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Page 36 - Brown's 'Early History of the Coal Trade'

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1983/12/1 (318 reads)

He calculated that a revenue of 500 1. to 1000 1. might be raised, which he proposed to expend in making roads. This wise ad? vice, however, was not followed; on the contrary, at a Council held at the Court of St • James's on December 3, in the same year, "His Majesty, with the advice of the Privy Council, declared his royal pleasure not at present to authorise or permit any coal mines to be opened and worked in the island of Cape Breton, and that all peti? tions and proposals for that purpose be dismissed this Board," It might have been supposed that this clear and positive order would have been strictly complied with, yet it appears from the Records that Lord William Camp? bell, who was appointed Governor of Nova Scotia in November 1766, granted an exclu? sive right, in the month of April follow? ing, to Benjamin Gerrish, William Lloyd, James Armstrong, and Peter Bard, merchants of Halifax, to dig 3,000 chaldrons of coal "anywhere, except from such places where his Majesty's troops were at work digging for the use of the garrisons." The grant, which was to determine in eight months, au? thorised the lessees to raise 3,000 chal? drons, paying 400 pounds sterling for the privilege, with a provision that, in case of any sudden or unforeseen accident they were prevented from digging and carrying away 3,000 chaldrons in eight months, a reasonable extension of their time should be allowed. The lessees were also bound to send 1,500 chaldrons to Halifax, and to sell it there at no higher rate than twen? ty-six shillings sterling per chaldron. Gerrish and his partners opened a mine at Spanish River (Sydney)--the exact locality is not mentioned--from whence they shipped during the year-- To Halifax " New York . . " Providence " Boston " Philadelphia " Louisbourg " England Tot al 1,783 60 54 44 45 76 217 2,279 chaldrons A chaldron is an English unit of dry measure equal to 32 to 36 bushels. On February 22, 1768, they petitioned for further time to enable them to ship the balance of their contract, alleging "that it could not be completed in the time spec? ified, because several of their works had fallen in; larger quantities than usual had been imported from Europe; and a large quantity of coal had been smuggled from Cape Breton to New England by one Alexan? der Lee, of Louisbourg, which brought down the price so much that it would not pay them to ship more than above mentioned." This contravention of the king's order did not escape the notice of the Secretary of State, who called upon the Governor to state why he had granted a lease to Ger? rish and his partners in direct opposition to his Majesty's orders, to which Lord Wil? liam Campbell replied that, "having been told the coal composed the surface of the island, and could be easily taken away by any adventurer," he considered it was bet? ter to use it and apply the proceeds to the making of roads in the province. He al? so informed the Secretary of State that the mines had been quite neglected since 1758, and that if the detachment of the 59th Regiment was removed from Louisbourg, "the coal mines in the neighbourhood could be uninterruptedly worked by any people who thought proper to go there, as the pro? hibition before proceeded from a fixed guard of troops on the spot." He suggested, at the same time, that the soldiers sta? tioned there might be usefully employed in working the mines. In the month of February 1768, the Secre? tary of State again informed the Governor that "no more licences must be granted for taking coals from the cliffs in the island of Cape Breton." It is hard to conceive what could have been the reason for per? sisting in this mistaken policy; for if short leases had been granted, a great deal of coal which fell from the cliffs every spring, and was washed away by the surf, might have been collected to supply Halifax with fuel. Besides, it would have saved the Government a vast amount of trouble and expense in keeping off trespas? sers, who about this time carried off large quantities of coal from the cliffs. This illicit traffic continued to increase to such a degree, that the Governor, on May 4, 1770, informed the Council he had applied to Lieut.-Colonel Leslie, command? ing his Majesty's troops in the province, and had obtained from him a promise to fur? nish a sufficient force to prevent trespas? sing on the king's rights in future, and that he wished to leam the opinion of the Council as to the measures proper to be taken. "On which the Council advised that the chief magistrate at Louisbourg should be directed to proceed to Cow Bay, and re? quire all persons there to depart immedi- ately"--the coal smugglers, as they were styled, had not only dug a large quantity of coal, but had coolly taken up their quarters in the old barracks, where they resided without molestation--"and that he should put the troops into the barracks or houses there belonging to the king, giving them orders to prevent any coals being dug or carried thence without the Governor's special order. It was ordered also that a proclamation be issued, strictly prohibit- Best Western Claymore Inn (36) Licensed Dining Room & Lounge * 52 Modern Rooms P. 0. BOX 1720, ANTIGONISH, NOVA SCOTIA B2G 2M5 Only 8 Miles from Keppoch Mountain Ask About Our Special Ski Package (accommodation, meals, & lift ticket] and Winter Weekend Rates PHONE 863-1050 * TELEX 019-36567 J
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