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March 28th 1769

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Perth trading

It was in 1796 that Thomas Pennant made his first tour of Scotland. He was an excellent and accurate observer and the book he wrote on his return to England became something of a best seller. He visited Perth and was not unimpressed by what he saw.

“Perth is large and in general well built; two of the streets are remarkably fine; in some of the lesser are yet a few wooden houses in the old style; but as they decay the magistrates prohibit the rebuilding of them in the old way. There is but one parish, which has two churches, besides meetings of separatists, who are very numerous.

The flourishing state of Perth is owing to two accidents; the first that of numbers of Cromwell’s wounded officers and soldiers choosing to reside here after he left the Kingdom, who introduced a spirit of industry among the people. The other cause was the long continuance of the Earl of Mar’s army here in 1715, which occasioned vast sums of money being spent in the place. But this town as well as all Scotland dates its prosperity from the year 1745; the government of this part of Great Britain never having been settled till a little after that time. The rebellion was a disaster, violent in its operation, but salutary in its effects.

The trade of Perth is considerable. It exports annually 150,000lbs of linen, from 24 to 30,000 bolls of wheat and barley to London and Edinburgh and about the same in cured salmon. That fish is taken there in vast abundance; three thousand have been caught in one morning, the whole capture 48,000lbs.

There has been in these parts a very great fishery of pearl, got out of the fresh-water mussels. From the year 1761 to 1764 £10,000 worth were sent to London and sold from 10 shillings to £1.16s per oz. I have been told that a pearl has been taken there that weighed 33 grains. But this fishery is at present exhausted, from the avarice of the undertakers.” 

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