[Appendix B(85) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]

APPENDIX (B.) N° 85.


PROPOSITIONS, &c. of the Merchants of Douglas, in the Isle of Man.

Douglas, Isle of Man, 20th October 1791.

AT a Meeting of the Merchants, Inhabitants of Douglas, this Day, the following Propositions; tending to promote the Trade and to improve the Revenue of the Isle of Man, are humbly submitted to the Consideration of the Gentlemen Commissioners, &c. &c.

It will readily be admitted, that the Herring Fishery, considered in every Point of View, undoubtedly well merits and has received all due Encouragement from the Government of Great Britain. By an Act of the British Parliament a Bounty of 1s. per Barrel is given on all Herrings caught and cured in the isle of Man, exclusive of the different Bounties given on the Exportation of Red and White Herrings. We beg the Gentlemen Commissioners will pay Attention to a Copy of our Memorial to the Lords of the Treasury, by which they will perceive we are deprived of the Home Bounty of 1s. per Barrel on Red Herrings, by a Construction, or rather a Misconstruction of the Act of Parliament, confining it to White Herrings only (which here, as well as at Yarmouth, are but a secondary Object with the Fish-curers) ; whereas the Bounty indiscriminately allowed on all Herrings caught and cured, was intended by the Act as well for Red as for White Herrings, and paid here equally on both by the Deputy Receiver General until Queries and Objections were started by his Agent in London : By this Demur we are not on a Footing with our Fellow-Subjects in Great Britain. It is therefore expected, that the 1s. per Barrel on those Herrings cured Red, which has for some Time been withheld, will yet be made good to the Fish-curers in this Island, and that they will otherwise have the same Encouragement given them as the Irish Curers in Great Britain.

There is a Hardship, and even an Absurdity in the Affidavit required by Act of Parliament, that on Exportation of our Herrings we are to make Oath that those Herrings were caught on the Coasts of this Isle. We only known from Report they were caught in this Channel ; but the Limits of these Coasts are not ascertained with such Precision as to admit the taking of that Oath with Propriety ; besides we not conceive it could be meant to confine our fishing Smacks or Boats to any given Limits in their Pursuit of the Fish on the Sea Coasts contiguous to or on the British Seas surrounding this Island ; the Oath with more Propriety might be altered to those Herring’s being caught in the British Seas and cured for Exportation in this Isle ; for it is well known we cannot import foreign Herrings by Act of Parliament.

We beg Leave to observe, that foreign Herrings are imported into our West-India Isles from Ireland, large Quantities of Herrings being annually imported into Cork from Gottenburgh, where they are purchased at 7s. 6d. the Barrel, and though liable to a high Duty in Ireland, yet such Duty is drawn back on Exportation, to the great Prejudice of the British Fisheries, as well as to the Fisheries of Ireland and the Isle of Man.

We beg Leave to remark, that trifling and confined as the Trade of this island is at present, yet it is encumbered with useless and unnecessary Difficulties for Instance, the Importation of Rum, Corn Spirits, and Tobacco from Great Britain should not be limited to any particular Tonnage of Vessels, for Certificates are required and must be returned that those Goods have been landed here previous to the Receipt of the Debenture or drawback thereon It is also unnecessary, and a grievance, to confine the Importation of Wine from foreign Parts to a higher Tonnage than to Great Britain and Ireland

We likewise beg Leave to suggest, that it would be an Advantage and Encouragement to our confined Trade, to allow the Importation into this Island of Bugles, Beads, Brandy, and other Goods suitable for the African Trade, in return for our Fish sent to Italy and other Parts of the Mediterranean We apprehend it would be a Convenience to the British African Traders, as their outward bound Ships, especially from Liverpool and the neighbouring Ports might occasionally call here for such Articles which at present they seek for in Holland and France, especially Brandy. Such Assortments are absolutely wanted for the African Trade, and might be lodged here on Bond, subject to such Restrictions and Regulations as might be thought necessary

The Inhabitants of this Island are allowed to import Grain from England , it is humbly suggested, that they may likewise be permitted to import Grain from Great Britain and Ireland, and be entitled to the same Bounties and Drawbacks on Grain and other Articles that those Kingdoms reciprocally enjoy on their several Importations from each other

Hemp, Iron, Timber, and Deals from foreign Parts, on importation into the Isle of Man, pay a Duty of 10 per Cent ad valorem, and only 2½ per Cent from Great Britain, where the Duty is drawn back on Exportation to this Isle It is well known, and can be ascertained from the Custom. house books here, that no Hemp whatever has been imported from foreign Parts since the Duty on that Article was advanced from 5 to 10 per Cent , it is therefore humbly submitted to the justice and Wisdom of Parliament, that the Duties on those Articles be again reduced to 5 per Cent as formerly, which, it is humbly conceived, will tend to encourage an Importation in our own Shipping, increase the Revenues of this Island, and prove no Ways injurious to that of the Mother Country.

The Articles of Tar, Salt, Oil, Tallow, and Fruits of all Kinds, as non enumerated Articles, are subject to a still heavier Duty of 15 per Cent ad valorem on Importation from foreign Parts, which is considered as a Hardship, and injurious to the Revenues of this Island, operating in great Measure as a Prohibition ; it is therefore humbly submitted, that the Duties on those Articles be reduced to 5 per Cent. ad valorem.

We are of Opinion, that a Reduction of the Duties Teas imported into this Island from Great Britain to one Half of the Duties now payable on each Species of Black and Green Teas, will effectually prevent the smuggling of Teas from Great Britain, Ireland, and elsewhere, into this Island, and be as productive to our Revenues as the Duties now paid.

The Articles of Brandy and Geneva being both prohibited to an Entry at our Custom-house, in order to prevent the illicit Practices of smuggling those Articles into this Island, we humbly conceive that Government might reasonably allow the Merchants and Dealers in this Isle to import by Licence annually ten thousand Gallons of Brandy and ten thousand Gallons of Geneva immediately from France and Holland, in Casks not less than sixty Gallons, at the same Duties as are now paid here on Rum from Great Britain, and to reduce the Quantity of Corn Spirits allowed to be imported.

The last Proposition we beg Leave to offer, and which, if adopted, would comprize several of the foregoing, and certainly be the most eligible Branch of Business for the Good of this Isle, as most essentially tending to the Augmentation of Trade and to the Increase of the Revenues, &c., would be to make the Town of Douglas a Warehouse or Repository for foreign European Goods, such as Wines, Brandy, Geneva, Fruits of all Kinds, &c. ; all foreign Goods to pay a small Duty on Importation, and to be lodged in His Majesty’s Storehouses in Douglas, under the Care of proper Officers,. until exported in a limited Time to Great Britain and Ireland, subject to the respective Duties on Importation there, under sufficient Bond to return Certificates of due landing thereof at the Ports cleared out for the Articles necessary for the Consumption of the Inhabitants to be delivered out. occasionally by Permit on Payment of the rated Duties : By this Means the Merchants and Dealers in the Isle of Man, as well as those in Great Britain and Ireland, would be enabled, on all favourable Occasions, to speculate on the Vintages of foreign Countries, and from the central Situation of this Isle, the fair Trader in Great Britain and Ireland would be accommodated in transporting on Bond as before named, and paying the Duties on such Species of Goods as his Occasions may require. Should Parliament in their Wisdom and Justice allow this Branch of Trade, we humbly. conceive that, under proper Regulations and Restrictions, so far from being hurtful to the Commerce and Revenues of Great Britain and Ireland, that, on the contrary, it would in great Measure. tend to suppress the illicit Practices of Smuggling carried on on the Coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Isle of Man.

We most earnestly recommend to your particular Attention the decayed and ruinous State of the Pier and Harbour of Douglas, the great Danger that may thereby accrue to the Lives and Property. of His Majesty’s Subjects, and consequently the absolute Necessity of the Rebuilding the said Pier, and of putting the Harbour into such Repair as an Object of that Moment requires. We humbly submit this last-mentioned and much neglected Business, as well as the beforegoing Propositions, to your mature Consideration, resting assured, and with the most perfect Reliance, on your candid and impartial Report in the Premises.

I am, with due Deference and Esteem,


Your most obedient, and most humble Servant,

By Order of the Committee. JN° JOS BACON.


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