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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Memorial from Bridgen & Waller and Hindley & Needham concerning the North Carolina trade in naval stores
Brigden & Waller; Hindley & Needham
March 31, 1770
Volume 08, Pages 186-190

[B. P. R. O. America & W. Indies. Vol. 217.]
The Memorial of Messrs. Bridgen & Waller and Hindley & Needham Merchants Trading to North Carolina and Importers of Naval Stores to the Earl of Hillsborough


That as the regulations proposed last year in a Memorial signed by the Merchants Importers of Naval Stores from America to make several alterations in the manner of Importing the same, which was presented to the Right Honble the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, and approved by their Lordships cannot immediately take place as the present Act for allowing a Bounty on the Importation of Naval Stores from America does not Expire with the year 1774; It is humbly presumed, that if a Provincial Act for reforming the abuses complained of, could be obtained in the intermediate time, it might not only be of great service to the Province, but be the means of throwing more light before Parliament, when they are to Consider the renewal of the Bounty after its Expiration.

Your Memorialists humbly apprehend, that if the Province of North Carolina would consent to the following Regulations by making a Law to continue to the 1st of January 1775, It might answer not only the views of your Memorialists, but be a means of convincing by experience those interested in the preparing Naval Stores in America for the British Market, that such measures are the only ones left for improving and Extending the Trade of that Province, so far as it is interested in the making and Exporting of Naval Stores.

1st That the following clause of an Act passed in the second year of His late Majesty be strictly carried into Execution.

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“Whereas it is necessary for the better making cool and good Tar “fit for cordage in all the British Plantations that the last half part “of every Kiln of Tar when drawn shall be made into Pitch, free “of Drops, and the whole Kiln of such Tar or the value thereof, “unless the said half part be so made into Pitch as aforesaid shall “from and after the 29th Sepr 1729 be forfeited for the benefit of any “person or persons who shall sue for the same to be levied and “recovered in the same manner as other penalties and forfeiters are “directed by this Act.

2dly That your Memorialists are of opinion, that officers should by an Act of the Assembly of the Province be appoined to attend the burning of the Tar Kilns, to see the foregoing clauses strictly carried into Execution.

The manner the Planters have constantly pursued in burning the Tar Kilns has been to Run it off into open drains, cut in the ground, Exposed to the weather, by which means, rain water often intermixes with the Tar while it is hot and when they take up the Tar out of such drains or Reservoirs to fill the Barrells, Sand, Dirt, and Water is taken up with it, which your Memorialists are of the opinion may be prevented:

By sinking a large Cistern or Cask in the Ground to Receive the Tar, as it runs from the Kiln, with a cover to prevent Rain getting into such Cistern, or Cask, when the Tar is hot that being the time Water will more easily impregnate and mix therewith and which it will be afterwards impossible to entirely separate the one from the other.

3d. That the Barrels, the Planters have put their Tar in, have been made of green Timber, and so very slight, that the Leakage, before it has been ship'd has been at least from 15 to 20 pr ct, which is the best and purest Tar, besides the Tarburners often bung the Barrels at the Kiln, with Grass or Weeds, which in rolling to the River side, or place, where it is to be delivered, often get into the Barrels, many of which are so leaky that Water gets in, and supplies the place of the Tar leaked out, from Rain and Rafting the Barrels down Rivers to places where they are to be ship'd for Europe, which may be prevented.

By an Act of the Assembly to oblige the Planters to put all the Tar they make for Exportation into well hooped Casks of 32 Gallons each, made with season'd pine staves of ¾ of an Inch thick, each stave, the Casks to be bunged at the Kiln where the Tar is burnt

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with a bung made of Cork or wood to prevent its leaking or running out, or Weeds, Sand, dirt or Water, intermixing therewith; it would also be well, if the Planters instead of letting the Barrels filled with Tar, lay a long time upon the Wharfs exposed to the heat of the Sun, which they often do and from the badness of the Barrels in the manner they have been made, the fine Oily part of the Tar, being the thinnest, often leaks out, which occasions the Remainder to be of an inferior and Drossy Quality: but if the Barrels are made with staves of the Dimensions proposed, properly bunged, and put under cool sheds, or Warehouses, to prevent the Oily particles of the Tar running out, by the staves shrinking and opening, by the force of the Sun, Tar will then be imported from America into Great Britain equal, or Superior to that from Sweden, which will most certainly recommend itself to be used in His Majesty's Royal Yards and Navy, and become of more general use in all other branches of Trade and Navigation, it is wanted in, which will greatly increase the Consumption, make it a more certain and valuable Remittance, in return for British Manufactures Exported to that Province, which is now a very uncertain one, and often attended with great loss to the Importer: Notwithstanding the Bounty Received thereon.

That Turpentine is generally Imported intermixed with Sand, Dirt, Dross, Water and Chips, in Slight Barrels, which for the same reason as before given on the Tar; the finest and best of the Turpentine often leaks out, and the Sand, Dirt, Dross, Water, and Chips, intermixed with the Remainder, diminishes much its Value, and causes a great Expence to the Importer; in proof of this Assertion we have known many Casks Imported as Casks of Turpentine, the Casks weighing more than 300 Pounds Weight each, in which there has been put very few Pounds of Turpentine in them, the rest being chiefly sand, and for which Freight and Duty has been paid, the Bounty allowed, and insurance made, tho' of no Real Value.

The Planters should be more careful in collecting their Turpentine, by having it put Neat and pure into Barrells, made of well seasoned Staves ¾ of an Inch thick each Stave, well bunged, with Cork or Wood, so as to keep it Clear from Sand, Dirt, Dross, Water, and Chips, which will greatly enhance its Value.

That Pitch is generally Imported from North Carolina half made, and intermixed with Sand, Dirt, Dross, and Stones, which is occasioned by the Planters putting the Tar into holes dug in the Ground, and Setting fire to the same, which, when half burnt, is put into

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Slight Barrels, in a very adulterated Condition, which may be prevented—

By the Planters Boiling the last half running of the Tar Kiln into Pitch in Kettles, which is the Custom of making it in the other Colonies, and Great Britain, by which means, and putting the same into tight Strong Barrels, made of Staves ¾ of an Inch Thick, well hooped, the Pitch will become ⅓d more Valuable to the Planter and Importer.

The Naval Stores that have been Imported from the Province of North Carolina, and Particularly Tar, into Great Britain, has been so adulterated and bad, that scarcely one Barrel in Twenty has been Intitled to receive the Bounty, till landed, and cleaned, as much as possible to be done, from the Weeds, Dirt, and Water, which loads that Commodity with a very large Expence and loss in the Bounty to the Importer, which is in a great measure owing to the Officers and Inspectors being appointed by the Magistrates of the different Counties, to inspect into the goodness and quality of such stores, before they are Shipped, such Magistrates being Planters and Tar Burners the Inspectors are not so strict in the Execution of their Office as they ought to be, fearing to disoblige their Masters on whom their livelihood depends, therefore give themselves very little trouble in Examining the Barrels, but put the inspection mark on them, and pass them in the bad condition Naval Stores have been, and are Imported into Great Britain. In order to prevent such frauds, we are of Opinion, it would be very proper and Necessary—That all Naval Stores be brought to Towns or public Wharfs, where they are to be Shipped from, to be inspected, and at no other place, by such Officers, the Governor shall think proper to appoint, that are independant of the Planters, or Magistrates, and that Naval Stores in our Opinion should be put under some such restrictions by the Assembly of the Province of North Carolina, as there is on Tobacco in Virginia.

That your Memorialists are of opinion, the foregoing Regulations are for the general Interest of the Planters, and Makers of Naval Stores, and if by them carried into Execution, with such others as may be necessary to make by an Act of the Assembly of the Province of North Carolina, it will be a means to Import Naval Stores from thence to Great Britain of good quality, and in such Condition as to prevent great frauds in the payment of the Bounty, that being done, much greater Quantities of such Stores will be used in the

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Royal Yards and the Navy, and a more General Consumption of them throughout all His Majesty's Dominions, which will greatly encrease the Trade and Navigation between that Colony and Great Britain, and soon be a means to prevent the Necessity of Importing any of those Commodities from Germany, which are Imported in Foreign Bottoms and paid for in Specie or Bullion, when those from America are chiefly paid for with the Manufactures of Great Britain.

Your Memorialists beg your Lordship to Recommend it to the Governor of the Province to Interest himself in procuring an Act of the Assembly of North Carolina to made the Regulations proposed.

We have the Honour &c

London 31st March 1770.