Petition to Parliament Reason against a general prohibition of the Iron Manufacture in Plantations


The document is one of a number of petitions submitted to Parliament whose signers are unknown.

All restrictive acts contain some subtly hidden eflect. In this statement of the colonial position, the author indicates that the terms of the Iron Act prohibited the colonials from manufacturing finished iron prod ucts for their fellow colonials. The Iron Act as passed did include such a `clause, but it is doubtful whether the colonials honored it. It is significant that the terms of the act were considered "to bear hard on the common Rights and Liberties of Mankind."

  1. If the Clause be taken in a strict Sense, all Iron Work for building Ships, Houses, Mills, and even what is necessary for Instruments to Till the Ground, will be for bid to be made there; whereby it will become impracticable to live in the Plantations, because this Sort of Iron Manufacture must be made on the Spot, that it may be framed and fitted to the Size of the Work.
  2. To forbid his Majesty's Subjects the making any Sort of Iron Wares, when its for their own Necessary Use, and not for Exportation, seems to bear hard on the common Rights and Liberties of Mankind; especially, when the Ore is what their own Soil yields, and what is found but in small Quantities comparatively in the Mother Kingdom.
  3. If such a Prohibition be thought just to prevent the Plantations from interfering with the IronWorkers in this Kingdom, all other Tradesman may expect, in their Turns, to be forbid Working at their respective Callings. For, by the same Reason, the People may be forbid making Cheese or Cyder, for fear of prejudicing the Manufactures in Cheshire and Herefordshire.
  4. It is humbly conceived, there is no Occasion for this Clause. All Labour is so excessively dear in the Plantations, that no Manufacture of the lesser Iron Wares can vend, or ever does there, but when it happens by Accident that there is a great Scarcity of the same Commodity made in Great Britain.
  5. The Encouragement given in the Bill for the Importation of Bar Iron from the Plantations, by taking off the Duty, which is Three Pounds per Tun, is not sufficient to bring it in; of which there needs no other Proof, than that a Tun of Iron is worth Sixty Pounds in New-England, their money, and but Twenty Pounds here, to say nothing of the chargeable Freight thence; so that if the Clause pass, the Iron Ore in the Plantations will be of Use neither there nor here.
  6. It seems a farther Hardship, that the Subjects Abroad should be permitted to forge their Ore into Bars, but not to run or cast it into Pots and other Implements, because the same Fire, and even the same Heat, will suffice for both.

It is therefore humbly prayed, That the Clause prohibiting any Kind of Iron Wares to be made in the Plantations, tho' for their own Use, and not for Exportation, be left out of the Bill.