The Navigation Act 1663 was passed on the 27th of July, 1663 (the earlier Navigation Act of 1660 replaced the Navigation Act of 1651 which was abrogated on the grounds of having been illegally enacted by Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth).
The acts were designed to protect England’s interests in the West Indies and North America (from, primarily the Dutch, who were supreme marine traders): Commodities like cotton, sugar and tobacco could only be shipped to England or its colonies and ships’ crews were required to be at least three-quarters English. Further, as guarantee of compliance, ships’ captains were obliged to pay a bond for each shipment.
The Navigation Act 1663 further stipulated that European merchandise en route to the colonies first had to be shipped to England where the cargo was unloaded and assessed for tariffs before being reloaded in English bottoms (ships built in England or its colonies) to complete its voyage.
Many acts were imposed to protect the supply of timber necessary for the maintenance and renewal of England’s voracious Navy and merchant fleets. However, the Naval Stores Act 1721 abolished all import duties on timber from the West Indies and North America which, though of little effect on Naval stores, was of immense significance to Britain’s furniture-makers as it allowed the unimpeded importation of mahogany from the West Indies along with pine and walnut from North America.