Primary Source

Bill of Lading of a ship from Piscataqua to Bilbao in Spain, 1721

Image of bill written in script. Transcription on source page and explanation in source annotation.


This bill of lading is a standard form used in shipping in the 18th century. This particular bill shows the sloop (a type of wooden ship) Wren who is captained by Charles Deming carrying 125 quintals of salted cod from the River Piscataqua (near present-day Portsmouth, New Hampshire) to Bilbao in Spain. This is representative of much of the trans-imperial trade from New England to southern Europe, as there was little market for salted cod in England. Instead, fish merchants found plenty of consumers in Portugal and Spain for fish.

This source is part of the teaching module on global approaches to trade in colonial North America


Shipping by the Grace of GOD, in good Order and well Conditioned, by Jon. Belcher for Acco. & Risque of Mr. Charles Eyre of London in and upon the Good Sloop Called, The Wren Whereof is Master under GOD for this present voyage Capt. Charles Deming and now Riding at Anchor in the River of Piscataqua and by GOD’s Grace bound for Bilbao to say, One hundred twenty five Quintals of Merchantable Winter & Spring Dry Cod Fish Being Marked and Numbred as in the Margent, and are to be delivered in the like good Order and well Conditioned, at the aforesaid Port of Bilbao (the Danger of the Seas only excepted) unto Messrs. Flinger & Hutchins Merch. Or to their Assigns, he or they paying Freight for the said goods Fish four shillings sterlings & Qte with Primage and Average accustomed. In witness whereof, the Master or Purser of the said Sloop hath affirmed to their Bills of Lading, all of this Tenor and Date, One of which Bills being Accomplished, the other to stand void. And so GOD send the Good Sloop to her desired Port in safety, AMEN. Dated in Piscataqua August 24: 1721 – Charl: Deming


Original source located in the Colonial North America Digital Collection by Harvard University: 

How to Cite This Source

"Bill of Lading of a ship from Piscataqua to Bilbao in Spain, 1721," in World History Commons, [accessed April 16, 2024]