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Some account of the

and of the rise and progress of the
commercial Navy of Great Britain. 1834

SOURCE: The Saturday Magazine, No. 117. Supplement, April, 1834

At the accession of George III., in 1760, the tonnage of merchant-vessels cleared outwards was, English 540,241, Foreign 107,237. In the same year our exports were valued at 15,781,175l., and our imports at 9,832,802l. The increase during the remainder of the century was extremely great. In 1789 the amount of British tonnage had trebled since 1760; our imports had nearly doubled, but our exports had increased little more than a fifth. In 1802, when Mr. Addington pronounced "the commerce of the country to be in a state of unexampled prosperity," the official value* of our imports amounted to about thirty-one millions, and our exports were more than forty-one millions sterling! So amazing an increase, in the space of forty years, was never paralleled in the history of any nation.

In 1805, the number of vessels belonging to the several ports of Great Britain and Ireland, was 19,027, which were of an aggregate burden of 2,086,489 tons, and navigated by 142,245 men and boys; besides 3014 ships, of the burden of 190,953 tons, belonging to the Colonies.

On the 31st of December, 1832, according to a Parliamentary Return, our commercial navy was as follows:—

No. of Vessels
United Kingdom
Isles of Guernsey,
Jersey, and Man.
British Plantations

*The official value generally differs widely from the real value, being computed upon .a scale laid down for the regulation of the officer of the customs, more than a century ago; it, however, affords a means of comparison between different periods.

This is double the extent of the shipping of the United States, and nearly triple that of France.

Of the enormous extent of our coasting-trade, some idea may be formed, when we state, that during the year 1833, 130,706 vessels, of the burden of 10,302,500 tons, cleared outwards in the different ports of the United Kingdom.

During the same period 12,982 ships, of the registered burden of 2,167,797 tons, cleared outwards for foreign parts from the various ports of the United Kingdom The total official value of our exports, in the year 1832, was 76,071,572l.; the imports from foreign countries during the same period, being 44,586,241l.

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