Co (Circa 1800)
||The information on this page is probably broadly correct but a lot more research is needed. A few guesses have been made to join the few sparse pin points of confirmed historical facts.|
Albion in “Forests and Sea Power” refers to "Usburne" in
Riga, Latvia, supplying
masts to the British Naval Dockyards in the first years of the
This was probably John Usborne (b.1768) and his younger brother Henry
(b.1778). Whether the other brothers William, Thomas and
James were involved is uncertain.
While the quality of Baltic timber was good and the demand by the navy enormous, trade in the Baltic was becoming progressively harder.
The firm of Usborne & Co was London based with offices at 2 & 4 Broad Street. In 1801 Henry set up an office in Quebec City where timber supplies were plentiful. Although it was expensive to bring timber across the Atlantic this was offset by being duty free.
Around 1803 the firm secured a licence from the British Government to fell timber throughout the whole of British North America (Canada). Henry employed sub-contractors like Peter Patterson, who, under this licence, denuded the shores of Lake Champlain as well as the Thousand Islands, of their fine oak. The firm built several ships, including one called the Anna Maria (after John's wife?).
John seems to have stayed in England to run the London office and continued to trade in the Baltic until the Treaty of Tilsit between France, Russia and Prussia finally cut off supplies in 1807. Huge pressure from the Navy to build more ships, led to the doubling of the price of timber. The firm specialised in masts & oak for ships.
Around 1830 after an education at Eton and Balliol John's son Henry (b.1810) joined the firm in Quebec. Around 1850, in search of further timber upstream, he moved the firm's headquarters from Quebec City to Portage du Fort where the Ottawa River meets the St Lawrence.
In 1869, following a political dispute, Henry moved again across the river to Arnprior where, he bought land to extend the railway and, in partnership with his cousin John, built a new saw-mill. In 1873 He sold up and returned to England to concentrate of his parallel career as a country vicar in Bitterne, near Southampton, England.
Imports of Oak from Canada 1800 - 1815
A load = 1¼ tons
In 1809 John was granted a Coat of Arms.