London in 1731
Don Manoel Gonzales
Part 3 out of 3
Moravia, Lubeck, Wismar, Restock, and the whole river Oder.
This company consists of a governor, deputy-governor, and twenty-
four assistants, elected annually in October; but either they have
no power to exclude others from trading within their limits, or the
fine for permission is so inconsiderable, that it can never hinder
any merchants trading thither who is inclined to it; and, in fact,
this trade, like the former, is carried on by private merchants, and
the trade to Norway and Sweden is laid open by Act of Parliament.
To Norway and Denmark merchants send guineas, crown-pieces, bullion,
a little tobacco, and a few coarse woollens.
They import from Norway, &c., vast quantities of deal boards,
timber, spars, and iron.
Sweden takes from England gold and silver, and but a small quantity
of the manufactures and production of England.
England imports from Sweden near two-thirds of the iron wrought up
or consumed in the kingdom, copper, boards, plank, &c.
The Turkey or Levant Company was first incorporated in the reign of
Queen Elizabeth, and their privileges were confirmed and enlarged in
the reign of King James I., being empowered to trade to the Levant,
or eastern part of the Mediterranean, particularly to Smyrna,
Aleppo, Constantinople, Cyprus, Grand Cairo, Alexandria, &c. It
consists of a governor, deputy-governor, and eighteen assistants or
directors, chosen annually, &c. This trade is open also to every
merchant paying a small consideration, and carried on accordingly by
These merchants export to Turkey chiefly broadcloth, long-ells,
tins, lead, and some iron; and the English merchants frequently buy
up French and Lisbon sugars and transport thither, as well as
bullion from Cadiz.
The commodities received from thence are chiefly raw silk, grogram
yarn, dyeing stuffs of sundry kinds, drugs, soap; leather, cotton,
and some fruit, oil, &c.
The East India Company were incorporated about the 42nd of
Elizabeth, anno 1600, and empowered to trade to all countries to the
eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, exclusive of all others.
About the middle of King William's reign it was generally said their
patent was illegal, and that the Crown could not restrain the
English merchants from trading to any country they were disposed to
deal with; and application being made to Parliament for leave to lay
the trade open, the ministry took the hint, and procured an Act of
Parliament (9 and 10 William III., cap. 44) empowering every subject
of England to trade to India who should raise a sum of money for the
supply of the Government in proportion to the sum he should advance,
and each subscriber was to have an annuity after the rate of 8 per
cent. per annum, to commence from Michaelmas, 1698. And his Majesty
was empowered to incorporate the subscribers, as he afterwards did,
and they were usually called the New East India Company, the old
company being allowed a certain time to withdraw their effects. But
the old company being masters of all the towns and forts belonging
to the English on the coast of India, and their members having
subscribed such considerable sums towards the two millions intended
to be raised, that they could not be excluded from the trade, the
new company found it necessary to unite with the old company, and to
trade with one joint stock, and have ever since been styled "The
United Company of Merchants trading to the East Indies."
The company have a governor, deputy-governor, and twenty-four
assistants or directors, elected annually in April.
The East India Company export great quantities of bullion, lead,
English cloth, and some other goods, the product or manufacture of
that kingdom, and import from China and India tea, china ware,
cabinets, raw and wrought silks, coffee, muslins, calicoes, and
Bengal raw silk is bought at very low prices there, and is very
useful in carrying on the manufactures of this kingdom.
China silk is of excellent staple, and comes at little above one-
third of the price of Italian Piedmont silk.
The China silk is purchased at Canton, but their fine silk is made
in the provinces of Nankin and Chekiam, where their fine
manufactures are carried on, and where prodigious quantities of raw
silk are made, and the best in all China.
The Royal African Company was incorporated 14 Charles II., and
empowered to trade from Sallee, in South Barbary, to the Cape of
Good Hope, being all the western coast of Africa. It carries no
money out, and not only supplies the English plantations with
servants, but brings in a great deal of bullion for those that are
sold to the Spanish West Indies, besides gold dust and other
commodities, as red wood, elephants' teeth, Guinea grain, &c., some
of which are re-exported. The supplying the plantations with
negroes is of that extraordinary advantage, that the planting sugar
and tobacco and carrying on trade there could not be supported
without them; which plantations are the great causes of the increase
of the riches of the kingdom.
The Canary Company was incorporated in the reign of King Charles
II., anno 1664, being empowered to trade to the Seven Islands,
anciently called the Fortunate, and now the Canary Islands.
They have a governor, deputy-governor, and thirteen assistants or
directors, chosen annually in March. This company exports baize,
kerseys, serges, Norwich stuffs, and other woollen manufactures;
stockings, hats, fustians, haberdashery wares, tin, and hardware; as
also herrings, pilchards, salted flesh, and grain; linens, pipe-
staves, hoops, &c. Importing in return Canary wines, logwood,
hides, indigo, cochineal, and other commodities, the produce of
America and the West Indies.
There is another company I had almost overlooked, called the
Hudson's Bay Company; and though these merchants make but little
noise, I find it is a very advantageous trade. They by charter
trade, exclusively of all other his Britannic Majesty's subjects, to
the north-west; which was granted, as I have been told, on account
that they should attempt a passage by those seas to China, &c.,
though nothing appears now to be less their regard; nay; if all be
true, they are the very people that discourage and impede all
attempts made by others for the opening that passage to the South
Seas. They export some woollen goods and haberdashery wares,
knives, hatchets, arms, and other hardware; and in return bring back
chiefly beaver-skins, and other skins and furs.
The last, and once the most considerable of all the trading
companies, is that of the South Sea, established by Act of
Parliament in the ninth year of the late Queen Anne; but, what by
reason of the mismanagement of its directors in 1720, the
miscarriage of their whale-fishery, and the intrigues of the
Spaniards, their credit is sunk, and their trade has much decreased.
I proceed, in the next place, to inquire what countries the
merchants of London trade to separately, not being incorporated or
subject to the control of any company.
Among which is the trade to Italy, whither are exported broad-cloth,
long-ells, baize, druggets, callimancoes, camlets, and divers other
stuffs; leather, tin, lead, great quantities of fish, as pilchards,
herrings, salmon, Newfoundland cod, &c., pepper, and other East
The commodities England takes from them are raw, thrown, and wrought
silk, wine, oil, soap, olives, some dyer's wares, anchovies, &c.
To Spain the merchants export broad-cloth, druggets, callimancoes,
baize, stuff of divers kinds, leather, fish, tin, lead, corn, &c.
The commodities England takes from them are wine, oil, fruit of
divers kinds, wool, indigo, cochineal, and dyeing stuffs.
To Portugal also are exported broad-cloth, druggets, baize, long-
ells, callimancoes, and all other sorts of stuffs; as well as tin,
lead, leather, fish, corn, and other English commodities.
England takes from them great quantities of wine, oil, salt, and
fruit, and gold, both in bullion and specie; though it is forfeited,
if seized in the ports of Portugal.
The French take very little from England in a fair way, dealing
chiefly with owlers, or those that clandestinely export wool and
fuller's-earth, &c. They indeed buy some of our tobacco, sugar,
tin, lead, coals, a few stuffs, serges, flannels, and a small matter
England takes from France wine, brandy, linen, lace, fine cambrics,
and cambric lawns, to a prodigious value; brocades, velvets, and
many other rich silk manufactures, which are either run, or come by
way of Holland; the humour of some of the nobility and gentry being
such, that although they have those manufactures made as good at
home, if not better than abroad, yet they are forced to be called by
the name of French to make them sell. Their linens are run in very
great quantities, as are their wine and brandy, from the Land's End
even to the Downs.
To Flanders are exported serges, a few flannels, a very few stuffs,
sugar, tobacco, tin, and lead.
England takes from them fine lace, fine cambrics, and cambric-lawns,
Flanders whited linens, threads, tapes, incles, and divers other
commodities, to a very great value.
To Holland the merchants export broad-cloth, druggets, long-ells,
stuffs of a great many sorts, leather, corn, coals, and something of
almost every kind that this kingdom produces; besides all sorts of
India and Turkey re-exported goods, sugars, tobacco, rice, ginger,
pitch and tar, and sundry other commodities of the produce of our
England takes from Holland great quantities of fine Holland linen,
threads, tapes, and incles; whale fins, brass battery, madder,
argol, with a large number of other commodities and toys; clapboard,
To Ireland are exported fine broad-cloth, rich silks, ribbons, gold
and silver lace, manufactured iron and cutlery wares, pewter, great
quantities of hops, coals, dyeing wares, tobacco, sugar, East India
goods, raw silk, hollands, and almost everything they use, but
linens, coarse woollens, and eatables.
England takes from Ireland woollen yarn, linen yarn, great
quantities of wool in the fleece, and some tallow.
They have an extraordinary trade for their hides, tallow; beef,
butter, &c., to Holland, Flanders, France, Portugal, and Spain,
which enables them to make large remittances.
To the sugar plantations are exported all sorts of clothing, both
linen, silks, and woollen; wrought iron, brass, copper, all sorts of
household furniture, and a great part of their food.
They return sugar, ginger, and several commodities, and all the
bullion and gold they can meet with, but rarely carry out any.
To the tobacco plantations are exported clothing, household goods,
iron manufactures of all sorts, saddles, bridles, brass and copper
wares; and notwithstanding they dwell among the woods, they take
their very turnery wares, and almost everything else that may be
called the manufacture of England.
England takes from them not only what tobacco is consumed at home,
but very great quantities for re-exportation.
To Carolina are exported the same commodities as to the tobacco
plantations. This country lying between the 32nd and 36th degrees
of northern latitude, the soil is generally fertile. The rice it
produces is said to be the best in the world; and no country affords
better silk than has been brought from thence, though for want of
sufficient encouragement the quantity imported is very small. It is
said both bohea and green tea have been raised there, extraordinary
good of the kind. The olive-tree grows wild, and thrives very well,
and might soon be improved so far as to supply us with large
quantities of oil. It is said the fly from whence the cochineal is
made is found very common, and if care was taken very great
quantities might be made. The indigo plant grows exceedingly well.
The country has plenty of iron mines in it, and would produce
excellent hemp and flax, if encouragement was given for raising it.
To Pennsylvania are exported broad-cloth, kerseys, druggets, serges,
and manufactures of all kinds.
To New England are exported all sorts of woollen manufactures,
linen, sail-cloth and cordage for rigging their ships, haberdashery,
&c. They carry lumber and provisions to the sugar plantations; and
exchange provisions for logwood with the logwood-cutters at
Campeachy. They send pipe and barrel-staves and fish to Spain,
Portugal, and the Straits. They send pitch, tar, and turpentine to
England, with some skins.
Having considered the trading companies, and other branches of
foreign trade, I shall now inquire into the establishment of the
Bank of England.
The governor and company of the Bank of England, &c., are enjoined
not to trade, or suffer any person in trust for them to trade, with
any of the stock, moneys or effects, in the buying or selling of any
merchandise or goods whatsoever, on pain of forfeiting the treble
value. Yet they may deal in bills of exchange, and in buying and
selling of bullion, gold or silver, or in selling goods mortgaged to
them, and not redeemed at the time agreed on, or within three months
after, or such goods as should be the produce of lands purchased by
the corporation. All bills obligatory and of credit under the seal
of the corporation made to any person, may by endorsement be
assigned, and such assignment shall transfer the property to the
moneys due upon the same, and the assignee may sue in his own name.
There is at present due to this Bank
from the Government on the original
fund at 6 pounds per cent. 1,600,000 (pounds)
For cancelling of Exchequer bills,
3 George I 1,500,000
Purchased of the South Sea Company 4,000,000
Annuities at 4 pounds per cent. charged
on the duty on coals since
Lady Day, 1719. 1,750,000
Ditto, charged on the surplus of
the funds for the lottery of 1714 1,250,000
Total due to the Bank of England 10,100,000 (pounds)
Give me leave to observe here, that most of the foreign trade of
this town is transacted by brokers, of which there are three sorts,
viz., 1st, Exchange-brokers, 2ndly, brokers for goods and
merchandise, and 3rdly, ship-brokers.
The exchange-brokers, who are versed in the course of exchange,
furnish the merchant with money or bills, as he has occasion for
The broker of goods lets the merchant know where he may furnish
himself with them, and the settled price; or if he wants to sell,
where he may meet with a chapman for his effects.
The ship-broker finds ships for the merchant, when he wants to send
his goods abroad; or goods for captains and masters of vessels to
freight their ships with.
If it be demanded what share of foreign trade London hath with
respect to the rest of the kingdom; it seems to have a fourth part
of the whole, at least if we may judge by the produce of the
customs, which are as three to twelve, or thereabouts.
As to the manufactures carried on in the City of London; here
mechanics have acquired a great deal of reputation in the world, and
in many things not without reason; for they excel in clock and
cabinet-work, in making saddles, and all sorts of tools, and other
things. The door and gun locks, and fire-arms, are nowhere to be
paralleled; the silk manufacture is equal to that of France, or any
other country, and is prodigiously enlarged of late years. Dyers
also are very numerous in and about London, and are not exceeded by
any foreigners in the beauty or durableness of their colours: and
those that print and stain cottons and linens have brought that art
to great perfection. Printers of books, also, may equal those
abroad; but the best paper is imported from other countries.
The manufacture of glass here is equal to that of Venice, or any
other country in Europe, whether we regard the coach or looking-
glasses, perspective, drinking-glasses, or any other kind of glass,
whatever. The making of pins and needles is another great
manufacture in this town, as is that of wire-drawings of silver,
gold, and other metals. The goldsmiths and silversmiths excel in
their way. The pewterers and brasiers furnish all manner of vessels
and implements for the kitchen, which are as neatly and
substantially made and furnished here as in any country in Europe.
The trades of hat-making and shoe-making employ multitudes of
mechanics; and the tailors are equally numerous. The cabinet,
screen, and chair-makers contribute also considerably to the
adorning and furnishing the dwelling-house. The common smiths,
bricklayers, and carpenters are no inconsiderable branch of
mechanics; as may well be imagined in a town of this magnitude,
where so many churches, palaces, and private buildings are
continually repairing, and so many more daily erecting upon new
foundations. And this brings me to mention the shipwrights, who are
employed in the east part of the town, on both sides the river
Thames, in building ships, lighters, boats, and other vessels; and
the coopers, who make all the casks for domestic and foreign
service. The anchorsmiths, ropemakers, and others employed in the
rigging and fitting out ships, are very numerous; and brewing and
distilling may be introduced among the manufactures of this town,
where so many thousand quarters of malt are annually converted into
beer and spirits: and as the various kinds of beer brewed here are
not to be paralleled in the world, either for quantity or quality,
so the distilling of spirits is brought to such perfection that the
best of them are not easily to be distinguished from French brandy.
Having already mentioned ship-building among the mechanic trades,
give me leave to observe farther, that in this England excels all
other nations; the men-of-war are the most beautiful as well as
formidable machines that ever floated on the ocean.
As to the number of foreigners in and about this great city, there
cannot be given any certain account, only this you may depend upon,
that there are more of the French nation than of any other: such
numbers of them coming over about the time of the Revolution and
since to avoid the persecution of Louis XIV., and so many more to
get their bread, either in the way of trade, or in the service of
persons of quality; and I find they have upwards of twenty churches
in this town, to each of which, if we allow 1,000 souls, then their
number must be at least 20,000. Next to the French nation I account
most of the Dutch and Germans; for there are but few Spaniards or
Portuguese, and the latter are generally Jews; and except the raree-
show men, we see scarce any of the natives of Italy here; though the
Venetian and some other Italian princes have their public chapels
here for the exercise of the Romish religion.
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