LARKIN, GEORGE, barrister in the High Court of Admiralty; d. 1703 or 1704.
“Versed in the forms of Admiralty Courts,” Larkin was appointed in April 1701 to make an investigation for the Board of Trade which would take him “first to Newfoundland . . . and from thence . . . to New England and so forwards through all the Plantations” where smuggling and piracy were alarmingly on the increase. His mission was made necessary by widespread disregard of two important statutes, the 1699 act for better regulation of the Newfoundland fisheries and the 1700 act for more effectual suppression of piracy. Larkin was furnished with instructions for curbing illicit trade, and empowered to establish courts and procedures for conducting piracy trials.
Instructions of similar nature were issued to Commodore John Graydon of the Newfoundland convoy, and the two were to work in concert. By 11 August Larkin had his report ready, written on board the Assistance in St John’s harbour. “Want of a penalty” accounted for the weakness of the trade regulatory act, and the list of abuses requiring correction was formidable; he condemned the inefficiency of the fishing admirals and their blatant self-interest, naming Arthur Holdsworth as one of the worst offenders, A local merchant, Henry Newman, was appointed “register” (registrar) of the courts set up for piracy trials, and Larkin “layd downe everything so plaine that these trials could proceed without error.
From Newfoundland Larkin went on to Boston “where illegal trade and piracy found so general encouragement,” and after three days in Philadelphia he found “everyone very shy of me and glad to see me preparing to be gone.” In Bermuda he met with grave misfortune, being charged – it seems falsely – with seducing a mulatto servant, and imprisoned. His release from prison was ordered from England in 1703 and he must have died shortly afterwards. A “promise . . . in relation to Mr. Larkin’s widow” was brought before the Board of Trade in September 1704.
G.B., Parliament, Proceedings and debates respecting North America (Stock). NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IV. PRO, Acts of P.C., col. ser., Unbound papers; CSP, Col., 1699, 1700, 1701, 1702, 1702–3, 1704–5. Lounsbury, British fishery at Nfld. Prowse, History of Nfld. Rogers, Newfoundland.