America and West Indies: September 1696, 16-19

Pages 112-125

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 15, 1696-1697. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1904.

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September 1696

Sept. 16.
218. The Secretary of Massachusetts to William Blathwayt. Herewith I send duplicates of the Minutes of Council, Journal of Assembly, and of Acts; also further Minutes of Council from 25 March to 9th September past, Journal of Assembly at the session begun on 27 May last, the laws then passed, and the Treasurer's accounts from May, 1695, to May, 1696. The General Assembly met upon adjournment to-day, and I expect will send their address to the King by this fleet. Signed, Isa. Addington. 1 p. Endorsed, Recd., Read 30 Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. New England, 8. No. 26; and 36. pp. 60–61.]
Sept. 16. 219. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. The Secretary shewed lists of the Acts of the Colonies now lying before the law-officers.
Mr. Leisler and Mr. Gouverneur offered themselves to give information as to New York, and strongly denounced Governor Fletcher, especially for his interference in the matter of the elections. They then gave further information as to New York and were ordered to state the same in writing, but to insert nothing that they could not justify.
Mr. John Nelson gave an account of French aggression and of the means for taking Canada, which he promised to put into writing.
Sept. 17. Governor Fletcher's letter of 27 June read, also his letter to Mr. Blathwayt of 30 May (see No. 14). The Secretary was ordered to draft a letter in reply.
Sept. 18. Major-General Winthrop delivered a map of the rivers from Albany to Cadaraqui and a journal of his marches towards Quebec in 1690.
The Jamaica merchants presented a paper of proposals as to convoys (No. 233) which was read. They also added several details as to the evils of removing the King's ships from under the Governor's authority, the ill results of impressment, the depopulated state of the Island and the dearness of wages.
Mr. Heathcote then stayed to give a further account of the presents for the Five Nations and the subsistence of the King's forces in New York. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. pp. 106–119.]
Sept. 16. 220. Minutes of General Assembly of Massachusetts. Prayers were offered for God's blessing on the direction of public affairs and for the success of the expedition lately gone North. The day was spent in religious exercises.
Sept. 17. John Thacher sworn of the Council. The representatives attending, the Lieutenant-Governor acquainted them that he had received several letters from Whitehall, for confirmation or repeal of the laws of 1692, which should be laid before them; he also desired them to consider what applications they should make for the service of the province by address to the King or otherwise, and recommended the signing of the Association. Agreed that an address of congratulation to the King on his deliverance from the late conspiracy be drawn up.
Sept. 18. The Association was signed by the Lieutenant-Governor and Council. On a motion from the Representatives a Committee was appointed to prepare a Bill making temporary provision for the reviving of process in civil causes. The congratulatory Address to the King was read and agreed to. A conference fixed for this day was deferred to the 30th.
Sept. 19. The Lieutenant-Governor proposed that an Agent be sent to Whitehall to represent the state of the Province, which was debated. The late Act to establish Courts was read and debated. [Board of Trade. New England, 48. pp. 69–73.]
Sept. 16. 221. Minutes of Council of Maryland. Proclamation for a day of thanksgiving for divers mercies. Nicholas Greenberry produced the royal pardon for Burley and Mason. On the news of a privateer lately entering the bay, the Governor and Council blamed the Governors of Carolina and New Providence for countenancing pirates and privateers.
Sept. 17. John Courts's absence excused on the ground of his sickness, and that of Colonel Jowles on account of lameness. Report of Colonel David Brown that he had appointed Thomas Poynter to be Deputy-Collector and Naval Officer on the seaboard side of Somerset County.
Sept. 18. A short report of one of the Commanders of the rangers read. Ordered that he give more particular account of all their doings. Four ex-sheriffs summoned to answer for neglect of the Council's orders as to supernumerary tithables, and order given that the sheriffs obtain a list of tithables signed by the head of every family, when they go to collect the levy. Order that ships be no longer appraised on seizure, but that they lie under seizure until condemned, as the appraisement is generally undervalued. [Board of Trade. Maryland, 13. pp. 143–148.]
Sept. 16. 222. Journal of House of Burgesses of Maryland. Sixteen members only present. Adjourned until to-morrow.
Sept. 17. Major Edward Dorsey obtained leave of absence to take care of the warlike stores from England, now on board a ship.
Sept. 18. A new writ asked for to elect a member instead of Robert Mason, who produced the King's Commission as High Sheriff of St. Mary's County. Committee of elections and of privileges appointed, which reported as to newly elected members. A member elected in place of a member who was gone to England was discharged, the absent member's seat being not vacated. The new members sworn. Message to the Governor. We have received your intimation that Lieutenant-Colonel John Coode is a priest and incapable of sitting in our house. We would acquaint you that he is duly elected, and has sat in the General Assembly for almost twenty years together. He also holds several commissions for various offices from the King and Lord Baltimore. We humbly conceive that we are the proper judges of our own members, and have resolved that John Coode is duly qualified as a member. Message ends. Message from the Governor and Council. We admire that the House which sits by the King's Commission can at this time of day adduce precedents from Lord Baltimore's time, considering that irregular proceedings were the chief cause for overthrow of his Government. We would ask whether Mr. John Hewett was not disallowed, as being a clergy-man, since the King's government, and we must require the opinion of the lawyers on the point. Message ends. Sir Thomas Laurence reported that he was ready to give the House an account of affairs in England. Resolved that no further business be proceeded with till the affair concerning Colonel Coode be determined.
Sept. 19. After reading the journals of yesterday the House adjourned. [America and West Indies. 557. No. 17.]
Sept. 16. 223. Minutes of Council of Maryland in Assembly. Several letters from the authorities in England of various departments were ordered to be laid before the Burgesses, including the Order in Council of 4 January for disallowance of several Acts, as well as other documents emanating from Maryland.
Sept. 17. Several proposals to be laid before the Burgesses were read. In reply to a message announcing the arrival of warlike stores from England, the Burgesses appointed one of their number to look to them.
Sept. 18. Application being made to the Governor for members of Council to swear newly-elected burgesses, the Governor took notice that one of them, John Coode, was a priest, and therefore not qualified. Messages from and to the Burgesses on the subject of John Coode. (See preceding abstract.) The Governor summoned all the lawyers in town to attend the Council that night, who reported that clerks in orders being ineligible for the House of Commons were so like-wise in the House of Burgesses, and that orders are indelible but by the authority by whom they were conferred. A resolution of the Burgesses to sit from nine till four daily was received (p. 123).
Sept. 19. The lawyers' opinion was sent down to the Burgesses, who were found to have risen. [Board of Trade. Maryland, 14. pp. 115–119.]
Sept. 17. 224. Minutes of Council of Jamaica. The Governor acquainted the Council with intelligence that had reached him from the Spaniards, that the French had forty sail of ships and men-of-war cruising before Havana, and designing thence to Martinique in June, to join twelve men-of-war and twelve victuallers which were expected from France, with intention to come down and destroy Jamaica, bombard Carthagena and Porto Bello and destroy the galleons in those ports; which reports agreed with others brought from St. Domingo by prisoners. He then asked the Council's advice thereupon, who answered as follows: We think that a duplicate of our minutes of 20 July last should be sent to England by an express, and that the King and Council be begged to hasten the sending of recruits and of the two fire-ships therein requested, also to send six mortars of thirteen or fourteen inches diameter, with carriages and ammunition, also fifteen hundred swords and bayonets for foot-soldiers and five hundred swords for horsemen, without which support there is no prospect of saving the Island if the French pursue their design. It should also be represented that fifty-gun ships are set out in Europe with crews of from 230 to 240 men, but when they are sent here, where some men die and more run away, they are not allowed more than 180 men, and commonly bring even fewer. They then stay here sometimes for two years without recruits, and so are rendered almost useless for the King's service or for defence of the Island. Signed, John Bourden, Edw. Broughton, Peter Heywood, Charles Knight, Rich. Lloyd, Rich. Dawkins, Nicholas Lawes, Pe. Beckford, Char. Chaplin, Tho. Ayscough. Orders for payment of salaries. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 79. pp. 32–33.]
Sept. 17.
New York.
225. Governor Fletcher to William Blathwayt. Mr. Livingston has presented to me a petition in Council, with the King's order for the satisfaction of his just claims and demands, as represented by the Lords of the Committee; their Lordships having represented that if the Governor and Council hold the petitioner's allegations to be true, he shall be reimbursed preferably before all others. It likewise appearing that all the sums he claimed (except £900 which he claimed from me and which he now acknowledges is paid him) were debts contracted by the Government long before my arrival in the province, I committed the matter to those of the Council who are best acquainted with the former transactions. They have made their report, which is transmitted to Messrs. Brooke and Nicolls, to be laid before the King and the Committee. Mr. Livingston has also tendered to me in Council a Commission to confirm him in his former offices and salaries, and also in his office of Agent with the Indians, to which the Council moved that they had sundry objections to make against Mr. Livingston or any single person officiating as Agent with the Five Nations, and against the salary of £100, which are likewise put in writing and transmitted. Signed, Ben. Fletcher. 1½ pp. Endorsed, Recd. Read 30 Nov., 1696. Answered 1 Feb., 1696–7. [Board of Trade. New York, 6. No. 58; and 52. pp. 42–43.]
Sept. 17.
New York.
226. Governor Fletcher to Lords of Trade and Plantations. A small party of River Indians has returned since my last with one prisoner and the scalp of a soldier. About ten days ago a skulking party of French Indians killed one man and wounded another near Senectady. A party of the Upper Nations returning from Canada met the French army on their retreat, fell upon a party in their rear and killed several of them. They were hotly pursued, but escaped. The Onandagas are returned and have sent to desire me to meet the Five Nations at Albany immediately. I am just about to embark. I have added considerably to the presents sent by the King on this occasion, and hope to rivet the Indians to the King's interest. I take with me shirts, coats and shoes for the companies to the value of £500, which was given them by the Assembly for their encouragement. I have issued a proclamation prohibiting any Indian corn or pease to be brought down the river until April next, that the Indians may be first supplied in their extremity. Since my last arrival from Albany a ship from Jamaica arrived here, which with six other sail was captured off Hispaniola by a French squadron. While bound for France under convoy of a small French privateer they were dispersed by a storm and most of them dismasted. This ship being driven upon this coast was piloted into harbour, the captain being dead and no other officer aboard. Upon survey she is reported to be worth £8,000 with her cargo. Ten Frenchmen who were on board I have sent away to be exchanged as prisoners of war. They report that the Naval squadron has taken a galleon worth 900,000 pieces-of-eight. They were before St. Domingo and threw some bombs, but were beat off. They were upon the coast of Jamaica, and I have heard no more of them. Two French men-of-war have infested the coast of New England and taken a galley and the post of Pemaquid. The Lieutenant-Governor tells me that he learns from released prisoners that the Governor of Canada has positive orders to attack Albany. I shall not be wanting in my duty, but I cannot obtain a man from Connecticut, the Jerseys or Pennsylvania. A French "banker" was recently taken here and condemned, being appraised at £350. I shall duly account for the King's tenths. I send the Minutes of Council, and Acts, also a copy of Mr. Livingston's petition and the opinion of the Council thereupon, which with all other matters will be represented to you by Mr. Nicolls and Mr. Brooke. I beg for stores of war and punctual payment of the companies. Signed. Ben Fletcher. 3 pp. Endorsed:—Recd. 30 Nov. Read 7 Dec. 1696. Answd. 1 Feb. 1696–7. [Board of Trade. New York, 6. No. 59; and 52. pp. 48–50.]
Sept. 17. 227. Minutes of Council and Assembly of Antigua. Colonel Henry Holt was sworn of the Council.
Sept. 18. Adjourned to 1 October. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. p. 182.]
Sept. 18.
New York.
228. Governor Fletcher to William Blathwayt. I am not willing to take up much of your time with my scurvy scribbles, having said all that occurs to my thoughts in this hasty call from the Five Nations, who have been driven from their wooden castles by the French and are returned. They desire to see me at Albany in a very short warning, and I am now ready to step on board. The French Count of Canada has made but a very silly business of it after three years' preparation, afrighting a few naked Indians only. By this he shows them his strength and his mercy, being recruited this summer from France. He told all that he took prisoners that his business was to bring them under the protection of his master, but not to destroy them. Our chief Sachems would not be persuaded to stay and treat, but fled, seeing his force, and are now returned. I hope to rivet them in their allegiance by the presents from the King and an addition from this province, but yet I want the most cogent arguments—a good body of men. I have always said, and insist on it, that five hundred is the least that can be thought a sufficient guard for the frontiers. But not one man could I get, after repeated applications, from the neighbouring Colonies, when I had intelligence that the French Count was marching on Albany with three thousand French and Indians. I was obliged to hasten up thither with a detachment of my own, where I had no other force but the three companies in the King's pay. The Count civilly retreated, though I am informed from Boston that the French captains, who with the Indians took Pemaquid, say the French King had sent positive orders to the Governor of Canada to take Albany without that exception, if he could get it. But I am under hard circumstances—no stores of war sent from England and no assistance from our neighbours embarked in the same bottom, which I beg you to represent to the King and to the Committee. I have spoken to Mr. Povey of three lieutenants, who in effect deserted. They refused to serve and gave me their resignations. I immediately filled their places, pending signification of the King's pleasure. I desired the Council to consider and report of Mr. Livingston's affair, being unwilling to be present in their debates lest it should be supposed that I influenced them, which I am sure I would not endeavour, though he has done me much wrong there. The papers will be sent after I am gone to Albany. Livingston has many relations and countrymen here. I will allow them to be judges. Signed, Ben. Fletcher. Holograph. 2 pp. Endorsed, Recd. Read 30 Nov. 1696. Answered 1 Feb. 1696–7. [Board of Trade. New York, 6. No. 60; and 52. pp. 44, 45.]
[Sept. 18.] 229. Major-General Winthrop's journal of his march from Albany towards Canada in 1690. Pursuant to orders from the Governor of Connecticut to command the forces designed against Canada I left Hartford on the 14th of July, 1690, and after seven days' tedious march through the difficult and almost impassable parts of the wilderness I arrived at Albany with the additional forces of Connecticut, Captain Joseph Fitch's and Captain Johnson's companies having been commanded thither some time before. Here I found the design against Canada poorly contrived and little prosecuted, all things confined and in no readiness or posture for marshalling the forces towards Canada, yet everyone disorderly projecting something about it. Here I found a great defect in the complement of the New York forces, not above 150 of the number engaged at New York on May 1st, which amounted to 400. On the 29th of July the Rev. Mr. Walker of Woodbery, who accompanied me by the Governor's desire to preach to the Army, and Mr. Chancy, chaplain to the forces, sent before me, returned to Connecticut with my letters to the Governor to report the difficulty of our affairs and the increase of small-pox in the army, many being dead in the several companies. On the 30th of July I gave orders to the three companies of Connecticut and a company of their Indians to march to the flats about four miles from Albany, the Dutch companies being two days' march before them. They made their way north and north-by-east. Aug. 1. Early in the morning I followed the army and quartered for the night at a place called Stillwater, so named because the water passeth so slowly as not to be discerned, yet at a little distance above and below is disturbed and rageth as in a great sea, which is occasioned by great rocks and great falls therein. We made our way north and north-by-east. Aug. 2. We marched forward and were overtaken by a post with letters from the Governors of Boston and Connecticut, signifying the readiness of the fleet to sail towards Canada, and quartered this night at a place called Saratogo, about fifty miles from Albany, where is a blockhouse and some of the Dutch soldiers. Here I overtook Mr. Wessells, Recorder of Albany, and a company of the principal gentlemen volunteers of that city. At this post I received letters from the Mayor of Albany, then up in the country, that canoes were making for the army. Thus far the way has been very good, only four great wading-places, one of them dangerous both for horse and man. This day I sent Captain Nicolls with some horse to Albany to hasten our provision. Our course north-east and by north. Aug. 3. We still continue here by the side of the Hudson's River, where it is fordable, and had notice that our provision was coming up to us part of the way in waggons, and then in canoes. Aug. 4. I consulted with the officers, and it was concluded to march forward; and then we divided our provision, which was about thirty-five cakes of bread for each soldier, besides pork, which was scarce eatable. At this post I left Lieutenant Thomas Avery with some soldiers to guard our provision to us, which was coming up the river. From this place the burgers and Dutch soldiers carried their provisions up the river in birch canoes and the English soldiers theirs on horses, there being no more canoes. We marched eight miles this day and quartered near the Dutch companies at the little carrying-place, where the water passeth so violently, by reason of the great falls and rocks, that canoes cannot pass. So the men were obliged to carry their canoes and provisions on their backs a pretty way to a passable part of the river. Our course north-by-east. Aug. 5. The English soldiers marched with their provision on horses to the great carrying-place, about eight miles from the little carrying-place, where we overtook the Dutch companies carrying their canoes and provisions over the great carrying-place on their backs about twelve miles, a very bad and difficult passing. This hardship the Dutch soldiers performed vigorously and without any repining, which made me think nothing would be difficult for them to perform. Our way this day was a continued swamp, abounding with exceeding tall white pine, fit to mast any ship. No grass for our horses this day; our course has been north. Aug. 6. We marched over the carrying-place, about twelve miles, and encamped on a branch of Wood Creek, called the Folk, that leads into the lake and is accounted part of the lake water, as it constantly payeth its tribute. In this creek canoes pass into the lake called Corlaer's Lake, and so to Montreal and thence to Quebec. Our way a continued swamp of stately white pine. From this place horses can pass no further. Our course this day east-north-east. Aug. 7. I sent thirty horses under Ensign Thomlinson to Saratogo for more provision, and leaving the forces at this place under the care of Captain Nicolls I passed down the river, taking Captain Fitch and Captain Prentis with me, and two files of musketeers in birch canoes, managed by some of the burgers, while the new New England Indians marched by the riverside under Captain Stanton, to the Wood Creek or Houtkill. Here I had intercourse with the Mayor of Albany, the burgers and the Maquas' captains. I encamped on the north side of Wood Creek. Our course this day north-east. Aug. 8. I called a council of war and treated with the Maquas' sachems and chief captains, and delivered to them that I was sent hither by all the Governments of New England for Their Majesties' service against the French and Indian enemies, and was charged to remind them of the ancient friendship between the English and the Five Nations, and that I now asked for their advice as to the best way to prosecute the war against Canada. On this they separated and consulted for a considerable time, when they answered by a chief of each nation that they had considered the proposition, and left it wholly to ourselves to order about it. It was then thought by the Council of War that this answer did not sufficiently engage them in the design against Canada. It was further proposed to them to give advice what number it would be proper to send out as scouts to find the other natives, who were to meet at Fort La Motte. They answered upon long consideration that they advised the whole army to march, which did not appear possible to the Council of War. Aug. 9. We still encamp here, where Captain Johnson returned to me, whom some days since I sent to Albany to press the commissaries for a further supply of provision. My letters from the Commissioners of Albany assure me that provision is not to be had upon the place. Captain Johnson also gave me an account that on his leaving Albany a Dutch soldier came from Arnout, the interpreter, who was then up in the Senecas' country and was to go with them and the other natives to Fort La Motte, saying that by reason of the small-pox, so general among them, they could not comply with their promise of so many hundred soldiers, that the great God had stopped their way—which was the expression they used. This news did alike dishearten the burgers, who freely offered themselves in the design; but having no letter from the Commissioners at Albany of this matter I dispatched an express immediately to know further therein. Aug. 10. I am informed that the soldiers which I left at the fork, about twelve miles distant, are taken sick daily. Aug. 11. I desired the Mayor of Albany, a person of the greatest interest with the Indians, to take with him a company of the burgers, the chief captains of the Maquas and fifteen of the New England Indians to go six miles down the river to try if more canoes cannot be made. This day I sent the Dutch doctor to visit the soldiers which I left at the fork, who tells me that Lieutenant Hubble is sick of the small-pox and others likely to be taken, and that some are sick of other distempers. Aug. 12. A very rainy day. About five o'clock in the afternoon I received letters by express from the Governor of Connecticut and the Commissioners at Albany, confirming the report of Arnout's return from the Upper Nations. Aug. 13. I sent for the Mayor and the Maquas' captains from below the river, the time being so far spent that the bark would not peel, so that no more canoes could be made. On his return I called a Council of War, most of my officers being present, and the chief captains of the Maquas, to whom I mentioned as is written in a paper the same day. Aug. 14. We discoursed further with the great Captains of the Maquas. The account thereof is written in a paper of the same day. Aug. 15. This day finding no possibility of getting provision to support the forces here any longer, that there were not canoes to transport half the Christians, and that we could not by any means at this post alarm or spoil the enemy, it was thought most advisable to return with the army, having first given orders to the Mayor's brother, Johannes Schuyler, a man of great value to the Indians, to take forty Christians and one hundred of the Maquas, Skatchkooks and River Indians, and enter the enemy's country, and so to La Prairie de Madeleine, one of the nearest places where we could expect to surprise any of the enemy. This afternoon, having first dispatched Captain Schuyler with such provisions as we could spare, we returned to the fork, and the doctor having taken the best care possible to remove Lieutenant Hubble and the sick soldiers, we marched to the head of Wood Creek, and in the evening he died. Aug. 16. This morning we buried Lieutenant Hubble with all the respect we could, a very good and expert officer. After this ceremony we marched over the great carrying-place, twelve miles, with one of our soldiers, sick of the small-pox, upon a little frame carried by four soldiers at a time. Aug. 17. We marched to Saratoga, many of our soldiers being sick and lame. Aug. 18. We marched to the Half Moon, about ten miles from Albany. Aug. 19. Here I leave the forces under command of Captain Fitch and go myself to Albany to consider the most convenient safe quarters for the soldiers, the small-pox being yet in several places near the city. Aug. 20. I sent orders to Captain Fitch to march the forces on the south side of Hudson River to the Greenbush, within sight of the city. Sept. 2. Captain Johannes Schuyler returned to Albany with the party sent out from Wood Creek, having been to La Prairie de Madeleine. They killed twelve men and took fifteen men and four women prisoners. Sept. 3. I sent an express to the Governor of Connecticut to give an account hereof. Sept. 5. Having no post from Connecticut, and the season being very cold, and there being no shelter for the soldiers, who were poorly clothed, I sent Captain Nicolls to the Governor and Council for speedy orders. Sept. I have letters from the Governor and Council at Hartford with orders to march the forces of Connecticut to Hartford. 9 pp. Endorsed, Recd. Sept. 18, 1696. [Board of Trade. New York, 6. No. 61.]
Sept. 18. 230. Minutes of Council of Barbados. Letter from Governor Codrington as to the designs of the French read. Last night on the news of six ships off the south of the Island four companies of militia were ordered on duty, and H.M.S. Jersey sent out to follow the ships. Order for distribution of fourteen field-guns and of fire arms, and for £100 to be disbursed for Oistin's fort. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 65. pp. 141–142.]
Sept. 18. 231. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. Order for payment of £6 to Thomas Newton for his service in defending the Constables of Little Compton in the Courts at Rhode Island. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. p. 49.]
Sept. 18.
232. Governor Sir William Beeston to the Duke of Shrewsbury. About a week since a small Spanish vessel, sent express from Cuba to the President of St. Domingo, stopped here for water, the commander whereof gave a report as to the French, which I have enclosed to you, and added that the French had taken six laden ships from this Island. A Spanish ship of war of sixty guns fought the Hope a whole day and lost 150 men; but the next day, more French attacking her, she yielded. Also they have taken a very rich Spanish ship with money, Indian cochineal and other commodities of great value. The commander told me also they would not allow any prisoners aboard of their great ships, and believed the reason to be that many died out of those ships that came from Europe, and that one day many minute-guns were fired from all their ships, from which it is supposed that some great officer was dead. If it be true that they are so sickly, it may hinder their further attempts, but if they prosecute what they threaten there is great danger, particularly to Port Royal, for our privateers, seamen and all our ordinary people are gone, which are the strength of the place, and this owing chiefly to the men-of-war pressing continually, which has frightened away many, while fear of the French has carried away others, and many die by their coming here at this time of year. I have often represented the mischief that ensues to the King by the loss of his subjects and the disabling of his ships; and it is also ruinous to the merchants and the reputation of the Island. Still for four years now the men-of-war have chosen to arrive at the same time, to the great prejudice of all; for now many of the eminent merchants that came in the fleet are dead and the Princess Anne's men die so fast that they will not be able to go for England without recruits from thence. For it is impossible to obtain them now from hence, so decayed is this Island; nor is this to be laid on Jamaica only, for all parts of the West Indies are worse than this, and there even the inhabitants die, whereas here they are healthy enough who have been some time inured to the country. The rest would be as they, if they would contrive to arrive at any time between October and the end of March, that they might have some respite before the summer comes upon them. I beg that you will lay this before the King, and that if any succour be designed for the place some small vessel may be sent to give notice of it, which will much encourage those people who are left here, for they are much dejected to find the Island so deserted and so many enemies about us. Signed, Wm. Beeston. 1½ pp. Endorsed, Delivered to the Secretary by Mr. Vernon and read 3 Dec. 1696. Answd. 12 Feb. 1696–7. Annexed,
232. I. Copy of the Minutes of the Council of Jamaica of 17 September, 1696, with original signatures of ten of the Council. (See No. 224.) 2 pp. Endorsed, Recd. and read, 3 Dec. 1696. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. Nos. 17, 17 I.; and 56. pp. 51–53.]
[Sept. 18.] 233. Proposals of the Jamaica merchants for the better carrying on and securing of that trade. We would propose that during the war the fleet for Jamaica should be every year at Gravesend, ready to sail about the 10th of December, and that a sufficient convoy of two if not three men-of-war be also ready to sail with them. Both merchant-ships and men-of-war should be very exact as to time, and then they will reach the Island at a healthy season. On their arrival the produce of the Island will be ready for shipment, their stay and voyage will be short, they can keep their convoy company, and they will probably be here in August or September, and so have the advantage of the northern markets before the winter. Hitherto, by the usual practice of sailing at unseasonable times, half the men have died of sickness by arriving there in the unhealthy seasons of May and September; and, coming home in the winter half-manned, part of our fleet have foundered for want of hands in the terrible winter storms, another part have been wrecked on the English and Irish coasts, and part have been separated from the convoy and taken by the French. The convoy was but one ship, which generally came in by itself. So if one fourth part escaped, we always thanked God, deeming it a miracle if any of the ships and goods did arrive; and then the goods which they brought for foreign markets were forced to wait until the spring, arriving too late in the year for the northern trades. We propose also that the men-of-war should carry with them supernumerary men, and be strictly ordered to press no men at or near the Island, for by pressing the seamen they disable the ships, which has been the ruin of many of them, some being eaten by the worm from long lying, while those that adventured home half-manned have been lost from want of hands. If they press away the people of the Island they do a mighty mischief to it and extremely discourage the people, who by the several invasions of the French, by their losses in the earthquake and by the great mortality which followed thereon are mightily depopulated and in a very weak condition. Instead therefore of rending away the few people that are left, we would ask the King to be at the charge of sending some men to strengthen the Island, or it will be in great danger of being lost, especially since the French are continually sending fresh supplies of men and of warlike stores to their settlements in Hispaniola, which lies to windward of Jamaica, and in twenty-four hours can make an invasion upon it and destroy one plantation after another, as is now their daily practice. It is hoped that the King will give orders to pay the passages of the men who may be procured to be sent thither. It is also a great mischief that the captains of the men-of-war have not been under the orders of the Governor, every captain, even of a sixth-rate or a fire-ship, huffing and hectoring the Governor and the whole Island as if each of those petty commanders was a little king, or at least governor of the place, acting as they pleased without all control. A little ship called the Swan, which last arrived from thence, pressed and brought away several of the inhabitants. Pressing has not only lost to the Island those who have been taken away but has frighted away five times as many more, part to Providence and other places, part to Curaçoa, some to the French at Petit Guavos, while a great many have turned pirates and gone to the Red Sea, etc. Signed, Gilbert Heathcote, and by fifteen others. 1½ pp. Endorsed, Read 18 Sept. 1696. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 18; and 56. pp. 2–4.]
[Sept. 18.] 234. A collection of depositions and other papers taken in Jamaica, to shew the evils of the press-system carried on by the King's men-of-war. It appears that not only seamen were impressed almost before the merchantmen had dropped anchor on arriving from England, but that inhabitants of all descriptions, and even indentured servants were taken likewise, and that, not content with men, the officers would impress even the water-casks of the inhabitants. The bulk of the depositions bear date from 7 to 11 January, 1696. The whole, 24 pp. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 18 I.; and (memorandum of date of presentation only) 56. p. 5.]
Sept. 19.
New York.
235. Robert Livingston to William Blathwayt. I owe not a little to your favour for the despatch of my business in England and now take the boldness thankfully to acknowledge it. I am sorry to tell you that the King's commission for confirming me in my place and for granting me a salary is suspended by Governor Fletcher, for no cause assigned whereby I might make my own defence. It is an act without precedent, and the subjects in the plantations fall under great discouragements if upon their application to the King for relief against the arbitrary act of a Governor, it shall be in the Governor's power not only to deprive a man of his freehold, in a manner, but also to suspend the King's grant peremptorily without accusing the person of any misdemeanour or mismanagement of his office. I confess that this matter is so surprising that I could not be aware of it, but I am sure that, if this can be justified, the offices in Whitehall must abate in their credit. What was laid to me in Council on my laying before them the vouchers for my allegations in England I have answered as well as I can; and if I had had the justice done me of seeing the reasons which the Council gives to the Governor and desires to be laid before the Lords, I doubt not that I should have been able to lay their nakedness open and to shew that the Council proceeds more from prejudice than otherwise. But the man goes in danger to stumble who must grope in the dark for his way. My circumstances are in no measure changed since I received the King's grant, so that I conceive the contempt to the royal authority is greater than the abuse to me, it being founded on the solemn recommendation of the Lords of Trade and of the Treasury. And if the Governor and Council can suspend so solemn an act of the royal authority, I must acknowledge myself in the wrong. But since they seem to reflect upon my reputation and even begin now to lessen my former services, I have adventured to make my answers and to send them to Mr. Povey, to be laid before the Lords of Trade. I am no lawyer and cannot put them into suitable address for so honourable a board, but I hope that I shall be pardoned, relying as I do on my innocence and on the zeal which I have always shewn for the King's interest, having in the greatest extremities supplied the Government with my estate to a great value, when they could not obtain the like anywhere else. There is not one tittle that I alleged at Whitehall but what I have justified here and can prove upon the narrowest scrutiny to be uncontrollable truth. So I must beg your favour that I be not condemned unheard, but that my offences may be laid open, though I am conscious of none that I have committed except that before mentioned, and if that be crime enough to forfeit the King's favour, I beg you to pardon me for the trouble that I give you and not impute anything amiss if for my vindication I justify myself before the noble lords, who have shewn so much greater sense of my services than these here, who are willing to forget them in order to gratify their revenge. Signed, Robt. Livingston. 2 pp. Endorsed, Recd. and Read 30 Nov. 1696. [Board of Trade. New York, 6. No. 62.]
[Sept.] 236. Robert Livingston to Lords of Trade and Plantations. After presenting my petition to the Governor and Council on the 10th of September, I produced my vouchers, to which there was no opposition except to certain assignments, which they alleged that I had bought, and for which they had already issued warrants. I told them that I had these assignments in satisfaction for money I lent the officers to subsist themselves and families during the time of the Revolution, when they were out of service and could not procure bread of any other person. They were so sensible of my kindness that for my reimbursement they made me the same assignments, which I pressed might be allowed me. However, I could have no answer, but the general answer given below. However, I answer what was objected. It is objected that I cannot have a preference on the money due by the additional duty, since it is unalterably appropriated by a new Act. I answer that the first Act, which provided for quarterly payments, was equally unalterable, but at every quarter there arose some extraordinary necessity. Such necessities do not arise eight times running without design. It is objected that there never was any office of Agent or Secretary to the Indians, and therefore no salary was allowed, but that the work was done by the Town Clerk ex officio. I answer that I did officiate as Secretary because I was Town Clerk, but the drawing and translating of the Indian propositions from Dutch into English was never done by any town clerk before. Since the war the work is forty times more troublesome than before, and that is why I asked for additional salary. The refusal of the King's Commission can only be due to malice, for every Indian who comes in with intelligence has his news translated into Dutch, which is translated, transcribed and entered by me. This happens forty or fifty times a year, besides the solemn negotiations once or twice a year. All mankind can judge whether I can do that for nothing. Besides, I have been accustomed to run up and down to buy Indian presents, keep accounts of them and put them in order, which takes much time. The Council forget that Governor Fletcher on his arrival, when the Colony was in great distress and had no assistance from neighbouring Colonies, erected a new office of Accountant-General and gave it to one of his domestics with £50 a year, establishing another salary of £50 for the Clerk of Council and £100 for the Attorney-General. But the necessities of the province are made a bar to my commission. It is objected that I am a Scotchman and under a new Act cannot officiate in the Treasury. I answer that I am of Scotland, but born after King James I. came to the Crown of England. Now after twenty-two years' residence in New York, with a commission under Government and possession of much property, I am to be accounted an alien. What of the Council of New York, that are of Dutch and French birth, and have not as much naturalisation as I? It is objected that I got all my estates by the Government. I have gained what estates I have by great industry and pains; and if it is through the Government it is by advancing money to it without so much as interest. If this be thanks for my former services I am very unhappy. After advancing money to three Governors and at last growing weary of delays in repayment, I was approached by Mr. Brooke and others, at the Governor's instance, to accept again. I was not such a despicable person then. It is objected that I never received the quit-rents nor had authority to do so. I answer that I did so by the Receiver's order. 3 pp. Endorsed, Recd. 28 Dec., 1696. Annexed,
237. I. Copy of Robert Livingston's petition to the Governor and Council of New York. (See No. 217 II.)
Copy of a minute of New York Council. 15 September, 1696. The Council submit their report on Robert Livingston's petition and recommend the Governor to represent to the King what they say concerning the money payable from the additional duty, and to recommend to the Assembly the item of £388.
Minute of New York Council. 17 September, 1696. The Council signed a report on Robert Livingston's Commission and desire the Governor to represent the matter to the King and meanwhile to suspend the salary of £100, and to prohibit him from all business connected with the Treasury or with the Indians except as Town Clerk of Albany. 3 pp. Endorsed, Recd. 28 Dec., 1696. [Board of Trade. New York, 6. Nos. 63, 63 I.]