British Empire
The rise of the British empire - North America
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Complaint about duties on sugar refining in 1691
(Catalogue ref: CO 5/1 f64,67,68)
It is evident from what has been said that the interests of the nation, the plantations and the sugar refiners is all woven together. Supporting the interests of one small group, the sugar planters of Barbados, is destructive to us all. The public will not benefit, just a few wealthy planters, and all the other planters will be poor.

Without relief from taxes many of us will be ruined, and the subjects of the king, who in a sense could be seen as children of the king, will end up with their bread being given to strangers.

And this introduces the point that Holland, Flanders and Hamburg are receiving our sugar to be refined. This sugar is the product of our own plantations and, just as wool is made into cloth here in England, sugar could be refined here if duties were lower, which will bring a lot of money into our kingdom and its revenue.

And we note that before we so kindly started sending our raw sugar to these other countries they used to buy our refined sugar (molasses). Holland and Flanders were the chief markets for that sugar.

But now they will not take our meat or our porridge and they put a heavy duty of 2d per pound on our refined sugar to make it expensive. This shows that although we have shown little care to protect the sugar refining trade, the duties show that others value the trade, and the Hollanders are reckoned to be good businessmen.
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