it is headed with the comment, apparently in Read's own handwriting: "In a Letter from London to B. Franklin Esqr. wch he sent me." The recipe, dated July 29, 1763, at East Smithfield, London, was from one H. Jackson. Such a subject would naturally have been of interest to Franklin. We may reasonably infer that the philosopher knew of Read's fishery and with this in view, passed the information on to him.


NOTES ON FISHING

My Nett made 1760 is knitt on a Mash Stick 2 ⅞ in. round & has in ye body 78 mashes in Depth. This Makes a Shad nett.

Some say that Camphire & Assafetida made into an Ointment wth sweet oyl & touch your bait wth it makes fish bite.

-399-

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Ploughs and Politicks: Charles Read of New Jersey and His Notes on Agriculture, 1715-1774
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • BOOK I Charles Read of New Jersey 1
  • One: the Man and His Times 3
  • Two: Youth 22
  • Three: New Jerseyman 39
  • Four: Customs Collector 54
  • Five: Land Speculator 64
  • Six: Countryman 70
  • Seven: Ironmaster 86
  • Eight: Secretary 97
  • Nine: Legislator 121
  • Ten: Councillor 145
  • Eleven: Colonel 164
  • Twelve: Indian Commissioner 179
  • Thirteen: Jurist 195
  • Fourteen: Exile 212
  • BOOK II Reads Notes on Agriculture 227
  • Introduction 229
  • One: the Husbandry of the Soil 235
  • Two: the Husbandry of Plants 254
  • Three: the Husbandry of Animals 322
  • Four: the Husbandry of Bees 366
  • Five: Farm Structures and Farm Implements 368
  • Six: the Husbandry of the Household 385
  • Seven: Fisheries 399
  • APPENDIX A Sketch of Charles Read (from Aaron Leaming's Diary, November 14, 1775) 404
  • APPENDIX B Inventory of the Personal Estate of Charles Read IV 407
  • Bibliography 413
  • Glossary 443
  • Index 451
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