Specie Conveyance from the West Coast of Mexico in British Warships c. 1820- 1870: An Aspect of the Pax Britannica

By Barry M. Gough, published November 1983


In the early 19th century, Mexico produced approximately half of the world’s silver. Along with gold and jewels, this was used to pay for British trade goods. The problem was how to get these safely to Britain. The Royal Navy became in effect unofficial carriers of this valuable cargo. According to an order in council dated 1819, a fixed commission based on the value of the goods was levied for this service. This sum was divided with one quarter going to the Admiral on station, one half to the captain of the carrying vessel, and the remainder to Greenwich Hospital. This system prevailed until the advent of commercial steam navigation gave the shippers quicker transit time and enhanced security for the cargo.

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Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Pacific
Subjects include: Administration | Navies

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