Cary, John (d.1720?) (DNB00)

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CARY, JOHN (d. 1720?), merchant and writer on trade, was the son of Thomas Cary, vicar of St. Philip and St. Jacob, Bristol. Engaged in the West Indian sugar trade, he was led to take a political interest in commercial matters. He was a warden of the Merchant Venturers' Company at Bristol in 1683–4. In Jan. 1687–8, when the mayor and council were removed on account of their opposition to the abolition of the penal laws, he was placed on the substituted council (see Seyer, Bristol, ii. 534). He was removed in Oct. 1688. He was parliamentary candidate for Bristol in 1698. An essay on trade, which he published in 1695, attracted attention and brought him into correspondence with Locke. It ‘is the best discourse,’ Locke wrote to him, ‘I ever read on that subject.’ It is ‘written with so disinterested an aim,’ wrote another correspondent, ‘that no man can possibly tell where your trade lyes by it.’ Cary was evidently esteemed by his fellow citizens as a man of sound practical judgment, for he acted as an arbitrator in commercial disputes, and was chosen by the Bristol committee of trade as their representative in London to advise the city members in matters affecting Bristol trade. In 1700 he was appointed one of the trustees for the sale of forfeited estates in Ireland (H. C. Journals, xiii. 307; Harris, William III, p. 478). In 1704, being known to have given much attention to the subject, he was invited by the ministry to lay before them his views on the question of encouraging the linen manufactures of Ireland. The only later references to him are in connection with two chancery suits in Ireland, Carey v. White, and Boyle-Moor v. Mattocks, in both of which, on appeal to the House of Lords, he was unsuccessful (Index to Journals, vols. ii. and iii.; and 5 Bro. P. C. 325). In each case he was attached for non-payment of costs, being imprisoned for a few days in 1717 (Macqueen, Practice in the House of Lords, p. 271), though he seems to have evaded a similar order in 1719 (H. L. Journals, xxi. 130). He died soon after (advertisement to 1745 edition of the Essay on Trade). Cary advocated a national policy in trade. It is possible, he said, for the public to grow poor, while private persons increase their fortunes; therefore it is important to discover what trades are profitable to the nation and should be encouraged, and what are not profitable and should be discouraged. He has been ridiculed for putting such a question, but to nearly all his contemporaries it seemed a most reasonable one. In the instructions to the commissioners of trade in 1696 it is set down, almost in Cary's words, as the first subject of inquiry (Macpherson, Commerce, ii. 682). The policy which he advocated was the stimulating of home manufactures. To this end he was in favour of discouraging the importation of manufactured commodities, and of encouraging, by freeing from customs and otherwise, that of raw material. For the same reason he proposed that the laws against the exportation of wool should be strengthened, and that some check should be put upon the woollen manufactures of Ireland. The Irish trade, he said in a letter of 1695, threatens to eat up ours. ‘Lands in Ireland will advance to twenty years' purchase, and lands in England fall to twelve.’

Among his other proposals was a plan for providing workhouses for the poor, which through his efforts was brought into operation in Bristol by an act of 1697. In one of his pamphlets Cary described the success of the experiment, and the example of Bristol was followed by a number of other towns (see Eden, State of the Poor, i. 253, 275; Nicholls, English Poor Law, i. 373). A growing belief in the system led to the passing of a general act in 1723, enabling separate parishes to combine for the purpose of establishing a common workhouse. Though the idea of such a combination had been already suggested by Hale and other writers on the poor, Cary has been justly credited with showing how it could be carried out.

The following is a list of Cary's works: 1. ‘An Essay on the State of England in relation to its Trade, its Poor, and its Taxes, for carrying on the present War against France,’ 1695; 2nd ed. 1719, ‘An Essay towards regulating the Trade and employing the Poor of this Kingdom;’ 3rd ed. 1745, ‘A Discourse on Trade, and other matters relative to it,’ &c. The later editions differ considerably from the first one. The edition of 1745 was translated, with additions, into French in 1755, and from the French into Italian in 1764. In Cary's lifetime parts of the essay were extracted and published as separate pamphlets: the ‘Irish and Scotch Trade’ (Bristol, 1695; London, 1696), the ‘East India Trade’ (Bristol, 1695; London, 1696 and 1699), the ‘African Trade’ (n. d.) and the proposals relating to the poor. A pamphlet having appeared entitled ‘The Linnen Drapers' Answer to that part of Mr. Cary his Essay on Trade, that concerns the East India Trade’—a plea for free trade—he published a short reply. 2. ‘An Essay on the Coyn and Credit of England as they stand with respect to Trade’ (Bristol, 1696), ‘to show the necessity of settling a well-grounded credit in this nation, for support of the government and carrying on its trade’ (see Macleod on Banking, i. 403). In ‘An Essay towards settling a National Credit’ (1696, reprinted along with 2nd and 3rd editions of the ‘Essay on Trade’), and in ‘A Proposal for paying off the Publick Debts by erecting a National Credit’ (London, 1719), he advocated a national bank, ‘the profit or loss thereof to redound to the nation.’ In the ‘Essay on Trade’ (2nd ed.) he said that ‘the famous Mr. Laws’ drew his scheme from this proposal. 3. ‘An Account of the Proceedings of the Corporation of Bristol, in Execution of the Act of Parliament for the better employing and maintaining the Poor of that City,’ London, 1700 (anonymous), reprinted along with 2nd and 3rd editions of the ‘Essay on Trade.’ ‘A Proposal to raise 150,000l. per annum, and to give Employment to the Poor’ (n. d.); a leaflet, suggesting an additional duty on tobacco. 4. ‘Some Considerations relating to the Carrying on the Linnen Manufactures of Ireland,’ 1704; reprinted along with 2nd and 3rd editions of the ‘Essay on Trade.’ The effect of absenteeism on ‘the balance of trade’ is discussed. 5. ‘A Vindication of the Parliament of England, in answer to a book written by William Molyneux of Dublin, Esq., intituled “The Case of Ireland's being bound by Acts of Parliament in England stated,”’ London, 1698 (see Nicolson, Irish Hist. Library, ed. 1776, p. 51). Another answer to Molyneux appeared in the same year, which, on the strength of a marginal reference in Leland's ‘History of Ireland’ (i. 77, 3rd ed.), is attributed to Cary. 6. ‘The Rights of the Commons in Parliament assembled asserted, and the Liberties of the People vindicated,’ London, 1718, denying the right of the House of Lords to imprison after prorogation. ‘The Case of John Cary, Esq.’ &c., London, 1719; an appeal to the House of Commons for relief in a case pending in the Irish court of chancery. Cary's manuscripts in the British Museum include several papers on trade and currency, his correspondence with Locke and others concerning the ‘Essay on Trade,’ and notes on fencing and other matters. He gives a description (f. 112) of three comets in 1680 and 1682, with a sketch of one of them.

[Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 5540; Journals of House of Lords; references to himself in his pamphlets; information received from Mr. William George of Bristol.]

G. P. M.