Letter – Martin Morrison to William Huskisson – 25 May 1825

Document Type: Letter
Date: 25 May 1825
Correspondent: Martin Morrison
Recipient: William Huskisson
Archive Source: NRO 672 E 1E 6
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      N[ew]Castle 25 May 1825

Rt Hon[ra]ble Willm Huskisson Esq Etc London	


      As agent to Colonel Beaumont, owner & an extensive occupier of Lead Mines I have learnt with the utmost alarm that it is intended to lower, almost to nothing, the duty now payable on the importation of Foreign Lead and Ore. – as this measure appears to [replaced: me] us fraught with injury to the Lead Mines and to the numerous people now usefully employed in parts of the Country which admit of no other occupation, and believing it to be highly injurious to the general interests of the Country, beg leave to state the grounds on which I We deprecate the adoption of the measure.-

      The Expense of making Lead consists almost wholly of the amount of labour employed: the Capital laid out in Shafts and Levels and Machinery is in fact only so much labour indirectly consumed. 

      It is obvious therefore that in every country the expense of obtaining Ore and making Lead, will bear an exact proportion to the cost of Subsistence where provisions are cheap and wages low, Lead is raised at comparatively little expense: everything that enhances the price of labour adds to its cost. It would then be a waste of time to prove that in a country where subsistence is raised to twice its natural rate, Lead cannot be made for the same expense that it is made for, in countries where provisions are cheap. So long as the price of [struck out: provision] subsistence in England did not exceed that of other Countries, the [struck out: great] superiority of English Skill, the greater exertion of her labourers enabled this Country to supply half the Continent with Lead. Indeed their geographical position and the facility of Water communication, under the North of France, the Netherlands, a great part of Germany and Russia the natural markets for British metals. The cheapness of foreign labour compared with our own has now driven the English Mines from his market abroad, and it will not long leave him that of his own country, if foreign Lead is allowed to be imported at one half of the present duty: – many of our Mines must then be shut up and our Miners driven to emigrate and their Industry lost to the Country. – The events that have taken place in the few weeks that have elapsed since this measure was first agitated shew that these alarms are not without foundation. – Persons who are supposed to be the Agents of the Spanish Government have in two months sold 4,000 Tons of Lead and continue to offer more; and there is now arrived an Agent from the Emperor of Austria to sell the produce of the Imperial Mines in Carinthia at prices destructive to the English Mines. – The undersigned feels that he should not have discharged his duty to his Employer and to the 30,000 families whose very existence is at stake and to whom this measure will leave no alternative but the choice of banishment or the Workhouse, if he had not raised his Voice against its adoption. 

      I have the Honor to be etc etc	MM

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467