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ments, and extended to ships from Honduras, and is still
in existence.) Each captain on arrival in the United
Kingdom was to produce a certificate from the British
North American collectors of customs, to the effect that
all the cargo was under hatches when the vessel left North

A Treasury letter of January 22, 1839, called for a
report from aU the collectors of the United Kingdom as
to their method of enforcing the Emigration Acts. It
appears that Dr. Poole, the ' inspecting physician of


emigrants ' at Grosse Isle, Lower Canada, had reported
that the medical superintendence on emigrant vessels was
extremely defective. He stated that most of the persons
calling themselves surgeons of emigrant ships were un-
licensed students, or apothecaries' apprentices and shop-
men, with little professional knowledge, and that the lists
of passengers certified to by the British customs collectors
were seldom correct, which rendered it difficult to find out
the number of deaths during voyage. The passenger
accounts were falsified from two motives, the ages being
often understated so as to evade the colonial emigrant
tax, and the passenger space encroached upon by counting
adults as children.

A Liverpool merchant named Holt had entered at
various times large quantities of glass for exportation on
excise drawback, and the customs searchers of the port,
whose duty it was to examine the goods at shipment, and
ascertain whether they corresponded in quantity and
value with the statements on the specifications, had been
in the habit of passing them without examination, and in
some cases even allowing shipment before the specifica-
tions were produced. Holt had taken advantage of this
to ship ordinary rough goods not entitled to drawback,
and had thus defrauded the Excise to the extent of
£70,000. The fraud was discovered in 1839, and the
officers appear to have got off rather easily. The senior
searcher was dismissed, the others were reprimanded, and
the inspector-general and landing-surveyors of the port
were censured.

New instructions were issued as to dealing with packages
brought for foreign ministers. Any package produced by
a messenger, and declared to be a despatch-box, was to be
passed at once without search, unless the officers had sus-
picion, in which case they were to apprise the Board.
Packages declared to contain goods for foreign ministers
were to be put in the Queen's Warehouse, to await a
Treasury Order.

In paying to the island treasury the duties collected


under Cap. 59, 3 and 4 Wm. IV., the collector of Dominica
tendered no less than fyd> os. 4d. worth of 2d. and 4d.
silver pieces, which the treasurer refused to accept, but
in the end the governor directed him to take the money.
The House of Assembly, Upper Canada, sent a petition
to the queen, praying that the prohibition of the importa-
tion of tea from the United States of America to Canada
might be removed, and that such tea might be allowed to
come in on payment of a certain duty. The Customs
Lawyers were accordingly directed to draft a bill to that
end, the amount of duty leviable to be settled by colonial
Statute. The file contains statistics of tea exported from
the United Kingdom to British North America and the
West Indies :

To British
orth America.

To British
West Indies.



1. 193.987





The Board had directed inquiry to be made as to revenue
matters at Broken Bay, New South Wales. The com-
mander of the Prince George revenue cutter, stationed at
Sydney, furnished a report, stating that about twenty
vessels traded to the Hawkesbury, and that the population
of Port Stephen was fast increasing. ' The Australian
Agricultural Company hold all the land there.' He pro-
ceeded that Twofold Bay was used by vessels in the cattle
trade, that Jervis Bay was used but as a place of shelter,
and that there was a coasting trade between Port
Macquarie and Wollongong. He had visited Western
Port, but found no vessels there ; and he had not heard
of any smuggling. In 1839 the collector of Sydney re-
ported to the Board that Botany Bay had a revenue
cutter to watch the large vessels that frequently put in in
distress, and to check the smuggling. She had made no
captures, but had been of service in recovering small
vessels carried off by convicts, in saving wrecked mariners,




and in communicating on Government business with
various places along the coast.

A return of trade in Ceylon for the five years ending
1839 is annexed to the file, and reads as below :

Imports [Value). Exports [Value).




(The principal article of export trade was cinnamon.
From June i, 1839, to May 31, 1840, 374,530 pounds
cirmamon were exported.) A Customs survey of 1839
gives the following description of outports and commerce
in Ceylon :















Jaffna : Paddy, rice, cloth.

Madder, tobacco, ebony.


Manar : Paddy, rice, cloth.

Madder, dried fish, gingelly-


Trincomalee : Paddy, rice.

Beeswax, gingelly-seed, ivory


iron wood.

Batticaloa : Paddy, rice, cloth,

Beeswax, cocoanuts, ivory

iron, brassware.


Muletivu : Paddy, rice, cloth.

Beeswax, cocoanuts, jaggery


bark, and timber.

Cap. 17 of 3 and 4 Vict, increased the Customs duties
by 5 per cent, on all goods except spirits, corn, and flour,
and the drawbacks, bounties, and allowances, in the same
proportion. The duty on imported spirits was increased
by 4d. a gallon. Cap. 19 removed this impost from
timber, and replaced it by a string of additional specific
duties. The Passenger Act was extended by Cap. 21 so
as to apply to the passenger trade from the West Indies,
Bahamas, and Bermuda. By Cap. 56 ships belonging to
native princes or states having subsidiary treaties or
being in alliance with the East India Company were
admitted to the privilege of British ships within the limits
of the East India Company's charter.

11. 13


The Treasury apprised the Board of a despatch from
Lord Palmerston, stating that information had been
received that the Cariist commander, Cabrera, had sent
money to England for the purchase of 20,000 muskets.
An order was therefore issued that all shipments of arms
should be notified to the Treasury.

The first consignment of fish-oil from the Malabar coast
arrived. The quantity was 15 butts only. It was ad-
mitted by Treasury order at the low duty (is. a tun), and
directions were issued that all subsequent consignments
should be passed at the same rate if caught by his
Majesty's subjects.

The first case of removal of coffee from bond for husking
purposes occurred at Greenock. (This is a common
practice at the present day. The goods are frequently
imported in husk, and removed under bond to places
where the husk is removed. They are then returned to
bond, reweighed, and taken to account for duty at the
new weight.)

An order was issued in November, 1840, to the effect
that, the Baltic traders and whalers having returned, the
Coastguard officers and collectors were to use their best
endeavours to obtain able volunteers for the navy.

The Governor-General of Canada informed Lord Russell
that the provisions of the Passenger Acts were still in
many cases disregarded (see p. 191). He instanced two
vessels which had brought emigrants from Westport.
They had been seven weeks on the voyage. Provisions
ran short, and for a long period the steerage passengers
were in a state of semi-starvation. In another case the
captain had charged extortionate prices — 37s. 4d. a
hundredweight for bread which cost 17s. 6d., 3d. a pound
for barley which cost i|d., ' and other things in pro-
portion.' (These matters illustrate the spirit in which
the collectors and Emigration officers approached their
work, and prove that the average shipmaster is by no
means the jovial, open-handed, open-hearted person that
song and story have combined to make him.)


The collector of Dominica reported that on April 26,
1840 (Sunday), he went on board three vessels belonging
to St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and Dominica, seized their pen-
dants, which they were flying in contravention of Sect. 11,
Cap. 13, 4 Wm. IV., and then informed the captains
they were liable to a penalty of £50 each. This produced
petitions from the terrified shipmasters, which the
collector forwarded, with a statement that he had taken
bond for the penalties, pending the Board's decision.
The Board directed him to cancel the bonds, and to refer
to the governor for instructions in future, before seizing
pendants or flags. It is evident the penalty was one of
a kind frequent in the British Statute-books — a ' bogey '
penalty — and the law on the matter one of those pecu-
liarly British laws which shrewd men never dream of

It appears that the colonial governors still shared in
the proceeds of seizures under the revenue and Navi-
gation laws. On June 5, 1840, the earl of Gosford applied
to the Board from Park Place, St. James's, London, for
his share of the Montreal seizure proceeds, due to him as
governor of Lower Canada. The amount (£85 3s. id.)
was paid to him.

During 1840 a committee of the Nova Scotian House of
Assembly made certain statements to the governor.
They recommended that the Nova Scotian Customs and
Excise should be amalgamated, and stated that under the
existing system, when goods were cleared at landing, three
customs and two excise entries were required, and that
when goods were warehoused four customs and three
excise entries were called for, and that at some of the
outports the customs and excise offices were miles apart.
They urged that the collectors should be placed under
local control, and the London Board's powers abolished.
(It appears that in Canada and Newfoundland the
customs and excise duties were collected by one staff.)
The committee also stated that some of the officers
appointed by the home authorities were unsatisfactory.


and when the governor asked for proof the following reply
was given : ' The House has considered that the statement
did not require any evidence in support thereof, the same
being well known to many of the members and to the
public, and accordingly no evidence was taken by the
committee thereon.' The papers were referred to the
London Board, who merely marked them ' Read.'

The Roman Catholic vicar of Newfoundland memorial-
ized the Board, stating that he ordered three church
organs for the use of various Catholic churches in the
colony, that the goods were sent out in a colonial-built
ship via Hamburg, and that in consequence of the vessel's
having called at Hamburg the Newfoundland customs
officers charged him the duty payable upon foreign
manufactured organs (£71 os. 8d.). On inquiry in
London, it was found that the master had not cleared his
ship for Hamburg, also that the organs had not been
entered outwards, nor had the British export duty been
paid on them. Still, the Treasury authorized the Board
to refund the extra amount paid in Newfoundland. The
shipmaster was fined.

Fifteen years had elapsed since the Privy Council for
Trade and the Customs Board had been made aware of
the starthng fact that, although Labrador had been
included in many revenue Acts, there was not a single
established customs officer on its extensive coast, yet no
regular appointment was made there till 1840. True,
Mr. Langley (see p. 148) had, much to his own disap-
pointment and detriment, acted as collector for a year or
two, and the sheriff who accompanied the judge on his
annual visits to Labrador had occasionally attempted to
act under instructions from the collector of St. John's,
Newfoundland, but the results had been as vague as the
systems of appointment. In 1840 the Newfoundland
Legislature appointed Mr. Elias Rendall as collector of
provincial customs at Labrador, and the collector of
St. John's instructed him to levy the imperial duties as
well. He was not particularly successful, the British


fishermen stationed there dechning to pay duty, the
reason assigned being that they were not protected in
their fisheries. Said one of the fishing agents : ' The
Americans who swarm on the coast visit most of these
harbours and creeks with goods for sale. Were it possible
to enforce a general payment, the British resident would
not seek any immunity.'

To show how cautiously the warehousing privileges
were extended to ports, we give a summary of the pro-
ceedings on the memorial of William Burge, of Falmouth,
Jamaica. He informed the Board that the trade of the
port in 1838 had been as below :

Tonnage of vessels inward .. .. 11,457

Tonnage of vessels outward .. .. 11,688

Customs collected .. .. .. ;^i,764 iis. 2d.

He stated that the Jamaica Assembly had passed a
resolution declaring it expedient to establish a bonded
warehouse at the port of Falmoifth, and that he was pre-
pared to provide such a warehouse, if an Order in CouncU
could be obtained sanctioning the proceeding. The
requisite order was issued on March i, 1840, and the
warehouse was opened on October i.

The amount of customs duties collected in Jamaica for
the quarter ending April 5, 1840, shows that trade was
increasing fast.

£ s-


Kingston and Old Harbour . .

18,182 13



Port Morant

856 15



Port Antonio

146 8



Port Maria and Annatto Bay

663 14



Montego Bay and Lucea

4,004 14



Savannah-la-Mar and Black River

1,645 ^



Falmouth, Rio Bueno, and St.



3,626 17



29,126 II



It appears that Newcastle, N.S.W., had experienced
peculiar vicissitudes. In 1834 a petition, signed by sixty-
nine merchants, had been sent to the governor of N.S.W.,
asking that the customs officer at Newcastle might be


allowed to enter and clear vessels. The petition stated
that three ships had been laden with wool at Newcastle
recently, and that there was a considerable export trade in
maize, tobacco, coal, butter, and cheese to Tasmania.
The governor allowed the privilege requested. (Pre-
viously vessels discharging and loading at Newcastle had
been entered and cleared at the head port, Sydney, and
all duties had been paid there as well.) The Sydney
collector apprised the Board of the governor's action,
stating that Hunter's River was the most productive part
of the colony, especially with regard to wool, and that
the trade of Newcastle was increasing with great rapidity.
In 1838 he reported that during the last quarter of 1837
seventy-one vessels, tonnage varying from 14 to 344,
had cleared out from Newcastle, the cargoes being maize,
coal, sheep, hides, taUow, and wool, but the imports were
trifling, as follows :

Spirits : 3 cases, 17 casks. Sugar : i ton, 16 mats.

Tea : 28 packages. Porter : i barrel.

Beef : 40 barrels. Timber : 38 loads.

Wine : i cask. Flour : 72 bags.

The value of the wool shipped from Newcastle to the
United Kingdom in 1837 was £20,000. Soon afterwards
the port began to go down. In 1840 the landing-waiter
was removed to Sydney, the exportation of wool to the
United Kingdom having ceased, and a tide waiter only
remained at the port, to look after the coasting trade.

The collector of Colombo reported to the Board that
an article had appeared in the Bombay Courier, comment-
ing upon a growing practice of ' sailing vessels under more
than one flag.' The collector supported this by quoting
the case of the General Wood, a ship which had been
sailing under various flags and names ever since she was
built in 1816. He also stated that the provisions of the
Navigation Acts were rarely observed in the East India
ports. But it appeared upon investigation that there
was no law prohibiting a British ship from trading under
false colours, or with false papers.


The inspector of Waterguard at Liverpool informed the
Board that several of his officers had become Socialists,
and proceeded to comment upon the matter in the high-
flown language so often used by the higher officials when-
ever they dealt with matters outside the scope of ordinary
routine. ' I have read,' he stated, ' several Socialist
publications. The doctrines they contain are as blas-
phemous as they are inimical to the constitution of
this country. They tend to equalize all classes of society,
and to deny all authority from superiors. These dangerous
principles partake of neither religion nor morality. They
have substituted a new and specious system of their
own, a system contrary in spirit to the queen's
proclamation against vice and immorality, contrary in
spirit to the Treasury Minute of March 18, 1836, which
goes to inculcate good order in Society. This delusion is
daily increasing in these parts, and I have felt it my duty
to bring it forward. I cannot but look upon this as a
most serious matter, for I must doubt the trustworthiness
of that officer who denies in principle any control but
his own will. Can his oath be depended upon ?' The
collector, controller, and inspector-general of Liverpool
furnished supplementary statements, couched in language
equally turgid and ambiguous. They agreed with
Mr. Walker that Socialism was ' likely to be attended
with the most baneful and pernicious consequences to the
community at large, and to man in his social state.'

Now, the Minute quoted by Mr. Walker as inculcating
' good order in Society ' had been issued in consequence
of an address to the king by the Commons in 1836, praying
the discouragement of all political associations that held
communication by means of secret signs and symbols, or
excluded people of a different religion, and had been
levelled particularly against Orange Lodges. Yet the
Board thought it applicable to the Socialists, and in their
covering report to the Treasury they expressed a deadly
determination to carry it out. But the Treasury held
that the Minute was inapplicable. Yet they desired the


Board to communicate the following message to the
Liverpool iconoclasts : ' My Lords learn with the sincerest
regret that any officers in H.M. Service have connected
themselves with a Society so subversive of morality and

The first consignment of guano from the Pacific arrived
in 1841. The Treasury waived the duty of 5 per cent.
ad valorem to which the guano would ordinarily have been
liable as ' unenumerated goods/ and rated it at 5s. per ton
only. Later they allowed preserved turtle to enter duty-
free — a privilege which live turtle had always enjoyed.
A later Minute announced that the queen, by letters
patent under the Great Seal, had been pleased to ' erect '
the islands of New Zealand into a separate and distinct
colony. Another directed that Mr. Gray, customs con-
troller at Aberdeen, should be censured for inducing the
provost and chief magistrate of that substantial town to
apply to the Treasury, praying that Mr. Gray might be
appointed to the vacant collectorship.

Although in 1841 the Customs establishment at Port
Adelaide was not under the control of the Board, but
appointed solely by the governor, the collector managed to
gain what may with fairness be called unenviable dis-
tinction. On June 29 the French-built vessel Ville de
Bordeaux anchored in Glenelg Roads. The captain
reported her as from St. George's Sound to Tasmania, he
being commissioned to buy stock at the latter colony for
transport to West Australia, and stated that he had put
into Port Adelaide because he had reason^o think stock
could be procured there more readily. He ordered a
number of sheep, and entered his vessel for Bourbon.
The officious customs clerk who took his entry thought
fit to tell the collector that he had observed that the
captain was uneasy while making it, so the collector
examined the ship's register and log, made certain
inquiries, took it upon himself to detain the vessel under
suspicion of contemplated infringement of the Navigation
laws, and then apprised the governor, explaining the causes



of detention. He stated that the vessel had previously
been taken to Sydney in a leaky condition, and that her
owners, a French firm located at Bordeaux, made a pre-
tended sale of her at Sydney to one Joubert, a Frenchman,
who had been naturalized there as a Britisher. The
transfer had not been properly endorsed on the register.
She was manned at Sydney by a mixed crew of English-
men and Frenchmen, and provided with an English
captain, and the new captain's name had not been put on
the document. And there was an entry in the log which
showed that she had previously made an illegal voyage
from Lombock (a French settlement) to West Australia.
(It is apparent, however, that she had been furnished at
Sydney with a register de novo, although the document
had not been properly completed.)

When the sheep were brought to the quay the man in
charge refused to disclose their destination. The collector
became still more suspicious, and declared the ship seized.
He sent the tide-surveyor to put a tidesman on board, and
the captain threatened to pistol the tide-surveyor, but
that official got on board with his tidesman, and then the
captain put to sea. It appears that the English portion of
the crew had not been weU treated, and they at once
volunteered to overpower the Frenchmen and seize the
ship, if the tide-surveyor would order them to do so.
That gentleman, however, was not prepared to take the
risk just then. According to his subsequent report, the
captain went below, destroyed the incriminating entry
in the ship's log, and substituted a fresh statement.
Then he navigated the vessel off and on, threatening to
shoot the officers if they did not consent to leave her. In
the end the EngHsh sailors rushed aft, overpowered the
captain, and took the ship back to the roads. There she
remained, and the intending exporter of the sheep sold
his flock by auction, getting a poor price, but the collector
insisted that this was but a dodge to incense the pubhc
against the Customs. If it were, it succeeded, for the pubhc
took sides^.with the captain, and the local press assailed


the collector with much vituperation. Mr. Joubert claimed
the vessel, and the judge of the Supreme Court allowed
his claim, on condition that he gave security for the
expenses incurred. The governor of South Australia
transmitted an account of the proceedings to the Secretary
of State for the colonies, who referred it to the Treasury.
It was sent to the Board, and their report on it was singu-
larly perspicuous. Below is a summary :

' The matter should not have been thus referred. South
Australia at present a chartered, not a Crown, colony,
and the Board have no supervision. Still —

' I. The collector for South Australia not legally em-
powered to carry out either the Navigation or the Ships'
Registry laws.

2. ' Even if thus empowered, has done wrong. Ville de
Bordeaux arrived in ballast, so, even if French, had right
to enter port. She cleared out for Bourbon, a French
settlement. Collector's statement that she is really for
West Australia merely the result of hearsay.

' 3. Collector's statement that she has made a previous
voyage from a French settlement to West Austraha
cannot be proved. No Customs in West Australia to
prove it.

' 4. Collector claims power to condemn vessel and cargo,
they not having been claimed by the appellant Joubert
within prescribed period. But Joubert's neglect does not
enable collector to do an unjust thing, and does not deprive
Joubert of power to claim indemnity on an equitable plea.'

The Treasury Minute on this report must have startled
the collector. It directed the governor to restore the
vessel at once. If sold, her proceeds were to be given to
the owners, without any deduction for expenses. If sold,
and governor not satisfied as to bona fides of claimant, the
proceeds were to be sent to the Treasury, and that depart-

Online LibraryHenry AttonThe king's customs → online text (page 17 of 43)