Samuel Fortrey.

Samuel Fortrey on Englands interest and improvement, 1663 online

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Englands Intorest ar d

Sariuel Fcrtrey



Interest and Improvement


Samuel Fortrey


Edited by

Jacob H. Hollander, Ph. D.

Professor of Political Economy

Johns Hopkins University

A Reprint of Economic Tracts

Edited by


Professor of Political Economy

Johns Hopkins University

Samuel Fortrey

Englands Interest and Improvement

Copyrighted icx)7. by

ZU Borb (§a{timovi (preea


3 sw


The tract here reprinted was frst published in Cambridge in
1663. A second edition appeared in London in 1673, a third in
1713, and a fourth in 1744. Whitworth included the second edi-
tion in his " Scarce Tracts on Trade and Commerce " in 1778, and
McCulloch used the same edition in the " Select Collection of
Early English Tracts on Commerce " edited for the Political
Economy Club in 1856. The dedication to the King, and the Ad-
dress to the Reader were altered in the second and subsequent
editions, and the title-page underwent some change.

Critics have not been of one mind as to the merits of the per-
formance. In 1668, Josiah Child was of the opinion that in com-
posing the tract, which he characterized as " a most rational and
admirable Treatise," Samuel Fortrey " hath done more for his
Country than would have been the Gift of some millions of pounds
sterling, into the Publique Exchequer." ^ On the other hand a
modern-day student," whose inquiries have fixed Fortrey's identity
and brought to light some particulars of his life, has spoken of
the essay as " a weak and rambling tract, written apparently
without any very definite aim."

The pamphlet has figured in economic literature less conspicu-
ously for its general argument than by reason of its detailed
exhibit that " our trade with France, is at least sixteen hundred
thousand pounds a year, clear lost to this kingdom." ^ Professor
Ashley has made plain that, although it may have met with little
acceptance at the moment, this estimate — purporting to be de-
rived from a statement " which not long since was delivered in
to the King of France " — was frequently repeated and discussed
in later years, and that it doubtless contributed to the popular

^ " Brief Observations concerning Trade and Interest of Money "
(London, 1668), pp. 37-38; " A New Discourse of Trade" (London,
1698), pp. 237-238. The passage appears upon the title-page of
the fourth edition (London, 1774) of Fortrey's tract.

^ Mr. Edwin Cannan in " Dictionary of National Biography "
(ed. Stephen), vol. xx, p. 50; also in "Dictionary of Political
Economy" (ed. Palgrave), vol. ii, p. 121.

'Infra, p. 26 [25.]


4 Introduction

hostility to French trade embodied in the restrictive legislation of

The present edition of the tract is a reproduction of the text of
1663." The general appearance of the title-page has been pre-
served, and the original pagination indicated.

Baltimore, December, 1907.

* Quarterly Journal of Economics, July, 1897, p. 340.

"The formal collation of the tract is: Title, verso blank, 1 f. ;
dedication, 1 f.; to the reader, verso blank, 1 f. ; pp. 1-43; sum-
marj% 2 ff. Small 8 vo. The copy of the original edition, from
which the present reprint has been transcribed, is in the posses-
sion of Professor E. R. A. Seligman, of Columbia University.

>» T — T ** T ** * — %- T — T — T ** i ** i *





Confifting in the increafe of the

ftore, and trade of this

Kingdom ;


Sam. Fortrey Efq. one of the

Gentlemen of his Majefties

moft Honourable Privy



Printed by John Field, Printer to the t

Univerfity . 1663.


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j^^ I ^^ I ^^ I ^^ ^ ^ I ^^ I - ^ ^ I ^■^^ I ■^ I ■^ ^ ^ ^ ^ I ^^ I ^^ I ^^ I ^ i ^ H ^^ ^ ^ I ■ ! ^^ I ^^ I ^^ I ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ I ^■ I ^^ ^ ■ ^ ■ ^ ^^


The moft High and mighty



The grace of God King of Great

Britain, France, and Ireland,

Defender of the faith ^ &c.

May it pleafe your moft Excellent

Ecause it is the duty of all your Subjects, to pay
continually to your Majestie, all faithfull service,
and whereas, most are desirous to express their forwardness,
in such things especially, as they judge most pleasing, and
acceptable to your Majesty; I have chosen this || subject; well
knowing, that as becomes a most gracious King, your Majesties
greatest delight, and chiefest care, is, to advance the welfare
and happiness of your people.

This indeed always hath, or at least ought to have been
the greatest aim, and designe of all Princes, and those that
have with best success, proceeded furthest therein, have de-
servedly chronicled their names, with fame, to all posterity.

The often experience I have already had of the excess of
goodness, inherent in, and inseparable from your Majesty,
hath encouraged me ^o this bold attempt, wherein, if I obtain

8 Samuel Fortret

onely your Majesties pardon, and favourable protection, it is
I am sure the height of the ambition of

Your Majesties most loyal, and
faithfull servant, and subject,
Samuel Fortrey. ||

To the Reader.

Erceiving the genius, and disposition of the times, to
study more the Interest and Improvement of the
nation, then usually heretofore: I thought I might be excused,
if amongst others, I presumed to shew my good will, towards
the advancement of so worthy a designe.

I do not pretend to say any thing, that every ingenious
person doth not already hnoiv; yet perhaps, what I say, may
not prove unserviceable to some, who have not had the leisure,
to reflect so particularly upon this subject.; and if this my
endeavour, prove but in the least measure beneficial to any, I
have attained to my end, and accomplished my designe.

Sam. Fortrey. ||

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■i..i.. : ..i.. h » i » i .. i -i..i..imi..i,.:.. i ..i.. i .. i .. i .. i .. i , i .4^^ j .. i .. i .. i .. i .. i .. i .. i .. i .. j .. i .. i .. i .. i .. i .. i .. i .. i .





IF^^ ^^^^^DS Interest and Improvement consists chiefly
'l^^^ in the increase of store and trade.

Store comprehendeth all such commodities, as either the of store and
soil, or people of this nation are capable to produce, which are '^" ^ '"^ ^'"*^' " '
either usefull at home, or valuable abroad.

Trade is the means, by which a nation may procure what
they want from abroad, and vent to the best advantage, what
ever may be spared of their own increase at home.

Of store there are properly two sorts, natural and artificial.

Our natural store may also be divided into three parts.

First the annual increase of the soil, which consists chiefly
in corn of all sorts, and all the best sorts of. xiattel.

Secondly, the product of our mines, of || lead, tin, iron, coal, 2
allum, and the like.

Thirdly, the great plenty of fish our seas naturally afford,
of which we might reap unknown advantages, were our fishing
trade rightly improved.

Our Artificial store consists in the manufacture and In-
dustry of the people, of which the chiefest in this nation are
the manufactures of woollen clothes, and all other sorts of
woollen stuffs, linen cloth, silk, stuffs, ribbandings, stockings,
laces, and the like.

In trade there may be likewise said to be two kinds.

The one trade at home, one with another: the other our
trade, or traflBck abroad with strangers.

12 Samuel Fortrey

And in each of these particulars, by the bounty of nature
and divine providence, this nation doth not onely equal any
neighbour countrey, but far excels in all the most profitable
Of the trade France we know to be a nation, rich, populous and plenti-
rance. ^^^^ . ^^^ ^^^.^ onely by the increase of its own store, raised
both by the fruit of the soil, and industry of the people;
consisting in corn, wine, and many sorts of fruits, and great
manufactures of all sorts of silks, linen clothes, laces, and
many other rich commodities, which do not onely store them

3 at home, with what they need, but by the overplus pro- ||
vides for all things else, they necessarily want from abroad;
with plenty of money to boot.

Of the trade Holland hath not much of its own store, especially not
° ^° ■ answerable to supply the wants of that nation ; and yet by
their industrious diligence in trade, they are not onely fur-
nished with whatsoever the world affords and they want, but
by the profit of their trade they excel in plenty and riches,
all their neighbour nations.
Riches and Two things therefore appear to be chiefly necessary, to
'\ary to^in- make a nation great, and powerf ull ; which is to be rich, and
^^eatness populous ; and this nation enjoying together all those ad-
0^*0. nation, vantages, with part whereof onely, others grow great and
flourishing; and withall, a Prince, who above all things de-
lights and glories in his peoples happiness : this nation can
expect no less then to become the most great, and flourishing
of all others.
The prejudice But private advantages are often impediments of miblick
esta of ten are ^ro^t ; toT in what any single person shall be alooser, there,
advantages, endeavours will be made to hinder the publick gain, from
whence proceeds the ill success that commonly attends the^
endeavours for publick good ; for commonly it is but coldly
prosecuted, because the benefit may possibly be something
remote from them that promote it; but the mischief known

4 and certain to them that oppose it, and || Interest more then
reason commonly sways most mens affections.

Englands Interest and Improvement 13

Whereby it may appear, how necessary it is that the pub-
lick profits should be in a single power to direct, whose
Interest is onely the benefit of the whole.

The greatest thing therefore that any Prince can aim at, How to t»-
is to make his dominions rich and populous, and by what people of
means it may be effected in this nation, beyond all neighbour
countreys, I shall endeavour to demonstrate : People and ^ — — —
plenty are commonly the begetters the one of the other, if
rightly ordered.

And first to increase the people of this nation, permission
would be given to all people of foreign countreys, under such
resti'ictions as the state shall think fit, freely to inhabit and
reside within this kingdom, with liberty to buy or sell lands
or goods, to import or export any commodities, with the like
priviledge and freedom that English men have.

This would quickly increase the number of our people, and
multiply our riches: for those people that would come from
other countreys to inhabit here, would also bring their riches
with them, which if they laid out in the purchasing of estates,
or improvement of our trade, or were onely their persons
rightly employed, it might very much increase, both the
riches and power of this nation. \\ 5

But it may be demanded why we should expect that people why foreiners
should leave their own native countreys to come and inhabit habit here.
here, when they enjoy already as many priviledges as here
are offered them.

These reasons may be given.

First, that this coimtrey in it self is as pleasant, or more The first "'-
pleasant, healthfull, fruitfull and temperate then any other. " "

Secondly, that our laws, government, and disposition of the T/ie second
people I may say, are not onely as good, but much better
then any other, for the ease, quiet, peace and security of the

Thirdly, if our trade and manufactures were but improved The turd
to that advantage, as they are capable of, there would be no
countrey in the world, where industrious people might im-

14 Samuel Fortrey

prove their estates, and grow more rich, then_ in jhis j^and .the

Jj^hope of gain commonly bears .so great a-sway amongst men,

that it_ is alone sufficient to prevail with most.

The fourth Fourthly, this being the most eminent and intire countrey

reason. ^^ ^^^ others, that profess the Protestant Eeligion (which

profession is very numerous in most of the other countreys of

Europe, but many of them under constraint and danger, and

the free liberty of mens consciences with security to their

6 persons, being above all things most desireable) it cannot be ||
doubted, or denied (were those impediments removed, that
now may hinder) but we might be sufficiently stored with
wealthy and industrious people, from all parts of Europe.

Reasons shew- And were there not so many divine reasons to prefer the

vantages tiie Protestant Eeligion before all others, as being doubtless above


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