Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 18, 1700. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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The Dutch in Essequibo.
The documents for the year 1700 are both varied and voluminous. The story which they tell is, for the most part, the sequel or corollary of the events recorded in the preceding volume of this Calendar. But in one instance, at least, an entirely fresh subject is opened. For in this year, so far as this Calendar is concerned, a new Colony swims into our ken. From the reports of the Representative of the Dutch West India Company, Samuel Beeckman, busily engaged in Essequibo, clearing and planting about that Fort Look-over-all (Kijkoveral), of which only a picturesque fragment, a ruined gateway half hidden by tropical vegetation, now survives, we gain a glimpse of the workings of a young Colonial settlement under the government of "Dutch" William's countrymen. From the point of view of the history of colonization, it is interesting to observe how completely the commercial side of this trading-station, the getting of crops and cargoes for the Netherland markets, absorbs the energies of the Dutch planters. The documents, of which these form a part, have not been without some practical importance in furnishing evidence as to the boundaries of British Guiana in the cases of the disputed Venezuelan Boundary (1898), and Brazilian Boundary (1904) (fn. 1). A letter prefixed to the Index Volume of this section of documents [C.O. 116, 67] indicates the way in which these reports from Essequibo, dispatched more than a hundred years before Demerara and Essequibo passed into the possession of the British, ultimately to be merged with Berbice into British Guiana, were transferred to our National Archives. It is written by Robert Melvile, the British Consul at Amsterdam, March 16, 1819, to Lord Bathurst, then Secretary of State for the Colonies. He describes the books and papers he transmits as "regarding the Colony Berbice, delivered to me by the Dutch Government." And under "Berbice" in the Record Office they remained buried for some 75 years, though they refer entirely to Essequibo and Demerara. The seizure of the Dutch Colonies by the English in 1803 appears to have been in part the result of a friendly understanding by which they undertook to administer and finance those Colonies. In 1814 they took over the Dutch Colonies altogether. It would seem that, partly for safety, partly out of compliment, partly for purposes of administration, the Dutch transmitted to this country from the Hague the most valuable set of their Essequibo records. (fn. 2) The transmission of 1819 would appear to be the final step in the career of these documents.
Decline of Piracy in 1700.
On p. 211 William Penn gives a pedigree of piracy very much in accordance with that suggested in my Preface to the previous volume of this Calendar (p. xii.). Numerous documents show how the coasts of New York and Pennsylvania were dotted with "receptacles," nests of old pirates who were ready to receive piratical goods brought off to them in sloops. In 1699 the success of the pirates had reached its zenith. The first half of the year 1700 witnessed, if anything, an increase in their numbers and boldness (29, 30, 64, 66, etc.); but by the end of the year a notable decline in their activity is recorded. That decline was apparently the direct outcome of energetic measures taken by the Government at home and the Governors in America to exterminate these "vermin" (1699, No. 505). On the one hand, in accordance with the proposal of the Council of Trade, directions were sent to the Governors of Plantations to send home for trial all pirates then in custody, some discretion in the matter being left to the more reliable Governors (29, 30, 73–82). And accordingly not only were the gaols of Philadelphia, Boston and New York relieved of such notorious and desperate pirates as Kidd and Gillam (Nos. 14, 96), but the Governor of Virginia dispatched, in the Essex prize, the French pirate Lewis and his crew, whom he had captured (405, 626).
Act for the more effectual suppression of Piracy.
"A state of war."
In April the Council of Trade were able to report that Parliament, "having in view the refractoriness of New England and other Plantations" (p. 164), had this Session passed an Act for the trial and punishment of Pirates in the Plantations. This Act "for the more effectual suppression of piracy" was based on the Jamaica Act to that effect, which the Proprieties and other Colonies had refused to pass (p. 132). "By which" the Council adds significantly (p. 164), "those of New England may perceive that when the public good does suffer by their obstinacy, the proper remedies will be easily found here,"—a threat which was repeated (342) in reference to the obstinacy of the Government of the Massachusetts Bay in not providing for their own defence. Mr. Larkin was presently dispatched with commissions for trying pirates (504 etc.). Meantime, throughout the Spring, the American waters had been so infested with pirates that they were described as being in a continual state of war, (405, 501, pp. 239, 240), and precautions for conveying merchantmen from Maryland and Virginia had to be taken as if it were a state of war indeed (395).
Before being sent for trial to England, Capt. Kidd made one more effort to escape by making an offer to Lord Bellomont to go to the place where he had left the Quidah Merchant and to "bring off 50 or three score thousand pounds," which nobody but himself could find (p. 14). In this suggestion of Kidd's we may probably trace the main foundation of all the stories of his lost treasure, a legend very similar to that which has sprung up in our own day as to President Kruger's "millions," supposed to lie in the wreck of the Dorothea off the coast of Zululand. We have seen in the preceding volume that Kidd's treasure was in all probability disposed of amongst his friends, and the present volume furnishes further indications of the placing of his goods among the "receptacles" along the coast (No. 140, p. 680). In Bellomont's account of his commissioning Kidd, he throws blame on Mr. Livingston, and also mentions a rumour that there was a contract between Governor Fletcher and Kidd (850, 850 ii–iv). Some additional evidence of Kidd's villanies occurs (p. 196), given by Admiral Benbow; there is also an interesting list of Kidd's crew and their articles of agreement, which provided a graduated scale of pirates' compensation, 100 pieces of eight for the loss of a finger or toe and so forth, and a significant clause that "that man that shall prove a coward or that shall be drunk in time of engagement, before the prisoners then taken be secured, shall lose his share." (354 XVII.)
The pirates did not always have it all their own way, even on the high seas. Nicholas Gellibrand, for instance, mate of the John Hopewell, who had been seized by King, the pirate, off the coast of Guinea (133), succeeded in turning the tables on his captor when some of his crew were ashore on the Isle of Annabo (694 II–VII.). Presenting a pistol to the pirate-captain's breast, he put him and his men ashore, and sailed away with his sloop to Angola, where he rejoined the rifled John Hopewell. Amongst the booty thus recovered was some of the money and plate which had belonged to Mr. Webb, Governor of Providence, referred to in the previous volume.
Governor Nicholson's Capture of a Pirate Ship.
The energetic action of Governors like Bellomont in the North, and Nicholson in Virginia, was likely to have a discouraging effect upon pirates. In the previous year H.M.S. Essex prize had been forced to run from Linnhaven Bay after a sharp engagement with a pirate. (Cal. 1699, p. xviii.) It was characteristic of the energy and directness of the Governor of Virginia, that when a report came to hand of a large pirate ship hovering off the Capes, he himself went on board the Shoreham, and by his presence, "and plenty of gold" (500) incited the crew of His Majesty's ship, which was but weakly manned (405), to engage the pirates. After a very hard-fought action, lasting the better part of twelve hours, "in a fine top-gallant gale of wind," over 100 pirates were compelled to surrender on terms (523). The fight is graphically described by Capt. Passenger (523 II.). But for the Governor's presence on board it appears that the engagement might well have ended as did that of the Essex prize.
Prevalence of Pirates during the first half of the year 1700.
During the first half of the year, then, the seas swarmed with pirates. "All the news of America" wrote Col. Quarry from Virginia, "is the swarming of pirates, not only on these coasts, but all the West Indies over, which doth ruin trade ten times worse than a war" (500). "The sea is now so abounding in them," wrote the Governor of South Carolina in June—himself not above suspicion of encouraging them—"that a ship cannot stir for them in this part of the world." One pirate had accounted for 17 English vessels in three months. "Hardly a ship comes through the Gulf, or on our coast but is plundered" (521). They abounded, indeed, in the Gulf of Florida, being not a little encouraged by the Spanish Governor of Havannah (445, 451). But by the end of the year, thanks to the influences I have enumerated, Lord Bellomont was able to report that piracy was at length on the wane (p. 679).
The illegal trade from Madagascar was also checked. But in general illegal trade continued to flourish. "Here in New York," says Bellomont, "they run all the goods they can" (p. 679); and he declares that no part of the King's dominions practised unlawful trade so much as the Massachusetts and neighbouring provinces. He describes the methods of the Bostonians (pp. 678, 679), as Col. Quarry those of the New Yorkers (190).
Edward Randolph's Reports and Proposals.
In the course of his travels as Surveyor General of the Customs, Edward Randolph had gained a knowledge of smuggling ways that was "extensive and peculiar," and on his return to England that indefatigable officer began to expose the methods by which the King's Revenue was cheated, as, for instance, by the export of tobacco via Newfoundland to Scotland, or from one Plantation to another, and to propose remedies. All the Plantations, from Pennsylvania to Carolina, were concerned, but he agrees with Bellomont that the merchants of Boston were the chief exponents of illegal trade, and that Newfoundland was the staple of all European and Plantation commodities (906).
Illegal trade was, from one point of view, the natural corollary of the restraining effects of the Acts of Trade. The difficulty the Colonial merchants found in making returns for the goods they were compelled to purchase from England, increased by artificial restriction, rendered them almost desperate, and some of the Councillors at Boston expressed their discontent with the Acts of Trade warmly and openly enough (p. 675).
The end of the Darien Expeditions.
The share of the Scotch in the illegal trade of Pennsylvania is further elucidated by Col. Quarry (190). The final stages of the Darien Expedition are indicated by some documents of importance. In January the Council of Trade, after reviewing the history of the Isthmus, made a Report, which was presently adopted by the House of Lords in an Address to the King (p. 133). They represented that a settlement there would touch the Spaniards "in the most sensible and vital part," and would prove highly mischievous to the English Plantations, especially Jamaica, "by alluring away their inhabitants with the hopes of mines and treasure and diverting the present course of trade, which is of the greatest advantage to England." (No. 43). In the same month the arrival of the Rising Sun and three other "pritty large" ships belonging to the second expedition, is reported at Darien (354. x., pp. 20, 50.). They had been sighted off the Leeward Islands (16) in November.
In April accounts of Spanish preparations, by land and sea, to crush the Scotch are chronicled (363 I–II.); and towards the end of May news of the final disaster at Caledonia, the ruin of the settlement and the surrender of the Spaniards, reached New York (523 1v.). Defeat by the Spaniards was followed (Sept. 3) by the loss of their ships, crews and all, in a hurricane, when homeward bound (845 xxxi.).
The meeting of Governors at New York.
The meeting of the Governors of New York, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, which had been for some time in contemplation, and from which it was hoped that important proposals might issue (8, 298), was brought about in September at New York. Unfortunately both Col. Nicholson and Col. Blackiston were taken ill on the way, and the latter was obliged to return forthwith to Maryland (pp. 580, 581, 722). Col. Nicholson reached New York, but so weak with fever as to be almost unfit for business. Col. Hamilton, the Governor of the Jersies, also attended. Mr. Penn and Governor Nicholson made some attempt to reconcile the parties at New York, and the merchants with Lord Bellomont, but do not appear to have met with much success. Bellomont was not prepared to indulge unlawful trade or piracy, and reiterated his belief that, until Fletcher's grants had been annulled, "these people are irreconcileable" (p. 582). Mr. Penn was obliged to hurry back for the meeting of his Assembly; whilst the absence of Col. Blakiston and the illness of Col. Nicholson tended to render the meeting abortive. The Governors separated with the determination to meet next spring at Philadelphia, but not before they had discussed, and in part agreed upon, some recommendations, drawn up by Mr. Penn, "that would certainly tend to the good of the Colonies" (pp. 581, 722, and No. 845 xxxii.). (fn. 3)
William Penn's proposals.
Apart from such large and pressing questions as the settlement of the French Boundaries and the conciliation of the remote Indians, Mr. Penn was eager for the extension of the General Post, and he has some significant comments upon the working of the recent Woollen Act. A protective duty on foreign timber imported into England is proposed; a common law of nationalisation, and a uniform system for dealing with runaway servants and fraudulent debtors. Attention, too, is called to the uneasiness caused by the difficulty the Colonies experienced in making returns for the goods imported from England, the balance of Trade being increased against them by the restrictive action of the Acts of Trade. The need for a standard coinage, and the establishment of a Mint at New York for small silver, "for prevention of clipping and filing as well as wearing," is clearly stated. The varying value of a piece of eight, and the chaotic condition of the coinage generally, were serious handicaps upon the development of commerce in the American and West Indian Colonies (845 XXXII.).
The bad effects of the disorder of the currency is well illustrated by the difficulty experienced in fixing a price in Carolina (p. 357). In a letter to the Commissioners of Customs, March 6th (190), Col. Quarry calls their attention to some of the evil results arising from the irregularity of the Colonial Currency. (fn. 4) We have seen that this subject had already engaged the attention of the Council of Trade (Cal. 1699). On July 5 Mr. John Tysack brought forward a proposal for the establishment of a Mint in the Plantations as a remedy for the varying values of a piece of eight; the price of Spanish money was to be adjusted by Proclamation to 6s. 3d. per ounce. In the light of past experience, the idea of a Mint was rejected (614, 616). The whole matter was ere long to be the subject of far-reaching Imperial Legislation. Meantime the Acts of Nevis, which attempted to deal with the difficulty piece-meal, were repealed as contrary to the Instructions given to Governors (789, 849).
Retirement of John Locke.
To assist the Board in their deliberations upon Mr. Tysack's proposals, the Council of Trade availed themselves of the knowledge and theory of Mr. Locke (607). He had resigned his position on the Board at the end of June, "finding his health more and more impaired by the air" of London (600). He had been one of the most diligent members of the Board. His reasoning had been largely responsible for the Bill for the restoration of the coinage in England in 1696. It would appear, then, that his views also influenced the coming legislation on Colonial Currency.
The Council of Trade.
In the new Commission of the Council of Trade, the place of the philosopher was supplied by one whose fame as a man of letters has partly eclipsed his success as a diplomat and man of affairs, Mat Prior. In No. 244, the Board rendered an account of their stewardship to the House of Commons. They at last succeeded in obtaining an Order for payment of arrears due to the office from the Treasury (959). Apart from their various other activities, they continued their laudable endeavours to get correspondence written, laws made and returns dispatched in a business-like fashion (729, pp. 6, 736 etc.). But, not to mention the confusion of documents, which it is the Editor's business to sort or date, the keeping of the Journals of the Houses remained sadly deficient in some Colonies, though such an entry as "Put to the vote whether 200l. or 150l. shall be the present made to His Excellency; carried in the affirmative," offers but little difficulty of interpretation (418).
The time allowed by the Dey of Algiers for supplying ships trading in the Plantations with Admiralty Passes (see Cal. 1699) was held to be insufficient (4, 480 I., 488, 497). It was not till a British squadron appeared in the Bay that the Dey proved less obdurate and an extension of time was granted (502, 948 I.). Arrangements were made for the dispatch of the Passes (577) and, in course of preparing Instructions for their distribution, the Council of Trade had to call the attention of the Admiralty to the fact that Virginia was not an island (547).
In a series of dispatches (580, etc.) Lord Bellomont continued to develope his scheme for supplying Naval Stores from the American Colonies (Calendar, 1699, p. XXV. etc.). By means of the plan which he here elaborates, he proposed to furnish England and all the King's dominions with tar, masts and ship-timber of all sorts at half the prices then obtaining. The whole of the Eastland trade in Naval Stores, except flax and hemp, was to be turned into this new channel, with all the consequent advantages both to the mother-country and her Colonies (p. 266). In the previous volume we have seen that Bellomont showed himself jealous of those who were ready to borrow his pet scheme, and to "plough with his heifer." Doyle, on the other hand, (fn. 5) accuses him of having borrowed his ideas from Col. Hamilton, quoting as evidence the document 580 II., which he wrongly attributes to the year 1699. On p. 358 it will be seen that Bellomont refers to an interview with Hamilton on the subject, remarking "he refined on my project and brought me a scheme of his own," which is then criticised.
At home the scheme met with some opposition. The experts returned an adverse report upon the specimens of Naval Stores which had been sent from New England, a report which no doubt, reflected in part the wishes of those who had a vested interest in the Eastland Trade (117 I., II., 233 II., p. 360). A private Company also endeavoured to obtain the contract for so lucrative a traffic, but the Council of Trade succeeded in damping their enthusiasm by requiring them to undertake to deliver definite quantities at fixed prices, whether in peace or war (Nos. 227, 333). At the same time orders were sent to Lord Bellomont directing him to make a beginning with his scheme upon a small scale, and to use for that purpose the soldiers he then had at his command (pp. 158, 177). But, as he was quick to point out, that was impossible without some ready money to pay the soldiers' wages before their labour bore fruit, and impossible also until the Act for vacating extravagant grants, passed the previous year at New York, was confirmed. "As the case stands, the King has not an acre of land or a tree in this Province" (pp. 576, 671). Nevertheless, regardless of risk and undeterred by lack of encouragement, Bellomont, in his zeal for the King's service, had loaded the Fortune, a condemned ship and therefore useless for private trade, with timber for the Navy, and dispatched her to England (702), with what unhappy result we shall see when she completes her voyage next year.
The ship in question had been bought back for the King's use, by the Lieutenant Governor and Council of New York, in order that Col. Depeyster, the purchaser, might not suffer through the Attorney General's ignorance. The Council of Trade had already written to point out that the loss incurred ought not to be thrown upon His Majesty (p. 159).
Bellomont also made a contract for supplying the Navy with masts from the Mohacks' woods, which he hoped would prove "the best bargain for the King that ever was yet made" (p. 671).
Lt.-Gov. Partridge and the Timber Trade in New Hampshire.
Meantime the settlers in New Hampshire and the Massachusetts Bay entered eagerly into a profitable trade in timber with Spain, Portugal and the West Indies. That the woods were being felled in a reckless and wasteful manner is abundantly evident (42 I.); the finest trees were being rapidly hewn in order to be sawn up into planks or to supply those who were soon to be the King's enemies with masts for their fleets. Foremost in this congenial and profitable trade was the ex-carpenter, William Partridge, Lt.-Gov. of New Hampshire. Bellomont had stopped the Mary from sailing with a cargo of timber for Spain and Portugal, but since there was no law to prevent it, an Order in Council was obtained that she should be allowed to proceed upon her voyage (336 I., 407, 412, p. 363). The Council of Trade, however, had already written to Lord Bellomont, exhorting him to discourage this export trade to Portugal, and to prevent the waste of the woods so far as he could, and blaming Partridge for his share in it (p. 177). Partridge none the less continued to drive his trade merrily. Bellomont, impatient with the meanness of this millwright in "preferring a little sordid gain before the interest of England," characteristically remarks that to set a carpenter to preserve woods is like setting a wolf to keep sheep, and recommends that all Governors should be "not men of the country, but Englishmen," and well-born Englishmen at that, of undoubted probity and some fortune (p. 193). Partridge's defence of his conduct is given (961), and is of some importance as indicating the course of Trade, and the difficulty the Colonies were experiencing in making returns for the goods imported from England. The waste of the woods had been so great that it was now necessary to go twenty miles inland in order to obtain a mast fit for the Navy (p. 361). The Admiralty urged that Bellomont should be directed to establish laws for the preservation of trees "that are or shall be fit for use in H.M. Navy," and directions to this effect were sent (104 i., 116 i., p. 158). Later in the year, in a representation upon the whole question of the timber in America, the Council of Trade pointed out that there was no sufficient provision yet made for the preservation of the woods, and recommended that some new regulations, such as those outlined by Lord Bellomont (p. 361), should be passed, either by the Assemblies of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire, or, if Lord Bellomont could not persuade them to that, by an Act of Parliament for which he should suggest the heads (841).
Act for vacating extravagant Grants.
The provisions of such an Act he had, in fact, already sketched. Besides forbidding the export of timber to any foreign country and providing for careful forestry, it should, he suggested, vacate all extravagant grants of land, annul Col. Allen's title to New Hampshire, and vest these lands in the Crown. Fletcher's "intolerable corrupt selling away the lands of the Province," he argued, cramped the people for land and was fatal to his scheme for Naval Stores (p. 678). He had just cause for complaint in that the law to annul some of these grants, which he had procured last year, had not yet been confirmed. Till it was approved, he not only could not proceed with the vacating of the rest, but dared not even to act upon it. "I write now," he says in July, "in the anguish of my soul, quite dispirited for want of orders from the Ministers" (622). And he pointedly argued that the Parliament which had just resumed the Irish Forfeitures, whereby he himself was a sufferer, and the soldiers in New York were temporarily docked of their pay, could scarcely boggle at the resumption of grants so extravagant and unjustifiable as those made by Fletcher and his predecessors (p. 671). The law had met, of course, with the most strenuous opposition at home (716), and this had been so far successful that the Attorney General expressed doubt as to the precise meaning of the Lords Justices' Instructions, upon which the Governor had acted. "Whether it was intended to re-assume all grants the Governor and Assembly think extravagant by an Act of the Legislative power, or whether he is thereby directed to reassume all such extravagant grants as had been unduly passed by the ordinary course of law there, is to me very doubtful" (598).
Col. Allen's claim to New Hampshire.
Col. Allen's pretensions to the Proprietorship of New Hampshire, and all the other claims which he derived from his bargain with Mason were, in Bellomont's opinion, as much "an abomination and mistery of iniquity". (p. 364) as Col. Fletcher's grants. He proposed, accordingly, that Allen, out of charity, should be re-imbursed the 250l. which he had paid to Mason for his shadowy title to an estate worth at least 3,000,000l., and that his claim should be disallowed (pp. 194, 360).
Putting aside the question of the validity of Col. Allen's title, there seemed every probability that, if he attempted to enforce his claim to quit-rents, the whole Province would be in a blaze. To judge from the evidence of Mr. Usher (992), the inhabitants sympathised with those of New Jersey in their Republican sentiments. "It's a principle too much entertained in these parts, ye King hath nothing to do, unjust they may not have the Government in their own hands and act without control; Acts of Parliament ought not to be laws for Plantations, unless had Representatives in Parliament; if may write plainly, are not for Kingly but for Commonwealth Government, which pray Libera nos." But apart from these views, the patientest of us all, as Bellomont remarks (p. 360), would resist, if after fifty years peaceable possession, "such a Proprietor as Col. Allen were to drop out of the clouds to oust us."
His attempts to bribe Lord Bellomont.
"I have reason above other men," Bellomont drily observes (p.359), "to believe Col. Allen's title is defective, having been much urged to be bribed to favour his claim. There was an offer made me of 10,000l. and that Col. Allen should divide the Province with me; but I thank God I had not the least tempting thought to accept of the offer, and I hope nothing in this world will ever be able to tempt me to betray England in the least degree." On the same day he wrote to Mr. Secretary Vernon a full account of the endeavour to bribe him.
William Blathwayt's Bargain with Col. Allen.
Again and again the desperate claimant had returned to the charge, whilst walking with the Governor on the green in front of the Minister's house at Hampton when he was on tour, or visiting him at Boston, and tempting that proud and honest nobleman—honest in an age of almost universal official corruption—with the offer of half the Province and a dowry of 10,000l. for his daughter, whom he proposed as a match for Bellomont's youngest son. In return, the Governor was to countenance his claim, grant him a trial, and overawe his adversaries. "I told him I would not sell Justice, if I might have all the world" (582 II.). In the same letter Bellomont announces his very significant "discovery" that William Blathwayt, King William's favourite, Secretary of War and a Member of the Council of Trade, was concerned in a bargain with Allen "for half of his pretended interest in New Hampshire and a great part of this Province" (Massachusetts Bay). Blathwayt, in return, had undertaken to procure a mandamus to force the inhabitants of New Hampshire to a trial with Allen (582, 582 I., II.).
Bellomont had already plainly hinted at his conviction that there was a Member of the Board who had rendered ill service in advising the King to reduce the garrison of New York (p. 432 etc.); this was evidently intended for Blathwayt, and Blathwayt it was, he now suggests, who had made a milch-cow of the Plantations for many years past, not only by this "villainous bargain" but also by selling "the lands in New York to Col. Fletcher," by which no doubt he means that it was Blathwayt who introduced into Fletcher's Instructions the clause which enabled him to make his "extravagant grants" (582, 582 I., 667). On p. 719 he indulges in another side-thrust at Blathwayt's sale of employment in the Army.
Influence of Bacon's Essays.
Bellomont, with a mind trained upon Bacon's Essay on the Plantations (pp. 673 ff.) and with an imagination stimulated by the vast potentialities of wealth and industry in the magnificent country he saw around him, the greatness of which he continually strove to bring home to the King and his Ministers, not only did his utmost to promote the trade of the Colonies, but also had a vision splendid of his King's glorious Empire in America, self-supporting and self-sufficing (850 v.). His ambition, and the keynote of all his schemes, was to increase the British mercantile marine and to develope Colonial products, whether Naval Stores, wines or even ship-building, which did not clash with home manufactures (953). It is interesting to note his instructions to Col. Romer to inspect a spring "which blazes up in a flame, when a firebrand is put into it," which may indicate that he was not far from "striking oil" (845 VIII.).
Bellomont's scheme for the supply of Naval Stores was linked with his demand for the erection and repair of the Forts upon the frontier, and for an increase of the garrisons for Imperial Defence (pp. 543, 544). He repeatedly urged the absolute necessity of repairing the forts of Albany and Schenectady and of building other forts. He represents the "scandalous weakness" of the Forts at Albany and Schenectady, "the gates are down, and carts could be driven through the walls" (p. 574), but has little hope that the Assembly at New York would be at the expense of re-building them (Oct.). He waits in desperation for orders from home to authorise him to begin the work (p. 400); he applies for discretionary powers to be given him to draw upon the Treasury in order to meet emergencies of this kind (pp. 93, 575); he burns his fingers by providing wheelbarrows in anticipation of instructions, which he did not receive, and was left to lament his over-hasty wisdom (p. 575). He was blamed by his successor, Lord Cornbury, and the blame has been repeated by such historians as Mr. Doyle, (fn. 6) for leaving the frontier defences in a deplorable condition, but, in the face of the documents printed in the present and the preceding volumes of this Calendar, it seems preposterous to hold him responsible. It was only in the last weeks of the year that the Council of Trade, who appear to have been fully alive to the necessity of the work, wrote to him, urging him to use his best endeavours that the Assembly of New York should speedily take in hand the repair of Albany and Schenectady Forts. They also directed him to apply to the Governors of the neighbouring Plantations to induce their respective Councils and Assemblies to contribute towards that undertaking (1037). On Christmas Day orders were issued granting him the power, which he had desiderated, of drawing on the Treasury for small sums at his discretion to be spent on work at the Forts, an order was issued for furnishing spades, etc., and directions were given, in accordance with his advice, for letters from the King to the Governors and Assemblies of the other Plantations, to be prepared, "to excite them to contribute in their several proportions to the charge of securing the frontiers of New York" (812 I., 1054). It was, indeed, a case for the combined effort of the various Plantations, in which each should contribute their quota of men and money (p. 267). It remains to be seen how they fulfilled this duty of self-defence.
Condition of the Garrison at Albany.
If the state of the fortifications was deplorable, the plight of the garrisons was even worse. The soldiers at Albany were sadly reduced in numbers, almost naked, "bare-footed and bare-thighed, with little bedding" and no pay, and on the verge of starvation. They were at the mercy of the victuallers for their supplies, and Mr. Livingstone was busy "pinching an estate out of the poor soldiers' bellies" (pp. 431, 572, 577, 593). Seldom can the British soldier have been more hardly treated, and it is little to be wondered at, if on Bellomont's arrival, they "had like to have mutinied" (p. 572).
Mutiny of the Garrison at New York.
At New York matters went even further. Bellomont complains that he has in his company "a parcel of the swearingest and drunkennest soldiers that ever were known"; the officers were absentees or drunkards, and, having taken to keeping tap-houses for a livelihood during the time when they were not paid, could not now be cured of that habit. Bellomont, indeed, was so disgusted with the state of affairs, that he declares that he would not stay another week in the country, were it not that he had a mind to accomplish the conciliation of the Indians, the building of the Onondage Fort, and his project for furnishing Naval Stores (p. 607). A hundred recruits arrived. They at once found good cause for discontent. They were to be mulcted of their "sea-pay"; a deduction of 30 per cent. was to be made from their English pay (to balance the difference in exchange); the stores supplied by the Ordnance Office were rotten; and, to prevent their mutinying at the "sad provisions furnished by the Victualler," Bellomont was obliged to undertake to pay them and the Garrison at Albany the money for their subsistence weekly in cash.
To do this he had to engage his own credit, and the merchants, who loved him not, seized the opportunity to embarrass him in his efforts to obtain the money. So far from following the example of his bug-bear, Fletcher, and pocketing the greater part of the 30 per cent., he insisted that it should be remitted. It was an intolerable oppression—especially in a country which was full twice as dear to live in as London—and the King's honour was involved. The deduction had so much the air of a fraud, and the consequences were likely to be so serious that he decided "to wash my hands of it and the Government too, unless they have full English pay" (pp. 576, 606). On Oct. 28 the discontent of the soldiers came to a crisis. There had already been an attempt at mutiny some ten days before, encouraged, it was said, by certain of the malcontents in the town (p. 580). There was now an outbreak, which, but for want of brains on the part of the soldiery, and for presence of mind on the part of Bellomont, aided by the prompt assistance of the citizens, might well have had the most serious results.
The soldiers, who had been drawn up to hear the new Act (874) for punishing mutineers and deserters read, and for some of their number to be told off to re-inforce the garrison at Albany, "swore that they would not stir till they were assured of full sterling pay and sea-pay." Fortunately they had chosen to mutiny outside the walls of the Fort. Whilst they were still clamouring for their pay, and making a move to seize the Fort, Bellomont sent to the burghers to come into the Fort without arms, by twos and threes. Townsmen and merchants of all parties hastened to obey the summons. In a short time a sufficient force had been collected and armed within the Fort to overawe the soldiers, who submitted at discretion. The ringleaders were court-martialled and punished. Two of them were shot, not without intercession on their behalf by some members of the Council, whose indecision called forth Bellomont's undisguised disgust (p. 667, Nos. 880, 953 II–V).
So far as the Home Government was concerned, the labours of the year end with enquiries made of Capt. Bennet and Admiral Benbow as to the state of defence of the Bermudas and Jamaica, and with the preparation of Instructions as to the forts necessary to be maintained by the Government of the Massachusetts Bay (1063, 1064).
Such was the weakness of the fort at Albany that the inhabitants informed Lord Bellomont, on the occasion of his visit in August that, unless proper measures were taken for their defence, they intended, should war break out, to abandon the place at once (p. 595). It was, as we have seen (Cal., 1699), a place of supreme importance both for the fur trade and for the defence of the frontier.
The Indians wavering.
It is an obvious fact, sometimes expensively ignored by unimaginative administrators, that the prestige of a nation depends very largely, in the eyes of the native races, upon the visible proofs of its force. The shameful plight of the soldiers at Albany, who had not rags enough to cover their nakedness, could not but be compared unfavourably by the Sachems of the Five Nations with the condition of the soldiers of the French King in Canada (666, p. 92). The Indians, indeed, had, as has been seen in the preceding volumes, for some time been showing signs of wavering. Dread of the apparently superior power of the French, disappointment at the failure of the English to build them a fort and to furnish them with ministers to instruct them in Christianity, had combined with the seductive inveiglements of the French Governor and French Jesuit emissaries to shake them in their allegiance to the English King. But, more than anything, the report circulated by the French to the effect that Bellomont had received orders to disarm and extirpate them, and to that end would poison them, both exasperated and alarmed the Indians, who were allied to the English interest (pp. 91, 431, 543).
The French intrigues with the Indians.
The alarums and excursions of the present year were largely the result of English supineness in 1699, but largely also of the unscrupulousness of the French agents, who thus twisted to their own advantage the honourable endeavours of the English Government to fulfill the obligations of the Treaty of Ryswick (p. 91, No. 877). "I believe an Indian has a greater passion for hunting than for wife or children, and whoever talks of disarming them, will set 'em in a flame," Bellomont observes (167), whilst the French, concealing the similar orders sent by their own King, circulated through the country the Instructions of the English King as to disarming the Indians (167 III, 170 X, p. 267). The French Jesuits were busy among the Five Nations endeavouring to alienate them from the English. M. de Bruyas, whose compliments Bellomont had gauged at their true value in the preceding year, stopped at Albany on his way back from Rhode Island, and then wrote for leave to continue his missionary enterprises amongst the Indians (see Cal. 1699, 1011 XXVIII). His letter dated Oct. 13 had not reached Bellomont till Nov. 22. "Probably there was design in the slow conveyance of the Jesuit's letter, that it might not be in my power to prevent him," is Bellomont's caustic comment (pp. 91, 268).
Force was added to persuasion. In order to compel the Five Nations to make their submission to the Governor of Canada the French instigated their Indian allies, in this time of peace, to slaughter the English Indians (666 IV, VI). The complicity of the French Governor is evident from the account of the Indians themselves (666 VII, 845 V).
Threatened general rising.
In January and February, then, comes an ugly alarm of a general rising of all the Indians, concerted between the Eastward and Westward Indians, the Five Nations the Schachkook, and New Rosbury Indians alike, which was to take place in April (167). "The Sachem of Pennicook boasted that he had the longest bow that ever was in New England; it reached from Penobscot to the Mohawks' country, meaning that all the Indians throughout the country were engaged in the design" (170 X). If this general rising were to occur, Bellomont prophecies, the English would be driven out of America in two months (167 II, III, p. 181). Incidentally he gives a vivid description of the Indian method of warfare, which would clearly render useless any attempt at defending the frontiers by a system of counter-sorties. "Their way of fight is not to come hand to hand, but they lie sculking in the woods behind bushes and flat on their bellies, and if those they shoot at drop, then they scalp them, but if they perceive they have missed their shot, they run away without being so much as seen, and 'tis to as much purpose to pursue 'em in the thick woods as to pursue birds that are on the wing. They laugh at the English and French for exposing their bodies in fight, and call 'em fools. At my first coming hither, I used to ridicule the people here for suffering 3 or 400 Indians to cut off five times their number, but I was soon convinced it was not altogether want of courage in the English that gave the advantage to the Indians this last war, but chiefly the Indians' manner of birding, as I may call it, the English, and using the advantage of the woods" (p. 180).
"Pinioned for want of soldiers, money, and orders," Bellomont was unable to take the prompt measures he felt to be necessary upon the first alarm of the threatened rebellion, measures which included the immediate building of a fort in the Onondage country, a large present of fire-arms, and the seizing of the Jesuit "vermin," whom he found tampering with the Indians (pp. 92, 93).
At Boston the Council was thoroughly alarmed and gave directions for every precaution to be taken (96, 216). The Assembly was specially summoned to meet, March 13th, and passed Bills for levying soldiers and calling out the Militia. A force of the Militia was told off to guard the frontiers. A Proclamation was issued and dispatched by expresses to all parts of the province, to undeceive the Indians, to put the settlers on their guard, and to warn them to treat the Indians with moderation. A day of General Fasting was appointed and a day of supplication for "the blasting of the evil designs of all that hate Zion" (217, 231, 235, 345 IV, V). All these measures, no doubt, had their effect in averting the threatened trouble, but, as Bellomont laconically observes, "whether the sudden march of the forces I ordered to the frontier towns did not operate more effectually, is a question" (p. 179). A month later, however, John Sabin, who had previously brought the bad news from Woodstock to Boston, came in again to the Governor with a no less serious warning of an impending insurrection, which the Sachems were then concerting. Again the rumour circulated from Canada is given as the cause, together with the teaching of the Jesuits "that the Virgin Mary was a French Lady, and Our Saviour a Frenchman, but the English are heretics and it will be a meritorious service to kill Englishmen" (345 VII). This information was confirmed by Mr. Dwight, the minister at Woodstock, who appealed for help in the following remarkable strain, "We cannot be more fully persuaded of mischief boding than we are, nor can we give other assurance, unless we would be content to be the amazing butchered spectacles of so many miserable cadavers" (345 VIII). (fn. 7) Upon receipt of this news Bellomont immediately sent instructions to the Commissioners for Indian Affairs at Albany to visit the Five Nations, to re-assure them and to make enquiries as to the extent of the French intrigues (p. 180, Nos. 345 XI, XII). Before they had done so, the Commissioners reported that they thought the Five Nations at least were faithful to their allegiance (345 XIII, XIV), and the Pennicook Indians waited upon the Governor and Council at Boston with assurances of their fidelity (330). No outbreak did actually occur in April. The scare, as is often the salutary way of scares, seems to have worked a cure by prevention. But that does not prove that there was no ground for the scare.
When the news of the threatened rising reached England, the Council of Trade recognised the gravity of the situation. An extraordinary Council was held, at which the Lord President, the Lord Privy Seal and the Secretary of State were present (325, 341). A representation upon the whole question at issue, of French intrigue and the means to counteract it and to quiet the troubled Indians, was drawn up and laid before the King. In accordance with Bellomont's request, 500l. was ordered to be advanced towards the building of a sod fort in the Onondages' country; the complement of the New York Companies was raised again to 400 and their arrears ordered to be paid, 800l. was granted to be laid out in buying presents, especially firearms, to be forwarded at once by the Advice. Bellomont himself was to proceed to Albany and confer with the Indians (357 I, 426). These orders were carried out in spite of some refractoriness on the part of the Board of Ordnance, who presently caused further trouble by wishing to supply guns totally unfit for the use of the Indians (436, 581).
On returning from their interview with the Five Nations in May, the Commissioners at Albany wrote in a somewhat different key (466 I–IX). They found no reason, indeed, to believe that the Five Nations were conspiring with the Eastern Indians, but they found abundant evidence of French influence (466 IV, VI). They reported that our Indians were "dejected and in a staggering condition"; two-thirds of the Mohawks had deserted to Canada, where they were clothed and protected by the French and attended by priests (666 III, 895 VI, VII). They had been taught the "diabolical practice" of poisoning our Indians (p. 433, No. 466 III). Not presents alone, but ministers to teach them, and forts to secure their castles must be provided in order to retain the allegiance of those who were still loyal. Mr. Livingston adds, "We shall never be able to rancounter the French, unless we have a nursery of Bush-lopers as well as they." (This translation of Coureurs de Bois appears not to be known to lexicographers, though we might have expected it to pass into use.) The way to obtain them, he urged, would be to promote an alliance between the Five Nations and the Far Nations and to build a fort, not at Onondage, but at Wawyachtenok, where the latter might come to trade. A fort, too, and a minister at Shackhook, he recommends (466 III).
In June and July came a fresh alarm of mischief brewing among the Eastern Indians, those who had settled about New Roxbury and Woodstock moving off to join the Pennicooks, who were further reported to be about to attack the Mohegans (581, 619, 619 II, IV, 642, 645). The latter had always been faithful to English interests, and had incurred the resentment of the other Indians by revealing the intention of the late conspiracy (641, 775). The Lieut.-Governor and Council of the Massachusetts Bay warned the Pennicooks to desist, and their Sachem threw the blame on the New Roxbury Indians (701). On the other hand, the Five Nations announced that some of the Dowaganhaes had proposed to settle on Lake Cadarachqui and to enter into the Covenant Chain with them and Corlaer (Bellomont) refusing, however, to send their representatives to Albany in June for fear of being poisoned (666 VI). This rumour of poison was industriously circulated by the French, in order to prevent the Indians attending the conference at Albany (p. 275). Bellomont left Boston for New York, where he arrived on July 24th. The Assembly was to have met on the following day, but, owing to some of the members not having accomplished their voyage down the Hudson River, did not do so until the 29th (666, 845). The Governor in his Address confined himself to the pressing necessity of preserving the friendship of the Five Nations, by settling ministers amongst them and building a fort. Ministers of a suitable kind, indeed, he could not obtain in that country (p. 434), and he despaired of persuading any to undertake the task until they were provided with the security and comparative comfort of the fort (pp. 573, 587). He had received no instructions from home in reply to his urgent requests; nor indeed any letter for close upon a year (p. 901); it was therefore imperative to obtain a vote, by hook or by crook, towards building the fort, in order that he might have some definite encouragement to offer to the discontented and dejected Indians, when he met them in conference at Albany a few days later (667–669, 687, pp. 568–600). The Assembly at first demurred. They doubted the necessity; they feared the difficulty of sending men and materials so far; they demanded more information; they insisted on having a share in directing the construction of the fort for which they were to pay. Bellomont replied that the necessity was urgent; he gave the required estimate of cost and construction; as to the difficulty, the French had shown us the way at Cadarachqui (cf. p. 273); as to the site, that was for the King's engineer to decide; it was not safe to delay till the neighbouring Colonies should contribute (687). A Bill "for securing the Five Nations" was at length sent up (703, 845). It was far from satisfying the Governor and his Council. The sum granted was less than that he had proposed, and the method of raising it was regarded as destructive to trade and the King's revenue. Also, Bellomont thought it "derogatory to the King's prerogative that the House of Representatives should take upon them to appoint Commissioners to direct in the matter of building a fort." However, it was of vital importance that a fort should be built, and Bellomont persuaded the Council to pass the Bill under protest.
Bellomont's conference with the Nations at Albany.
Armed with this sop for the Indians, Bellomont prorogued the Assembly and arrived at Albany on Aug. 13th (pp. 472, 570). The Sachems, terrified by the French suggestions that he intended to destroy them, made him wait a fortnight before the conference began. There is also some suggestion of intrigue upon the part of the Governor's political opponents (pp. 570, 572). The Anti-Leislerite party at Albany, together with Mr. Livingston, now and later exerted themselves to cross his Indian policy, and to prevent the building of a fort in the Onondage country (p. 669).
Meantime the Commissioners at Albany had been endeavouring, not without some success, to win back the "Frenchified" portion of the Onondages and Mohawks (466 IV, 666 III–VII), who had gone over to Canada.
"I do find these Indians the same I always took them to be, a subtle, designing people, and that there is nothing has the ascendant over them but fear and interest," says Mr. Livingston (p. 473). And, indeed, those simple children of the west, with their complaints of the "small loaf" and dear goods, seem to have had a very pretty notion of how to suck out some advantage for themselves from the jealous intrigues of the Europeans (666 IV, V, p. 586). The conference at Albany at length took place; there was a very large gathering of Sachems and the proceedings lasted over a week. Surrounded by his shabby soldiers, half-starved and in tatters, but bravely striving, no doubt, to uphold the dignity of the King's uniform, supported, but not with unanimous loyalty, by the Commissioners for Indian affairs (p. 572) and the sturdy Dutch settlers on the frontier (p. 595), in an atmosphere thick with the smoke of candles, the reek of rank tobacco, the fumes of rum and the smell of the bear's grease with which the Indians daubed themselves (pp. 570, No. 895 V), Bellomont wrestled with the sullen Sachems and prevailed at last, whilst the Representatives of the Pennicook and Eastern Indians sat watching to see on what terms the Five Nations and the English should prove to be. Presents and promises, arguments and his own eager and genial personality won the day.
"They appeared sullen and out of humour at first, but by degrees I brought 'em to perfect good temper.The message I sent last Spring to the Five Nations was a most lucky step, and was the hindring the Indians from a revolt to the French. I had the good luck to be too nimble for Bruyas, the Jesuit, and M. Maricourt, and by my present of a belt of wampum, I frustrated theirs, insomuch that upon their coming the Indians told 'em they were pre-engaged to me" (pp. 570, 589, No. 845 V.).
During the Conference, Bellomont pursued his policy of endeavouring to draw the Dowaganhaes into a trade with the English (p. 571) and encouraged the River Indians to invite the Eastern Indians to come and settle with them at Skatchkook (p. 590). As the result of his management, he wrote in jubilation in October to announce that the Eastern Indians had renounced the French and submitted to the Five Nations (p. 583, No. 845 XXXIII.) A week later, however, these hopes were shattered, and a sudden attack by some Eastern Indians upon some of the Five Nations seemed to prove that the proffered friendship was merely a ruse, a French stratagem, it was suggested, to lull those Nations into a false security (872, 953 IX.). Within a few days of Bellomont's announcement that the Eastern Indians had submitted to the Five Nations, a letter was written from Quebec (835), in which it was stated that the intrigues of the French Governor had been crowned with success, and that his policy of encouraging the Dowaganhaes and other far Nations to destroy them had compelled the Five Nations to come and sue to him for peace (fn. 8) (666 VII, 835).
And almost at the same time a Representation from the Council of Trade was forwarded to the King to the effect that the French practice of seducing or destroying our Indians on the frontier, so directly contrary to treaty engagements, should no longer be tolerated (877). Meantime, by providing for the settlement of a trading-house and fort in Casco Bay and for the establishment of three ministers among the Eastern Indians, the Massachusetts Government had taken some necessary steps in the right direction (509, 618, 731, 746).
Harsh treatment of the Indians.
They also passed a Bill "to prevent abuses to the Indians," of which Bellomont remarks that "it has a specious name, but the Representatives left out the most useful clause in it." He adds that the Indians were barbarously treated in many parts of that province, "which is not the way to propagate Christianity among them" (576, p. 672). The protection of the Indians from unscrupulous traders, and the securing for them a fair price for their beavers was a duty to which Bellomont had pledged himself at Albany (pp. 586, 589). Fair dealing with the natives is a principle of good administration upon which the Home Government has often had to insist with the settlers in a new Colony. It was a principle which the Council of Trade did not omit to inculcate in their despatches both to the Governor of Massachusetts Bay and the Governor of Virginia (pp. 7, 165).
Matters in dispute with the French.
Iberville visits New York.
The settlement of the boundaries between the French and English was a necessary preliminary to the establishment of a proper and undisputed jurisdiction over the Indians, the arrest of French aggression and the dealing with Jesuits (718, 1036). It was a point which the Indians themselves had pressed at the Albany Conference (p. 589). Little seems to have been attempted in this direction. Perhaps the shadow of inevitable war, which hung over the country, darkened the diplomacy of Ministers, who awaited the arbitrament of a sterner tribunal than theirs. We have seen in the previous volume how energetic were the preparations which the French were making in Canada (cf. p. 575).The appearance of a French man-of-war in New York harbour now gave rise to no little uneasiness. New York is not on the way from the Bay of Mexico to France, and that La Renommée, with M. D'Iberville on board, should have come so far out of her course, caused the explanation of "wood and water" to be regarded with suspicion, and the intention was rather held to be "to examine our channel and harbour" (pp. 400, 402, No. 620 I). (fn. 9)
The movements of some French Coureurs des Bois, inclined to pass over to the English, being dissatisfied with such a restriction on their peltry trade as is indicated by No. 770, which was the outcome of Champigny's policy that the beaver should seek Canada, not Canadians the beaver, are shown by several documents. I shall refer later, when dealing with the West Indian Islands, to the English answers to French claims to Sta. Lucia, Tobago and Dominica.
The French and Hudson's Bay.
We have seen in the previous volume that the Hudson's Bay Company had been left "the only mourners by the Peace." No definite settlement was arrived at in 1700 by the Commissioners, who, according to the Treaty of Ryswick, were to be appointed to determine the rights of either side to places in the Bay. Certain suggestions were, however, thrown out and criticised, of which the historians of Hudson's Bay do not seem to be aware. In the first place, the French Ambassador came forward with a proposal that the French should keep Fort Bourbon (York Fort) and the English Fort Chichitouan (Fort Albany), or vice versa. In the first case, the Nova Scotia boundary should be the River St. George; in the second, the River Quinibiquy (368 I). Whatever the interest of the Hudson's Bay Company might be in such an exchange of forts, the Council of Trade at once rejoined that the English boundary in those parts extended to Ste. Croix, and that no question of any extent of territory, but only of places taken and re-taken in Hudson's Bay before and during the late war, was reserved by the treaty for settlement (368 II.). Bellomont, who sends some evidence that the River Ste. Croix was the true English boundary, was at pains to point out the importance of insisting upon this:—"'Tis of the last consequence to England and these Plantations that the French be confined to the east side of the river Ste. Croix, for if they be admitted to extend their dominion to St. George's River, which has been industriously given out by them and those that are affected to their interest to be the boundary between us, then at once these Plantations are ruined, near 200 miles of coast will be lost from the Crown, and the fishery consequently with the country or coast. But besides all that, beyond Ste. Croix the country is desert, being sandy and very few timber trees, or trees for masts for ships, growing on it, whereas between the rivers of Ste. Croix and St. George the soil is rich and abounds with trees for masts and timber" (p. 237).
The Council of Trade supported this view (p. 565), and recommended it as a matter of great importance that His Majesty's title " to all that country and coast eastward as far as the River Sta. Croix be asserted and maintained," and that the French should be dispossessed of what they had already usurped. For the French pretended to extend their right as far as Kennebeck River, and the Jesuits had recently built a church upon its banks at Narigewack (pp. 414, 415, 563). At a special conference with the Board of Trade in June (538), the Hudson Bay Company, whose position was so parlous that they were unable to send a ship to the Bay at all this year (486), reiterated their claim to the whole Bay. If, however, that could not be maintained, they produced an alternative paper, offering as the limits of concession the latitude of 53 degrees on the west side and Rupert's River on the east. The Lord President represented to them the improbability of the French Commissioners accepting these conditions. After further consultation with their General Court, they produced some slightly modified proposals (629). In this connection, as well as from the point of view of historical geography and the Indian question, Col. Romer's report upon the defences of the Five Rivers (St. George's, Piscataqua, Pemaquid, Kennebeck and Saco) is of interest (580 IX.).
The Assembly called to meet at Boston in order to deal with the Indian troubles (p. XXX) sat for nine days and passed twelve Bills, mostly of a military character, "which was such despatch as was never known" (p. 179). A new Assembly was elected and met at the end of May (485). Bellomont found himself obliged to meet it without having received any instructions from home as to how to proceed in the case of the Bill for punishing pirates, which had miscarried in 1699, or with regard to the point as to nominating officers, over which he had been at issue with the Council (466, p. 266). In his Address, he recommended the settlement of the College by addressing the King for a Charter; the fortifying of the harbour; provision for ministers, and the encouragement of French Protestants and the suppression of Jesuits; and lastly, the management of the Eastern Indians. All these matters were taken in hand. A Bill for suppressing and punishing Popish Missionaries was at once brought in (485) and passed (561); an Address to the King for the settlement of the College "to be a nursery for supplying these Churches with able, learned Ministers" (641 III.) and to protest against the encroachments of the French, was prepared, and sent home with Bellomont's strong and broad-minded recommendation of it (pp. 415, 416). Mr. Increase Mather was chosen President of Harvard College in July, residence at Cambridge being stipulated (633). The proposals of the Connecticot Commissioners for the settlement of the boundaries in dispute were rejected, and other proposals made to them, which were rejected in turn (526, 545, 576). An interesting ordinance to provide against "the fireing of houses by the throwing of squibs, serpents, rockets," etc., on Nov. 5 occurs (904). A case of trial for witchcraft is referred to (615); and in the Militia Roll (956 I.) an important quarry for genealogists is indicated. As an instance of "the miserable condition of the Province, should there happen a war," Bellomont mentions that there were not forty barrels of powder in the whole country (p. 95).
At home, several Acts were recommended for repeal, including that for the establishment of sea-ports (813, 824). The fish-trade of Boston and the industrial prospects of the province are discussed and described by the Governor (pp. 673 ff).
Lord Bellomont sailed from Boston on July 17, to take up his Government at New York (642).
I have already referred to several events of importance in connection with the history of New York. We have seen how Lord Bellomont came to New York in July, and only with difficulty obtained a Bill for building the fort at Onnondage, which he was far from regarding as satisfactory. He comments on the changed tone of the Assembly, and offers some explanation of it (p. 569). As to the Act itself he observes that "the treatment it deserves is to be rejected by the King with scorn." It was repealed when the Assembly met again in October. A land-tax for the full amount demanded was then passed, in lieu of the objectionable additional duty (851, p. 580). Besides the Bill for securing the Five Nations, several Bills were sent up by the Assembly in July, of which the Governor and Council passed only two: an Act against Jesuits and Popish missionaries, and an Act appointing Commissioners to examine into the Public Accounts. Although, in July, the Governor was still quite in the dark as to instructions from home (p. 400), the Council of Trade had written to him in April in terms of general commendation, urging him also to procure the passing of the first and last of the Bills above mentioned. They expressed their approval of a new trade being established with the Western Indians, "provided it do not interfere with the planting of tobacco in Virginia and Maryland". (307). I have mentioned the opposition at home, which took the shape of memorials against the passing of several Acts, including that for a present to the Governor, and of attacks in the House of Commons (716).
Bellomont's enemies petitioned the House of Commons against his misgovernment, and the heads of charges formulated against him are given (125, 210, 667). His prolonged absence from New York, the reason of which we have seen in the previous volume, gave occasion for a petition from some New York merchants that the "Province of New York might be brought back to its former manner of administration, unconcerned with the government of any other place" (151 I.). For the sake of managing the Indians, if for nothing else, Bellomont replied, the union of the two Governments was a vital necessity (pp. 571, 582).
Fletcher's influence at home.
At home, Col. Fletcher had evidently made unto himself friends of the mammon of righteousness. The Bishop of London not only made a curiously accurate prophecy as to the coming termination of Bellomont's Government (p. 720), but also made an appeal on behalf of the disreputable Dellius (899). His intervention also led to a reconciliation between Lord Bellomont and the offending minister at New York (851).
The question of Governors' salaries.
His credit engaged to the hilt on behalf of the forces (14, 14 XVI., p. 628), and his salary grievously in arrears (474 I., 850 V., pp. 582, 583), Bellomont found himself reduced to great straits. Both as a way out of his own pecuniary embarrassment, and on principle, "for the King's honour and interest" in order to put an end to the whole bad system of underpaid Governors, who were "pensioners of the various Governments just as long as they please," he formulated his demands for a settled salary (474 I., 850 V., pp. 416, 417).
New York. Miscellaneous.
In criticising some of the Acts passed during the last few years, the Council of Trade found occasion to point the moral as to the evil effect of partisan and retrospective Acts (786 I.). Orders were also sent to the Lieutenant-Governor and Council to rectify their mistake in refusing an appeal to Alsop from Lord Bellomont's judgment, whilst the evil consequences likely to arise from such a precedent as the reversal of a judgment of one Governor in Council by his successor were pointed out (pp. 159, 161). A treasure-house of names is revealed in the Muster-Roll of Militia Officers (953 XIV.). The Governors of infant Colonies frequently demand trained and experienced lawyers from home for the conduct of affairs, and the planters and traders suffered alike from the inadequate education of local lawyers. In New York, Bellomont was handicapped, not only by the untrustworthiness of his officials, Collector, Naval Officer, Secretary (14 XVIII., 46 XXIII.), of all, in fact, save the Lieutenant-Governor, Nanfan (p. 417), but also by the wiles and ignorance of his Attorney-General. After being frequently hampered and misled by Mr. Graham, he declared him at length to be nothing less than a "rank knave," hand in glove with pirates, and capable of tampering with the Minutes of Council in their behalf (953 XXXV. ff). In response to his reiterated demands for an honest able Chief Justice and Attorney-General, Mr. Attwood and Mr. Broughton had been appointed from home to those offices in New York (534). But they met "with some stop at the Treasury" (p. 528) and the end of the year found them still in London. Till their arrival, the Governor said, in proroguing the Assembly till April, he and the Council thought it not advisable to deal with the remainder of the Acts that had been sent up (901).
Penn in Pennsylvania.
"That ingenious person Mr. Penn" (p. 451), also mentions his need of "an ould, judicious Attorney" (p. 724). The "Courtly Quaker" arrived in Pennsylvania in Dec. 1699 (156, 189). (fn. 10) Macaulay's famous phrase, (fn. 11) it may be noted, was possibly suggested by Col. Quarry's thrust, "At the same time he is thus undermining, he treats me with all the show of friendship and kindness. I am not Courtier enough to pay him in his own coyne" (p. 65). Penn's first steps created a good impression even in so zealous a servant of the Crown as Col. Quarry (188, 189). The Lieut.-Governor, Markham, in spite of his defence, (176), was removed, and Lloyd, the obnoxious Attorney-General, dismissed. His prosecution was promised (366). Immediately after his arrival, Penn called an Assembly "to make two laws against the crying sins of piracy and forbidden trade (156)." For, whilst Penn and Quarry alike attest the admirable industry of the inhabitants (pp. 84, 107), the flourishing condition and the methods of illegal trade, and the share of the Scotch in it, are exposed in an enlightening letter from Col. Quarry (190). He also describes the methods of the "gang of ould pirates at Hore Kills" (300), whom Penn promised to root out (p. 209). Penn's activity, however, was soon curbed by the attitude of the Assembly. The Quakers resented his campaign against piracy and illegal trade; "instead of a free and flowing regard," he found the people "soured and very cool" (pp. 210, 211). His own ardour was checked, when the Assembly tightened the purse strings (932 IX.). He failed to reconcile the Quakers to the Admiralty jurisdiction (932 I.), and the watchful Quarry presently reported that he was breaking his promise and invading it (pp. 651, 655). Penn himself, in representing the irritation of the people with the Admiralty Courts, remarks "More, not less, privileges seems the reason of such grants for planting these wildernesses" (April 28). And he applies for permission to be granted to the Quakers to register their ships without an oath (p. 86, Nos. 158, 158 III., IV.). In the midst of his troubles as a Proprietor, bound to the Assembly on the one hand and the King on the other, he evidently found some compensatory pleasure in being able to report how the Anglican minister at Philadelphia, who had preached so vehemently against the Quakers, had been discovered to be the receiver of pirates' gold, "the safest sanctuary Kidd's Doctor could find in these parts for his treasure" (1065).
Rye and Bedford.
During the government of Col. Fletcher the towns of Rye and Bedford, on the borderland, had revolted from the Province of New York to the Government of Connecticut, "to avoid paying taxes," as Lord Bellomont observed (Cal. 1699, p. 212). The right or wrong of the affair hinged upon a dispute as to the boundary between the two provinces, and was decided by an Order in Council confirming the agreement which had been arrived at in 1683 (220, 268).
Dispute as to the Narraganset Country.
Nor was this the only boundary dispute in which Connecticut was engaged. The Narraganset Country was claimed both by this Government and by that of Rhode Island (1001, 1018). Whilst their claims were being laid before the Council of Trade, the Government of Rhode Island, by some very arbitrary and irregular proceedings, endeavoured to enforce their right to tax the inhabitants of the district in dispute. This action so exasperated those concerned that it seemed likely to result in bloodshed (pp. 13, 363, Nos. 580 XVI.–XIX.).
Connecticut and the Right of Appeal.
Upon complaints received in the previous year, orders had been dispatched to the Governor of Connecticut as to the admission of appeals to the King in Council (see Cal. 1699). The renewed petitions of Edward Palms (385) and the Hallams (974 I.) show that these orders were disregarded, and that affidavits on the subject were not being admitted by those in authority. Some thirteen months after it was written, a letter arrived from the Governor and Company of Connecticut, in which they plainly show their intention not to allow appeals to the King, pleading that the distance was ruinous, as their Charter suggested, and insisting on their right to determine all causes finally in the Courts of the Colony (1002 I.).
The misdemeanours of Rhode Island had engaged the attention of Lord Bellomont in the preceding year. Now, early in April, the Council of Trade presented his report to the King, and recommended the "consideration of what method may be most proper for bringing the said Colony under a better form of government" (291). With this object in view, the report was referred to the chief Law Officers of the Crown (309). Meantime the irregularities of that Government were continued (14, 14 IV.–IX.), and the transcript of their laws, when at length it was produced, seemed to show clearly enough that those in authority there were neither capable nor worthy (pp. 13, 15, No. 433).
New Jersey. The Port of Perth Amboy.
After many preliminary steps, which have been traced in the preceding volume of this Calendar, it was decided that not only the legality of the seizure of the Hester should be tried in the case of Basse v. Bellomont, but also that this civil action should be made a test case to determine both the claim to a free Port at Perth Amboy, upon which the Proprietors of East Jersey still insisted (34), and their title to that Government (369). Whilst Basse petitioned the House of Commons (113), the evidence of Sir Edmund Andros was, on the other hand, obtained to the effect that New York enjoyed the privilege of being the sole port on the Hudson River (143, 150). The Court of King's Bench decided in favour of Basse (p. 576), and thus the Proprietors gained the freedom of the Port and the commercial independence, which, rather than the right of government, was always their chief concern. The argument turned upon the question, whether East Jersey was a distinct Government, independent of New York (425). Basse was awarded damages largely in excess of the losses he had sustained through the seizure of his ship, much to the disgust of Lord Bellomont, who describes him as "a known profligate fellow, and remarkable for lying" (p. 693). It is evident (72) that the Council of Trade had expected that the Proprietors would fail to prove their title, and that the Government of New Jersey would be at length resumed by the Crown. This, indeed, was the course recommended by Governor Basse himself, who appears as the mouth-piece of the anti-proprietary party, in view of the state of anarchy into which the Province had fallen, thanks to the "oppression and unsupportable partiality of the Quakers" (70, 70 II., III., 670), and the Scotch partisans of Col. Hamilton, with whom, and the large landowners, the Proprietors were mainly identified. Vivid accounts are given (670 I., II.) of the riots which arose from an endeavour on the part of Lewis Morris, whom Col. Hamilton had placed upon his Council as the one man able to make the Province submit to him, to assert Col. Hamilton's authority. He ordered the Sheriff to make some arrests, but the neighbours, "banged him, broke his head and sent him packing." Thereupon Col. Hamilton rode into Middleton with a party of armed men, and a serious collision was with difficulty avoided.
The Proprietors propose to surrender their Government.
The year closes with a petition from some of the inhabitants of East New Jersey against the Proprietors. Their enforcement of their claim to quit-rents upon lands purchased by the settlers from the "native pagans," whose rights they ignored, their appointment of Scotsmen to office, and their supercession of Basse, the petitioners could not away with (908 I.). The Proprietors defended themselves at length in a document which is of the first importance for the history of New Jersey in the years following the Revolution (985). They characterise the petition as the grievance of a few factious and mutinous people, who wished not only to deprive the Proprietors of their right to the soil, "but also to strip His Majesty of his legal rights to that and other Plantations, and to render them independent of the Crown," in confirmation of the opinion, lately broached by some Planters, that "the King's right to the American countrys discover'd by English subjects was only notional and arbitrary, and that the Indian natives are the absolute independent owners and have the sole disposal of them" (p. 725). After dealing with other complaints and reviewing their procedure since the Revolution, the Proprietors explain their action in appointing Col. Hamilton, appointing Mr. Basse in his stead, under the misapprehension that the Act for preventing frauds, etc., disabled Scotchmen from holding office as Governors, and then re-appointing Hamilton, when Basse had left his Government. The petitioners, they explained, "entertaining a belief that if the Government be taken from the Proprietors, then interest in the soil and quit-rents must fall with it, laid hold of the want of the King's actual approbation of Col. Hamilton, opposed him with arms, and now arraign the Proprietors for neglecting to provide for the Government, which themselves have rejected." They conclude by announcing that they and the Proprietors of West New Jersey had already determined to surrender the Government of both the Provinces to His Majesty under certain conditions, and this course was now rendered necessary for the preservation of their civil rights, in view of the attitude of these settlers.
Arrival of French Protestant Refugees in Virginia.
The history of Virginia, as told in these documents, furnishes us with two of the most striking incidents of the year. We have seen how Governor Nicholson, taking his place on the quarter deck, had led H.M.S. Shoreham to victory against a pirate (p. xi., No. 523). We next see him receiving at James Town a band of later Pilgrims, a ship-load of French Protestant Refugees, who, under the leadership of M. de Sailly and the Marquis de la Muce, had arrived, after a voyage of considerable hardship (739 V.) in James River in July (p. 449). They had sailed under the King's auspices. Special allowances of money and bibles had been made to them out of the money collected in England on behalf of the "Vaudois, French and other Protestant Refugees," and orders had been sent to the Governor to give them all possible encouragement, and to grant them lands in Norfolk County (199–201, 225 I.). The Proprietorship of this county was claimed by Daniel Coxe, who, having abandoned his scheme for settling "Carolana or Florida" (18), had made some bargain with the Refugees as to a tract of land there (18, 132, 146 I., p. 497). They were kindly received in Virginia, and the people, pitying their destitute condition, subscribed handsomely towards their support. It was decided, however, not to settle them in Norfolk County, "because 'tis esteemed an unhealthful place, and no vacant land except some that is in dispute betwixt us and N. Carolina." They were settled therefore at Mannikin Town (681), and found themselves "in a fine and beautiful country," about twenty miles above the Falls of James River (739 V.). Fresh arrivals in October appear to have been less welcome. Without capital to tide them over the winter and until they could reap the fruits of their labour by the next crop, they must perish or exist upon the charity of the people (876, 1048). The Assembly showed themselves somewhat grudging in their charity, and, pleading the poverty of the country, prayed His Excellency to represent to His Majesty that no more Refugees should be sent (p. 763, No. 1055).
In connection with this subject of the French Protestant Refugees, pp. 500, 540, give some curious details of the establishment of a new trade by them in England with the Colonies, and of the desperate endeavours of the French manufacturers to stop it, not only by means of interloping trade, but also by kidnapping the Protestant offenders in England.
Irregular attendance of Councillors and Assemblymen.
In Virginia, as elsewhere, the Governor complains of the difficulty, natural in young countries which have not developed a leisured class, of obtaining a quorum for his Council (681, etc.), and frequent instances occur in these pages of the adjournment of Assemblies through an insufficient attendance of Members. Time, distance, harvests, floods, or rivers blocked by ice often contributed to prevent their presence (666, 739, 752, 809, pp. 463, 580, etc.).
A new Assembly meets at the College of William and Mary.
After being several times prorogued, the Assembly of Virginia, sparsely attended, met in October and was dissolved. Writs for a new Assembly were issued. It met on Dec. 5 at the College of William and Mary, since the Capitol was not yet ready, and was presented with "a mace and gown for Mr. Speaker" by the Governor (290, 359, 681 VIII., 876, 979).
The building of the Capitol.
Caterpillars in Virginia and Bermuda.
To hasten the building of the Capitol a Proclamation had been issued in July, inviting all persons that were willing to come and work "either in ye quality of an undertaker, overseer, or workman" (632). From 523 LI., we learn that the proprietors were awarded 20s. an acre for the land at Middle Plantation taken up for the Capitol and City of Williamsburgh. The Council of Trade had urged Col. Nicholson to use his utmost endeavours to procure the building of a suitable house for the Governor (p. 4). But it was only after some demur that the Assembly consented to pay for the expenses in connection with the Governor's gallant capture of pirates, which they considered "not a country charge" (1049, 1056). And as to the charge for building a Governor's house, as well as for building the Capitol and other extraordinary charges, they suggested, in an Address to the King, the desirability of a raid upon the Quit-rent Fund (p. 768). The Colony, they represented, was "in very low and needy circumstances," for not only had they been involved in many heavy expenses, but also, we may gather from Governor Nicholson's report, they had had an unseasonable year (739). In April, too, there had been a great plague of caterpillars (290), for deliverance from which a solemn day of humiliation and prayer had been appointed.
The presence of this plague lends point to the description of Mr. Burton, of Bermuda (303), as the "pest and caterpillar of these Islands." However, by June Nicholson was able to report that it "hath pleased God they have not done very much damage, therefore to Him be the glory" (p. 309). In spite of these circumstances the price of negroes rose to a record figure (p. 452). At the same time the Governor reported that all was in peace and quietness, and that no murders had been committed by the Indians "either at the head of James River or Potomack, which they commonly perpetrated either in the spring or fall, if not in both" (p. 309). A Treaty, which the Pamunkey and other Indians had been preparing to enter into with the Tawittaways and others, without the knowledge of the Government of Virginia, was put a stop to in February (p. 80). But, a few days after the Governor had written in that optimistic vein, a horrible murder by some Indians on the Potomack frontier electrified the Province (p. 385). The Rangers were called out to prevent a complete desertion of the frontier upon the alarm caused by this atrocity, "the horriblest yt ever was in Stafford." A vivid account of the murder is given (pp. 453 ff.). The Governors of Maryland and Virginia acted in concert in their efforts to punish the perpetrators of this outrage, in which the Emperor of Piscattaway did not escape some suspicion of complicity (632, 681 II., p. 396).
Dispute between Virginia and North Carolina.
The boundaries in dispute between Virginia and North Carolina remained unsettled. The inconveniences arising from this state of affairs are well exemplified by the case quoted by Governor Walker (523 LIII.). Some friction, too, was caused. Virginia had a grievance against North Carolina as to their alleged harbouring of runaway negroes. The excellent laws quoted by Governor Walker, Nicholson drily observes, will not signify unless vigorously put in execution (p. 323).
So far as South Carolina is concerned our documents give us little information. The case of the Cole and Bean, in which appeal had been wrongly refused (32, 574), came under consideration, and Edward Randolph's report upon that case is instructive (476). The Acts of Trade were largely used by less scrupulous Governors as a means of extortion. They seized vessels, rightly or wrongly, and were ready to let them go again upon receipt of a present from the owners. Of such a sort, according to Randolph's report, was Deputy Governor Blake. He explains how he "drives a fine trade by seizing and condemning vessels" (476). The inhabitants, Randolph says, were industrious, and the country thriving, but uneasiness was felt at the neighbourhood of the Spaniards at Havannah, since the Proprietors took no steps to defend the Province, or to provide it with good government. Both the rice and the silk trade were growing, "and everybody has planted mulberry trees to feed their worms" (475).
Maryland. The Act for Religion.
The Act "for the Service of Almighty God, and the establishment of the Protestant Religion," several times repealed and re-enacted, was the central feature of Maryland politics at this time. Papists and Quakers joined hands to protest against this Protestant measure, which, besides being open to the objection that a clause had been tacked onto it wholly alien from the matter of the Bill, proposed to tax Quakers, Papists and all for the maintenance of Ministers of the Church of England. The opponents of the Act also detected infringements of their freedom of conscience, either intentional or latent in the Bill (p. 384). The Assembly, summoned to meet in April, at a time convenient to the Planters of Tobacco, were informed of the rejection of the Act, for the reasons of which Governor Nicholson had warned them (361). There were, however, other objections, as the Council of Trade had informed Governor Blakiston (p. 11), though he chose to ignore them in addressing the Assembly (361). The repeal of the law was regarded as a triumph by the Quakers. The Assembly made haste to bring in a new Bill for the establishment of the Anglican Religion, "leaving out those clauses which pointed the reason of its being made null" (479). It was sent home under the care of Dr. Bray, the admirable Commissary of the Bishop of London (417). Protest was at once entered by the Quakers, whose opposition will develope in the coming year (747). The supporters of the Bill on the other hand, retorted that, so far from being, as its Quaker opponents represented themselves, Ancient and Considerable Seaters, they and the Papists together did not amount to one-twelfth part of the Province, whilst the Quakers, "when they first came in, were ordered to be whipped out of the Government" (pp. 384, 395, Nos. 617 II., IV.).
The Emperor of Piscattaway, after denying responsibility for several murders and outrages lately committed, promised to come and settle at Pamunkey, and to induce the rest of his Indians to do likewise. The articles of peace, signed on this occasion (297 I.), are of interest as showing the attempts made to guard against such frontier atrocities as that referred to above (p. lii.).
The boundaries between Maryland and Pennsylvania were the subject of some correspondence with Lord Baltimore, but nothing definite was done.
Barbados. An Epidemic.
The seventeenth century poets, such as Marvell and Waller, were wont to describe the West Indian Islands as primitive Paradises, where—
"So sweet the air, so moderate the clime,
None sickly lives, or dies before his time."
That is more nearly true of Barbados to-day, perhaps, but the bald fact of history is that among the early settlers the death-rate was terribly high.
A severe epidemic raged here in the early months of 1700, and the recent great mortality among the negroes had resulted in much land going out of cultivation and in a declining trade (981). Some of the preventable causes of the epidemic are outlined in a significant paper (391). In May a General Fast was proclaimed, to avert "the great sickness now amongst the people" (461). Some of the sanitary measures recommended in the above-mentioned paper were adopted, and in September the Governor was able to give the island a clean bill of health (624, 797), whilst at Boston the regulations, prohibiting vessels arriving from Barbados to come into that harbour, were removed (763). Two other matters chiefly continued to trouble the Barbadians—the administration of Justice, and the disposal of the 4½ per cent. (66, 981).
Complaints of tardy Justice in Barbados.
The rough and ready methods of the early settlers, for whom speedy injustice was better than tardy justice, had given way to a state of affairs in which the Law's delays had become intolerable to the litigants and damaging to the credit of the country (No. 751). A class of amateur lawyers, "ordinary unlearned men," not trained in the Inns of Court (799, cf. Calendar 1699, No. 134), or "small dealers in the law" (751) had sprung up, ready to take advantage of those who knew even less of law than themselves, or who had lost their title deeds through such usual misfortunes as "hurricanes, cockroaches and other accidents" (779, cf. p. 417). Justice, it began to be complained, was corrupt and exceedingly slow. The merchants of England, it was stated, found better and more speedy justice in the most distant Provinces of the Ottoman Dominions than in some of the American Colonies (p. 512). The frequent adjournment of the Courts may have been due to the prevailing sickness, but it certainly constituted a serious grievance among the litigants. In response to the complaints of the Royal African Company, letters were written to the Governors of Jamaica and the Leeward Islands as well as of Barbados, requiring them to take care that the Courts of Justice should be duly and frequently held (280 I.). Complaints, however, continued to come in as to the administration of Barbados. Hundreds of causes, it was affirmed, of many years standing, were left undecided owing to the frequent adjournments of the Court of Chancery. Orders in Council were issued in December directing the Governor to see to it that the Court of Chancery sat "according to ancient usage for the dispatch of business" (975, 1030). The Council of Trade had already requisitioned from the Governor a return of the Courts held since his arrival in the Island (843 I.). We shall see the matter develope in the succeeding volume. Meantime a reasonable dissatisfaction with arbitrary commitments to prison and prolonged confinements there, without the admission of bail or writ of Habeas Corpus (960), had found expression in the law, passed in 1697, "for the better securing the liberty of H.M. subjects," which now came up for consideration. The necessity for it was defended by the recital of arbitrary and oppressive procedure on the part of former Governors (1005).
The 4½ per cent.
When the Assembly met on May 14 (530), they refused to pay any attention to the question of defence or the business of supply, recommended to them by the Governor, until they had decided their controverted elections, showing themselves jealous of the interference of the Council with their privileges in that quarter (437, cf. Calendar 1698, No. 480). Their relations with the Governor were, however, amicable (910), and had issue in a vote for a levy to defray the debts of the country accumulated during the war (66). But the immediate defence of the Island was not taken in hand; the 4½ per cent., it was once more urged, was needed for this purpose (981), and should be applied to the uses for which it had been originally intended (391). The reports of the Engineer, Talbot Edwards, upon the defences of the Island, are given (928, 941 I.).
Governor Grey was corrected on two points by the Council of Trade and Plantations. On the one hand he had misinterpreted his Instructions, and held himself empowered to appoint Members of Council (49, 348, 788, 843); on the other, acting in accordance with the advice of the Attorney General of the Island, he had not only refused to allow Alexander Skene, as a Scotchman, to take office as Secretary (162, 163), but had also put all Scotchmen out of the Commission of Peace (215, 245). The Law Officers of the Crown having given their opinion (428) that a Scotchman was a native-born subject of the King within the meaning of the Act for preventing frauds, etc., directions were given for reinstating them (517, etc.).
French claims to Sta. Lucia, Dominica, and Tobago.
In accordance with the Instructions sent to him in the previous year (see Calendar 1699), Governor Grey wrote from Barbados to the Marquis D'Amblimont, asserting the English title to Sta. Lucia, and calling upon him to withdraw the French settlers who had recently established themselves upon that Island (661.). The French Governor replied, with the indignant heat which regards not grammar or punctuation (696 I.), that he would maintain them against all who should undertake to trouble them. The French Ambassador, too, asserted the claim of France to Sta. Lucia, declaring that France had been in possession of the Island for several years, and that it had never been laid claim to in any Treaty or by any foreign power (840 I.). A few months previously, in protesting against a settlement, which, it was apprehended at Martinique, an expedition from Barbados intended to make upon Dominica, he had argued that Dominica and Sta. Lucia "were assigned by former treaties between France and England solely for the occupation of the Aboriginals" (37 I.). In reply the Council of Trade give the history of the English discovery and occupation of Sta. Lucia, "from which it is evident that His Majesty has an entire right of sovereignty by all the grounds and titles whereby property can be either acquired or preserved" (873 I.). As to the supposed expedition to Dominica, it was merely a voyage to fetch timber, "there being always a trade and correspondence between the people of Barbados and the Indians of Dominica" (p. 155), (fn. 12) but the English right to that Island also was held to be no less capable of proof (304, 536, 538), the grounds for which are given (pp. 333–336).
The French claim to Tobago, advanced in 1699, is fully answered (9). In accordance with that Representation, the Earl of Jersey was directed to reply to the French Ambassador insisting upon the sole right of England to the Island, whilst the Governor of Barbados was ordered to prevent any settlement whatever from being made there (10). Similarly, when an English Company proposed to take up a concession of 50,000 acres from the Duke of Courland, and to establish a new Colony upon Tobago (141, 232), the Duke's title was shewn to be void and no settlement desirable (264).
The great mortality which afflicted Jamaica reached its height in the early part of this year (p. 18, No. 71 A), and in conjunction with other discouraging circumstances led Sir William Beeston to despair of bringing the country to anything "but the residence of a few merchants on Port Royal to sell negroes to the Spaniards" (p. 20). He again made application to be relieved of his Government. The Acts of Navigation pressed hardly, "we have nothing but from England, and they do not supply us" (15); the interpretation of them was uncertain (815); the supply of negroes was unsatisfactory (p. 19); and the friction between the Governor and Rear-Admiral Benbow over the question of authority and the matter of pressing was not lessened by the Admiral's bluff declaration that "he wanted men, and come from the North or South he would have them" (p. 19). Meantime the Admiralty supported the conduct of Capt. Mitchell, in taking down the colours of a ship commissioned by Lord Bellomont (see Calendar 1699, Nos. 890, 890 XV.), explaining that his Instructions and the Custom of the Sea obliged him to insist that none but H.M. ships of war must wear the King's colours (91 ii.).
From April onwards, however, the Governor's anxiety was lightened, for he was able to report that the Island was in perfect health, and, now that the obnoxious ships of war were gone, in peace and amity (346, 685, 815, 927). In a return (No. 347) he estimates the annual export from Jamaica to England at over half a million; a complete muster-roll is indicated (816 II.), which constitutes a veritable treasury of names of early settlers.
The Spaniards continued to seize English vessels, especially, with an eye upon Darien, those that endeavoured to sail the Caribbean Sea (318). They treated their prisoners with the roughest kind of justice, so that the temper of the colonists began to rise, and reprisals seemed inevitable (p. 20, Nos. 815, 927).
The grievances of the Jews of Jamaica, over-taxation and the being obliged to bear arms upon their Sabbath, had been the subject of some correspondence (19 I.). The reply of the Governor and Council (386 III.) seems to reveal the cloven hoof of commercial jealousy in the Assemblymen, and a tendency to retaliate by over-taxing the more thrifty race, whilst the grievance as to the Sabbath was shewn not to be all on one side. Meanwhile Government House was enlarged and Fort Charles was finished, the latter being pronounced by Sir William to be "not only very useful, but very beautiful also" (p. 50). Capt. Lilly, the Engineer, however, whose report upon the defences and requirements of Jamaica is given (565), did not think so highly of it, and he thought very little indeed of the other defences; unless the proper steps were taken, the Island, he prophecied, would be carried by the first enemy that attacked it (p. 350).
The Act passed in the previous year to oblige Patentees of Offices to reside in the Island was unfortunately found to clash with the Royal prerogative and was therefore repealed (372, 382, 815).
A somewhat curious situation had arisen in the Leeward Islands. Governor Codrington had received his Commission in May of the previous year. But he did not leave England till August, 1700 (720), for he refused to depart before he had extracted from a reluctant Treasury the four years' salary due to his father (174). Meantime the administration had devolved, and was intended to devolve (see Calendar 1699, No. 1080) upon the President and Council of Nevis. Col. Fox, however, construed his Commission to be Lieut.-General as conferring upon him the duties of Lieutenant-Governor in the absence of the Governor (373). To this opinion he clung, in spite of the correction of the Council of Trade, and contrary to the example of Cleon, ουκ εφη εκεινους αλλ' αυτος αρχειν. The Council of Trade was a little disconcerted by the opinion of the Attorney and Solicitor General to the effect that Col. Fox was justified in his view, and might, upon arriving before Col. Codrington, by virtue of his Commission, "dispossess the President and Council, and assume to himself that Government" (705). The Law Officers were invited to reconsider that decision (968), and then agreed that the authority of Col. Fox seemed doubtful (969). Doubt as to his authority involved doubt as to the validity of the Acts passed by him. An Order was therefore given that all such Acts should again be laid before the respective Assemblies by Gov. Codrington (972).
Meantime Col. Fox had executed his functions well enough. The Assembly of St. Kitt's, indeed, viewed "with unspeakable concern" his establishment of Courts of Exchequer and Escheat for dealing with the lands forfeited by the Irish rebels (848, p. 603). Their protest provoked a reply more sarcastic than conciliatory from him (848 V.). He found the Assemblies of the Islands positively refusing to quarter the soldiers of his Regiment, unless they worked in the fields with the negroes, a policy in which they persisted until he forced their hands by not passing Acts, which were for their advantage, "till they had given the soldiers houseroom and done everything that was for H.M. service" (16,373).
St. Kitts and Lt.-Gov. Norton.
From St. Kitts complaints reached home of the callous extortion and arbitrary procedure of the Lieutenant-Governor, James Norton. He openly declared, so it was alleged, that he would govern the people by his sword and cane, and he put his profession into practice by throwing the Speaker into gaol and roundly abusing and suddenly dissolving the Assembly, when they refused to support him. Directions were given by the Lords Justices in Council, whilst the King was abroad in September, for the appointment of a Commission to enquire into the truth of these allegations (773).
In Bermuda, as elsewhere, the poetical view proves to be in direct contradiction to the prosaic facts. "Such," says the poet, (fn. 13)
"Such is the mould, that the blest tenant feeds
On precious fruits, and pays his rent in weeds."
But in fact, although the population of Bermuda had increased (588), ants and hurricanes had so devastated the crops of oranges and Indian corn that the Island had ceased to be self-supporting (588, 936). More than elsewhere, too, the inhabitants had reason to be "greatly discouraged by the severities and most unjust proceedings of their Governors" (p. 658). Governor Day carried it with a high hand and a bullying manner to the end (154, 587), treating the King's orders with the scantiest respect (736). Strong language and threats to pull a member of the Council by the nose were his usual, and indeed his mildest arguments (587 III., 637). His theory of government was, apparently, that "the law was in his head and he would do as he thought fit" (71 III.). In spite of his interest at home, upon which he relied, no real answer could be brought to the charges formulated against him (23, 67, 71). In the light of further evidence the Council of Trade summarised his offences and recommended his recall (165, 411, 737). In May, upon his father's petition, Day was recalled to answer the charges brought against him (733); and in the following month Capt. Bennett was appointed Governor in his stead (585). Edward Randolph, whom Day had at length been obliged to set at liberty in January (61), had lost no time in performing the congenial task of revealing the error of his ways (147, 154).
Randolph saw clearly enough the importance of Bermuda, which he describes as the key to all the other Plantations (p. 82). In No. 936 we have his report upon the defences, the government, and the economic condition of the "Summer Islands," His proposals for the redress of their grievances are sound enough, but perhaps he hits the nail most truly on the head when he recommends "as the best and only means for preventing the succeeding Governors from oppressing the inhabitants by arbitrary practices, as has been formerly done in those islands to raise a maintenance, that the Governor have an allowance not less than 500l. a year, provisions and all necessaries being very scarce and dear." So, too, Bellomont observes (p. 417), "Few men are honest out of pure principle; 'tis best therefore that Governors of Plantations have competent salaries and certain; that they may find their account in being honest."
In April Capt. Haskett was appointed Governor of the Bahamas (308). He applied for the King's approbation. He had given to the Proprietors, when they appointed him, a bond which they considered sufficient (367). The Council of Trade, however, (374) insisted that the Proprietors themselves should give security for their Deputy-Governor (356), in conformity with the Address of the House of Lords in 1697 (Calendar 1697, No. 820). The Lords Proprietors rejoined that the late Act had placed the approbation of their Governors in His Majesty, and it could not be expected that they should give security for them. There was no Act of Parliament that required it (426, 463). In this view they were supported by the opinion of the Attorney General, when the case was submitted to him (566). Capt. Haskett was accordingly approved (597). The state of the Government to which he succeeded is vividly described in Edward Randolph's report (211, 250). Weary of the arbitrary government of such piratical rogues as Trott and his disciples Webb and Elding, who were backed by a Council largely composed of old pirates, and still more disgusted with the indifference to their interests shown by the Proprietors, who not only neglected to provide New Providence with adequate defences, but also disposed of their privileges for a mere song, as in the case of the sale of Hog Island, the inhabitants, Randolph represents, were ready to cast off all government, or to leave the place, or to submit to any foreign Power, such as the Spaniards, who were willing to protect them. Meantime Read Elding, who held his Governorship by irregular procedure on the part of the "eloping" Webb, and had been concerned in the very doubtful business of the seizure of a Boston vessel (211, Cal. 1699, 82 I., etc.), was busy caning and imprisoning a Lords' Deputy (p. 136), and falling foul of the Chief Justice, whom he accuses of picking his jury, supplying them with drink (451 I.), and clearing a vessel contrary to their verdict.
In answer to the enquiries of the Board of Trade (198), which were this year cast in a slightly different mould, the Commodore of the Fleet at Newfoundland replies in detail (774 I.), giving an account of the progress and conduct of the French as well as of the English Fishery and Fortifications there. Some of his replies contradict his own statements in his letter (774). The Island continued to flourish as a depot for illegal trade between Europe and New England. Supplies for the long-suffering garrison were at length ordered to be dispatched (54, 55, 102 I.), as well as men and materials for building new barracks and erecting fortifications at St. John's. Some light is thrown upon the morals and manners of the Army in those parts by the case of Lt. Lilburne, whose quarrelsome and intemperate Irish fellow officers fell foul of a comrade who refused to "sot and drink" with them, and whom they held to be mean, cowardly and avaricious, engaging in a forced trade with the soldiers under his command, and blackmailing the inhabitants (742).
The spelling of words in these documents, often erratic, is occasionally of some significance as indicating that the pronunciation of names and places was the same in 1701 as in 1909, and equally distant from the accepted form of spelling. Thus, in America, the "Mohegans" are thus written, and "Conetticot" by William Penn (158), spellings that represent modern pronunciation; whilst, in England, "Woolidge" (p. 566), "Margitt," "Bus'ness," and "Wensday" point to a similar divergence between eighteenth-, as of twentieth-century, orthography and speech. "Evance" reflects the hard Welsh sibilant. The "Jarzies" are frequently so spelt, especially by Lord Bellomont, with whom "marchands" may show his French training, and "carthrage" betray his Irish birthright (p. 577). The latter form, however, is given in the Oxford English Dictionary. "Batoes" slightly disguises the Canadian canoe or "bateau" still familiar on the rivers of British Guiana.
The surrender by the Indians of their title to Sta. Lucia is said to have been conducted "by a solemn manner of turf and twig." The seventeenth-century style of conceit survives not only in the phrase of the Minister of Woodstock I have quoted above, but also in Mr. Moore's hope that "your Lordships will give graines for my defects, which the proceedings will grossly discover" (932 VII.).
Since the documents transcribed in this volume were calendared and printed, the Colonial Office Records, preserved at the Public Record Office, have been re-arranged. They are now catalogued under a new system of references. The following key gives the new titles by which the volumes of documents referred to in this Calendar may be identified:—