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"To the Honorable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled.

"The Petition of the undersigned Merchants and other Persons interested in the Trade of Great Britain and its Colonies, residing within the Port of London,


"That your petitioners are most seriously apprehensive there is an intention to continue the duties imposed by the Acts of the 43rd, 44th, and 46th, years of his present Majesty, on the tonnage of British shipping, and on goods and merchandizes exported and carried coastwise, after the expiration of the present war, notwithstanding the solemn assurances given to your petitioners that the same should cease with it; and which, if adopted, will be attended with the most ruinous consequences to the trading interests of the country.

"Your petitioners beg leave, with the greatest humility, to state to your honorable House, that the depressed state of the trading and shipping interests of the country, results principally from the suspension of the Navigation Act, and the indulgences granted to neutrals, both in the trade of the countries of the enemies of Great Britain, and in the trade of the King's dominions.

"Your petitioners venture, with great deference and respect, to state, they are ready and desirous to prove the facts alleged by them, in support of their allegation, that the trading and shipping interests are laboring under great depression, not only from the heavy impositions to which they are subject, but also from the relaxations before mentioned; and that any measure which continues the duties on the tonnage of British ships, and the war duties on exports, would at any time be productive of the most serious danger to British navigation and commerce, but especially on the return of peace. "Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray your honorable House, that the duties on exports and tonnage imposed by the acts before mentioned, may cease with the present war: that an enquiry may be made into the actual state of the shipping and navigation of the country; and that in future the navigation and colonial system of Great Britain may be adhered to, so as to enable the British ship-owners again to enter into competition with the neutral carrier.

And your petitioners will ever pray, &c.

Charles Bosanquet
Henry Davidson

William Lushington
John Mavor

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Eneas Barclay
Thomas Spencer

Thomas Wilson
Thomas Plumer
John Plumer
Robert Lang
Thomas Latham
Robert Pulsford
Richard Miles
Thomas Lumley
Thomas Oliver
Henry Gilbee

Edward Vaux
Jonathan Wilson
John Leach
Robert Ward

James Fraser

William Clark
William Pulsford

Laurence Brickwood
Joseph Marryat
Robert Shedden

William Shedder
R. H. Marten

Joseph Todhunter
Edward Colson
Robert Taylor
G. A. Davis
George Hibbert
Robert Hibbert, jun.
William Hibbert

G. Laing
Robt. Milligan

Alex. Anderson
R. B. Shedden
S. Minet

J. P. Anderdon
John Turing
J. G. Frankling
Charles Campbell
James Bowden
David Robertson
Richard Redman
Thomas Reilly.1

It may not be improper to observe, that this petition failed in its effect during the late administration; and it was left to the pre

'On this occasion a similar petition was presented by the ship-owners of London; and amongst many others may be noticed the following signatures to it: viz.

A. Duncan

Alex. Henry
John Inglis

I. L. Venner
Thos. Hayman

Jesse Curling, &c. &c.
Bridlington, Scarborough,

Thos. King
Joshua Reeve
Jonathan Fryer
L. Bruce
There were likewise similar petitions from Hull,
Whitby, North and South Shields, and other out-ports.

2 In further illustration of the preceding observations, the following extracts are selected from the printed reports of the debates in parliament, on Lord Henry Petty's scheme of finance, against which this petition was presented.

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Extract from Lord Lauderdale's Speech in the British Press, 24th April, 1807.-"The Noble Lord proceeded also to deny the charge, insinuating, that any system had been adopted by the late ministers of breaking through the navigation system; this, with other charges equally false, as to the late bill brought in on behalf of the Roman Catholics, had effected, it was true, a temporary clamor.”

Extract from Lord Holland's Speech in the same newspaper. "The Noble Lord proceeded to animadvert on the conduct of those who assumed the title of the shipping interest, and who would have sacrificed the national policy to their own selfish interests. He considered this amended bill, as being neither more nor less, than passing a compliment to the prejudices of a few of these ship-owners."

sent ministers to fulfil the assurances which had been given in Lord Sidmouth's administration, that the war duties on exports and tonnage should cease with it; an exception to that effect having been introduced into Lord Henry Petty's plan of finance by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Shipping Interest have likewise been represented as tenaviously endeavouring to prevail on government to adhere to restrictions injurious to other classes of the community, evidently meaning the West-India planters, but before that assertion could be admitted to be true, it surely was not unreasonable in them, or the loyal colonists in the King's provinces in America, whose interests were so deeply implicated in the question, to require a fair and impartial investigation of the subject; it having been satisfactorily shown in the years 1784 and 1791, by the reports of the Board of Trade, that the mother country and its dependencies were competent, in time of war, to supply in British ships the West India colonies with the articles they consume; it was therefore assuming too much to suppose the reverse of that fact could be admitted to be true in 1806, without any inquiry or investigation.

It is presumed sufficient has been stated to establish the consti tutional and political ground on which the Shipping Interest opposed the American Intercourse Bill; and the present state of the shipping of the Empire, unfortunately proves the fears entertained by the ship-owners, to have been too well-founded; and—" that they did not cry out, before they were hurt."

The fact is, the Shipping Interest were not sufficiently known until that discussion took place, or their importance to the state truly felt by the late ministers; otherwise, it is probable, their representations would have had more weight: since then, their influence appears to have been more generally acknowledged ; and

Extract from Lord Grenville's speech in the Times of the same day. “He entered at length, into the subject of the alteration of the Bill, which he considered, after the resolution of the other House had passed, a violation and breach of faith, in compliment to what had been called the shipping interest. He put the case of the shipping interest having been clamorous and busy at the late general election, and the possibility of this sacrifice being made to them, from some motives of gratitude for such services. He exposed the futility of their clamors, and contended there was much to justify his assertion."

Ab alio expectes, alteri quod feceris.

Mr. Baring's Examination, p. 170.

2 See the addresses of many of the candidates to their constituents at the late general election, amongst whom were many of the members of the present opposition, who voluntarily pledged themselves to support whatever measures were introduced in parliament, not only to maintain and give effect to the navigation and colonial system, but also to enforce the maritime rights of Great Britain.

it is to be expected in future that, what, from its political importance, constitutes the second leading interest of the empire, will receive that support and protection from the legislature, which is so essentially necessary to its existence; and to which it is entitled from being accessary and principally contributing to the maintenance of the naval power of the kingdom.

The capital embarked in 1804 in British shipping,' at the low valuation of 121. per ton, was 27,401,3047. sterling, and the persons who constitute the majority of the proprietors of this immense property, are land-owners as well as ship-owners, and are otherwise deeply interested in the general welfare of the country.

It is observed by the same writer, that "in the general paths of trade, the American does not appear to interfere much with the British ship-owner. In the ports of our enemies, the latter is of course excluded, and deprived of nothing by the former. The supply of our West-India islands with provisions and lumber, appears the only essential point of collision. My limits will not permit me here to examine this question minutely, and I shall barely state my opinion, that, during war, proper and adequate supplies can only be furnished by the United States, and in their own vessels."

Thus it is admitted, as it was by the late ministers,3 that, in time of peace, the mother country, and its dependencies, are competent to supply properly and adequately, in British ships, the West-India islands with provisions and lumber, which consequently so narrows the subject, as to render it a mere question of price. No satisfactory reason can be assigned why the supplies obtained, even from the United States, should not, in time of war, be carried in British ships to the West-India islands. The intercourse in British bottoms is of vast importance to the state, for exclusive of the freight, which was estimated in 1784 at 245,000l. a year, the encouragement it would afford to British shipping and British seamen, is too obvious to require explanation. It has been said, that the price of


See account of ships and vessels belonging to the British empire on the 30th Sept. 1805, being the account delivered for the antecedent year, but then corrected

Ships and Vessels.

Tons. 2,283,442

Men. 157,712.


It may be fairly asked, what other interest in the country, except the agricultural interest, is possessed of a visible tangible property, equal in amount to the Shipping interest.

2 Mr. Baring's examination, 171.

3 See Introduction to Collection of Reports, &c. on Trade, &c. p. 14, edition 1807.

4 Report of the Board of Trade, 1784. p. 31. See also Lord Grenville's speech (then Mr. W. Grenville) on the 14th of March, 1787, on the tempoary acts, wherein he said, "that it was a species of commerce highly useful to our navigation, as it employed 50,000 tons of shipping and 4000 seamen anhually." Debret's edition of Debates in Parliament.

provisions and lumber would be very much enhanced by the expence of insurance; but surely a trade so beneficial to the nation ought not to be renounced because it may occasionally diminish the profits of a few individuals. The rate of insurance, for the circuitous voyage, is 7 guineas per cent. warranted with convoy; so that in fact, the insurance of provisions and lumber from New York to Jamaica with convoy, would not exceed at most 47. per cent., and as the insurance on American vessels for the same voyage is 21. per cent., the extra-insurance between British ships, with convoy, and American ships, would not exceed 21. per cent., that is only 28,000l. a year, the whole annual supply of provisions and lumber being estimated at 1,400,000l. An object so inconsiderable, compared to the injury and depression which is thrown on the mercantile shipping and other important interests of the mother country, by the admission and employment of neutrals in the trade of the British West-India islands, it is really astonishing the latter are still allowed to participate in it; besides, it may be correctly stated, that the rate of freight in the direct trade from the West-India islands to Great Britain, has, in some instances, been enhanced by the new system, and a scarcity of tonnage occasionally experienced in the islands in consequence of British ships being driven out of the circuitous trade by the employment of Americans; so that there is reason to believe, if the subject was fairly and impartially investigated, it would appear, the planters would not be benefited by the present intercourse with the United States, if the trade with the British West India Islands was wholly confined to the articles which are now allowed by law to be imported and exported in American vessels.3

It should be recollected, it is not only the injury sustained by the loyal colonists in America and the Shipping Interest by this impolitic and unnecessary intercourse, which renders it so improper, but the depression it has likewise produced on the provision trade of

1 Debates on American Intercourse Bill, 1806; also Lord Sheffield's Strictures, p. 189.

2 Mr. Baring's Examination, 59.

3 The exports from the United States to the British Dependencies between 30th Sept. 1806, and 30th Sept. 1807, were as follows, viz.




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