seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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The Navigation Act 1651

The Navigation Act 1651 is passed on October 9, 1651, by the Rump Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell. It authorises the Commonwealth of England to regulate trade within the colonies. It reinforces a long-standing principle of government policy that English trade should be carried in English vessels. The Act is a reaction to the failure of the English diplomatic mission led by Oliver St. John and Walter Strickland to The Hague seeking a political union of the Commonwealth with the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, after the States of Holland had made some cautious overtures to Cromwell to counter the monarchical aspirations of stadtholder William II, Prince of Orange.

The stadtholder dies suddenly, however, and the States are now embarrassed by Cromwell taking the idea too seriously. The English propose the joint conquest of all remaining Spanish and Portuguese possessions. England would take America and the Dutch would take Africa and Asia. But the Dutch have just ended their war with Spain and already taken over most Portuguese colonies in Asia, so they see little advantage in this grandiose scheme and propose a free trade agreement as an alternative to a full political union. This again is unacceptable to the British, who would be unable to compete on such a level playing field, and is seen by them as a deliberate affront.

The Act bans foreign ships from transporting goods from outside Europe to England or its colonies, and bans third-party countries’ ships from transporting goods from a country elsewhere in Europe to England. These rules specifically target the Dutch, who control much of Europe’s international trade and even much of England’s coastal shipping. It excludes the Dutch from essentially all trade with England, as the Dutch economy is competitive with, not complementary to the English, and the two countries therefore exchange few commodities. This Anglo-Dutch trade, however, constitutes only a small fraction of total Dutch trade flows.

The Act is often mentioned as a major cause of the First Anglo-Dutch War, though it is only part of a larger British policy to engage in war after the negotiations have failed. The English naval victories in 1653 (the Battle of Portland, the Battle of the Gabbard and the Battle of Scheveningen) show the supremacy of the Commonwealth navy in home waters. However, farther afield the Dutch predominate and are able to close down English commerce in the Baltic and the Mediterranean. Both countries hold each other in a stifling embrace.

The Treaty of Westminster (1654) ends the impasse. The Dutch fail to have the Act repealed or amended, but it seems to have had relatively little influence on their trade. The Act offers England only limited solace. It cannot limit the deterioration of England’s overseas trading position, except in the cases where England herself is the principal consumer, such as the Canary Islands wine trade and the trade in Puglian olive oil. In the trade with the West Indies, the Dutch keep up a flourishing “smuggling” trade, thanks to the preference of English planters for Dutch import goods and the better deal the Dutch offer in the sugar trade. The Dutch colony of New Netherland offers a loophole through intercolonial trade wide enough to drive a shipload of Virginia tobacco through.

The 1651 Act, like other laws of the Commonwealth period, is declared void on the Restoration of Charles II of England, having been passed by “usurping powers.” Parliament therefore passes new legislation. This is generally referred to as the “Navigation Acts,” and, with some amendments, remains in force for nearly two centuries.

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Birth of Singer/Songwriter Eleanor McEvoy

eleanor-mcevoyEleanor McEvoy, one of Ireland’s most accomplished contemporary singer/songwriters, is born in Dublin on January 22, 1967. McEvoy composes the song “Only A Woman’s Heart,” the title track of A Woman’s Heart, the best-selling Irish album in Irish history.

McEvoy’s life as a musician begins at the age of four when she begins playing piano. At the age of eight she takes up violin and, as a teen, she joins the Junior Irish Youth Orchestra. Upon finishing school she attends Trinity College, Dublin where she studies music by day and works in pit orchestras and music clubs by night.

McEvoy graduates from Trinity with an Honors Degree in music and spends four months busking in New York City. In 1988, she is accepted into the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra where she spends four years before leaving to concentrate on songwriting.

During a solo date in July 1992, she performs a little-known, self-penned song, “Only a Woman’s Heart.” Mary Black, of whose band McEvoy is a member, is in the audience and invites her to add the track to an album of Irish female artists. The album is subsequently titled A Woman’s Heart and the track is released as the lead single. The album goes on to sell over three-quarters of a million copies in Ireland alone and remains the biggest selling Irish album of all time. The record’s success makes McEvoy a superstar virtually overnight.

Eleanor McEvoy, the self-titled debut offering, recorded in Windmill Lane Studios, is released in February 1993, and tours in the United States, Asia, and Europe follow. Back on Irish soil, McEvoy is awarded Best New Artist, Best New Performer, and Best Songwriter Awards by the Irish entertainment and music industries.

McEvoy signs a contract with Columbia Records and begins working on a new, edgier second album, which is eventually entitled What’s Following Me? The album is released in 1996 and the sound is louder and grungier than her debut.

McEvoy releases her third album Snapshots in 1999. Her primary goal is to make Snapshots her most song-oriented album to date. Toward that goal, she hooks up with legendary producer Rupert Hine, who has worked with Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Suzanne Vega, and Duncan Sheik, and records the album at Rupert’s “Chateau de la Tour de Moulin” and then in Metropolis Studios in London.

As the century closes, McEvoy has had enough of major-label involvement, making the decision to take the fourth album and head down the independent road. Yola was a turning point in McEvoy’s musical direction. Released in 2001, it reflects the acoustic, jazz-influenced style she had developed on stage with Brian Connor.

March 2004 sees the release of Early Hours, produced by McEvoy and Brian Connor. The style differs from McEvoy’s previous work, taking on a jazz/blues feel for many of the songs. She continues to tour with Brian Connor until April 2005. She then begins performing solo, accompanying herself on bass guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, and violin.

McEvoy continues to release new albums almost on a yearly basis with Out There (2006), Love Must Be Tough (2008), Singled Out (2009), I’d Rather Go Blonde (2010), Alone (2011), If You Leave… (2013), and Stuff (2014).

Naked Music (2016) is McEvoy’s twelfth studio album. It is recorded at the Grange Studio in Norfolk, UK. McEvoy records the tracks by “studio-performing,” in other words, playing the songs as she would in a live performance. The album features exclusive artwork by famed painter Chris Gollon.