Abstract

Prior to the advent of scientific aquaculture in the mid-nineteenth century, English farming manuals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries instructed American colonists in the "art of husbandry," imparting advice and passing on the best-known strategies for keeping and rearing fish in enclosed ponds. The development of such ponds in the New England and Mid-Atlantic colonies during the eighteenth century marked the culmination of a long process by which British-American colonists adapted to declines in natural fish populations brought on by over-fishing and disruption of habitat by water-powered mills. The development of private fish-ponds as an increasingly important component of American mixed husbandry practices in long-settled areas by the end of the eighteenth century illustrates early American farmers’ ability to successfully adapt to self-wrought changes in their physical environment.

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Notes

1 Darin Kinsey, "’Seeding the Water as the Earth’: The Epicenter and Peripheries of a Western Aquacultural Revolution," Environmental History 11 (July 2006): 527-66
Joseph Blagrave, New Additions to the Art of Husbandry... (London: Printed for Benjamin Billingsley, 1685), 12-19.
2 Charles Estienne, Maison Rustique, or, The Countrie Farme, trans. Richard Surflet (London: Printed by Edmund Bollifant for Bonham Norton, 1600), 677.
3 Thomas Hale, A Compleat Body of Husbandry, 4 vols. (London: Printed for Thomas Osborne, Thomas Trye, S. Crowder and Co., 1758-1759), 2:105
Estienne, Maison Rustique, 677.
4 Christopher K. Currie, "The Early History of the Carp and its Economic Significance in England," Agricultural History Review 39:2 (1991): 99-100
Howard S. Russell, A Long Deep Furrow: Three Centuries of Farming in New England (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1976), 13, 27.
5 William Wood, New England’s Prospect, ed. Alden T. Vaughan (1635; repr., Amtierst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1977), 56
Thomas Morton, New English Canaan, or New Canaan Containing an Abstract of New England (London: Printed for Charles Greene, 1637), 87.
6 Virginia DeJohn Anderson, Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 8-11.
7 The Complete Grazier, or, Gentleman and Farmer’s Directory (London: Printed for J. Almon, 1767), 244, 250
Hale, A Compleat Body of Husbandry, 2:108.
8 Daniel Vickers, "Those Dammed Shad: Would the River Fisheries of New England Have Survived in the Absence of Industrialization?" William and Mary Quarterly 61 (Oct. 2004): 692, 694-97.
9 Matthew Patten, The Diary of Matthew Patten of Bedford, NH: From Seventeen Hundred Fifty-Four to Seventeen Hundred Eighty-Eight (Concord, NH: Rumford Print Co., 1903), 83, 111, 172, 320.
10 Daniel Vickers, "Competency and Competition: Economic Culture in Early America," Wiiliam and Mary Quarterly 47 (Jan. 1990): 3.
11 Province of Massachusetts-Bay, Acts and Laws of His Majesty’s Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England (Boston: Printed and Sold by Samuel Kneeland and Timothy Green, 1742), 328-29
Province of Massachusetts, Acts and Laws Passed by the Great and General Court or Assembly of His Majesty’s Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England (Boston: Printed by S. Kneeland, 1755), 453-55
Province of Massachusetts, The Acts in this Book were Ordered to be Left Out of the Last Impression of Temporary Laws and Printed by Themselves (Boston: Printed by Greene and Russell, 1763), 45-51
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Boston: Printed by Benjamin Edes and Sons, 1781), 24-25
12 Richard C. Hoffman, "Economic Development and Aquatic Ecosystems in Medieval Europe," American Historical Review 101 (June 1996): 642.
13 Colony of Connecticut, The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, From April 1636 to October 1776, 15 vols. (Hartford: Brown and Parsons, 1850-1890), 5:506
12:498-99.
14 Ibid., 5:506
7:281-82
9:409-10
12:133
13:126-27
15 Ibid., 9:494
13:48
16 Massachusetts General Court, "Chap. XXII An Act to Enable the Town of Weymouth to Regulate and Order the Taking and Disposing of the Fish Called Shadd and Alewives, Within the Limits of that Town," in An Act, Passed by the Great and General Court or Assembly of His Majesty’s Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England... (Boston: Printed by Samuel Kneeland and Timothy Green, 1743), 75.
17 Hoffman, "Economic Development and Aquatic Ecosystems in Medieval Europe," 659.
18 Richard Bradley, A General Treatise of Husbandry and Gardening, 3 vols. (London: Printed for T. Woodward, 1724), 1:23
Massachusetts Zoological and Botanical Survey (hereafter MZBS), Reports on the Fishes, Reptiles and Birds of Massachusetts (Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1839), 82-83
"The Carp’s Conservatories," Washington Post, Dec. 15, 1877, 3
Kinsey, "’Seeding the Water as the Earth,’" 544, 549.
19 MZBS, Reports on the Fishes, 5, 9, 11, 97, 106-107, 199
Brian Murphy and Donald Mysling, Small Ponds in Connecticut: A Guide for Fish Management, DEP Bulletin 19 (Hartford: Department of Environmental Protection, 1993), 26, 31.
20 Complete Grazier, 244
Hale, A Compleat Body of Husbandry, 2:105-106
21 New England (Boston) Weekly Journal, Apr. 5, 1734, 1.
22 American Weekly (Philadelphia) Mercury, Oct. 14-21, 1725, 2.
23 Boston News-Letter, Aug. 8, 1734, 2
New-York Evening Post, Feb. 10, 1752, np
New England Weekly Journal, Feb. 17, 1736, 2.
24 MZBS, Reports on the Fishes, 41
Harold Innis, The Cod Fisheries: The History of an International Economy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1954), 422-23.
Anderson, Creatures of Empire, 158-63.
25 New-York Gazette, Apr. 12, 1762, 3, Oct. 25, 1762, 4
Boston Gazette, or Weekly Journal, Aug. 20, 1754, 4.
26 New-York Weekly Journal, Aug. 10, 1739, 4.
Daniel Gano, The Western Agriculturalist, and Practical Farmer’s Guide: Prepared Under the Superintendency of the Hamilton County Agricultural Society (Cincinnati: Robinson and Fairbank, 1830), 283.
27 New-York Weekly Journal, Aug. 10, 1739, 4.
28 American Weekly Mercury, Dec. 31, 1734-1735, 4.
29 Connecticut (Hartford) Courant, Sept. 24, 1782, 3
Mar. 30, 1784, 1
Massachusetts (Boston) Spy: Or, American Oracle of Liberty, June 27, 1782, 4.
30 City of New York, "A Law for Preserving the Fish in Fresh-water Pond, May 28, 1734," (New York: Broadside Printed and Sold by William Bradford, 1735), in New York Historical Society Library.
31 John Mitchell and Arthur Young, American Husbandry ... 2 vols. (London: Printed for J. Bew, 1775), 1:186-87.
32 John Beale Bordley, Gleanings from the Most Celebrated Books on Husbandry, Gardening, and Rural Affairs (Philadelphia: Printed by James Humphreys, 1803), 122-24, 257-59.
33 Alexander Blackwell, A New Method of Improving Cold, Wet, and Barren Lands: Particularly Clayey-Grounds (London: Printed for J. Walthoe, 1741), 65-66
Estienne, Maison Rustique, 505, 643
Hale, A Compleat Body of Husbandry, 2:104-106
John Mortimer, The Whole Art of Husbandry, 3rd ed. (London: Printed by J. H. for H. and G. Mortlock and R. Robinson, 1712), 213-15.
34 Hale, A Compleat Body of Husbandry, 1:107, 109
Estienne, Maison Rustique, 505.
35 Hale, A Compleat Body of Husbandry, 1:106
Estienne, Maison Rustique, 508.
36 Bradley, A General Treatise of Husbandry and Gardening, 1:23-24.
37 Currie, "The Early History of the Carp," 104
John Aikin, The Arts of Life (Boston: Printed by H. Sprague for S. H. Parker, 1803), 64-65
Richard Parkinson, The Experienced Farmer’s Tour in America (London: Printed for John Stockdale, 1805), 5-7, 311, 316-17, 425-26.
38 Pehr Kalm, Travels into North America, 3 vols., trans. John Reinhold Forster (Warrington, England: Printed by William Eyres, 1770-1771), 1:307
Mitchell and Young, American Husbandry, 187
Thomas Cooper, ed., Some Information Respecting America (London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1795), 123-31