1055. After Treaty of Seville Nov. 1729. The Affair of the Jamaica embargo stated. [A Memorandum apparently drawn up by Mr. Delafaye for the Duke of Newcastle. Ed.]. Sept. 15th, 1728. The Spaniards continuing their depredations in the West Indies, and there being advices of their having a design upon Jamaica, orders were sent to Commodore St. Lo to seize their cruizers ; of which notice was given to Govenr. Hunter, with directions also to him to put the island into such a condition that he might not be insulted or surprised. Feb. 13th, 1729. The intelligence of a design upon Jamaica was confirmed, with this addition, that the King of Spain had approved the scheme of which particulars were now sent. An account of this also was written to Governor Hunter etc. (v. Feb. 17th). At the same time orders were sent to the Admiralty to provide transport ships, and a reinforcement of ships and land forces was intended to be sent thither; But as such preparations require time, and there was no necessity of hurrying away this reinforcement, till one knew that the Spaniards were actually victualling their ships, and preparing to embark their troops ; news came, the mean while, that their design on Jamaica was suspended, and in the beginning of May came an account that it was dropt, May 9th. The objection will be made, that when this advice came, notice should have been sent of it to Jamaica. To this it may be answered, that there was no certainty of the design upon Jamaica being quite laid aside, so as not to be resumed, till the signing of the Treaty of Seville, for had we not come to an agreement with Spain, their attempt upon Jamaica was not a chimericall one. They had felt the disadvantage to them of that Island being in our hands, from whence the Squadron was supported, that blockt up their galeoons, and that they have long had an eye upon it appears from Monsr. Pocobueno's presenting a ridiculous memorial to demand it for the Duke of Veraguas, so long ago as in July 1723, alledging that tho' it was true, the Crown of Spain, by the Treaty of 1670, allowed the English to retain what they were possest of in America, that could not include Jamaica, which did not belong to that Crown, but to the Duke, who ought not to be prejudiced by any concession which his King thought fit to make ; Since therefore there had been a positive account of an attempt intended, not at all improbable, and which tho' suspended might possibly be resumed, would it have been prudent to put the inhabitants of Jamaica off their guard : especially as their preparations for their defence, could not be imagined to be such as that the Trade could be affected by them ; this caution having been given, that they should not be of such a nature as to create an alarm : and when the news came of the embargo being laid on the shipping there, it gave as much surprise to the Ministry at least, as it did dissatisfaction to the merchants, and accordingly upon receipt which came the 14th June, a fregate was sent away the 17th of that month with a letter to the Govr. disapproving what he had done, and ordering him to take off the embargo forthwith etc., but had such notice of the suspension of this design been sent to Jamaica, it would not have mended the matter. For the first news, and that but uncertain, that the design upon Jamaica seemed to be put off, was not receiv'd till the 18th April, and could not have reached Jamaica time enough to prevent the embargo, which was laid the 6th of April and taken off May 29th. As to the conduct of the Governor and Council of Jamaica, they had had notice sent them the Sept. before to put themselves in a posture of defence ; they had observed their neighbours in the Spanish Colonies making warlike preparations ; they receiv'd advice in April of a scheme for attacking them, which was the more probable, as it tally'd with the preparations in their neighbourhood. The warlike preparations of the neighbouring Spaniards, were cause sufficient for the proclaiming of Martiall Law, which by the laws of Jamaica is directed to be done upon every apprehension and appearance of any publick danger; and considering that their Militia consisted mostly of Irish Popish servants whom they could not intirely confide in (a circumstance till then unknown here, and most probably unheeded by themselves) they did not attend so much as they should have done to the nature of the preparations directed from hence, but had recourse to an embargo, to keep their seafaring men at home, in whom, as they apprehended, consisted their greatest safety. In this they followed the practise of that country in such cases ; in July, 1719, upon an alarm of the Spaniards, (tho' no directions or notice of danger had then been sent from England to Jamaica) Martial Law was proclaimed, and an embargo laid, of which no complaint was made at that time ; And upon the whole, the ships which were laden had sailed just before the laying on this last embargo, those that were stopt could not for the most part have come away much sooner than they did and certainly what the merchants could loose in this single emergency whatever it might be, is not a consideration equal to the loss of so valuable a part of H.M. Dominions in America. The preparations which the Government here made for it's releif did most probably prevent the execution of the design which the Spaniards had formed upon it, and those in the Island have at least had this good effect from the alarm, that their fortifications are repaired, their people roused from the state of perfect indolence and security they were in, the Island is now in as good a posture of defence as it is capable of, and the plan is ready laid of the measures necessary to be taken in case of an invasion. Without date or signature, v. Debate in Parliament, Jan. 1730.) [C.O. 137, 53. ff. 132–135 ; and 137–140].
1057. Some considerations upon the present state of the Massachusetts Bay. Abstract. The name of New England, in its largest extent, includes the Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island, but is most commonly applied to the Massachusetts Bay which is far more considerable than any of the rest in wealth, trade, products, manufactures, mines, fisherys, shipping, inhabitants and extent etc. Continues :—In the Charter granted in the third year of William and Mary, are contained many large and uncommon priviledges, far more extensive than those enjoyed by the people of Old England, dissonant from our Constitution, and as the event has shewn, ever incompatible with the dependence, which Colonys ought to have upon their Mother Kingdom. And yet, one of their best advocates has complaind in print, that this new charter was but the shadow of their old one ; by which, I presume, he means it is not the same with those of Connecticut, or Rhode Island, two little Commonwealths in the same neighbourhood, who hold no manner of correspondence with the Government at home except when their boundarys are attackd or their property invaded by their neighbours etc. One would imagine that any reasonable people might have rested satisfyed with the enjoyment of such ample priviledges ; But the experience of many years has shewn, that there is hardly a liberty granted them by this Charter, which they have not extended beyond its due bounds, nor a reservation in behalf of the Crown, which they have not encroached upon : To speak truth, the cords that hold them are so very slender. the transition from the state they are in to that of an intire independence, so easy, I am not astonished, that men of warm imaginations, and depraved judgments, should think that, a desirable condition, which would prove the greatest misfortune, that could possibly befall them. Refers to disputes with Governors and quotes Order in Council 1st June, 1725, upon the complaint of Col. Shute. Continues:—Such was the lenity of the Crown even after the highest provocation, that this whole complaint ended in an explanatory Charter, upon two points only, already determin'd by the Attorney and Sollicitor General, to be the right of the King, and such was the obstinacy of these people, the acceptance of this Charter was long debated by their Assembly and carried by a very small majority etc. Their behaviour ever since has been but a very bad return to the Government, for not laying hold of so justifiable an occasion to vacate the Charter etc. Even in this present year they contest with the Governour and Councill the power of appointing an Attorney General, with great difficulty submit to the Governour's undoubted right, of putting a negative on Councillors chosen by them, and stubbornly refuse, notwithstanding repeated recommendations for that purpose from the Crown, to establish a fixt sallary on their Governour for the time of his residence, altho' they have many years establish'd salarys by law, on their Councillors and Assembly men for the time being, thereby endeavouring to keep the said Governour dependent upon them, and to oblige him to give up the Prerogative, and interest of Great Brittain upon all occasions, for a subsistence, which must probably have been the case, if the late Governour, Mr. Burnet, had not with an uncommon integrity, even under the difficultys of a narrow fortune, strictly adhered to H.M. Instructions. It has generally been the wisdom and goodness of the Crown, in establishing of Colonys in America, not only to grant to the inhabitants, all the priviledges of English men, but likewise to model their Constitution, as near as possible, to that of Great Brittain, particularly in their Legislative powers, where the Governours represent the person of the King, their Councillors the House of Lords and their Assemblys the House of Commons : and these little Parliaments are all of them impowered to make such laws as may be suitable to their particular situations and circumstances, provided they be not repugnant to those of their Mother Kingdom, to the Prerogative of the Crown, or prejudicial to the trade and interest of Great Brittain : But discretional powers are lodg'd in the Governours, under proper Instructions, to give their assent, or negative to these laws ; and these powers are the greatest securitys we have, against the misbehaviour of the Colonys, in any of the above-mentioned particulars. And indeed the more powerfull our Plantations grow, the more it behoves us to have a watchfull eye upon their conduct, more especially over such of them, as have few or no staple commoditys of their own to exchange with us, and whose product is generally the same with that of Great Brittain, which lays them under strong temptations of interfering with us in our manufactures, commerce, shipping and navigation, as is very much the case of all the Colonys to the Northward of Virginia, but more particularly of the Massachusetts Bay. It must be allowd that by the Charter of this Colony the appointment of the Governour is reserved to the Crown, the Governour, if he pleases, may refuse his approbation to any Councillor presented to him; But the people choose the Assembly, the Assembly choose the Councill, and what is still worst of all, the Governour has hitherto depended upon the Assembly for his maintenance, which has allways been more or less considerable, in proportion to his behaviour; and whenever a Governour has had spirit enough to refuse his assent to bills of a nature contrary to his Instructions, he has been but very slenderly provided for, as was eminently the case of Mr. Dummer, from whence it is clear, that, almost in all events, there are two to one in the ballance of the Legislature against the Crown, and if the Governour be not incorruptible, a combination of all the three branches, without controll, to advance the interest of New England, at the expence of Great Brittain. For altho' their laws may be repealed by the Crown, when they come home, etc., yet, as by their Charter there is no precise time fixt for the transmission of them, they may have their effect long before they get home, which is allmost allways the case, and then the evil becomes irretrievable. No wonder therefore, if, under these circumstances, the people of New England should be desirous to keep their Governour dependent upon them. Quotes H.M. Orders and Instructions for fixing a salary etc., 22nd May etc. and letter from the Agents to the Assembly, 25th April, 1729, printed in their Journal, advancing reasons for refusing, who wrote :— "Upon the hearing it seemd to be a point rested in on all sides, that the people have certainly the power of raising the Governour's support, and of fixing it or not fixing it, as they judge it most for H.M. service, and the welfare of the People : But then it was urged that the King's Governour must not be so dependent on the people as to be at uncertainty in his support, and that if finally the Assembly would not fix the sallary, the affair must come before the Parliament. Whether it will take that turn or not, time alone will discover. And as there are many things to be considered from the constant vicissitude of all human affairs, and if we suppose the thing itself, we come into an Assembly allways the supporters of Liberty and Property: these things considered, and from the advice of the best friends of New England, we can by no means think it prudent just or reasonable, but an infringement of the rights vested in the people by the Royal Charter, to fix a salary on a Governour by virtue of an Instruction. Of what value is the Charter, if an Instruction shall at pleasure take away every valuable part of it? If we must be finally compelled to a fixt sallary, doubtless it must be better that it be done by the European Legislature than do it ourselves, if our Liberties must be lost, much better they should be taken away, than we be in any measure accessory to our own ruin. But we cannot be of opinion that the Parliament would judge it consistent with the Charter, and therefore not just to make a law, to fix a sallary on the present Governour" etc. Signed, Francis Wilks, Jonathan Belcher. Continues :—I have no manner of doubt but these Agents speak the sence of their Assembly, but the only moral I can gather from their letter is, that it is a very easy matter to persuade people to what they have a mind to, for the summe of their reasoning amounts to this, they would much rather the Parliament of England should repeal their Charter, than their Assembly should pay the least regard to H.M. Instructions, for if the Charter does not make them quite independent of the Crown, it is not worth the keeping etc. As to their hope that the vicissitude of human affairs may produce things in their favour etc., surely there never was a Brittish Parliament yet so abject, as to give into the resentment of a factious Colony, in opposition to the just prerogative of the Crown, and the apparent interest of their own country etc. Can it bear a debate in a Brittish House of Commons, whether a Colony of our own tho' never so powerfull should be suffered to rival us in trade with impunity? Whether a Plantation that owes its being and welfare to the bounty of the Crown, and the protection of England, should pay a due obedience to H.M. just orders, and to the laws and statutes of their Mother-Kingdom ? Whether their Governour shall depend upon them for his dayly bread, or be left at liberty impartially to discharge the trust reposed in him? Whether the people of the Massachusets Bay shall without comptroll break the laws of Trade and Navigation, and erect themselves into an Independent State? Whether their ordinances shall for the future have any effect before they have been approved by the Crown? Whether this Colony shall enjoy priviledges, never thought of in Great Britain, but under the times of usurpation? and whether a Charter, establishing a constitution so widely different from our own, by experience found to be productive of so many disorders, does not stand in need of a reforme ? Are the people of the Massachusets Bay, desirous to enjoy all the libertys of Englishmen? In God's name let them do so: But then let them be contented with such libertys as Englishmen enjoy, and stretch their boundary no further. Have they a particular Charter? Why were they not contented with the fair enjoyment of it? Why would they, by the obstinacy of their behaviour, by their perpetual struggles for independency, bring the validity, or expedience, of that Charter in question. If the Crown has a right to grant charters, has not the Parliament a right to repeal them when they are found hurtfull to the publick? and have not charters of this sort been frequently repealed by the Legislature of Great Brittain ? But they have joyned issue with the Crown upon this head. Ad Parliamentum appellant, ad Parliamentum ibunt. And certainly if ever any point was worthy the consideration of Parliament, this will be so: For the question is not barely, whether the people of the Massachusets Bay shall give their Governour a sallary ? nor even in what manner they ought to give it ? But whether their repeated refusals upon this head compar'd with the whole course of their conduct, for many years past, does not manifestly tend to the throwing off their dependence upon the Crown ? and whether it is not high time to put a stop to these proceedings ? It was wisely said by one of the ablest men that ever publishd his thoughts upon commerce that we had lost all that was loose about us, and that if the Acts of Navigation did not preserve the remainder, we should have none left. If this observation be applicable to trade in general, it is certainly so in a more particular manner to our American Colonys : all wise people have ever secured the dependence of their Plantations, by the strongest tyes that human prudence could invent, and perhaps our settlements may be of as much consequence to us as Mexico and Peru to Spain. They take off above a million sterling annually in our manufactures and products, they employ two-thirds of the shipping of Great Brittain and contribute very largely towards bringing the ballance of trade in all parts of Europe in our favour: But in one respect they can never be sufficiently valued, as they give us a trade, which cannot possibly be lost, but by our own neglect; and shall we lose this trade? God forbid! but can we hope to keep it, if our Colonys grow independent ? Let it be considered that the produce, mines and manufactures of this country, for the most part, are the same with our own, that they have many advantages over us in the Fishery, that they rival us in foreign markets, that they furnish other nations with shipping and timber, that they have already almost quite beaten us out of the ship-building trade, that they have a general disregard for the laws of trade and other statutes of this Realm, that they yearly debauch great number of our sailors into their service, that they are the principal cause of all the disorders yearly complain'd of in the Newfoundland Fishery, that they have constantly driven a most pernicious trade with Surinam, Martinico and other foreign Plantations, who without their horses, timber and provisions could hardly have carryed on their sugar works etc. as they have done to the great damage of our own, and that, notwithstanding their Charter is founded in liberty of conscience, they have assumed to themselves all the powers of an Establisht Church, have grievously oppressed their fellow subjects differing from them in persuasion, and imprisoned the Quakers, for not contributing to the maintenance of their Ministers. Let it be considered that the people we are now contending with, possess a vast tract of land, and a fertile soil it is etc. That they were able, some years ago, to bring above 16,000 fighting men into the field, that the number of their inhabitants then consisted of near 100,000 souls, and in all probability are at present much more numerous, for their Militia in the space of sixteen years only from 1702 to 1718 increased one third. That they annually build about 150 vessels of all sorts, chiefly for sale, and that about 190 sail do constantly belong to this Province. That they are daily destroying the King's Woods in defiance of their Charter, and of our Acts of Parliament which have reserved them for the service of the Royal Navy. That they have several strong forts and convenient harbours and can upon occasion raise more men and mony, than half the Brittish Colonys upon the Continent of America. That their Assembly are constantly encroaching upon the Royal authority, that they have attempted to take the command of the forts and troops into their own hands, that they have assumed the power of dispensing with their own laws, that they have treated their Governor with contempt for endeavouring to persuade them to comply with the King's Instructions, and have had the boldness to complain of him to H.M. for not concurring with them in raising supplys in a method altogether unwarrantable, by a vote instead of an act of Assembly, directly contrary to their Charter, and that they have for some time past usurped a power of directing payment of the annual supplys raised and appropriated for the support of their Government, whereby the officers of this Province both civil and military become dependent upon the said Assembly for their pay, even after the services performed. Much more might be said upon this subject, but this perhaps may be sufficient to awaken us, I wish it may, I have stated their circumstances in an impartial light; Let the Patrons of Brittish Liberty and Commerce determine concerning them. 50 pp. [C.O. 5, 752. No. 45].