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Ralph Stevenson: Evidence taken in the House of Commons 1812


THE following pages contain a plain and faithful, though a very concise abridgment of the important body of Evidence now before the House of Commons, against the Orders in Council. The original consists of 480 folio pages, and contains the examination of 82 Witnesses. A number of questions were unavoidably put to these witnesses, which had no tendency to illustrate the subject, and could, at the best, only lead them into matter of argument or opinion. It is the object of this abridgment to exhibit the matters of fact detailed in this long and painful inquiry…

The points proved by this branch of the evidence are, chiefly the distressed state of the Manufacturers, both Masters and Workmen; the connexion of this with the loss of the American Market; the depression of the Home Market from that circumstance, and the want of other vents to supply these deficiencies. It is also shewn, that whatever the enemy's measures may have done to cramp our Manufactures, by closing the Continent to them, the Orders in Council have not relieved us, as was predicted and expected; and that vast orders for goods to America are now in hand, with instructions to execute them as soon as the Orders in Council are removed. These are the points principally intended to be established by the first and chief branch of the evidence. But it necessarily involves also many of the proofs that belong to the mercantile part of the question, such as the state of American manufactures.

The evidence touching the American Manufactures, in so far as it does not come under the first head, is reserved for a separate division, which closes this abstract. It clearly appears, that those manufactures have been greatly promoted by the interruption of intercourse with this country, and that unless that intercourse be speedily restored, the United States will be able to manufacture for their own consumption…


(3) The Potteries:

Mr. JOSIAH WEDGWOOD, of the Potteries.—The distress in the Potteries greater than it was ever known before. "Till the latter end of 1807, one-third of his manufacture for the European market; the remainder for the home trade. Since then the shipment has been inconsiderable, and the competition being great, the price in the home market very much reduced ; say from 20 to 25 per cent. This has chiefly occurred since the loss of the American market. His shipment to Heligoland has been attended with a loss (157). Understands about one-third of the bulk or number of packages of goods manufactured in the Potteries, are for the American market, and one-fourth of the value (160).

 Mr. RALPH STEVENSON, of the Potteries.—About one-half his manufacture for the American market, which has been closed since February 1811. The home trade also depressed. In full times employs about 150 hands (161). Now about 100 at two-thirds work. The Potteries employ about 14,000 hands; now employ about 10,000 at about two-thirds work. Has considerable orders from America to be executed the moment the Orders in Council are rescinded, and funds are ready for the payment. Shipped to Holland and Germany till the end of 1806. Has since shipped to Heligoland, on which there was a loss of 50 per cent. Shipments to Rio Janeiro have been a total loss, paying only freight and charges, and in some instances not that (162). At Buenos Ayres the market glutted, and his accounts state that some British manufactures would not pay for the warehousing. Trade to the West Indies declined, and in a very bad state. Has shipped to British America, but the speculation has not succeeded. Has shipped to Sicily and Malta, where the loss was 25 to 30 per cent. (163). The number of Potteries formerly about 140, of which about 35 have completely stopped within the last. two years. Fifteen or sixteen failures have occurred within the last eighteen months, being a greater number than during the ten preceding years. Stocks of goods very large, and if foreign markets are not opened, many more hands must be discharged. One-third of the Potteries was employed for America (164), and has no doubt that if the American trade was opened, all the goods suited for that market would be taken off as fast as they could be packed (165). The American market was an increasing one, both in quantity and value ; the payments very good, and infinitely better than the home trade. A great part of the bulky materials for this manufacture, are brought coastwise from Gravesend, from Dorsetshire and Devonshire to Liverpool, which in good times amount to 40,000 tons yearly; and this coasting trade is decreased owing to the present state of the Potteries (167). An open trade to America would remove the distress of the Potters in Staffordshire. Has heard of two Potteries established in America; that large offers have been made to workmen to leave this country for America, and that some have actually gone.

Great Britain. 1812. An abstract of the evidence lately taken in the House of Commons, against the Orders in council being a summary of the facts there proved, respecting the present state of the commerce and manufactures of the country. London: McCreery

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