The Iron Act (1750)


The Iron Act was passed by the British parliament in 1750. It was a dual purpose statute that sought to encourage the production of raw iron in North America, while placing limitations on the manufacturing of iron products in the colonies.


“Preamble: An act to encourage the importation of pig and bar iron from his Majesty’s colonies in America, and to prevent the erection of any mill or other engine for slitting or rolling of iron; or any plating forge to work with a tilt hammer; or any furnace for making steel in any of the said colonies…

The importation of bar iron from his Majesty’s colonies in America into the port of London, and the importation of pig iron from the said colonies, into any port of Great Britain… will be a great advantage, not only to the said colonies but also to this kingdom, by furnishing the manufacturers of iron with a supply of that useful and necessary commodity, and by means thereof large sums of money, now annually paid for iron to foreigners, will be saved to this kingdom…

Be it therefore enacted by the King’s most excellent Majesty… that no such bar iron imported into the port of London shall be afterwards exported, or shall be carried coastwise to be landed at any other port of place of Great Britain…

Every merchant, trader, factor or other person loading any pig or bar iron on board any ship or vessel in any of his Majesty’s colonies in America, shall… make oath before the governor or lieutenant governor, collector and comptroller of the customs, and naval officer, or any two of them (which oath every such governor or lieutenant governor, collector, and comptroller of the customs, and naval officer, is hereby impowered and required to administer without fee or reward) that the pig or bar iron so shipped, the true weight whereof shall in such oath be expressed, was made at —————– within the colony of ———————…

Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that from and after the 24th day of June 1750, no mill or other engine for slitting or rolling of iron, or any plating-forge to work with a tilt hammer, or any furnace for making steel, shall be erected or continued in any of his Majesty’s colonies in America. And if any person or persons shall erect, or cause to be erected… any such mill, engine, forge, or furnace, every person or persons so offending, they shall for every such mill, engine, forge, or furnace, forfeit the sum of £200 of lawful money of Great Britain.

It is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid that every such mill, engine, forge, or furnace so erected and contary to the directions of this act shall be deemed a common nuisance; and that every governor, lieutenant governor, or commander in chief… is hereby authorised and required to cause every such mill, engine, forge, or furnace, to be abated within the space of 30 days next…”

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