Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 36, 1728-1729. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1937.
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While 1726 and 1727 were comparatively quiet in British colonial affairs, the two years covered in this volume, 1728 and 1729, were full of business. This is indicated in its size as compared with that of the preceding volume. The text of the Calendar for 1726–7 covered 432 pages and included 854 items; that for 1728–9 fills 588 pages and 1068 documents are abstracted.
War with Spain.
In the colonies, as in the field of European politics, the outstanding feature of the period was the culmination in war of the long-standing and acrimonious disputes between England and Spain over the commerce of the Indies. There was no formal declaration of a state of war, there were no campaigns on a large scale, and save for Spain's unsuccessful operations against Gibraltar, hostilities were practically confined to the attacks of Spanish privateers and guarda costas on British commerce in American waters. From these papers it is impossible to get a connected narrative of the naval operations by which Great Britain was attempting to cripple Spain by the blockade of her treasure fleet, but we learn that at the beginning of the period Admiral Hosier was still cruising with his squadron off Cartagena (33), and it was said that the galleons lying there were so rapidly deteriorating that it was doubtful whether they would be seaworthy enough for the voyage to Europe. (43). From time to time we get glimpses from the Jamaica despatches of the difficulties that our commanders had in maintaining the blockade. They had to keep their ships supplied from the base at Port Royal, and the narrow self-interest of the colonists hampered them at every turn, but the colonial papers only give a few side-lights to the naval historian upon what was going on.
Admiral Hosier and the Jamaican planters. The agent in Jamaica of the contractor for victualling the Navy wrote to the Secretary of State to complain of the passage by the Jamaican Assembly of an Act which would have the effect of monopolising the rum produced in the colony for the benefit of the planters and middlemen to the detriment of the navy. Much of the sickness that was crippling Hosier's crews off Cartagena was attributed to the scarcity of rum, and several times the Admiral was obliged to quit the coast and thereby give opportunity to the Spaniards to escape his blockade. Because of the hardships imposed by the Jamaicans upon the rum-contractor and their insistence upon exorbitant prices, he threw up his contract at the very juncture of Hosier's operations against Porto Bello, and his successor could only break the ring by bringing in rum from Barbados direct to the ships in Port Royal harbour and refusing to pay any Jamaica dues. (179).
Depredations of the Spanish privateers. Our ships could meet with nothing out of harbour, the Spaniards showing no willingness to fight but keeping close in port under the guns of their batteries. (35). This not only caused their vessels to deteriorate (119) but led to much slack-ness in the British ships which spent much of their time at Port Royal. Trade was stagnant, and the effect of the depredations of the Spanish privateers was felt as far North as the waters off the coast of New Hampshire, (71), but the embargoes upon either side, though they caused losses and inconvenience to the merchants, led to no result, for they were not vital to the fortunes of either side. The Spanish privateers were well armed and well led, and they let nothing escape them off the Jamaica coast, (p. 95) so that it was difficult for the Governor to get his letters through to England, (185). The operations of the privateers off the coast of Virginia compelled the introduction of a convoy system (p. 126) that was much disliked by the merchants but was essential to the safety of their ships, and in every direction there was constant irritation. The news of the assembly of the Congress of Soissons to arrange the preliminaries of peace that reached them in June 1728 was welcomed with relief in the colonies, and the merchants hastened to prepare claims for compensation for the losses they had suffered at the Spaniards' hands over a period of years (e.g. 233 and enclosures). A British despatch boat arrived in Jamaica at the beginning of June carrying orders for the Spanish viceroys for the cessation of arms, (239), but those orders made little effect upon the activities of the privateers.
Boundary claims and counter-claims.
The Board of Trade was directed by Newcastle to prepare a memorandum upon the disputed claims to territory in America and especially to the right to cut logwood in the Bay of Campeachy where many of the Spanish confiscations had taken place. The order was given on May 9 (191) and the Commissioners did their work as expeditiously as possible in order to prepare a brief for the British plenipotentiaries at Soissons. When they presented their report at the end of June (291), it set forth an interesting resumé of the rivalry with Spain on the Carolina boundary and in the West Indies since the reign of Charles II. The Government were able to place this report side by side with the budget of correspondence that had passed between the Governor of Havana and President Middleton, acting-Governor of South Carolina showing how complaint was answered by complaint and what a complicated wrangle had gone on (281 and many enclosures).
Middleton's long covering letter (281) proved what a scrambling and cruel struggle had been going on in the unsettled frontier regions near the Altamaha River. The disputes about Fort King George have been mentioned in previous columns of the Calendar, and the rival attempts to stir up the Indians on either side with their stories of raids, burnings and scalpings in the border settlements remind one on a smaller scale of the more celebrated frontier struggle between the French and the English in the Ohio country a quarter of a century later. The conditions of American border warfare were the same whether in the north or the south, near the Great Lakes or between Carolina and Florida.
Threatened Spanish attack on Jamaica.
The news of the publication of orders for the cessation of arms reached the West Indies in July, (324), but the Spanish privateers continued their depredations, as we learn by the complaints from many of the island colonies (394). By September it was clear that the negotiations at Soissons had failed, and the Government learned that the Spaniards were making preparations to despatch naval reinforcements from Europe and were planning hostilities against the British West Indies on a more considerable scale (394). It was believed that Jamaica was threatened, and Governor Hunter was warned to put the island immediately in a state of defence. Thence-forward for the next twelve months the despatches to and from Jamaica were filled with discussions of the fortification of the island and the accounts of the Governor's incessant activity in carrying-out the orders that had been given to him (see especially 601, 604, 605, 621, 677, 690, 780, 835). Plans for counter-attack were also considered; an examination was made of the contributions that might be expected from the North American colonies to any expedition against the Spanish possessions in the West Indies, (539), and Colonel Hart, lately Governor of the Leeward Islands, was consulted about a plan for attacking Porto Rico (698). Walpole was a peace-loving Prime Minister, but he clearly had no intention of being caught napping if his elaborate diplomatic moves in Europe should fail and war should threaten vital British interests on a considerable scale.
New fortifications. Treaty of Seville.
It was the well-understood principle that H.M. Plantations abroad and especially the most considerable of them were to provide themselves with the necessaries for their defence (p. 408), but the circumstances of Jamaica were so specially dangerous and the Government was so concerned with the preservation of so valuable a part of the Dominions in America that they were willing to furnish the island with ordnance and all manner of necessary stores from home, and Governor Hunter was thus assured that the new fortifications he was building (835) would be properly supplied, although no provision for them had been made by Parliament (780). However, by June 1729, it appeared that the preparations in Spain against Jamaica were suspended, and although the privateering against British ships in the West Indies continued, things seemed to be moving towards an accommodation of the disputes between the two powers. The course of events was set out in a memorandum, probably prepared by Charles Delafaye for the Duke of Newcastle, and though it is not dated, it was certainly prepared in the latter part of 1729, (1055), after the negotiations for the Treaty of Seville had commenced or possibly after its conclusion. That took place in November 1729, and England and Spain were formally at peace once more just as our period closes. The peace was clearly a precarious one, and the writer of the memorandum congratulated the ministry that at any rate the preparations that had involved so much trouble and expense would not have been wasted, for Jamaica was in an excellent state of defence against any future eventualities (p. 580).
Questions under the Neutrality Treaty of 1686.
The friendly relations subsisting between France and Great Britain were reflected on their colonial frontiers, and the despatches contain fewer references to border friction than usual. The Treaty of Peace and Neutrality of 1686 was regarded as still being in force, and an interesting question arose under the provisions of its fifth and sixth articles and was referred to the Law Officers for their interpretation (195). By them reciprocal power was given to the two kings to seize and confiscate the ships and cargoes belonging to the subjects of either which should carry on trade contrary to the articles. Thus French ships trading with British colonies were liable to condemnation by H.M. Courts in the Plantations and vice versa. It was admitted that the British authorities could seize such ships, but the question was asked whether an obligation was laid upon them to seize British ships known to be lading for illicit trade with the French colonies contrary to the provisions of the treaty. The Attorney General, Sir Philip Yorke, and his colleague gave the opinion that there was no obligation to this effect in the treaty, and that if it had been intended, it could only be carried into effect with regard to British subjects by confirming the Articles either by an Act of Parliament or by Acts of Assembly within the respective Plantations, (230). As certain of the colonial Governors had acted in a contrary sense and had proceeded to a condemnation of British ships under pretence of contravening the treaty by trading with the French colonies, an Order-in-Council was issued to the Board of Trade directing the preparation of Instructions for the Governors to prevent it and the consideration of new laws to be passed in the Plantations to prevent British subjects from importing the products of the French Plantations. (238).
French intrigues among the Indians.
The long standing difficulties about French intrigues among the Indian tribes along the northern part of the frontier were less noticeable than in earlier years, but there is an interesting memorial from a trader of French birth but British allegiance, who had lived for many years among the Cherokees and Creeks along the border of South Carolina, showing that similar intrigues were being carried on among those tribes to bring them under French influence, and it proves that French designs were not confined to the northern tribes but were inclusive of the whole length of the debatable frontier beyond the Alleghanies from north to south (396), thus containing the germs of much future trouble. The long-standing rivalry between the French and the English in the Windward Islands will be referred to later when we come to deal with the West Indies.
Decline in the functions of the Board of Trade. Privy Council Committees.
Turning to points of general interest relating to the government of the colonies, we find many indications that the functions of the Board of Trade and Plantations were suffering the decline that was referred to in previous Introductions. Though the Board was constantly receiving orders to make enquiries into colonial affairs and furnished elaborate reports of the results of their deliberations, there is no doubt that the effective discussion of such matters took place in the Committees of the Privy Council where the decisions were taken, to be embodied in Orders-in-Council or to be conveyed in letters from the Secretary of State to the Governors of the colonies concerned. Thus, when in November 1728 serious complaints were received from the Attorney-General of South Carolina against the proceedings of President Arthur Middleton, Acting-Governor of the colony, the Duke of Newcastle did not refer them to the Board of Trade but to the Lords of the Committee of Council to consider what action should be taken to replace him. (498 i). The method adopted in this and many similar cases seems to contain the germs of the modern system of discussion in Cabinet committees; the Board of Trade might be consulted, but it was purely in an advisory capacity for providing information upon which the Committee of Council could take action. The President of the Board of Trade, the Earl of Westmoreland, was in a far more powerful position than any other member of the Board, for he was also a member of the Council Committee. This decay of the Board was fully realised by those concerned with colonial affairs, and there is an interesting memorandum of 1728 calendared here (514), that was probably prepared by Martin Bladen, which sets forth the essentials of the question. The business of the colonies before the Privy Council (i.e. the effective Council corresponding to the modern Cabinet) was usually very much in arrear owing to the pressure of other business, and the writer of the memorandum proposed that the Council should set apart a certain day a week or a fortnight for Plantation affairs, and that when Lord Westmoreland was absent from Town another member of the Board might always attend to give any information that was wanting to explain the subject matter of their reports (pp. 270–1). The President of the Board of Trade had no personal access to the King, as the Chief of the Treasury and the Admiralty had, that is to say, effective action could only be taken by the Committee of Council. Both the writer of the memorandum and Sir William Keith, lately Governor of Pennsylvania, whose memorial to the Crown (513 ii) he was considering, proposed that this measure of reform should be adopted, as the Board had proposed on previous occasions (p. 271), but the idea ran counter to the general course of the development of Cabinet authority and it did not commend itself either to Walpole or to Newcastle.
The Board of Trade and Colonial appointments.
The decay of the power of the Board in relation to colonial appointments was marked, and at times they protested. Thus in August 1728 Governor Hunter of Jamaica wrote, not to the Board but to the Duke of Newcastle, to recommend the choice of Mr. Alexander Forbes to be a member of Council (342). This was regarded by the Board as a slight upon themselves and their Secretary, Alured Popple, without being formally instructed wrote to the Governor thus. "They [i.e. the Board] have recommended Mr. Forbes to be of the Council as you have desired. Upon this occasion I must observe to you that the Board have ever thought themselves by virtue of the Commission the proper persons to judge of the qualifications of those who are recommended to be of any of H.M. Councils in America; and therefore you will do well for the future to make your application to them. It is true that persons have sometimes been proposed to a Secretary of State in order to their being appointed Councillors, but the Board's opinion has ever been asked, and none has been named but upon their recommendation. This I don't tell you by order of the Board, but I thought it might be of service to you to receive this private information." (469). However, when the Order-in-Council was issued formally appointing Forbes, it was stated to be "as proposed by the Council of Trade" (503), and so their face was saved. But there can be no doubt that the Board commanded little credit either at home or in the colonies. In his dispute with Massachusetts, for example, Colonel Dunbar had to protest in support of the Board's report upon his schemes that "they are not a set of broken merchants, as some people [in Boston] take the liberty to say, but men of quality, character and fortune, and members of either House of Parliament." (1042 ii).
Constant demands for information
The insatiable demands of the Board for information were always somewhat neglected by the smaller colonies and especially by those without Royal Governors, for the authorities there knew that there was no way of effective reproof and they were anxious to escape the labour of collecting the data required. As a rule, the Board seem to have let things slide, but occasionally they bestirred themselves and circular letters were written to demand answers to their enquiries. Thus in June 1728 they wrote to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland, which had been particularly slack in complying with requests for information. "It is H.M. pleasure and express command that the Governors of all his foreign Plantations do from time to time give unto us frequent and full information of the state and condition of their respective Governments and Plantations, as well with regard to the administration of the Government and justice in those places, as in relation to the commerce thereof: and more particularly that the said Governors transmit unto us yearly accounts of their said administration by way of Journal, together with the Acts of Assemblies." None of these had been regularly supplied by the colonies concerned, and in fact papers from them are noticeably lacking among the documents here calendared. The Board went on to say We remind you of sending over a complete collection of the laws, which has been so often promised some years ago by several Governors, upon letters writ them from the Secretary of this Board for that purpose." (289). But no compliance with these requests could be secured and no answer appears to have been received. As is recorded upon the endorsement, duplicates of the letters had to be sent in 1731, and the incident illustrates the passive neglect by these smaller colonies of the regulations by which they were nominally bound.
In December 1729 the Commissioners were ordered to make a general representation upon the state of the king's islands and territories in America and they forwarded two circular letters, the first set to the Governors of the island colonies (1009) and the second to the Governors on the Continent of America (including the Governor and Company of Connecticut and Rhode Island), (1011), setting forth a series of queries to which detailed answers were required. The queries differed somewhat in respect of the islands and the continental colonies, but in each case the Board requested that an annual return should be made to the queries and that they should be apprised from time to time of any alterations happening in the circumstances of the respective governments. On the same day a special enquiry was sent to Barbados asking whether the precautions mentioned in reply to their previous queries in October 1724 by the appointment of a sloop to prevent goods running in small creeks had been effective and what might be done to discourage a smuggling trade with Martinique or other foreign plantations without burthening the revenue of the Customs with too great an expense. The Board concluded with the pointed question "How stand the generality of the people of Barbados inclined to promote or discourage a smuggling trade with Martinico or any other foreign Plantations" ? (1010 i), for they had reason to believe that a considerable leakage went on not only to the French islands but also to the Dutch plantations in Surinam. Barbados was in special relation with the disputed Windward Islands and the settlements in Guiana just as Jamaica was with the logwood cutters of Campeachy and the Moskito Shore.
Prayers for the Royal Family.
In the Introduction to our previous volume reference was made to the doubt that arose in certain colonies, particularly in Barbados, about the form of prayers for the Royal Family after the accession of George II. The matter was now formally cleared up by Order-in-Council, and special printed instructions embodying the new form of the prayers were sent out to all the Governors of the Plantations (144).
Absentee Patent Officers.
The question of patentee officers and their employment of deputies gave rise to the introduction of special clauses into many of the new warrants of re-appointment which were necessary at the beginning of the reign. A series of such letters of re-appointment will be found under date 29 February 1728, and it appears that Colonial Secretaries held office during pleasure and were required to reside and not "be absent without H.M. leave." Similarly Attorneys-General and Chief Justices were required to reside, but no such provision was inserted in the warrants for Clerks of the Market. The Clerk of the Navy Office in the Leeward Islands could serve by deputy, but the Naval Officer at Piscataway was required to reside, (73–87 inclusive). It is impossible, however, to be certain whether there was a settled policy in regard to any but key appointments or whether favouritism was shown by Newcastle in particular cases, of which he has sometimes been accused. There was certainly something other than principle at work in such a case as that of Thomas Windham. On 29 February 1728 he was re-appointed Register of the Chancery Court and of Patents in Jamaica, and a clause was ordered to be inserted in his warrant obliging him to reside. (75). But on March 21 a fresh warrant was issued to him granting licence of absence to him and permission to exercise his office by deputy, "he having humbly represented that being employed in [the king's] service at home, he cannot without prejudice thereto, as well as to his own private affairs, attend the said office in person." (126). We have here, in fact, a patent job in favour of a member of the powerful Windham family.
Payment of officers by fees.
In even the larger of the island colonies, where there were no salaries attached to offices and the holders were paid by fees, these were so small in amount that one man had to hold several offices to make a living. Thus Francis Whitworth was at the same time Secretary of Barbados, Secretary to the Governor and Council and Clerk of the several Courts. He had to provide an office and stationery and employ clerks to copy the Minutes and Acts, but he found it difficult to obtain payment of his fees, and in 1728 they had been mounting up for nine years and had reached the sum of over 1300l. which he had to petition the Crown to recover from the Barbados legislature (268, 288, 364). Barbados was prolific in Pooh Bahs, of whom William Webster was an outstanding example. He was at the same time Deputy Public (i.e. Colonial) Secretary, Deputy Secretary to the Governor and principal Agent, Major of the Guards, Master in Chancery, Captain and Chief Gunner of the forts, Surveyor-General and Captain and Commander of the Magazine Guards. This peculiar combination of administrative, military, legal and technical offices in a single person was exceedingly unpopular even in a colony that was used to such things and Governor Worsley was hard put to it to justify his acquiescence in the scandal, (pp. 198–9).
Constant absence from their duties was a regular cause of complaint not only against the officials but also against the members of Council in various colonies. The Board of Trade, for instance, noted that various councillors of St. Christopher's, Antigua and Montserrat had been in England for a long time to the neglect of their duties and courteously demand explanations and an indication when they proposed to return to the islands (158, 164 etc.). In various cases they could obtain no satisfactory answers, and since the Governors often complained that they could not get a quorum to carry on the work of the Councils, the Board from time to time proposed the dismissal of Councillors who had long been absentees. Such complaints were far commoner in the island than in the continental colonies, and in the large northern colonies Councillors were rarely absent from their duties for long periods. The Councillorship was regarded as an honour to be sought after, and those who were appointed performed their duties zealously as a rule.
Payment of members of the Assemblies.
Payment of members of the Assembly had been introduced in many of the colonies, and we shall note later when we come to speak of the disputes in Massachusetts that this imposed a considerable charge upon the colony. In Virginia some interesting constitutional points arose in this connection that date back in their origin to the English Parliaments of the fifteenth century. By constitutional precedent the salaries of the burgesses for their days of attendance were chargeable only on the inhabitants of the respective counties by whom they were chosen (p. 124), but in 1728 the burgesses passed a resolve for paying their own attendance in Assembly out of the public funds raised by a duty on liquors. This resolve, being sent up to the Council for their concurrence, was rejected: whereupon the burgesses immediately prepared a bill to apply the public funds in the hands of the Colonial Treasurer towards the discharge of their salaries. But this was even more distasteful to the Council and was thrown out by a larger majority than before to the great discontent of the House of Burgesses (p. 123). They insisted that the duty upon liquors was raised to lessen the levy by poll tax, which had been appropriated to the payment of their salaries on previous occasions. But the Council maintained that it was charged equally on all the people of the colony, and that it would be an unequal distribution of the public money to allow the same share of it to a county having a thousand tithables (i.e. tax payers) as to one having three thousand. The Act of Assembly which appointed salaries to the burgesses expressly provided for them to be paid by the respective counties, and the Council would not consent to another system while the Act subsisted, (p. 124). Lieutenant-Governor Gooch was very much concerned at this dispute, which he feared would be detrimental to the peace of his administration, and appealed for special instructions from the Board of Trade as to what action he was to take, but no immediate answer seems to have been given.
The same matter arose in New York and it is interesting to note that a similar process was going on to what had taken place in England in the sixteenth century when the practice of paying members' wages fell into disuse. Every county of the Province was by some act or other obliged to pay their representatives, but some of them agreed beforehand to serve for nothing, others made bargains at a rate under what they supposed they were authorised to demand. Others again made higher demands than the supervisors of the county thought they were entitled to, some demanding ten shillings and getting it, others contenting themselves with six shillings because they could get no more. To settle the disputes Acts of the Assembly had to be passed fixing the amount. (p. 474).
Powers of the Assemblies.
The vexed question of the powers and procedure of the Assemblies appeared again during this period in certain colonies and notably in Barbados. The Assembly there maintained that they had the same powers as the House of Commons in Great Britain and that they had a coercive power to call before them such persons as were able to give evidence relating to grievances and to send for persons, papers and records for the discovery and redress of such grievances. Their demand for such powers had been denied as far back as the time of King William III, but it was brought up again by the Barbados Assembly in connection with their dispute with Governor Worsley over fees (390, pp. 200—1). In Jamaica, contrary to the practice of the Councils in the continental colonies, the Council claimed a right to sit by themselves when in their legislative capacity, but this Governor Hunter emphatically disavowed and insisted that he must be present. (392).
Survival of early constitutional practices.
Another case of the survival of earlier English constitutional practice in the colonies appears in relation to the Courts of Chancery. The Governor was entitled to sit as sole judge in Chancery, and in Barbados serious complaint was made that Governor Worsley was accustomed to issue injunctions in that judicial capacity which obstructed the proper course of justice. In reply to those complaints the Governor admitted that he issued injunctions, but maintained that they were lawful. He stated that upon his arrival in Barbados he found that writs of injunction were granted till the merits of a cause should be heard, even after judgment had been given in the lower Courts, whence sometimes the cause did not come to be heard in four or five years. He granted such injunctions only till answer and further order, so that in two months time by motion it might come before the Court of Chancery, and upon hearing the merits of the petition the injunction might be continued or dissolved. (p. 101). The Governor went on to make a rule as to costs, which shows that he was in such matters exercising judicial functions in person, thus mingling them with his proper executive functions, and giving rise to the confusion of powers which later in the century became such an important cause of grievance in the colonies.
The same matter arose in Antigua, where by an Act of 1715 no Court of Chancery could be held unless the Governor was personally present in Council (p. 294), and an amending Act had to be passed to permit the Lieutenant-General of the Leeward Islands, the Lieutenant-Governor of Antigua or the President of Council to serve in the Governor's absence. The Court consisted of him and five members of Council, and the provision for a substitute would save the suitors of the Court " the charges of sloop hire in following the General [Governor] for the Great Seal, when he is absent, and also freed from the danger of losing their process as well as exposing their persons which men are so often liable to who frequent the seas." Great difficulties, too, occurred about injunctions. An injunction that had been dissolved by the Governor and Council at Antigua sitting as the Court of Chancery was sometimes upon application to the Chief Governor revived by him alone, so that contrary orders and rules were made and very great delays and charges thereby accrued to suitors. (p. 294).
Such complaints are exactly reminiscent of those that were common in England four centuries before, when the fact that the Great Seal followed the Court in its progresses gave rise to great inconveniences. The trial of actions before the King in person had long disappeared from English practice, but here in the West Indies we find the Governor, the King's representative, administering justice in his own capacity, although a layman without legal training. We may almost look upon the colonies as places for the survival of early legal forms, as in our own day the remoter mountain communities of America have been found to have preserved primitive folk music.
Chancery jurisdiction in New York.
In New York the troubles over Chancery jurisdiction became serious. The Court of Chancery occasioned more uneasiness to Governor Hunter and his successor William Burnet than all the other parts of their administration. It was strongly contended by one party in the colony that Governors were by law incapable of being the sole judge in Chancery, and that establishment of that or any other Court of Equity save by Act of the General Assembly was illegal. Another party, not so violent, planned to have a Court of Chancery established in the Governor and Council, i.e. similar to the plan we have noticed in Antigua, but Governor Montgomerie found the people so divided and yet so stubborn in their opinions that he would not act as Chancellor until he had special directions thereupon (p. 254). This discontinuance of the Court of Chancery to the great prejudice of all those who had causes depending there was attributed by Lewis Morris, Chief Justice of the Colony, as due to a timid and pusillanimous condescension in the Council and the Governor in the insolent pretensions of the Assembly. (827). In his letter there was enclosed a printed paper published by Governor Hunter in 1713 in reply to the resolution of the Assembly that the erecting or exercising a Court of Equity or Chancery without consent in General Assembly was contrary to the laws of England and a manifest oppression. (827 iii). The dispute had thus been going on for fifteen years at least before Montgomerie came upon the scene.
The lead against the contentions of the Assembly in this matter was taken by Chief Justice Morris, and Richard Bradley, the Attorney-General of New York, was also in conflict with the Assembly. Some of their disputes were only of interest to New York, but other matters were included that have a general bearing upon the constitutional history of the colonies and the desire of the assemblies to whittle down the Crown's prerogative. One of these concerned prosecutions by informations. By Common Law the King in the person of his Governor had the power of prosecuting by information without the leave of.any of the subjects. The Assembly attempted to limit this power by passing an Act vesting it not in the Governor with the Supreme Court's advice but in the Governor in Council, where the members and their friends might prevent action in cases affecting themselves. As the Attorney-General told the Duke of Newcastle, it was generally believed that the leading men in the Assembly had formed a design not only to screen themselves and friends by this law from all prosecutions of this sort, though never so just or necessary, (which seemed to be almost the only means the Crown had to check the levelling spirit that too plainly appeared among the generality of the people of the colonies), but also to break in upon and weaken H.M. prerogative and interest. (4, 5).
Signature of money warrants.
Another direction in which the Assembly of New York was attempting to limit the prerogative as administered by the Governor was concerned with the signature of warrants for the payment of moneys out of the Treasury. By their Revenue Bill of 1726 the Assembly had voted strict appropriations for various objects, including officers' salaries. Governor Burnet had paid these salaries without a strict compliance with the votes, and in retaliation in passing their next Revenue Bill for five years they lessened the support of the Government from what it was before, reducing the salaries of those officers who were unpopular with them. Governor Montgomerie felt himself bound to reduce some salaries in proportion to the reduced amount of the Revenue voted, before he drew the warrants for their payment. He did this according to his own discretion after informing himself of the services of the respective officers. (pp. 421–2). In the case of Chief Justice Morris, his son who was a member of Council objected, and the Governor took the unusual course of putting the question to the Council whether they would advise him to sign the warrant for the reduced salary. This was the first recorded instance of the Council's advice being particularly asked about the Governor's signing salary warrants. They advised him to sign this and the other warrants, but Lewis Morris raised the whole question by a formal protest, which Governor Montgomerie forwarded to Newcastle. He maintained that, if the Assembly's contentions about appropriations were accepted in order to keep peace with them and persuade them to vote the revenue as the Governor was planning to do, the royal prerogatives would be seriously infringed. " The resolutions of the Assembly" he said " compared with the conduct of some Assemblies in H.M. American Dominions too evidently show with what views those resolutions are made and of what dangerous consequence to H.M. interest and prerogatives in his American dominions the giving them so great an encouragement to persist in their exorbitant demands and encroachments on the royal prerogative as the drawing the salary warrants according to their resolves will be." (799 i, p. 424).
Naval stores from the colonies.
In the whole of this volume there is no greater space devoted to a single subject than to the question of promoting the supplies of naval stores from America. The condition of affairs in the Baltic countries, whence the great bulk of our naval stores came, was so disturbed and our relations with Sweden and Russia so strained throughout the whole of this period that the Government were resolved to put forth strenuous efforts to find new sources of supply of the materials upon which our naval power was founded. We have noted in our preceding volume how the matter became acute during 1726 and 1727, and here our first document of importance on the subject is an Order-in-Council, (50), to the Board of Trade directing them to consider and report immediately upon a memorial presented by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. They represented the illegal and unaccountable waste and destruction of the king's woods in North America and the unjustifiable liberty of the inhabitants of New England in converting the trees absolutely necessary for masts to their own use. The contractor for masts from New England had represented to them that not only had the timber suitable for masts been destroyed, but much had been exported to foreign countries. They attributed much of the trouble to the negligence of the Surveyor-General of the Woods, Mr. Burniston, who having been appointed in 1718 had never personally been in North America but constantly resided in England and never even gave them any account of his proceedings, even by deputy. The Lords Commissioners represented that it was absolutely necessary that the Surveyor-General should constantly reside in North America and employ his utmost care and skill not only in surveying the king's woods there and preserving them from waste, but in instructing and encouraging the inhabitants to propagate all sorts of stores which the country would produce. Thus American pitch and turpentine might be substituted for that of Sweden and Russia, Virginian for Riga hemp, and so on. (pp. 34–5).
The Earl of Westmoreland, who had been present at the Council when the Admiralty memorial was considered, represented to the Board the seriousness and urgency of the problem, and it was at once decided to call into counsel Colonel Spotswood, late Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, (Journal, pp. 383–4) and to request him to give his opinion in writing. Other gentlemen and merchants familiar with the northern colonies were also summoned (Journal, p. 389), but it was from Col. Spotswood that the most valuable information was received. Within a fortnight after receiving the order he returned a full and detailed letter (94, pp. 47–53) tracing the history of what had previously been done in regard to naval stores other than masts and giving also a resumé of the state of our trade in such things with the Northern Powers. The Board at once decided to prepare a draft for an Act of Parliament "for the better and more effectual preservation of His Majesty's woods in America, and encouraging the importation of naval stores from thence." No time was lost, for on the following day the draft of the bill was submitted to Francis Fane for his opinion on points of law, (Journal, p. 389) and thenceforward the Board considered it from day to day until it was sent with a covering memorandum to the Duke of Newcastle a fortnight later (Journal, p. 391 ; 118, 133, 156). When circumstances demanded, the Board could obviously work with energy and decision.
The memorandum thus forwarded traces the history of the King's woods in America and their destruction since the beginning of the century and the premiums offered for the production of naval stores, including tar, hemp, turpentine and iron, so that it makes a good starting point for a study of the whole of this important question.
Appointment of Colonel David Dunbar as Surveyor-General of the King's Woods in America.
Before the preparation of this memorandum the Board had already taken into consideration the Instructions to be issued to Colonel David Dunbar, the energetic Surveyor-General of the Leeward Islands, who received his commission as Surveyor-General of the Woods in America at the beginning of January (Journal, p. 373). He was directed to reside in America in place of the incompetent Burniston, who had admitted in 1724 that he had left the functions of his office in the hands of Governor John Went worth of New Hampshire (Journal, p. 112) and the Deputy-Surveyor Robert Armstrong whom we have noted in our previous volume as Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. New Hampshire and Nova Scotia, especially the disputed part of that province lying upon the mainland, were the regions from which the masts, the most essential part of the naval supplies, were obtained, appear constantly in the voluminous correspondence that passed in the succeeding months, and the question of the promotion of their supply became merged in that of the formation of a new province in the regions between them.
Settlement of Nova Scotia.
The Board fully realised that the question of the supply of naval stores was connected with the settlement of Nova Scotia (p. 110) and that the appointment of an energetic Surveyor-General would promote that object. The instructions to David Dunbar were very carefully prepared and are here printed in detail (234 i, pp. 110–2). Additional instructions were sent to the Governors of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey directing them to aid and assist the Surveyor-General and his deputies (267, 286). Dunbar did not go out to America at once, but remained in London in constant consultation with the Board while he employed his brother, Jeremiah Dunbar, as his deputy to travel through New England and put a stop to the destruction of the woods, which was admittedly rampant. (516). It is impossible to trace here the results of his energy in detail, and reference should be made to the documents themselves (notably 303, 359, 517, 547, 564, 627, 638, 670, 753). He became immersed in the project for a new settlement of Palatines to the east of the Kennebec River and was in frequent attendance at the Board to discuss it until in May 1729 he received a severe reprimand ordering him to take up his other work in person and no longer trust merely to his brother and other deputies (753). Even in July, however, he appears still to have been in London (892), leaving the active surveying in America to be carried on by his deputies, Jeremiah Dunbar and Arthur Slade.
Manufacture of Potash.
In July 1729 an important memorial was received by the Board from certain London merchants through Thomas Lowndes concerning the establishment of a new industry in America which was to be of very great importance in later years. This was the preparation of potash in the American woods. The Emperor of Russia was then the sole proprietor of potash and pearl ash, and Lowndes maintained that by the returns he had from those commodities from England, Holland, Flanders and France that monarch chiefly paid his troops. If that branch of his trade were affected, he could not make the figure he did (847) (Journal, p. 56). The merchants represented that English imports of pot ashes and pearl ashes, which were always bought with specie, amounted to more than 100,000l. yearly. These commodities were chiefly used in making soap, which was absolutely necessary in the woollen manufacture and in dyeing, as also in bleaching linen. The Russian pot ashes had been for a long time monopolised by a few persons who could set what price they pleased upon them to the great prejudice of commerce (847 i). Lowndes consulted Sir William Keith upon the project and received his warm support, for he believed that the American woods were richer in the vegetable salts needed than European wood. If the people of America were encouraged to go upon so profitable a manufacture in the winter season when they had most leisure, it would insensibly draw them off from employing that part of their time in working up both woollen and linen cloth (847 i, ii). Lowndes proposed that some persecuted Protestant families of Poland, who were perfect masters of that mystery, might be encouraged to settle in North America. (847 i).
Proposals for new settlements.
This connection of naval stores and new industries in America as a method of diverting the colonists from engaging in manufactures is set out in many of the documents, (e.g. 481, 482, 490, 504). Dunbar's work in regard to it was, as we have said, soon merged in the schemes for planting the lands between the River St. Croix, which was the boundary of Nova Scotia, and the River Kennebec which was that of Maine. (285). These were put forward by Thomas Coram, the celebrated founder of the Foundling Hospital, and in a long memorial presented in June 1728 he set forth the history of the tract and disputed the claim of Massachusetts to monopolise it. It was loosely included in the region called Nova Scotia, and Coram maintained that the whole territory from Cape Gaspé to the Kennebec had finally been ceded by the French by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 so that no interference might be feared from them (p. 139). He now applied for permission to take up again the projects he had put forward under Queen Anne and George I for settling the said tract especially to further the production of hemp and other naval stores, (p. 140). He proposed to use veteran soldiers and foreign Protestants and continued " As there will continually be great numbers of future convicts condemned in Great Britain and Ireland to serve a term of years in H.M. Plantations, and to be transported thither at the Crown's expense as they are now transported : they cannot be sent to any other part so advantageous to the Crown as to employ them under strict and prudent management for the service of H.M. in clearing and cultivating the said waste and derelict land for the complete furnishing in due time [of] constant and full supplies of hemp and masts for the Navy, each convict to have after the expiration of his sentence a small portion of land." (pp. 140–1). In addition to these convicts many vagabonds in the Cities of London and Westminster might be apprehended and sent away, as he [Coram] " had seen above 800 able-bodied beggars, ballad-singers and other vagabonds seized in one day in the streets of Paris and sent away to Mississippi." (p. 141).
Emigrants from Northern Ireland.
The Board of Trade do not seem to have been impressed with the practicability of forming a colony with such wretched material, but they had other emigrants on their hands and they strove to solve more than one problem at once. It was noted in earlier volumes of this Calendar that Protestant families of Irish were emigrating from Northern Ireland and were settling in the frontier districts of the territory of Maine which was under the control of Massachusetts. There they were regarded with great disfavour by the Massachusetts Assembly who disputed their claims to the lands that had been assigned them. They were compelled to remove by an Act of the Assembly, and their farms were devastated in the course of the Indian war. David Dunbar in pursuit of Coram's scheme now entered into negotiation with them and applied to the Secretary of State to employ them as the nucleus of his new colony. He wrote that there were 600 families of these Irish Protestants who were desirous of settling on the east side of the River Kennebec, if lands might be assigned to them, and were living in great distress upon the small remains of what they had carried with them from Ireland. (628 i). They did not agree well with the intolerant and exclusive men of Massachusetts who threatened and insulted them as foreigners (p. 497), but they were undoubtedly first-rate colonising material, and, as they desired to settle near New England, Dunbar believed that it would be more advantageous to help them to settle in a group than to allow them to scatter through the colonies further south. He could not get them to settle in Nova Scotia because of the presence of the French Roman Catholic Acadians with whom they would not mix. (630, 631 i).
Proposed settlements in Nova Scotia.
The Board of Trade were seriously concerned with the preponderance of French in Nova Scotia, for for want of British inhabitants that province had been an expensive burthen to Great Britain ever since it had been ceded by the Treaty of Utrecht. The French had reaped the real advantages from the produce of the country, although they refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Crown (pp. 329, 330). The Board were therefore adverse to Dunbar's scheme to the east of the Kennebec and desired instead to make large settlements round Annapolis Royal and Canso, where they might raise naval stores and further the progress of new fisheries. They proposed a detailed scheme for making land grants to new settlers free of quit-rents for some years and to encourage the unmarried men to intermarry with the Indians and so raise up a Protestant population which should be a safeguard against the disloyalty of the French. Though these schemes ultimately came to nothing, they are of real interest as showing what a large amount of thought was being given to schemes of assisted emigration and how the failure to build up a new colony in Nova Scotia was not due to neglect but to circumstances over which governmental planning could exercise no control.
The Province of "Georgia."
Despite the unfavourable attitude of the Board of Trade, Dunbar persisted in his schemes (929) for a new province to be called " Georgia " between the Kennebec and the St. Croix Rivers. He strongly contested the claims of a group of Massachusetts men under the lead of the turbulent and litigious agitator Dr. Cook, who called themselves the Muscongos Company and produced what they pretended to be charters to the lands going back as far as 1629. (p. 497). Dunbar pointed out that "the famous Doctor" was the oracle of the stiff-necked generation who were contesting against the rights of the Crown in Massachusetts, and he urged that the establishment and support of a new colony on the Kennebec round churches where the rites of the Church of England could be administered without discouragement from those selfish and dogmatical people, who hated the Church and the Presbyterians alike, would curb their disloyalty (p. 499). A single paragraph from one of Dunbar's many letters on the subject both illustrates the unity of the colonial history of the period and shows how longstanding were some of the controversies that came to head in the years immediately preceding the American Revolution. " This Continent " he wrote " deserves a Bishop residing, [for] I am informed that wherever churches have been built, people have always resorted. [I pray] that his residence may be in ' Georgia,' where provision may be made for him out of the quit-rents. I am firmly persuaded that a good man who would take pains this way and encourage schools, might in time work a reformation among these independents. I could wish that Dean Berkeley's College may go on, and that ' Georgia ' might be thought a proper place for it." (p. 499).
Importation of Palatines.
In addition to the Irish Presbyterians it was proposed that families of Palatines should be introduced as settlers for the new province and the Kennebec, and Coram and Dunbar entered into negotiations with one David Hintze who proposed at 4l. per head to procure from the Palatinate 3, 4 or 500 families averaging four persons each "who to avoid the persecution they now groan under will be willing to transport themselves at their own expense to any country having a fertile soil that H.M. shall be graciously pleased to appoint them between the Rivers Kennebec and St. Croix." For a less fertile province he could only procure 100 families (683 i).
The number of documents concerning these many proposals is very considerable in the volume, and it is impossible to do more than refer to the main lines of the schemes. Further reference to them may be made by use of the 309, 628, 630, 683, 694, 695, 705, 710, 929, 932, 997, 1005, 1018, 1019, 1042, 1045, 1049).
Governor Burnet in Massachusetts.
In the Introduction to our previous volume we referred to the fact that William Burnet, who had proved his strength and capacity as Governor of New York and New Jersey, was transferred to the Governorship of Massachusetts to handle the difficult problem of controlling the Assembly of that most factious of all the colonies. Burnet's last despatch concerning the affairs of New York was dated 3 July 1728 (307), and in it he announced that, having handed over the government to Colonel Montgomerie (187), he was at once proceeding to Boston. He arrived there on July 19 and met the Assembly on the 24th (386). The battle was joined at once, and, when he sent his first despatch from Boston in the middle of September, Burnet wrote that he had been sitting with the Assembly ever since his arrival in order to obtain from them a fixed salary in accordance with his Instructions (386). He announced that he intended to continue the session until they complied, " so that the country who pay 1000l. a month to the Council and Representatives by way of wages during their attendance, may feel the inconvenience of their standing out." (387). At the end of the month he reported that he had reduced them to silence and that they seemed to have no expedient left but to meet and adjourn from day to day and do nothing. He would give them no recess, and under the terms of their charter they did not dare take it of themselves. He would not accept the presents they offered him, for he chose to be destitute of all support rather than give way on the important matter of principle involved. (404). So matters went on till October 24 when the Assembly flatly refused to comply with the Governor's demand for a fixed salary according to his Instructions, and Burnet determined to remove the legislature from Boston, whose freeholders were assembling in public meetings to withstand him. (429 i). He had adjourned the General Court to Salem, he told the Board of Trade, for the following reasons, " This town of Boston has shown their disrespect and undutifulness to H.M. by calling a general town meeting of all the freemen of this town " and the example has been followed by some towns in the Province and three or four have unanimously given instructions to their members to vote against fixing a salary on the Governor. " This attempt, of which Boston set the example, is of so dangerous a nature to the Constitution if it should be drawn into precedent, and has been so maliciously employed at this time that I thought it necessary for the Government to show its resentment upon it. The people of the town are continually endeavouring to pervert the minds of the members that come from the country, who it is to be hoped will not be so much tampered with in the country and particularly at Salem where the people are generally well inclined, as the members for that place are." (pp. 225–6).
He strongly recommended that the undutiful behaviour of the Massachusetts Assembly and especially their attack upon his Instructions from the King should be referred to Parliament that they might assure H.M. that the Instructions were in no way contrary to the Charter granted by King William, and thus, while there would be no final decision against the charter, the Assembly might be made apprehensive of losing it and brought to a true sense of their duty. (pp. 227, 430).
When the Assembly met at Salem, they proved as recalcitrant as ever. They disputed the Governor's power to adjourn them for two months and refused to do any business until the clamours of the people forced them to proceed with the ordinary affairs of the Province. They drew up a memorial of which they refused to let the Governor have a copy, but instead forwarded it direct to their agent in London for presentation to the King. (571). However, the Governor was aware of its terms and sent his comments upon the complaints it contained and the erroneous constitutional doctrines it set forth before the document was received in London (571 i, 576). We can therefore compare the rival contentions, for the Address is set out in full when it was referred by the Privy Council Committee in February 1729 to the Commissioners of Trade for their opinion (582). The Board decided to hear both counsel for the Assembly and for the Governor before they made their report (592, February 11, Journal, p. 14). The counsel attended accordingly (March 22), and their arguments are set forth at length in the pages of the Journal (pp. 16–18) and form a necessary complement to the documents here collected. The Board's report was completed by the 27th and forwarded at once to the Duke of Newcastle (643) and to the Committee of the Privy Council (644, Journal, p. 20), so that no time was lost, but it was not until a month later that the Committee of the Privy Council considered the matter, set forth their opinions at length and recommended the acceptance of the Governor's and the Board's proposal that the whole matter should be laid before the Parliament of Great Britain (Acts of Privy Council, Colonial Series, 1720–45, pp. 108–11 and no. 728). It is interesting to note how far matters had moved between the seventeenth century, when the House of Commons was held to have no competence to debate colonial affairs, which were the concern of the Crown, and 1729 when Governor Burnet, Commissioners and Privy Council alike take it for granted that Parliament is the supreme authority and alone can compel the obedience of the colonial legislature. We can in these papers discern that differentiation of logical but divergent constitutional ideas on either side of the Atlantic which was to play such an important part in the disputes of forty years later.
While the matter was being discussed in England, the situation in Massachusetts got more and more menacing. The removal of the Assembly to Salem had roused the Bostonians to fury, and the Governor had to write that they were endeavouring to wrest the sword out of the Royal hand. They were trying to strip the Governor of all military authority, to stop the pay of the forces and to carry further the process already far advanced by which the soldiers and officers were much more at the command of the Assembly than of their proper commander-in-chief. The only way of combating this was to post two Independent Companies of troops in the immediate pay of the Crown in garrison in the Castle at Boston and in the small forts on the frontiers, in the same way as in New York. (647). Nothing else could give the Government some weight and make the King respected by the people " who at present value them-selves upon the feebleness of the Administration." (648).
The Ministry had made up their minds to lay the whole matter before Parliament, as Newcastle informed Burnet (June 1729, 792, 793), when the prorogation prevented action. In consequence the Secretary of State suggested in a private letter that the Governor should endeavour to come to a compromise with the Assembly by hints as to what the Crown was likely to accept. " Whatever you do of that kind," the Governor was told, "is to come as from yourself in your private capacity and to let it look like any new overture to them on the part of the Crown, as if it were not really intended to lay the matter before the Parliament." (793). These secret orders were sent in June, but before Burnet could take any steps to comply with them, death suddenly seized him.
Death of Governor Burnet.
The Assembly was sitting at Cambridge near Boston and voting adversely upon the Crown's demands when the news reached them that the Governor had expired in delirium after only a week's illness (904). The exact date of his death (5 September 1729) was given in a letter from his Lieutenant-Governor (Wentworth) in New Hampshire (898).
William Dummer, the Lieutenant-Governor, succeeded to the administration, but he frankly informed Newcastle that he could do nothing to bring the Assembly to compliance (904, 905). In fact, while this information was on its way, another address from the Assembly to the Crown was also crossing the Atlantic to the hands of Francis Wilks and Jonathan Belcher, the Agents for the Colony in London. It set forth at full length their complaints against the Governor and notably his action in transferring the Assembly to Salem (921 i., pp. 489–94), and its interest lies in the fact that it practically left the last word in the dispute with the New Englanders. Other letters passed during the autumn (e.g. 925, 927, 949, 969 ii, 985, 998), but when a new Governor came to be appointed, instead of an able and determined servant of the Crown such as Burnet had been, a Massachusetts man was chosen. It seems as though the ministers were sick of the contest and wishful to try conciliation, as Newcastle showed in his private letter in June (793). Jonathan Belcher received the appointment and questions as to his instructions occupied the rest of the year. The first round had ended with a victory on points to Massachusetts.
Governor Burnet in New Hampshire.
Burnet at the same time that he was Governor of Massachusetts also held the office of Governor of New Hampshire. There he was more successful with the Assembly than he was in the larger colony. The salary question was settled in accordance with his Instructions, but only for the time of Burnet's own tenure of the office, so that his death reopened the difficulty once more. (747, 748, 898).
Boundary disputes between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The readiness of the Massachusetts men to resort to violence to reach their ends was not only to be noted in the actions of the Boston mob ; the frontiersmen were at least as violent, as was illustrated in connection with the long-disputed boundary with New Hampshire. A place called Londonderry had been settled by Irish Presbyterians for several years some 8 or 9 miles north of the Merrimac River in a district that had always been regarded as an undoubted part of New Hampshire. The Irishmen were mowing their meadows when seventy or eighty men from Haverhill armed with muskets drove them away after a fight in which several men on both sides were wounded. (253, 392). On other occasions they broke into houses in Londonderry by night and carried off certain men before Massachusetts justices, who committed them to prison as trespassers. This was done, although there was an agreement between the two Governments that all hostile action on either side should be suspended until the boundary was properly settled (898). New Hampshire, in fact, found, as Colonel Dunbar did in his schemes along the Kennebec, that while it was particularly difficult to get the authorities in Boston to make any agreement which did not secure to them all they wanted, it was even more difficult for those authorities to secure compliance with the agreement by individual citizens.
Governor Montgomerie in the same way found the Quakers of New Jersey difficult to handle. They had been relieved of their political disabilities and in April 1729 formed more than half the House of Assembly. They were so elated that the Governor found them quite ungovernable, having their heads filled with wild, unpracticable schemes calculated to weaken or set aside H.M. prerogative and to bring the Government to be entirely depending upon themselves. All accounts from New Jersey, ever since the government was surrendered to the Crown, showed that the Quakers there had been insolent and troublesome when they had no favour to ask, but quiet and useful to the Government, when they had anything depending. (669).
Circumstances in Virginia under Lieutenant-Governor Gooch were quieter than usual, but in one or two long and interesting despatches (notably 641 and 796) he showed that the colony had many dangers to dread. On the frontier were the Indians who were in incessant feuds, one tribe with another. The Nottaways and the Saponies, two tributary tribes, each accused the other of murders and outrages, and when the case was tried before the Virginia Council and no legal proof could be found, they vowed to take matters into their own hands. It was in vain to remonstrate to these savages the justice of our laws which permit no man to be punished without due proof of his crime. Their notions of justice were not to be adapted to that rule. Revenge was what both sides wanted ; and because they were forbid all hostility, and were told that this matter should still be pursued and enquired into, they seemed resolved to take satisfaction their own way, expressing great resentment against the English for not concurring with them. The frontier inhabitants of the colony lay exposed to the barbarous insults of those Indians and the foreign nations they call in to their aid (i.e. probably not the French, but other tribes or nations of Indians beyond British territory). Any outbreak whenever they met in their hunting was likely to be full of danger, and the Governor was greatly concerned. (pp. 333, 415).
He was disturbed too by the fear of a slave insurrection, and gave account of various outbreaks in which riotous bands of negro slaves had done much damage. The secret robberies and other villainous attempts of a pernicious crew of white transported felons, which had led to the burning of certain plantations, added to the prevailing fears, and confidence would only be restored by careful attention to the drilling and arming of the militia, to which the Governor devoted himself. (p. 334). Virginia was the best organised and developed of the southern colonies, but the impression of its slave-owning, plantation society derived from these letters is that of a community filled with anxieties and in constant dread. The inhabitants were eager to take up lands amongst the great western mountains despite the frontier dangers, and there were difficulties with Maryland about the lands in the Northern Neck, watered by the streams which fall into the Rivers Rappahanock and Potomac. The division of Maryland from Virginia was dependent upon a grant made to Lord Culpepper in 1688 in which the source of the Potomac was fixed as the furthest westward limit, leaving all the lands beyond still to be granted by the Crown. But as in so many later boundary disputes in America it was impossible to decide what was the source of the Potomac or whether the Shenandoah formed the headwaters of that river (pp. 416–7), and the Governor forwarded maps to illustrate the difficulty of deciding what to fix in the tumbled region into which emigration from Virginia was now extending. Clearly the westward march had begun in earnest.
The Church in Virginia.
Virginia was very proud that it, more than any American plantation, was united in the religion of the Church of England (46 ii), and in his allowances for the expenses of the boundary commission Lt. Governor Gooch included the payment for a chaplain, for he remarked that it was necessary for a clergyman to accompany them in a country where they could have no opportunity of attending public worship. His report proved how well he answered his purpose, for he christened above a hundred children, a great many adult persons, and preached to congregations who had never had public worship since their first settlement in those parts. Beyond the borders in Maryland there was not a single minister (p. 417).
Gooch's rather infrequent but long and informative despatches show him to have been of a keen and inquiring mind, and there are occasionally touches which are a relief to read after the interminable accounts of faction which fill most of the colonial despatches. In June 1729 he wrote from Williamsburgh to inform the Board of Trade of many wonderful cures performed by a negro slave in the most inveterate venereal distempers. The fellow was very old and had kept his remedy for many years a profound secret, but by promising him his freedom, Gooch discovered that it was a decoction of root and barks. Samples of these he sent over to a physician that the College of Physicians might have the opportunity of making an experiment what effect it would have in England. The cost of procuring the disclosure amounted to about 60l., including the purchase of the negro's freedom, but the Governor thought it well worth the price, since they had learned how without the help of mercury to cure slaves who were often ruined by the unskilfulness of the practitioners Virginia alone afforded. He recommended it as an encouragement " for one of Dr. Radcliffe's travelling physicians to take a tour into this part of the world, where there are many valuable discoveries to be made, not met with in France or Italy." These were the investigators sent out from time to time by the celebrated founder of the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford to search for new plants and remedies, and Gooch's reference to them may illustrate how the stirrings of the new spirit of modern scientific enquiry were familiar to an enlightened colonial governor. (p. 419).
The ministry had now decided to terminate the anomalous state of affairs in the Carolinas where although the Crown had had to take over the whole responsibility of government, the Lords Proprietors still obstructively tried to enforce the remnants of their rights. It was resolved to buy out the remainder of the rights under the Charters, a course that was recommended by Thomas Lowndes who had acted as intermediary between Lord Westmoreland, acting on behalf of the Crown, and the Lords Proprietors (565). He proposed that North Carolina should be made a district of Virginia where the quit-rents and the tenths reserved upon the whale fishery would discharge the expenses advanced by the Crown. It was acknowledged by all persons that " the most fertile and healthy part of all America is the tract of land between Port Royal in South Carolina and Florida, and well-watered by navigable rivers " it would be an admirable site for a new settlement. (566). In immediately succeeding volumes we shall note how this suggestion was carried into effect.
The delimitation of the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina had been entrusted to commissioners, but their proceedings gave rise to many complaints of favouritism and illegality. Their reports give exact information concerning the extent of settlement in the frontier regions and though they can only be listed here owing to the impossibility of summary, their field books and surveys which are preserved among the documents would be of great interest to local historians. (45, 184, 261 iii, 515, 781, p. 335, 641, v, vi, vii).
The scandals of President Arthur Middleton's acting-governorship in South Carolina continued for a, couple of years (459, 498 i) before a new Governor was selected to succeed General Francis Nicholson, who all that time had been on leave in England. The choice was fixed upon Colonel Robert Johnson, and at the end of 1729 under Lord Townshend's direction the Board of Trade began the long task of preparation of his commission and instructions. (987). Since Johnson was to be full Governor of what was now to be a royal colony, the Board necessarily had to consider in detail whether any modification of his instructions was necessary from those given to Lieutenant-Governor Nicholson, who had provisionally taken over the administration of the colony for a period to clear up the chaos to which the rule of the Lords Proprietors had reduced it. (Cal. St. Pap., Col., 1720 August 11, no. 185). Johnson had already been Governor of the Colony under the Proprietors, and he was therefore thoroughly familiar with its importance as the outlying post against Spanish Florida. (See Cal. St. Pap., Col., 1719–20, 1720–1, passim).
As was stated in our previous volume, on the death of the Duke of Portland he was succeeded in the Governorship of Jamaica by an able and energetic soldier, Major-General Robert Hunter, who had had long experience as Governor of New York and New Jersey, where he had won a high reputation for tact and decision. In Jamaica his letters were much less voluminous than those of his predecessor. They were as frequent in number, for in the imminent danger from the Spaniards, which we have mentioned earlier, the ministry had to be kept fully informed of what was happening. The letters, however, were shorter and perhaps more to the point, for Hunter was immersed in the military task of putting the island in a proper state of defence, and either he found the Assembly quieter (197, 591) or he had more tact in dealing with it than Portland had displayed.
The long and acrimonious disputes over the Revenue Bill were brought to an end by the passage of an Act for granting a revenue to H.M. for the support of the Government and for reviving and perpetuating the acts and laws, which was in exact accordance with the draft sent from England to the Duke of Portland. In certain phrases synonymous words were substituted, but in material substance all the demands of the Crown were accepted. Governor Hunter therefore recommended that the assent to it which he had given should be approved. With the Assembly's return to reason after its long bout of passionate faction things were quieter in the island than they had been for many years.
A serious danger to the safety of Jamaica arose, in Hunter's opinion, from the treachery and disloyalty of the Irish. The militia which formed a most important part of its defence consisted chiefly of hired or indentured servants, who were for the most part native Irish. By their backwardness, mutinies and desertions they were always troublesome, but now they openly declared that they had no quarrel with the Spaniards and would not fight against them. The Governor had undoubted proofs of a treasonable correspondence between the Irish faction and the Governor of the Havana, although he failed to discover the ringleaders. His only resort was to declare publicly that in case of an attempt of the Spaniards to land in Jamaica he would post a reserve of negroes in the rear of the Irish militia with orders to knock down any man who should desert or fly from the ranks. A poor remedy, as the Governor remarked, but all that was in his power. (895, 1055, p. 580).
The Spanish threat was, as we have remarked earlier, also very serious to the Bahamas. George Phenney's long tenure of the Governorship had at last been terminated and Captain Woodes Rogers had been appointed to succeed him. In his Instructions he was directed to summon General Assemblies of the freeholders and planters (701 i), and the colony was thus placed at last on the same footing as the other islands in the West Indies. Woodes Rogers arrived in New Providence in August 1729 and his first letters thence were dated in November (964, 965), but they had been preceded by an interesting report on the conditions in the colony from Richard Fitzwilliam, the Surveyor General of the Customs for the southern American colonies, to the Commissioners of the Customs. He showed the smallness and poverty of the community there, for there were only about 500 white people and 250 negroes with only 20 small vessels who were engaged in petty trade with South Carolina and Jamaica (920 i). This accounts for the long delay in establishing a form of representative government, and Woodes Rogers was anxious to receive new inhabitants from the Bermudas, for they had a good reputation as industrious people and would enable the colony to become self-supporting by raising supplies of provisions (p. 519).
In Bermuda the period was uneventful and the only notable happening was the arrival in September 1728 of the new Lieutenant-Governor, John Pitt. He remarked upon the accumulation of several incompatible offices in the hands of a few men who were at the same time Councillors, judges of the Common Pleas and justices of the Peace. This was apparently due to the scarcity of educated men in that rather primitive community, and though Pitt tried to clear up the impropriety of men acting in this triple capacity, he does not seem to have had much success. (438, 497). Currency in the islands was extremely scarce, and Pitt therefore proposed to purchase 200l. worth of English half-pence and lodge them in the Treasury for the payment of public debts at the rate of three-farthings each. (497 i). His calculations as to the gain that would accrue illustrate the minute scale on which the colony with its elaborate constitutional machinery of Council, Assembly, judges etc. was really working. There is almost a comic disparity between the machine and the petty affairs with which it had to deal. (497 i).
The Leeward Islands.
Colonel Hart, the Governor-in-chief of the Leeward Islands had returned to England late in 1727 and the Earl of London-derry was appointed to the post (3, 11, 14, 15, 16), but he did not arrive in the islands until August 1728 (397), and in the interim the officer administering the government was Colonel Matthew, the Lieutenant-General who had already acted on previous occasions. The relative importance of the various islands of the group and the changes that had taken place were set out in the enquiries that Matthew addressed to the Board of Trade as to what should happen if he were incapacitated while administering the government. The provision in case of the Captain General and Lieutenant-General's death or absence was that the chief government should devolve to the Lieutenant-Governor of Nevis or at his death to the eldest Councillor and Council of that island. That provision was made when Nevis was the first seat of trade in the islands, for St. Christopher was shared with the French and lay open to their attack. At that time Antigua was hardly cleared of woods and Montserrat hardly settled. But in 1728 Nevis had quite lost its trade and was a desert island compared with what it had been thirty years before. Antigua was the chief centre of trade in the Leeward Islands with St. Christopher a good second, and it seemed fitting therefore that its Lieutenant-Governor should take precedence. It was unfitting that a Councillor who held quite a junior place in the General Assembly might be placed by an accident in charge of the most important post in all the islands (p. 14).
Captain Paul George, the Lieutenant-Governor of Montserrat, who had been so persistent in his applications for preferment to the Duke of Newcastle, was losing heart and when he learned that his last petition, for the governorship of Bermuda, had failed begged that he might be permitted to dispose of his Governorship and Company for about 2200l. and retire to South Carolina, for he saw no probability in the station he was at present in of laying up anything towards discharging such debts as were the occasion of his leaving England. He had served twenty-five years in the army and had received no reward (31), but even his last appeal was unsuccessful. Seven months later, in September 1728, Lord Londonderry wrote to Newcastle to inform him of George's death and to ask permission to dispose of his Deputy Governorship, which was worth about 200l. per annum. (397).
The Smaller islands.
The government of the smaller islands had to be provided for by the appointment of gentlemen who would pay their own expenses, for they could make no contribution towards a salary. There were a good many British subjects in the islands of Anguilla, Spanish Town and Tortola, and a particular Lieutenant-Governor to each, but as Matthew said " If his cudgel happen to be a whit less than a sturdy subject's, ' Good night, Governor '." There were continual contentions in those islands about their meum and tuum and the strongest had the best title, so that to bring some sort of judicature among them Matthew recommended the establishment of some sort of a court where every man might be heard to tell his own story. (p. 15). The people ought to be protected against the tyranny of a pasha such as some of those who had ruled over them had been.
The amount on the most populous of these islands hardly reached 200 families and juries could not be found among such small numbers. The gentlemen of the Bar would not attend, as they could not be paid, for a retaining fee at the usual rate would empty the pockets of a whole island. Among petty affairs such as the islands alone afforded a persistent and greedy self-seeker with some influence in England could become a pluralist on a most extensive scale. Such an one was that Wavell Smith, Secretary of the Leeward Islands whose disputes with Governor Hart have been mentioned in previous Introductions. In those disputes he had received what he held to be a favourable reply to his claims to hold a large number of small offices under his patent, and he demanded that Matthew should extrude all other persons from the offices and let them recover them from him by process of law. The Lieutenant-General clearly dreaded Smith's contentiousness and strove to keep friends with him (p. 16), but it was of very little avail and there are many letters in the volume about his outrageous claims (69, 91, 181, 318, 713, etc).
Early death of Lord Londonderry.
Lord Londonderry's tenure of the Governorship did not last long. He arrived in the islands in August 1728 (397) and actively took up his functions, but he died in September 1729 and Lieutenant-General Matthew was again in charge of the administration. He had held the second post in the islands for the long period of fourteen years and naturally he petitioned for the definitive appointment to the Governorship he had so frequently administered, (902, 903, 991). But he could command no influence at Court, and so his plea had no hope of success despite the services he had rendered to the Crown as Commissioner for the disposal of the French lands in St. Christopher and Engineer of Gibraltar during the attacks of the Spaniards (991). Secretary Townshend secured the post for his own nominee, George, Lord Forbes, and in November 1729 the Board of Trade was ordered to prepare drafts for his commission and instructions. (990).
Floating population of the islands.
There was still a residuum of the floating and unsettled population in the West Indies which had been such a notable feature of the latter part of the seventeenth century. Landless men both English, French and Dutch, who had been extruded from their little holdings by the growth of larger plantations worked by negro slaves, surged backwards and forwards among the unoccupied smaller islands in search of a living or provided recruits for the gradually dwindling companies of the buccaneers. It was the tragic ending of the great white emigration that had poured into the West Indies in the first half of the seventeenth century. Our documents afford no direct evidence of the feelings or desires of the dwindling remnants of the stream that a century before had been at flood, for the descendants of the first comers were quite unvocal and had no influence on the richer planters who had held their own. But there are many indications here and there that these ' poor whites ' still existed, and it would be an interesting and significant task to piece these together to make a complete story of the social tragedy that had engulfed one of the greatest streams of emigration that ever left the countries of Northern Europe. By tracing from our indexes the events in the smaller islands of the Virgin Islands and the Leeward group, like Santa Cruz, Barbuda, St. Eustatius and Montserrat, a beginning might be made with the English, Dutch, Swedes and Danes among this flotsam, while the struggles of the French from Martinique and Guadeloupe and the English from Barbados to occupy Dominica, St. Lucia and Tobago and other of the Windward group would give another aspect of this story which is a neglected but essential part of the history of the West Indies, (see e.g. 664, 790, 821, 684, 34, 41, 526, 184, 664, 802, 1032, 1053 for certain islands.)
Barbados. Connection with Guiana.
Governor Worsley despite the complaints of the Barbados Assembly against him (6, 518) was re-appointed to his Governorship (154) and the unending wrangles in the island went on, but without affording many points of constitutional interest (see e.g. 20, p. 7, p. 9, 207, 297 ii, 362, 389). There are some indications that the interest of planters from Barbados in new plantations in Guiana, which became of considerable importance later in the century, had already begun. Jeronimy Clifford who had held important plantations in Surinam, of which he had been dispossessed by the Dutch Proprietors of that colony, was still petitioning in support of the claims for compensation that he had brought forward more than twenty years before. (See Cal. St. Pap. Col., 1704–5, Preface p. xxix and various documents). Sir Robert Walpole advised him to drop his claims against the Dutch, but it does not appear on what grounds. Whatever British contacts there were with Guiana came through Barbados, but another side line of British activity on the coast of the mainland started from Jamaica and it was through the Governor of that colony that the Government were informed of what was going on.
The logwood cutters of Campeachy.
As buccaneering and piracy were gradually put down in the Caribbean by the pressure of the ships of the British and French navies, the buccaneers found an outlet for their energies and the readiest means of making an honest living by cutting logwood on the unoccupied coasts of Campeachy. There, despite the protests of the Spaniards and repeated efforts to drive them out, they had formed a settlement at the Laguna de Terminos (191), and this provided a knotty problem for the Commissioners of Customs and the Board of Trade who were jointly charged with the supervision of the Acts of Navigation. The logwood cut in Campeachy was often carried directly to Holland and other foreign parts from New York and other British plantations. But it was required by law that all fustick or other dyeing (fn. n1) wood of the growth, production or manufacture "of any British Plantation in America. " should be brought directly to Great Britain and landed there. Was Campeachy to be esteemed a Plantation belonging to the Crown of Great Britain or no ? (39). The Board of Trade could not say, and could only refer (40) the Customs Commissioners to the report on the subject of the settlements of the logwood cutters prepared in 1717 (Cal. St. Pap., Col. 1717–18, no. 104, pp. 38–45). There the whole history of the question was summarised, but no clear answer to the Customers' question was afforded. The House of Commons, too, was making requests for information on the subject (617), but again the Board could do nothing more than forward the report of 1717. (Journal, 1728–34, p. 13).
The Moskito Coast.
The logwood cutters not only gathered in the remotest parts of the Bay of Campeachy ; they also carried on their trade in the forests and swamps along the rivers in the east of the Peninsula of Yucatan, where the settlements of Belize now lie. Further south too they were to be found around Cape Gracias á Dios and the neighbouring coasts and there they were in intimate touch with the Moskito Indians, who were bitter enemies of the Spaniards. " His Musketish Majesty" wrote to Governor Hunter of Jamaica in October 1729 to congratulate him on his appointment and to offer to continue the good understanding that had always subsisted between the subjects of H.M. of Great Britain and the inhabitants of the Moskito kingdom. The coast had been disturbed by a rebellion arising after the death of the King of the Moskitos and the Governor and the possessions of the white people had been attacked. King Peter therefore asked for Commissions under the Great Seal of the Island of Jamaica for one John Bellamy, whom he thought a proper person to assist him in the office of Governor of the Southern parts of his Dominions, and for Charles Holby to be General of his forces and overseer of the Northern parts (952 i). Governor Hunter forwarded the letter to the Secretary of the Board of Trade, and stated that he had sent the commissions in the usual form to keep " his Musketish Majesty" in good humour, but as these matters in the Bay of Honduras clearly involved our relations with Spain, he could not do more than give some private hints to Mr. Delafaye as to the state of affairs in that region. (952).
Newfoundland and the fisheries.
The affairs of Newfoundland and Placentia demanded a good deal of attention, and the usual heads of enquiry were sent out to the naval commanders in the fisheries and their detailed answers were received (686–7, 697, 939, 940, etc.). Lord Vere Beauclerk and Captain Osborn were in charge of the ships off the Newfoundland coast and Captain Weller at the Canso fishery. Their replies were of more interest than usual because the commodores were engaged in the task of setting up justices of the peace and other authorities to exercise control during the winter when there were no naval commanders in charge. It is impracticable here to do more than draw attention to the letters where the whole business is set forth at length, but it is of considerable importance in the history of Newfoundland, because it marks the turning point at which the existence of a permanent British community in the island was officially recognised by the Privy Council (666).
Enquiries were made of the Mayors of Bristol, Dartmouth, Barnstaple, Bideford, Poole, Exeter, Plymouth, Weymouth and Liverpool as to the measures the fishing merchants of those ports thought necessary for the further encouragement of the fisheries (461) and reference to the pages of the Journal will show what a large share of the attention of the Board of Trade was directed to the matter. Barnstaple (487) and Poole (595) replied without delay, and the Board entered into discussion with them on the points they raised (e.g. 721). The misbehaviour of Lieutenant-Governor Gledhill at Placentia was one of the most serious causes of complaint, and he was at last formally removed from his place and called home to answer for his conduct (725). The whole question of Placentia and its government under Nova Scotia was closely bound up with the affairs of that colony, and the whole of the fishery both in Newfoundland and Nova Scotian waters should be considered as a single problem to gain a clear view of the policy that was being pursued in this matter, which was regarded as of such great importance for the trade of the Kingdom.