America and West Indies: March 1696

Pages 649-657

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 14, 1693-1696. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1903.

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March 1696

March 2. 2,292. Minutes of Council of Virginia. Charles Scarburgh sworn of the Council. Letter from Governor Thomas Harvey, of Carolina, read, reporting that the complaint of the abduction of the sheriff from Crow Island was under consideration, that the guilty parties had been summoned, and that he hoped to give a satisfactory answer later on. The matter was therefore postponed. Order for the Court of Nancymond to be admonished to keep the roads and bridges leading to North Carolina in better order. A letter from Colonel Beale, of Maryland, as to an Indian belonging to him, read, and order given thereupon. [Board of Trade. Virginia, 53. pp. 15–16.]
[March 2.] 2,293. Copy of Minutes of Council of Virginia, from 11 June, 1695, to 2 March, 1696. 18 pp. [America and West Indies. 638. No. 27.]
March 2. 2,294. Minutes of General Assembly of Massachusetts. Advised that an expedition be sent to suppress several French privateers fitting out at Port Royal. The Treasurer explained his difficulties in the management of the Treasury through want of supplies, and the methods which he was obliged to take to answer demands, asking the Assembly for its approbation for his indemnity and for the form of transmitting his accounts to a new Treasurer. Order for a form to be drawn up.
March 3. Order for indemnity of the Treasurer and for transmitting the accounts thereof to his successor, read, and left to further consideration. A clause, referring to the Treasurer's accounts and discharge, to be inserted in the Tax Bill, was debated.
March 4. The same question was again considered, whether it should be settled by a clause in the Tax Bill, or by a distinct Bill.
March 5. Order for the clause relating to the Treasurer's discharge to be inserted in the Tax Bill and sent down to the Representatives.
March 6. Vote in concurrence with the Representatives for payment of the Judges of the Circuits. Bill for a tax received from the Representatives, read, and ordered to be engrossed. Order, on motion of the Representatives, for introduction of a Bill altering the form of writs for convening next General Assembly.
March 7. Vote, in concurrence with the Representatives, for a grant to Stephen Greenleaf. Bill to encourage the making of salt, read, and ordered to be engrossed, also a Bill to alter the form of writs for the General Assembly. A Bill from the Representatives raising the pay of soldiers and seamen to thirty shillings a month was voted and enacted. Vote for concurrence with the Assembly for payments to Caleb Ray and James Maxwell, and for a public fast on the 2nd April next. Bills for a tax of £2,333, for encouragement of making salt, and for altering the forms of writs, were again read and enacted. Ordered, that on the death or other removal of the present Treasurer his successor shall accept his accounts in such form as the Assembly shall approve, to indemnify the present Treasurer from personal obligation to answer the same otherwise than where he is liable through his own mistake. Order for revival of a former order of 1682 as to the maintenance of Jones River bridge and Eel River bridge, and for further arrangements respecting the same. Order for payment to sundry persons of small accounts amounting to £9 3s. 0d. The Lieutenant-Governor dissolved the Assembly. [Board of Trade. New England, 48. pp. 27–32.]
March 2. 2,295. Minutes of Council of Maryland. A report was brought in that Captain Meech had been drowned, and that his sloop had been found with one man dead and another almost dead on board her, and also several goods. Ordered that the ship be sold, to pay Meech's debt to the King for sums recovered against him in Virginia. (p. 76.) A letter of the Commissioners of Customs of 10 June read, respecting illegal trading of the ship Expectation. Ordered that the bond of the master, John Tench, be prosecuted forthwith. (p. 77.)
March 3. Order for collection, appraisement and sale of Captain Meech's property. (p. 77.) A letter from Governor Fletcher of 19 February, together with former letters from the same and Governor Nicholson's answers, were read and ordered to be entered. List of civil and military officers for St. George's County approved, and orders given for constituting the county Court and officers. Questions as to the necessity of issuing new commissions to certain officers referred to the law-officers, who decided that it was necessary. Orders to the rangers to range beyond all the settlements on the frontier, and for a journal of their proceedings to be sent in monthly, also that they mark several trees, and make as great a show of their presence as possible. On the report of the Auditor and Receiver-General, a fine imposed on Simon Wilmore during the Revolution was remitted. The Governor discoursed with the justices and lawyers as to despatch of legal business and the time for holding the Provincial Courts. Proclamations proroguing the Assembly till the 30th of April, and appointing the Provincial Court for the second Tuesday in May, were signed. (pp. 78–81.)
March 4. Commissioners appointed for Talbot County. Order for committal of John Valliant for acting as clerk of Talbot County Court in lieu of Thomas Laurence, and that the fees collected for Valliant be taken and paid to Sir Thomas Laurence's agent. Order to prohibit officers from exacting more than their legal fees. Order to vestries as to the furnishing of the interior of churches. (pp. 74–76.) A further petition as to the ship Anne Helena was read and referred to the Receiver General and law officers. (p. 82.) Several orders as to masters of ships, seamen, and embargo on ships in view of the arrival of the fleet. Orders to watch the head of the Potomac River. The question of attainting juries referred to the attorneys. (pp. 86–87.)
March 5. Order as to the appraisement of the ship Anne Helena. Proclamations against harbouring deserting seamen, and for vestries to enforce the late orders of Assembly as to the money due for the 40lbs. of tobacco poll, and as to frequent assembling of negroes, entered. A series of orders of 25 January also entered, as to collection of the tax on officers' fees, as to repair of arms and renewal of ammunition for the militia, as to apprehension of persons who entice away seamen, as to ranging at the heads of the rivers by which people generally pass into Pennsylvania, from the arrival of the fleet until its departure, as to similar precautions along Susquehannah river and at the ferry thereof, and as to reporting of hues and cries at Annapolis. Order for remission of a fine imposed on Thomas Hall. Draft commission for Daniel Pierce to be a riding surveyor approved. (pp. 83–87.)
March 6. The Commissioners of Chancery were sworn. (p. 73.) Kenelm Cheseldyn presented a letter of attorney from England of a dead man's estate, which was rejected as insufficiently proved. The Governor said that owing to the bad weather he should defer appointment of a day of thanksgiving for the King's success in Flanders until the meeting of the Assembly. (pp. 87–88.) [Board of Trade. Maryland, 13. pp. as cited.]
March 4. 2,296. The Attorney General to Lords of Trade and Plantations. Submitting draft of a clause to be added to the Post Office Act for Massachusetts, according to his recommendation of 17 February (see No. 2,280). Signed, Tho. Trevor. 1 p. Endorsed, Recd. Feb. 3, 1696–7. [Board of Trade. New England, 8. No. 10.]
March 5.
West Chester.
2,297. Colonel Lillingston to the Duke of Shrewsbury. I have been taken sick on the road and the coaches have been taken up for two stage days, so I venture to send these papers to show the proceedings of Captain Wilmot and Commissary Murrey, as your Grace will find by the Council of War that Captain Wilmot held on board H.M.S. Dunkirk, which was unknown to me; but Mr. Murrey "ding" [dying] the copy of the Council of War was found among his papers, which he had concealed from me during his life-time, which shows that he had a hand in the concern. I am sorry that I cannot give you an account of the taking of Leogane and Petit Guavos as well as of the Cape [Cap François] and Port de Paix, which might as well have been perfected. Had Captain Wilmot obeyed the Royal Instructions or complied with my reasonable demands we had certainly perfected the reducing of Leogane and Petit Guavos as well as of the other two places, for I was forced with my small number of men to keep guard every night close to the fort of Port de Paix, and in the daytime to work hard in making fascines and batteries, and fetching planks and the great guns, which the Commodore landed two miles from me, though he might have landed them within less than half a mile of the batteries. This fatigued my men so that they fell sick, and at last I had not above 250 men that were anything able to watch. His pretension of acting separate was for no other end but to get a ship that was laden with wine and brandy, and which lay made fast to the fort of Port de Paix. Captain Wilmot plainly shewed this by raising a battery to play upon the platform where the ship lay, and, after dismounting some of the enemy's cannon, by ordering two of his captains with long-boats full of men to bring off the ship, which they did attempt, but were beaten off with loss of several men. This shews that he never thought of taking the fort, or he would never have hazarded so many men's lives, for when the fort was taken the ship of course fell with it. I could give you account of much more of Captain Wilmot's proceedings, but it would be too troublesome to your Grace, so I shall defer it until I can kiss your hand. Signed, Luke Lillingston. 2 pp. The spelling very curious. Endorsed, R. 9 March. The enclosures referred to in the letter are probably some or all of the papers calendared under date of 11 April: post. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 2.]
March 5. 2,298. Minutes of Council of Jamaica. Orders for payments. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 77. p. 2.]
March 10. 2,299. Circular letter from the Lords of the Council to the Governors of all the Colonies. God's favour towards these kingdoms has been most signally shown by the happy discovery of a traitorous and wicked design against the King's life and for the subduing of these kingdoms by the French. Many of the conspirators have been secured, and the attempts of foreign enemies have been disappointed by our preparations by sea and land. The particulars are set forth at large in the enclosed paper [not specified] and the King having found it necessary for the manning of his fleet to lay a general embargo on all ships outward bound, we despatch to you this express to prevent any mistaken or malicious information and for the satisfaction of the inhabitants, who we doubt not will join with us in thanksgiving to Almighty God. Signed, Norfolk, Bolton, Dorset, Bridgewater, Stamford, Dursley, H. Goodrick, H. Boscawen. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. C., pp. 378–379.]
March 10. 2,300. Minutes of Council and Assembly of Antigua. Message from the Governor saying that he was called away to the Leeward Islands.
March 11. The Governor agreed to a proposal of the Assembly for amending damaged gunpowder, but dissented from a proposal to pass the Jamaica Act for Courts, and asked for a joint Committee to draw up a suitable Act. The Assembly renewed its request for the Jamaica Act. The Governor sent a message to the Assembly urging the completion of the fortifications on Monkshill. Orders for sundry payments. A Naturalisation Act was passed. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 164–166.]
March 17.
2,301. Governor Sir William Beeston to the Duke of Shrewsbury. Since my last a refugee has run away to us from the French, who reports that they with their fleet were all at the Cape and going for France, that they brought three companies of foot, about eighty men and as many girls from France and several stores and guns for a new fortification, and also twelve hundred people, a thousand of them negroes, and fifty of them white grown men, from Santa Cruz. The poor man was roughly handled by our men-of-war, for as soon as he came in sight they sent their boats and seized him, carried his small vessel aboard the Hampshire, took everything out of her, saying that she was their prize, and refused to deliver her on the Naval Officer's warrant. I therefore sent my warrant, on which they returned her, but plundered even to the poor man's chest, so that they are perfectly without any authority. What remained, together with the boat, I gave to the poor man to encourage him and others to do the like, but the captains grumble and say that they expect one-third, though for what reason I do not know. Two days ago a boat, which I sent to fetch a prisoner, returned and brought with it a very sensible man, whose relation I transmit to you. From this it appears that the French have no design to make a descent on us, nor do I believe them in a capacity to do so, because I was satisfied that they could not raise men enough, nor are the men that they have willing to come hither. I have therefore put down martial law and restored the usual course of justice, to relieve the people of being kept to their arms, and to encourage all to go to their several employments. I have sent the Reserve to cruise on the enemy's coast to gain further intelligence. Signed, Wm. Beeston. 1 p. Enclosed,
2,301. I. Deposition of Mons. Lamuore. The French fleet came from the Windward Islands to know whether all the French were destroyed or not, and they brought down all the inhabitants of Santa Cruz and three companies of soldiers, whereof one is at the Cape, another at Petite Rivière, and another at Petit Guavos. The complement of ships was four men-of-war and two cravates. There were two ships at the Cape laden with provisions which come no further. The fleet is very sickly and the men die unspeakably. The fleet is now in Port de Paix with the Governor. Most of the forces are with him, and he has called in all the people that are out, as they expect the Spaniards between this and Easter. Deponent saw about fifty passengers embarked on the fleet for France. Certified by Wm. Beeston. ½ p. [America and West Indies. 540. Nos. 46, 46I.]
March 17. 2,302. Minutes of Council of Barbados. Orders for payments on account of a flag of truce sent to the French, and of the hired ships Marygold and the Play, prize. Bill for £300 to replenish the Governor's cellars, read and passed. A Bill for reviving the Excise Act for a short time was read and passed. Order for holding Grand Sessions on the 14th of April. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 65. pp. 91–92.]
March 18.
2,303. Governor Nicholson to Lords of Trade and Plantations. This being the first opportunity since my letter of 14 June, I send the journals of Council and Assembly and the laws. Last fall I travelled through Pennsylvania and found there several places fit to manage illegal trade at, and the people generally inclined to make use of them whenever they can. I could not get a vessel to cruise there upon the same foot as I had here, but I ordered the commander of her to go round thither (it being the vacant time of trade) and I send you herewith a copy of his journal and two letters, with one from the Collector of Philadelphia. One Gustavus Hambleton ran away from that country towards the latter end of summer, in a vessel which I think carried between three and four hundred hogsheads of tobacco. I hear that he went to Aberdeen in Scotland with the ship and tobacco, and I enclose copy of a paper concerning him. The commander of the sloop which I employ here was unfortunately drowned this winter. You will learn the particulars from the Minutes of the Council. Through that unlucky accident, and the employ being so contrary to the genius of the people, I cannot get anybody to look after illegal trade on the like terms. But I shall not, God willing, be wanting to the utmost of my power to take care of it, being sensible how prejudicial it is to the revenue and to the interest of all fair traders. I am in great hopes that you will order, if you have not already ordered, a Court of Exchequer to be erected here, and a small vessel to attend this Government, and the like Court and vessel in Pennsylvania. For unless the back door is shut all the illegal trade will be managed there. Finding it for the King's service, I have appointed an officer to keep riding between Maryland and Pennsylvania. I beg you to send an order how a jury may be attainted. The case has been put to all the lawyers in the country, and they have desired time to consider, but I fear they have not ability enough to report the thing right. If there be no way of attainting juries in these parts I fear the King will not have justice done to him about illegal trade. A Scotch merchant lately came to me who desired to confess judgment about a vessel which had been tried in the Provincial Court twice for breach of the Acts of Trade and Navigation, and was as often cleared by juries. I referred him to the law, as he did it in open Court. I have already told the justices of the Provincial Court to be more cautious when anything of that nature comes before them. The latter end of the summer was very cold, so that the tobacco was much stinted in the growth, and some of it killed by an early frost. On enquiry I find that the summers grow cold and dry (and tobacco requires a great deal of heat and moisture) as the woods are cut down to clear the plantations, so that the planter makes little above half what he did when the country was first seated, and is forced to take more pains over it than formerly. If the summers should continue to be so, it would very much dishearten the people from planting tobacco and be one reason to force them to go upon other things in order to live. But the merchants gain by the lessening of it and give the planter more per pound, which may cause him to make less though the weather should be seasonable. We are very poor, but peaceable. Signed, Fr. Nicholson. 1½ pp. Endorsed, Recd. 26 Aug., 1696. Read 28th. Answd. 25 Sept.
Duplicate of the foregoing. Endorsed, R. 26 Aug. [Board of Trade. Maryland, 3. Nos. 1, 2; and 9. pp. 1–3.]
[Mar. 18.] 2,304. Abstract of the Journal of the Sloop Speedwell, Thomas Meech, commander, 10 June to 30 November, 1695. Gustavus Hambleton [or Hamilton] went from Pennsylvania with three hundred hogsheads of tobacco to Scotland, without clearing. Morise Trent's false cockets were for 5,000 ells of Scotch cloth and ticking, 30 dozen hose and 30 tons of sea-coal, for which he had no cockets. The year before, Trent went with a cargo of tobacco to Scotland. Meech seized Trent's brigantine on the coast of West Jersey and would have prosecuted her, but the Governor refused to let the attorney or jury be sworn, and told Meech that he had no power to seize the vessel there; so he cleared her from Meech and took her himself. Meech seized another vessel laden with wine at Philadelphia and without cockets. The Secretary and the Attorney pleaded for the offender against the King.
Here follow copies of letters. Thomas Meech to Governor Nicholson. 24 September, 1695. Delaware River. I arrived here on the 18th. Hamilton had just run away without clearing. Maurice Trent, an old offender, is lately come in with a story that he had been lately taken and plundered by the French, but he brought forty tons of sea-coal with cockets. The Collector seized him and brought him to trial, but neither the King's attorney, the jury, nor the magistrates were sworn, so that the King has no justice done him here. I expect two Scotchmen in daily. Pray represent how the King is defrauded of his dues here. If no other way be found to try seizures than by their arbitrary power, nothing will be condemned.
Robert Webb to Governor Nicholson. Philadelphia, 23 September, 1695. No sooner had you left Philadelphia than my case was called up in the Court of Common Pleas, when after debate it was thrown out. The Council has decided to take no action pending orders from England. There is no news of Captain Meech.
Thomas Meech to Governor Nicholson. Philadelphia, 10 Nov., 1695. On the 4th of October I seized Maurice Trent's brigantine for illegal trading with Scotland under false cockets. Governor Hamilton sat as judge, but a sworn jury was denied me. Then, finding that his countrymen would be condemned both of forgery and perjury, he took the case out of my hand and ordered the Collector of the Province to seize the vessel. She was then sold for £200, being worth £500, and has given bond for England. She has made voyages to and from Scotland for illegal trade.
Here follow: Copies of Thomas Meech's information against Gustavus Hamilton; a list of Scotch merchants who carry on illegal trade with the Colonies; a list of vessels arrived in and gone from Pennsylvania between 19 September and 24 November, 1695; and two depositions shewing that the Secretary and Attorney General of Pennsylvania pleaded against the King in defence of vessels seized for illegal trade. The whole, 8 pp. Endorsed, R. 26 Aug., 1696. [Board of Trade. Maryland, 3. No. 1 I.; and (abstracts only), 9. pp. 18–19.]
March 18.
2,305. Governor Nicholson to the Duke of Shrewsbury. I will add no more to my last letter, being too sensible of the prolixity of it and of my own inabilities, but above all that your Grace has the management of the fate of Christendom. I send the Journals of Council and Assembly and the laws, the Journal of the Council before my arrival and other papers. We daily expect the arrival of the London fleet. Signed, Fr. Nicholson. Postscript. The Pennsylvania bank of £20,000 does not go forward at present, and I shall endeavour to use further means to hinder its fully taking effect as they designed it. ½ p. Duplicate. Endorsed, R. 26 Aug., '96. [America and West Indies. 557. No. 3.]
March 18. 2,306. List of enclosures sent in the same packet, with the foregoing letter. 1 p. Signed, Fr. Nicholson. Duplicate. [America and West Indies. 557. No. 4.]
March 19. 2,307. Colonel Lillingston to the Duke of Shrewsbury. I send the enclosed papers pursuant to your orders, and beg that you will lay them before the King. I am informed that the regiment which I command in Jamaica is to be reduced to one company, which I think is a small requital for offering my service when other Colonels refused to go, besides losing one of the best regiments in the King's service. I was promised to keep my old regiment and to command the forces that went to Jamaica. I am certain that I have some enemy who represents things to the King "contrary as they are," so beg you to entreat the King to order the general officers of the Army to examine the proceedings that happened on the expedition, and give the King a true account of the whole affair, when I do not doubt that the King will find out how much his service has been abused and by whom. Signed, Luke Lillingston. 1¼ pp. Endorsed, Recd. 24 Mar., '95. Read in Council 2 April, 1696. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 3.]
March 19. 2,308. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. Order for payment of £40 each to Thomas Danforth, Elisha Cooke, Samuel Sewall and Wait Winthrop for their services as Judges of the Circuits; of £30 to James Maxwell, messenger to the Assembly; of £30 15s. 0d. to Caleb Ray, keeper of the prison at Boston, for custody of Indian prisoners; of £40 to Captain Stephen Greenleaf for cure of wounds received in the King's service; and of £12 11s. 0d. to James Gooch for English prisoners brought from Port Royal. The 9th of April was fixed for hearing of an appeal of Thomas Flint from the judgment of the Probate Court of Essex County. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. pp. 12–14.]
March 23. 2,309. Minutes of Council of Jamaica. Order for several payments. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 79. pp. 3–4.]
March 24. 2,310. Minutes of Council and Assembly of Antigua. Message from the Governor disagreeing with the proposal to pass the Jamaica Act for Courts, and recommending the former one of Antigua with amendments. The Assembly answered, insisting upon the Jamaica Act with certain alterations. Message from the Governor asking for provisions for the recruits to Russell's regiment on their voyage to Barbados.
March 25. The Assembly sent up the Jamaica Act for Courts with certain alterations, and a message asking that H.M.S. Play, from Barbados, might cruise with the other vessels. After some exchange of messages the Assembly proposed that a gunner and matrosses be sent to Willoughby Fort, and that the country-sloop be laden, sent to London and sold. The message from the Governor as to the recruits for Russell's regiment was renewed. Orders for payments. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 167–169.]
March 26. 2,311. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. Order for Thomas Newton to be empowered to appear at the Court to be held in Rhode Island to protest against the trial of the constables of Little Compton, as an encroachment on the jurisdiction of this province. Order for payment of £6 16s. to Captain Timothy Clarke for survey of the most southerly latitude of the province upon the claim made by Connecticut as to the boundary prescribed by its patent. Order for payment of fifty-five shillings to Sheriff Samuel Gookin for expenses in publishing the Acts and Laws, also for payment of thirteen guineas to Sheriff Samuel Gallop for his service in protesting against the encroachment of Rhode Island on the boundaries of this province. Order for payment of Addington Davenport, Clerk of the Superior Court for his services, and of £3 as expenses to Lieutenant Thomas Smith for enlisting Indians of Puncapoag for the King's service. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. pp. 17–19.]
March 26. 2,312. Minutes of Council of New York in Assembly. Adjourned to 7 April, the Representatives being unable to come from Albany owing to the river being closed. [Board of Trade. New York, 72. p. 723.]
March 30. 2,313. Minutes of Council and Assembly of Antigua. Order for the Secretary and Marshal to deliver in a table of their fees. Message from the Assembly urging that King's Counsel shall be absolutely debarred from pleading in the Courts. Messages from the Council as to the loading of the country-sloop for London. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. p. 169.]
March 31. 2,314. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. The complaint of certain inhabitants of Watertown, that a late town meeting for election of officers was irregularly held by the select men, was heard and dismissed. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. pp. 19–20.]