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448

OYSTER FISHERY.

hands, which contains 'the best information on the subject.

" THE OYSTER FISHERY.

• In several of the creeks and branches of the MEDWAY, within the liberty of Rochester, is an OYSTER FISHERY, for the conducting of which, there is a company of free dredgers, established by prescription, time out of mind, subject to the authority and government of the Mayor and citizens of this city.

“ In the year 1729, an Act of Parliament was obtained for the better ordering and governing THIS Fishery, for making them secure under the protection of the said Mayor and citizens, and for con'firming and settling the power and jurisdiction of the said mayor and citizens over this fishery and the free dredgers thereof.

“ The Mayor and citizens have power once or oftener in every year, to hold a court of admiralty, to which the dredgers are summoned by the principal water bailiff, and a jury is appointed from amongst them, which jury hath power to make rules and orders for the times when the oyster grounds shall be opened and shut, and the quantity of OYSTERS to be taken by each dredgerman, on each day of dredging; and also for the preservation of the brood and spat of OYSTERS, and for otherwise regulating the said fishery; the jury are also empowered to

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impose such fines for the breach of any such rules and orders, as shall be approved of and confirmed by THE Mayor and citizens, to whose use all forfeitures shall be applied. Every person is free of this company, after having served seven years to a free dredgerinan. Every free dredgerman, at the expiration of his apprenticeship, to pay to the Mayor and citizens six shillings and eight pence; he is also to pay yearly, on the fifteenth of October, six shillings and eight pence for the use of the said Mayor and citizens.

By the aforesaid act, the Mayor and citizens agreed to retain ten pounds out of the said six shillings and eight pence, for their trouble and expense in holding the admiralty court; and the surplus to be applied to the common good of the OYSTER FISHERY, in such manner as the jury shall direct.

Any person catching Oysters in this river, not free of the fishery, is styled a "cable hanger,' and liable to such penalty as THE MAYOR and citizens shall impose.

“ The company frequently bring brood or spat from other parts, which they lay down in this river, where they soon grow to maturity. Great quantities of these OYSTERS are sent to LONDON and HOLLAND, and transmitted into Westphalia and the adjacent countries."

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* The Author feels indebted to an intelligent Lady for the above extract. He is also under obligation to W.Prentis, Esq.,

450

OYSTER FISHERY.

When the Oyster Season commences, it is pleasing to observe how many hundreds of POOR PEOPLE in the British metropolis and elsewhere find en ployment, and are furnished with the means of a comfortable livelihood. Thus the bounties of Providence in every way contribute to the comfort of mankind.

I confess, that I was altogether mistaken in the idea I had entertained respecting the nature of the oyster fishery. I had supposed that the OYSTERS lay in very shallow water, so that they could be distinctly seen, that they were arranged in beds of considerable length and breadth, open to inspection and easy of attainment. Whereas, these OYSTERS lie in the bottom of the river Medway, as well as up a deep creek, which, indeed, is the more special place of rendezvous. They are dredged for by the fishermen, or dragged up by iron instruments. To us this may seem strange uncertain work, bat to those who are conversant with this mode of operation, they know the very spot where the oysters are, and can obtain them at any time and in any given quantity! Indeed, there is scarcely any thing which the industry of man cannot accomplish. And whilst Providence has been bountiful in its provision for human beings, it is left, in most cases, to their ingenuity to procure from the

who has been several times Mayor of Rochester, for information on the subject. May his Sons, with whose education I kad the honour of being entrusted, prove a comfort to their Parents and an ornament to Society!

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HISTORY OF OYSTERS.

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great mass of Heaven's bounty, what is necessary to their own individual happiness.

The Oyster is a genus of the class and order of Vermes Testacea. Of this genus there are one hundred and thirty-six species, divided into two sections, which are likewise subdivided. Of the common Oyster there are six varieties found in different parts of the European and Indian seas, affixed to rocks or in large beds. The shell is of various sizes, forms and colours, within white, and often glossy, like mother-of-pearl. The Oyster is supposed to be an hermaphrodite animal. The spawn which they cast in May, adheres to the rocks and other substances of the sea, and the shell is said to be formed in twentyfour hours! It was once thought to have no power of loco-motion, but it is now ascertained, that it can move from place to place, and vary its habits according to circumstances. Their most destructive enemies are the other shell fish, as muscles, scallops, star fish, crabs, &c. Oysters are of different colours in different places; in Spain of a red and russet colour, in Illyria brown, but the fish is black; and in the Red Sea of the colour of the rainbow. The green oyster, eaten at Paris, is brought from Dieppe. The oysters from Brittany have been long famous, but those brought from Merennes, in Saintonge, are in the highest estimation. On the MANGROVE TREE, the oyster is found in the West Indies! Without the trouble of picking them from the trees, the branches, growing under water, to which they are attached, are

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cut off, carried home in baskets, and in this state brought to table, where they are eaten raw or roasted. Britain has been long famous for her oysters, and the Romans cultivated them when in possession of this island. At Colchester, Milton, &c., stews or layers of Oysters are formed in places which nature had never allotted for them. * We say nothing of the Oyster crossed in love, but so much for the OYSTER FISHERY.

We were by this time in view of QUEENBOROUGH, a town lying at the south-west point of the Isle of Sheppey. The third Edward, in honour of his beloved Queen Phillipa, built this place for the refuge of the inhabitants of this island, in case of invasion. It had formerly another town, called King's Borough, in its vicinity. Here is a ferry, denominated King's Ferry, connecting the island with the main land. There were two markets, but long since disused. The town has of late years been improved. Being one of the far-famed rotten boroughs, it yet retains the privilege of sending two Members to Parliament. The corporation consists of a Mayor, three jurats, two bailiffs, a recorder, town clerk, chamberlain, &c.

* See article Ostrea in the New CYCLOPEDIA, by my learned and laborious friend DR. ABRAHAM Rees, a work which reflects an honour on our age and country. The reader is also referred to a Quarto VOLUME, illustrative of West India Botany, or the Fruits of Tropical Climates, where will be seen an engraving of the Mangrove ee, with oysters attached to it-by William Titford, M. D. This very curious, as well as interesting Work, may be had of Sherwood and Co. Paternoster Row.

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