Robert Crosswall var en skotsk affärsman bosatt vid Masthuggstorget under den andra halvan av 1700-talet. Han var tidigt delägare i flera sillsalterier såsom Krossholmen i Torslanda på Hisingen, Margaretaholmen invid Gullholmen och Hermanö utanför Orust samt Skräddarholmen, också det nånstans vid eller på Orust. De två första fick han sälja år 1786 på grund av ekonomiska problem. Firman Low & Smith övertog dem, men Skräddarholmen ägde han fortfarande år 1787. Troligen ägde han också en masthamn där han eventuellt också saltade och rökte sill.
Mr Robert Crosswall, a native of Scotland, having settled at Gottenburgh, was accidentally induced to engage in the herring fishery there, which had not been previously carried on to any great extent By his means it was raised to a very extraordinary height ; for the sale of salted herrings being li mited, he devised a plan for extracting the oil from fresh her rings by boiling, thus producing an article which sold well, and was always in demand. The quantity of oil depends much upon the quality of the fish. When herrings were lean, the produce was only at the rate of from one and a half to two gallons per barrel ; but when the quality of the fish was good, the same quantity yielded from three to three and a half gallons of oil. The produce of the fishery in 1785 was as follows :
Salted herrings sent to the several ports of Sweden, 37,500
Ditto exported to foreign parts, 116,977
The quantity of herring oil exported to foreign countries, an. 1787, amounted to 34,056 ahms, and to different places in Sweden, 1554 more; making a total of 35,616 ahms. Each ahm contains four ankers, and was then worth L.2 per ahm ; so that, even at that low price, the total value of the oil manufactured came to L.70,220. It was calculated, that from the inferior quality of the fish in 1787, it cost the manufacturers of oil L.16 per ton, whereas, in 1785, it stood them only from L.10 to L.12 per ton.
The bad fishing of 1786 ruined Crosswall, who was obliged to sell all his works, and had very little surplus. I was extremely anxious to get him settled in his own country ^ for by his means, the Swedish mode of fishing, and, above all, the mode of manufacturing herring oil, would have been introduced here. This would have been of immense consequence to our fishermen, as oil is an article which must always be in de mand. The British herrings also, being richer in quality than the Swedish, would have produced a much greater quantity. Besides, the refuse of the fish would have been a most valuable manure, and easily transportable. But all my exertions for bringing Crosswall over were unfortunately in vain. It is to be hoped, however, that the manufacturing of herring oil will be promoted, as a great national object, by the Fishery Board now established in Scotland, and for that purpose, that premiums will be given to those who manufacture the greatest quantities. The fisheries at Wick and Thurso, on the coast of Caithness, are of great value, but might be considerably improved, if a part of the quantity caught were converted into oil. Indeed, that mode of consuming herrings, would be in dispensably necessary to be attended to, if the herring fishery were greatly extended, as the market for salted herrings is so limited, that, by a great fishery, the price of herrings might be so much reduced, that the adventurers would sustain a loss, in stead of deriving a profit, from their undertaking.
Vad som senare hände med Crosswall är okänt.
- Anton Larsson, The Hunt for Red Herring, 2018