America and West Indies: June 1728, 6-10

Pages 113-128

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 36, 1728-1729. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1937.

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


June 1728, 6-10

June 6.
238. Order of Committee of Privy Council. Upon consid- eration of a report layd this day before their Lordships, made by Mr. Attorney and Mr Sollicitor General to the Lords of Trade, (v. 3rd June) relating to an article in the General Instruc- tions to the Governors of H.M. Plantations in America, directing them to notify to H.M. subjects under their Government, the purport of the 5th and 6th Articles of the Treaty of Peace etc. 1686, and directing the said Governors to take particular care that the same be punctually observed and put in execution, and their Lordships observing, that the Governors have so far mistaken the sense of the said Articles and their Instructions grounded thereon, as to proceed to the condemnation of ships and cargoes belonging to H.M. subjects under pretence of their having contravened the said Articles by trading to the French Plantations, which was not the sense of those Articles, which could only entitle H.M. Governors to condemn French ships trading to our Plantations, there being no law to justify the condemnation of ships belonging to H.M. subjects for such trade, Their Lordships are therefore pleased to order that the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations do consider of a proper Instruction to be prepared for H.M approbation whereby those articles may be explained, so as to prevent the like mistakes for the future, and that they likewise consider what laws it may be reasonable to pass in the severall Plantations, for restraining H.M. subjects from importing into British Plantations such pro- ducts of the French Plantations, as may interfere with the British trade, and lay the same before their Committee. Signed, Temple Stanyan. Endorsed, Recd, 11th, Read 13th June, 1728. 2 pp. [C.O. 323, 8. No, 92.]
June 7.
239. Governor Hunter to the Duke of Newcastle. Duplicate of May 17, with postscript: The Solebay from Gibraltar arrived here the beginning of this moneth with despatches for the Spanish Viceroys. Signed, Ro. Hunter. Endorsed, Rd. Augt. 4th. 2¾ pp. Enclosed,
239. i. Duplicate of No. 196. [C.O. 137, 53. ff. 62—63v., 66—69v.]
June 7.
240. Same to Mr. Stanyan. Duplicate of May 17th, with postscript relating to Miller (v. May 21st). Signed, Ro. Hunter. Endorsed, R. Augt. 7th. 2 pp. [C.O. 137, 53. ff 64, 64v., 65v.]
[? June 8.] 241. Lt. Governor Gooch to the Council of Trade and Plantations. The General Assembly not concluding their session till the 30th of March, and the General Court immediately following, it is not possible for me to get the transcripts of the journals and laws of that Session in a readiness to be sent to your Lordships any sooner; however, I hope the conveniency of sending them by John Randolph Esqr., the Clerk of the House of Burgesses, who, going to England for the recovery of his health, will be ready to satisfie your Lordships in any point wherein you may desire to be further informed, will in some measure excuse this unavoidable delay. I am now to make some observations on the laws herewith sent, and shal begin with those which are not to take place untill they receive H.M. approbation. And the first is an Act for laying a duty on slaves imported and appointing a Treasurer. By it a duty of 40s. an head is laid on all slaves imported into this Colony for sale to be paid by the importer, with the usual clause for the regular collecting and paying that duty; and for drawing back the whole upon re-exportation within three moneths. This duty is to com- mence upon H.M. assent to the act being publickly notified in this Dominion, and thence to continue for three years and no longer, the money arising from it is to be accounted for by a Treasurer, and disposed of to such publick uses as the Governour Council and Burgesses shall agree upon, etc. Though the particular services for which this money is intended are not express'd in the act, yet there is a constant charge wch. annually arises for the prosecution of criminals, for recompensing the owners of slaves condemn'd for capital offences, for discharging the sallarys of many publick officers, and for keeping the Capitol and other publick buildings in repair; which cannot be supported without such a duty etc.; nor can anything of importance be undertaken for the benefit of the publick without such a reserv'd fund, seeing a poll-tax in tobacco has been found grievous to the people, and through the incertainty of its value of very little encouragement to people to engage in the public service. But besides, 'tis the common topick among the people that while the like or a greater duty on negroes subsists and has continued for a long time in Maryland a Proprietary Government, it is hard that they who are under H.M. immediate Government should be restrained from the same means of securing and improving their country; and from these considerations moved the Assembly to attempt the re-enacting a law which had been formerly disapprov'd, in hopes that its conformity now to the King's instructions, and the necessity of a fund for the publick service, will induce H.M. to give it his royal sanction, for the short time it is to continue. The only objection I think that can be brought against this law is, the private interest of the importer: but when it is considered that the price of negroes will always be advanced in proportion to the duty, they can't be sufferers by it. and the money will be taken out of their pockets, who are the advocates for it. If therefore your Lordships have no other exception, I hope the united desires of all the people of this Colony will obtain your Lordships favourable representation of it to his Majesty. The next is entd. an Act for erecting a light- house on Cape Henry: By this act there's a thousand pounds appropriated for building a substantial lighthouse of brick or stone, and for purchasing grounds sufficient for that and the keeper of it; and for reimbursing that and defraying the expence of keeping a constant light there for the conveniency of shipping it is proposed that a duty one penny pr. tun according to their measure be paid by all ships and vessels passing through the Capes of Virginia. But this act is not to be in force untill approved by H.M., nor unless the Province of Maryland pass an act for raising and collecting the same light money on the ships and vessels trading thither. I need add little to what is contained in the preamble of this bill to shew the usefulness and expediency of this undertaking; for surely there is no place of trade where a lighthouse is more necessary: a flat coast for many leagues on each side of the Capes, and scarce discernible in the clearest weather above five leagues off at sea, surely requires some noted landmark to guide the doubting mariner: the sudden changes of the wind at those seasons of the year when the ships most frequent this coast, makes it neceessary that no time be lost for their getting in, since whenever the Northwest wind begins to blow it is with great violence and holds generally for many days, so that ships coming to soundings in the night and having nothing to direct their course, are frequently drove back to sea in the morning when by the conveniency of this necessary and useful work they might have got within the Capes in safety. And indeed considering the number and value of the ships imploy'd in the trade of Virginia and Maryland it seems strange that such a design hath been so long delay'd: for since I first propos'd it, I have not heard of any master of a ship trading hither but what owns the use of it, and allows the duty for supporting of it very reasonable. But as it is impossible to account for popular humours, I am apprehensive this good work may be obstructed by the refusal of the Assembly of Mary- land to come into a law for raising the same duty, tho' 'tis certain the trade of that Province will reap a greater benefit by it than that of Virginia: for as they and we receive the same advant- age with respect to inward bound ships, so they of Maryland in their outward bound voyage have by much the greater want and occasion for it; for our ships setting saile in the morning from any of our rivers with a fair wind can get out of the Capes before night, whereas the Maryland ships having a much longer run down the Bay are frequently benighted before they can get sight of the Cape, whereby it has happened that divers ships of value have in the compass of a few years past been cast away on the shoals either of the Horse-shoe, or middle ground which extends a considerable way from the Capes up the Bay of Chesea- peake and form a narrow and difficult chanell. I have lately had an oppertunity, by a visit to me, to discourse with the Governor of Maryland on this subject, and find him well inclined to forward this project of a lighthouse, but cannot answer for the temper of his Assembly which is to meet next October: and it may per- haps afford them an handle for cavilling that this act now seems to lay the duty on the Maryland shipping and exacts the obedience of that Province in their officers collecting of it. 'Tis true the act might have been penn'd in smoother terms with regard to that Province, nor can I excuse our Burgesses for framing of it in that manner. But as publick benefits ought to overbal- ance as well private interest as the transgression of common forms, and as the Assembly of Maryland may word their act in what strains they please so that the work be carried on and supported; I hope your Lordship's authority will prevail with Lord Baltimore to recommend it to his Assembly, and wth. the Maryland merchants to consent that the same duty be paid by their ships as is imposed on ours: and this with his Majesty's approbation which I hope will easily be obtain'd, will encourage me and the other trustees immediately to sett about and finish this necessary work. But if any obstruction should happen on the part of Maryland, I doubt not but your Lordship's interest may procure that provision by an act of Parliament to bind both Governments to do that good to themselves and the trade of Great Brittain which their own narrow views will not suffer them to comply with. These are the only acts of a publick nature which are to wait H.M. approbation before they can take effect etc. The third is an act for the better and more effectual improving the staple of tobacco, and is almost the same in substance with that pass'd in 1723 by Mr. Drysdale, except that there are some explanations added in this which are said to have been intended by the former tho' doubtfully express'd. As that law continued for three years without any exception taken to it that I ever heard of, and it being found by experience that it did no ways lessen the quantity of tobacco, but amended its quality, I need say nothing more to recommend this to H.M.'s approbation, unless that there is in it one clause not in the former obliging the planters to a certain method in the tying up their tobacco which both render it more merchantable and more effectually discover any practices of packing therein trash or bad tobacco. The fourth is an act for preventing excessive and deceitful gaming: being copyed almost verbatim from an Act of Parlia- ment made in the ninth year of Q. Anne, needs no further recommendation than what the wisdom of the British Parliament has already given it. and as I found the evill intended to be remedyed by it there, required equal redress here, in regard of the many loose and idle persons who were got into the same vile way of spending their time; I thought it not improper to apply the same salutary penalties etc. The fifth an Act for the better support of the clergy etc., and for better collecting parish levies. By this act many disputes and controversies between the Ministers and their parishioners on the construction of former Laws are removed, the sallary of the Clergy made more easy, and valuable, and a good provision establish'd for building and maintaining suitable habitations for them. And in fine, it is such a beneficial act that the Clergy have great reason to be well satisfyed with it, and I hope it will prove an encouragement to good men to come and settle among us. The sixth, an Act for preventing delays in the Courts of justice etc. By this act many inconveniencies which were found in the former laws, partic- ularly in relation to the proceedings in the General Court are removed; for whereas a common action of debt hitherto in the General Court could not be brought to a determinate judgment in less than eighten moneths, and often required a longer time; by the new method of practice established by this act; such a suit must have its determination the second General Court, and in many cases judgment will be obtained the first: and in general all causes whatsoever will now receive a more speedy decision, and with less trouble to the Court. This new method is also more conformable to the practice of the Court of Westminster Hall, and will deserve the more applause on that account. By this also is established a quick and summary way of determining final causes in the County Courts and a restraint laid on bringing appeals (wch. is here in place of writts of error) for trifling causes. And on all these considerations I make no doubt but it will prove a beneficial law, and such as may well deserve to be made perpetual; but at present it is only to be in force for four years, because the Assembly were willing to try the effects of it, before such an alteration was established as this introduces in the method of practice. The seventh, an act to explain and amend the act for declaring the negroe mulatto and Indian slaves within this Dominion to be real estate etc. The act now explained was made in 1706 etc., and 'tis said was intend- ed at first to extend no further than to preserve the slaves of persons dying intestate from the ill practices of administrators who generally converted the slaves to their own use rendering only to the heir the apprais'd value: but by some other clauses etc. it came to pass that people thought themselves enabled to entail their negroes, and divers constructions have been made of that law seemingly contradictory one to another; such it seems are the difficultys of making a perishable thing governable by the saraefs] rules of succession as lands of inheritance. To obviate these inconveniencies and to remove and avoid all doubt and disputes is the design of the act now pass'd; whereby slaves remain still a chattell in all cases of sale, gift or devise: and the husband by the intermarriage hath the absolute property of all slaves that did appertain to the wife. No entail can be made of slaves unless they are annex'd to entail'd lands; and even in that case, they are liable to the debts of the tennant intail. And by the latter part of this act another doubt is explained touching a clause of the act for distribution of intestates estates, whereby the widow's right to her share of the real and personal estate of her husband is more clearly settled. These are the principal heads of this act against which great exception is taken by many persons here, who urge that it is hard to vest all the slaves of the wife in the husband who may squander away his estate, sell her slaves, and leave her a beggar. That the subjecting negroes settled with lands in tail to the payment of the debts of the tenant in tail, to the prejudice of him in remainder, is defeating the intent of the first donor, and must render ineffectual all such settlements as are made for the encrease and preservation of the estates in their descendants, inasmuch as lands without slaves are of little value. But it is argued on the other side that the inconveniency to the woman is no greater than if her fortune consisted in money, where the absolute property becomes the husbands and liable to his disposal: that the hardship is much greater when a man marries a woman whose portion is only in slaves, if after maintaining her many years suitable to her rank and degree, and then she dying without issue, her whole estate shall be taken away from her husband; and that if slaves were to be settled in tail in the same manner as lands, many creditors would be defrauded, and especially the British merchants, who can't be inform'd or always made ac- quainted wth. such settlements, but generally give credit according to the number of slaves they know a man is possess'd of. These, my Lords, are the arguments for and against the bill, which I submit to your judgment. The eight. An act for making more effectual provision against invasions and insur- rections, great part of this act is the same as one pass'd in 1706 and continued by many subsequent acts; but there being sundry defects in those acts, and the burgesses inclining to continue it further for two [? years] only, did accordingly prepare a bill for that purpose: when the Council resolving on a more [? effect]– ual security rejected that bill and fram'd this now pass'd; wherein besides ascertaining of the pay the Militia are to be paid by the publick if they are call'd out into service for above two days at any one time, and their patroling to prevent in the Holydays the consultations of negroes is declared a service for which they are entituled to pay, which was not so before; guards are also by this act to be appointed by the Governor for the several batteries, and some other necessary regulations for rendring the service of the Militia more effectual. So that upon the whole this is a beneficial law and liable to no exception that I know of, unless that of its being temporary, for three years only, which may be enlarged hereafter. The ninth. An Act for the better securing the payment of levies etc. This is the same in substance with an act bearing the same title pass'd in 1723, and being only temporary was expired; There are in this act two new clauses, one to declare what shall be accounted a legal settlement to oblige the parish to maintain their poor; and the other to prevent a very unjust practice of masters of ships in turning away sick and disabled seamen, and so leaving them either to starve, or become a parish charge, both of which are I hope without exception. The tenth. An act for the better regulating and ascertaining the current rates of silver coin in this dominion, and for preventing the evil practice of cutting foreign gold into pieces. The drawing the silver coin out of this country, and introducing in the stead thereof the gold coin, which passes at a greater value was so sensibly felt in the commerce of the country, that is it absolutely necessary to raise the value of the silver in a nearer proportion to that of the gold currency, which yet is much lower than the rates establish'd by the Act of Parliament etc. The latter part of this act is intended to prevent a very common but pernicious practice of clipping the gold into small pieces for the conveniency of making up the weight where payments are made in gold. This was first begun in the Northern Governments, where all sorts of coin have been thus clipt and defaced, and has of late been the occasion of passing abundance of counterfeit mettle resembling gold, which has pass'd unobserved through several hands, and the first practicers of this fraud escaped undiscovered. So that it became necessary to put a stop to such an evil wch. I hope this act will effectu- ally do. The eleventh. An act for the better and more effectual putting the penal laws in execution is founded upon the experience of the small effect that prosecutions on penal laws have hitherto had towards the reforming of abuses and punishing offenders, partly through the scruples of some Inferior Courts to take cognizance of penalties of small value, but more especially through the want of knowledge in the persons who practice the law in the County Courts, whereby many judgments on penal laws have been arrested or reversed for defects in the pleadings. This act therefore directs that penalties under 20s. may be summarily recovered on the presentment of the Grand Jurys in the County Courts, and that no defect or omission in form shall stay or reverse judgments for any penalty under five pounds or one thousand pounds of tobacco. This indeed I am informed is not the practice in England: yet our circum- stances differing greatly in respect to the persons practicing the law in our County Courts, make it absolutely necessary to find out a more effectual method of bringing offenders to punishment, than by a strict adhering to forms, lose the effect of those laws which provide for the public peace and the preservation of order in the Government, and justice and morality in the members of the community. The twelfth. An act prohibiting the exportation of grain in time of scarcity. As this country has suffered greatly by the avarice of merchants, who for private gain have exported corn and wheat, when the necessity of the inhabitants required rather supplies from abroad etc ; and as the prohibitions of the Governour and Council, for want of a law to inflict punishment on the offenders, were fruitless and contemptible: It was high time for ye Legislature to resist so great an evil, especially, when the small crops made the last year, and the great consumption for the support of the stocks of cattle during the course of a long and severe winter threatened the inhabitants with an uncommon scarcity. Therefore this act gives power to the Governour, with the advice of the Council to prohibit by Proclamation the exportation of grain or other victuals when need shal require; and lays a penalty on the exporter of double the value of the corn exported etc. The good effect of this act hath been already felt by preserving for the supply of the inhabitants a great quantity of corn bought up for exportation, and which would certainly have been carried out, notwithstanding my Proclama- tion, but for this seasonable precaution. The thirteenth. An act for establishing the fees of certain officers etc. Here the fees of the Secretary, County Court Clerks, Sheriffs, Coroners and Const- ables are anew regulated and ascertain'd for the space of three years etc. Some new fees are added and others moderated according to the nature of the service; the former law being expired etc; and because the new regulation in the Courts of justice made it necessary to adapt the fees to the circumstances of the several proceedings and that law being only temporary, it was fit that those fees should remain no longer than the ser- vices to which they are suited; but if upon experience the one be found useful, and therefore thought fit to be continued, the other at the same time will receive its sanction. The fourteenth. An Act for erecting a town in each of the counties of Spotsilvania and King George is among the number of publick acts, seeing it is grounded upon the general benefit which the trade of this Colony will receive from it; For those two counties, especially the former, being greatly encreased in inhabitants and extended on both sides the branches of Rappahannock River, and being obliged to bring their tobacco to the first landings where that river is navigable, which is just below the Falls: their industry has been hitherto much discouraged for want of convenient storehouses to lodge their commodities, and much more for being deprived of the oppertunity of selling the same to advantage, the land on both sides that part of the river being held by private persons, who not only exacted exorbitant prices for storage, but endeavoured to engross the whole trade themselves, since no other merchant could settle there without the consent of the owners, which was not to be obtained. To remove these incon- veniencies it was judged expedient to appropriate 50 acres of land on each side that river, and to lay it out into lots, for the use of such as shal be inclined to build warehouses or fix stores of goods there for the benefit of those remote inhabitants. And that the owners of the land might have no reason to complain care is taken to give them a very considerable recompence of no less than forty shillings for each acre; which in truth is some- times as much as lands in those parts commonly are sold for! tho the owners of those lands have unwillingly parted with their property for this use, and threaten to attempt the repealing this Act; yet I must declare their complaints are founded, more on their humour and passion than on reason. For the Assembly had no other means to relieve the hardships of the Frontier people, and what they have now done is, with remark- able regard to justice and to the interest of ye proprietors if they know when to be contented; since both their present recompence is very sufficient, and the future value of their adjacent lands will be considerably augmented, if, as 'tis hop'd, those design'd towns come once to be peopl'd. So that I hope your Lordships will give little attention to the very unreasonable clamours of private persons, in a matter wherein the publick is so much benefited, as, with submission, I think it is by this act. The Fifthtenth. An act for encouraging adventurers in Iron-works. This Act exempts the servants and slaves employed in any iron- work already sett up, or which for the space of 21 years next coming shall be sett up, in this Colony, from the payment of all publick County or Parish taxes for five years, after the end of this Session of Assembly, or for five years from the begining of their respective undertakings. They are also to have roads and bridges made for them by ye Countys in which they are erected, and to have some other priviledges of less moment, that the persons employ'd in those works, which require constant attend- ance, may not be diverted from their business. I doubt not your Lordships are well satisfied that the making and carrying to Great Brittain pigs of iron is of great advantage to the trade thereof, as well as to the benefit of this country; and that such encouragement as the Assembly have thought fit to allow by this Act, will meet with all fitting countenance from your Lordships Board. The Sixthtenth. The Act for raising a publick levy being what passes in course every Session, for the payment of the pub- lick tobacco debts, all that I shal remark thereon is, that seven and a half pounds of tobacco p. pole for near two years publick charge, is an evidence of the usefulness of the duty lately laid on liquors, which has thus lessened that Pole Tax, so as to render it thus easy to the people. Having thus gone through the several Acts which are of more general concernment, it remains that I make mention of the few others which are calculated for remedying particular inconveniencies. Such are The 17th. An Act for dividing the County Henrico. The 18th. And an Act for erecting a new county on the heads of Essex, King and Queen, and King William Counties. These two are occasioned by the earnest desires of the people in those parts of the Colony who having since the formation of those first Counties extended their settlements far from the usual places of holding their Courts of Justice; the Assembly have for their ease erected two new coun- ties whereby the inhabitants may with more conveniency attend their Courts, be ready at the Musters of the Militia and other publick meetings. The 19th. An Act for killing squirrels and crows in the counties of Accomack and Northampton. It seems these two counties are more than any other in the Colony infested with these destroyers of the fruits of the earth. Whether their nearness to Maryland, on the eastern shore, where the like law has subsisted many years, has driven them to seek after a safe retreat elsewhere, or what other cause it be, the people have laboured for some years past to obtain such an Act as is now pass'd, whereby every master of a family is obliged to kill or cause to be kill'd six squirrels or six crows for every tithable person in his family, under the penalty of three pounds of tobacco for every one he is deficient in, to be applied for lessening the County levy. And this to continue for three years, by which time the people are in hopes to free themselves from the injuries they receive from these enemies to their crops. The 20th. An Act for dissolving the present vestry of the parish of Elizabeth City etc. This was obtained from the general complaints of the inhabitants of that parish, of many irregular proceedings of the said vestry, and upon an hearing of the parties there being found some reason on the part of the petitioners, it was thought fit to allow them a new choice. But whether the justice and consideration of the new vestrymen will be greater than that of their predecessors must be left to time. All I shall say of this bill being, that it is sometimes necessary to yeild to popular humours, where the publick receives no prejudice by it, rather than to increase discontents for the sake of private interest. The 21st. An Act, to prevent swine running at large within the the limits of the town of Norfolk is of the same nature with others pass'd in former Assemblies in favour of particular townships and therefore needs no comment, since the reasons for restraining those kind of creatures are obvious. The 22nd. There is one private Act which still remains, that pass'd this Session, and that is an Act to enable William Farrer and Thomas Farrer to sell and convey certain entail'd lands, and for settling other lands and negroes of greater value to the same uses. As your Lordships will be attended by the person concerned for obtaining H.M. Royal approbation; I need only to observe that this bill has pass'd in all the forms required by H.M. Instructions and as no one offered to oppose it here, I must believe that all parties are entirely satisfied with the exchange proposed thereby, and desirous of its receiving that sanction which is necessary to secure their respective interest. I have further to acquaint your Lordships that towards the end of this Session, the Burgesses had under consideration the great loss and inconvenience which this Colony sustains by being deprived of the liberty of stemming tobacco; and agreed upon an address to H.M. and a Petition to the House of Commons for repealing that part of a late Act of Parliament whereby the importation of tobacco stript from the stalk is prohibited; in both which the Council concurr'd with them. The reasons suggested for altering the Law in this partic- ular, are at large sett forth in the said Address and Petition, and in the Journal of the Council in Assembly of the 28th of March, to which I beg leave to refer, without offering any opinion of my own further, than that having discoursed with many persons concerned in the trade, I find it generally agreed that abundance of good tobacco is now thrown away, which would have been ship'd home had the planters been at liberty by stemming to separate it from that part of the leaf which is really bad; and it seems to be also agreed that much of this kind of tobacco thrown away by the owner is yet by their servants and slaves made up into bundles and sold at a small price to sailors, who can have no other view of profit thereby than the running it without paying the duty; and if this be so, as I have great reason to believe it is, I doubt not, this application of the Assembly will meet with a favourable reception. I must not omit informing your Lordships of one thing which has occasioned a difference between the Coun- cil and Burgesses this last Session, and which, I am apprehensive, may afford matter of discontent in future Assemblies. The Burgesses past a resolve for paying their own attendance in Assembly out of the publick funds raised by the duty on liquors at the rate of tenn shillings for each hundred of tobacco allowed them by law. This resolve being sent up to the Council for their concurrence, was rejected: whereupon the Burgesses immediate- ly prepared a bill to apply the money in the Treasurer's hands towards the discharge of their salarys; but this proceedings was so much dislik'd by the Council that the bill was thrown out by a greater majority than had voted against the resolve, to the great discontent of the House of Burgesses at their second disappointment, and it cost me no small trouble before I could bring them again into temper. The Burgesses insist that the duty on liquors being laid for lessening the levy by the poll, the payment of their salaries is one of the uses for which it was appropriated; since that must otherwise be raised by a poll tax on the people, and that it has been so discharged in four successive Sessions: viz. two in the time of Govr. Spotswood and two in the time of Govr. Drysdale. On the other hand the Council urge that the levies intended to be lessen'd by the duty have ever been understood to be no other than the publick levy chargeable equally on all the people of the Colony; whereas the sallaries of the Burgesses are chargeable only on the inhabitants of the respective Counties by whom they are chosen; and that it would be an unequal distribution of the publick money to allow the same share of it to a county which has a thousand tithables as one that has three thousand; that when the payment of Burgesses was first introduced, there was a considerable sum in bank, but that now there is not so much as will refund the money appropriated for the encouragement of the hemp manufacture, which has since been applied to other public uses; and lastly, that the Act of Assembly having expressly appointed the Burgesses to be paid by their Counties, the Council cannot consent to their being paid in any other manner whilst that Act subsists. Thus I have stated to your Lordships the ground of this dispute, and can't help saying that I'm much concerned it should arise under my administration; being convinced that 'tis not yet ended! And am therefore very desirous to receive your Lord- ships commands in what manner I am to act if any such resolu- tion of the Burgesses should be taken hereafter; since it may happen that by the change of persons in the Council, or by the necessary absence of some of those gentlemen who have now opposed this way of payment, a contrary vote may be carried in both Houses, and then it will rest solely upon me either to dissolve the Assembly by my dissent, or by my assent to lessen the publick fund which may be necessary to be employed for more publick services. And herein your Lordships Instructions shall be my guide. I have but one thing more to mention relating to the proceedings of the Assembly and that concerns my self, on the 27th of February the Burgesses pass'd a vote for presenting me with the sum of five hundred pounds curr., and by their address to me at the conclusion of the Session, have in very obligeing terms requested my acceptance of it; but as I [am strictly ty?]ed up by my Instructions not to accept any present from the Assembly, I must humbly entr[eat] yo[ur] Lordships favour so to represent this act of generosity of the Assembly, as that I may obtain H.M. permission to accept thereof, which I hope will not turn to the prejudice of H.M. service, having fix'd it as my unalterable resolution that my private interest shal never divert me from the pursuit of my duty; and I hope it may not be impossible to promote the interest of the Crown and at the same time preserve the goodwill of the people. Having now done with the transactions of the Assembly and designing to treat of the other affairs of the government in a letter apart, I shall conclude etc. Signed, William Gooch. Endorsed, Recd. 30th July, Read Oct. 8th, 1728. Torn. 7¼ pp. [C.O. 5, 1321. ff. 39, 40 — 43v. (with abstract).]
June 8.
261. Lt. Governor Gooch to the Council of Trade and plantations. Since my last of the 14th of February, I had the honour to receive your Lordships of the 12th of December; and take this first oppertunity to make my humble acknowledg- ments for the expressions of your Lordships favours to me. I now send by the conveyance of Mr. Randolph the Council Journals and other publick papers required by my Instructions, and shal only trouble your Lordships with some few notes thereon. Sometime since I informed your Lordships that pursuant to your commands I had caused the opinion of the Attorney and Sollicitor General to be regist'red in the proper offices: and in the Council Journal of the 21st of March your Lordships will be pleas'd to observe a determination agreable to that opinion of some disputes between the King's officers, and the agent of the Proprietors of the Northern Neck in relation to sundry fines and forfeitures that have heretofore accrued in that territory, and rules laid down for the better collecting such of them as may hereafter become due to H.M., which will prevent all controversy for the future. Having according to what I advised your Lordships in my last given commission to Mr. Byrd, Mr. Fitzwilliams and Mr. Dandridge three of the Council to meet the Commissioners of Northern Carolina in order to settle the bound- aries. They mett at Currobuck Inlet on the 5th of March, and with much labour and difficulty proceeded about 70 miles on the line as your Lordsps. will find by their Journal which is now sent markt No. 1. But to the great surprize of all who had read the report of former Commissioners, it is now found that instead of gaining a large tract of land from North Carolina, the line comes rather nearer to Virginia than that which Carolina has always allow'd to be our bounds: (I have herewith sent the plan). This mistake has proceeded from a false observation of the Latitude, and from not adverting to the variation of the compass which is now found to be 3° from the true west point; yet as it is necessary to put an end to a controversy, which, it seems has been for many years attended with much inconveniency to both Governments, and no small detriment to private persons, whose debtors found a safe retreat within the bounds in dispute, where the laws of neither Province could reach them, so it will be a considerable augmentation of H.M. Revenue that the boundaries in the inland part of the country and towards the Mountains be fix'd, the uncertainty whereon has hitherto discouraged the people from taking up H.M. lands, and making settlements on that frontier. To this purpose the Commissioners are again to meet in September to perfect that work; and though the expence thereof is like to prove considerable, I hope it will be more than recompenced in a few years by the increase of H.M. quit-rents, and other advantages as well to the trade as to the security of this country. Upon the arrival of H.M. ship the Biddiford about the middle of April and the intelligence the Captain mett with at sea, that several Spanish privateers were fitting out in the West Indies for cruising on this coast (which report was con- firmed by the masters of several sloops trading that way) I judged it necessary by an Order in Council of the 17th of last month to lay an embargo on the merchant ships and to permit none to sail hence but under the convoy of the man of war the Captain whereof (who is a very diligent officer) has undertaken from time to time to conduct them in safety off this coast, whereby it is to be hop'd the designs of the enemy will be disap- pointed, who, 'tis believed, will exert themselves with uncommon vigour, by how much they perceive the nearer approach of Peace, which, I hope, is not now far off. The surprizing number of caterpillars with which this Colony was infested in the spring of the year, together with the misfortune of a very short crop of corn the last year, gave the people terrible apprehensions of the consequences (and for which I appointed a fast) but God has been pleased to remove the one with very small damage to the fruits of the earth, and the other, I hope, is in a great meas- ure remedied by the seasonable prohibition of the export of grain, which, with the near approach of the wheat harvest, of which there is a prospect of a plentiful crop, will afford a sufficient supply for the necessities of the inhabitants—I have only this further remark to make on the Journals of the Council that the great number of petitioners for land mentioned in the Minutes of the 8th of February, and the publick accounts which go herewith, will be an evidence of the increase of the Colony, and the flourishing condition of the King's Revenue, nor is there any reason to doubt, but that the Customs at home will still be augmented by the export of tobacco, the product of those new settlements. I shal by the next conveyance send your Lordships a list of gentlemen fit to serve at the Council Board; and lay before your Lordships a state of the Stores of War. And by the same opportunity shall present to the Board of Ordinance our wants of that kind, which I hope to obtain the more easily upon the happy conclusion of that Peace now negociating; for even then our coasts, nay I may say our roads and harbours in all likelihood will be infested with pirates. I informed your Lord- ships by a letter in a Bristol ship, I think it was, that altho' my orders were as quick as possible, the masters of the ships, taken in September last, were in three days with the men they had with them all dispers'd. and I could get no further knowledge of them; and this letter was sent 19th Oct. and this is the substance of it. I thought it best to send all the publick papers in a box directed to your Lordships by Mr. Randolph, with orders to deliver them himself without the charge of postage, which I was sensible would amount to a considerable sum: to forward this by post as soon as he arrives in England, and in this I hope I have not err'd etc. Signed, William Gooch. Endorsed, Recd. 30th July, Read 8th Oct., 1728. Holograph. 1¾ pp. Enclosed,
261. i. List of papers enclosed. ½ p.
261. ii. (a) Proclamations by Lt Governor Gooch, April 17, 1728, prohibiting the entertainment of sailors belonging to H.M. ships of war etc. (b) Proclamation, 27th April, 1728, prohibiting the exportation of grain etc. (c) Proclamation, 27th April, 1728, appointing a day of fasting, "Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God in a very surprising and unusual manner to overspread this Dominion with vast multitudes of caterpillars" etc. Endorsed, Recd. 30th July, 1728. 3 pp.
261. iii. Journal of Commissioners for settling boundaries betwixt Virginia and Carolina. 5th March—5th April, 1728. Signed, W. Byrd, R. Fitzwilliam, W. Dandridge. Same endorsement. 9 1/3 pp.
261. iv. Account of H.M. Revenue of Virginia. 25th Oct. 1727—25th April, 1728. Totals, £7736 8 2¼, including balance brought forward, £6304 6 11¼. Disbursements, £2431 13 2½. Carried forward, £6304 15. Signed and sworn by John Grymes, Recr. General. Audited by, Henry Willis, Depty. Auditor. 2 pp.
261. v. Account of H.M. revenue of Quit rents, 25th April, 1727—1728. Totals, £6176 0 11¾, including balance brought forward, £3277 3 10¼. Expenditure, £1069 0 2. Balance carried forward, £5107 0 9¾. Signed as preceding. Endorsed as No. ii. 4 pp. [C.O. 5, 1321. ff. (including abstract) 44—45, 46v.—50, 51v—56v., 57v.—60v., 61v.]
June 9.
262. Lt. Governor Gooch to the Duke of Newcastle. I have now the honour to convey to your Grace the journals and acts of a General Assembly, which has been lately held here, and wherein there are many things past, which I hope may be of singular benefit to this Colony, Your Grace will be attended by a Gentleman of this country, one Mr. Randolph appointed by the Assembly to bring over an Address to H.M. and a petition to the House of Commons for taking off the prohibition laid by Act of Parliament on the importation of stemm'd tobacco which is represented to be as greatly to the prejudice of H.M. Customs, as it is injurious to the Planters here, a considerable part of whose labour is rend'red useless by it. I am perswaded, if nothing else stands in its way, I need use no arguments to induce your Grace to favour this representation, where the King's interest concurs wth. the benefit of his people. I shal not trouble your Grace with any observations on the Journals of the Council or other publick papers which go with this conveyance: but beg leave humbly to recommend the case of one Sarah Williamson a poor Indian woman convicted here for the supposed murder of her own child, though she was then a married woman, and not under any temptation to conceal the birth of it. There were indeed very strong presumptions but no possitive proof of her guilt: but her Christian behaviour during the time of her tryal and imprisonment, her resignation under her sentence, her willingness to die, and at the same time her constancy in denying the fact, with some other circum- stances, perswade me that she was not guilty, and that her ignorance betray'd her into the resolution of burying the child privately, which she constantly affirms was born dead. Where- fore I humbly pray your Grace so to represent this state of her case to H.M. for his royal mercy, that she may be put into the next Newgate pardon as has been the practice heretofore in cases of the like nature, or that I may have H.M. warrant for passing her pardon under the seal of this Colony. I very much depend upon your Grace's favour, that I may be allowed to accept of the present made to me by the Assembly, and which, by their Address to me at the conclusion of the Session, they did in very obliging terms request my acceptance of, 'twas £500 curr. wch. is, if anything, but little more than £400 ster. Living here my Lord Duke is much more expensive than formerly, and not many years since £300 would have done as much as £700 will do now. I am above all things intent upon the faithfull discharge of my duty to my Royal Master etc. Signed, William Gooch. Endorsed, R. July 30th. Holograph. 1 p. Enclosed,
262. i. Address of the Council and Burgesses of Virginia to the King. Your Majesty's most dutiful and loial subjects etc. having experienced the late Act of Parliament, whereby the importation of tobacco stript from the stalk is prohibited, are persuaded, that on the one hand the industry of the planter is greatly discouraged, and bad and unmerchantable tobacco shipped off from hence is increased, while a greater quantity of a better sort of tobacco is suppressed; and, on the other, your Majesty's Customs are considerably diminished, and many frauds in the running such tobacco are introduced and encouraged. In consideration whereof we presume in all humility to apply to your sacred Majesty and at the same time to petition your Parliament for relief etc. Propose repeal of part of said Act. Signed, in behalf of the Council, Robert Carter; Jn. Holloway, Speaker of the House of Burgesses. Endorsed, Rd. Novr., 1728. 1 large p. [C.O. 5,1337. Nos. 42, 43.]
June 9.
263. Capt. Bowdler to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Describes unhealthy position of Fort King George etc. Signed, John Bowdler. Endorsed, Recd. 11th, Read 13th June, 1728. Addressed. Postmark; Shrewsbury. 1 p. [C.O. 5, 360. ff. 70v.]