America and West Indies: November 1696, 11-20

Pages 200-219

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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November 1696

Nov. 11. The Council finding from Governor Russell's instructions that they could not sit as a Court of Admiralty appointed Jonathan Langley to be sole Judge of Admiralty. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 65. pp. 161–162.]
Nov. 11. 381. The Attorney and Solicitor General to the Council of Trade and Plantations. We see no objection to the laws of Antigua and Montserrat submitted to us on September 15; but we are doubtful how far the Act of Montserrat for encouraging the importation of white servants may tend to encourage spiriting away Englishman without their consent and selling them there for slaves, which has been a very frequent practice and is known by the name of kidnapping. For it is enacted that there shall be paid from the public Treasury for each able white servant delivered on shore 2,500lbs. of sugar, and the Governor and two of the Council are empowered to place the servants so imported on any plantation where they are wanting, the occupier whereof is to reimburse the treasury. Signed, Tho. Trevor, Jo. Hawles. 2½ pp. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 5. No. 15; and 45. pp. 32–34.]
Nov. 11/21. 382. The Envoy of Brandenburg to the King of England. The Island of Nieu-Ter-Tholen [Tortola], one the Caribbees, has in virtue of several treaties of cession and sale, long been in the hands of private individuals, subjects of the United Provinces, and lastly of the heirs of William Huntum, by deed of sale by Abraham and Peter Adriansen. Shortly after Huntum's death, the war between France and the United Provinces broke out, and his widow and heirs placed the Island under protection of Governor William Stapleton of the Leeward Islands, on the express condition that it should be restored at the close of the war. When peace was made, the proprietors applied to Sir W. Stapleton for restitution of the Island, who answered that he could not do so without an order from the King. In 1684 the proprietors, with the support of the States General, made application to King Charles II. for restitution of the Island, M. van Citters presenting a memorial on the subject on the 16th of March, 1684. He was answered that Sir William Stapleton was about to return to England, and that the affair would be taken in hand as soon as he arrived. Meanwhile King Charles died, and M. van Citters received orders to renew his application to King James, which he did in May 1686. Sir William Stapleton had meanwhile returned, but the business was deferred, owing to the state of his health, which compelled him to go to France. In August 1786 M. van Citters presented another memorial asking for the restitution of the Island to its owners without further delay, and the King promised to give positive orders to Governor Sir Nathaniel Johnson to that effect, which promise was confirmed in writing by Lord Middleton; but Sir N. Johnson's departure was long delayed; and then with the Revolution and the war the matter was forgotten. Meanwhile by a deed of 21 June, 1695, the proprietors sold the Island to Sir Joseph Shepheard, merchant of Rotterdam, who has made Sir Peter Vanbell his agent to take possession of the Island. By Sir Peter's request I beg you to order the Governor in the Caribbees to restore the Island to him. The Island is of little value, having been last sold for £400, and there are only four or five families on it, but as a matter of justice I beg that your Majesty will order its restitution. Signed, J. E. van Danckelman. French. 7½ pp. Endorsed, R. 12/22 Nov. 1696, Annexed,
382. I. Certificate of the sale of the island of Nieu Ter Tholen to William Huntum. 23 Feb., 1663. Copy. Dutch. 2 pp.
382. II. Memorial of Ambassador van Citters to King Charles II. for restoration of the Island. 31 March, 1684. Copy. French. 1¼ pp.
382. III. Copy of a letter from Ambassador van Citters to the States General, reporting the verbal answer to his memorial. March, 1684. Dutch. 1 p.
382. IV. Further memorial of Ambassador van Citters to King James, renewing his request for the restitution of the Island. 7/17 August, 1686. Copy. French. 2 pp.
382. V. Copy of a letter of Ambassador van Citters to the States General. 30 Sept, 1696. Reporting the King's verbal promise to restore the Island, in reply to his last memorial. Dutch. 1 p.
382. VI. Copy of a letter from Lord Midleton to Ambassador van Citters, promising speedy restitution of the Island. French. 1 p.
382. VII. Copy of the deed for sale of the Island to Joseph Shepheard. 21 June, 1695. Dutch. 6 pp.
382. VIII. Copy of the letter of Attorney to Peter Vanbell to take possession of the Island. Dutch. 2 pp. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 5. Nos. 16, 16I.–VIII. and (without enclosures)45. pp. 25–29.]
Nov. 11. 383. Council of Trade and Plantations to the King. Reciting the contents of Governor Codrington's letters of 12 February, 5 May and 2 September, and recommending that the resettlement of the French part of St. Christophers be discouraged without a further assurance of lasting possession, which cannot be relied on at present, and that the substitution of the quit-rents for the four and a half per cent. duty be not sanctioned. Signed, Bridgewater, Tankerville, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, John Pollexfen, John Locke, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 45. pp. 18, 19.]
Nov. 11. 384. An account (in the form of a letter) of Commodore Wilmot's expedition to Hispaniola. You ask me why the men died so fast and why so little was done in the late expedition to Hispaniola. Many others have asked me the question, and as it is now a matter for the King's service, I give you my opinion. In the first place Europeans in those hot countries die faster than here, but the men in the expedition died faster than usual even in the West Indies. The King had taken care to provide the fleet with cooling and wholesome foods, such as flour, barley, currants, etc., but I believe that they were so sparingly delivered, when they were delivered at all, that the want of them may well have contributed to the great mortality. After most of the men were dead, these stores were sold at Jamaica. The extraordinary length of the voyage was one great cause of the mortality. It was six months and a half from the time when we left Plymouth to our arrival at Jamaica; and all the while the men were enduring either hardships on ship-board or fatigues ashore. The men too were exposed to needless fatigues which occasioned them to fall away as though the most contagious plague were among them. Thus, about the 20th of May, at Cap François, which was our first landing-place, the Commander of the land-forces had, by general report, about 900 men landed in health and fighting condition. Some days afterwards he undertook a very tedious march through a vast wilderness, when the men were exposed to want of provisions and incredible fatigues through the woods and bushes. They were forced to wade over vast rivers, crossing one in particular forty or fifty times and generally up to their necks, and there were neither roads nor paths but such as were made by floods. For what reason he did this I cannot tell, for there was no enemy to engage nor plantations to ruin, and he might very easily have gone by sea without the risk of losing a man. There were ships enough to have transported his forces and the Spaniards to Port de Paix, where after fifteen days of such difficult march he arrived. I counted his numbers as he advanced to the place appointed to him near the fortress, and there were not above thirty-seven files, four deep. I know of none that were on duty except a serjeant and twelve men; which in all could not make up above 160 private men. Now this sudden and great loss of men could have been due only to the needless fatigues of this march, for so far they had yet been in no engagement. This Regiment left England with 1,200 men besides officers, and all this happened before the enemy offered to defend themselves. In like manner the seamen were harassed to and fro and exposed to needless fatigues by the covetousness, jealousies and misunderstandings of the commanders-in-chief, each of them following his own caprices instead of joining with the other, until ruin and calamity ensued.
As to the little service done, more remains to be said. Two heads on one body seldom do well, and this was one cause of our miscarriage both at Hispaniola and at Martinique, where also I served as engineer. The King particularly exhorted them to agree, but this exhortation was not attended to after we entered latitude 36°, when at a Council of War they disagreed about the pre-eminence of their officers sitting. At St. Christophers they fell out to that degree that upbraidings of cowardice and several unbecoming words passed between them in the presence of General Codrington and others, where it seemed to me that the Commodore was the oppressor. When we came to enter upon action they still harped on the same strings, and I declare that in eleven sieges and half as many field-battles that I have seen, I have never witnessed such disorders and disagreements. At the siege of Port de Paix, for instance, the land-forces and the Spaniards attacked it on the east side (where my duty called me with the train of Artillery) and the Commodore and seamen landed and attacked it to westward. They kept two distinct camps and never corresponded together. Each called his own Council of War, each protested against the other's doings, and both shewed a jealousy of me because I tried to dissuade them from these irregularities, and could not forbear protesting against the proceedings of both, though at the same time I could not avoid obeying the Commander of the land forces, notwithstanding his false notions of the thing we were about. Another chief reason why so little was done in the expedition was the delay of time. At Madeira and St. Christophers together we lost twelve days, whereas three at each place would have sufficed. At St. Domingo, after the agreement with the Governor was arranged and the Spanish forces were on march, we stayed five days; and some would think eleven days' delay before the time of action to be of little consequence, yet it added to the time of keeping the forces on ship-board and so to the weakening thereof. On entering upon action it was the same. On the 20th of May we were masters of Cap François, yet we stayed there till the 30th, whereas the destroying of the fortifications (consisting only of a small redoubt and a line of batteries on the seaside), the carrying off of 39 pieces of cannon, and the ruining of a few plantations might as well have been done in two days as two years, there being but 300 of the enemy thereabouts, who fled to the mountains. This makes the days of delay up to nineteen. On the 30th of May the Commander of the land forces began his march through a wilderness, without any reason that I could perceive, and after fifteen days' march arrived on the 14th of June before Port de Paix, whereas we might easily have gone there by sea in a day or two. This increases the delay of nineteen days to thirty-two. Before this place the Commander of the land forces remained seven days at a distance before he could be persuaded to draw near so as to lay violent hands on it. It was also seven days before the Commodore landed with the seamen to attack it, and thus, by the misunderstanding of those two officers and their ignorance in military affairs much time was spent. Very few men at a time, or none at all, were allowed for carrying on the works, the landing of the ordnance and the transporting of it to the batteries was neglected. The Commodore made a breach on his side of the castle without opening the way to it through the other fortifications. The Commander of the land forces on the other side breached the outer works, but had no men left for an assault, had it been needed; and, what was worse, the place was not assaultable at the place where he would have it, though advised to the contrary, it being a rocky precipice. Thus they did divert themselves for full twenty days, whereas a week would have sufficed for the taking of the place if they had taken right measures, as I told them when I first viewed the place. If the French Governor had been versed in soldiery I am sure that the way in which we went to work could not have forced him to quit it. Yet thus there was, at the lowest computation, twelve days misspent, which added to thirty-two make forty-four. Again, after the enemy quitted the place we remained there full thirteen days, whereas four or five would have sufficed for carrying off the cannon and for ruining the fortifications more than we did. This added to forty-four, makes fifty-two days lost by delays. Half of that time would have sufficed for the destruction of the rest of the enemy's settlements in Hispaniola, for they had no more fortifications, and, by the best intelligence, not above 800 men in the body to oppose us; whereas we, with the Spaniards and seamen, could land 3,000 besides 500 in Jamaica ready to come to our assistance. The Governor of that Island sent one of his Council in a man-of-war to join us a month before we entered in action, and after that another man-of-war and two sloops, every one of them (as I hear) carrying messages to that purpose; but the commanders would send him no answer, whether through jealousy, self-interest or from what motive I leave them to declare. There is no doubt that we could have destroyed all the French settlements in Hispaniola if things had been rightly managed. These are my reasons why the men died so fast, and why so little was accomplished. I could say much more as to the ill conduct and irregularities that were committed during the expedition.
You ask me next what measures can be taken to have better service done and to preserve the men's lives in such expeditions. This is more difficult to answer. First I wish that the commanders, both by sea and land, should be expert men of tried courage and conduct. Courage may be natural to a man, but expert military conduct cannot be acquired without diligent application and great experience. It is in my opinion a very wrong notion that a man, who by the purse or the blindness of fortune has usurped a title, should be let loose in the world with an army at his heels. The person should make the title good, not the title the person. Next, as I have said, the Commander should have sole command by sea and land, so that there shall be no rival to frustrate his designs through jealousy, no divisions, and no delays nor confusions. In defect of either I should prefer the Commander to abound in knowledge of land-service rather than that at sea. The actions are generally ashore, and the fleet does little more but transport the forces from place to place. In land-service the variety of circumstances require much consideration, while at sea each captain knows how to engage an enemy's ship. If the assistance of ships is required for land-actions, measures are commonly taken by a Council of War. Thirdly, one man or more of equal capacity should be appointed to take the Commander-in-Chief's place if he should die or be disabled. Seniority is but a bad rule in such cases, for the longest apprenticeship does not always make the best workman. Next, as to the men. It is known by experience that it is difficult to get men to go on these expeditions, which are so full of risk and of hardship. I cannot tell how to remedy this unless the King increase the salary, as is done for miners and others who are exposed in sieges to extraordinary peril. Then I think the King would have as good officers and men to serve him in the Indies as at home. Besides, their salary during their stay should be proportioned to the price of commodities and provisions, which in Jamaica are 100 per cent. and more greater than at home. The number of men to be employed must depend upon the design. At Martinique, which is the strongest French settlement in the West Indies that I know of, there are about 3,000 men who can easily be collected, one fort, St. Pierre, which is inconsiderable, and another, Fort Royal, which is the strongest place that the French have in the West Indies, being upon a high flat rock and on a peninsula whereof the isthmus is low and almost level with the sea. To reduce it therefore, there would be required at least six or seven thousand men ashore, ten battering cannon, four field-pieces, four middle-sized mortars and 2,000 bombs. Even so Fort Royal would furnish them with a tough piece of work if the Governor thereof understands his business. At Hispaniola there are about 2,000 fighting men of the French, not easily to be gathered into one body. There is but one fort of any moment, so for its reduction 4,000 men ashore, 8 battering cannon, 4 field pieces and two mortars with 800 bombs should suffice. Now as to the ordnance to be sent. I have set down certain figures, but it would be far better to send more than less. Good husbandry in fitting out an expedition commonly turns to decuple loss; after the expedition is fitted out, the good husbandry is valuable. Next, at least one good and expert engineer should accompany the General, in case his knowledge of fortifications should be defective. As a rule one, or few, are allowed on these expeditions. An ignoramus will only multiply the General's errors ten-fold, so the engineer should be one who has the theory of his profession by heart, and has had his hands in a great deal of the practice, for in a siege almost as much depends on him as on the Commander-in-Chief. When the ordnance and stores are fitting out (and they should be exquisite good, for there is no arsenal to receive them) I would have the General and the engineer to be liberal in their inspections and to reject unserviceable articles. They as well as the Commissary should have a perfect list of what is sent out, with a particular account where everything, from the least linch-pin to the heaviest cannon, is laid in the ships, that there may be no delay or difficulty when the time comes for landing them. All officers, gunners and others of the train should be expert men, so that when the time comes for action they may not have their profession to learn, nor the King have to pay dear for their learning. I shall not meddle with the number of transports and men-of-war, which must depend upon the design and the enemy's strength, but I could wish alteration to be made in the number of men sent in the ships of war, and in the provisions for them and for the rest of the forces. The crews of ships of war sent to the West Indies are commonly lessened before they proceed on their voyage, where their number is yet faster reduced by their sufferings, their own intemperance and the climate, to such a degree that after a short stay there a third or fourth rate frigate shall hardly withstand a privateer. This leads them to rob our Colonies of men, which risks the loss of the Islands when the enemy think fit to attack them. This, methinks, is a sad case, and might be remedied by rather augmenting the number of men in the King's ships before they are sent to the West Indies. But this is rather out of my sphere, so I shall not insist thereon. Next, the men in these voyages commonly feed much on salt provisions, which makes them more subject to fevers and leads them to drink great quantities of liquor, which, when the water grows bad, causes fluxes and other diseases. I wish that instead of the greatest part of the salt provisions there could be carried a great many sorts of vegetable products, which in my opinion could be as cheaply and easily carried, and being wholesome cooling food would be better fitted for those climates. I am apt to think that this would save thousands of men's lives.
When all the aforesaid things are regulated, I would have it done with greater privacy than heretofore, for I have observed that in several like cases our designs have been talked of for six months or more beforehand, which enables the enemy to prevent them. When everything is in readiness I would not have the men embark till just when the ships are ready to sail. That being done, and the Commander-in-Chief having received his instructions, I would have him take a firm resolution to lead a sober and temperate life, and endeavour by persuasion and example (but whereas that seldom prevails, by enforcing the laws provided for the same) to have the same temperance and sobriety observed by all the forces under his command. This is a very material point, and absolutely necessary in these expeditions. He should issue his sailing-orders exactly to each of his ships (this was omitted in the last expedition but by chance caused but a week's delay) and proceed on his voyage, not stopping above a day or two, if possible, where he touches for water and other necessaries. He should all along endeavour to keep unity and friendship between the officers, soldiers and seamen, do careful justice to all, cause the provisions to be regularly and exactly distributed, and suffer no suttling at all among the men or anybody, for it will only lead to intemperance and so to mischief. Arrived at the place of action he should consult his orders carefully and call his officers also to consultation, for several heads will always see and know more than one. I will not lay down the rules for him in the field or at a siege, for that would demand a volume, and I suppose him to be a man who is no novice therein, and is acquainted with the enemy's methods of fighting there. They generally have very long fire-arms, with which they generally fight in ambuscade or under covert. There is seldom horse to be encountered, so pikes are of no use. He should expose his men to as little fatigue as possible, but what cannot be avoided should be done off-hand while the men are in health, lest sickness should come upon them and force him to leave the King's work undone, as usually has happened. He should dispatch his business with vigilance and expedition, and avoid confusions and delays as the most pernicious things in all military achievements. When he has done what he has been ordered to do I would have him immediately retire to refresh his forces, still observing temperance and sobriety, on which depends the saving of many men's lives. If these methods were followed, there would I think be better service done and many more men's lives preserved.
Lastly as to the information you require as to secure Jamaica, I would answer (1) It should be better fortified. (2) It should be supplied with more men. The inhabited part of Jamaica is for the most part naturally fortified, from Roundhill all along the back side of Withywood and Guanaboa, to the northernmost part of Sixteen Mile Walk, there runs a long chain of mountains which secures the aforesaid places on that side. From the northernmost part of Sixteen Mile Walk all along the back side of Liganee to the Rock there runs another long chain of mountains, which secures part of the country about Sixteen Mile Walk and all Liganee on that side. From the Rock runs an isthmus of ten or twelve miles long to Port Royal, which secures all Liganee on the sea-side. Over against Port Royal begins a rocky shore, which continues almost to Old Harbour, and secures a great part of the lowlands between Spanishtown and the sea. These are the natural fortifications which protect the only part of the Island now inhabited. It follows that there are five places to be seized and fortified. The first (but one of the least material) is Sixteen Mile Walk, where there is a narrow pass from the north side; there a small redoubt for one or two hundred men would suffice. The second is at the Rock, where there is a small but difficult pass; here a small traverse with five or six field-pieces would be sufficient, for the building of which orders were given when I was there. The third and fourth places are Old Harbour and Withywood, in each of which there should be a good strong field-force with some small redoubts or other entrenchments where it is necessary. For these last some advantageous situations should be chosen, where the forces could repair as their place of arms. These forts could be built of earth, wood and fascines, and secured with good strong palisades, of all of which matters the country affords abundance. I do not pretend that two field forts will prevent an enemy from landing, for there are several landing-places, but I am sure that an enemy will not venture into the country and leave unreduced fortifications behind them, to cut off their retreat and their communication with their ships. If an enemy should attack the said forts, that would give time for the rest of the forces in Jamaica to come to their relief. The fifth and most material place is Port Royal, which lies on the point of a long peninsula, and not only covers all Liguanea but a great part of the rest of the inhabited country. There is a small fort there, I confess, but of little significance in case of an attack. It is something like a square redoubt of forty or fifty paces to a side, with two small bastions towards the town, but nothing towards the sea but a small semi-circular advance in the middle of that side, capable of containing three or four pieces of cannon. The walls are built after the ancient way of fortifications and are not cannon-proof. The embrasures are arched over, and so large as to be more like gates for the enemy to enter at than port-holes. There is not so much as a trench or palisade round it, and I believe not six pieces of cannon that can bear at one time upon a ship when opposite to it. Outside this fort, when I was there, was a long line of cannon, but so extremely exposed to the enemy's fire that it would be hard matter for anyone to use them in case of an attack, and they are of no use at all in case an enemy gets into the harbour, for they can then be taken in reverse. This is the chief artificial fortification of Port Royal, and the natural fortification is not much except that it is now an Island, for the town is all open to the harbour and partly to the sea. In my opinion, therefore, there would be no great difficulty for a small fleet to master it, and less risk than in encountering two stout men-of-war, were it not for our own ships in the harbour, as I can explain if required. This place, being the bulwark and gate to the conquest of the Island, should be better secured. The side of the fort towards the sea, already falling down, should be rebuilt in some figure better suited for its defence, and the whole should be surrounded by a good deep ditch and a row or two of strong palisades. The embrasures should be lessened to two feet at most to protect the gunners at their guns. The battery on the east side should be made defensible and cannon proof. The plot of land to north-west of the fort should be taken into a horn-work and fitted for several guns, to defend it against attack in reverse. To eastward of the town a work should be thrown up to cover it against the isthmus, and to guard against surprises by boats on that side. These fortifications could also be built of earth and wood; which would save much expense and would suffice if they lasted to the end of the war. Also the Island requires 1,000 men at least to guard the fortifications. There is great want of good gunners, but above all of a skilful engineer. Two more eleven-inch mortars should be sent out, with 300 bombs. These are most part of the things which, in my opinion, are absolutely necessary at Jamaica, and if the Island should be put into this posture of defence I do not question that it would be in a thriving condition again, for the people would think themselves and their estates to be in security and so the place would increase in strength and riches, whereas in its present defenceless condition people are afraid to live there, but send their best effects to England and come away themselves if they can afford to live there. Thus the place runs more and more to ruin and will fall into the enemy's hands if better care be not taken. And if once an enemy gains possession, the Island will in my opinion never be recovered, for they will doubtless make better use of the situation. If the King send men, as aforesaid, and allow some thousands of pounds for the fortifications of Jamaica and everybody there would lend a helping hand with their slaves to build them, I think that everything could be done. But this will take time, and as the enemy is said to be fitting out an expedition to attack the Island, and it will take too much time to fit out a fleet to cope with them at sea, I would send out several fire-ships to lie at the entrance of Port Royal so as to lay some of the enemy's fleet on board as they enter the channel by the fort, for the channel is narrow— not, I think, above a musket-shot broad—and if some of the enemy's ships are set on fire, the confusion would probably overthrow the whole. I think this the best expedient for immediate defence, for, as I have said, without Port Royal the enemy will hardly be able to conquer the Island. They may pass it and get down to Old Harbour and Withywood, but it will take them a long time to master the whole Island, for while Port Royal is safe Liguanea may hold out for a long while or until succoured from hence. Copy. Unsigned, but evidently the work of Captain Lilly. 11 closely written pages. Endorsed, Recd. 11 Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 28.]
Nov. 11. 385. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Mr. Brooke and Mr. Nicolls attending were asked as to the misbehaviour of Captain Evans, and answered that they knew of no ground of complaint against him. Captain Cales spoke to the same effect, and added that he had heard nothing of intimidation by Governor Fletcher at the elections in New York. The representation to the King respecting the Leeward Islands signed. The Jamaica merchants attended, bringing with them Captain Lilly, who presented an account of the late expedition to Hispaniola and proposals for the defence of Jamaica. The merchants pressed for six men of war, 1,000 soldiers and two fire-ships; and the Board having heard them drew up their representation in the business. An Order in Council respecting an appeal in the matter of the ship Experiment was received.
Nov. 12. Mr. Randolph reported that the question of Attorneys-General in the Colonies had been referred back to the Board. The representation respecting Jamaica was signed.
Nov. 13. Mr. Jeremiah Bass attended on behalf of the proprietors of Colonies in America and desired more time, whereupon he was directed to be ready with his answer on Monday next. Further evidence as to Captain Evans's alleged misconduct was heard. The New York Agents presented a memorial as to the defence of New York (see No. 394) and were referred to the Board of Ordnance. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. pp. 223–231.]
Nov. 12.
386. Order of the King in Council. That the Council of Trade signify to Governor Codrington the King's approval of their representation against the settlement of St. Christophers and the change of the four and a half per cent. duty on that Island. Signed, Rich. Colinge. ½ p. Endorsed, Read 16 Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 5. No. 17; and 45. p. 20.]
Nov. 12.
387. Order of the King in Council. That advice-boats be sent, with warning of the French preparations against the West Indies, to Jamaica and Barbados, one of which shall also call at St. Domingo. Signed, Rich. Colinge. ½ p. Endorsed, Read 16 Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 29; and 56. p. 36.]
Nov. 12. 388. Commission of the Proprietors of the Bahama Islands to Nicholas Webb to be Governor of the said Islands. [Board of Trade. Proprieties, 25. pp. 21–23.]
Nov. 12. 389. Instructions of the Proprietors of the Bahamas to Nicholas Webb. 100 acres of land are to be set out for the Governor, and 50 acres in every parish for support of a minister. Settlers may receive up to 25 acres apiece with as much for their wives and for each child and servant over sixteen years old, at a yearly rent of one penny per acre. No man's land is to have greater frontage to the sea than one fourth of its depth. Licenses may be granted for cutting wood for export, for searching for ambergris and for fishing up wrecks. [Board of Trade. Proprieties, 25. pp. 23–26.]
Nov. 12. 390. Further instructions of the Proprietors of the Bahamas to Nicholas Webb. These relate to the rules of government. The Assembly is to consist of 24 members elected by the freeholders, who will elect six members to sit with the six deputies of the Proprietors as a Council. The Assembly is to be summoned at least in November of every second year. [Board of Trade. Proprieties, 25. pp. 26–28.]
Nov. 12.
391. Council of Trade and Plantations to the King. We have received letters from Sir William Beeston of 4 and 5 July, and have received information of a fleet now fitting out in France which seems likely to be directed against Jamaica. We recommend the despatch of advice-boats to warn all the Governors of the English Islands and the Governor of St. Domingo, that two fire-ships be sent at once to Jamaica with materials to fit out five or six more, and that a skilful engineer be also sent thither. Signed, J. Bridgewater, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, Jno. Pollexfen, Jno. Locke. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 56. pp. 34–35.]
Nov. 12.
392. Order of the King in Council. Referring a petition from the merchants, traders and others of Bideford to the Council of Trade and Plantations for report. Signed, Rich. Colinge. ½ p. Annexed,
392. I. Petition of the Merchants of Bideford to the King. We congratulate your Majesty's safe arrival and rejoice in your glorious return; but even our sense of so great a blessing cannot make us forget our losses, and we beg to lay before you the deplorable condition of Newfoundland and our losses there through the insults of the French, who, on the 11th of September last, invaded the country with eleven ships and several hundred men, took twenty-nine ships, and by a general devastation ruined what they could not carry off. The poor inhabitants who yet remain there are forced to swear fealty to the French King. The rest they sent home in ships that they gave them, of whom some hundreds are arrived and the rest are daily expected. We beg you to consider this heavy loss to the nation and especially to this port, which will be utterly ruined unless Newfoundland be recovered and a free fishery be secured. Signed, Jno. Langford, Mayor, and by twenty others. Large sheet. The whole endorsed, Recd. and read 16 Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. Newfoundland, 3. Nos. 2, 2I.; and 25. pp. 29–30.]
Nov. 12. 393. Order of the King in Council. Referring the petition of the merchants and others of Barnstaple to the Council of Trade and Plantations for report. Signed, Rich. Colinge. ½ p. Annexed,
393. I. Petition of the Merchants, Traders and Seamen of the Corporation of Barnstaple to the King. We congratulate your Majesty on your safe return, but beg to lay before you our losses through the late destruction made by the French in Newfoundland. Not only have we suffered immediate loss, but if the enemy should settle and fortify themselves in the places that they have taken, we shall be dispossessed of our fishing trade in Newfoundland, which by English labour and industry has long been of mighty advantage to the nation. Great numbers of seamen have thereby been trained every year, large quantities of bullion brought into the country and the customs much advanced by the importation of foreign commodities. We beg that a sufficient number of ships and land-forces may be sent to Newfoundland in time to prevent the loss of next fishing season, to regain the places lately captured from us and to resettle the English in a secure trade there. Thirty-three signatures. Large sheet. The whole endorsed, Recd. and read 16 Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. Newfoundland, 3. Nos. 3, 3 I.; and 25, pp. 31–33.]
Nov. 13. 394. Memorial of the Agents for New York to Lords of Trade and Plantations. We have already laid before you the condition of New York and offered an opinion as to the methods to be taken for the security of it and of the other provinces. We now submit the following particulars as very necessary for the good and safety of the Colony. (1) That the fort at New York be strengthened and enlarged, being at present only a defence against Indians, and that an engineer be sent over for the purpose and for the other fortifications mentioned in our former memorial. (2) That the pay of the companies at New York be made sterling money. New York money is worth a third less than English; twopence sterling a day is stopped in England for clothing, and as it costs sixpence a day New York money to subsist the men they are every day brought into debt. The excessive price of clothes in those parts makes the hardship not less to officers than to private men. The Assembly has found it necessary to grant the men an additional fourpence a day till next May. (3) That an annual supply of stores of war be sent out, and that the Governor be permitted to allow the Indians powder from the King's stores during the war. (4) Grenade-shells are wanted for two small mortars in the fort at New York, also (5) Six large Union flags for the King's forts. We beg that these things may be supplied and that New York, the barrier of all the Colonies in America, may receive relief and assistance. Signed, Chid. Brooke, W. Nicolls. 1¼ pp. Endorsed, Recd. and read, 13 Nov. 1696. [Board of Trade. New York, 6. No. 74.]
Nov. 16.
395. J. Ellis to William Popple. Forwarding the memorial of the Elector of Brandenburgh's envoy, M. Danckelman, for the opinion of the Council of Trade (see No. 382). ½ p. Endorsed, Recd. 16. Nov. Considered 4 Dec., 1696. [Board of Trade, Leeward Islands, 5. No. 18; and 45. p. 24.]
Nov. 16.
396. Commissioners of Customs to the Lords of the Treasury. Forwarding a memorial from Edward Randolph concerning breaches of the Acts of Trade and Navigation in the Colonies. Signed, Robt. Southwell, C. Godolphin, Sam. Clarke, Ben. Overton. ½ p. Annexed,
396. I. Edward Randolph to the Commissioners of Customs. 10 November, 1696. On the 17th of July you represented to the Treasury that, either by the remissness or connivance of the Governors, the Acts of Trade and Navigation are not observed in the Proprietary Colonies, and suggested that the Governors should be qualified men, approved by the King and sworn to observe the Acts aforesaid. Notwithstanding this the Proprietors omit to nominate fit persons to be approved by the King before their entrance into the Government. Hence it follows that while the principals omit their obligations at home, their deputies cannot be expected to do their duty in the Colonies, so that although (under the Act for regulating the Plantation Trade) the officers of Customs and of the Admiralty Courts and the Commissions under the Great Seal for administering the oaths to the Governors are appointed and prepared ready for despatch, yet the Governors and other officers in the Proprietary Colonies are continued in their places and no care is taken to appoint others in their stead, though they maintain and support illegal traders as much as ever. It cannot therefore be expected that the frauds and other abuses complained of in the Colonies can be prevented unless duly qualified men, of good estates and reputation, be approved by the King as Governors, according to the Act, which will otherwise be to no purpose. Nor will it be worth the expense to send over officers and maintain them to put the Acts of Trade into execution so long as the Governors take upon them to dispense with open breaches of the same and to throw open their ports to illegal traders, while others are barred by strict oaths and penalties. The result must be to drain the population from the King's to the proprietary Colonies, where the people enjoy the benefit of a general trade by pirates and the Scottish trade. Here follows practically a transcript of the paper already submitted on 17 August (No. 149) with respect to the Bahamas and North and South Carolina. The account of Pennsylvania and of other Colonies is however somewhat altered, as follows:
Pennsylvania. William Markham is Governor. Samuel Carpenter and John Goodson were associated with him but refused to act. The Acts of Trade are not observed. A plain discovery has been made of nine vessels laden with tobacco, which from 1690 to 1695 have gone directly to Scotland. Moreover, Gustavus Hamilton, the chief factor for the Scotch merchants, last year carried out of the Delaware three hundred hogsheads of tobacco without clearing. Other vessels from the same place also went to Scotland with tobacco. The brigantine known by two names, under charge of William Righton and Maurice Trent, imported a number of Scotch goods into Pennsylvania in 1695, but was admitted to entry by the Collector in Pennsylvania. She was seized together with a Norwegian ship in 1695, but the trial was put off pending orders from England. The Governor entertains several pirates who carry on an illicit trade with Curaçoa and other places. By a letter of Mr. Markham to me it seems that he had but a small maintenance, and desired me to make him Collector of Customs. You will judge that a Governor under such necessities will easily be brought to connive at unlawful things. The charge of maintaining Customs-Officers and a cruising vessel in that province will amount to about £2,000 a year, but the bringing of tobacco overland to be shipped in Delaware Bay will be continued unless the Government be reformed as laid down in the Act. Pennsylvania lies between Maryland and New York, a most commodious centre for illegal trade.
East and West Jersey. Mr. Andrew Hamilton, a Scotchman, is Governor, and a great favourer of the Scotch traders. It was he who took the brigantine seized by Captain Meech out of his hands. The Secretary and Attorney-General went to the Court to defend the ship against the King.
Connecticut. Colonel Robert Treat is Governor, elected according to Charter. He permitted a Dutch vessel to enter Newhaven, under pretence of wanting wood and water, where she landed great part of her loading, which was carried to New York. She then took horses aboard and sailed for Barbados with the remainder of her goods. A brigantine with a cargo of Scotch goods was seized by the Collector in New London in 1691, but he thought it better to come to terms with Gustavus Hamilton than to risk a trial in that Colony.
Rhode Island. Caleb Carr was late Governor. This is a free port to pirates and illegal traders from all places. In 1694 a pirate from the Red Sea came thither with £100,000 in gold and silver. He shared £12,000 for himself and sloop. The people are enriched by them. The place should be put under a regular Government, the present pretenders to govern being either Quakers or Anabaptists.
New Hampshire. Mr. William Partridge is nominated Governor by Mr. Samuel Allen and approved by the King.
Massachussetts. Though the King has the appointing of the Governor, yet illegal trade is carried on as much as ever to Scotland, Holland, France, etc., for want of a Governor to suppress this trade and support the Customs-Officers in the execution of their duties. Mr. William Stoughton is Lieutenant-Governor, a good scholar but not bred up to military discipline. The country lies always open to the attack of French and Indians. So far they have made no law for maintenance of the Governor, as is done in all other of the King's Governments, and there was no such law under their former Government, on purpose to discourage men of honour and ability from living among them. But whatever it costs, that country and its trade should be taken care of.
It cannot be imagined from the foregoing that the Proprietors' Governors are fit persons to be entrusted with the execution of the powers committed to them by the new Act for the Plantation Trade; so if the Proprietors will not conform to the Act I would advise that the King should oblige them to accept such regulations in the matter of trade as he thinks fit. This will not invade the just rights of the Proprietors nor hinder them from employing their factors and Agents to dispose of their estates and receive their quit-rents. Lord Baltimore, Mr. Samuel Allen, and the inhabitants of Massachusetts have their entire rights and properties secured to them. They have their factors and Agents, but the Governors are appointed by the King. Signed, Ed. Randolph. 3½ closely written pages. The whole endorsed, Recd. 2nd Dec., Read 4th. [America and W. I. 601. Nos. 34, 34I., and Board of Trade. Proprieties, 25. pp. 5–13.]
Nov. 16. 397. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. The Order in Council of 5 November on the petition of the Agents and Proprietors of the Colonies in America was read (see No. 365), when the said gentlemen asked for a copy of the Board's representation on the question. The Board answered that the late Act for regulating trade had been grounded on miscarriage in the Colonies, and that it could not be thought unreasonable for the King to appoint officers to enforce the Acts, but that the legal question had been referred to the Attorney-General, who was instructed to report thereon on Friday next. Order in Council of 12th inst. as to the Leeward Islands read, and instructions given to prepare a letter accordingly. Two more orders of the same date as to Newfoundland were also read, and another of the same date as to the West Indian Colonies, on which letters were ordered to be prepared. Order for a copy of the Board's representation on Sir H. Ashurst's instructions to be sent to him. Several papers as to New Tortolen were read. The New York Agents reporting that the Board of Ordnance could not supply stores without a further order, the Board agreed upon a representation on the subject.
Nov. 17. The laws of Massachusetts were considered.
Nov. 18. Order for a representation to be drafted as to the laws of Massachussetts, and for the Clerk to call on the Clerks of Council from time to time for the determination of the Council on all laws of the Colonies. A representation as to New York was signed. The petitions from Bideford and Barnstaple were read, and the Secretary was directed to ascertain from the Mayors what measures they would recommend. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. pp. 231–238.]
Nov. 17. 398. Minutes of Council of Barbados. H.M.S. Newcastle having brought in a prize, orders were given for the guarding of the 69 prisoners, and for reimbursing of Captain Reeves for the expense of feeding them for five days. The bills as to trade and elections returned to the Council with amendments. Order as to the confinement of certain of the French prisoners. The Committee brought up its report on the bill concerning trade, and a conference was arranged with the Assembly on the bill. The Council recommended to the Assembly that care be taken of the King's sick soldiers, that a law or some means be found to give security to those persons who advance money for the King's ships, and that a present be made to Captain Reeves of H.M.S. Newcastle for his service to the country.
Nov. 18. Orders for the Newcastle to cruise to windward for twelve days. The Assembly brought up a vote of £200 to Captain Reeves, and said that they were thinking of settling a reward on him for every privateer taken, and would join in any method for securing those who lent money for the King's ships. They also desired that the French prisoners might be sent to Europe, and brought in a bill to preserve freedom of elections. Order for payment of £150 for the use of the Leeward forts.
Nov. 19. Order as to a parcel of cacao, alleged to be prize-goods. The Council considered amendments to the bill concerning trade. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 65. pp. 162–166.]
Nov. 17.
399. Governor Goddard to Council of Trade and Plantations. He begins by transcribing his letter of 30 July and continues as follows. I have received yours of 17 February and 15 April, with the Act for regulating the Plantation Trade, as to which your directions shall be punctually obeyed. On page 498 of the Act it is enacted that all Governors shall take an oath for its due performance, but there is no person here qualified to administer to me such an oath. Unless I hear from you I shall draw up an oath as near as may be to the intent of the Act and take it publicly before the Council. I have also received yours of 20 April, giving warning of French preparations, and I have taken all the care that I can for defence of the Islands. I enclose an exact account as to the public lands and slaves, made after careful enquiry of the Council and Assembly. The form of an Association to be entered into by the inhabitants I have received from Mr. Blathwayt and returned to him duly signed. No one refused to sign it except the Quakers, who, because they affect singularity, would only sign it in a form of their own, which is annexed to the other. I enclose a copy of my letter as to the difference between Mr. Richier and myself. Signed, J. Goddard. 2½ pp. Endorsed, Recd. 13th, Read 15 Dec., 1697, Answered 2 July, 1697. Enclosed,
399. I. Account of public lands and slaves in Bermuda, showing the shares allotted to the different officers of Government and those occupied and rented by others. The acreage is not given, but the rents amount to £7 11s. per annum. The slaves belonging to the Governor number one man, seven women, of whom three are seventy years of age and upward, and four children. 1½ pp. [Board of Trade. Bermuda, 3. Nos. 2, 2I.; and 29. pp. 14–20.]
Nov. 18. 400. Memorial of the Agents for Barbados to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Notwithstanding the representations of the Council and Assembly as to the decay of the trade of Barbados, we think it our duty to lay before you the following facts. Barbados by its strength and situation is the key of all the English sugar-islands. The magazine is so empty and the fortifications so ill-provided that there is immediate want of the supplies requested by Governor Russell. Two hundred and fifty recruits are wanted for Russell's Regiment, and though they will be a great charge to the Island, as the King's pay is insufficient, yet the condition of the Island makes them absolutely necessary. An experienced master-gunner is wanted, to instruct the men in the forts and batteries. The privateers fitted out by the Island have been so much discouraged by the obligation to pay the King's tenths and the Governor's fifteenths of all their prizes, that they declined that service, which had been a great protection to the provision-ships from North America; whereupon we beg that they may be exempted from these payments. The late heavy impositions on sugars were so destructive that many great plantations have lain waste ever since, while others have been turned to the raising of provisions, which for the most part used to be supplied from England. We hope therefore that the produce of the Island may not be burdened by a new duty. The number of negroes on the Island is reduced by little less than one half, whereby the produce is very much lessened. This is concluded to be the result of the African Company's monopoly. We hope you will agree with us that nothing can contribute more to the prosperity of the sugar-colonies than free trade to Africa. The Island's trade has suffered much from want of sufficient convoys and of despatch of the same at proper seasons, and from the impressment of the crews of merchantships. We beg that yearly convoys may be appointed for two fleets, one to sail from hence on the 20th of October and return on the 20th of April, the other to sail from hence on the 20th of January and to return not later than the 20th of July following; the convoys to consist of at least two men-of-war, one of them a fourth-rate, and good sailers. For want of these nearly forty provision-ships have been taken almost within sight of the King's ships in less than twelve months. Many ships have foundered and others became an easy prey to the enemy from want of sufficient strength, owing to the impressment of their men. We beg that orders may be given for supplying the guard-ships by less destructive methods, by sending out supernumerary seamen in the outward-bound men-of-war or in the merchant-ships, which we believe would transport them gratis. As ships pass much to and fro between North America and Barbados, and between Ireland and Barbados in the intervals between the convoys, we beg that these may be allowed to sail, as formerly, at the Governor's discretion. Signed, Edw. Littleton, Wm. Bridges, Fran. Eyles. 2½ pp. Endorsed, Recd. 20th, read 25th Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 7. No. 20; and (abstract only) 44A. p. 35.]
Nov. 18. 401. Council of Trade and Plantations to the King. The Agents have delivered us another memorial on which we recommend that one hundred shells should be sent out for each of the two mortars in the fort at New York, that an engineer be sent out to encourage the people to contribute to the repair and improvement of the fortifications, and that the Governor have liberty in the time of war to distribute powder and bullets from the King's stores to the friendly Indians. Considering how ill the regulation of the quotas has been complied with by several of the provinces, we think that a letter should be written to the Governors ordering them to make good their respective proportions.—Signed, J. Bridgewater, Tankerville, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, John Pollexfen, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. New York, 52. pp. 38–39.]
Nov. 18. 402. Memorandum of the Lords of the Admiralty. With reference to Order in Council of the 12th inst. (No. 387) we beg to report as follows. (1) Before receipt of the Order in Council we had ordered the Navy Board to hire advice-boats, and (2) the preparation of two fire-ships for Jamaica, which will be ready to sail with next convoy. (3) But as to sending six frigates, as the merchants desire, we think that if the French fleet be designed to the West Indies, as is reported, such a force will be insufficient to prevent their designs, much less if they proceed two at a time, as suggested, and we also doubt whether the said ships can be got ready in time. Signed, Russell, H. Priestman, Ro. Rich, G. Rooke, J. Houblon, J. Kendall. Copy. 1½ pp. Endorsed, Recd. and read 20 Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 30; and 56. pp. 36–37.]
Nov. 18. 403. Minutes of General Assembly of Massachusetts. The Representatives being insufficient to make a house, the Assembly was adjourned.
Nov. 19. The Representatives attending, the Lieutenant-Governor acquainted them of the issue of the expedition under Lieutenant Colonel Hathorne to St. John's River, which had made little impression on the enemy beyond the recovery of some cannon and warlike stores lately sent over from France. Bill for equal distribution of insolvent estates, read and debated.
Nov. 20. This same bill was ordered to be engrossed and sent to the Representatives, who returned it the same day with a concurrence therewith. A Bill to make lands liable to payment of debts was also passed to be engrossed, and was agreed to by the Representatives. Proposed to proceed with the rejected Act for punishment of capital offences to-morrow.
Nov. 21. The Act last named was carefully read and debated and deferred for further consideration. Order for respite of a debt due to Government by Captain Simon Willard, on account of arrears of rates, for two years. [Board of Trade. New England, 48. pp. 89–91.]
Nov. 19.
404. Order of the King in Council. That an engineer, two hundred mortar-shells and six union flags be despatched to New York. Signed, Rich. Colinge. ½ p. Endorsed, Recd. and Read 23 Nov., 1696. [Board of Trade. New York, 6. No. 75; and 52. p. 40.]
Nov. 19.
405. Order of the King in Council. A report of the Admiralty was received, saying that all Governors might have commissions of Admiralty if they applied for them, but it appearing by a list presented at the same time that there were several Colonies where the Governors had no such commissions, the matter was referred to the Council of Trade for report. Signed, Rich. Colinge. 1 p. Endorsed, Recd, Read 20 Nov., 1696. Annexed,
405. I. Copy of an extract from a presentment of the Commissioners of Customs. (See No. 107 I.) 1¼ pp.
405. II. List of the Governors holding commissions of Vice-Admiralty, viz., the Governors of Massachusetts, Virginia, Bermuda, New York, New Hampshire, Jamaica, Maryland, Barbados and the Leeward Islands. ½ p. [Board of Trade. Plantations General 4. Nos. 16, 16I., II.; and 34. pp. 82–84.
Nov. 19.
406. William Popple to the Mayors of Bideford and Barnstaple. The Council of Trade have received and considered your petitions (see Nos. 392, 393) and desire to know more particularly what you have further to propose for the better recovery and security of the Newfoundland trade. For despatch of business it will be convenient if you appoint some person or persons to attend the Council in your behalf. [Board of Trade. Newfoundland, 25. p.33.]
Nov. 20. 407. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Mr. Nelson attending handed in an extract from a letter giving an account of the capture of Pemaquid, but said that he had not yet had time to enquire as to the French Governor of Hudson's Bay. Ordered that a representation be drawn up as to New England.
Mr. Tucker's letter of this day's date was read (see next abstract) and order given for the despatch of letters. An Order in Council of 19th inst. as to Admiralty Courts was read and referred to the Attorney-General. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. pp. 238–242.]
Nov. 20.
408. Mr. Tucker to William Popple. Forwarding by order of Secretary Trumbull a letter from the Lords of the Admiralty to be laid before the Council of Trade. Signed, J. Tucker. ½ p. Endorsed, Recd., Read 20 Nov., 1696. Annexed,
408. I. Lords of the Admiralty to Secretary Trumbull. Pursuant to the Royal command we have hired two advice-boats, one at Plymouth and one in the Thames. They will be ready to proceed in a few days, and we give you notice thereof that their despatches may be in readiness. Signed, Russell, H. Priestman, G. Rooke, Jno. Houblon. Copy. ½ p. [Board of Trade. Plantations General, 4. Nos. 17, 17I.; and 34. p. 85.]