Some Cursory Remarks Made by James Birket in His Voyage to North America, 1750-1751


 Little is known about the author other than what can be gleaned from this journal. He communicated with merchants of the mainland American colonies, and probably acted as correspondent and factor for them in their commercial dealings with residents of the island of Antigua in the Caribbean. His observations show the mercantile bent of his mind and contain information that is not easy to obtain elsewhere. Birket notes the weather, as was typical of diarists of the time, but he is also a keen observer of the environment: “I observed a flock of Gray Plover which came close by the Ship and Seamd to fly directly to the So Et we being then in the Lato of Bermudas and abt 2 [degrees] to the westward of it.” He identifies ships and people, describes buildings and navigable rivers, and comments on business: “The exports of this province are Chiefly Lumber, as Boards, Plank, Joists, Staves, Shingles &C…. Their present Price Currt Seems to be for Boards Plank & Joists 16 @ 18 [pounds] pms….” He not only recounts the facts as he sees them but also ventures his opinion on occasion: “The trade of Boston Seems to be upon the decline in my Opinion….” This volume provides a brief but informative and fascinating look at nearly one year’s time in the life of an intelligent, informed, and observant man of the mid-eighteenth century.


James Birket 

(1916) reprint, paper, index, 78 pp.

ISBN: 0788423304