Petition: Reasons for making bar, as well as Pig or Sow-Iron in
his Majesty's Plantation (ca. 1750)
Except Bar as well as Sow-Iron be admitted, the
Quantity in the Plantations wifl fall much short of what
may be expected, it being hoped we may make more Sow-Iron
than our Market at Home can take off.
The Iron Works in England not being able to supply near
one Third Part of the BarIron demanded, must
occasion the same Importation as hath hitherto been from
Sweden, and consequently carry out our Bullion to purchase
it, unless more Works he erected, which would still
create a further want of Wood.
This will prevent the Exportation of our Manufactures
of Woollen, etc., which would be sent to purchase
it in our own Plantations; besides the Discouragement to
our Navigation, and the imploying of our Poor in the
Plantations and at Home.
To have a Supply of Iron, in his Majesty's Plantations,
in case of a Rupture with Sweden or Spain, would
prevent the distressing our Manufactures; as hath so lately
happened to the Discouragement of Trade, and raising the
Price of Manufactured Iron Wares amongst us.
To extend this Law only to Sow or Pig Iron, would
in a great measure frustrate the good Design of the present
Bill now before this Honourable House.
The Manufacturing Iron into small Wares in the
Plantations can never be effected, till their Labour comes
to one Fourth Part of the Price that it now is: Iron being
made into Bars there for Forty Years past, and Nine or
Ten IronWorks of many Years standing, and no Hindrance
to our sending IronWares from hence; which is a
clear Demonstration that we are in no Danger.
Making Bar, as well as SowIron, in the Plantations,
will greatly increase the Quantity, and consequently
the Riches of the Nation.
The want of Iron for this Two Years past, has
created great Uneasiness in our Workmen, and put their
under great Difficulties to subsist, and given Opportunity
to our Neighbouring Countries to tempt them away.
Upon Examining the Imports for the Years 1714 and
1715, when a Free Trade was settled, we find imported in
those Two Years above Forty Thousand Ton of Foreign
Iron; which with the Swedish New Duties, and Tonnage
on our Shipping, could not stand in so little as 12l. per
That our usual Exports of wrought Iron is from 1900
to 2000 Ton yearly.
That about Six Hundred Ton thereof is exported to
our Neighbouring Kingdoms of Europe.
That from 13 to 1400 Ton is annually exported to our
Plantations; much about one Half thereof is sent to the
SugarIslands, the rest to New England, Virginia, etc.
Those that are afraid of injuring our Manufacturies
by making BarIron in America, will not pretend any
Danger of our Trade to the SugarIslands, for they can
make no Iron; therefore allowing that full 700 Ton is
now exported to the Continent, and that this Nation should
lose all the Manufacturing thereof, and allowing full 12s.
per Hundred for the Workmanship, it comes but to ,8400l.
For the first cost of the Iron must be deducted.
But 20,000 Ton of Iron at 12l. per Ton comes to
240,000l. and `tis well known, Sweden takes nothing from
us for their Iron, but our Bullion. And therefore on a
Supposition, that 8400l. worth of Labour in the Iron
Manufactories may be injured, we must be necessitated to
send out our Gold and Silver Annually to supply us with
Iron, which might be purchased with our Woollen and
other Manufactures, and the Labour of our own People
from our own Plantations, and keep us dependant on the
Courtesy of Sweden, etc., for Iron and other Naval Stores,
as we have been for many Years.