By Jeannette Holland Austin
The Navigation Act of 1660, the Staple Act of 1663 and the Act of 1673 imposing Plantation Duties were the foundation of the old colonial system of Great Britain. During the seventeenth century colonies were referred to and treated as plantations by England. It was a situation which enabled the mother country to regulate trade and industry across the seas to their colonies. The Navigation Act itself followed a policy laid down in the Statute of 1651 by the Commonwealth, and was directed at the Dutch, who traded goods more cheaply with the colonists in the Atlantic and Wst Indies. In fact, they were fast monopolizing the merchant vessels. The Act explicitely forbade that any goods be imported into or exported from His Majesty's plantations except in English, Irish, or colonial vessels. Also, the master of the ship and three fourths of his crew must be English as well. Hence, with no attempt made to disguise its trading regime, contemporary Englishmen of that age hailed this Act as the . The result was that the colonies were almost solely dependent upon England and it toe-tailed other countries from an accumulation of wealth. Thus, the English, Irish and colonials possessed a shipping monopoly of the carrying trade within the Empire. The Act also aided English merchants in the requirement that goods of foreign origin should be imported directly from the place of production and that certain plantation commodities such as sugar, tobacco, cotton, wool, Indicoes, ginger, fustick and other dyeing wood should be carried only to English ports. From the inception of Parliament's first trading Acts to the many others later imposed, the taxes and duties imposed upon the colonies made life more difficult, even up the Acts of 1764 and 1765 which were described as the "The Eve of the Revolution."
County and Probate Records to Help you Find your Virginia Ancestors