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From the West Indian islands also England
was beginning to draw a regular and increasing
revenue. Of these Barbados had been granted by
Charles I in the year 1627 to the Earl of Carlisle ;
and after the introduction from Brazil, in 1641,
of the sugar cane, it was destined to become
the most prosperous of them all. Barbuda, Nevis,
Antigua and Montserrat had all become English
four years before Colston's birth, and to these
Jamaica was added when he was nineteen years old.

Now in all these new settlements, and in the
growing stream of commerce between them and
their parent country, the town of Bristol, as far as
England was concerned, played the most important
part. Just as it had been the Bristol merchants
who had supported the Cabots, so it had been the
men of Bristol in the days of Queen Elizabeth
who had backed up the enterprises of Drake and
Hawkins, of Gilbert and Raleigh, and it had
been chiefly owing to the enterprise and per-
sistence of the merchants of this town that the
colony of Virginia, after many vicissitudes, had
become the focus of English settlement throughout
the southern coastal areas of what is now the
United States of America.

It was a great inheritance, therefore, that these



io6 The Sea Traders

Bristol merchants handed down to their successors,
and the boy Colston found himself growing up in
what had long become established as the great
gateway to the West. Humming with every sort
of activity, the great houses of Bristol's oversea
merchant-traders were already offering lavish hos-
pitality in such streets as Rcdcliffe Street, Temple
Street and Thomas Street, w^hile in the market-
place and Exchange commercial representatives
and ship captains of almost every civilized country
in the world were constantly to be met. In later
years such seaport towns as Liverpool and Glasgow
were of course to rival and surpass Bristol, but
these as yet were scarcely more than villages and
of small national significance.

The last of an old family of Bristol merchants,
the forbears of Edward Colston had been settled
in the town for at least five generations. The
first Colston had been apparently a North-country-
man, who had been attracted to the south-western
city by the great reputation of William Canynge
and his associates towards the end of the fourteenth
century. Edward Colston's own father, William
Colston, was himself one of the best and most
wealthy of Bristol's citizens, being Sheriff in the
year 1643, when Edward was a little boy of seven,
and receiving as an honoured guest King Charles I
at his private house in Small Street.

Of the sort of atmosphere in which Edward
Colston grew up a good deal can be learned from
the study of contemporary records. Thus, when



Colston and Paterson 107

Edward Colston was but two years old, we find a
petition made by a Bristol company of merchants
in which they state that " they have been many
years settling a plantation in new England, which
.was begun long before such multitudes of people
went over; all they intend to send are regular
people, neither factious nor vicious in religion ;
their plantation is apart from all others, and they
desire now to transport one hundred and eighty
persons, to provide victuals for furnishing the ships
employed in the fishing trade upon that coast, for
which they have built and made ready two ships."
Similarly, thirteen years later, we find Oliver
Cromwell granting a licence to a Lieutenant-
Colonel Robert Yeoman and other merchants of
Bristol and owners of the ship Mary and Francis
" to accompany the naval fleet then about to depart
for Barbados," while a year later, by a similar order
of the Commonwealth, " liberty was given to
Henry Hazard and Robert Yeoman, of the city
of Bristol, merchants, to carry two hundred Irish-
men from any port in Ireland to the Caribbee
Islands " ; thus foreshadowing that great emigra-
tion of Irishmen which has been one of the features
of Western European colonization.

Five years after this, permission was granted to
another Bristol merchant, a Mr. Ellis, to transport
one thousand dozen shoes to tlie Island of Barbados.
It was in the West Indies trade, indeed, that
Colston's father was himself chiefly engaged, selling
English goods there, and importing native products



io8 The Sea Traders

for home consumption ; and it was to this business
that Colston succeeded, after a period spent in
Spain, as a commercial agent, and some years in
London as a merchant on his own account. His
father was an old man when he died, and it was
therefore not until he himself was over forty that
Colston came back to Bristol as head of the family
business. He must already have acquired consider-
able wealth, and his philanthropic bent had long
been manifest ; and henceforward his benefactions
were continuous both to his native town as well as
to London. In the year of his father's death he was
made a Governor of Christ's Hospital, to which
he subscribed annually sums varying between £100
and £500. He was largely interested in the sugar
trade then rapidly developing, and in the year 1689
he started a sugar refinery in the town of Bristol,
which he sold eight years later, devoting the pro-
ceeds very largely to the founding of a workhouse.
During the later part of his life his chief place
of residence was at Mortlake, on the Thames, but
he spent a good deal of time at Bristol, where he
still kept his father's old house. He appears also
to have had lodgings in Whitechapel in order to be
able to supervise more closely his shipping interests
in the London Docks.

Remaining a bachelor to the end of his days,
his generosity was perhaps on a larger scale than
that of any of his contemporaries. To the poor in
Whitechapel he was particularly kind, and every
year he went round the debtors' prisons, both in



Colston and Paterson 109

Whitechapel and Marshalsea, inquiring into the
circumstances of the unfortunate inhabitants, and
freeing as many of the most deserving inmates as
he could. On one occasion he sent a lump sum
of £3,000 to liberate the debtors in Ludgate
Prison, and in the year 1709, when a bad season
had reduced the London poor to an extreme of
wretchedness, he gave a present of £20,000 to be
applied for their benefit.

It was for Bristol, however, the city of his
forefathers and of his own childhood, that he
reserved the greater part of his charities. Here he
established and endowed an almshouse for twelve
poor men and twelve poor women, and it was
characteristic of him that, when one of his ships,
long given up as lost, entered harbour with a rich
cargo, he applied the whole of its produce to the
relief of the suffering of his less fortunate fellow-
townsmen. He further made provision for tht
permanent support of six poor sailors in an extra
wing of his almshouse, and he later, in spite of a
good deal of local opposition, provided the funds for
doubling the accommodation of Queen Elizabeth's
Hospital, a school for boys in which he was keenly
interested.

In the year 1710, although then seventy-four
years old, he was elected Member of Parliament for
Bristol, almost against his will, the whole city being
illuminated in his honour with bonfires. It was
not until the year 1721 that he died at his house
at Mortlake, being then eighty-five. His instruc-



no The Sea Traders

tions as to his funeral were typical of his life.
There was to be no pomp or extensive mourning.
He only asked to be buried in Bristol and to be
attended to the grave by his poor permanent
guests, " especially the six poor old sailors from
the Merchant Almshouses in the Marsh."

So much then for Edward Colston, one of the
noblest figures of his age. It was while he was
still a young man of twenty-two, and while Oliver
Cromwell still held the reins of power in England,
that there was born in Scotland, in most contrasted
conditions, a baby who was destined to have even
a profounder influence on both countries. In a
little farmhouse at Skipmyre, in the parish of
Tinwald, a few miles to the north of Dumfries,
William Paterson first saw the light — the son
of a long line of farmers. Trained as a child in
the principles of the Covenanters, he remained,
although he escaped the persecutions that so many
of these devoted men had to undergo, a stubborn
idealist throughout his whole chequered life, patient
in failure after failure, and genuinely altruistic to
the end.

Never a place-seeker, and always a pioneer, he
was one of those men of whom it may be said that
others continually reaped where he with toil and
difficulty sowed ; and he was perhaps, in a strictly
material sense, quite the least successful of any of
those merchant-adventurers with whom we have so
far dealt. Few of them, however, led a more varied
life or were the possessors of so versatile and fruitful



Colston and Paterson in

a brain, and not many have survived so long in
the shape of the permanent institutions or reforms
due to their genius and now an integral part of
our national life.

At the age of sixteen, WilHam Paterson left
school and gravitated to Bristol, a sphere of
activity, as we have seen, as profoundly diflPerent
as could well be imagined from the lonely hill-
top farmhouse of his early upbringing. In that
bustling, adventurous and prosperous town, he
began absorbing the first elements of commerce ;
and it was while he was living in Bristol as a young
man that he seems to have inherited a small sum
of money with which he was enabled to make some
sort of an independent beginning for himself.

To be young in Bristol in the sixteen hundreds
and to have a little cash almost inevitably meant
an adventure in the New World ; and accordingly
for the next few years Paterson divided his time
between New England and the West Indies, with
occasional periods at home. In the prosperous
little town of Boston he married the widow of a
Puritan minister, and for five or six years he traded
successfully between this town and the Bahamas.
While he was thus engaged, and when he was
still only twenty-six years of age, there dawned in
his mind the first idea of a project, destined, alas !
to end most tragically.

This project was to found a colony on the
Isthmus of Darien, in the region of the present
Panama Canal, and it must be admitted that his



112 The Sea Traders

plan had a great deal to recommend it. As he
pointed out, this was the geographical key to both
North and South America, as well as to both the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

" The Isthmus of America," he wrote, " all
fhings considered, is in healthfulness and fruitful-
ness inferior to few, if any, of the other places in
the Indies, as naturally producing plenty of gold-
dust, dye-woods and other valuable growths, vast
quantities and great variety of the best timber for
shipping, in the known world, and is capable of
yielding sugar, tobacco, indigo, cocoa, vanilla,
annatto, ginger and such like of the best and in
great abundance. But besides, and above all, as
being an isthmus and situated between the two vast
oceans of the universe, it is furnished on each side
with excellent harbours, between the principal
whereof lie the more easy and convenient passes
between the one and the other sea. These forts
and passes, being possessed and fortified, may be
easily secured and defended against any force, not
only there, but that can possibly be found in those
places which are not only the most convenient
doors and inlets into, but likewise the readiest
and securest means, first of gaining, and afterwards
for ever keeping, the command of the spacious
South Sea, which, as it is the greatest, so even
by what theory we already know, it is by far the
richest side of the world. These ports, so settled
with passes open, through them will flow at least
two-thirds of what both Indies yield to Christen-



Colston and Paterson 113

dom, the sum whereof in gold, silver, copper,
spices, saltpetre, pearls, emeralds of value and
such hke, will hardly amount to less than £30,000
sterling yearly. The time and expense of the
voyage to China, Japan and the richest part of the
East Indies, will be lessened more than a half,
and consumption of European commodities soon
be more than double, and afterwards yearly
increased."

For a long time, however, he could obtain no
support for his plans, either in England or the
Continent, and it was characteristic of his many-
sided, energetic and busy nature that in the mean-
time he became closely connected with, and indeed,
the pioneer of a far different project. This was
nothing less than the founding of a great national
bank "to exchange such current bills as should
be brought to be enlarged, the better to give credit
thereunto, and make the said bills the better to
circulate." Now, up to the present time, there
had been no such institution in England. Through-
out mediaeval times the only persons who could
in any sense have been considered as bankers were
practically, as regards their clients, in the relation
of pawnbrokers. The old Italian merchants who
lent their name during the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries to Lombard Street, in London, were
largely engaged in a money-lending business of
this description, and their methods were afterwards
adopted by many prominent London merchants,
such as Sir Richard Whittington and Sir Thomas



114 The Sea Traders

Gresham. These men were all in the habit of
accepting jewels, suits of armour, family treasures
and so forth as security for their loans. In later
days the goldsmiths especially became prominent
as money-lenders of this order. Persons in need
of money would come to them for advances,
pledging securities or leaving bills ; or they would
deposit with them for lending purposes such sur-
plus money as they had no immediate need of.
High rates of interest were charged for such
services, and for many generations no doubt this
rough-and-ready method did undoubtedly confer
a considerable amount of benefit on the trading
community at large as well as upon private persons.
The system, however, was both cumbrous and
wasteful. Much idle capital was kept tied up, gold
was flowing more and more into the safe-rooms
of the goldsmiths, and there was always danger of
defalcation on the part of these individual merchant
money-keepers.

It was this condition of affairs that led,
therefore, to Paterson's enthusiastic and persistent
advocacy, beginning in the year 1691, when he
was living in the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields,
of a really national bank, with the security of
the whole country behind it, and charging a
lower rate of interest for financial accommoda-
tion. But it was a hard battle, first through
the House of Commons, then, after a still fiercer
fight, through the very conservative House of
Lords, and finally with Queen Mary, her



Colston and Paterson 115

husband William of Orange being at that time
abroad.

It was won at last, however, and in the year
1694 William Paterson, then thirty-six years old,
had the satisfaction of knowing himself to have
been the primary founder of the Bank of England,
though he was destined to be afterwards connected
with it for only a short time. For he was then,
as indeed he remained throughout his life, in spite
of his genius, a comparatively poor man and in a
small way of business, although he was big with
ideas for the public welfare.

He had succeeded in making, as such men
must almost inevitably do, many personal enemies
who were only too glad to use every chance
of disparaging him. These were what may
be termed inside enemies, since, in the eyes of
the country at large, his ideas and his eloquent
and forcible presentment of them had already made
him famous. But these inner influences were,
alas ! too strong for him ; and when his chief friend
and supporter Michael Godfrey, the first Deputy-
Governor, died, the intriguers became altogether
too strong for him, and he was ultimately
manoeuvred out of his directorate.

Probably he was not very sorry to go, and
from this atmosphere of petty jealousies and under-
ground slanders he turned again with renewed
vigour to his project of colonizing the Darien
Isthmus. On this occasion he was, at any rate,
successful in forming a definite company, his



ii6 The Sea Traders

chief supporters being recruited from his fellow-
countrymen north of the Border, and the sum of
£300,000 was soon subscribed by all classes of
people. Here again, however, he had to meet
fierce opposition. None of the three great exist-
ing chartered companies looked with favour on a
possible rival ; and the Russia Company, the
Levant Company and the East India Company
all worked to thwart his plans.

With their support he might possibly have
succeeded, although that is doubtful. Even with-
out it, had he lived in the days of Manson and
Ross, and of the late great American sanitarians,
he might possibly have succeeded. But as it was
he failed utterly, and the story of the Darien
settlers, unsupported as they were by the majority
of the greater English merchants, is one of the
tragedies of British colonization.

Insufficiently financed, the expedition was
badly found and from the outset met with catas-
trophe. The landing-place waS ill-chosen and the
provisions gave out. The Indians, as well as the
Spanish inhabitants of the district, were jealous of
the new-comers. Fever was rife and soon took its
toll, and of the eighteen hundred young men who
sailed so hopefully in 1G98 only one hundred and
fifty returned, ill and worn out, during the follow-
ing year. Paterson himself nearly died. He lost
his second wife and his only child there, and it says
much for his unselfish and upright character that
there was a general recognition, both in England



Colston and Paterson 117

and Scotland, that he himself was in no wise
personally to blame.

Such a disaster would have crushed most men,
and Paterson was now forty-two. But his was
an indomitable nature, and meditating over the
tragedy, he perceived that what had chiefly lain at
the root of it was the ill-feeling and want of
co-operation between the merchants of Scotland
and those of England. Out of this there was born
in him a new great idea and a new consuming
passion to which he now dedicated his reviving
energies; and this was the effecting of a union
between England and Scotland and the formation
of a United Kingdom of Great Britain.

In a last interview with King William III he
definitely formulated this idea, "than which," he
afterwards said, '* I convinced him nothing could
tend more to his glory and to render this Island
great and considerable." Still poor, still, in the
worldly sense, a failure, and still regarded askance
by many very influential persons, he now pursued
this new object both in season and out of season,
and more perhaps than any one man contributed
to the final result.

For many years he wrote pamphlets, inter-
viewed statesmen, and persuaded merchants, and
preached entirely disinterestedly this new gospel of
his on both sides of the Border. " Not any sort
of league, confederacy, limitation, agreement, or
bargain, or, indeed, anything less or below a
complete Union can introduce," he wrote, " the



ii8 The Sea Traders

good which may be justly expected therefrom, or
effectually deliver these nations from the mischiefs
and inconveniences they labour under, and are
exposed unto, for want thereof. Nothing less
than a complete Union can effectually secure the
religion, laws, liberties, trade, and, in a word, the
peace and happiness of this Island. And since,
by the blessing of God, a happy occasion now offers
for completing this great and good work, not in
humour or in rage, but in cool blood, with reason
and understanding, it is hoped that this, after all
the troubles, hazards, and disasters of these nations
for want thereof, a Union shall in their temper
and disposition be concluded, to the glory and
renown of our excellent Queen, and common
benefit and general satisfaction of all her subjects,
as having but one interest and inclination may for
ever after be of one heart and one affection."
Finally his dream was realized, and almost the last
work of the last independent Scottish Parliament,
in the year 1707, was formally to commend
Wilham Paterson to Her Majesty Queen Anne
for his great and outstanding efforts in bringing
about the union of the two countries.

With the rest of his troubled and idealistic life
we cannot pause to deal. Suffice it to say that his
ill luck dogged him almost to the end, and that it
was not until he was fifty-seven years old, and only
four years before his death, that he received any
adequate recognition. He was then voted by
ParUament the sum of £18,000, as an indemnity



Colston and Paterson 119

for the many expenses that he had been put to in
the service of the State. When he had paid his
debts this left him only a small sum. But he had
never been intent on amassing wealth, and few men
so entirely forgotten as William Paterson is to-day
can have better served their generation or left so
lasting an impress on their country's life.



CHAPTER X

SOME EARLY NORTH COUNTRY MERCHANTS

The Rise of Liverpool as a Commercial Port — Thomas
Johnson and the Virginian Trade — The Beginnings of the
Old Dock — Thomas Johnson's Services to the Borough in
Parliament — His Neglect and Death in Virginia — The Rise
of Glasgow and some of its Earlier Merchants — The Fish
and Tobacco Trades and the First Glasgow Ships — Patrick
Colquhoun and the Formation of the Glasgow Chamber
of Commerce — His Treatise on the Linen Trade and
Work for Commerce Generally.

T T will have become clear from the foregoing
-*- chapters that throughout later Norman, Plan-
tagenet, Tudor and Stuart times the second port
in England, and indeed the next most important
town to London, was Bristol. What its position
was in the middle of the seventeenth century we
have seen in reviewing the life of Edward Colston,
and it will be remembered that the town of Liver-
pool was then referred to as being comparatively
unimportant. In the present chapter, however,
it becomes necessary to travel north and to study
very briefly the chief factors that were already at
work in laying the foundations of the great
Lancashire seaport, and in stimulating the enor-
mous industrial development that was to change
the whole face of the northern part of England
and of the southern counties of Scotland.

I20



Early North Country Merchants 121

Small as it was, however, during the greater
part of the seventeenth century, Liverpool had
been a borough, owning equal civic rights with
those of London and Bristol, since the year 1229,
in the reign of Henry III. Nevertheless it was
in reahty but a tiny village, and fifty years later
than this there were only one hundred and sixty-
eight houses in it. During the next three centuries
it actually grew smaller, although by the end of
that period it was doing a certain amount of regular
trade with Ireland, or, more accurately, acting as
a harbour for Irish merchants on their way to
Manchester.

In this respect it had come slowly to take the
place of Chester, owing to the fact that the river
Dee became, as sea-going vessels grew bigger,
less navigable ; and the Irish shippers, with their
loads of flax for the Chester merchants, found
it more convenient to unload their goods at
Liverpool, on the Mersey. This led to a period of
considerable friction between the older and younger
port, and for a long time Chester, jealous of its
ancient importance, regarded Liverpool as a sort of
upstart suburb. But in the year 1626 Charles I
conferred a new charter upon the Mersey town,
raising it to the status of a city, with one James
Strange, Lord Stanley, for its first mayor.

It was then still very small, but there were
already signs of the future greatness that awaited
it. It was now the chief market, for instance, in
the north-west quarter of England for the textile



122 The Sea Traders

goods produced in such established towns as
Manchester, Bolton, Blackburn, Rochdale and
Bury, in Lancashire, and in the rising Yorkshire
towns of Halifax, Leeds and Bradford. It had also
been found to be the most convenient port of
embarkation for the hardware goods now being
made in such places as Sheffield, Walsall and
Birmingham, while large quantities of iron were
already being imported by Liverpool merchants
from the Continent. Irish flax remained, how-
ever, the chief import of the growing little seaport
town, whose fleet of ships was becoming somewhat


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