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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THE present volume opens with the year 1693, and closes with what may seem to be arbitrary abruptness on the 14th of May, 1696. The latter date, however, marks something more than the end of a volume; for on the 15th of May, 1696, there was issued a Commission for the administration of Trade and of the Plantations, whereby the career of the old Committee of the Privy Council, to which that business had so far been entrusted, was closed for ever. The constitution and powers of the new Commission will be more fitly discussed after its establishment; but students of administration may be attracted by the present volume since it reveals to them the last years, months and days of the Colonies as governed by the omnipotent Privy Council. Nor, it may be added, will it be found lacking in interest by the student of Colonial, or to use the newer and perhaps more accurate term, Imperial history. The years immediately before us mark the failure of other things besides the old Committee of Trade and Plantations. There may be traced through these records the great change which threw the burden of Imperial Defence almost wholly upon the Mother Country, and the hardening of the old conservative spirit which could find no remedy for suffering commerce but increased stringency in enforcing the Acts of Trade. It was the steady adherence to these two main lines of Imperial policy, which in less than a century drove the French from Canada, and banished English rule from the old American Colonies. With these few words upon the broad issues of these three short years of Colonial history, let us now turn to a brief consideration of their events in detail.
Sir Francis Wheler's Expedition.
The last volume of this Calendar ended, as I said in my preface, with order at last restored in the American provinces after the Revolution, and with every West Indian Island waiting in anxious expectation for the great English Armament, under the command of Sir Francis Wheler, which was to drive the French from the Antilles. Very early in the present volume we find that the design of the expedition had been widened, and that the Governors both of Massachusetts and New York were warned to expect it in May or June, 1693, when the fleet would first refit after its service in the West Indies, and then proceed to an attack on Canada (48,116). It was, however, the 28th of February 1693 before the fleet arrived at its rendezvous in Barbados, where it was most hospitably entertained by Governor Kendall. A soldier by profession, Kendall knew the value of refreshment ashore for troops which had long been cooped up in transports, and he had obtained from the Assembly an Act for quartering the soldiers on the inhabitants. The British, both seamen and landsmen, were extraordinarily healthy, and everyone seems to be happy and contented except the Commissary, who complained that he was excluded from participation in the plunder, whereas even the regimental chaplain "whose duty "obliges him to pray against our plundering," was admitted to a share therein. From the days of Cromwell to the days of the younger Pitt, the division of plunder was always a mischievous if not a fatal element in all of our West Indian expeditions (164, 165, 170).
Its reinforcements from the West Indies.
Kendall had already prepared two regiments, jointly nine hundred strong, together with stores and shipping, in Barbados itself to accompany Wheler in his career of conquest. It was objected against them that many of the men were Irish and might be Roman Catholics, but it was resolved in Council of War that they could be trusted and should be employed; Colonel Foulke, who commanded the land forces, alone dissenting (204). Yet more reinforcements were expected from the Leeward Islands; but it was rightly thought inexpedient to fall so far to leeward as Antigua for an attack on Martinique, so a letter was written to Governor Codrington that he and his contingent should join the main force on the leeward side of Martinique (170 I). Meanwhile the expedition halted for the present at Barbados, for the perfection of its preparations, a delay which gave some anxiety to Colonel Foulke, who apprehended that the men might sicken unless they were set to work speedily (171). Foulke was justified in his forebodings, for the armament had arrived in the Islands three months too late; but there never yet was a British West Indian expedition which did not. However, for the present the men remained healthy; and the Council of War found an opportunity of censuring the Commissary, which no doubt gave satisfaction to all ranks. On the 16th of March Governor Codrington's answer was received from the Leeward Islands, and orders were given for the Barbados troops to embark in a week (194). Then followed yet another fortnight of preparation, in the course of which the Commissary found himself a close prisoner, "in "custody of a serjeant and two files of musketeers," and his duties undertaken by the Admiral; and at length on the 30th the fleet and transports sailed away to leeward. It seemed to Kendall, and probably with good reason, that everything needful had been accomplished with extraordinary speed (215, 219, 259).
Its failure at Martinique.
On the 1st of April Wheler anchored in the "Cul de "Sac Marine" (marked in modern charts as Passe du Marin) of Martinique, and on the following day the troops landed and began to lay waste the whole of the southern coast of the island. The process was continued for a week, when Codrington arrived from Antigua with his contingent. He had found some difficulty in persuading his men to serve under a strange commander, and indeed had only overcome their reluctance by accompanying them himself as a Volunteer (336). There then arose the question what should be done next, and on the 15th it was resolved at a Council of War that an attack should be delivered at St. Pierre (276). The whole army was accordingly landed there on the 17th, and the enemy were driven into the fortification, but no further. Between the 17th and 20th eight hundred Englishmen went down with wounds or sickness; the Irish showed symptoms of disaffection, and a second Council of War determined by an overwhelming majority to retire (281). There seems to have been some idea of an attack on Dominica, for we find the fleet off that island on the 25th of April, and yet another Council of War held (296), at which it was decided to abandon further enterprise in the West Indies. The Colonial forces returned to their several islands, and Wheler took his fleet to St. Christophers as the least unhealthy spot that he could find. Before May was half passed, the Admiral had lost half of his sailors and most of his officers, while the two British regiments with him had suffered nearly if not quite as much as the fleet (338–340, 347). At the end of May he was bound by his instructions to proceed to North America, and thither he sailed accordingly, still in company with sickness and death.
Its impotence in America.
On his arrival at Boston in June the General Assembly of Massachusetts forbade all intercourse with his fleet lest the infection should spread from the ships to the shore (410); but the most stunning blow to the Admiral was the Governor's affirmation that he had received no instructions whatever as to the expedition, and had no forces ready for an attack upon Quebec. Who was to blame for this amazing piece of negligence is not very clear. Sir William Phips says plainly that he received no intimation from England of the design upon Canada until the 24th of July, and then only by a copy of a letter, of which the original did not reach him until the 24th of September (578). After a month's stay at Boston the health both of troops and seamen was restored, though their numbers were frightfully reduced; and Wheler then questioned Phips as to the practicability of an attack upon Quebec. The answer was that the season was too far spent, and that nothing had been made ready, which was somewhat singular since Phips himself had contemplated an attack on Canada in February (107). He suggested, however, that possibly some good might be done by an attack upon the French merchantmen in Newfoundland (441, 452). Wheler then asked for 400 men from Massachusetts to sail with him against Placentia; to which Phips answered that he had no power to march the militia out of the Colony without their own consent or the consent of the Assembly, and that the Assembly had unfortunately been dismissed less than a fortnight before (475). There is something rather suspicious in this hasty dismissal of the Assembly on the 15th of July, within three days of Phips's own suggestion of an attack upon Placentia; and when the reader has considered certain other facts which throw light on Phips's character he will, I think, share my own doubts as to his loyalty and veracity. However that may be, Wheler sailed in August to Newfoundland, found the French there too strong for him, and in September returned to England, having lost hundreds of men and accomplished nothing. Thus the armament which was to have swept the French out of Martinique, out of Hispaniola, and out of Canada, came home in impotence and shame. Codrington, always clear-headed, wrote home the reasons for its failure (336), which may be summed up in the two words so familiar in British military history, Too Late. But the return of the expedition threw Barbados, the Leeward Islands and Jamaica into great alarm (334, 336, 359, 627), and shook the loyalty even of the Indians about New York (603). In a word, the miscarriage of the enterprise, owing to the gross mismanagement of the Departments in England, was a great and far-reaching disaster.
THE AMERICAN COLONIES. Quarrel between Massachusetts and New York.
From this abortive effort of the Mother Country to secure the Colonies by an offensive stroke, let us now turn to her endeavours to aid them in organizing their own defence. The North American provinces were all of them still suffering from the unrest of the Revolution, and none more than New York, the frontier Colony, upon which the brunt of French aggression must necessarily fall. In October, 1692, a circular had been addressed from Whitehall to all the Northern and Middle Colonies, requiring them to send assistance in men or money to New York when called upon, and to decide among themselves as to the contribution, or, as it was always called, the quota, which should be furnished by each of them. This was followed in March, 1693, by a series of orders to the same effect (93–97, 139, 140, 158, 168), and by the transference of the command of the militia of Connecticut from the Governor of New England, Sir William Phips, to Colonel Benjamin Fletcher, the Governor of New York. Long, however, before these orders reached their destination, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire had embarked on a series of wrangles and quarrels among themselves, which left no time for their combination for the common defence. In the autumn of 1692 Governor Fletcher had been called to the frontier at Albany by the news that large reinforcements had reached Quebec, where Count Frontenac, probably the ablest of all the French commanders with whom the British had to deal in Canada, was evidently meditating mischief. Fletcher succeeded in restoring confidence, but on his return to New York found that the whole population had fallen once more into their old factious divisions as followers or enemies of Leisler's revolution (13, 86). This in itself was disquieting, but the trouble was increased by the fact that Abraham Gouverneur, one of the dead Leisler's principal partisans, had taken refuge in Boston; whence, being sheltered and even honoured by Sir William Phips, he was able to write letters of defiance to Governor Fletcher (27). This, of course, set Fletcher and Phips at variance; and it so happened that New York and Massachusetts had already found a bone of contention in the island of Martha's Vineyard, which was claimed by both Governments but had been "violently" occupied by Massachusetts. The earlier stages of this dispute may be traced in the Minutes of the Council of New York (22, 82); but there is also a full account of the visit of Governor Fletcher's emissary to Phips in January, 1693, which was sent home by Lieutenant-Governor Usher, of New Hampshire, together with some of the letters that passed in the controversy (40 I., II., III.). From these it appears that Phips heartily espoused the cause of Leisler in New York, and that the two Governors had some idea of settling their difference by a personal encounter. Each of them, of course, sent his own account of the matter to Whitehall (84, 107). "I "must not levy war against Sir William Phips, though provoked "by his unmannerly letter to meet him there," wrote Fletcher. "I wrote to Colonel Fletcher to ask what assistance we might "expect from New York for the expedition against Canada," wrote Phips; "I find him averse both from correspondence "and concurrence. He has sent me a messenger (lately the "jailer at New York) . . . . . . to say that he expects me "to meet him there [Martha's Vineyard]. His messenger "was a herald, for he delivered his message as a challenge."
Sir William Phips's quarrel with Lieutenant-Governor Usher.
Concurrently Phips had contrived to make himself another enemy in the person of Lieutenant-Governor Usher. This functionary had been Treasurer at Boston at the time of the Revolution, and had shared the fate of Sir Edmund Andros; but having been released, and promoted to the first place in New Hampshire, he was now vainly endeavouring to settle his accounts with the Government of Massachusetts, and to obtain from it the balance that was due to him. He appears to have been justly entitled to £850, but the ruling powers at Boston resolutely declined to discharge his claim (39, 40, 133), though some of the better men seem to have been ashamed of the meanness and trickery which denied to the man his due (133I.). Usher therefore did not love Phips, and lost no opportunity of reporting the breaches of the Acts of Trade which were the rule rather than the exception at Boston. But what increased Usher's wrath very greatly was the fact that there was a party in New Hampshire which yearned to annex that Province to Massachusetts, and shrank from no shift to bring the annexation about. The truth was that this party was republican, and hoped by joining Massachusetts to throw off the King's government and return to the virtual independence which Massachusetts had enjoyed under her old charter. The situation was complicated by the fact that Massachusetts had taken the protection of New Hampshire upon herself, and kept a few troops, which New Hampshire was expected to pay, in the province. By refusing to vote money for these men the republican party in New Hampshire and Massachusetts hoped to force the King's hand, and compel him to amalgamate the two provinces whether he would or no.
Sir William Phips's quarrel with the Royal Navy.
The quarrel between Phips and Usher, already sufficiently acrimonious, was still further embittered by Phips's arbitrary and brutal proceedings towards Captain Short of the King's Navy. Those who may be curious as to this rather extraordinary story may follow it, through many cross-currents of lying, by referring to the index under the name of Short. It seems that the relations between the officers of the King's Navy and the Government of Boston had long been strained (42), and that Short had rendered himself peculiarly obnoxious to Phips by refusing to lend the King's seamen to man a sloop, which was apparently engaged in trading for Phips's private behoof (214, 224). Thereupon an angry altercation ensued between them, which ended in Phips's striking Short with his cane. Short returned the blow as well as he could, but his right hand was crippled by a wound received in action, and Phips, easily mastering him, beat him unmercifully. Not content with this cowardly treatment of a disabled man, Phips then suspended Short from his command, appointing the gunner to be captain in his place, and threw him into the common gaol, evidently hoping by sheer cruelty to force him to compliance with his wishes (224, 247). It is very significant that he bolstered up his complaints against Short by suborning his inferior officers to bring accusations against him, which the Captain had no chance of refuting (74, 79, 99, 129, 130, 262). After keeping Short in prison for about a month, Phips put him aboard a ship to be taken to England. Short, however, contrived that some of his men should be employed on this vessel, and that she should be sent up to Piscataqua, where he and his men were promptly sheltered by Lieutenant-Governor Usher (247). Phips in great wrath sent up Short's purser, Matthew Cary, to New Hampshire to apprehend the seamen as deserters, whereupon Usher immediately apprehended the purser, imprisoned him for three days, and then sent a message to Boston that Cary had escaped from justice, and that he desired Phips to deliver him up (197, 205I.). Quite beside himself with rage, Phips then sailed to Piscataqua in person to demand that Short and the seamen should be given up to him. Arrived there, he at once boarded the ship in search of them, and finding that they were gone ashore broke open and carried off Short's trunks and chest. He then issued a warrant for the arrest of the missing men; but the Council of New Hampshire refused to allow it to be executed. He then tried to obtain admission to the fort, but was excluded; and finally he sailed back to Boston fairly beaten, while Usher wrote letters of triumph to England of the manner in which he had maintained his authority against this encroachment. However, Phips avenged himself by refusing to send a garrison to hold the fort on the Piscataqua, though he placed a few men at the disposal of the republican leaders for their protection (258, 293, 422).
Sir William Phips's quarrel with Rhode Island.
But even though thus embroiled both with New Hampshire and New York, Phips was not yet satiated with quarrels. At this same time he was engaged in a controversy with Rhode Island over some encroachment of that province upon the boundaries, or alleged boundaries, of Massachusetts. He duly arrested the ringleaders, and having thus thoroughly irritated the people he repaired to the seat of Government in Rhode Island, and published his Commission to command the militia of the province. The Rhode Islanders, however, always the most perverse and cantankerous of men, declined to take the slightest notice. The Council refused to assemble when convened to meet Phips, and though the Governor made excuses for them he evidently sympathised with his Councillors. He therefore merely waited until Phips's back was turned, after which he took no further notice either of him or of his Royal Commission.
French attack upon Albany, 1693.
Meanwhile Count Frontenac, doubtless well pleased to observe these divisions among the British, had, early in February, 1693, pushed forward a force towards the British frontier-posts at Albany and Senectady, and inflicted some loss upon the Maquas, one of the most important of the Five Nations of Indians, upon whose friendship the British counted chiefly for their defence against invasion. The news came to New York just as Fletcher was at the height of his wrangle with Phips, causing him to hurry up to Albany with every man that he could raise, and to send urgent messages to the neighbouring Colonies for help (82, 84). Three members of the Council of New York, as was usual in those impecunious days, pledged their private credit for the victualling of the troops; and it seems that this promptitude of movement went near to making the French repent their temerity. Peter Schuyler, a very gallant man with great experience of Indian warfare, engaged the enemy without delay and defeated them; and but for some mismanagement the whole of the French party would have been cut off. However, the British prisoners were at any rate rescued and the French driven back in precipitate retreat. Within a fortnight of his arrival at Albany Fletcher was able to embark again for New York, amid a chorus of congratulation from both the Colonists and the Indians on the frontier (124, 161, 179 I.–VII.).
Backwardness of the Colonies to assist New York.
Successful though the expedition was for the moment, Fletcher before starting upon it had complained of the weakness of the two companies of the King's troops in New York, and begged not only that they might be kept up to strength and regularly paid, but that two more companies might be added to them (84). Usher, also in New Hampshire, had declared himself unable to uphold the King's government or to defend the province without 100 men sent from England; and the result of Fletcher's call upon the neighbouring provinces for assistance went far to shew that if the Colonies were to be protected at all, England must protect them. Connecticut, which Fletcher described as "a sort of republic," returned him no answer whatever, Pennsylvania sent good wishes only, Rhode Island sent nothing at all, and East Jersey sent no men, and only £248 in money. Virginia, under the stimulus of Sir Edmund Andros, who, as an old Governor of New York, appreciated its strategical importance, resolved to send £600; but on the other hand a small contribution sent by Maryland, in the form of bills of exchange, proved to be of little value, because two out of three bills were protested and only one of them paid (178, 274, 287, 342).
Royal Instructions for the Colonies to agree as to their quotas of men for the common defence.
In March 1693, however, Sir William Phips received the Queen's orders for the Colonies to agree among themselves as to the quota that should be furnished by each; and there seemed to be at last some prospect that the Colonies might unite for the common defence (216). In the lull that followed upon the expedition to Albany Governor Fletcher seized the opportunity to visit Pennsylvania, which, to the great indignation of William Penn, had been included in Fletcher's commission (397 I.). He spent some weeks there, but, to use his own words, "never yet found so much "self-conceit. They will rather die than resist with carnal "weapons . . . . . . they have neither arms nor ammuni-"tion, nor would they suffer the few men fit for it to be "trained." This was not a very promising outlook for the future, but Pennsylvania, as a nest of Quakers, might be presumed to be singular. Little of moment occurred during April and May except that Phips and Usher entered upon a new wrangle as to the limits of their respective jurisdictions (372), and that Phips finally withdrew the last of the Massachusetts soldiers from New Hampshire (454). Then in June arrived Wheler's squadron as has already been told, depressing the hearts of all by its tidings of death and failure. Fletcher and the Council of New York sent an emissary to England to represent the danger of the province, since her neighbours would give no help, to urge the annexation of Connecticut and New Jersey to New York, and to suggest an expedition against Canada (414). This done, he set out for Albany, and on the 21st of June held the annual palaver with the Five Nations at Albany, wherein the Sachems expressed themselves as still hearty to the English Alliance (501 I. sqq.). Hardly, however, had he returned to New York before new movements of the French were reported (457), and on the 28th of July there came disquieting intelligence that the Indians had resolved to open negotiations with the French, without his privity (478). A letter of rebuke brought them to their senses; but there could be no doubt that alike by soft words and hard blows the French had wrought considerably upon the feelings of the Five Nations, who were by this time thoroughly sick of the war (501 II., V., 612 VII.).
Massachusetts refuses to send assistance to New York.
Fletcher's next step was to send an emissary to Sir William Phips to demand a quota of 200 men from Massachusetts itself. The interview was a stormy one, as might have been expected, and Phips flatly refused to send a man or a farthing to the assistance of New York. He was so violent that one of the Councillors took the envoy aside and told him, "Sir, you must pardon him his dog- "days; he cannot help it." Meanwhile the province of Connecticut had during the month of June entered upon a boundary-dispute with Massachusetts, which furnished fresh matter for Phips's irascible nature to feed on (410). Even a peace with the Eastern Indians, the only pacific matter recorded of Phips (545), only brought upon him the fiercer wrath of Usher for omitting to consult New Hampshire before concluding the treaty (647).
Congress summoned to fix the quotas of assistance.
In the autumn of 1693 arrived the royal orders for the various Colonies to contribute to the assistance of New York, and Governor Fletcher at once wrote to Connecticut for 100 men, to Maryland for a more generous contribution, and, most important of all, to Phips, suggesting that Commissioners from all the Colonies should meet in Congress to agree upon a quota of men and money for defence of the frontiers. Phips replied more gently than usual, though he was evidently sore at losing the command of the militia of Connecticut; but his answer was none the less thoroughly unsatisfactory. Connecticut, on the other hand, was quite clear as to her readiness to send a Commissioner to the Congress and her refusal to despatch a man to the frontier at Albany (546, 570, 571). Fletcher could do no more than appoint a day in October for the meeting of the Congress, forward Phips's letter to England, and resolve to go to Connecticut in person forthwith (578, 582, 590). He foresaw that he should get little help from any of the Colonies, and continued to press for reinforcements from home (611), but he forwarded at the same time an estimate of the quotas that ought to be furnished by each Colony, which document was not without its value at Whitehall (611 III.).
Connecticut refuses to submit her militia to Governor Fletcher's command.
Failure of the project for a Congress.
Early in October he went to Connecticut, and found that the people who would raise no money for defence of the frontiers were quite ready to tax themselves in order to send an Agent to plead their cause at Whitehall. "I never met "the like people," he wrote (649). It was absolutely useless for him to publish his commission and declare the militia of Connecticut to be under his command; the only answer was some mumbled words about the charter of the Colony, and steady refusal to obey. The course of the wrangle may be traced in the documents that passed between Fletcher and the General Court (650). It is enough to say that after arguing in vain for twenty days and kicking one gentleman downstairs, he returned to New York absolutely baffled. He resolved, however, to send a written order to Connecticut for 100 men, with a saving clause which presumably was meant to shame the province into compliance (667). Meanwhile the Congress, from which so much had been expected, had come to naught. Phips, probably from jealousy, had refused to send a Commissioner at all. Maryland had apparently not had time to elect one (585). Rhode Island also complained of insufficient time, though it chose a Commissioner to be ready for any future Congress (829 II.). Finally the few Commissioners that attended very naturally refused to proceed unless a representative were present from every province (672). Half a century was still to elapse before as many even as seven provinces were to be gathered together in congress.
Resolution at Whitehall to reinforce the garrison at New York.
Thus the winter of 1693 drew on, not without fresh alarms of French aggression (698, 733) and disagreeable signs of mutiny within New York itself (679, 739). By this time Fletcher's urgent appeals for help had reached Whitehall; and it had been resolved to increase the regular garrison of New York to a strength of four full companies, and to send out further supplies of ordnance-stores (754, 812). It was, perhaps, hardly fair that this burden should have been laid upon the Mother Country, when the Colonies, if they could only have laid their jealousies aside, should have sufficed easily to have driven the French from Canada. Still there the matter was. The precedent was made, and having been made it was steadily followed until 1763. The Committee of Trade and Plantations had ample evidence of the spirit of disunion in the Colonies before it in the protest of Rhode Island against the subjection of its militia to Sir William Phips's command; and it was significant that Rhode Island could not lay even this matter before Whitehall without dragging in a reference to its eternal dispute with Massachusetts over the question of boundaries (524). If the Committee could have thrown an eye across the Atlantic it would have found every one of the provinces shrinking further and further from their duty to help themselves and each other (664, 775, 790, 794, 829 III.).
Recall and death of Sir William Phips.
But fortunately Rhode Island's was not the only complaint which came before the Committee in the winter of 1693–4. Captain Short had returned to England with Sir Francis Wheler's fleet, and his narrative, together with certain accusations preferred by the Customs Officer, Jahleel Brenton, brought down upon Phips a sudden order to return and defend himself at Whitehall, with directions to Lieutenant-Governor Stoughton to collect evidence against him in Boston, (728, 814, 815, 825–827, 862, 879, 880). It was, however, some months before these orders could reach their destination, and in the interim Phips continued to work as busily as ever for himself. John Usher and Sir Edmund Andros still continued to beg in vain for the discharge of the debts due to them from Massachusetts (694, 723); but Sir William Phips was more intent on obtaining for himself a monopoly of the fur-trade than on paying the Colony's just debts. By the summer of 1694 he had managed to embroil himself unpleasantly with the Assembly of Massachusetts (1089, 1141), and in July of that year he once again shewed his enmity to Usher by refusing to send help to New Hampshire after a dangerous raid of Indians upon the settlement at Oyster River (1306). At last in November, 1694, he sailed for England (1508), where evidence against him had been rapidly accumulating (1505, 1507). He arrived apparently towards the end of January, 1695 (1666); but he seems to have been in bad health at the time, and before the charges against him could be examined he was dead (1876).
Character of Sir William Phips.
The material before us in the present volume is perhaps too one-sided to enable us to pronounce a fair opinion upon the man; but all evidence points to the fact that he was ignorant, brutal, covetous and violent, and that his appointment to the Government of Massachusetts was a very grave misfortune. A short biography of him was published soon after his death with the intention of vindicating his character, from which it appears that he began life as a ship's carpenter, made £300,000 by the recovery of treasure from a Spanish wreck, and therewith went home and obtained the honour of knighthood. It appears further that together with his wealth he acquired a certain anxiety as to the state of his soul, and so became the tool of the Congregational ministers at Boston. This would account for the influence wielded by the said ministers in the abortive expedition which he led against Quebec, for his appointment as the first King's Governor of Massachusetts, and for his steady co-operation with the republican party in New Hampshire. Meanwhile the one thing that seems certain is that he was absolutely unfit to occupy the place in which he was seated, or to wield the power with which he was entrusted.
In the spring of 1694 the alarms of French aggression on the side of Albany continued, with the usual hasty preparations at New York, the usual rush of the Governor to the frontier, and the usual uneasiness of the province under the heavy burden of defence that was laid upon it (854, 867, 966, 989). The situation was most serious, for it was evident that the Five Nations, which were the principal bulwark against the French, were more than ever weary of the war and were inclined to make peace upon their own account (991). Nor were the unfortunate savages altogether unjustified in their impatience, for they had not been supported as they ought to have been by the English settlers. So serious was their discontent that even Massachusetts and Connecticut sent Commissioners to soothe them in August 1694, and voted money to purchase presents for them (1183, 1191, 1221, 1237). But it was on England that the Colonies counted chiefly for their deliverance, and it is to England that we must turn to find any effective measures for their deliverance.
The quotas of the Colonies for common defence fixed by the Crown.
Rhode Island, as we have seen, had already complained of the taking of the command of her militia out of her hands. In January 1694 Connecticut came forward with a like complaint (845); and the result was a serious enquiry as to the rights of the Crown in respect of the militia of the Chartered and Proprietary Colonies (999, 1022). There seems to have been some idea of cancelling their charters and grants wholesale by legal process, and bringing the whole of the American Colonies under the same dependence on the Crown (861); but this would have been a lengthy and tedious business. Finally the whole difficulty was solved, or considered to be solved, by the despatch of a circular from the Queen, dated 21 August (1253), fixing the quotas to be furnished by each of the Colonies for the defence of the frontier. Since the provinces had failed to settle the matter for themselves, it seemed not unreasonable that the Crown should settle it for them; but it is noteworthy that Rhode Island managed at the same time to withdraw her militia in great measure from the command of the Governor of Massachusetts (1247). There was also a convenient loophole for the recalcitrant in the order that no greater proportion of the quota should be required from one Colony than from another.
The garrison of New York reinforced from England.
Simultaneously the Crown showed its goodwill by strengthening the King's troops at New York to the promised total of 400 men; but this was a task which was not so easily accomplished. The preparations took an enormous time, for recruits were not easily procured, and the methods of the various departments were sufficiently cumbrous (1060–1080, 1168–1171, 1203–1210). Moreover when marching down to Portsmouth the officers became involved in an angry quarrel with the magistrates of Petersfield, the particulars of which are worth reading for the light that they throw upon the relations between soldiers and civilians at that time (1190, 1218). Finally, when these unfortunate troops did at last put to sea, they were driven back, after a severe engagement with three French privateers and compelled to return to Falmouth, with their numbers sadly thinned (1470, 1524). They did not finally sail for New York until March 1695 nor reach their destination until July of that year (1902). The chaos of administration in all departments of the service may be traced with instruction in following the career of these unfortunate Companies.
Evasion of Royal Orders as to the quota.
While these designs were going forward in England, the Colonies remained as supine as ever. The republican party in New Hampshire, strong in the support of Massachusetts, continued obstructive (1119); the Southern Colonies became more resolute in refusing to contribute to the common defence (1092, 1093); and Connecticut, while professing to send £600 and taking credit for the same, evaded actual payment of more than half of that sum (1001 I., 1007). The autumn as usual brought fresh cause for alarm at Albany (1340, 1518, 1520) and fresh reluctance on the part of the Assembly of New York to provide men for the frontier. Application was made, as usual, to the neighbouring Colonies for assistance, and with the more confidence in view of the Queen's Circular of 21 August, but in vain. One and all began to make excuse (1790, 1791, 1816, 1870, 1881, 2054), and though Virginia and Maryland did indeed contribute sums of money, which the King was fain to accept in lieu of men (2227, 2228), yet it was sufficiently evident that the Crown's scheme for uniting the Colonies for defence had utterly and hopelessly failed. The story if written at length would be merely a series of repetitions of the same facts; but it may be traced by following the fate of the quota under the name of each province in the index.
The reasons for that Evasion.
It may be urged in some excuse for the provinces that the two appointed Commanders-in-Chief were men who could hardly be trusted. Phips was such a man as has been already shewn; and towards the end of 1695 and the beginning of 1696 certain accusations were brought forward which reflected very seriously upon Fletcher (1802, 2034, 2056, 2084, 2148, 2150). How far they may have been justified will appear in the next volume; but, however blameable these individuals may have been, it is, I think, indisputable that the true fault lay with the Colonies themselves. The New England provinces, beyond all question, were working far more earnestly to establish themselves as free republics than to repel the French; and in their blind pursuit of their ideal they quite lost sight of the fact that the French, once established at New York as well as at Quebec, would have gained the whole of the Indians to their side and devoured the English settlers piecemeal. Under the guidance of William Stoughton, Massachusetts settled down to live in greater moderation and quietness, though her few military enterprises were not very successful; but the republican party never ceased to abet the obstructive element and to foment disorder in New Hampshire (1569, 2105, 2137, 2142). At home again the Agents for Massachusetts immediately upon the death of Sir William Phips urged the annexation of New Hampshire to Massachusetts (1876), while one of them, Sir Henry Ashurst, piloted through the House of Commons an Act to reverse the attainder of Jacob Leisler, with the evident intention of currying favour with the followers of that martyr in New York.
The endeavours of Massachusetts to regain her lost privileges.
The Acts of Massachusetts tell exactly the same tale. A large batch of them was disallowed, chiefly because they carefully excluded all rights of the Crown, but in more than one case because they contained enactments directly contrary to the new charter of the Colony. Probably the Assembly hoped that these Acts might pass unnoticed or that their confirmation might be bought (for the whole administration of England at this time was hopelessly corrupt) with hard cash. Though unable to raise money to help in the common defence, Massachusetts could always find it for her own purposes at Whitehall (1103).
Increase of illicit trade in the Colonies.
Yet another notable matter was the evidence produced in 1695 of the enormous increase of illicit trade in the Colonies during these years. These revelations, as might have been expected, were the work of Edward Randolph; but there was collateral testimony adduced from other quarters also (2198, 2217, 2243, 2303, 2304). Together with these may be read two more papers (2187, 2273), shewing how Scotland endeavoured to share in the Colonial Trade of England, and how furiously jealous England was of her competition. These, however, are matters of which we shall see more in the next volume of this Calendar, though even in the present volume there is mention (2340), of a new Act passed in 1695–6 for preventing frauds and regulating the Plantation Trade. This enactment will be constantly before our eyes during the years immediately before us. For the present it is sufficient to call attention to the remarkable parallel between these years and those which immediately preceded the American Revolution. Then, as in 1693–1696, the Colonies refused to face the question of defence, and the Mother Country came forward to protect them, but strove to indemnify herself by stricter enforcement of the Acts of Trade. The only difference was that in 1763 the French were conquered, whereas in 1693 they were triumphant. The next volume will reveal to us the further fact, of which there is already a hint in these pages (1916), that the American Colonies, one and all, not content with violation of the Acts of Trade, were making good the inevitable losses of the war by piracy, and that upon so large a scale that they almost swept the English trade with the East Indies off the sea. On the whole the story of the American Colonies during this war will not be found creditable either to them nor, for the most part, to the Governors who were appointed by England to bear rule over them.
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
For the rest there is little beyond the operations of war to arrest attention in the Northern Colonies, though the accounts of the grant of the Post Office of Massachusetts to Andrew Hamilton, Governor of New Jersey, may be of some interest (228, 2234 and Index under Massachusetts). In Pennsylvania, the successful struggle of William Penn to maintain his rights may be studied in a few papers (860, 1127, 1138, 1144, 1181); as also the predilection of the Quakers for smuggling and piracy (1916). In Maryland there are signs that during the reign of Governor Copley there was an attempt by persecution of Edward Randolph and Sir Thomas Lawrence, an official sent out from England, to treat the Acts of Trade as not existing (263). Both of these officials, however, having powerful patrons at Whitehall, were reinstated (556, 1937). After the death of Copley and a short interregnum under Sir Edmund Andros (637), Francis Nicholson, late Lieutenant-Governor of New York, was appointed to the Government and matters went more smoothly. There is, however, a curious picture of a dispute between him and his Lower House, which he ended by handing the Speaker a sermon of the Archbishop of Canterbury "of doing good for posterity," and adjourning them for twenty-four hours that they might peruse it (2263). The shifting of the seat of Government to Annapolis in these years may be studied by reference to that word in the index.
Virginia, again, apart from the question of the quota, presents little of interest beyond the fixed resolution of the legislature that there should be no town in the Colony. An effort to create one by limiting the number of ports was frustrated by the House of Burgesses and abandoned in despair (628, 652, 776). The province suffered much from want of convoys to carry away its produce, and to bring the English manufactures upon which it depended almost as much for its necessaries as its luxuries (466). The next volume will shew us more clearly the stagnation and the backwardness of Virginia. In these pages there is no sign of it except the persecution of the Bishop of London's Commissary (1788) nominally for recalcitrance, but really, as the next volume will shew, for his efforts to rouse the planters.
The documents respecting Carolina are likewise of little significance, except for one or two indications of the encouragement of piracy, the abuse of the Acts of Navigation, and maltreatment of the Indians, all of them matters of too common occurrence in Carolina to call for any special remark (704, 705, 2256).
The mania in England for speculative enterprise in the Colonies.
A point of greater interest is the rage in England at this time for speculative companies to develop the resources of the Colonies. The most conspicuous of these, Sir Matthew Dudley's, was formed with most comprehensive designs for working mines and exporting naval stores from New England. Its history may be traced under Dudley's name in the index; but it is noteworthy that the Committee of Plantations, before coming to any decision thereupon, referred the matter to the Agents for Massachusetts, who strongly objected to the grant of any such Charter as was desired by the Company, and undertook themselves to supply such naval stores as were needed (983, 1331). We shall see in the next volume how the Government of Massachusetts fulfilled its engagement. Other undertakings for the supply of naval stores may be traced in the index under the names of Richard Haynes, John Taylor, and the heading Naval Stores. The subject is of some interest to naval history, since it marks a growing anxiety on the part of the English Government to possess some other source for supply of tar, pitch, timber and so forth, than the countries in the Baltic.
Passing now to the West Indies there is little to be read of Bermuda except a succession of letters from Governor Goddard to the detriment of the late Governor Isaac Richier. The latter, it will be remembered, had been displaced on an information that he was a Jacobite, and without the least enquiry whether there were any ground for the information or not. The next volume will shew what gross injustice was done by this readiness to accept accusations against a prisoner without first hearing him in his defence. It was just such cases as these that ultimately begat the existing regulation, that letters addressed to the Colonial office concerning any point in the administration of a Colony must be transmitted through the Governor.
In the Bahamas there is nothing to notice except the appointment of Nicholas Trott, the Bermudian, to be Governor. His antecedents, which are traceable though not worth tracing in former volumes of this Calendar, were not of the best; and future volumes will shew that he was a very great rogue. It must, however, be conceded that had he been an honest man, he would have found himself very solitary in the Bahamas of that day.
The West Indies. The question of defence.
In Barbados, the Leeward Islands and Jamaica we find comparatively little that calls for attention outside the sphere of defence against French aggression; but this subject in the West Indies as in North America assumes at this time an importance so great that it cannot be overlooked. The defence of the islands hitherto had been entrusted principally to the militia, which consisted of the "white servants" who were regularly imported from England, and sold into servitude to the planters for a term of years. War and sickly seasons had reduced the numbers of these white servants on the spot very seriously; while the dearth of recruits and of seamen in England made the importation of a fresh supply a very costly business. Moreover since the islands depended on the American Colonies for their supplies of food, it was essential that their coasts should be guarded so as to allow safe ingress for their provision-ships. I have already given account of the dismay which fell upon the West Indies upon the withdrawal of Sir Francis Wheler's expedition; and it is consequently no matter of surprise to find that, as soon as the news reached England, the Agents for the Leeward Islands began to cry out for ships, men, arms and ammunition to be despatched to the assistance of Governor Codrington (696, 670). It was more than usually difficult to refuse them, since an Act of Antigua, to encourage the importation of white servants, had been disallowed on the ground that it would also encourage the practice "known as kidnapping" (622, 806). The Agents were accordingly required to state their wants, which they duly did in February 1694 (859); and an order was given for four ships to be sent forthwith to the West Indies (870) and (if the Agents for the Leeward Islands are to be believed) four hundred recruits with them (1564 I.).
Barbados obtains a Regiment from England.
These recruits, however, were not despatched, for the Agents for Barbados had in July 1693 anticipated the Leeward Islands by asking that a whole regiment might be stationed in that island (451), while Governor Kendall had further solicited the sending of five ships thither. To this latter request the Admiralty answered firmly with Non possumus (618); whereupon the Agents seem to have summoned every merchant interested in Barbados to press for the despatch of a regiment, and with such success that the Committee agreed to recommend compliance with their request (709, 721). Having gained so much, the Agents proceeded next to point out that Barbados could no longer afford to find quarters for the regiment, and that, if the King would bear that expense, the favour would be very gratefully received (759, 884). The King, though himself at his wits' end for money, thereupon consented to pay for the men's quarters if the island would meet the expense of their transportation (904). To this the Agents rejoined that they had no instructions to undertake this outlay nor fund to discharge it, and could only beg that the troops might be sent as soon as possible, throwing themselves at the King's mercy for the cost of their quarters—a very ingenious method of forcing the King to take the whole of the expenses upon himself (917). Finally the matter was compromised by an arrangement that as many men as could be spared should be sent out at once, and the remainder, up to a total of 500 men, despatched by some convenient opportunity (928, 964).
Governor Russell sails with half the Regiment to Barbados.
It had already been decided that Francis Russell should go Governor to Barbados to relieve Governor Kendall, and accordingly in June 1694 he sailed from Plymouth in company of four men-of-war, taking with him 230 of the 500 soldiers of the Barbados regiment, of which he had been appointed Colonel. Arriving at the island on the 17th of August he found all in good order (1266), but for the presence of some swift French privateers, which kept hovering off the coast to cut off the trading craft, and defied all efforts of the English men-of-war to catch them. After a month's stay he persuaded the Assembly to fit out two smart West Indian sloops to make an end of these troublesome privateers and manned them with one hundred of his English soldiers; when in September 1694 there came news from Jamaica which made him long to gather the whole of his force together and sail to that island without a moment's delay (1391). It is therefore necessary at this stage to pass to leeward and see what had befallen in Jamaica.
Jamaica. Its defencelessness.
That island, it will be remembered, had been nearly ruined by the great earthquake of 1692 and by the pestilence which followed upon it. Fortunately a strong and sensible man, William Beeston, himself one of the magnates of Jamaica, had been appointed to take charge of it as Lieutenant-Governor, and with great public spirit had accepted the very thankless office (211, 285). Arriving in the island in March 1693 he found it "in a "very mean condition" discouraged, depopulated and heavily in debt, while French privateers from Hispaniola plied eternally about the coast to snap up the trading schooners (209). He therefore begged persistently for frigates of light draught, to follow these predatory craft; for the French, not content with doing mischief at sea, were constantly landing small parties to kill and to plunder. Moreover, the operations of an English squadron to windward were of little consolation to Jamaica to leeward, since they might mean no more than the transfer of the entire French force from Martinique and Guadeloupe to Hispaniola, from whence twenty-four hours would suffice to throw it upon the coast of Jamaica (301, 302, 361). The scarcity of money and the stagnation of trade made it extremely difficult to restore the ruined fortifications of the island and to place it in a state of defence; and the Assembly as usual shewed itself readier to obstruct than to forward any measures for the benefit of the country (635). Throughout 1693 and the beginning of 1694 the raids of the French became more menacing, while lack of men and the wreck of one of the men-of-war weakened still further Beeston's resources for protection of the island (876, 1004).
Warning of a coming raid of the French upon Jamaica.
At last on the 17th of June 1694 the blow, long dreaded by Beeston, fell with full force upon Jamaica. On the evening of the 31st May, Beeston was sitting with a few friends in the rude shelter which, since the earthquake, had done duty for Government House, when there came in a lean, weary man, his clothes in rags and his face burnt brown by salt and sun, with a warning that the French were coming from Hispaniola under Monsieur Ducasse with twenty ships and three thousand men, to make an end of British rule in Jamaica. The visitor was one Stephen Elliot, a merchant-skipper, who, being a prisoner at Petit Guavos, had heard of the French preparations. By stealth and skill he had contrived to escape with two fellow-prisoners, and had made his way in a canoe just large enough to carry the three of them over three hundred miles of open sea to give the alarm in Jamaica. It seems strange that such an action should have been forgotten, for, if ever a deed of heroism was recorded in English history, it is this of the unknown Stephen Elliot.
The French descend upon Jamaica.
Happily he came in good time, though his report led Beeston to apprehend that the French might arrive within five days. Instantly the Council was summoned, and all haste was made to place the island in a state of defence. Unable to guard the whole of it, Beeston wisely called in the inhabitants from all outlying quarters, and concentrated his entire force within a radius of from ten to fifteen miles from Kingston, destroying all works that could not be defended, and burying the guns. Day succeeded day without a sign of the French, until on Sunday, the 17th of June, their fleet came in sight as if making straight for Port Royal. But they feared to enter the harbour, and dividing their force anchored six of their ships at Morant Bay, on the eastern extremity of the island, and the remainder at Cow Bay, seven leagues to windward of Kingston. Then landing their forces they laid waste the whole of the intervening country, destroying everything to the very fowls and herbs. "Some of the "straggling people that were left behind they tortured, "some they murdered in cold blood; some women they "suffered the negroes to violate; some they dug out of "their graves, so that more inhuman barbarities were "never committed by Turk or infidel."
Repulse of the French.
For a month this brutal work continued, without avail to tempt Beeston into imprudent action; and then the raiders made a fresh landing at Carlisle Bay, some ten leagues to Westward of Port Royal. Beeston at once sent troops to reinforce the post, but, before they could arrive, the French had stormed an ill-designed breastwork, which had been erected for defence of the landing-place, and had driven back the defenders with considerable loss. Weary, lame and hungry though they were, after a forced march of thirty miles, Beeston's reinforcement at once attacked the victorious French and succeeded in saving the remnant of the beaten militia. Then for a few days there was a lull, while the French continued the work of plunder, but on the 22nd the enemy was rudely repulsed while attempting to storm a fortified house, which was held by a little party of twenty-five resolute men. This sharp lesson was too much for a force which consisted not of regular troops but of cowardly ruffians from all quarters; and on the 28th July Ducasse sailed away with a loss of some 350 killed and wounded, thoroughly beaten by Beeston's skill and resolution (1236 I.).
Reinforcements promised from England for Jamaica.
Jamaica, however, had also suffered heavily. 100 men had been killed and wounded; fifty sugar works and 200 houses had been burned and 1,300 negroes carried off, a crushing misfortune to an island already ruined by earthquake and sickness. Beeston wrote home plainly that without speedy recruits of men and shipping the island would be unable to repel a second attack, if the French should attempt it (1194). Fortunately his letters, written immediately after the landing of the French in June, had had a good passage to England. On the 3rd of August the Committee of Plantations wrote him a letter of commendation, promising not only speedy succour but a force that should reduce the French in the neighbourhood (1189). On the 14th it was agreed to recommend the despatch of a ship and a draft of soldiers immediately (1223), and by the 20th, while the reinforcements for New York were still on march to their port of embarkation, preparations for a great armament were in full swing.
A great Expedition planned against the French in Hispaniola.
The very numerous documents relating to these preparations (see index Jamaica) are among the most interesting that I have encountered, for the light that they shed upon departmental administration at this period. In the first place it seems that both the Commissioners of the Navy and the Admiralty were of opinion that they had sufficient work on their hands without undertaking the despatch of an expedition to Jamaica (1239, 1240). The Committee was therefore fain to turn to the Commissioners of Transportation, whose reports as to shipping were very far from encouraging (1244, 1259–1261). Meanwhile it was agreed to draft out two regiments, each 600 strong, which involved much calculation of expenses (1245, 1262–1264). Then came long correspondence with the Victualling Board as to the feeding of these men, which correspondence was not the shorter because the Privy Council named their strength at 1,600 men, and the Committee of Plantations at 1,700 men (1302), while the Commissioners of Transport were required to provide freight first for 2,000 and then for 1,700 men (1280, 1301). Then came the arrangements for the appointment of a Commissary by the Treasury, and for supply of medicines (1313, 1348), and at last the appointment of Colonel Luke Lillingston to command the land-forces. Lillingston, however, who had gained experience of West Indian fighting with Sir Francis Wheler, complicated matters not a little by certain stringent demands for money (1360). This was the more awkward since the Agents for the Leeward Islands had simultaneously been clamouring for pay and recruits for the garrisons in that quarter (1350, 1353).
Slow progress of the preparations.
The Agents seem to have been thrust aside for the moment in the press of business; and we find the Commissioners for Transportation on the 29th of September nervously requesting the Committee of Plantations to inform the Admiralty that the transports for the expedition would be ready to sail from Gravesend on the 15th of October (1361). This is noteworthy as shewing the awe wherein the Admiralty was held by subordinate departments. Meanwhile the expedition was increased by another hundred men (1377), and Colonel Lillingston was formulating fresh demands for money, clothing, and provisions for sick soldiers (1381, 1384) when the Victualling Board suddenly declared that it could do no more for the Jamaica expedition, having Admiral Russell's fleet to victual (1387). They made an effort, however, though the obscurity of the orders given to them unnecessarily increased the volume of correspondence; and then followed such a torrent of estimates for the various items of expense, as to call forth a mild protest from the Treasury (1450). Still matters appeared to move very slowly, and on the 25th of October Colonel Northcott reported that his regiment, which was appointed for the expedition, was still 200 men short of its complement, and that he must have an advance of money for clothing and accoutrements (1471). Simultaneously, to the distraction of the Treasury, Lillingston put forward further (and just) claims for money, while the appointed doctors asked for an advance of pay (1472, 1529). It is pleasant amid all the confusion of the preparations to find a recommendations that £500, a medal and chain should be granted to the gallant Stephen Elliot, and £50 to each of his companions (1476).
Continued delay in the preparations.
By this time November was nearly past, whereas the expedition, if it were to arrive in time, should have started at the end of October. Everything was delayed because the Treasury would not produce the necessary money (1532), and at last William Blathwayt addressed an indignant letter to the department, urging their Lordships to make haste and despatch the business before them (1533). Meanwhile orders were given on 26 November to the transports to sail from Spithead to Plymouth; but the masters professed themselves unable to obey them, because their crews had been impressed by the men-of-war (1555). At least nine days elapsed before the Admiralty could or would provide protections for the crews (1579), and then the Commissioners of Transport wrote in dismay that though, in obedience to orders, they had taken up shipping for 1,800 men, they now heard that only 1,400 were to be sent out (1574) and dreaded the responsibility for the unnecessary expense. Finally on the 21st of December we find that the transports were still in the Downs because the Admiralty had not provided a convoy to take them round to Plymouth (1582, 1602). It is sufficiently evident that the Admiralty worked sulkily and with a bad grace for this expedition; but it was not for the first time that they manifested so obstructive a spirit, and assuredly it was not the last.
The Expedition at last puts to sea.
Meanwhile the Agents for the Leeward Islands, losing patience, had again applied for four hundred recruits for the regiment in that quarter and for its arrears of pay (1564 I.). It is significant that all that had been paid to clear this regiment up to April 1692 (it was now November 1694) were tallies upon an Act to collect certain duties, which would not be paid until three years hence (1523). Strong memorials were brought forward shewing the hardships endured by the men and officers (1536, 1537); and an estimate having been submitted of the cost of raising four hundred recruits, the King very handsomely granted them rather less than half the allotted sum in order to raise half the number of men (1558, 1612). Then, the troublesome Agents having thus been temporarily silenced, the business of the Jamaica expedition was renewed. On the 23rd of December the Commanders, Colonel Lillingston and Commodore Wilmot, received their instructions (1619, 1620). On the 8th of January 1695 the troops were ordered to embark on the following week; on the 10th the royal instructions as to plunder were issued; on the 18th a small supplementary instruction was sent to the Commodore (1637, 1642, 1654); and on the 23rd the expedition fairly put to sea—just three months too late.
The Leeward Islands steal away half of the Barbados Regiments.
Before it had been gone a month, there came a letter from Governor Russell at Barbados reporting that a great storm in September 1694 had cast away many ships and disabled two men-of-war, that there had been much sickness which had killed many of his soldiers and placed many more on the sick-list, and that recruits were consequently a great expense to him (1446). As a matter of fact there were 270 men of his regiment waiting for transport to join him as early as in November (1535), but in the confusion of the Jamaica expedition they were left in Yorkshire instead of being marched to Plymouth (1557); consequently they were still awaiting transport in March 1695 (1718). Meanwhile enquiry had shewn that the officers of the regiment in the Leeward Islands found it almost impossible to obtain recruits; and the Agents of those islands now came forward with a very insidious proposal. The Barbados Agents, they said, had failed to find transport for Russell's regiment, but they themselves would undertake to provide the necessary shipping, if only their Lordships would grant them eighty seamen. If these were conceded to them, they would undertake to transport Russell's Regiment to the Leeward Islands, where it would serve to stave off danger for two months until the hurricane season should come, after which, in due time, Governor Russell could send transports to bring them to Barbados (1747). The Barbados Agents got wind of the design and did their best to frustrate it, (1723) but in vain, for orders were given against them (1748–1751) and the Barbados Regiment was irrevocably committed to the Leeward Islands. This clever piece of jockeying is a good instance of the length to which Colonial jealousy will go. Those who know the West Indies can imagine the fury of the Barbados Agents.
The Hispaniola Expedition. Sources of information.
No doubt it was hoped that the expedition under Wilmot and Lillingston would draw the whole of the French forces to leeward; and it now behoves us to follow the operations of the fleet and army. The narratives of the same are sufficiently numerous, there being one from Peter Beckford who joined the expedition from Jamaica (1946), another taken from a series of letters by one Charles Whittell (1973), Commodore Wilmot's own report to William Blathwayt (1980), the journal of Commissary Murrey (1983), two significant letters from Sir William Beeston (2022, 2026), and two letters from Colonel Lillingston (2021, 2324). Even these, however, are insufficient to clear up this extraordinary story without the help of a pamphlet published in 1704, by Lillingston, to vindicate himself against certain reflections in the narrative of the expedition as given in Burchett's Naval History, the said Burchett being the Secretary of the Admiralty whose name occurs so frequently in the present volume. Such portions of the narrative as are taken from Lillingston's pamphlet only I shall place between asterisks; but it must be added that the bulk of the pamphlet itself is made up of official papers which are printed in this Calendar.
Commodore Wilmot's designs.
* It seems then that King William, being much concerned at the failure of the three previous expeditions to the West Indies under Captain Wright in 1689, Captain Wren in 1691, and Sir F. Wheler in 1692–3, actually summoned Wilmot and Lillingston to his presence and entreated them above all things to work together amicably, adding that, in order to remove all cause of dispute, exact instructions had been drawn up for the division of any plunder that might be taken between the army and the fleet (1642).* It is somewhat singular that copies of these same instructions were placed in the hands of Sir John Jervis and Sir Charles Grey for their guidance in 1793, and that then, as in the case now before us, the question of plunder led to a violent controversy; the only difference being that in 1695 the battle was of fleet against army, and in 1795 of fleet and army against civilians. * However, Wilmot and Lillingston heard their admonition and received their instructions, Lillingston's being open and Wilmot's sealed, with orders that they should not be opened until he had reached the fortieth degree of latitude. Lillingston then repaired to Plymouth, where he found his regiment awaiting him, six companies of 1,300 men, a composite body from which the best of his own men had been drafted to give place to others of extremely indifferent quality (2324 VII.). On the 22nd of January the fleet and transports sailed, and on the 4th of February the Commodore summoned a Council of War on board the flag-ship at sea. Then the first elements of discord shewed themselves in a furious dispute as to whether the Captain-Lieutenant of Lillingston's Company should be admitted to the Council (1983). The matter ended, according to Lillingston's account, in the Commodore's ordering the Captain-Lieutenant to be turned out of the cabin "with a rudeness that I had never seen among "gentlemen." Three days later, on the 7th of February, Wilmot came into Lillingston's cabin, pulled out his instructions, which he had opened although he had not yet reached the prescribed latitude, and expressed great dissatisfaction at them, but added that "he would not "go to the West Indies to learn the language but would "mind his own business, however things went." On the 12th the fleet came to anchor at Madeira, and then Wilmot, "having drunk pretty freely," told Lillingston frankly that he had had the misfortune to kill a man, which had cost him £1,000, but that if Lillingston would work with him they would both make their fortunes. Lillingston declined; and Wilmot then said that he would take care of himself.*
Wilmot's effort to get rid of Colonel Lillingston.
On the following day, 13 February, Lillingston and several officers went ashore, and on that afternoon, as all accounts agree, the wind rose high (1983). *Lillingston at once repaired to the beach, where he found Wilmot, who begged him to wait for a time since "his barge was "full of ladies," promising to send another boat to fetch him immediately.* It is, however, certain that, whether by design (as Lillingston avers) or under pressure of the gale, Wilmot sailed away with the whole fleet, leaving Lillingston and most of his officers stranded at Madeira. As luck would have it, two of the men-of-war were driven back to Madeira, enabling Lillingston and his unfortunate comrades to obtain a passage; *but none of these ships had any sailing-orders, and if Lillingston had not had his instructions in his pocket they would have returned to England.* This omission of Wilmot to name any place of rendezvous is confirmed by the journal of Commissary Murrey (p. 551).
Wilmot's dispute with the Spanish Commanders.
However, marvellous to state, the entire expedition found itself united once more on 25th March at St. Christophers, where three officers were tried by Court-martial and cashiered, *unjustly, according to Lillingston.* Wilmot then sent forward a frigate to St. Domingo to announce his coming to the Spaniards, who were to co-operate with him; and on the 28th he sailed thither himself with four ships, sending the rest of the fleet to Samana Bay, at the eastern end of the island. On the 3rd of April he arrived, and found there Colonel Peter Beckford, who had been sent up from Jamaica by Sir William Beeston with instructions to concert operations with the Spaniards and the English Commanders, to offer such assistance as Jamaica could give, and above all to send him intelligence of what was going forward (2022 I.–IX.). Not a word of answer, however, was sent to him, and Beeston's instructions from Whitehall were deliberately withheld from him, Wilmot being evidently afraid lest Beeston also should claim a share in the plunder, to which indeed he was justly entitled (p. 567). Meanwhile Wilmot and Lillingston went ashore and were very honourably received by the Spanish Governor (1980 I.); but twelve whole days were consumed to no purpose, according to Wilmot, in "raising abundance of "dilatory scruples." *Lillingston's account, however, is that the Spanish Governor, on perusing his instructions, found that he was ordered to concert operations by land with the Commander of the land-forces only, and refused to admit Wilmot to his Councils. Lillingston, however, prevailed upon him at last to admit the Commodore, and a scheme of operations was agreed upon. The Spanish troops, from 1,600 to 1,700 in number, were to march across the island to Manchaneel [Mancenille] Bay on the north coast, while the fleet sailed round to meet them from Samana Bay. This was fully in accord with Beeston's own view, who had urged that it was useless for this fleet to drive the French from the shore unless the army marched inland to cut them off (2022 IX.).
The operations at Hispaniola.
The Commodore, however, waited for six whole days in the bay,* "rowing about in his barge with the ladies "and all the music of the fleet in other boats."* At length, on the 4th of May the fleet arrived at Mancenille Bay, where on the 7th it was joined by three Spanish men-of-war. The Spanish Army, however, did not arrive until the 12th, when arrangements were made for a joint attack upon Cap François. On the 14th 200 English were landed to join the Spaniards in their march upon it from the east; and on the 17th the fleet stood in before Cap François, while Lillingston, with the remainder of his men, landed a little to eastward of it. * Wilmot, however, made the disembarkation as difficult as possible, and contrived also to land the troops at a point which gave them a march of sixteen miles across a peninsula, which might have been saved by four miles of rowing at sea.* In spite of all obstacles Lillingston advanced, and the French, seeing that they would be cut off, blew up the fort and retired westward to Port de Paix, carrying all that they could with them. * Thereupon Wilmot instantly made a rush for the shore in order to seize the place and all that might be valuable in it for the Navy, before the Army could reach it.* So precipitate was he that one of his captains and men were blown up by a train of gunpowder which the French had left behind them. * Nevertheless he gained his point, for the naval forces managed to carry off all the plunder, principally liquor, for themselves; with the result that both Spanish and English soldiers, furious at being defrauded, were driven to the verge of mutiny* (p. 554). With some difficulty and delay the dispute was composed, and it was arranged that the whole Army should march by land against Port de Paix, while the fleet proceeded against it by sea. The distance by land was not great, and was reckoned by the Spaniards to occupy not more than four days; but the country was very rugged; the rainy season had set in; and the innumerable streams that crossed the line of march were much swollen. Thus it came about that the march occupied sixteen whole days, * during five of which all ranks of the troops lived on oranges and such fruits and vegetables as they could find. Nevertheless perfect order was preserved, and not above twelve men died.* On the 13th of June the army at last came before the fort of Port de Paix, and a party was sent forward to regain touch with the fleet, which was lying in a bay close by. * After two days of delay the Commodore joined the Colonel, and then for the second and last time he asked him to join in making the fortunes of them both; asking first that they should divide the plunder equally if the fort were taken, though by the royal instructions only such forces as were landed were entitled to share in it, and that they should then seize the three Spanish men-of-war (which had managed to appropriate a good deal of the spoil) and carry them to Jamaica. "We'll make them pay us well," he said, "before we part with them." Lillingston of course declined, and thereupon Wilmot laid himself out more than ever to thwart him.*
Return of the Expedition to Jamaica.
The remainder of the story can almost be told without the help of Lillingston's pamphlet. The Commodore refused to land the materials for a siege except at such a distance that the Colonel wore his men out with hauling them over half a mile of morass to the points selected for batteries. The Commissary refused to supply the materials required of him; and, in a word, every obstacle was thrown in the way of the soldiers. * Nevertheless they contrived to complete their batteries and open such a fire that on the 3rd of July the French evacuated the fort, broke through Wilmot's lines, which lay on the opposite side, and with some loss escaped. It must be noted that though the Commodore claimed the whole credit of the success for himself, his dispositions are condemned by Lillingston as futile.* The soldiers finding the place evacuated at once occupied it with a small force; whereupon Wilmot promptly overpowered them with five hundred seamen and took the whole of the plunder for the fleet. This brought the operations to an end, for the soldiers were reduced by sickness to a mere handful; and the expedition sailed to Jamaica, Lillingston more dead than alive, but Wilmot still intent upon making the most of his voyage. Here Wilmot quarrelled with Sir William Beeston, and his behaviour led Beeston to reconsider the judgment which he had formerly passed upon the operations and to lay the blame on the right shoulders (2022, 2026). His letters are worth reading, but the most tragic document of all is the state of Lillingston's regiment in October 1695 (2123), shewing that over one thousand out of thirteen hundred men had been sacrificed to the avarice of Wilmot. The Nemesis that overtook the principal actors in the drama must not be overlooked. Wilmot died before he reached England. Commissary Murrey, who had joined his faction, died also at Jamaica and left papers undestroyed which served as damaging evidence against him. Captain Launce, a favourite of Wilmot and of like nature with him, died likewise at sea on the voyage to England. *Finally much of the plunder which had been gathered by Wilmot was misappropriated by one of the worst of his Captains, and these ill-gotten gains became the subject of litigation between this thief and the widow of Wilmot. Lillingston, on the other hand, though at first coldly received by the King, was able to make good his defence and was rewarded with a pension.* That his story is the true one, corroborated as it is on all essential points by several documents in the present volume, I cannot doubt, the less so inasmuch as Prince George of Denmark, consort of Queen Anne and Lord High Admiral, accepted the dedication of his pamphlet in refutation of Burchett's history.
White servants in the West Indies.
For the rest, there is little more to engage our attention in the West Indies beyond the peculiar circumstances which rendered necessary those numerous expeditions from England. First it must be noticed that the seasons in the West Indies since the beginning of the war had been terribly unhealthy, and that the white population had in consequence been greatly diminished. This had not unnaturally emboldened the blacks; and accordingly we find the whole of the islands in mortal terror of a negro insurrection, and actual traces of such insurrection in Jamaica (see index). Of the systematic intimidation by which the negroes were held in check the reader will find instances in Nos. 31, 520, and 1963. But unfortunately it was not only negroes who were ill-treated. Governor Russell (1738) gives an account of the "white servants" in Barbados which is painful to read. "I dare say there are hundreds of "white servants in the island, who have been out of "their time for many years, and who have never a bit "of fresh meat bestowed on them nor a dram of rum. "They are domineered over and used like dogs. . ." And then he proceeds to recommend (like a true Russell) that they might be enfranchised, so that "people would "sometimes give the poor miserable creatures a little "rum and fresh provisions, and such things as would be "of nourishment to them and make their lives more "comfortable, in the hope of getting their votes." It is noteworthy, too, that when Russell, despairing at the state of the fortifications of Barbados, called upon all white men without distinction to take their turn of military service, he was met by loud murmurs and protests of indignation (2011, 2030, 2047). Hence the eternal calls on the Mother Country for troops, which the petty Assemblies of each petty island seemed to think were intended for their own special protection (789, 872). The true remedy, of course, would have been to send no troops but plenty of ships; but here again there was the difficulty that there were no facilities for the refitting of ships in the West Indies. Moreover, the King's officers abroad, taking pattern from the Board of Admiralty—the most despotic of departments at home—were independent, insubordinate and arbitrary to an incredible degree; while their abuse of their powers of impressment was, as will be seen more clearly in the next volume, a positive danger (see index, Navy, The Royal).
Disorganisation of Administration in England.
It need hardly be added that throughout this volume there runs one long and continuous thread of testimony as to the inefficiency and disorganisation of the English Administrative Departments and above all of the dangerous condition of English finance. In No. 568 the reader will see how an Order in Council for the disallowance of an Act of Barbados was surreptitiously obtained by a private individual and sprung upon the Governor by surprise; while the instances of Orders in Council being passed and no action whatever being taken upon them are too many to enumerate. In No. 569 it will be seen how the Victualling Board allowed the Governor to advance £1,600 from his private purse for the King's Navy without the least effort to repay him; and in Nos. 2084 III., X., will be seen instances of the kind of repayment that he might have received—tallies for £1,670, on which the charges for discount were £901.
On the whole it may be said that the interest of the present volume is rather for Englishmen than for Americans, and rather for soldiers than for civilians. An editor, however, can only present the material that is given to him as faithfully as he can, and plead that it is not his personal predilections but the contents of the documents before him that have decided his choice of the subjects to be dwelt upon in his preface. The next volume will bring us to the Peace of Ryswick and to calmer times; but in the present there can be written down only that which stares at us from every page—the collapse of a rotten system of administration under the strain of prolonged war.
J. W. FORTESCUE.