America and West Indies: July 1696, 21-31

Pages 41-63

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


July 1696

July 21. The Council gave their advice as follows. Yesterday your honour laid before us the following statement. By the muster rolls of August, 1695, there were men in the Island as follows:—
Regiment of St. Catherine's 523. There are now 350
" " Port Royal 530. " " 200
" " St. Andrews and Kingston 385. " " 200
" " Clarendon and Vere 375. " " 200
" " St. Elizabeth's 248. " " 200
" " St. Thomas and St. David's 77. " " 30
North side (estimated) 100. Now scarce 60
Regiment of horse 202. " 150
—— ——
Total 2,440. 1,390
So that in one year we seem to be reduced by 1,050 men. Moreover all our privateers and seamen (who were a great guard and strength to the Island) have left us, and most of this has happened by the harassing and ill-using of the men-of-war, who have frightened away not only our own people but also those of the Northern Colonies from bringing us provisions. If the Island decay at this rate, it is not hard to guess what must soon become of it. I ask your opinion what is to be done to stop this ruin, and in what manner to represent our decaying condition to the King.
In reply hereto, we represent as follows. In our opinion the Island is in a dangerous condition, and not less than 1,500 men more will be sufficient to defend it against a foreign enemy or secure it from a domestic one if the slaves should make any attempt, for the Island is fifty miles broad and two hundred miles long, and the slaves number close on forty thousand. As to the frigates, we concur with you, and can see no remedy unless the King will entrust you with the same powers as former Governors have had over men-of-war, and sufficient men be sent from England from time to time to recruit them, so that there shall be no necessity for impressment in Jamaica. The French King has augmented his forces on Hispaniola alike by men sent out of France and by the inhabitants of other Islands whom he has lately transported thither. He has also in the Indies at present (as we are informed) eight men-of-war besides store-ships and fire-ships, and there is advice of fourteen more suddenly expected, so that we conceive the Island to be in greater danger now than at any time during the war, and we beg you to represent the same to the King. Signed, John Bourden, Pe. Beckford, Peter Heywood, Nicholas Lawes, Richd. Lloyd, Henry Lowe, Tho. Ayscough, Richd. Dawkins. 1½ pp .Endorsed: Recd. from Mr. Vernon, 1 Dec. Read 2 Dec., 1696. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 11; and 79. pp. 10–12.]
July 22. 98. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. The proposals of Sir Matthew Dudley and others as to mines and naval stores in New England read. Order for Sir Henry Ashurst and Sir Stephen Evans to attend next meeting on the subject. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. p. 20.]
[July 22.] 99. The case of Sir Matthew Dudley and Company for working mines and producing naval stores in New England. In March, 1687, certain inhabitants of New England came over to England with specimens of ore; and several merchants subscribed £100,000 to work the mines. In August, 1688, an Order in Council was passed for a Patent to the subscribers, which was prevented from passing the great seal by the Revolution. In March, 1691, an Order in Council was passed for incorporation of Sir Matthew Dudley and Company, and in July, 1692, order was given for preparing Letters Patent for them. In May, 1693, heads of incorporation were submitted, and approved by the Attorney-General, who specially reported that he saw no means whereby the charter could be injurious to the New England provinces. The matter was then referred to the Treasury, who, on the solicitation of the New England Agents, recommended that the Government of Massachusetts should be consulted before the charter was passed. In January, 1694, the Company again put forward proposals, agreeably to a new order, which proposals were approved by the Naval authorities and again passed by the Attorney-General as no interference with the New England provinces. After two months of attendance for a favourable issue, an order was made, on the motion of Sir H. Ashurst and Sir Stephen Evans, that they should bring a shipload of naval stores within one year; who within eighteen months brought one small ship half laden, but since have wholly declined the [word lost]. Sir Matthew Dudley and Company are now before your Lordships to receive such encouragement as you think meet, but we beg you to consider how great our expenses have been, and that the privileges for which they ask will be no injury to the Colonies but rather the contrary, since they will colonise and plant those parts that are most subject to the depredations of the French. Two large sheets, somewhat damaged. Endorsed, Read 22 July, 1696. Annexed,
99. I. Computations of the naval stores which Sir Matthew Dudley and Company undertook to supply in 1693. Endorsed, Read 22 July, 1696. Large sheet. [Board of Trade. New England, 8. Nos. 14, 14 I.; and 36. pp. 1–8.]
July 22.
100. William Lowndes to William Popple. Forwarding extract from a presentment of the Commissioners of Customs for the report of the Council of Trade. Signed, Wm. Lowndes. ½ p. Endorsed, Read 24 July, 1696. Annexed,
100. I. Extract from a presentment of the Commissioners of Customs to the Treasury, 17 July, 1696. Experience having shown that through the remissness or connivance of the Governors the Acts of Trade and Navigation are not enforced in the Proprietary Colonies, we desire that the Governors of the Proprieties may be men of reputation and estate and otherwise qualified for their trusts, it being laid down by a clause in the Act for regulating the Plantation Trade that they shall be approved by the King and obliged to take the oaths enjoined on the King's Governors before entrance on their offices. Copy. 1 p. [Board of Trade. Plantations General, 4. Nos. 2, 2 I.; and 34. pp. 18–20.]
July 22.
101. Governor Sir William Beeston to Lords of Trade and Plantations. On the supposition that the French preparations might be designed against this Island I have put it into the best posture of defence that I could. I then made particular enquiry into our strength, and to my great surprise found that not only our privateers and seamen had left us but also that about a thousand of our Island people were wanting, by death and departure to other places. This I presently laid before the Council, with the result which I have enclosed to the Duke of Shrewsbury. The occasion of these defections of the people are the frequent depredations of the French on the out-parts of the Island, where, there being no strength to repel them, few weeks pass without the robbing and burning of houses in some of the remote settlements. Another reason is the frequent occasion of martial law, by which the ordinary people are kept at duty instead of being at work to earn their bread, which makes them retire to the Northern Colonies for greater quiet and ease. The privateers and seamen have left us because the men-of-war press and harass them so that they run away as fast as they can, and, even though they venture their lives by swimming from the ships, they get out of the country to other parts. This also is the reason that no vessels come to us with provisions or other necessaries from the Northern Colonies, and as there are no settled orders here to direct them, they do what they please. The Commissioners of the Navy have also forbidden Mr. Thompson (who was put in by the Lords of the Admiralty) to act any more, yet no one is appointed in his room, and now the ships will want necessaries and provisions, and there is nobody to furnish them. The merchants will not furnish money, lest on these contradictory orders the bills be not paid. The papers relating hereto I now send to Mr. Blathwayt, but what to do with the ships I know not, for, the Assiento and all other trade being gone, the merchants have little money and I have none, my allowance not nearly bearing my expenses. The Hampshire has been here near two years, and neither men, stores, nor provisions have been sent her, by which she is near spoiled, and yet I dare not send her home lest we should want her. If ships came oftener and returned, they would both convoy the merchant-ships out and home, return without victualling or expense here and save the King much money. Now they are of great expense and little use, because they are never fully manned and seldom in order. These many discouragements and the want of recruits make the people think that they are not regarded, and now the more so because, though it was thought in England that the French were designed hither, yet not so much as the few merchant-ships, that were expected here last Christmas, have arrived, so that they want everything, and also ships to buy and carry away their produce. The private Colonies also entice our people away daily, telling them of living there easy and quiet; and there also are the privateers and Red Sea pirates entertained, by which means they fill, while the King's own Colonies dwindle to nothing. These are such truths that I think I should be justly blamed for neglect of duty if I did not state them; and unless some speedy course be taken to encourage and assist the place, it must sink. I beg you to consider the size, produce, and importance of the Island. Wherever the French designs may lie, it is to leeward of Jamaica, so that I hope we have no great cause to fear them in this expedition; but if ever they design here, the few men here cannot reasonably be thought capable of defending so large a place, nor will those stay to do it that can go off, unless they see assistance sent them. Signed, Wm. Beeston. Holograph. 2 pp .Endorsed, Recd. and read 24 Nov., 1696. Answd. 12 Feb., 1696–7. A short abstract is attached. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 12; and 56. pp. 41–43.]
July 22.
102. Governor Sir William Beeston to the Duke of Shrewsbury. My last was by the Russell, galley, which sailed on the 8th inst. and on the same day the Rose, galley, brought me yours of the 8th of December. On the advice of the French designs I put the country under martial law, and into the best posture of defence that I could, but on looking into the numbers I found a great defection in a short time, which highly concerned me. I called the Council and laid the state of the Island before them, with the result that I now forward to you. It is not fitting to be ventured lest it should fall into the enemy's hands and they should take advantage thereof; nor is it fitting to be concealed, lest for want of succour so important an Island should miscarry. It was very happy that the French designed not directly hither, else they had arrived a full month before I had any notice of them; and had they come on us by surprise with such a force I know not how far they might have gone. Had they only taken Port Royal they would have secured all vessels coming and going, and the country must have sunk for want of recruits. If the King would spare two small fire-ships, they would secure the harbour from any enemy daring to look into it, and could be maintained here with the Commander and a very few men to look after them; for when there should be occasion for them we could put more men aboard. The reason for the defection of the privateers and seamen is the men-of-war, which harass them daily, so that as fast as they get clear of the ships they run away from the Island, and those that are aboard come in no more for fear. Many of the land-men are gone for the same reason, and others owing to fear and to their losses; for this being the butt at which the enemy chiefly direct their malice, few weeks pass but their privateers land in some of the out-parts and plunder and burn, and this makes the people leave the Island for some place where they may be quiet and easy. Others leave it for want of trade and business, for, the Assiento having fallen and few ships or goods coming from Europe, they think the place neglected, and now much complain that though the enemy was thought in England to be designed hither, yet no assistance is sent. Nay, even the small recruits of three or four merchant-ships, which have been expected ever since last Christmas, have not arrived, so that people are discouraged, and if some speedy care be not taken, the rest that are able will leave the Island also. The French passed betwixt this Island and Cuba about the 20th of May, and now most think that they are gone to seize on Vera Cruz, though methinks the ships are too big for that place, the Hope, which they took from England, being the least of four besides what they have of lesser rates. Some English and two French came lately from Petit Guavos, who all agree about the number of the ships and say that twelve more are expected daily, and that besides store of provisions they have on board abundance of bricks, which seems for a settlement, though at Petit Guavos they know nothing of the design, which is kept very private. I hope we are rid of the danger of them, for if they hasten they are settled, and if they are baffled they will have no stomach to come here. Pray represent our condition and the value and importance of this Island to the King. I have received several packets from the Spanish Governors and other officers, which I have despatched to Carthagena and Porto Bello. Signed, Wm. Beeston. Holograph. 2 pp. Endorsed, R. 24 Nov. Recd. from Mr. Vernon 1 Dec. Read 2 Dec. 1696. Answd. 12 Feb. 1696–7. Enclosed,
102. I. State of the Island of Jamaica as represented by Sir William Beeston, with his speech desiring the opinion of the Council thereon (see No. 97). In Sir William Beeston's hand. 1 p .Endorsed, Recd. and read 24 Nov. 1696. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. Nos. 13, 13 I.; and 56. pp. 49–51 and pp. 40–41.]
July 23.
103. Governor Sir William Beeston to William Blathwayt. I now transmit to the Duke of Shrewsbury a short state of the country and the Council's opinion thereon. The continual fatigues of the war and the want of trade cause a great part of the people to leave the place and seek for more quiet, for this Island, being the chief mark that our enemies aim at, is seldom quiet in one part or another, which tires out the people. I have also transmitted to you some account of the condition of the ships of war, which want men and all necessaries. By their management they have forced from us our privateers and seamen, who, rather than stay on the ships and be ill-used, venture their lives to swim away, and then leave the Island. So the ships are never manned for service, and the Island is dispeopled. Captain Wilmot, by the Admiralty's order, put in Mr. Thompson as agent to manage for the ships, and now the Commissioners of the Navy write and bid him desist; yet none is appointed in his place, whereby nobody will act or give credit, not knowing whether the bills will be paid. So that for want of supplies of men, provisions and necessaries from England, the ships are in an ill condition, and I know not how to help them, for I have here no money, there being no Assiento nor trade, nor other way to get anything, and my allowance does not near bear my charges. The Island is in a decaying condition, the people being discouraged by daily losses and harassing of the war and seeing no assistance come to them. Therefore the ordinary people, who are the strength, daily get away to the Northern Colonies and are frightened from returning with provisions and necessaries because the men-of-war tear away their men, who seldom, if ever, see their homes and relations again. Unless some measures be taken, the rest that are able will get away, and then the Island will be in great danger from any attempt. This I should not trouble you with, did I not think it my duty. I know you have many opportunities of laying our state before the King, who is our one hope of relief, for indeed the desertion for a year past has been very great, even of the inhabitants. The seamen and privateers were not only a great part of our defence, but our guards and watchmen, who brought us intelligence of any approaching danger. The want of care and some better order about the ships has been a great part of this as well as the war, for they have pressed even the inhabitants and their servants and have used them ill. This has been grievous, but I could not help them, having orders not to meddle with them nor with their discipline. The French passed between this and Cuba about the 20th May, and it is generally thought that they design for Vera Cruz, for they carry bricks besides abundance of stores and have able pilots. By taking the management of the ships out of my hands, the Naval Office is fallen to nothing, so that I can get no one to take care of it. When a ship of war goes home I will send the Acts and other papers. I have heard nothing from you about Porcio's debt to the merchants, which will be a great loss. There are so many things to discourage the Island that I greatly fear its decay, but I hope you will use your interest for our assistance. Signed, Wm. Beeston. Holograph. 2 pp .Endorsed, Recd. and read 24 Nov., 1696. Answd. 12 Feb., 1696–7. A short abstract is attached. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 14; and 56. pp. 44–46.]
July 23.
104. Governor Russell to Council of Trade and Plantations. H.M.S. Play has arrived from the Leeward Islands, whither I had sent her to take the news from Europe and to bring us intelligence. She brought me two letters from Commissioner St. Lo at Plymouth, saying that an advice-boat from England for Barbados had been taken by the French, and a letter from Governor Codrington that he had news of all being well in England. I am sorry that the vessel brought me no orders from you, the more so because Mr. Cranfield, the Commissioner of Customs here, shewed me a letter from Mr. Povey that you were writing to warn us of a French design on the West Indies and to defend ourselves vigorously if attacked; but I have received no such packet. While I am in command of this Island you may depend upon me to defend it to the uttermost. In another letter under this cover, I have given you my opinion that Barbados as the windwardmost Island is the key of all the West Indies, and that if it were in the hands of the French not only would the Leeward Islands and Jamaica fall, but the Danes, Brandenburgers, Dutch and Spaniards would be absolutely shut out from their trade to the West Indies. Having no engineer nor other officer to assist me I have been forced, with the greatest pains imaginable to myself, to visit very often all the forts, platforms and batteries, to examine everything in them and the ill condition that they are in, set down everything necessary to put them in better order, and draw up, as well as I can guess, an estimate of the cost. I know that it is incorrect, and I beg that you will pardon me, for the knowledge belongs to employment in which I have never served, though I venture to send it, believing that it may be of service to us. I submitted my list and computation to the Colonels of Militia, who agreed that the things asked for should be supplied, but could not mend the weakness of my own judgment. I also laid them before the Council and Assembly, where they have been some time, and I enclose copy of a speech which I made on that occasion, as also an account of the Assembly's answer and intentions. I also send ground-plots of all our forts and batteries, that you may see what irregular and defenceless things our fortifications are, which it is for me to defend. The number of them makes a great noise, but there is not one of them that school-boys may not climb into. Parts of the Island are fortified by nature, and the best landing places were in Colonel Kendall's time provided with a bank or breastwork and a trench within it, deep enough from the top of a bank for horse to march in, and covered and broad enough for four or six to march abreast. This was very useful, but as no men were paid or appointed to keep it in repair, the bank is in many places trampled down by cattle and the ditch filled up. I hope that we may get an Act passed for the negroes to repair it. I also send you a list of my last general review of the militia, which I made in one day, so as to see them all. You will judge how small is the force that we have to depend on. I must acquaint you that the sending of the recruits for my regiment to the Leeward Islands has been the greatest possible injury to it. Half of them were lost by death and desertion before they came here, and several that arrived sick from thence are since dead. Please move the King for a detachment of two hundred good men to recruit them. When you have seen what a thin militia we have to defend so important a place as I conceive Barbados to be, particularly to England, but also (as I think) to Europe in general, I hope you will obtain recruits for the regiment, if not additional companies. I am sure that you are sensible of the difference in the service of soldiers in pay, whose sole business is arms, and the militia of a country who think military affairs to be not their concern, except when they have nothing else to do, and so are generally unacquainted with exercise, command and obedience. The Assembly are sensible of the good order and discipline of my regiment and think them well worth preserving, so knowing that the soldiers cannot live here on the King's pay they have passed Acts to give them additional subsistence and to give also some help to the officers, who are soldiers of fortune, having nothing else to live on, and found it impossible to live on the King's pay. I have sent the Acts home for confirmation. I believe nobody would have imagined our strength to be so small and our forts so irregular and unfortified that they cannot defend themselves against anything on land if an enemy gains a footing. So that if the enemy does land, in spite of all that I can do, and in such numbers that I may not venture a battle, they must become masters of the forts and thereby be able to protect their ships and live on the supplies which are in them. One thing we want, which I think is in all-other places but this, namely a citadel for our last refuge. I wish we had one, and I hope the King will send us one or two engineers, when I may hope to put the country upon building one. Still I have never been able to persuade them to make any little fortification about any town or place, where their wives and children might be safe from any violence of the negroes, if any invasion should draw all the white men to the seaside for defence.
While I was writing this letter there arrived H.M.S. Newcastle with orders for the Bristol and Play to return to England. The Assembly brought up a Bill to raise money to buy certain things necessary for the country, to pay for ships taken up for the expedition to Martinique and to purchase one hundred white servants; but it needed so many amendments, and the Council had so little time and so much private business before the fleet sailed, that they adjourned until the fleet was sailed, and so nothing was done. Pray move the King that the stores for which I have asked may be sent to us, as also such other things as are necessary but not mentioned, for we are still in so ill a condition in every particular that the Island is not safe if it be attacked before supplies reach us. I beg, too, that a very good engineer may be sent us, or two in case of mortality, so that our fortifications may keep us from falling into the hands of the French if they attack us. Such stores as may be sent I beg may be despatched by first convoy, before an enemy has time to attack us, and if any ships of war bound for Jamaica or the Leeward Islands sail with them I beg that they may see them to the south end of Barbados, which is not above forty-four hours out of their way, whereas the loss and disappointment of the stores must mean the loss of Barbados if attacked. I hope, too, that you will obtain me two hundred recruits for my regiment, and that they may not be sent to the Leeward Islands, which has made havoc among them. The Leeward Islands may be attacked by privateers from Martinique, who land in one night, plunder the plantations, and are gone next day; but I am pretty well assured that it is not the interest of France to take any of the Islands to leeward, while Barbados, to windward, is in the hands of the King of England. The two places which it could best serve the French interest to possess are Barbados and Petit Guavos. With these two places a fleet and a body of landmen would make the French King one of these days master of all the European Princes' trade in the West Indies. He seems to have slighted several places settled by his subjects in these parts and has, we hear, transferred his subjects from many places the better to re-settle Petit Guavos. Even Martinique itself seems to have not so much care taken of it as formerly, nor does the Governor encourage to build there; and all the reason, I apprehend, is that the French King has an eye on this Island, which, so long as I am in command of it, shall be defended to the utmost, so I hope the King will send us a supply to enable me to do it. Were our fortifications in good order and neither stores nor ammunition wanting, this Island ought never to be surrendered; and I believe that if the French were masters of it for a twelvemonth, all Europe would not be able to take it from them. Signed, F. Russell. Four closely-written pages. Inscribed, Recd. and read, 30 Oct., 1696. A short abstract is attached. Annexed,
104. I. An alphabetical list of articles required for the forts and batteries of Barbados, which may be procured here and in North America. This list includes men as well as stores, and to each item is appended an estimate of the cost. Total, £12,610. 3 pp. Endorsed, Recd. 30 Oct., 1696.
104. II. A list of the militia of Barbados. Cavalry. Troop of Life Guards, 48 men. Bishop's Regiment of Horse (6 troops), 297 men. Farmer's Regiment of Horse (6 troops), 279 men. Total Horse, 624.
Foot. Salter's Regiment, 420; Ramsay's Regiment, 264; Frere's Regiment, 384; Boteler's Regiment, 220; Bayly's Regiment, 214; Waterman's Regiment, 204. Each Regiment has eight Companies, and the names of the Captains are given. Total Foot, 1,706. 2 pp .Endorsed as No. I.
104. III. Speeches of Governor Russell to the Council and Assembly of Barbados. I have taken great pains to ascertain every want of this country, and to make a list of stores for your magazines, forts and batteries, according to my recollection of other places that I have seen and to the best of my judgment. I have served in many posts in the Army, but never in the Ordnance, which I think a misfortune, since I find myself in this Island, which I look upon as the frontier of the West Indies, where there is neither engineer, cannonier nor firemaster, and I cannot myself pretend to be either. However, I have omitted nothing that my little knowledge can suggest to me, and I have made a computation, at a guess, of the cost. I had no design of exposing myself by shewing this list, but I wished to have some estimate of the sum which I would recommend you to raise. I am sensible, too, that these papers should not be made public, but you have pressed me so importunately to let everyone know what is in the magazine (which I cannot), that I feel obliged to let you know what additional supplies are needed, and the cost of every particular. At our last meeting I laid before you an account of the things which could only be obtained in England, believing that they required the greatest dispatch, for if this fleet should sail before you have taken your resolutions herein, we may not have another opportunity till next spring. No one knows where the seat of war will be next summer, so everyone ought to prepare at least to secure themselves from being surprised. I now lay before you a list of articles which I believe you may obtain here or in North America. The last time I spoke to you I said that I did not wish any of the money to pass through my hands, and that I could not undertake the trouble to provide you with such things as you want. I thought this would have satisfied everybody that I could have no design to advantage my own purse; but to prevent all scruples and to hasten the business I lay this list before you, with the estimate which I made for my own use, and I shall be well pleased if you will send them home to be corrected by the Lords of Trade and the Commissioners of Ordnance. I know your loyalty, and you know that what levies are raised must be raised now, when the crop is gathered. I beg therefore that you will come to a speedy resolution. I assure myself that you will go on vigorously in this affair, and you may be assured that I have no aim but zeal for the King's and this Island's service. You mention a sum of £2,500 raised to be a standing stock to supply the country with small arms, and you say that you expect to find them in the magazine. I have been so busy with emergent affairs since my arrival that I have had no time to look into that, but if you will give me particulars of the money I will make strict enquiry into the matter. The Royal Instructions forbid money to be issued but under my warrant in Council, but permit the Assembly to examine the accounts of the disbursements thereof. So if you will let me know what the money is, you shall have an exact account. 2 pp.
Second speech of Governor Russell to the Assembly. So many members were absent at our last meeting that I have called you together again. The fleets for Europe and North America will sail in two or three days, so what is done for the preservation of the Island must be done now, especially the sending for supplies from England, or it may be too late. I count on your loyalty and on your readiness to defend the Island. Some gentlemen were formerly of opinion that we had no enemy at our door, but they have seen their mistake and now join heartily to prevent the encouragement which the Martinique privateers once met with, the loss from which was fifty or sixty thousand pounds until we sent ships to cruise for the safety of our shipping. I now ask you to take the same precautions against an enemy on shore. I dare not lay open to you our true state, having too much reason to fear that our enemies may know it before our friends can supply us. Since I came I have never consulted the advantage of my purse and I have no design to do so now, for I desire no part of what I now propose to you to pass through my hands. I must now tell you that, heavy though the tax may be, less than £10,000 will not make good the wants in your magazines and put your fortifications in order. If they are not in order I cannot preserve them, nor the towns, nor your country, nor my own reputation. The King and Nation, sensible that the additional duty bore heavy on you, have not renewed it; and though your losses have been great you must secure the last stake. It will be much cheaper to preserve your country now at any price than to recover it hereafter from your enemies. Let me remind you also that the country's credit is so stained by the debts you owe for the ships taken for the Martinique expedition, that none will trust it till these are discharged. 1¼ pp. A short abstract is attached to each speech. The whole endorsed as No. I.
104. IV. Alphabetical list of military stores required for Barbados, which can only be obtained from England. An estimate is attached to each item, the total amounting to £10,169. 5 pp. Endorsed as No. I. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 7. Nos. 5, 5 I.–IV.; and (without enclosures) 44A. pp. 10–16.]
July 23.
105. Governor Russell to the Duke of Shrewsbury. I thank you for your letter which arrived on the 12th inst. You tell me that you learn from Mr. Bridges that I had given the place of clerk of markets to Mr. Harmsworth, and that you had got it confirmed to him, for which I thank you. Several people here are informed by their last letters that seven or eight gentlemen have been added to the Council. Mr. Povey tells me that the first six whom I recommended are appointed, and three others, whose names are not given. Mr. Hothersall and Mr. Terrill have delivered me their warrants. The first has been sworn of the Council, the other has unhappily been seized with the fever, from which not one man in a hundred recovers; and I am afraid he is dead. We have lost two very honest men lately by this distemper, Colonel Boteler and Colonel Bayley. The first was one of the best men I ever met with, and both worthy, loyal gentlemen, though the rest of the militia officers are as loyal, and shall be so while I am Governor. Mr. Burke tells me that there was a warrant for his admission to the Council but that it was stopped at your office, whereat he is much concerned. Thinking that someone may have misrepresented him to you, he begs me to bear witness to his loyalty, substance and good behaviour, which I gladly do. I have written to the Committee as to the wants of the Island. If the King will send us supplies and one or two engineers to put our fortifications in order I will be answerable that this Island shall not be surrendered unless I am betrayed from within. If the French should master it I believe all Europe could not take it again. I believe that a good engineer will confirm what I say, that the Island is not now in a condition to defend itself. Pray obtain for me leave to accept presents made me by the Assembly when made, as in this time of war I have to wait two years before I receive them. Signed, F. Russell. 1½ pp. [America and West Indies. 476. No. 64.]
[July 23.] 106. Extract of so much of preceding letter as concerns Mr. Burke. 1 p. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 7. No. 5A.]
July 23.
107. Order of the Lords Justices of England in Council. Referring extract of a presentment from the Commissioners of Customs to the Council of Trade for report. Signed, Wm. Bridgeman. ½ p. Endorsed, Read 27 July, 1696. Annexed,
107. I. Extract from a presentment of the Commissioners of Customs to the Treasury. We move, as highly conducing to the execution of the Acts of Trade and Navigation, and for the regulation of the Plantation Trade, that Courts of Admiralty may be erected in each Colony, and that persons of known ability and integrity may be empowered by Commission of the Admiralty to do their duty therein, and that persons of experience in the laws may be nominated by the King and recommended to the Governors as Attorneys-General for the prosecution of bonds, trial of seizures and other matters connected therewith. Copy. 1 p. [Board of Trade. Plantations General 4. Nos. 3, 3. I; and 34. pp. 20–22.]
July 24. 108. "A discourse how to render the Plantations more beneficial and advantageous to the Kingdom," by Edward Randolph. The wealth and security of this Kingdom has long depended on its trade and navigation, but masts and timber for building ships, as well as all other naval stores, being through long consumption become dear and scarce commodities, are not to be had from neighbouring countries but at excessive rates, and then only in time of peace; so that in case of sudden rupture with Sweden or Denmark England's navigation is in danger to be lost unless supplied from France or Holland, though not without difficulty and at proportionable expense. Our present trade with the Swede and Dane makes greatly to their advantage. Our merchants formerly bought in these countries timber and naval stores at easy rates for our coarse British manufactures; but of late they have set the dice upon us and forced us to pay higher prices, and two-thirds ready money, for commodities of inferior quality, which drains England unavoidably of large sums annually. Nor is our trade to the East Indies (from whence the greater part of our saltpetre is brought) so well secured but that it may be unexpectedly engrossed by our neighbours, and we must then depend on them to supply us with saltpetre as now with spice, etc. I would therefore point out that England may be plentifully supplied with timber and naval stores from the American Colonies. (1.) Trees fit for masts grow plentifully in New Hampshire and New England, though till of late much destroyed by saw-mills and canoe-makers. Many great masts are yearly brought from thence, but now not many such trees are to be found nigh the water in either province, and it is therefore more chargeable to carry them seven or eight miles by land and afterwards float them to the ships. In a little time necessity will force us to make masts of cypress-trees, which are very large and in great plenty near navigable rivers as at Chickahominy in James River, at West Point and elsewhere in York River and Rappahannock, and in several rivers in North Carolina. At Kennebec River are abundance of very fine trees fit for masts and at Abigadusitt (ten miles from its mouth) is a place for a saw-mill, and enough pine and fir to load forty or fifty ships annually. On Bear Island also, not far from Kennebec to the north-east, are large fir trees fit for masts; but in 1689 the Indians, supplanted by the French, drove the English out of Kennebec and the more northerly settlements, demolished and burnt the new fort built by Sir E. Andros and destroyed or captured most of the inhabitants of Maine. They have since destroyed the town of Dover and many people in New Hampshire, so that the Piscataqua River, where the masts remaining in the two provinces can be shipped off, is the only place to be depended on at this time for great masts of fir. (2.) As to timber and plank, there are very vast quantities of oak growing on every creek and river from Pemaquid to Virginia, with convenient places and depth of water to build ships. Sixty sail of good ships from 200 to 500 tons may yearly be built in these Colonies at one-third less charge than in England, as at Piscataqua (where the frigate Falkland, 700 tons, was built three or four years ago), Salisbury, Salem, Boston, Charlestown, Hingham, Rhode Island and elsewhere in New England, also at Mamaranack River, twelve miles south from New York, and in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. (3.) Pitch and tar in great quantities are already made at several places, as for instance New Plymouth and Connecticut, which not only serves that country but leaves some hundred barrels over for export to the West Indies. There are also several islands near Chesapeake Bay and innumerable trees in the main land to make pitch and tar of. On the branches of Elizabeth River in Virginia pitch and tar are staple commodities, and more could be made everywhere if there were a market. (4.) Rosin enough may be made in these Colonies to supply England and her neighbours. About four years ago some French Protestants made rosin not far from Boston at their own plantations, and shipped two tons to try the market in England. It was approved of to be as good as any brought from France, but the charge for necessaries to begin the work and the high freight in war-time made them losers and stopped their further undertakings. (5.) Hemp and flax grow very kindly and plentifully in all the plantations, and some Colonies have laws obliging them to sow yearly a quantity of hemp and flax-seed according to the number of servants. In Rhode Island they have more than they have use for, and sell it to their neighbours. I have seen as good bright dressed flax brought from there to Boston as I have seen in England. They use their hemp for linen and cordage, but sow not much for want of servants. (6.) Saltpetre. Some sorts of the materials for making saltpetre are found almost everywhere in the Colonies. The rocks near the shore in some parts of New England are covered very thick with the dung of sea-fowls, and in the woods where wild pigeons take their constant stand, not far from plantations, the ground is three or four feet thick with their dung. So also are the floors of old tobacco-houses in Virginia and Maryland. Likewise the earth on the bank sides of some of the great rivers from Virginia, above sixty miles from the salt water, is naturally very salt, insomuch that in some places it is furrowed very deep by the tongues of wild beasts which come constantly to lick it. Ten or twelve years ago Dr. Daniel Cox, then one of the Proprietors of West Jersey, sent a Frenchman to make saltpetre in the province. He made some, but as the Doctor's agent failed to supply money he left off, and the work was ruined. He told me there were plenty of materials, and desired me to recommend him to Sir E. Andros to be employed in making saltpetre, but falling into a trade with the Indians for furs he is now settled on the southern shore of Delaware Bay. There is in the Bahama Islands salt enough to supply all England, and I doubt not but the materials for saltpetre could be found. It is necessary that the great timber in the Colonies should be saved from waste. I append copy of an Address from the Council and Assembly of Maryland in support of my statements. Here follows copy of the said Address, reporting that there is abundance of timber and naval stores in Maryland, but that the industry has been little cultivated for want of a market. The whole, 4 pp. Endorsed, Presented by Mr. Randolph, 24 July, 1696. [Board of Trade. Plantations General, 4. No. 4; and 34. pp. 12–18.]
July 24. 109. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Sir Henry Ashurst attending, declared that he had formerly opposed the grant of a patent to Sir Matthew Dudley and Company, not only as a private person but by order of the Colony of Massachusetts. He also produced a paper of offers from the General Assembly as to naval stores, and shewed further certain instructions as to complaints expected to be made by Mr. Jahleel Brenton. Mr. Randolph produced a paper in writing as to importation of naval stores (see No. 108). A presentment of the Commissioners of Customs as to the Proprietary Colonies was read. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. pp. 22–24.]
July 25. 110. Minutes of Assembly of Nevis. The three members formerly objected to were sworn, as also was William Bates, Clerk of Assembly. A joint Committee appointed to draw up articles of war. The Assembly then asked leave to adjourn from time to time till it should have prepared a representation of the needs and grievances of the country. Four members of the Council having withdrawn in order to prevent the Assembly from having any reply to its messages, the Assembly expressed its full confidence in Lieutenant-Governor Gardner, and resolved itself into a Committee to prepare the representation aforesaid. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 376–378.]
July 25.
111. Edward Cranfield to James Vernon. I beg you to give the bearer, Major Hawkins, access to the Duke of Shrewsbury, to give him a verbal account of affairs here. Major Hawkins is a very honest, loyal gentleman who has served very honourably both at St. Christophers and Martinique. I have sent by him three pounds to be spent in the company of yourself, Mr. Yard and Mr. Lowndes. Signed, Edw. Cranfield. Holograph. ½ p. [America and West Indies. 456. No. 65.]
July 25. 112. Edward Cranfield to the Duke of Shrewsbury. I beg to refer you to the bearer, Major Benjamin Hawkins, for an account of affairs here and in the Leeward Islands. He served as a Captain under Sir Timothy Thornhill at St. Christophers and as Major under Colonel Boteler at Martinique. I send you two loaves of refined sugar. Signed, Edw. Cranfield. Holograph. ½ p. Endorsed, R. 15 Sept. [America and West Indies. 456. No. 66.]
July 27. 113. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Mr. Randolph was ordered to attend next meeting. The Order in Council of 22 July (No. 100), with its enclosure read. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. p. 24.]
July 27. 114. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. A letter of 21 April from the Privy Council read, giving warning of a French design against America, promising assistance and ordering all preparations to be made for defence. A letter from Colonel Pyncheon was read, giving intelligence that Count Frontenac was at Montreal with 2,000 French and 1,000 Indians, intending to attack the Five Nations and Albany, also that a body of Indians was designed against the eastern parts of New England. Order for the embargo to be continued for another month and for the work at the fortifications to be vigorously pursued. Order for payment of £300 for purchase of provisions for the soldiers and seamen. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. pp. 38–39.]
July 28. 115. Minutes of Assembly of Nevis. Resolutions of the Assembly:—To represent its grievance against the Council, since the Council have made themselves judges of elections, compelled elected members to show their titles to their estates, and withdrawn themselves in order to obstruct business, so that no continuous assembly can be held and no law passed to compel the inhabitants to military duty; to represent also that good officers have been displaced to make room for less good, and liberty granted to privateers to take men at their pleasure; that the Provost-Marshal has given no security, that the Secretary being a lawyer in practice has power to alter records, that the Chief Judge, Charles Pym, has many complaints against him, and that the Island generally suffers from the corruption of officers, want of regulation of Courts, insecurity of titles, and uncertain regulation of elections. The treasurer's time is expired and the Council will not join with the Assembly to renew it, nor to raise money. Above all the Instructions to the Lieutenant-Governor have deprived the Island of all power to pass laws by the Governor, Council and Assembly. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 378–380.]
July 29. 116. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Mr. Edward Randolph delivered a collection of papers (see No. 120) and was ordered to draw up a scheme of proposals to remedy the defects in the prosecution of offenders against the Acts of Trade in the Colonies. Mr. Locke handed in copies of the papers as to naval stores brought from New England by the Agents. Order for Sir Christopher Wren to be consulted as to the new rooms for the office, and for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be reminded as to the money for incident charges. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. pp. 25–27.]
July 29. 117. Endorsement of a collection of papers (abstracted under their dates) respecting the naval stores imported by Sir Henry Ashurst and Sir Stephen Evans, which were sent by the Admiralty to the Council of Trade and Plantations. [Board of Trade. New England, 8. No. 15.]
July 30.
118. Governor Goddard to Lords of Trade and Plantations. On the 18th inst. arrived your order relating to the differences between Mr. Richier and myself, which shall be punctually obeyed; but I was much surprised at the preamble, which recites Mr. Richier's first petition; and the words of the order run pursuant to it, without any notice taken of the untruth of his allegations. In the petition he sets forth that I seized £1,000 of his effects, whereas the whole value was not £150, and I offered to return it immediately on his giving security to stand to your determination about the spermaceti whale. Secondly, he most untruly and unjustly charges me with imprisoning him, whereas it is notorious that he was never imprisoned on my account in his life, nor was he imprisoned at all when he sent in that petition. Yet he had the boldness in a second petition, of 17 March, 1695, to charge me again with keeping him a prisoner, though at large, whereas he was not in prison at all till several months after Mr. Trott's departure for England. Again he says that I disobeyed your orders, whereas I performed my part of them and he disobeyed by refusing to give security. This being so fully proved before you, I wondered that no notice was taken of the untruth of Mr. Richier's allegations. Mr. Trott told me that he did prove such untruth, and that you ordered Mr. Richier to pay Mr. Trott's bill of costs; but for what reason the report was drawn up as it is, and why Mr. Trott was not allowed his costs pursuant to your order, he could not tell. I write thus, not because I am aggrieved at your order but because I was always willing to do what you now order, and proposed it several times. I mention the other matter only to justify myself against Mr. Richier's aspersions, for I should have thought myself very culpable if I had disobeyed your order, as he alleges. Not only was he never imprisoned by me but I staved off Governor Trott's execution against him for near two years, until I was warned that it would be made cause of complaint against me. In June, 1695, he was taken in execution at Governor Trott's suit, not by any act of mine, and now lies in prison, from which I have no power to release him without making myself accountable for his debt. All, therefore, that your Lordships order I will obey, but release him from prison I cannot, since he is there not at my suit but at Governor Trott's for a sum of £1,246, and my Counsel advise me that if I do I shall be responsible for the debt. I will write more fully as to the Island in October; meanwhile I enclose an extract from the Minutes of Council for my justification. Signed, J. Goddard. 2¼ pp. Endorsed, Recd. 26 Sept., 1696. Read 30 Nov. An abstract of the letter is attached. Annexed,
118. I. Extracts from Minutes of Council of Bermuda, 5 Nov., 1694. Declaration of the Council, in reply to a late letter from Whitehall, that Isaac Richier is imprisoned at the suit of Mr. Trott; but that Richier has twice been committed to the custody of the Sheriff by the Council, for contempt of an order of Council and on a charge of disaffection.
29 Jan., 1695. On reading the petition of Isaac Richier to the King, the King's and Council's order thereon and the proposals made by Governor Goddard to Richier, the Council resolves that these proposals are a full compliance with the Council's order.
4 March, 1695. The Council declares Isaac Richier's allegation, that Governor Goddard had demanded £1,000 as half the profits of the Governor's place from the date of his commission, to be false and scandalous.
6 May, 1695. The Council consider that Governor Goddard was justified in refusing to accept the bond offered by George Dew on behalf of Isaac Richier. Copies. 3 pp. Endorsed, Recd. 26 Sept., 1696. [Board of Trade. Bermuda, 3. Nos. 1, 1 I.; and (without enclosure) 29. pp. 1–5.]
July 31. 119. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. The Secretary made a report as to the money for incident charges. Order for Mr. Bridges to send all papers that he has concerning Governor Russell's present, the records having not yet been received. Mr. Randolph handed in certain additional papers (No. 120 II., V.). He added that he had brought copies of some of the trials of ships with him, and that nothing could be done as to swearing Governors to observe the Acts of Trade until the Council should settle the business.
Sir Henry Ashurst handed in several papers (No. 120 I., III.). He then argued again against Sir Matthew Dudley's proposal, and recommended that fit persons should be sent to America to examine a report as to naval stores. Mr. Brenton delivered certain proposals on the same subject. [Board of Trade. Journal, 9. pp. 27–30.]
July 31. 120. A collection of papers handed in by Edward Randolph in reference to the enforcement of the Acts of Trade and Navigation in the Colonies.
120. I. A list of the Governors of the various Colonies. Against the name of Caleb Carr, Governor of Rhode Island, Randolph has written: "An illiterate man. This is one of the places which harbours pirates. Captain Tew, a pirate, came thither last year with a very great sum of money and four vessels very well manned. He sailed from thence to the Red Sea some time after." Here follows a short statement of the oaths and duties enjoined on the King's Governors in respect of the Acts of Trade and Navigation. 1½ pp. Dated, 29 July, 1696. Endorsed, Read 31 July, 1696.
120. II. A list of several vessels seized and prosecuted by Edward Randolph in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland, between 1692 and 1695. It appears that he lost his suit in every case; and he adds at the end of the list: "From all which I represented to the Commissioners of Customs the illegal trade in the plantations was supported and encouraged by the general partiality of Courts and juries (biassed by private interest) in suits relating to the Crown."
120. III. A list of names submitted by Edward Randolph as officers of the Courts of Admiralty in the Colonies.
Colony. Judge. Register. Marshal. Attorney-
and North
Edward Hill Myles Cary Michael Sher-
Maryland Henry Jowles
Geo. Robot
Henry Denton Thomas Collier Edward
and West
Rich. Hollo-
William Rod
Robert Webb Edward
New York,
East Jersey,
William Smith John Tuder Gervase Mar-
Rhode Island Peleg Sanford Nath. Cod-
William Allen Thomas New-
Massachusetts Nath. Byfield Lawrence
Henry Frank-
Thomas New-
The fees of the officers in the Admiralty Courts should be fixed by the Judge of Admiralty in England to be approved by the Governor and Council, or as otherwise directed. On the death of any officer the Governor should fill his place, reporting the same to the Admiralty in England. There can be no establishment of Admiralty Courts in the Proprietary Colonies until the Government is regulated according to the terms of the Act for regulating the Plantation Trade. 1½ pp. Dated, 31 July, 1696.
120. IV. Proposals offered to the Commissioners of Customs for more effectual execution of the Act to regulate the Plantation Trade. (1.) The Governors of all the Proprietary Colonies should be duly qualified under the said Act. (2.) Fit persons should be duly qualified to be Governors of Carolina and Pennsylvania to check the illegal trade carried on with Scotland, the Dutch Colonies and other places. (3.) A commission under the Great Seal should be issued to administer the oaths to all the present Governors, and to future Governors before they enter on their office. (4.) A Judge, Register and Marshal of Admiralty and an Attorney-General should be appointed in all the American Colonies. (5.) Collectors and others who have by ignorance or connivance encouraged illegal trade should be removed, and honest men put into their places and into all vacant places. 1 p. Endorsed, Presented 31 July, 1696.
120. V. A further list of officers suggested for the Admiralty Courts in the Colonies.
Colony. Judge. Register. Marshall. Attorney-
New York Will. Smith John Tuder Gervase Mar-
Bermuda Gilbert Nelson Sam. Spoferth Sam. Duffey Nicholas
Trott, jun.
South Carolina James Moore Ralph Izard Ed. Rawlings Jonathan
Chris. Hooper John Warren John Corke John Graves
New Hamp-
John Hinks Rob. Tufton
Pheasant Est-
Thomas New-
pp. Inscribed, Given in on 10 Aug. Endorsed, Presented 31 July, 1696. [Board of Trade. Plantations General, 4. Nos. 5 I.–V.; and (Nos. III.–V. only) 34. pp. 22–26.]
[July 31.] 121. Proposals of Jahleel Brenton for supplying England with naval stores from New England. England has always been supplied with deal, with a great part of her timber and with masts. Of late years only foreign ships having been employed in importing these commodities, the produce of these commodities is for the most part carried to Norway in our silver coin. Last year about one hundred and thirty ship-loads of them were brought into the Port of London, but in former years much more. The reason for the decrease was that the importers could not then get good money to carry to Norway, but our silver being now new and coined, the imports will soon be as great as ever. New England could supply all these commodities much better than Norway, none but English ships would be employed in the traffic, and the commodities would be paid for by English manufactures. The price of these commodities is already lower in New England than in Norway, and if the place that is designed be chosen for the trade the price will be lower still. Tar and pitch alone are not yet got into perfect trade in New England. Owing to the length of the voyage and the danger from French and Indians the first adventures in supplying stores from New England need assistance and encouragement. It is therefore proposed that the King should grant a certain tract of the land which he has reserved, with a charter of incorporation, to those who will adventure in that trade, that they may have power to govern and protect their workmen; that he should grant them also a garrison sufficient to curb the French and Indians there, and that Parliament shall admit the goods free of duty and give a bounty of £20 a ton on them. There are persons ready to subscribe the necessary money and to embark on the venture immediately. It may be objected that those commodities cannot be brought from New England as cheaply as from Norway, and this is confessed. But on the other hand great advantage will accrue to England from the number of great ships that will be employed, the consequent increase of seamen, the enlarged demand for English manufactures in New England and the saving of money which is now sent to Norway. The place designed for the settlement of this trade is also one of the best places for a fishery in America, where more men could be employed in the fishing trade than in Newfoundland. For these reasons the adventurers hope that the King and Parliament will grant them what they ask, also convoys for their ships, and liberty to employ foreign seamen while the war lasts. Moreover, if this trade with New England be not promoted the people there will be obliged to manufacture their own cloth (as has been lately done in Ireland), whereas in the time in which they could make so much cloth as they could purchase of the company for thirty shillings, they might get timber enough in the woods to sell to the company for four or five pounds. Signed, Jahleel Brenton. 2½ pp. Endorsed, July 31, 1696. [Board of Trade. New England, 8. No. 16; and 36. pp. 17–21.]
[July 31.] 122. A collection of papers in reference to the matter of Sir Matthew Dudley and Company's case (see No. 99).
122. I. Copy of the letter of the Governor, Council and Assembly of Massachusetts of 15 June, 1694. Already abstracted under date in a former Volume.
122. II. Copy of the offer of the Lieutenant-Governor and Assembly of Massachusetts to provide naval stores for the Royal Navy. ½ p.
122. III. Extract from the instructions given to the Agents of New England. Ordering them to prevent the passing of the charter of Sir Matthew Dudley and Company, if the attempt to pass it should be renewed; also to represent it as a grievance that Mr. Brenton has pretended to hold an office for entering and clearing of ships in the province, the Council and Assembly being ignorant of any law that warrants the same, and having appointed an officer of their own for that purpose, and to beg that the grievance be redressed. All the above documents endorsed, Presented by Sir Henry Ashurst. 31 July, 1696. [Board of Trade. New England, 8. No. 17 I.–III.; and (No. I. only) 36. pp. 14–17.]
July 31. 123. William Popple to William Bridges. Asking for any papers in his hands relative to Governor Russell's particular business, as the Council of Trade has not yet been able to take over all the records of the Plantation Office. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 44 A. p. 2.]
July 31. 124. Minutes of Council of Jamaica. The warrants for admission of Edward Broughton, Charles Chaplin and Thomas Ayscough to the Council were read and the two former were sworn. A petition of Usher Tyrrell referred to a Committee of two members for report, as ordered by the Council of Trade. Orders for payments. Order for the roll of the Acts approved and disallowed by the King to be entered in the Council-book. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 79. pp. 12–13.]
July. 125. Representation of the Council and Assembly of Barbados. Our land, by long tillage and being every year opened and exposed to the violent heat of the sun, is become so barren that it will not produce sugar-cane unless forced by great quantities of dung and other extraordinary husbandry and labour, which requires double the number of negroes, cattle, and horses that were needed when the land was fruitful. These cannot now be procured for less than double their former price, and all other materials and expenses in making sugar are also doubled. Many of the best plantations, which once made great quantities of sugar, now make little or none, and near fifty other plantations are ruined and discontinued. One-third of the sugar-cane land lies waste and over-run with weeds, which is lamentable to the owners and to all who remember its former flourishing state. Consequently one-third less of sugar is made, one-third less of English manufactures bought, one-third less of shipping employed. Some years ago we had near 70,000 negroes in this Island, but it now appears by the poll-tax that there are but 42,000. This want of negroes is one of the fatal causes of the impoverished condition of the Island, and this diminution of our negroes is caused by the short supplies and ill usages of the Royal African Company, who for many years past have not supplied us with half the negroes that we require, while the few that are brought here are sold only at exorbitant prices (they having the monopoly of that trade) and at immediate payments, whereas in former times planters could be trusted on much easier terms, both of price and time. Negroes were then £15 a head; they are now £30. But the greatest occasion of reducing the Island was an additional duty imposed upon sugar in the reign of King James, which, with the other duties and charges in making and transporting sugar, devoured almost the whole proceeds and left most of us ruined or deeply indebted. Of late we have had great losses by storms, but much greater by French privateers, who in less than twelve months have taken from us more than fifty sail of laden ships, over and above two hundred vessels trading to and from the Island. These losses have discouraged ships from coming to the Island so much that freight is risen from £5 to £25 per ton, insurance from 3 to 20 guineas per cent., salt beef and pork from 25 shillings to 70 or 80 shillings per barrel, salt fish from 10 shillings to 25 shillings per quintal and all other commodities in like proportion; so that though the value of sugar may be much increased yet all is eaten up by increase of charges. Our great losses at sea are the only cause of the present rise in sugar. These scarcities have forced many of the poorer planters to remove to North America, so that we cannot now hire a carpenter or other artificer under five shillings a day, nor overseers under from £50 to £100 a year, which is treble the rate formerly given. The buildings in the plantations are greatly decayed and cannot easily be repaired for want of workmen and timber, there being little left of the Island's growth and very little imported, which raises the price to excess. Since the war we have been at vast expense to preserve the King's island, and have contributed at least an equal share with any other of his dominions. We have entrenched great part of the island with ditches and breastworks, and we have repaired our pits and batteries; we maintain twelve regiments of foot and two of horse, besides a troop of lifeguards; we allow free quarters to Governor Russell's Regiment; we furnished two regiments to assist Sir F. Wheler in his expedition against Martinique, which with cost of transport-ships have cost us over £30,000, besides other assistance and supplies sent to the Leeward Islands. We have set out at our own charge some small ships of war to secure our provision-ships from French pickeroons, which infest our coast and are too nimble for H.M. ships. Had these provision-ships been all intercepted, as many were, we should have starved ere now. The suppression of an intended rebellion of negroes cost us many thousand pounds, and besides all this and the Customs our sugars pay in England, we pay here 4½ per cent. to the Crown for all exported produce, from which Jamaica is exempted. From all these calamities it is manifest that this Island is in a most languishing condition, and without your favour with the King and Parliament will be reduced to its first desert and solitude. What we beg is: (1.) That the African trade may be thrown open to all subjects of the King, or managed by a regulated Company, like the Turkey Company, that we may have a sufficient supply of negroes at cheaper rates than have of late been imposed upon us. (2.) That our sugars may be rescued from further tax or burden, or we must abandon our estates, and thus the profitable sugar trade, which has been so long in the power of England, employs near two-thirds of English shipping, and maintains (according to the ingenious Sir Josias Childe) 200,000 men in England, will fall into the hands of foreign nations. (3.) That during this war we may be furnished with convoys for two fleets yearly, out and home, which will preserve the King's Customs and our adventures. If you will appear for us in these three particulars you will render great service to us, and put us to everlasting obligation. Twenty-six signatures. 3 pp. Endorsed, Made about July, 1696. Recd. from the Agents 2 Nov. Read 6 Nov., 1696. A short abstract is attached. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 7. No. 6; and (abstract only) 44 A. pp. 29–31.]