England and the Baltic Naval Stores Trade in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
The growth of the Royal Navy in the century ending in 1756 created increasing requirements for naval stores: pitch, hemp, tars, masts and spars. Problems of supply were exacerbated by increased operations in tropical waters which speeded decay and rot. The traditional source of naval stores for Britain was the Baltic and North Russia. Various difficulties including local conflicts and the growth of monopolies complicated expectations for assured supplies. From 1694 onwards the Navy Board sourced masts, particularly the tallest ones, from New England. The Board of Trade aimed to reduce British dependence on Baltic naval stores and introduced bounties to make the cost of supplies from New England more competitive.