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Commercial Relations of England and Scotland 1603 - 1707
1660-1707


g. Trade with Holland, etc.

Scottish trade with Holland also suffered through England's wars. This was very disastrous, as a great part of her commerce was with Dutch ports. Charles IIs Dutch wars lasted from 1665 to 1674, with a few short intervals, ten years which brought Scotland's trade and finances to a very low ebb. The commercial community had not had time to recover from the effects of the Civil Wars, and this war, their "greatest and readiest trading being with Holland," still further reduced their resources. Poverty was so great that it was difficult to raise men and supplies for England's war, in which, as the Scots said, "our hazard is greater, and I am sure they intend us noe profit how successful soever the war be." As time went on, it became more and more difficult to raise any money for this purpose. The revenue was much reduced by the want of trade caused by the war. The Commissioners of the Treasury wrote in 1672 that the revenue had been reduced by a third in the last war with Holland, and that they expected about the same decrease during the present war. The customs receipts were in fact reduced from 17,362. 10s. in 1665 to 6,481. 13s. 4d in 1666, but during the war of 1672-74 they did not fall so low. "We are," writes Rothes in 1665, "like as we were besieged, for in no place in the whole world have we any commerce at this time, and money does grow daily scarcer so as in a short time there will I believe be none." The discontent was so great that a rebellion in connection with a Dutch invasion was feared. "The least commotion in England or Ireland or encouragement from foreigners abroad would certainly engage us in a new rebellion." At the beginning of the second war, it was given out in London that the Scots had offered to continue trade with the Dutch, and to shelter their ships in Scottish harbours in spite of the war with England. This was probably a figment of English imagination, but it testifies to the ever existent English jealousy of the Scottish connection with Holland. As a matter of fact, there was very little trade with the Dutch during the war, far less than there was with France during the later French wars.

After the Treaty of Breda in 1667, the Scots staple port was moved from Campvere to Dort6. It was said that this step was taken at the instigation of the De Witts.

They wished the prosperity which the Scottish trade brought to come to Dort, which was under their influence, rather than to Campvere where the Orange faction was supreme. This was an unfortunate step for Scottish trade. Dort was not so conveniently situated for their ships, and so, though some merchants settled there, others remained at Campvere, and some went to Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Although the staple was again fixed at Campvere in 1676, it was never afterwards the same resort of Scots trade and merchants as it had been before the war. They now congregated more at Rotterdam, which was not only a far more important commercial centre than Campvere, but was also a favourite refuge for those Presbyterians who left the country on account of the Stewarts' ecclesiastical policy. Rotterdam and Dort were each anxious that an arrangement should be made with them about the import of Scots coal, which was not then a staple commodity. At Rotterdam Scottish coal entered into competition with English. The magistrates were anxious to come to some agreement with the Scots because of " the small export they "(the English)" mak in respect of the Scottishe Natione." The Scots coal trade seems to have flourished, for in 1684 complaints were made to the Customs Commissioners in England that France, Holland, and other foreign markets were "extraordinarily supplied with Coales from Scotland in Strangers Ships to the great prejudice of the English Navigation and damnage to his Majesty's customs here."

Altogether the trade between Scotland and Holland was considerable. Josiah Child declared that "The Trades of Scotland and Ireland, two of our own Kingdoms, the Dutch have bereaved us of, and in effect wholly-Engrossed to themselves."

The principal goods which the Scots took to Holland were plaiding and fingrains, wool, skins, hides, stockings, salmon, butter, tallow, beef, coals, etc. Scots ships also imported to Holland wine and salt from the south, and corn from the Baltic and "Easter Seas." From the Dutch the Scots received chiefly all sorts of manufactured goods, some of which they had doubtless brought from England before the English Navigation Acts had forced them to retaliate by putting high duties on English imports. After the Dutch wars the country was too poor to employ all the shipping, and so the "Ships of this Kingdom wer for the most part ffraughted by Hollanders who gave them greater ffraughts than Scots merchds Which made a considerable interruption of tred in this Kingdom." Later in the century, when Scottish trade recovered, Scottish merchants had not enough ships for their own use, and so employed a number of Dutch ships. In 1697 the contract with Campvere was again renewed for twenty-one years, but after the Union, when the export of wool and skins, the principal articles of Scots trade, was forbidden, the trade decreased very much.

The Scots trade with the "Easter Seas" and the Baltic increased during the French wars, as it was safer from French attacks than the Low Countries trade. In Stockholm there were, in 1660, twelve Scottish ship captains settled, as compared with twenty of Llibeck, and twenty-eight of Holland. A number of Scots ships also traded with Norway, bringing home chiefly timber, and taking out woollen manufactures and "victuall." In 1680 the Burghs complained of the "great impositions imposed by the King of Denmark upon Scots victuall...at the seuerall ports in Norraway and other ports within the said King's dominions." Some merchants even penetrated as far as Archangel.

In Konigsberg there was a struggle between the magistrates and the Scots, whose success in business had aroused jealousy against them. New taxes were imposed on them, and there seems to have been some threat to expel them altogether. The Churfurst, however, was strongly in their favour, and owing to his influence, the magistrates desisted from their opposition to the Scots. A few years later the Scots at Konigsberg obtained permission to build a church for themselves there, for which collections were authorised in Scotland in 1697 and 1699. The masters of Scots ships at Dantzig in 1706 appealed for convoys for twenty-five or thirty ships which were to sail for Scotland in the summer.

At Hamburg the Scots had some trouble because of the exclusive privileges of the English merchants who traded there. The Scots were said to be debarred from trade, as subjects of the King of England who were not members of the English company. They declared that they were subjects of Scotland, not England, and were "as free to trade there as any other nation," and requested that the English staple might be "discharged to truble any Scotts merchand tradeing there." They were not, after this, prevented from trading, but the illogical nature of the position is evident. In the Plantation trade the Scots were not considered English subjects, as it was not to England's advantage that they should have freedom of trade there. Where it would be possible to take dues from them as English subjects, they were placed in that category. The Scots themselves, as illogical as the English, sought or evaded the name as best suited their own convenience and profit.

In the Mediterranean, orders were given that the Scots should share the privileges by passports, etc., which were secured by treaty to the subjects of the King of Great Britain, from the governments of Algiers, Tripoli and Tunis. Some guarantee or defence was very necessary against the pirates of those parts, who were very active, not only in the Mediterranean, but on the coasts of France and Spain. Many Scottish ships trading to Portugal, the Bay of Biscay ports, and Cadiz, were taken, and petitions for collections to be made in the churches to ransom captives among the Turks were very numerous.

The dangers to trade from men-of-war, privateers, and pirates were great; and also from the state of the coast, unguarded by lighthouses and buoys, and not even properly described in charts or maps. In 1695, an attempt was made to organise a survey of the whole coast of Scotland. To defray the expenses, an imposition of 105. per ton was imposed on all foreign vessels trading with Scotland, and of 4s. per ton on all Scots shipping. The duty caused many complaints. The shipowners grumbled because of the duty on Scots ships, which were thus put at a disadvantage in their foreign trade, as they had already to pay duties in foreign ports. The coal-owners complained that the duty was so high that foreign ships did not come for coals, but went to Newcastle instead. The imposition was not removed, but in 1698 the duty on foreign ships was reduced to 85. on those exporting coal, and raised to 24s. on all others. The 4s. duty on native ships, except on those of the African Company, was continued for five years. The proceeds were used to maintain frigates for the defence of the coast as well as for the survey.

On the whole, Scottish trade suffered from the English connection. The Scots had to contribute men and money to wars which interrupted their trade, and from which they reaped no advantages in the end. England had practically no control over Scottish trade, and was jealous of her connection with France and Holland, and indeed of any trade in which Scottish interests came into competition with those of England. Abroad, the Scottish merchants were in an ambiguous position. They did not wish to come under the authority of the English representatives, even when they had no representatives of their own, and in cases where there was a Scots agent, he often came into conflict with the English influences and interests. Altogether neither party found the state of affairs at all satisfactory.


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