Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 30, 1717-1718. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1930.
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§ 1. GENERAL.
Craggs Succeeds Addison as Secretary of State.
In March, 1718, Mr. Craggs informed the Governor of Plantations that he had been appointed to succeed Joseph Addison as Secretary of State for the Southern Department (446).
Printing of the Acts of the Plantations.
Before Addison's failing health had compelled him to resign the Seals, he was able to report several important decisions by the King in Council on Plantation affairs (64). Among them was an order to the King's Printer to proceed with the printing of the Acts of the Plantations in accordance with the request of the Board of Trade, who had explained that when they had to consult the laws of the several Colonies, "by reason the said laws are contained in several large bundles of parchment, it is difficult and tedious to come at what is immediately wanted." The records show that John Basket was soon busy printing the Acts of Bermuda and New York (51, 64, 67). His estimate of the cost was "five farthings pr. sheet" (469, 715, 721, 728). Printing the Acts entailed, of course, a preliminary overhauling and collection of the body of laws of the several Colonies, which in some cases had already been done. In the case of Virginia this procedure gave occasion for objections to be raised to some laws of long standing (171, 174).
Instruction to Governors concerning Acts affecting trade and shipping.; New seals.
On Sept. 27, 1717, a new and important Instruction to Governors was issued, restraining them for the future from passing any act which might in any way affect British trade or shipping without the addition of a clause suspending it from coming into force until it had received confirmation from the Crown (90 i., 111, 132, 142). This Instruction was forwarded to Governors, together with warrants for using the new Seals which had been prepared after the accession of King George I (127, 135, 142).
Governors' Instructions revised.
Much care having been spent upon the preparation of Instructions for the new Governor of Jamaica (v. § 3), and many alterations having been made from those of his predecessors, it was decided to revised the Instructions of other Governors so as to secure uniformity, as far as possible (144, 144 i., 275, 665–667). The nature of these alterations is described in the covering letter of the Board of Trade to the Secretary of State (144). In preparing them, the Board consulted the outgoing Governor of Jamaica.
Board of Trade.
The Earl of Holdernesse succeeded the Earl of Suffolk and Bindon as President of the Council of Trade and Plantations in Jan., 1718 (339). The Board had recently been reinforced by the appointment in July, 1717, of two very busy and capable new Commissioners, Martin Bladen (an M.P. who had been Comptroller of the Mint since 1714) and Daniel Pulteney (625).
New rooms required.
One of the "closets in the office in the cockpit" was now so much out of repair that it was found that the Records of the Board were being seriously damaged (224). As the mass of documents was rapidly increasing, the Board presently made a request for the erection of a new room on Crown land adjoining the office (300). Then, finding that this would be "a work both of time and expence," they altered their request to one for permission to take over some adjacent lodgings (484).
Admiralty Records burned; Burchett's History of the Navy.
It would appear that the Admiralty Office also was cramped for room for housing it Records. In answering an application by Mr. Popple for the copy of a letter from Admiral Benbow, the Secretary of the Admiralty reveals that a quantity of letters had been destroyed by a fire "in a particular place where they were lodged in the garden of this Office" (624). Mr. Burchett, however, had used these documents for the History of the Navy which he had nearly finished, and was able to supply the gist of Benbow's correspondence from that source (624 i.). One wonders whether perhaps they had been "lodged in the garden" for his use.
Counsel appointed to attend the Board.; A difference with the Attoreney and Solicitor General.
The revision of the laws of the Plantations, which was rendered necessary by the undertaking to print them, involved the consideration of many legal points in addition to those raised in the course of ordinary Plantation business. The Board was empowered by its Commission to consult, when necessary, the Attorney or Solicitor General, or any other King's Counsel. The practice hitherto had been to consult only the Attorney or Solicitor General, and in view of the many calls upon their time, to consult them as little as possible. A difference had recently occurred between them and the Board. The Law Officers of the Crown had declared to the Privy Council, when a report of the Council of Trade upon some acts of the Leeward Islands was being considered, that they had not given any opinion on the subject. Consideration of the report was thereupon laid aside. But the Council of Trade had stated in that report that they had consulted the Attorney and Solicitor General, and on hearing what had happened, they indignantly protested against "the great wrong" done them, and clinched their argument by submitting attested copies of the opinions which they had received from those officers, and which they had received their representation (237). It may well be that this breeze helped to impress them with the desirability of having some lawyer attached to the Board, upon whom they might call for an opinion on any point of law, great or small. His particular business would be to report upon colonial acts, as to whether they were properly drawn, whether they infringed the Royal Prerogative or the right of the subject, and whether they were consonant with both the Acts of Trade and Navigation and the other laws of the United Kingdom (409). At any rate, the Board applied for such an officer to relieve the Attorney and Solicitor General from being consulted on all but matters of the greatest importance, and Richard West, K.C., was appointed accordingly (496).
Returns required from Governors.
The new Board showed itself at least as anxious as its predecessors to obtain information and statistics from the Colonies, partly in order to satisfy the growing interest taken by Parliament in the trade and administration of the Empire. Besides repeating former demands for regular accounts of revenues, it sent circular letters to the Governors of the Plantations requesting statements of the number of acres that had been granted to planters, and details of quit-rents and of the establishments of each Government (63, 334). Notice was demanded when leave of absence was granted to a Councillor (570). Returns of imports and exports from and to Madeira and the Azores were required (334 etc.).
French progress on the Mississippi.
The progress made by the French in establishing communications between Canada and the new colony of Louisiana, and their preparations for new settlements on the Mississippi "on the back of the British Plantations" had already aroused apprehension in such astute Governors as Spotswood of Virginia and Hunter of New York. (Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. viii.).
The Company of the West.; French encroachment on the patent of Carolina.; Enquiries by the Board of Trade as to French expansion.
Mr. Cumings, the Customs House Officer at Boston, now sent a map of the British Empire in North America to illustrate the danger which threatened it (85). Shortly afterwards (4th Dec., 1717), Mr. Beresford submitted, on behalf of South Carolina, a memorial in which he drew attention to the transferring of Crozat's patent for Louisiana to the new Compagnie d' Occident, and to the extensive powers and privileges which were now conferred upon it. The national effort directed by Law's new organisation, and by the French in Canada, would, it was feared, enable them effectually to put into execution the project of La Hontan, either to induce the Five Nations to transfer both their allegiance and their trade from the English to the French, or else to compel them by the erection of forts in places indicated by him. It was suspected that they were preparing an attack upon the Cherokee Indians, whose friendship was of the first importance to Carolina. The Carolinians represented that the grant made to Crozat by Louis XIV in 1712, as outlined by La Hontan's map, included not only all Florida, but also the whole Continent from the Mississippi to the St. Lawrence. It therefore both shut in all the British Plantations on the Continent, and infringed the patent of the Proprietors of Carolina, whose grant extended from the North to the South Sea. The Carolinians urged the Government to assert the authority of the Crown against such encroachments (238, 660). This memorial was communicated to the Secretary of State by the Board of Trade, who at the same time wrote to all the Governors of North America for information as to the progress and encroachments of the French, and the methods which they would recommend for checking them (256).
Cumings saw in the danger which threatened from this quarter yet one more reason for resuming the charters of the Proprietary Governments, in order that, with a uniform system of government, a scheme of combined defence might be introduced (85, 660. Cf. C.S.P 1716–17, pp. ix., x.). Spotswood, from Virginia, gave reasons for doubting the report that the French and their Indians were marching against the Cherokees, or that they would be successful if they did. But he saw plainly enough that it would be in the interest of the British to obstruct the growth of the new French colony on the Mississippi, and that this could best be done by cultivating the friendship of the Cherokees, extending trade relations with the other tribes of Indians in the West, and interrupting the French line of communication between Quebec and the Bay of Mexico by adopting a forward western policy and pushing on across the mountains, over which he had discovered a passage (800). From Carolina the encreasing power of the French at Mobile was used as an aragument for resuming the charter of the Lords Proprietors (660). New England had nothing to fear from the French settlements on the Mississippi, and felt secure in the great distance and the vast forests which separated them. For Massachusetts and New Hampshire, it was felt, the danger-point was Cape Breton, where the fortification of Louisburg gave rise to apprehension (700). General Hunter, Governor of New York, like Spotswood, advocated a forward policy. He had already drawn attention to the claims inherent in M. Crozat's patent, and the danger which hung over the frontiers of the British Plantations from the increase of French influence over the Indians, and the raids upon the frontiers which it might instigate. The extension of our own frontiers, and the crection of forts and the increase of frontier garrisons were the remedies which he had already advocated (600. Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. viii., and, 1715, pp. viii.–x.).
Relations with Spain. Seizure of British ships.
Relations with Spain were now very strained. So far as the Colonies were concerned, complaints continued to be made of British ships seized by Spanish guarda costas, and now began to take the shape of formal protests and appeals to the Government. Jamaican merchants submitted a list of their losses, and complained that the Governors of Spanish ports refused to give any satisfaction in such cases, even when seizures had been made within sight of the island, or raids carried out upon Jamaican plantations (65, 65 i.–iii.)
The case of Captain Beverley.; Redress demanded from Madrid.
A Particularly outrageous instance was the case of the Virgin of Virginia, a privateer commanded by Harry Beverley, a Virginian, who, as shown in the previous volume (C.S.P. 1716–17, Nos. 595, 595 iv.), had been commissioned by Lt. Governor Spotswood to investigate the activities of pirates on Providence Island in the Bahamas, which were under his jurisdication as Vice-Admiral. Beverley's character was vouched for by the Council of Virginia. There was not the least ground for suspicion that he was engaged upon any unlawful design or intended any hostile action against the Spaniards. Nevertheless, he was captured by a Spanish man-of-war upon the high seas, and finally carried into Vera Cruz. There the Viceroy of Mexico, without granting him a hearing or considering the credentials and instructions with which he had been furnished by the Lt. Governor of Virginia, condemned his sloop, and flung him and his crew into prison, without subsistence, so that several died of starvation. Beverley made his escape to Virginia, after having lain seven months in gaol, petitioning in vain for a trial. Spotswood might well protest that "by the same rule that the Spaniards have taken this man and his vessell on the high seas and without being near any of their Dominions, and without any hostility offered on his part, every vessell belonging to H.M. subjects may expect the like treatment" (10, 10 i.–viii, 59; C.S.P. 1716–17, Nos. 595, 595 iv.). The Council of Trade laid the case before the Secretary of State " as a matter of very great consequence to the trade of this Nation" (5, 5 i.), and the British Envoy at Madrid was instructed to demand redress, (Aug. 1717. Nos. 64). There was, besides, the grievance of the Carolinians that the Spaniards at St. Augustine harboured and encouraged enemy Indians in their war with them (525). On the other hand, instructions were given that the Governor of Jamaica should enquire into the Spanish complaint of piracies committed by Jamaican privateers, and reparation be made, if feasible (361).
Representation on Logwood cutting in Bay of Campeache.; Importance of the Trade.; The Spanish attack upon British at Lagune de Terminos.
In Sept., 1717, the Council of Trade made their report in answer to the Marquis de Monteleon's memorial concerning the logwood-cutters in the Bay of Campeche (104 i.). This highly important representation has often been mentioned, but never before printed. The Board asserted the full and ample right of British subjects to this trade. They traced their claim to the first settlements near Cape Catoche made by English privateersmen during the hostilities preceding the Treaty of Madrid in 1667, after they had driven the Spaniards out of that trade. Either upon, or before the publication of that Treaty, English logwood-cutters also settled near Suma Sunta "adjacent to the Laguna de Terminos and to Triste and Beef Islands." Their right to the trade was held to be confirmed by the American Treaty concluded by Sir William Godolphin in 1670, and their possession was made good, according to Sir Thomas Modyford, Governor of Jamaica, writing in 1672, by their having used that trade for three years past and by their occupation of the interior up to five miles from the coast, where they had never seen a Spaniard. Such possession was held in the West Indies "to be the strongest that can be, viz. felling of wood, building of houses and clearing and planting the ground," By the 7th Article of the American Treaty it was provided that "the King of Great Britain shall hold and keep all the lands etc. in any part of America, which he and his subjects now hold and possess." Thus, it was argued, the Laguna de Terminos and the parts adjacent, being in the possession of the English before the conclusion of that Treaty, they were confirmed in it by the said Treaty. But in 1672 a Royal cedula was issued by the Queen Regent of Spain, by which it was decreed that "such as should make invasion, or trade without license in the ports of the Indies, should be proceeded against as pirates." By virtue of this decree the Spaniards began to seize any ships that had logwood on board without regard to the Treaty of 1670. Disregarding the effective occupation of the English or the absence of it on their own part, they attacked and dislodged the English logwood cutters at the Laguna de Terminos and Island of Triste in 1680. But after two or three months, these places were re-occupied and the logwood trade resumed. By the Treaty of Utreacht it was agreed that the places in the Indies taken during the war should be restored. The Spanish Ambassador argued that this involved the evacuation of the Laguna de Terminos. But the Council of Trade replied that, as the English had been in possession of it ever since 1669 and before, except for the short period after the Spanish attack in 1680, this could not be so. Moreover, by the Treaty of Commerce following the Treaty of Utrecht the American Treaty of 1670 was confirmed, but with the express stipulation, "without any prejudice however to any liberty or power which the subjects of Great Britain enjoy'd before, either thro' right, sufferance or indulgence." The latter phrase, the Board maintained, established "in as plain and express words as can be us'd or imagin'd," the liberty of British subjects to cut logwood which they had enjoyed without interruption before the Treaty of 1660, as well as a right in the Crown to Laguna de Terminos and the parts adjacent, if it was thought worth while to insist upon it. As to the logwood, the Board emphasised the importance of that trade, not only for its cash value of £60,000 per annum, but also as providing employment for British ships and seamen. In a former preface we have noted its importance in supplying dye for the woollen industry. The Board concluded by representing that though the Spanish Ambassador in his memorial had declared that no attack would be made upon British subjects at the Laguna de Terminos till eight months had expired, yet they were attacked and made prisoners that same month, as has been seen in the preceding volume of this Calendar (104 i.).
Spaniards raid Crab Island.; Restitution demanded.; Other British ships seized off the Virgin Islands.
At the beginning of 1718 the Governor of the Leeward Islands announced that what he had always dreaded had come to pass. A Spanish man of war and six sloops appeared off Crab Island and demanded its surrender. They then landed and killed several of the inhabitants, and carried off others, with their wives and children and fifty negroes, as well as the Lt. Governor, Abraham Howell, to Puerto Rico. They also seized all the sloops they could lay their hands on, "as they do others in the open sea". Those of the inhabitants who managed to escape to the windward side of the island were saved by sloops that happened to be there, and sought refuge at Anguilla and Spanish Town (442). Governor Hamilton at once sent a demand by H.M.S. Scarborough to the Governor of Puerto Rico for the immediate release of those who had been carried thither and for the return of their negroes and effects. At the same time he asserted "the unquestionable right and title of the British Crown to Crab Island (442, 449 iii.). Hamilton's letter was submitted by the Board of Trade to Mr. Secretary Addison, as a matter demanding instant action (557), and the Minister at Madrid was instructed to lodge complaint (563). The Board next laid before Mr. Secretary Craggs Hamilton's request for further directions, he having done, in regard to the Governor of Puerto Rico, all that he was empowered to do by his Instructions (582). Further accounts were received from him of seizures by the Spaniards of British sloops off Tortuga and whilst turtling off Crab Island and Sta. Cruz (692, 692 vi.–viii.).
Lt. Governor Howell released.; Spaniards raid Bahama Islands.
Lt. Governor Howell at length succeeded in obtaining his release from Puerto Rico, through the intercession of the Agent of the Asiento Company there, and made his way to St. Kitts in a Jamaican sloop. He brought news that the Spaniards were fitting out an expedition at Vera Cruz and Havana to attack the Bahama Islands. A small raid was in fact made (737, 737 iv., v., vii., 797, 807). Evidently a state of almost open naval warfare was being waged by the Spaniards against British vessels in the West Indian waters, and would not be much longer endured.
Address by Assembly of New York.; New York vessels seized.; War with Spain.; Instructions to Governors.
However much within their rights the King of Spain and Alberoni might be in their determination to exclude British merchants from trading with Spanish ports, the methods pursued by the guarda costas and Spanish Governors in the West Indies were such as no sea-going nation could be expected to tolerate. In addition to the cases above mentioned, the Assembly of New York in Oct., 1718, requested the Governor to represent to the King that a sloop belonging to the Mayor of that City had been taken on her voyage, carried into Puerto Rico and there condemned though "the master had neither directly or indirectly traded in any port belonging to his Catholick Majesty or with any of his subjects." Other New York vessels had been seized on their voyages to and from the West Indies with nothing but the produce of British Plantations on board. It was stated that privateers were fitting out at Puerto Rico in order to capture British vessels passing that way, a situation which would paralyse the New York trade in provisions for the West Indies (738 v.). When therefore news arrived of Sir George Byng's victory over the Spanish fleet off Cape Passaro, it was received with pleasure, for, as Governor Hunter observed "they have been making war upon us of a long time" (738, 807). In the mean time Alberoni's endeavours to recover for Spain what she had lost by the Treaty of Utrecht resulted in the formation of the Quadruple Alliance and declaration of war, 16th Dec., 1718. A man of war was despatched with instructions for the Governors of Plantations at this crisis (780, 791, 803, 804, 814).
Description of Spanish West Indies.
In this connection there is noted here a description of the Spanish West Indies, which was written by the chief Pilot of the Spanish Flotas in 1718. It includes an account of shoals, currents and coasts of the Spanish West Indies and Bay of Mexico, and also of sailing directions, of considerable interest still, and of great practical importance at the time (1740) when it was translated and presented to the Duke of Newcastle (820). The Spaniards guarded the secrets of navigation with the most jealous care. It will be remembered what great importance Admiral Anson attached to the charts and sailing-directions which he found on board the Manila galleon captured by the Centurion in 1748. (fn. 1)
Increase and depredations of pirates.; Trade paralysed.
Pirates of all nationalities continued to increase in numbers. Their depredations had a paralysing effect upon commerce. Jamaican merchants had to await convoy by a man of war. Those who took the risk and attempted to run what practically amounted to a blockade, were almost inevitably plundered. "Tis with great hazard that ships come to us, which has occasioned a great scarcity of all sorts of provisions," wrote a Governor of Jamaica in August, 1717. "There is hardly one vessel," wrote another a year later, "coming in or going out of this Island that is not plundered" (54, 522, 566). A list of some of the chief pirates and an account of their brutalities is given by the Lt. Governor of Bermuda, to whom they sent word that they intended to seize his government and use it as their headquarters, like a second Madagascar, instead of their present rendezvous in the Bahama Islands. There their strength and impudence was such that they ordered H.M.S. Phoenix out of the harbour at Providence Island (551, 551 i.–x.). Carolina, like Jamaica, reported that hardly a ship goes to sea but falls into their hands. Trade was brought to a stand-still, and the port of Charleston was blocked by pirates lying off the bar. By threats of murdering their prisoners and burning the town about his ears, they compelled the Governor to supply them with a chest of medicines (556, 660). The Governor of New England wrote in the same vein: "The pirates continue to rove on these seas; and if a sufficient force is not sent to drive them off, our trade must stop" (575). The Governor of the Leeward Islands was prevented from making his intended visit to the Virgin Islands until he learned that the pirates who swarmed there had left for the North American coast. Even so, on his return, the appearance of pirates in strength off St. Christopher caused the inhabitants, in alarm for the Governor's safety, to impress and man a sloop, in order to reinforce the small warship, which was quite unfit to cope with them (134, 298, 298 i.–iii., 797, 797 i.–vi.). Similarly, Governor Hunter was delayed in making his departure from New York by "the pirates being busy on this coast" (553).
Remedies proposed,; and adopted.; House of Commons calls for papers.
The remedies proposed for this state of things from all quarters were an increased naval force to police the seas, and a promise of pardon to all pirates who should surrender within a given time. The attention of Ministers was again drawn to the seriousness of the situation at the beginning of this period by the Board of Trade. In Sept., 1717, Addison announced that it had been decided to put both the proposed measures into force. Additional men of war were ordered to the West Indies to suppress the pirates, whilst a Proclamation offering pardon to those who should surrender was being prepared (1, 1 i., 5, 5 i., 64). Steps were also being taken for driving them out of their nest in the Bahamas by naval reinforcement of the expedition under Capt. Rogers (64, 471). Shortly afterwards, the House of Commons called for a return of all papers and orders on the subject (393 i., 400).
Proclamation offering pardon.; Governor's Commissions for granting pardons.; Effect of the Proclamation.; Pirates revert
The proclamation promising pardon to all pirates who should surrender before Jan. 5th, was prepared by the Law Officers of the Crown in consultation with the Council of Trade (1, 1 i., 9, 64). Several questions were at once raised concerning it, and were answered by the Attorney and Solicitor General (181, 187, 187 i.–iv., 201). The notorious Henry Avery (or Every, alias Bridgman) had been previously excepted, but the offer of pardon was now without restriction (9, 201). As the Proclamation contained a promise of pardon only it was at first suggested that it would be necessary for Governors to be instructed to grant it to those who surrendered. Goods piratically taken by them would remain the property of the original owners, and might be recovered by them (201). On further consideration, however, it was decided that an Instruction to Governors would not suffice, but that Commissions under the Great Seal must be issued (390, 466). In the absence of such power, the Lt. Governor of Bermuda and the Commander of H.M.S. Phoenix issued certificates to such as surrendered to them on the publication of the King's Proclamation (345, 345 i., 384). For at first a considerable number did so, including some of note, such as Hornigold and Jennings. A certain number of these had been forced to turn pirates against their wills, when their ships were taken. Amongst them were some who retook their ship in dramatic fashion (551). The first tidings of the pardon were received with great joy, we are told, by the community of pirates, numbering 6 or 700, at the Bahamas (345, 345 i.–iii., 447, 474, 556). But their first enthusiasm cooled down when they found that Governors had not yet any power to grant the promised pardon, and that it did not assure to them the enjoyment of their ill-gotten gains. They declared that they would not surrender, if surrender involved the loss of the effects for which they had risked their necks (474). In Virginia, Howard, the Quartermaster of the infamous "Blackbeard," Teach, had the impudence to commence a suit against the officer who, by the Governor's command, had seized two negroes whom he admitted he had taken out of two ships (800). The Board of Trade therefore asked what instructions should be given to Governors with regard to such stolen goods, and they urged the dispatch of commissions to the several Governors (539, 580). On 28th July, 1718, commissions for pardoning pirates, and extending the time limit for their surrender till 1st July, passed the Great Seal, and were ordered to be dispatched by the earliest opportunity (594, 638–642, 803).
After the first flush, the results of the offer of pardon proved disappointing. Hornigold, indeed, in the Bahamas not only surrendered, but even took command of a sloop and sailed in search of Vane (737). But the majority of those who gave themselves up did not make good. They soon reverted to their old way of living. From all sides came reports that they were "returning to the sport" or going out again "on the account" (551, 556, 657, 660, 797). This caused no surprize to Governor Hunter. For it had been found by experience at New York that, as soon as their money was spent, such men usually relapsed into their former ways, partly because nobody was willing to employ them, and partly because it was an easy method of earning a livelihood (660). There is also a plain hint from the Secretary of State that gratuities were being exacted by those in authority for granting pardons or issuing certificates of surrender, and that such exactions had hindered the flow of surrenders (803). In Carolina it was thought that the offer of pardon had proved an actual encouragement to pirates. There they came in, took their discharge and probably deposited some of their effects, and then, after a brief holiday, reverted to their old course of life. Their number was reported to have increased threefold since the publication of the Proclamation. Many of the pirates were old privateersmen, who found themselves out of employment in the intervals of peace. When war broke out with Spain, they would be ready enough to take up their old and more legitimate occupation on one side or the other (660). The Council of Trade therefore proposed an extension of the time allowed for their claiming the pardon, because it was feared that, otherwise, they would enter into the service of Spain (780).
Commissions for trying pirates in the Plantations.; Trials under the old Commissions.
The Act for the more effectual suppression of piracy had been renewed by subsequent acts. But the commissions for trying pirates in the Plantations, issued under King William III and Queen Anne, had determined with the recent demise of the Crown. As pirates were now reported to have been seized in Bermuda and New York, the Council of Trade suggested that such commissions should be renewed (91, 580). This was done, but the dispatch of them was for some reason held up, possibly to avoid confusion with the extended offer of pardon (338, 403–405, 483, 594). They were not sent out until nearly a year later, after a further representation by the Council of Trade, on the occasion of the declaration of war with Spain (703, 803). In the mean time Governor Shute at Boston had held trials of eight pirates, apparently under the commission issued to the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay by her late Majesty (193, 419, 575 i., 656, 658). Spotswood, too, in Virginia, in spite of protests from some of the Councillors, tried a pirate under the Commission of William III, and the extended pardon only arrived just in time to save his unworthy neck from the gallows (800).
Capture of Pirates.
But you must first catch your hare. Pirates, before being tried, had to be captured. Efforts in that direction were not altogether unsuccessful, in spite of the great numbers and heavy armaments of "these vermin." We have seen that men of war had been ordered to the West Indies, and that in Hornigold a thief was set to catch a thief (64, 737, 807). Among the Leeward Islands the guardships Scarborough and Seaford were active (298, 298 i.–iii.), the capture of a French pirate by the former leading to a dispute with the Governor of Barbados as to the disposal of the ship and cargo under an order of the Admiralty Court at St. Christopher (742). The Governor of Jamaica, however, complained that the men of war on that station were largely concerned in trading with the Spanish Main on their own account. This complaint, when communicated to the Admiralty, occasioned a repetition of their instructions to the Commodore to see that Commanders of H.M. ships did not carry merchandise on any account, but should use the utmost diligence in cruising against pirates (566, 685, 686, 688).
Stede Bonnet captured.
Captain Woodes Rogers arriving at Providence Island in July, 1718, to take up his new government of the Bahama Islands, found Charles Vane in command of the Community of pirates there (737). Rogers was accompanied by the men of war, Milford and Rose, and the Shark, sloop. Their orders were to assist in putting the Governor in possession of Providence I., and to relieve the guardships on the Barbados and Leeward I. stations, "when the pirates in the West Indies are supprest." (Admiralty, 8/14.) The Rose arrived at Nassau the evening before Rogers, but was obliged to cut her cables and run out at night, owing to Vane's having set fire to one of his prizes in the harbour. Next day, however, on the arrival of the remainder of the expedition, the pirate captain was obliged to make his escape, "wearing the black flag and firing guns in defiance." After lying off the bar of Charleston harbour and capturing ships trading with Carolina, Vane visited the coast of Cuba and then took shelter with his prizes near Abacoa, where some of his friends from Providence traded with him (730, 737). At Rogers' earnest request, Commodore Chamberlain had left H.M.S. Rose, Capt. Whitney, with orders to remain three weeks. Whitney refused to prolong his stay beyond another week. Rogers was therefore not only compelled to refrain from attacking Vane, but also had good grounds for fearing that the pirate would now make an attack, and that, if he did so, he would be supported by his old friends ashore. Vane, indeed, sent word to the Governor that he intended to attack him, and to burn his guardship in return for his former affront in sending two sloops after him, instead of answering his letter (737, 807). Vane had been expecting to join forces with Major Stede Bonnet, a Barbadian, or some other pirate, in order to attack Rogers (737). But Bonnet's activities were brought to an end just at that time (Nov., 1718). After surrendering with Teach, when wrecked in N. Carolina, he had taken to piracy again, and was refitting in Cape Fear River whilst Vane was plundering vessels off Charleston harbour (800). The Governor of South Carolina fitted out a couple of sloops under command of Colonel Rhett to attack the latter. But being unable to find Vane, Rhett went after Bonnet into Cape Fear River. Bonnet endeavoured to escape, and in the course of the chase all three sloops went aground at low tide.
Rhett's sloop lay within shot of the pirates, and for six hours they engaged in a hot musketry duel. But when the tide turned, the rising water set Rhett's sloops afloat before it reached Bonnet. Having thus secured the advantage in manoeuvring, Rhett prepared to board the pirate, who therefore surrendered (730, 787). In announcing this success, Governor Johnson and the Council of South Carolina begged the Council of Trade to help them in obtaining a man of war to protect their harbour, which the pirates sometimes blocked up for eight or ten days together (556, 660, 730). They also expressed their apprehension lest their victory over Bonnet would "very much irritate the pirates who infest this coast in great numbers" (730). These fears were justified, for the harbour was promptly blocked again by pirates, who took several ships in sight of Charleston (787). The Governor, however, again rose to the occasion, and fitted out several vessels, which succeeded in capturing a pirate ship and sloop, after killing 26 men, including their leader, Worley.
Teach, alias Blackbeard.; Teach Killed after a desperate fight.
One of the pirates who appeared off Charleston, and besides plundering trading vessels, compelled the Governor to send him a chest of medicines, was Teach, alias Blackbeard. He commanded a ship of 40 guns and 3 sloops, carrying 400 hands (551, 556, 660). Like Vane, he was said to have committed many atrocities (551, 551 i.–x.). Teach had been hunting in company with Bonnet, Kentish and Edwards, seizing and burning ships off Guadeloupe and St. Christopher (298, 298 i.–iii.). On leaving Charleston in June, 1718, he sailed northwards, and entering Ouacock Bay, ran aground, and lost his ship and two of his sloops. He thereupon surrendered to the Governor of North Carolina (657, 800). On hearing of this, Lt. Governor Spotswood in Virginia, having no great confidence either in the forced submission of men of that character, or in the integrity or power of the Government of North Carolina, issued a Proclamation forbidding surrendered pirates to carry arms or assemble in numbers (July, 1718. Nos. 657, 657 iii., 800). He explained that he was afraid that as soon as their money was spent, they would seize some vessel and return again to their old trade (657). This was what happened. Bonnet, as we have seen, was soon out again, whilst Teach, keeping his crew together in North Carolina, "went out at pleasure committing robberys upon this coast" (800). Spotswood was determined that the pirates should not be permitted, through the weakness or connivance of the Government of North Carolina, to gather strength and establish a rendezvous at a spot so dangerous to Virginian shipping as Ouacock Inlet. He persuaded the Assembly to offer rewards for the apprehension or destruction of pirates, and to put a heavy price on Teach's head. But he did not dare to communicate the plan he had devised either to the Assembly or to the Council, for fear Teach should be informed of it, "there being in this country, and more especially among the present faction, an unaccountable inclination to favour pyrates," as was shown by the refusal of the inhabitants to assist in disarming and suppressing a gang of pirates who, in defiance of the Proclamation, marched under arms through Virginia and endeavoured to induce sailors to join them. In secret, therefore, he approached the Captains of the men of war on that station and communicated to them his project of destroying that nest of pirates. When they explained that their ships could not negotiate the shallow and difficult channels of Ouacock, he hired two sloops which they manned with two naval officers and 55 men. They found and boarded the pirate sloop. But Teach made a stout resistance, in the course of which that desperate ruffian and nine of his crew were killed. The pirate captain had heralded the fight by draining a bowl of liquor and crying "Damnation to anyone who should give or ask quarter." Then he raked the approaching sloops with his great guns loaded with partridge shot, inflicting serious loss on the unprotected sailors, and himself sprang onto the deck of the first sloop which came alongside to board his. He had given orders for his sloop to be blown up, if he should be overcome. But the negro who was about to set fire to the powder was stopped by a planter who had been taken prisoner the day before, and lay in the hold during the action. Of the King's men, eleven were killed and twenty-three wounded (800).
Moody and England.
Moody, England and Frowd, however, continued their depredations off Carolina and the Leeward Islands unchecked, drawing supplies from the Danish port of St. Thomas, which is described as "a nest that harbours all villains and vagabonds," and using Sumana Bay, Scots Bay and the Island of Mona as places of rendezvous (797, 797 i.–vi.).
It will be remembered that in March, 1717, the Council of Trade had laid before the King a comprehensive report upon the question of encouraging the importation of Naval Stores from the Plantations (C.S.P. 1716–17, pp. xv., xvi.). At the beginning of 1718 Mr. Joshua Gee and other merchants applied to Parliament for the grant of a premium on unmanufactured iron imported from the Plantations. This the Council of Trade had recommended in their representation. Nothing was decided, but the Board had hopes of success in the ensuring year, and stated their determination to continue their support of that policy (450). In the mean while the Commons asked that a report by the Council of Trade upon the whole question of naval stores should be laid before the House (328, 328 i.). The Board at once proceeded to collect more statistics (381, 386, 386 i., 387). At the same time the Commissioners of Customs drew attention to certain frauds which were being practised in those commodities on which a premium had been granted (382). Tar was being diluted with water and pitch mixed with sand, a method of business which reminds one of a famous cargo of wooden hams at a later date. The Council of Trade therefore issued a circular letter to Governors warning them that such abuses would bring American pitch and tar into disrepute, and instructing them to give directions for maintaining the good quality of their exports (416, 419). Spotswood, who had been disgusted at the success of the agitations which had secured the repeal of the acts for regulating the tobacco, fur and Indian trades in Virginia, prophesied great difficulty in obtaining one to prevent frauds in this. That part of the electorate which was most concerned, he said, valued the reputation of their commodities in the British market as little as their own in Virginia (699).
Joshua Gee's report.
In pursuit of their study of the question, the Council of Trade obtained a report from Mr. Gee. He stressed the danger of allowing the country to be at the mercy of the King of Sweden for its supplies of iron and timber. The import duties on timber, boards, pipe-staves and copper were, he asserted, preventing the Plantations from supplying the British market with those commodities. The removal of those duties in favour of the Plantations would be a sufficient encouragement, and thus make Great Britain independent of the supplies at present drawn from Norway and Sweden. She would pay for them by her manufactures instead of exporting gold to the Eastern countries. He emphasised the advantage that would be gained for British shipping by having this additional freight for homeward-bound voyages from America. And he was able to point to the success which had attended the granting of a premium upon tar imported from the Plantations. For not only had the price of Swedish tar been greatly reduced, but also the monopoly of the Stockholm Company had been so successfully invaded, that large quantities were being exported from Great Britain to Europe. As to iron, the quality of the American ore had been proved to be excellent. But the erection of iron works was a chargeable undertaking, and the mere removal of the import duty would scarcely suffice to induce people to invest the necessary capital in such enterprises. He therefore proposed that a premium should be granted on unmanufactured iron made in the Plantations, and that in return, and to safeguard British manufacturers, all such iron should be imported directly to England, "so that the Plantations may have their supplies of iron and iron manufactures from England as they now have" (819). The Board of Trade, on the last day of the year, invited the Chancellor of the Exchequer to confer with them on the subject (815).
Pressing of Seamen.
The Board of Trade laid before the Privy Council a suggestion from the Governor of Barbados that Governors should be permitted to press seamen in emergencies. But they had little hope that the Act for the encouragement of the trade to America would be altered in that sense (471).
Agitation against Posts in Virginia.; Right of Parliament to tax the Colonies challenged.
Posts had already been established in the Northern Plantations between Boston, New York and Philadelphia, by the Post-Master General, in pursuance of the powers granted him by the Act of IX Queen Anne. But when he now began to establish a fortnightly service from Williamsburgh via Maryland to Philadelphia, objections were raised in Virginia. Fixing the rates of postage, it was maintained, was equivalent to imposing a tax, and the right of Parliament to impose a tax without the consent of the General Assembly was denied. But in a bill passed by the Council and Assembly this fundamental principle was abandoned, so far as the Post Office act was concerned. Whilst acknowledging the act to be in force in the Colonies, opposition to the Post-Master General of America and the Deputies appointed by him was concentrated on imposing such penalties, provisioes and exceptions as to render the establishment of the posts impossible. Spotswood refused his assent to the bill. But it remains important as showing that the principle of taxation for revenue by Parliament was recognised as being raised, and was so far conceded (568).
A Patent for Sturgeon.; Protest from New England.
Petitions from several merchants for the sole right of curing sturgeon in America and importing them into England were considered (149, 149 i., 165 i., 222, 222 i. etc.). A protest against any such monopoly was entered by the Agent for New England as "contrary to the natural and common rights of His Majesty's subjects" (354).
The Council of Trade rejected the application of English petitioners whose claims to have been at much labour and expense in perfecting the art of curing sturgeon they found to be baseless. But they recommended the grant of a monopoly to John Boreland, a Boston merchant, in order to encourage such curing and importation from the Plantations. Boreland had already made experiments in this direction, and undertook to import sturgeon from North America within four years which would be as good as that which came from Hamburgh and the East Country. His patent was to be granted for eight years only at first, and to be terminable at the end of four (480).
With regard to the prohibition of foreign trade, the Council of Trade thought it necessary to explain the instructions of the previous summer (v. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. ix.). By the Act of Navigation no foreign ships were allowed to trade with the British Plantations. But there was no law forbidding British ships from trading to or from foreign Plantations. Only it was agreed to prevent it by the Treaty of Peace and Neutrality. Governors were to discourage such trading, but ships which did so could not be confiscated, nor their cargoes (227, 588). Prevention of such trading, however, was, as the Governor of the Leeward Islands observed, no easy matter without a complete system of sloops to act as coast-guards about the numerous bays of the islands (134). The further question arose, whether any goods not of European growth or manufacture might be imported into the Plantations in English ships from anywhere but Great Britain. This question was put to the Attorney General (636).
Policy of Imperial Preference.
The Council of Trade expressed their agreement with the suggestion of Lt. Governor Keith (who had been Surveyor General of the Customs in America), that a much higher duty ought to be laid in all the British Plantations upon imports from foreign Plantations than on those from the British Empire, " so as to encourage as much as possible the commodities of our own Plantations" (227, 450). Mr. Cumings, it will be remembered, had in 1716 proposed a duty equivalent to the 4– p.c. by which the British Sugar Islands were handicapped (v. C.S.P. 1716–17, pp. ix., x.).
§ 2. THE AMERICAN COLONIES.
South Carolina.; Renewal of Indian War feared.; French encroachments.
In March, 1718, the Committee of the Assembly of South Carolina wrote to their Agent giving reasons for fearing a renewal of the Indian war. Colonel Hastens, who had been sent to make peace with the Southern Indians, and had been left as a hostage with them whilst a deputation of Creeks went to Charleston to negotiate, was murdered together with nine white men, women and children. The intentions of the Cherokees and Cuttabas appeared doubtful. It was reported that they had made peace with the Creeks. The French had posted garrisons amongst the Creeks; and there were grounds for believing that, encouraged by the French and Spaniards, "the whole body of Indians all round us are plotted against us." The Assembly repeated their appeal for relief from the Crown; otherwise, these perpetual hostilities with the Indians and the pressure of taxation to pay for measures of defence would cause an exodus of the inhabitants to the Bahamas, as soon as Capt. Rogers arrived in his new Government (423, 556). A similar account of the situation having been forwarded to the Council of Trade by the Lieut. Governor of Bermuda, the Board once more enquired of the Lords Proprietors what they had done or intended to do for the security of the Province (384, 486, 504 i.). Later, the Governor of Virginia reported raids by the Northern and Tuscarora Indians in North Carolina and an attack by them intended to cut off the new seat of Government, which was beaten off within half a mile of the Governor's residence (699). The fears aroused by the progress of the French and the (improbable) rumour of an intended attack by them upon the Cherokees has been mentioned above (238; § 1. p. viii.).
Renewed appeal for resumption to Crown.; Supported by the Council of Trade.
The desperate condition of the Province, added to the irritation caused by the combination of interference and neglect on the part of the Proprietors, occasioned a renewal of the appeal from the inhabitants to be taken under the immediate protection of the Crown. In soliciting a report upon the necessity for resuming the Charter, and the presentation of the Address to this effect by the Assembly and inhabitants of South Carolina, the Agent drew attention to the fact that it was now signed by the Assemblymen and 568 others, that is, by more than half the inhabitants of the Province. This was the best answer to the assertion of the Lords Proprietors that the demand was merely factious, and the work of a party (536, 536 ii.; Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, 536 ii., p xxii.). The Council of Trade were ready enough to support this application. In forwarding the Agents' memorial (423), to the Secretary of State, they repeated their previous suggestions that steps should be taken "for resuming this and all other Proprietary Governments into the hands of His Majesty, since it is evident they cannot support or protect themselves, and that any misfortune happening to them must in consequence affect the rest of His Majesty's Dominions on the Continent of America" (525). A fortnight later they expressed the daily increasing conviction of the "great inconveniences that do arise from the erecting of Proprietary Governments" (543.)
Acts for encouraging settlement of Yamassee lands repealed.
The Proprietors having withdrawn their prohibition of the settlement of lands between the Cambahee and Savannah rivers (C.S.P. 1716–17, 72, 413 i.), the Assembly had passed two acts for encouraging the seating of the Yamassee lands (C.S.P. 1716–17, 413 i.). By them advantageous terms as to grants and quit-rents were offered to Protestant colonists from the British Dominions. But in the autumn of 1718 the Lords Proprietors instructed the Governor and Council that no more lands must be surveyed and granted without permission from their Board. The reason advanced was that the old abuses of exorbitant grants and failure to keep accounts of quit-rents were being repeated. They demanded an exact return of such grants and rents (694–696). They thanked Col. Rhett for his efforts to obtain such a rent-roll (697), and repealed the two acts above mentioned as being an encroachment by the Assembly upon their rights and property (631, 632). Whilst one of these acts had offered a bounty on white servants imported, provided they were not Roman Catholics, native Irish, or persons of evil character, another was passed laying a duty on negroes imported (660). The intention, evidently, was to redress the balance between white and black.
Paper money and the Tax Act.; Goods as legal tender.
In accordance with the instructions given by the Lords Proprietors to Governor Johnson, an act, known as the Tax act, was passed for raising money to sink the bills of credit which had been issued under the Bank Act. It was represented to the Proprietors, however, by London merchants and others, that the Assembly were designing to elude the provisions of this Tax act, and to issue more paper money. They therefore instructed the Governor not to give his consent to any measure for evading the Tax act, and not to permit the creation of any new bills of credit without their consent. The same restriction was applied to the proposal to make commodities legal tender at a fixed price (660, 687).
Act laying duty on British goods.
Great objection was made to another device of the Assembly for raising money to pay for the Indian war without taxing their estates. This was a duty of 10 p.c. upon all British manufactures imported. Col. Rhett, the Surveyor General of Customs, represented that such an import would not only be a burden upon British merchants, but also encourage illegal trade in foreign goods and stimulate the colonists to set up manufactures of their own, " which they have for some time past aim'd at, and endeavoured to effect and are capable to do, having wools in great plenty" (452 i., 660). Upon this the Council of Trade consulted the Solicitor General, and elicited from him an opinion that such a heavy burden upon British trade was not consonant to reason and by no means agreeable to the laws of Britain, as the terms of the Charter required (463, 489). The Lords Proprietors, however, stated that the act had not been submitted for their approbation, and that they did not know of its existence (505). The Council of Trade therefore suggested that they should be instructed by the Crown to send their disallowance of the act at once to Carolina, with directions to the Governor never to assent to a similar law in the future (514). This they were required to do by an Order in Council, and, in addition, to reprimand Governor Johnson for having given his consent to so illegal an act (537, 631).
Acts asserting right to appoint Receivers repealed.; New Assembly ordered.; Indian Trade Act and Election Acts repealed.
As a sign of their good-will, the Lords Proprietors had empowered Governor Johnson to announce to the Assembly upon his arrival in the Colony their gift of all arrears of money due from lands, and of future quitrents till May, 1718. But there was a pill concealed within this gift. For it was decreed that thereafter, to atone for the depreciation of the paper money, £12 instead of £3 per 100 acres must be paid for grants of lands. A rent-roll must be prepared, and the rates of foreign coins laid down by the Act of Parliament observed (632). The Assembly had assumed the right of appointing the Receiver General of the Province and the Receiver of the powder duty. In spite of the Governor's opposition, they had passed two acts asserting this right. These acts the Lords Proprietors also repealed, as well as the Indian Trade Act and two acts regulating the elections etc. (631, 632). At the same time they directed the Governor to dissolve the Assembly and summon a new one (632). Against the act for regulating the Indian trade petitions had been submitted, complaining that it instituted a monopoly, like the Virginian Indian Company Act, the repeal of which had been ordered (631). It was also alleged that the Indians themselves objected to it, and that its restrictions would involve the loss of their trade (660).
The act entitled to keep inviolate the freedom of elections etc. and an explanatory act of the same, which were repealed, revised the distribution of seats in the Assembly, the qualifications for voters and members and the arrangements for elections. It was aimed chiefly at the political predominance of Charleston, where hitherto elections had been exclusively held, and where the influence of the Proprietors and their officials was paramount.
The Lords Proprietors concluded their letter to the Governor and Council announcing these decisions by remarking that as the Assembly had not accepted what they had offered, and their behaviour appeared to indicate that they needed no assistance from them, their proposed donation would be withdrawn. The request for salaries for the Council they were unable to meet except by suggesting that the Council and Assembly should provide means for the support of the Government and paying themselves (632).
Margravate of Azilia.; Application for a Lottery.
In recommending the proposal of Sir Robert Mountgomery for his "new-intended settlement of Azilia," (v. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. xxii.), the Council of Trade followed the suggestions of the Attorney General (360 i., 424, 459, 493). Mountgomery's grant from the Lords Proprietors extended to the southern extremity of Carolina, and was intended to be a separate province, independent of South Carolina. Mountgomery urged in its favour that the produce that could be raised there, such as wine, olives, almonds and currants, were at present imported entirely from foreign countries, and that the new colony, reaching to the north coast of the Bay of Mexico, would act as a buffer between the Spaniards and enemy Indians and the northern Plantations. It would enable us to check the encroachments by the French from their new settlements on the Mississippi, and serve as a good jumping off ground for a new settlement on the River Apalachia (389). This suggestion of a forward policy south and west was approved by the Attorney General and the Board. But the former was doubtful whether the Lords Proprietors of Carolina had the power to divide their Government and to constitute a new province independent of the laws of South Carolina. Both agreed that in any case the erection of a new Proprietary government was undesirable. The Board emphasised the objection that some of these Charter Governments were not obliged to submit their acts for the approbation of the Crown, and took advantage of that liberty to make laws "prejudicial to the trading interest of this kingdom and of the other Plantations." They therefore proposed that the Lords Proprietors should surrender to the Crown their powers of government in the new province, retaining the property of the soil only, and that the king should then establish a suitable form of government, with Sir Robert as a royal Governor (459, 493). Mountgomery himself presently applied for permission to organise a lottery in Scotland, in order to obtain funds for his venture (671 i., 684).
Governor of Hudson's Bay.
Capt. Henry Kelsey received a Royal Commission as Governor and Commander in Chief of Hudson's Bay, to do what he should judge necessary "for Our service, the advantage of the said Company and the increase of the Beaver Trade" (793).
New England. Governor Shute's report.; Discount of paper money.
In reply to the queries of the Council of Trade, Governor Shute announced, in November, 1717, that he had visited the forts in both the provinces under his government, and found them in a bad state of repair. Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire were much in debt owing to the cost of the Indian wars. He proposed that emigration should be assisted by offering to masters of ships 40s. per head for emigrants transported by them, and that the duty on lumber should be taken off. Some measures of relief were necessary because exports were so far in excess of imports (some accounts of which were rendered, 85, 85 i., 330, 620 i., 700), and the balance of trade was so much against them, that the value of their paper money, which had driven out all other currency, was continually falling. One of Shute's first acts had been to assent to a further issue of bills of credit for £100,000. This device to avoid taxation was, in fact, having its inevitable result (193). In a later report, he rendered an account of the revenues and establishments of the two provinces (700, 700 iv., v.).
Report on lands between Nova Scotia and Maine.; Jealousy of New England Trade and fishery.; The woolen industry.; A bounty upon wool exported, considered.
In reporting upon an application for a grant of the lands between Nova Scotia (v. infra p. xlvii.), which were claimed by the Massachusetts Bay, the Board of Trade made mention of a proposal by the Agent of that Government to surrender to the Crown that portion of the lands in question which lay between the rivers Penobscot and St. Croix, in return for the recognition of their right to the lands between Kennebec and Penobscot rivers. Their comment is instructive. The Board deprecated the entering into any contracts with Proprietary Governments, or doing anything to confirm their claims, because they were daily more and more convinced of the inconveniences arising from such Governments, "who generally are not able to defend their own lands." Whilst admitting that the Massachusetts Bay was not liable to this stricture, they adopted the narrow view of British merchants by adding that "we cannot but observe that the people of New England do in many occasions interfere with the trade and benefit that should only accrue to the Mother Kingdom" (543). One such trade was the woollen industry, the development of which was restricted by the act which prohibited the export of wool from one Colony to another. Mr. Cumings reported that this act was evaded, but with so much secrecy that it was difficult to gauge to what extent. But as the woollen manufacturers in the Colonies depended upon its evasion, seizures of such wool would only be condemned if tried in the Admiralty Courts, because in the Courts of Common Law both judges and juries were generally parties concerned. The Council of Trade then began to enquire whether a bounty upon wool exported from the Plantations to England for manufacture there might not solve the difficulty (85, 418, 620).
Treaty with Eastern Indians.; French intrigues.
Governor Shute held a conference with the Eastern Indians at Arrowsick and concluded a new treaty of peace with them (193). Before the end of the following year, however, he had to report that they had become very insolent, through the instigation of the French Jesuits among them, but he still hoped to prevent a war (700). The question of French aggression and of the trials of pirates are mentioned in § 1 (193, 700).
Trials of pirates. The Assembly and Crown Officers.
The Assembly pursued its policy of cutting down the salaries of officers in an Act abolishing certain fees hitherto allowed to the Secretary. Mr. Willard asked for the repeal of this act, on the grounds that it repealed existing ones, and left the most troublesome business in the Secretary's Office to be done without reward, when his salary was already "so scandalously small, as not to amount to more than £40 sterling" (274; cf. 284).
Governor Shute and Elisha Cooke.; The King's Woods.; Dr. Cooke removed from Council.; Mr. Bridger superceded.; The rights to the Woods.
As a moderate Church of England man, who would identify himself with neither Congregationalists nor Episcopalians, Governor Shute was giving satisfaction to neither party. Vehement opposition to him was led by Elisha Cooke. His violent abuse of the Governor, whom he described as being under the influence of Dudley, led to his dismissal from the office of Clerk of the Superior Court. The lumber trade was growing rapidly. Saw-mills were being erected everywhere, especially on the frontiers of New Hampshire and in the Province of Maine. Whilst by the Charter the inhabitants were permitted to cut trees within their townships, the woods without were reserved to the Crown, and only such trees were allowed to be cut as were not marked for the use of the Navy. Cooke seized upon this situation for a campaign directed against the royal authority and officers appointed by the Crown. Arguing that the Province of Maine had been granted to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and purchased by the Massachusetts Bay, he maintained that the Colony had full title to the woods, and that the General Court could dispose of them as they thought fit. He informed the people that they could cut logs where they pleased, and made violent attacks upon Mr. Bridger, H.M. Surveyor of the Woods. After presenting a memorial to this effect to the Assembly, he subsequently modified, his statement, (616, 616 i.–viii., 672). His conduct upon this occasion, and his personal abuse of the Governor led to his removal from the Council (700, 700 i.–iii.). But he was elected Speaker of the Assembly, where he found wider scope for his demagogic activities. It was apparently owing to the representation of the Agent for New England, Mr. Dummer, that Bridger was presently superceded, and Mr. Burniston, an absentee place-holder, with no knowledge of forestry, was appointed in his place (428, 592, 735). On receipt of Mr. Bridger's letter (672), the Treasury enquired what the situation was as to the rights to the woods. The legal adviser of the Board of Trade gave his opinion that Maine was now one with Massachusetts, and not the private property of that Colony; that the Crown was entitled to all the trees therein of the dimensions reserved by the Act of IXth Anne for the Royal Navy, except only on such lands as were granted to private persons before the resumption of the Charter of Charles I. With this opinion the Board of Trade expressed their entire agreement, and suggested that it should be communicated to the Council and Assembly of Massachusetts Bay through the Governor, with directions for its observance. In the event of its not having the desired effect, they advised that a scire facias should be brought against the Charter (711, 711 i., 741, 744, 755). They also considered the Surveyor's Instructions, and whether any additions were required to the Acts governing them (706).
Bridger remains and reports waste of woods here; and in New Hampshire.
On hearing of his dismissal, Mr. Bridger expressed great indignation and surprise. He represented that, on the rumour of his being turned out, the lumber-men had begun to cut and destroy all before them. If he left his post, many thousands of fine mast trees would be destroyed in a month. He therefore proposed to continue to exercise his office, until he was relieved, and begged for the Board of Trade's good offices in securing him the continuation of his salary (735, 812). That his post was no sinecure, is emphasised by his excusing his bad writing in one letter by the remark that "the weather is so cold I cannot write three words before the ink freezes" (283). Part of the waste of woods and cutting down of mast trees reserved for the Navy in New Hampshire, he attributes to the connivance of the Lieutenant-Governor, Vaughan. On the other hand, complaints came from that Government of the restrictions imposed by him, with the result we have described (428, 592, 738).
Exports of timber to Spain and Portugal.
The large exports of timber to Spain and Portugal to be used for naval construction by the king's enemies roused the indignation of a patriotic mariner, and the Collector of Customs of New Hampshire, who reported it on the outbreak of war (796, 806 i., 810, 810 i.–iii.).
Three Acts repealed.; Objection to Act for making lands etc. liable for debts.
Three Acts of New Hampshire, for the relief of idiots; providing for posthumous children; and against High Treason were repealed, for reasons given by Mr. West (599, 615, 627, 674). As to the latter act, which made several alterations in the rules by which traitors could be convicted, to which exception might well be taken, Mr. West represented that it was desirable to keep cases of treason in the Plantations within the Common Law, by which "the Crown has the subjects of those Provinces much more at command than if the English Statutes of Treasons were extended to them." This act of New Hampshire, he added, encroached upon the King's prerogative, and no inducement was offered by that Colony to the Crown in return, such, for instance, as the settlement of the Revenue (615). He also took objection to the Act for making lands and tenements liable to payment of debts, chiefly on the grounds that it was badly worded (607).
Command of the Rhode Island Militia.
The Governor of New England visited Rhode Island, and laid before the Council that part of his Commission which appointed him to the command of their Militia in time of war or emergency. The General Assembly declared that this was contrary to their Charter, and refused their consent (700).
New Jersey. Governor Hunter commended.; Coxe's agitation in London.; Tranqullity restored
In response to Governor Hunter's request for a public declaration upon the rumours and complaints against him sponsored by Coxe and his party in New Jersey, he was authorised to make known that the King was well satisfied with his conduct, and that the reports of his dismissal were groundless and malicious (22, 69; cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. xxxii.). Some further correspondence of about the same date (Aug., 1717) revealed how busily Coxe and Bustill were promoting their agitation against him in London, and representing to their supporters in New Jersey that they had influential support from Ministers and others (373, 373 i.–v., 375, 376). They even went so far as to hint at the assassination of Hunter by suggesting that "even Parliament men" were wondering why he did not meet with the same fate as Governor Parke (373 iv., 376). But, strengthened by the pronouncement of the Government in his favour, the dismissal of the objectionable Councillors, the elimination of Coxe and his friends from the Assembly, and the approval by the Council of Trade of his reply to the Traders' memorial (344; cf. C.S.P. 1716–17. pp. xxix.–xxxii.), Hunter was able to report that the Province was at last enjoying complete tranquillity. The Assembly was perfectly amenable, and promised to settle a revenue for a longer period (520, 520 i.–iii., 738). The accounts showed a balance on the right side (651).
Act repealing Act for ascertaining place of sitting confirmed.; Lt. Gov. Ingoldsby's Acts.;
The Act repealing the act for ascertaining the place of sitting of the Assembly was confirmed in accordance with Hunter's representations (248, 254, 344, 378; cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, pp. xxix.–xxxi.), as also the Act that the solemn affirmation of Quakers be accepted instead of an oath etc. This act, by which Quakers were permitted to serve as jurors, even in criminal cases, on affirmation only, and to hold offices, extended to them greater indulgence than they received in England. But the Council of Trade recommended it on the grounds that it was represented to be "absolutely necessary for the strengthening the hands of the Government there" (253, 267, 326, 344, 378. Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. xxix.). A petition was presented praying that the subject should be re-opened before the Order in Council confirming the act was issued. Mulford figures among the signatories. The Council of Trade reported that the Order had gone out nearly three months before the petition reached them, and that, till then, no objections to the Act had been presented (445, 445 i.–iii., 558). At the same time they reminded Hunter that Lt. Governor Ingoldsby's commission for New Jersey had not been revoked at the same time as his commission as Lt. Governor of New York, and therefore challenged his statement that the acts to which he objected were passed without authority (344. Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, pp. xxviii., xxix.). Hunter, in reply, stated his case, but added that as most of the laws in question were by this time expired or repealed, it was no longer of any consequence (600).
A Naturalization Act.; Objection to Acts affecting Patent Offices.; Policy of starving Royal Officers.
An Act for naturalization led the Council of Trade to ask for a statement of the law regarding naturalization in the Plantations (785). Objection was made to three acts on the grounds that they diminished the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and also the accustomed fees of holders of Patent Offices (253, 267, 284, 764, 786). The Secretary complained that the fees of his office were reduced below a living wage. He quoted several members of Assembly as having declared that they had people enough of their own to execute that office, and that if the King would send over Patent Officers, they would take care to make it not worth their while (284).
New York. Act for payment of public debts.
In New York politics there had long been an acute division between the interests of the City and the country districts. This division had been a potent factor in the struggle for a settlement of the revenue, when one point at issue was whether a tax upon land or upon imports should be raised. The former would fall, of course, upon the planters and pioneers of the frontier, the latter mainly upon the richer merchants and consumers of the towns. The vote of the Country Party had contributed largely to the settlement of the revenue, and to the passing of the act for the payment of the debts of the Province on a basis of customs and excise duties, and an issue of bills of credit. The persons whose debts were to be paid were named in this Act of 1715, and by it all other claims were declared void. It soon appeared, however, that there were many creditors of the Province whose claims had been ignored. A second act was therefore passed at the end of 1717, for their payment, by which another issue of bills of credit was authorised, secured by a duty on imported, and an excise on retailed liquors.
Increased trade and prosperity follow on new issue of paper currency.
Hunter recommended this act as a measure both reasonable and just. Opposition to it he described as merely arising from the resentment of vested interests. Rich merchants who had grown accustomed to a practical monopoly of trade, saw it threatened by the diffusion of money and restoration of credit, opening the door to smaller tradesmen. But Hunter could point to a definite increase of trade and shipping and general prosperity, shown by the returns of imports and exports, and the acceptance of the paper currency at par, as all tending to prove the new issue of paper bills to be a beneficial measure. If the act were disallowed and the bills recalled, a financial disaster would ensue (194, 236, 317, 516, 518, 519, 650, 724 i., 738, 738 v.).
Opposition to the Act.
The merchants of New York City at once expressed their vehement dislike of the new imposition laid upon trade, and prosecuted an active opposition to the act. When the bill had passed the Assembly, the Grand Jury of New York petitioned the Governor to veto it. Hunter communicated their address to the Assembly, and the Grand Jurors were ordered to be taken into custody and brought before the bar of the House, where they were severely reprimanded (516, 516 i., 650, 738 iv., v.). Opposition to the act was then organised in London. Money was sent home to procure its repeal. A caveat was entered, and petitions were presented. The coffeehouses were canvassed, and arguments advanced to show the undesirable nature of the act (492, 499 i., 516, 650, 663 i., 707, 724 i., 738 ii.). The caveats were referred to the Board of Trade, and by the Board of Trade to the Government of New York (499, 528, 529, 633). The Council replied to them in forcible terms, agreeing with Hunter's assertion that the allegations of the opposition were scandalous and false, and their prophecies already proved by experience to be incorrect (650, 738, 738 i.–v.).
Mr. West's report.
Mr. West, in his report upon the Act, after examining the objections of the British merchants and others, expressed approval of its objects. But he stated the legal objection that, though the act by the customs imposed materially affected British trade and shipping, the instruction requiring a suspensory clause in such legislation had not been observed, and that bills of credit had been struck and issued immediately without waiting for the royal assent. They could not, however, now be recalled, without throwing the colony into the utmost confusion (663).
Objections to Revenue Act and Act laying duty on shipping.; Act amending Revenue Act passed.
Objection to the Revenue Act, and an Act to oblige all vessels trading to this Colony to pay duty, was taken on the same grounds, that they affected British trade and shipping. The Council of Trade, anxious to avoid the necessity of repealing these acts, urged Hunter to procure their amendment by the Assembly, and himself in future to observe the recent Instruction on the subject (199, 292, 402, 402 i., 662, 676). Hunter protested that it would be very difficult to find any source of revenue, seeing that a land tax was impracticable, if "by the clamours of merchants or those self-interested every sort of duty may be constructed to affect the trade of Great Britain." Similar duties, moreover, had been exacted before, and in other Colonies (600, 602). He did, however, succeed in obtaining an Act amending the Revenue Act (718, 738).
The Whale Fishery.
During the struggle for the settlement of a revenue, when money had to be raised somehow by Hunter to carry on the Government, pressure had been brought to enforce payment of quit-rents and of fees for licences for whale-fishing (50, 317, 603 iii.). Whales were royal fish, and the right to grant licences for fishing for them, or to claim the Crown property in drift whales, was assigned to the Governor in his Commission. (As to this point, the Council of Trade expressed some doubt, which was fully answered by Hunter, Nos. 317, 317 i.–x., 402, 478, 600, 603 iii., 738). The capture of drift-whales, however, was one of the leading industries in Long Island.
Mulford's speech and memorial.
The Long Islanders, who had been refused a port of their own, were bound to enter and clear their vessels at New York. The port and customs duties which they were now called upon to pay there, not to mention the enforcement of the Acts of Trade by the New York Collectors, roused their resentment and touched their pockets. In these circumstances, the collection of fees for whale-fishing and the demand for the payment of quit-rents provoked bitter opposition among those who had been accustomed to indulge a strong preference for illegal trade and a considerable leaning towards pirates. Their cause was championed in the Assembly by Samuel Mulford, of Easthampton. He had been sued for nonpayment of quit-rents and of licences for whale-fishing (317, 317 i.–xi.). In a bitter speech in the House he had attacked the Assembly and administration. There he could plead privilege. But he committed the indiscretion of publishing his speech, and was expelled from the House. Going to England, he appealed to the Council of Trade and Privy Council for redress, stating his grievances in a Memorial, which had been referred to Hunter for his reply (14, 49, 49 i.–ii., 94; and v. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. xxvii.). The present volume gives the answers of Governor, Council and Assembly to the wild attacks of that "craz'd old man," as Hunter calls him (317, 317 i.–xiv., 602, 603, 603 i.–iii.).
Reply of Council and Assembly.; Mulford and the Indians.; Conference with the Five Nations. The Palatines.
Mulford in his Memorial had complained that the distribution of seats in the Assembly was unfair; that the Country Party was over-represented, and that Long Island had not been assigned its just number of members. This, he alleged, had rendered possible the imposition of an excessive proportion of the taxes upon Long Island, when the quotas of taxes were being assigned. To this the Assembly gave a clear reply (317 xi., 603 ii., iii.). His complaint against the powers of the Court of Chancery, which had been called into requisition when it was being boasted that no jury would convict for arrears of quitrents, was also answered (317, 603 iii). But what chiefly aroused the wrath of the Assembly was the character of Mulford's attack upon the Government's Indian policy. Denouncing the cost of the salaries of the Commissioners for Indian Affairs and of the presents made to the Five Nations, he declared that their general effect was to render the Colony tributary to the Indians. The drift of his speeches and that of the Memorial suggested that an attack upon the Indians might be contemplated, with a view to exterminating them and seizing their lands. The mischievous effect of this wicked and silly suggestion was denounced by the Assembly, which expressed its full appreciation of the services rendered to the Colony by the Five Nations (112 i., 317 xi.). Colonel Schuyler also protested against an unjustifiable use of his name in that connection (578 i.). Hunter held a conference with the Five Nations at Albany in the summers of 1717 and 1718 (59, 675; and see below, p. lv.).
Hunter's comments upon Mulford and his agitation show considerable irritation and impatience. His letters seem to indicate that he had grown weary and outworn by the bitter personal attacks of such men as Mulford and Cox, supported by "some great men at home," and he resented the perpetual drudgery of having to reply to their false accusations and repeated complaints (375 iv., 553, 554, 600, 602). Having achieved his object in settling the revenue and obtaining peace and prosperity in both New York and New Jersey, he was ready to return to England and lay down his office. He was suffering, apparently, from gout; he was anxious and distressed at the failure of his friends to secure by application to Parliament repayment to him of the large sum he had expended on behalf of the Palatine emigrants (236, 402, 600). But though he began to think that his friends were forgetting him, he expresses again and again in the warmest terms his appreciation of the friendship and services of Mr. Popple, the Secretary of the Board of Trade (12, 112, 194, 236, 553, 675, 718 etc.). He had already obtained leave of absence, and at one time hoped to go home early in the spring of 1718. But, later, he decided to defer his departure till the following spring, first because of the danger of pirates on the coast, and afterwards because he felt that his presence was needed to induce the Assembly to amend the Acts to which exception had been taken (12, 194, 553, 602, 675, 724 i.).
As for his large disbursements on account of the German Protestant Refugees, the Council of Trade promised him all the assistance in their power (235, 402). But they had to inform him that it had not been possible to do anything in the matter during the recent session of Parliament. They asked for a return of their numbers and occupations, and where they were settled, and also for suggestions for employing them (402). Hunter replied, briefly, mentioning that Conrad Weiser had now gone to England on behalf of the few malcontents who would come to no terms. The rest were comfortably settled and some were growing rich. They might be usefully employed, he thought, on the frontiers, if his policy of extension were adopted (600, 650 i.).
Lack of land and the forward policy.
Repeating, in reply to an enquiry from the Council of Trade, his statement that there was little land left for granting to new settlers, Hunter reminded the Board that the adoption of his forward policy and his proposal to erect forts about the Great Lakes would solve this difficulty (650. Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, pp. xxvi., xxvii.).
In view of the Attorney General's objections to the Naturalization act of 1715, to which so much importance was attached in New York, and Hunter's assurance that the Assembly would pass an amended act, the Board of Trade applied first to Sir Edward Northey, and then to Mr. West for a draft of the alterations which were deemed necessary for the Governor to lay before the Assembly (294, 385, 401, 708. Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. xxvi.).
In forwarding accounts of the Revenue, Hunter mentions that the Treasurer refused to submit them for audit to the deputy of the Auditor General (who was a royal official), holding himself accountable only to the Governor, Council and Assembly (650, 650 ii.).
Act for settlement of lands.; New act suggested.; Act for shortening law-suits repealed.
To Hunter's request for the repeal of the Act of 1710 for the better settlement of lands, the Attorney General objected that it would inflict considerable hardship upon purchasers under that act. He took occasion to remark upon the inconveniency arising from allowing Plantation laws to remain so long without being either confirmed or repealed by the Crown (436). The Council of Trade therefore recommended the passing of a new act, not liable to the objections which had been taken to that of 1710, but at the same time safeguarding the titles of those who had purchased on its security (500). A similar recommendation was made with regard to the Act for shortening law-suits, following upon criticisms by the Attorney General, who found that it might involve hardships upon litigants. Experience in New York proved that Sir Edward's criticisms were just, and the act, on Hunter's suggestion, was therefore offered for repeal (293, 402, 600, 709).
Nova Scotia. Col. Phillips appointed Governor.; His suggestions.
Following on the reports concerning the settlement of Nova Scotia (C.S.P. 1716–17, pp. xxxii.–xxxiv.). Col. Richard Phillips received his Commission as Governor of Nova Scotia and Placentia in Aug., 1717 (19, 20). In a memorial upon his government presented by him to the Secretary of State (392 i.). Phillips urged the necessity of a present to the Indians in order to wean them from the influence of the French priests, in accordance with the advice of the Lt. Governor, Doucett, who thought that the Indians would be more swayed by benefits in this world than any promises for the next (371, 565, 789). Phillips also urged the determination of the boundaries, the repair of the fort at Annapolis Royal, and measures for encouraging settlers. He emphasised the value of the country and the fishery, which ought to be reserved for the common use in the case of any grants of lands. For its protection and for the administration of his two governments, he required the services of a frigate (392 i.). This would also be of service in preventing the smuggling trade which was being carried on from New England, Canada and Cape Breton, and which, the inhabitants complained, was delaying the settlement of the country (351, 351 ii., 352).
The Council of Trade reported upon these proposals, that the present to the Indians might be made if, after his arrival, the Governor thought it advisable; that forts should be erected as recommended by the Comptrollers of the accounts of the Army (C.S.P. 1716–17, No. 615), and also a fort on the Gut of Canso, for which purposes an engineer should be despatched to make a survey of the coast, as well as to serve as a Commissary for settling the boundaries; and that a survey of the woods and country should be made with a view to the production of Naval Stores. They approved the Governor's other proposals for the encouragement of settlers, the protection of the fishery and the appointment of a frigate, and recommended that he should have the usual powers and Instructions of Governors of Plantations, more particularly as to the disposal of lands (550).
Grant for fort at Annapolis.; Admiralty report.
Orders were given for a grant for rebuilding the fort at Annapolis (605, 645). As to the frigate, the Admiralty, on being consulted, demurred as to the expense, but undertook to provide a suitable vessel. They recommended that the Surveyor General of the Woods be instructed to survey those of Nova Scotia (604, 619).
Arrival of Lt. Gov. Doucett.; The garrison.
Lt. Governor Doucett, arriving in Nova Scotia in Oct., 1717, found the fort almost demolished, and the garrison, whose plight was described in the previous volume (p xxxii.), continually in mutiny for their pay (185, 351, 352, 392 ii.). He assured them that their grievances would shortly be redressed (392 ii.).
The French inhabitants. Refusal to take oath of allegiance.
He then began to put pressure upon the French inhabitants who, numbering some 6 or 7000, had not yet acknowledged King George. He called upon them to sign a declaration of allegiance, warning them that otherwise they would not be allowed the privileges of British subjects in trading and fishing. They refused to take the oath required, but offered to swear not to take up arms for either side in case of a rupture between France and England. Their excuse was that, if they took the oath of allegiance, they would expose themselves to the fury of the Indians, who were wholly in the French interest, and from whom the English Government could not protect them. But the rough way in which the French inhabitants treated the Indians without suffering any reprisals, led Doucett to discount this excuse. The real reason for their refusal he found in the influence of their priests, who were circulatin rumours that the Pretender had landed in Scotland, and, having been established on the throne of Great Britain by French troops, had returned Nova Scotia to France in acknowledgment of their aid. However, the inducement of the fishery caused some of them to waver, and Doucett expected that, as in the case of the Indians, "if advantages can biass them more than their priests," they would yet take the oath of allegiance (185, 185 i., ii., 351, 371, 371 i.–iv., 392 i., 550, 565). In sending the form of the oath of allegiance, Doucett had invited the co-operation of the French priest at Minis. The Jesuit replied that he would give no advice to the people one way or the other (351, 371, 371 i.–iv., 565, 565 i.–iv.).
French claims to the Isles of Canso and the River St. John.; Capt. Southack's map.
On receiving the reply of the French inhabitants, Doucett reminded them that they could choose to remain as British subjects or to retire from the Colony. But if they refused to take the oath of allegiance, he would be obliged to forbid them to trade within His Majesty's territories (565 i.). He also wrote to the Governor of Canada and the Lt. Governor of Cape Breton, in order to find out what the French were prepared to do with regard to the inhabitants, if they chose to retire thither. For once already most of them had been to Cape Breton on the strength of French promises, and being disappointed at what they had found there had returned to Nova Scotia, but still as French subjects. He also complained that Frenchmen from Cape Breton were settling at Cape Canso and encroaching on the fishery there. He invited M. de Brouillan to put a stop to this, and M. de Vaudreuil to instruct the French missionaries to desist from hostile propaganda (351 i., 565, 565 iv., v.). In reply, Brouillan stated that the Isles of Canso were situated "at the mouth of the small entrance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence" and that "this place up to the River Ste. Marie" was assigned to the French by the Treaty of Utrecht, "since it is this river which constitutes the old boundary of which mention is made" (635 i.). Vaudreuil claimed the River St. John for France, and instructed the French inhabitants that they might withdraw to lands there, with their moveable effects. Doucett's comment on this was that, unless a stop were put to them, the French would claim everything to within a cannon shot of the Fort at Annapolis Royal, and he sent home a map drawn by Capt. Southack, showing the ancient boundaries of Nova Scotia (789, 789 i.–iv.). Both French Governors complained that the English had put difficulties in the way of the French inhabitants when they wished to withdraw their moveable goods (635 i., 789 i.).
The Governor of Canada wrote two letters to the French inhabitants, one, which could be shown to the English, instructing them that, if they preferred not to take the oath of allegiance to King George, they might retire to the River St. John, and take their moveable effects with them (789 iii.), although by the Treaty they were only entitled to do so within a year (789 iii.). In the other, which was not intended to be seen by the English, he stated that he was instructing a Jesuit missionary to allot them lands, and advised them in any case not to take the oath of allegiance, as they would not be allowed the free exercise of their religion (789 iv.).
H.M.S. Squirrel sent to Canso.
In the meantime the Governor of New England had taken action. He sent H.M.S. Squirrel from Boston to Cape Breton with a letter requesting M. de Brouillan to give orders to the French to pull down their huts near the Gut of Canso and not to fish any more on that shore. Thence the Squirrel sailed to Canso, seized two French fishing ships there, and carried them off to Boston (575, 782 i., ii.).
Lands between Nova Scotia and Maine.; Offer of the Massachusetts Bay.
Petitions for grants of lands lying between Nova Scotia and Maine continued to be the subject of controversy. Capt. Coram and his partners in the scheme for erecting a new Province there, to be settled by disbanded soldiers, maintained that the right to these lands was re-invested in the Crown by virtue of re-conquest from the French. Coram denied that the Marquis of Hamilton's grant included any of this tract, and as for Sir Bibby Lake's purchase from the Indians, it was of no value, for any Indian when drunk would, for a bottle of liquor, sign any paper, but such conveyances would be repudiated by the other Indians and had led to the murder of the settlers (268, 396, 397). The claims of the Massachusetts Bay were, according to them, equally invalid (497). But the Solicitor General took a different view. He upheld the claims both of Hamilton and Lake and of the Massachusetts Bay (261, 308, 383, 498, 511). On behalf of that Government, an offer was made that the soil and government of the territory between the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers should be recognised as belonging to Massachusetts, whilst that between the Penobscot and St. Croix rivers should be at the disposal of the Crown (458 i.). The latter tract the Council of Trade was inclined to think would prove suitable for the settlement of the disbanded soldiers. But they hesitated to enter into any new "contracts with the Massachusetts Company," for the reasons quoted above (§ 1), (543).
Grant to Sir A. Cairnes etc. recommended.
Sir Alexander Cairnes, Joshua Gee and other merchants petitioned for a grant of lands, with a view to settlement, near Chedabucto (3 i., 11, 86). The Council of Trade recommended the granting of their petition as being for the benefit of the Colony and the trade of Great Britain (105). But they suggested that in any such grant the right of fishing off the coast and of curing fish ashore should be reserved for all British subjects (23, 106, 392 i., 550, 432, 790).
Pennsylvania. Acts establishing the judiciary.; Affirmation Acts. Objection raised.; Joshua Gee.; Iron in Pennsylvania.; Lt. Gov. Keith.; Union with West Jersey proposed.; Report upon The Lower Counties.
A memorial was presented by the Proprietor of Pennsylvania and his friends, praying for the confirmation of acts passed in 1713 and 1715. Several of these were concerned with the regulation of the judiciary and were defended in the memorial, as well as two acts permitting the Affirmation by Quakers (508, 586, 781). Objection was taken to the latter on the ground that they practically repeated the provisions of former acts which had been annulled, and allowed persons not upon oath to take part in criminal proceedings. Attention was also drawn to the delay in submitting them for confirmation (506). The Council of Trade, indeed, complained to Joshua Gee that they had received no laws from Pennsylvania since those of 1711 (772, 784). Mr. Gee, as one of the mortgagees, answered some of these objections (586). It was he who had urged the encouragement of the production of iron ore in the Plantations, of which Lt. Governor Keith reported "great plenty in many places" in Pennsylvania (101). It was the controversy over the Affirmation Acts which had brought to a head the hostility between Lt. Governor Goodwin and the Assembly, and had resulted in the appointment of Keith by the Proprietors. He had been recommended by Logan and other members of the Council of Pennsylvania. As Surveyor General of Customs in America he had acquired an intimate knowledge of colonial affairs (227). A Scotsman, who was the friend of Lt. Governor Spotswood and a protégé of the Duke of Argyll, he had impressed Mrs. Penn by his "prudent conduct and obliging behaviour" (Penn Papers). On arriving in the province in May, 1717, he quickly justified Mrs. Penn's estimate of him as "an understanding man and a man of temper." His ability and his affable manners soon won over the Assembly, who granted him £500 a year (101 ii., 552). Keith echoed the suggestion which had come from the Quakers of New Jersey (C.S.P. 1716–17, p. xxix.), that, if Pennsylvania were resumed by the Crown, West Jersey should be united with it and the Three Lower Counties under one Government, supporting his suggestion by a reference to the "continual jarrings between the people of West Jersey and New York" (101). Upon the petition of the Earl of Sutherland for a grant of the Three Lower Counties, and Penn's claim to them, the Law Officers of the Crown made a long and careful report. Penn's claim appeared to hang upon the question whether the Duke of York had any title to the Three Lower Counties in 1682, when he transferred his rights to Mr. Penn, and whether the grant of the Duke of York in 1683 ever passed the Great Seal. Sutherland had undertaken to make out the title of the Crown. The point, it was suggested, should be determined by the Court of Chancery. But if Penn's claim under the grant of 1683 were established, then he was liable for a moiety of the rents and profits under it (177 i.).
Taxation of foreign imports proposed by Keith.
In reporting upon trade carried on with the French and Spanish colonies, Keith suggested that a higher duty should be imposed upon the produce of foreign Plantations than upon our own, " which would oblige our Adventurers not to return anything but bullion from their trade with foreigners unless at the cost of a revenue to the Crown" (227; v. § 1).
Indians. Conference at Philadelphia.; Act for continuing friendly correspondence.
The conference of Governors at Philadelphia proposed by Lt. Governor Spotswood, with a view to making a general treaty with the Indians, came to little. The Five Nations would only treat at Albany, through the Government of New York (59, 406, 568 ii., 578 i., 675); the Pennsylvanians refused to allow any negotiations with the Indians of the Susquehanna Valley except through their own Government (101 i.). Their Act for continuing a friendly correspondence with the Indians, like the Act which Spotswood had carried in Virginia, aimed at regulating traders with them and preventing those impositions which had had such dire results in Carolina and elsewhere. The Pennsylvanians were able to boast that hitherto, thanks to their honest dealings with the Indians, not a single one of their settlers had lost his life at their hands (781).
Connecticut and Rhode I.
The Collector of Customs at Rhode Island drew attention to the passing of several laws contrary to the Acts of Trade and to the detriment of the royal officers and the inhabitants of the neighbouring Colonies. Rhode Island and Connecticut, he suggested, ought to be obliged to submit their acts for confirmation by the Crown (759). The refusal of Rhode Island to submit their Militia to the command of the Governor of New England in times of emergency is mentioned above (700, p. xxxvi.).
Virginia. Acts prohibiting assembly of Quakers,; and concerning foreign debts.
The revision of the laws, preparatory to printing, led in the case of Virginia, to exception being taken to acts of long-standing. One was that of 1663 prohibiting the unlawful assembly of Quakers, which, if put in execution, would have rendered it impossible for any Friend to abide in Virginia (174, 263, 281, 343, 380). The other, concerning foreign debts, protected debtors who had fled to Virginia from Great Britain, which, as the Attorney General sardonically remarked, would be a great convenience for the inhabitants of that Colony, but a great means to defraud English creditors. Both acts, therefore, were repealed (174, 263, 281, 343, 380).
Lt. Gov. Spotswood and the Council.; Their claim to be sole Judges.
Spotswood continued his duel with the Council (v. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. xxix.). His reply to their claim to be sole Judges in the Court of Oyer and Terminer was trenchant and convincing (59, 456). Supported by the views of the Council of Trade and legal opinion, he exercised his right to appoint Judges to that Court. Some of the Councillors thereupon refused to sit (59). At that time the Council of Trade was repeating its view (63). It was confirmed by the opinion of the Attorney General, that the power of constituting Courts in Virginia remained in the Crown, and that therefore by his Commission the Governor was properly empowered to appoint Judges thereto. He agreed, however, that this power might be abused by a bad Governor, and suggested that "for the preventing of inconveniences and quieting the minds of H.M. subjects there," Instructions might be given for restricting it (275). The Council of Trade accordingly recommended Spotswood to make a discreet use of that power, "which should be exerted on extraordinary occasions only" (334).
In the meantime the "secret remonstrance, … through private agents," which Spotswood had foreseen (59), had been made by Mr. Byrd to the Council of Trade. But recognising that, after the verdict of the Attorney General, it was useless to challenge the right of the Crown, he changed his position to a petition for an Instruction appointing the Judges of the General Court to be the Justices of the Courts of Oyer and Terminer, except in extraordinary cases (342, 342 i., 398). To this the Council of Trade replied, that no complaint had yet been made that the Governor had abused the power placed in his hands in the way it was suggested he might do. He had always chosen a majority of the Judges from the Councillors, and by no means excluded them, as the petitioner seemed to suggest. The application, too, came not from persons aggrieved by an abuse of the Governor's power, but from those who wished to engross the power of being sole Judges in criminal causes, to the diminution of the royal prerogative. For these reasons, and because there might be grave inconveniences if Councillors were to be the only judges, whilst the Governor would always be answerable for any abuse of his power, they saw no reason for altering the present position (410). Their appreciation of the situation was borne out by letters subsequently received from the Lt. Governor, in which he asserted that one of the objects of the Councillors was to secure to themselves the £100 allowed out of the revenue for the Judges for each Court, and another to encroach upon the prerogative of the Crown, and to make the Governor and the people subservient to the will of their clique (422, 456, 568, 588, 799, 800).
Reform in methods of collecting and auditing revenue and quit rents.
Spotswood devotes a good deal of space to explaining his reforms in the methods of collecting and auditing the revenue and quit-rents (59 i., iii., 422, 422 i. etc.). To these reforms, approved by the Council of Trade (334), he attributes the fierce hostility of the Ludwells, Byrds, and Blairs, who formed the family party opposed to him in the Council (568, 800). As to their address concerning the quit-rents, he explains that it was part of a scheme to obtain a salary of £100 a year out of the revenue for each Councillor (456). He answers their charges against himself with great vigour, analysing the characters and motives of his opponents with a vocabulary fortified by reminiscences of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel (456, 568, 588, 799, 800). The substitution of more peaceable and loyal Councillors for some of this "Juncto of Relations" would solve the difficulty here, as successfully as in New Jersey (568, 588, 699, 799).
The new Assembly.
The summoning of a new Assembly was necessary for dealing with the situation created by the repeal of the Act for regulating the Indian Trade. The ill effects of that repeal Spotswood was not slow to point out (699). The election was fought by "the patent family" mainly on the Indian Trade Act and the dispute over the appointing of Judges. Another plank in their platform was the removal of Lord Orkney, the absentee Governor. They obtained a majority in the Assembly, composed, as Spotswood says, of "many of their relations and others of weak understandings." This "cabal of malcontents among the Burgesses" proceeded to carry out the policy of the family party, "with a score of base disloyalists and ungrateful Creolians for their adherents." If successful in their attacks upon the Governor and the royal prerogative, Spotswood declared that they would in future rule the Province (568, 568 i., 588, 799, 800).
An attempt at effecting a reconciliation between the Lt. Governor and opponents so determined failed for the time being (588 i., ii.). The Assembly's first step was to address the King in support of the Councillors' claim to be sole judges. They asked, too, that the recent Instruction relating to acts affecting British trade and shipping might be revoked. They appointed Mr. Byrd their agent for presenting their Address (568, 568 iv., v., 588, 799, 800). At the same time they prepared a bill which would have enabled them to appoint or change their agent, and pay him as they thought fit by a mere resolution of their House. This bill was rejected in Council, Spotswood pointing out that it enabled the Burgesses to "nominate one another and give what sums they thought fitt for no service at all." Another bill placing £4000 at the disposal of Archibald Blair, a brother of the Commissary and partner of Col. Ludwell, was passed in Council, where there was "a great majority of the relations of those gentlemen." It was vetoed by Spotswood, who gave his reasons (568). The next move of the party "who always have their eyes very quick to watch all advantages for lessening the power of the Crown," was to endeavour to take away from the Secretary's Office the right of appointing County Court Clerks; and to pass a bill intended to torpedo the establishment of posts between Williamsburgh and Philadelphia for the interesting reason referred to in § 1; and to reject a bill because it retained the King's right to alter the day for holding Courts. The opportunity of attacking the Lt. Governor through the Indian Company was obvious. The Assembly refused to compensate the Company, as had been recommended on the repeal of the Act regulating the Indian trade, for expenses which they had been expressly enjoined by that Act to incur in building the Indian school, repairing the fort and maintaining the fort at Christanna. Spotswood's comment on all this, and upon their reversal of the whole of his Indian policy, and refusal to allow him the expenses of his journeys, is sufficiently pointed (406, 568, 588 ii.). But, having overstepped the mark before in his Speech to the Assembly, he refused to be provoked into showing resentment to them now. In answer to all their attacks he could point to the prosperity of the country, a full Treasury, moderate taxation, peace on the frontiers and trade flourishing. Moreover, the country so far from being willing to submit grievances against him, showed signs of rallying to his support (568 i, 657 v., vi., 799, 800, 800 vi.). Meanwhile the Councillors and their party among the Burgesses refused to attend the Lt. Governor's entertainment on the King's Birthday, and provided one of their own in the Burgesses' House and a bonfire for the mob (568 i., 588).
When, after the Council had declared against renewing the treaty with the Five Nations, Spotswood proposed to prorogue by proclamation the already adjourned Assembly, the Council protested that a meeting was necessary before prorogation (657). The Councillors then entered upon a new dispute, challenging the right of the Crown to the patronage and collation of ecclesiastical benefices (657). On both these points the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown was invited, at Spotswood's request (657, 731).
Address against Spotswood.
When the Assembly re-assembled in the autumn, they first passed a bill re-enacting the law declaring who should hold office etc., which had already been repealed, and then fell to attacking the Lt. Governor. A Committee enquired into the state of the furniture of the Capitol, and an Address and charges against Spotswood were passed in an empty House. To some of these he answers in advance (800, 800 i.–vi.).
Spotswood's explorations and the Westward Movement.
Spotswood makes several interesting references to his exploration of the Blue Ridge and his discovery of the passage over the mountains, through which he hoped to open up trade with the Western Indians and to check the development of the French settlements (v. § 1). To this end he urged the occupation of the passes and settlements on the Lakes, notably upon Lake Erie. He proposed that he should be instructed to undertake the execution of this plan, to be financed out of the quitrents (657, 800). He recommended cultivating the friendship of the Cherokee Indians, as his Virginian Indian Company had done, and announced that he had set German miners to work on the iron ore found at the head of Rappahannock River. Gold, too, he hoped for in the mountains, which might deprive the Spaniards of the boast that the Treasures of the Universe were committed solely to them (800).
Spotswood and the Indian Conference.
An attack upon the Cuttaba Indians, who had just made peace with the English, by a party of Senecas and Tuscaroras, prompted Spotswood to send to New York for the release of the prisoners taken, and to suggest to Governor Hunter that, by way of atonement, the Five Nations should send delegates to Virginia to renew the peace made with that government in 1685. He also issued a Proclamation prohibiting trade with the Tuscaroras except under license, there being reason to suspect that they had been led to attack the Cuttabas through information conveyed by some unlicensed traders. The Five Nations refusing to treat except at Albany, Spotswood proposed a Conference at Philadelphia where, with the Governors of New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania, measures might be taken for bringing the Indians into a general treaty, in relation to all the governments. But, as we have seen, the Pennsylvanians preferred their own methods with their neighbouring Indians, contrasting, not unnaturally, the results obtained by the Southern Colonies. The New York Commissioners for Indian Affairs were evidently anxious that the Five Nations should not be hectored and upset by the Virginian Government, which for 25 years had contributed nothing to the expense of presents to them; and the Council of Virginia finally declared against renewing the treaty with them. Thus Colonial separatism once more gained the day, to the disappointment of such as wished to see all the Colonies placed under one system of government with a general scheme of defence against the French (59, 59 iv. (a), 85, 101 i., 406, 578 i., 657).
Cuttabas dying out.
In connection with the Cuttabas, Spotswood mentions that they were suddenly and rapidly dying out, owing to the barrenness of their women. He sees in this a dispensation of Providence, designed to "make room for our growing settlements." It would be interesting to know whether this sterility was due to decadence or disease, or to race suicide (800).
§ III. THE WEST INDIES.
The Bahama Islands surrendered by Proprietors and leased to Capt. Rogers and Company.; Capt. Rogers, Governor.; Pirates dislodged.
At the beginning of this period Messrs. Samuel Buck and Company submitted an estimate for transporting 500 refugees from the Palatinate to the Bahama Islands, 100 of whom shortly afterwards went as indentured servants to Pennsylvania (76). The Lords Proprietors executed a deed of surrender to the Crown of the Government of those Islands. At the same time they leased their remaining rights to the soil etc. to Capt. Woodes Rogers and his partners (166, 176, 183, 184, 420). Rogers was appointed Governor by the Crown, with a commission as Captain of a Company of Foot, and a naval force to dislodge the pirates there (64, 167, 220, 220 i., ii., 305, 471). As two of the Proprietors were minors and had therefore not signed the deed of surrender, there was some doubt as to its validity (220, 221, 250). But the Council of Trade represented that, in any case, by their long neglect to defend the islands, the Proprietors had forfeited their right to the Government (225). Capt. Jacob, H.M.S. Diamond, was ordered to proceed to Jamaica and thence to do his utmost "in the rooting out of those nests of robbers from "Providence Island, with power to call to his aid the ships stationed at Barbados and the Leeward Islands (Admiralty 2/49, p. 267–9, and 8/14). The pirates were dislodged, as recorded in § 1, by the men of war and Rogers, who arrived in Delicia at the end of July, 1718 (737).
Rogers then set to work to repair the fortifications, and was in good hopes that with settlers he had invited from Anguilla, Carolina and Bermuda the colony would soon begin to prosper. He appointed Councillors, Justices and Officers, and recommended the institution of an Assembly (737). But he soon found that his task was to be no easy one. His letters vividly describe his difficulties. Sickness decimated the newcomers; the old inhabitants had been rendered lazy and incompetent by their piratical ways; they remained in sympathy with the pirates who threatened to return (v. § 1); and soon an attack by the Spaniards seemed imminent, At one moment the position appeared so perilous, that he appealed for succour to the Governors of Jamaica and New York. But the old sea-dog faced his troubles bravely, and still hoped for the best "amongst a very odd sort of people wth. so small a beginning" (737, 807).
Barbados.; Act empowering licentiate lawyers etc.
Governor Lowther, replying to some strictures by the Council of Trade upon several acts passed in Barbados, defended in particular one empowering licentiate lawyers to act as barristers. It was, however, strongly opposed as likely to promote ignorance of British law and thereby to weaken the connection with the Mother Country. Mr. West also observed that it gave the Governor the power of enabling his footman to practice at the bar (210, 259, 517, 535, 561, 572, 742).
Act for payment of bills.
In reporting upon an additional act to the act for the payment of bills, the Attorney General commented on "a pretty extraordinary punishment" imposed by it. Persons bidding for lands for which they were then incapable of paying were to expiate that offence by imprisonment for a year, being set in the pillory, and having their ears cut off (216, 273).
Act laying duty on foreign sugars.
An Act laying a duty on foreign sugars imported, intended to protect the planter from the competition of French and Dutch Colonies which had "the advantage of a newer soil," was confirmed (103, 103 i., 148, 160, 547, 611).
Grants and Finances.; Lists of causes.
Governor Lowther made returns upon grants of lands and the state of the finances, anticipating that the new poll-tax upon negroes would enable the country to pay all the public debts by the following spring (534, 742, 742 xiii., xiv.). Lists of causes determined and depending in the Courts were also sent in (742 ii., iii.).
Presents to Governor disapproved.
The Council of Trade expressed satisfaction at the good understanding established by the Governor with the Council and Assembly, to which the large presents voted to him by the Assembly were convincing proofs. But they added that they were proofs of a kind directly contrary to his Instructions, which they admonished him to observe (471).
The Ecclesiastical Court and the Clergy.
The complaint against the Clergy appointed or recommended by the Bishop of London and the attempt of Mr. Gordon, his Commissary, to set up an ecclesiastical Court was answered by the Bishop. He observed that he had not from any other Colony "so melancholy an account of the state of religion" (68 i., 88). The Council of Trade examined the Bishop's Commission to Mr. Gordon and recommended that the latter should be removed and consideration given to the character of the clergy in Barbados (159). Gordon entered in his defence the not very convincing testimony of a sermon of his own (733. Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. xliii.).
Bermuda Pirates. Acts.
Threatened by an onslaught of pirates, the Lt. Governor of Bermuda petitioned for naval and military reinforcements (551). The Council of Trade communicated to the Lt. Governor some criticisms of acts passed during the last few years (720, 720 ii.).
Jamaica.; Lord A. Hamilton.; Cockburne's appeal.
The documents relating to Jamaica are for the most part concerned with the aftermath of the crisis which resulted in the recall and arrest of Lord Archibald Hamilton. The situation was fully analysed in the Preface to the previous volume (pp. xliv.-lv.). Having succeeded in getting rid of their Governor, and secured the appointment of a Lt. Governor who was ready to do their bidding, his enemies declined to prosecute their charges against Lord Archibald, in spite of his repeated demands for a hearing before the Privy Council. At length he submitted a Memorial complaining of the treatment he had received, and asking that the new Councillors and the Deputy Secretary, Dr. Page, should be dismissed (109, 109 i.–vi.). The Council of Trade, after many interviews at the Board, supported his contentions, and recommended the removal of Dr. Page. He was finally dismissed from all offices, though William Congreve, the dramatist, who held the place of Secretary, succeeded in making his peace with the Secretary of State, and was confirmed in his office (130, 169, 331, 332, 365, 509). But it was recommended that William Cockburne, who had been appointed to succeed Page as Deputy Secretary by Lord A. Hamilton, and had been ordered by Lt. Governor Heywood to refund all the profits of that office, should be allowed to appeal to the Privy Council, although the amount involved was less than the £500 sterl., the limit for which Governors were allowed to permit appeals (218, 218 i., 232, 266, 320 i., 366). Another injustice inflicted on a Patent Officer, the Receiver General, was ordered to be remedied, with interest (89, 367).
The case of the Kensington sloop.
Lord Archibald also entered his defence in the matter of the privateers commissioned by him (131, 131 i.–v.), whilst the owners of the Nuestra Senora de Belem or Kensington sloop, petitioned for nearly £40,000 damages (4, 4 i., ii., 13, 252, 252 i.–viii., 310, 310 i., iii. Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, pp. xlvii.–liii.), by direct appeal to the Crown. The Council of Trade made some caustic observations upon such procedure, before a regular appeal had been made from the decision of the Admiralty Court of Jamaica, and suggested that reparations were also due for the great losses sustained by H.M. subjects from the Spaniards in those seas (350). Don Juan del Valle, who had been soliciting the cause of the Spaniards in Jamaica, was given an answer in this sense by the Governor and Council, and, as he was suspected of giving information to the Spanish privateers of sailings of Jamaican vessels, he was presently invited to leave the island (131 iv., v., 350, 681, 681 ix.).
Case of the L'aimable Marie.
In the case of a French ship, however, seized by some privateer-pirates from Jamaica, directions were given for reparation to be made and for the prosecution of those concerned (591, 591 ii., 606, 643).
Pirates and Naval protection.; Trading by Navy.; Council and Assembly.; Need of the two Independent Companies.; Sir N. Lawes' Instructions.
The effects of the depredations of pirates on the trade of Jamaica and the steps taken to repress them have been indicated in § 1 (54, 64, 271, 522, 566 etc.). The newly appointed Governor asked for further naval protection, and at the same time repeated the request of other Governors that the Commanders of H.M. ships should be placed under the immediate direction of the Governor. As it was, instead of devoting themselves to the protection of trade, they were apt to employ themselves in carrying merchandize to Spanish ports. The Council of Trade supported this recommendation, (54, 144, 566, 681 iii., 688. Cf. 807). In an address returning thanks for the intended help against pirates, and congratulating the king on the failure of the designed invasion of England, the Council and Assembly promised to provide for the support of the soldiers in the island and all necessary aids to the Revenue (35). They admitted by their action in refusing to spare soldiers for a convoy that the retention of the two Independent Companies against which they had so long been agitating was really a necessity (78). But though they had repaid with high interest the advances made by their Lt. Governor for the subsistence of the forces, and though the payment of the similar debt to Lord Archibald Hamilton was again recommended to them, they continued to refuse it (18 i., 64, 681). On these and other outstanding points of controversy, notably the revenue, the new Governor, Sir Nicholas Lawes, asked for definite decisions before sailing for Jamaica. In preparing his Instructions the Council of Trade consulted him frequently, recognising that his knowledge of Jamaica and Jamaican opinion was intimate. The result of their deliberations was a complete revision of the Governor's Instructions (78, 144, 144 i., 264, 295, 327, 356).
The Council was reconstructed by the removal of those Councillors who had previously been dismissed and then restored in order to form a balanced board, which had so signally failed to justify its appointment (53, 116, 140, 144, 144 i., 264).
Acts confirmed and repealed.
A considerable number of Acts were confirmed or repealed, Sir N. Lawes being active in obtaining decisions upon them (96, 108, 168, 181, 311 i., 363, 364, 488). The Acts to encourage white men to settle and for the effectual discovery of disaffected persons were allowed to await the report of the new Governor, who advised the repeal of the latter (364, 391, 421, 748, 681).
Agent for Jamaica.
In the course of these transactions, the Council of Trade emphasised the need of an Agent, appointed by the Council and Assembly, to solicit the passing of laws and conducting the business of Jamaica in London. A bill was brought in for that purpose (488, 682).
Acts laying duty on negroes repealed.
The South Sea Company petitioned against an Act laying a duty upon negroes brought to Jamaica as a port of call and re-exported by them under the Asiento (178 i., 206). Lawes expressed apprehension that its repeal would occasion resentment in the Assembly, and defended the duty (196, 356). Meanwhile the Assembly passed another act doubling the duty on re-exported negroes (206 i., 270, 270 i.). The Council of Trade summed up the position, and the Acts were repealed with the addition of an Instruction to the Governor not to pass any such law for the future, and to observe his Instructions relating to the passing of acts, especially those affecting trade or the royal Prerogative (272, 301, 302, 313).
Post and Printing Press proposed. Wealth of Jamaica.
Lawes proposed the establishment of a Post and of a printing press in the Island, under the Governor's license (116). He emphasised the wealth and potentialities of Jamaica (196, 356), whilst proposing the prevention of trade with Hispaniola, against which an act had recently been passed (181, 189).
Fortifications and stores of war.; Objection to convicts.; Protection of Jews.
Lawes arrived in his Government at the end of April, 1718 (522). He reported that the fortifications were in a ruinous condition, and asked for a supply of stores of war (303, 681, 681, vi.–viii.). He denounced the convicts who had been transported under the recent Act of Parliament, as a "wicked lazy and indolent people" and expressed the hope that the country would be troubled with no more of them (681). On the other hand, he was instructed to give protection to the Jewish settlers, whose privileges and security there had been some attempt to invade (622).
The Leeward Island. Queries the Board of Trade.; Instruction on Governor's presents.
The Council of Trade transmitted to the Governor of the Leeward Islands a list of queries to which they required annual answers (652, 652 i.). Hamilton made some returns of imports and grants of lands, but professed himself unable to obtain from the Councils and Assemblies accounts of the revenue (692). He was permitted to receive the grant of £1000 a year for house rent voted by Antigua, and his Instruction on that point was altered (64, 257 i.; cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, pp. lix., lx.).
Request for additional guardships and stores of war.
The prevalence of pirates, whose presence delayed the Governor from visiting the several islands under his government (v. § 1 Pirates), led him to ask for additional guardships. He also pointed out the inconvenience caused by the men of war being obliged to go to Barbados to victual and refit for lack of suitable accommodation and stores at the Leeward Islands (134, 298, 691, 797, 797 i.–vi.). The request for a grant of stores of war was repeated (200).
Antigua. Acts confirmed and repealed.
The Act of Antigua providing that the Court of Chancery should be held before the Governor and Council was confirmed, whilst that establishing a Court of King's Bench, of which the Attorney General had expressed disapproval, was annulled (158, 336, 337. Cf. C.S.P. 1716–17, p. lix.). So, too, was an Act laying a duty on liquors imported, since by it the Assembly endeavoured to acquire a share in the issuing of warrants for payments, a power reserved to Governors with the consent of the Council (722, 802). The Act to prevent the increase of Papists was also repealed, as being calculated to drive all Roman Catholics out of the island. In spite of the Jacobite demonstrations of some, this was held to be neither politic nor just (297, 297 i., 309, 335, 462, 470, 515, 584).
The Act for prohibiting the importation of foreign sugars etc. was carefully considered. Arguments for and against it were submitted at some length. It went further than the Barbados act which had been confirmed, and objections of considerable weight were made to it by the Customs authorities. The Council of Trade finally advised its disallowance (162, 277, 277 i., 487, 495 i., 530, 547, 611). The Act to quiet present possessors of lands etc., was referred back to the Assembly in order that they might, if they wished, pass a new act not liable to certain objections raised by the Attorney General (297, 532).
Col. Morris was suspended from the Council by the Governor on the grounds of notorious ill-behaviour. He petitioned to be re-instated (358, 358 i., 359, 359 i.–xii., 477, 491, 570, 736).
Montserrat. Act referred.
An act of Montserrat for quieting possessors was considered by Mr. West to be too one-sided, and the passing of a new act not liable to his objections was recommended to the Assembly (545, 652).
Nevis. The Capitulation.
A demand was submitted by the French Envoy for the fulfilment of the conditions imposed by his brother, M. D'Iberville when he raided Nevis (102, 102 i., ii.). The Council of Trade once more examined the contention of the inhabitants that the conditions were imposed upon them by force majeure, and were also broken by the French.
The grant in aid.
They gave their opinion that the matter ought rightly to be settled by Commissaries to be appointed under the Treaty of Utrecht to determine the question of reparations affecting not only Nevis, but also Montserrat and Hudson Bay. In the meantime the French claim for money due for the subsistence of the hostages was declared to be unfounded, and the release of the sole survivor was urged pending the decision of the Commissaries (230). Application to Parliament was being prepared on behalf of those sufferers in Nevis and St. Kitts who were not covered by the terms of the grant in aid (762).
The French lands.; Conditions of sale.
The disposal of the lands in the former French part of the island was still in debate. The Council of Trade made a report to the Treasury of the proposals which had been made to them, and the conditions which they thought should be imposed (7, 7 i., 156, 156 i.). Various estimates of the value of the late French lands were submitted, and several offers for buying the whole outright from the Crown were made in response to an advertisement for tenders by the Treasury. All agreed that the best lands were very valuable for sugar plantations, and that the rest, near the sea and salt-pans, was very poor (6, 7). In view of the variations in the estimates, and in the absence of any reliable survey, the Council of Trade at first recommended that they should be parcelled out into lots and sold at a fixed price per acre. Conditions designed to ensure settlement and the security of the island were to be attached to the sale. They included the reservation of a quit-rent not exceeding 6d. per acre. French Protestants were to be continued in their grants, and holders of temporary grants confirmed in their holdings on payment of a fair price. Holdings were not to exceed 200 acres per head, and each grantee was to be obliged to cultivate his lands within a specified time. For every 40 acres a planter must keep one white or two white women within a year after the date of his grant, and after three years the same for every 20 acres. Small holdings of the less valuable land should be granted to poor inhabitants and be unalienable. No Roman Catholics were to be permitted to purchase these lands (7 i., 48 i.). An anonymous writer expressed appreciation of the vote of the House of Commons for the sale of the French lands for what they would fetch, and declared that there was a conspiracy of the inhabitants to depreciate their real value, in order to obtain cheap grants of their plantations (34). Many petitions were entered from planters and others for confirmation of their temporary grants or permission to buy plantations in this quarter. Such confirmations were conceded, to hold good until the final decision, repeatedly urged by the Council of Trade, should at last be made (560, 574). In a subsequent report the Board was inclined to favour the sale of the lands in one lot to one purchaser under conditions which they outlined (156, 156 i.).
Migration to Crab Island.
One of the reasons why the Board was anxious that the Treasury should come to an early decision on this matter was to stop the inhabitants of the Leeward Islands from migrating to Crab Island or Sta. Cruz, and to divert them by grants of lands to St. Kitts. But in spite of Governor Hamilton's endeavours (to which they repeatedly urged him) to deter the inhabitants of the Virgin Islands, he had to report that those of Anguilla, growing weary of waiting for those promised grants, had begun to remove to Crab Island, and that their example was likely to be followed, not only by other settlers in the Virgin Islands, but also by the poorer inhabitants of Nevis, St. Kitts and Montserrat, who were feeling the effects of the devastation wrought by the French raids (40, 157, 171, 214, 231, 298, 298 iv.–ix., 329, 408, 442, 487, 692, 692 i.). It was feared that the resulting loss of man-power might prove disastrous to the Leeward Islands, in case of a rupture with France (40, 40 i.).
Hamilton's visit and reports.; Spanish raid on crab I.; British title to the Virgin Islands.
Hamilton visited the Virgin Islands in Nov., 1717, and reported upon their inhabitants and poverty-stricken condition (298, 298 iv.–ix.). At Crab I. he gave Abraham Howell a Commission as Commandant of the new settlement. But within a few months a Spanish squadron attacked the island, killed several of the inhabitants and carried away others, with their wives, children and negroes, and Howell himself as prisoner to Puerto Rico (425, 442). Governor Hamilton sent H.M.S. Scarborough to demand their return from the Governor of Puerto Rico, and to assert the British title to Crab I., and wrote home for further instructions (492, 494 iii., 582, 797). The Council of Trade had already made a full report upon the British title to the Virgin Islands, including St. Thomas, St. Johns and Crab I., in reply to the claims put forward by the Danish Envoy (8 i.). To this the latter replied (593 i.–iv.), and the Board answered their reply (628 i.). In spite of protests from Governor Hamilton, the Danes from St. Thomas continued to settle on St. Johns I. (298, 298 x., 494, 494 i., ii., 526, 526 i.–vii., 593 i.–iv., 624, 624 i.). But when the Danes heard that the Spaniards were preparing to attack St. Thomas, they actually asked that help should be rendered them from the Leeward Islands ! (818 i.).
The grievance against the New Englanders, that they debauched the Newfoundland fishermen with rum, involved them in debt and carried them off to New England, was renewed. In 1716, it was reported, the English fishing ships lost no fewer than 1300 hands in this fashion. On arriving in New England those who could not pay for their passages were sold as indentured servants. Capt. Passenger, the Commodore, reported that he had endeavoured to stop this practice by forbidding the New Englanders to sail before the departure of the convoy and fishing fleet for home, and by taking bonds from them not to carry off such men. Those who refused to give bonds, he ordered to sail with him. But not one did so (115, 164, 164 i.). He concluded that Newfoundland would be much better off, if they were forbidden to come there at all. He concluded his report by recommending the appointment of a permanent Governor. Discipline and the fishery alike suffered from the flood of New England "stinking rum." The Fishing Admirals only looked after their own interests, and for ten months in the year the island was practically without government. In the absence of the ships of war, "he that is strongest is the best man." The Council of Trade had suggested that he should submit the name of any inhabitant whom he thought fit to act as Governor during the winter. He declared himself unable to do so (115, 164, 626 i., ii.). Capt. Scott, the next Commodore, was instructed to oblige all New England ships to sail with him. He took bonds from them, and threats of prosecution had some effect (394, 751, 751 i., ii.).
Representation by Council of Trade.
Following on these reports and that of the Comptrollers of the accounts of the Army, and their own given in the previous volume, the Council of Trade submitted a long and important representation on Newfoundland and the Fishery (798), and, in pursuance of it a draft of a bill for remedying the abuses in the Newfoundland trade (808 i.). They were in favour of removing all the inhabitants to Nova Scotia. Col. Phillips, appointed Governor of Placentia and Nova Scotia, was likewise in favour of curtailing the New Englanders' share in the trade and fishery (507, 550).
Tulton and the Fishing Admirals.; The Survey.
The case of Tulon and the Fishing Admirals was finally settled (64, 318, 370 i., 527). The Board recommended that Capt. Taverner should be rewarded for his services, and that the survey of Newfoundland should be completed (546).
The most important documents in this volume are the revised Instructions of the Governor of Jamaica (144, 144 i.), and the representations upon the British title to the Virgin Islands (81, 628 i.), and the right to logwood-cutting in Campeche Bay (104 i.), and that upon the Newfoundland trade and fishery (798).