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17 Pages

Letter XLI: Monday, March 11, 1850

Concerning the probable amount of capital employed in the shipping of the British Empire, Mr. G. F. Young stated in his evidence before the select committee on the Navigation-laws, in 1847, that the number of ships then engaged in the trade of the empire was 32,499, having an aggregate tonnage of 3,817,112 tons. The average value of the tonnage of the empire, he said, might be fairly rated at £10, which would give the sum of £38,171, 120 for the collective value. In addition to this sum, he continued, there is ''the amount of capital embarked in the several trades connected with and dependent on the building and equipment of ships (including shipbuilders, shipwrights, shipping rope-makers, sailmakers, mast and block makers, and a proportion of coopers, ship-joiners, ship-sawyers, ship-painters, riggers, shipchandlers, ship-blacksmiths, ship-coppersmiths, ship-brassworkers, and ship plumbers and glaziers). This amounts, in my judgment, to £16,083,927, which, added to the value of the ships themselves, gives a total capital of £54,254,927. The number of ships built in the course of the year is 1,525. The aggregate burden of the new vessels is 228,764 tons, and the average cost of building about £13 lOs. per ton, which makes the gross outlay £3,088,314. I estimate the amount annually expended," he adds, "in the repairs and outftts of vessels employed, at £7,634,224, making the aggregate of annual expenditure for building and repairing £10,722,538." The number of seamen employed in the mercantile service he reckons at 229,276, and the amount of wages annually paid to the offtcers and seamen navigating the British ships, at £5,731,900. The expense of victualling this vast body he computes at £3,486,906, making an aggregate for wages and victualling of £9,218,806. The number of workmen and artisans employed in the various trades which are exclusively connected with the construction and equipment of the British ships engaged in the commerce of this country, and the proportion of those artisans and workmen who belong to trades that are mixed up with the others, Mr. Young reckons at 79,617 individuals, earning altogether £4,968,104 per annum. The amount of freight annually earned by the commercial marine of this country he believes to be about £28,628,290.