Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 42, 1735-1736. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1953.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
This volume, like its predecessor, covers a period of eighteen months, from July 1735 to December 1736. It contains 508 Abstracts, to which must be added a small number of Papers which were overlooked when the Calendar was compiled. These will in due course be incorporated in an Addenda Volume. When this and the previous volume were in the course of preparation the intention was to publish the Georgia Records in a separate Calendar on the grounds that that Colony was administratively distinct from other Provinces immediately under the Secretary of State. For this reason the Archives of the Trustees of Georgia are not included in this volume although they form part of the Colonial Office group of Records.
The functions of the Board of Trade and Plantations and its relations with the Secretary of State have been fully described in earlier Introductions in this Series. In discharging its chief task of supplying the Crown with advice and information about colonial and commercial matters it was necessary that the Board should be adequately apprised of the relevant business transacted in the Secretary's Office. This necessary liaison does not seem always to have existed, and to that extent the Records of the Board may be imperfect. In July 1736, for example, the Board complained to the Secretary of State of his failure to inform it of Commissions, Orders and Instructions which had passed through his hands (43). The Board on this occasion was particularly concerned with the Secretary's neglect to advise it of the issue of licences of absence to Members of colonial Councils. Some months previously it had discovered that two Members of the Council of Montserrat had been absent without leave, one for six years and the other for three ('Journal of the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, 1735–1741 ', p. 46). Unless it received regular notification of such grants it would be unable adequately to advise the Crown.
The inclusion in the Colonial Calendar of the surviving Records of both the Secretary and the Board deprives such imperfections of anything but an academic interest for users of this and other volumes. The existence of the Board of Trade, indeed, often leads to an excessive duplication of information. Some over–zealous colonial Governors wrote Dispatches for the Secretary and the Board which, though not copies, contain substantially the same material. For example, the long Dispatches which President Clarke, Acting Governor of New York, wrote to the Secretary of State often covered much the same ground as those which he wrote to the Board of Trade. Whatever defects the Board of Trade may have diagnosed in its own Records appear at this date to have been redeemed by the Secretary, and vice versa. An examination of C. M. Andrews' and F. G. Davenport's 'Guide to the Manuscript Materials for the History of the United States to 1783 in the British Museum, in Minor London Archives, and in the Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge' (Carnegie Institution Publications No. 90, Washington, 1908) for the period covered by this volume suggests that very few official Papers have strayed from their proper Custodians. Copies of official Records abound in the Newcastle Papers preserved in the British Museum, but original Documents relevant to the colonial history of this date are seemingly few.
In previous Introductions, general observations on constitutional and administrative matters have been followed by detailed comments upon the history of each of the British Colonies. During the period with which this volume deals several of the smaller Colonies enjoyed a relatively uneventful existence and the Documents referring to them are few in number and of only local significance. This Introduction will accordingly be concerned primarily with questions of a more general nature.
In 1735 and 1736, as in other years, the Board of Trade and Plantations, the Committee of the Privy Council for Plantation Affairs and the Secretary of State had to deal with a great variety of matters, some of which had an importance out of proportion to the time which was given to them. But two problems, because of their magnitude and their urgency, dominated all others and are reflected in many of the Papers in this volume. These problems were, first, the growing economic, political and military power of France in North America and the West Indies, and, secondly, the need to increase the white population of the British Colonies. Since a large and virile population was seen to be the cheapest and most effective answer to French claims and encroachments the two questions were closely inter–related. But for convenience they will be considered separately.
The French menace, for such it was felt to be, was most serious in the extreme North, in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and in the South, in the Caribbean Sea. But while these were the focal points of danger there was hardly a British Colony which was not in some degree threatened by the rising French power. Georgia and the Carolinas were susceptible to attack from New Orleans and the French settlements on the Mississippi (349, 381), but even more serious was the possibility that all the British mainland Colonies might be encircled and exposed to assault from the rear. In a Dispatch of 16 August 1736 Lieutenant–Governor Broughton of North Carolina expressed his fears to the Board of Trade: "The French have settled a communication from Canada to the mouth of the Mississippi River, and we have too much reason to apprehend, from frequent attempts of this sort that they are endeavouring to destroy the Indians in friendship with the English, or to force them into their service during the time of peace, that they may be enabled whenever a war shall happen, to gain an easy passage and without interruption to attack any of the English settlements on this Continent" (381).
In Newfoundland it was the economic rather than the political or military aspects of French power which gave most cause for anxiety. Two Dispatches from Captain Fitzroy Henry Lee, the naval Officer acting as Governor of Newfoundland, give a valuable picture of the state of that Colony (119, 389). Although they were both intended to be read in conjunction with the Interrogatories to which they supplied answers, they nevertheless provide useful evidence of the organization of the Fishing Industry. Both Dispatches stressed the serious character of French competition. In the first, Lee wrote that while unable to get any certain account of the French Fishery he believed that their technique of curing fish was more successful than our own and accordingly they obtained better prices (p. 71). In the second he was more explicit; the English in their efforts to beat one another to the market shipped fish before it was properly cured. Consequently French catches regularly sold in Italy at one dollar the quintal above the price obtained by the English (pp. 280–1). Governor Lee, however, was satisfied that the fault lay with the English, and he had no serious complaint to make of illegal French encroachments. For example, he acquitted them of the charge of infringing the Treaty of Utrecht by fishing at Port aux Basques (p. 278).
In Nova Scotia the danger was closer and graver. A report to the Board of Trade by Captain Thomas Coram, R.N. (22) and the Dispatches of Lieutenant–Governor Laurence Armstrong testify to the difficulties created or exploited by the French. Coram, writing of the need to people Nova Scotia with loyal Protestants, prophesied that "in case of a rupture with France, that whole province will without doubt be utterly lost for want of good and faithfull inhabitants". He had no doubt of the gravity of French economic rivalry both in the Fisheries and in other branches of imperial trade: "as the French have already beat us clear out of the indigo trade, and have unexpectedly disabled and overtoped us in the suger trade, they want only a great and extend'd navigation to establish a maritime force equal to any of their neighbours, and as the most compendious way thereto is to beat us out of the codd–fishing: if ever that should happen, it would be the greatest blow that ever was given to the British Navigation". Lieutenant–Governor Armstrong, too, had a low opinion of the loyalty to the British Crown of the French inhabitants of Nova Scotia. During his tour up to the Bay of Fundy in 1735 he had formed the conclusion that only his presence made them put on a show of loyalty (117). In a later Dispatch he returned to the same theme. It was impossible to govern the Province properly from Annapolis unless blockhouses were constructed and garrisons planted in the remoter parts. Not only were the French rebelliously–inclined themselves, but they also incited the Indians against the British Government (195). In this disaffection, the Lieutenant–Governor alleged, they were encouraged and sustained by the presence of "Romish priests who contemn and disclaim H.M. Sovereignty, civil power and authority, and in opposition there unto set up an independent jurisdiction" (340). The position of these priests was guaranteed by the Treaty of Utrecht, but the British claimed that they should nevertheless be subject to the lawful orders of the Crown during their ministry. Whether the French were actually abusing their treaty–rights in this respect is not clear, but the presence of the priests was certainly a potential threat to British tenure of a Colony which was almost entirely Catholic (462).
Much of the Anglo–French rivalry in this region was focused on Canso which Lieutenant–Governor Armstrong described as "the key to this part of North America" (195). In a Report on the Fisheries Captain Fytche, R.N., had suggested that the French from Cape Breton were regularly encroaching on British fishing grounds and that as many as thirty of their vessels had engaged in the trade at Canso contrary to the Treaty of Utrecht. Lieutenant–Governor Armstrong was strictly enjoined to do everything in his power to prevent any encroachments of this sort (9). When he visited the place in 1735 he found great confusion and disputes between the fishermen and the Commandant. He sought to remedy the position by the appointment of a new Commandant, Major Paul Mascarene, a man of recognized professional and personal merit. Copies of this Officer's standing and routine Orders are preserved in the British Museum (Additional Manuscripts 19069) and throw some light on conditions at this important place. Canso formed the subject of two Reports to the Board of Trade by Captain John Towry, R.N., which included some statistics of the cod and whale catches there and of the shipping engaged in the Fisheries (166, 450). Significantly the first of these Reports embodied some estimates of the French Fishery of Cape Breton and also included a statement of the formidable defences and armaments there. Canso by contrast had no fortifications at all. Further information about the British and French Fisheries in these waters is contained in the evidence of Mr. How before the Board of Trade in March 1736 ('Journal of the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, 1735–1741', p. 99).
Serious as it was the growth of French power in the North Atlantic did not command much attention from Parliament during 1735 and 1736. This may have been due partly to the still widely held theory which made the tropical and sub–tropical Colonies the centre–pieces of imperial policy. Compared to the Fisheries the sugartrade was highly developed and organized so that any matter affecting the West Indies was promptly brought under Parliamentary notice. The difficult period through which the sugar–Colonies were passing in these years is reflected in numerous Documents contained in this volume and in the debates and proceedings of Parliament. An Order by the Committee of the Privy Council for Plantation Affairs referred to the "present distrest condition" of Jamaica (1); the Speaker of the Assembly of Antigua wrote of "the miseries that we now lie under by the prices of our commodities in England" (11); while from Barbados there came the gloomiest prognostications of all (51, 142, 202, 204, 494 iv).
The reasons for the sad condition of Jamaica do not appear to have been so directly connected with the depression in the sugar–trade as was the case in Barbados and the Leeward Islands. Agriculture in Jamaica was more mixed in character and less dependent upon a single cash crop. The cultivation of coffee, for example, was going forward rapidly in these years ('Journal of the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, 1735–1741', p. 71). Nevertheless the Colony had its problems, principally an acute shortage of white inhabitants in the face of an ever growing negro population. So long as a small number of proprietors held large tracts of the best land which they cultivated extensively or not at all, there was no possibility of increasing the white population by the settlement of smaller farmers. This matter was frequently under consideration in 1735 and the Board of Trade, at the behest of the Privy Council, prepared an Instruction to the Governor of Jamaica for an Act obliging proprietors of great estates to cultivate their lands under penalty of dispossession. Henceforth no grant of more than 1000 acres was to be made and grantees were to employ one white man for every 100 acres (1, 19). This Instruction was subsequently toned down so as to make dispossession less likely, and in that form it was approved by the Queen–in–Council (36, 41). The whole question was, however, complicated by the low price of sugar then prevailing, for more intensive cultivation, unless it could be restricted to other crops, was likely to lead to over–production and a further fall in price. A Memorial from the merchants of London, Bristol and Liverpool supporting proposals for the settlement of Jamaica and for increasing the white population took the opposite view and emphasised the advantages to the planter in higher land values (148 i).
The need for settling Jamaica had a particular relevance in this period, not only because of the growing friction with France and Spain in the West Indies, but also because of the negro ' rebellion' which periodically paralyzed the life of the Colony. This episode reflected very little credit on the government of Jamaica. The merchants in the Memorial mentioned above alleged that the number of slaves in revolt was no more than three hundred (p. 96), and Governor Cunningham himself wrote that he could not learn that in two years more than ten of the rebels had been taken (226). Eight Companies of soldiers which had been sent to Jamaica to deal with the rising remained in barracks most of the time and drank themselves to death (26, 226). It is indeed difficult to escape the conclusion that the most serious aspect of the whole affair was the frequency with which the Government of the Colony imposed martial law, a matter which caused the Board of Trade and its legal advisers much concern (90, 124, 215). Martial law, as the English merchants pointed out, closed the law–courts and made it impossible to collect debts or to carry on business (p. 96). Some comments on this and other questions relating to Jamaica are contained in the Report of Sir Challoner Ogle's evidence to the Board of Trade and Plantations ('Journal, 1735–1741', p. 70).
Barbados and the Leeward Islands, though free from internal disorder, suffered more profoundly than Jamaica from the depression in sugar because of their greater dependence on it. In some measure this depression affected all producers, French as well as British. Records of the prices of sugar sold in London in the 'thirties suggest probably the lowest decennial average of the century, while the more reliable figures of prices at Amsterdam tell the same story. The British Colonies, however, not only suffered from this world–wide overproduction or under–consumption of sugar but also were exposed to particular stresses from which their rivals were free. These stresses are referred to many times in the Dispatches from Barbados contained in this volume, but they are nowhere so conveniently summarized as in the Reports of the Parliamentary Debates of 1736. The House of Commons had the state of the West Indian Colonies under consideration on a number of occasions in the spring of this year, mainly as a result of the proposal to impose heavy taxes on spirits. Petitions against this measure were presented by several influential associations, giving rise to keen debates. The object of the proposal was to curb the drunkenness spread by gin, but spirits of all kinds including rum were to be taxed. This was felt by some Members to be an insupportable burden on the sugar–producers at a time when they were already suffering from the effects of French competition (L. F. Stock, 'Proceedings and Debates of the British Parliaments respecting North America ', IV, p. 304. Though sugar had been cultivated in the French Colonies from an early date it was only recently that they had become serious rivals to the older–established producers. Their new position now rested firmly on three factors which together gave them the advantage in costs both of production and of distribution. These factors are outlined in the reported speech of an Opposition Member of Parliament in April 1736 in which the declining state of the British Colonies was contrasted with the growing prosperity of the French: "Their rivals in the sugar trade enjoy a new, rich, and fertile soil, which produces plentifully without great labour or expence; while they [the British] are obliged to toil in fields worn out by continual labour, and incapable of producing anything without a vast expence. Their rivals live almost quite free from taxes, and without being at the expence of making any presents to their governors, or even of maintaining and repairing their own forts and garrisons; while they are heavily loaded with taxes upon exports as well as imports, and obliged to pay large salaries to their governors, and to maintain and repair their own fortifications : their rivals have liberty of exporting their sugars directly to any market in Europe, while they remain under a necessity of landing every ounce in Britain, and are thereby obliged to pay double freight, double commission and a great many other unnecessary charges. These disadvantages have already, I am afraid, made us lose the benefit of supplying any foreign market with sugars" (Stock, IV, pp. 306–7). It is not impossible that both politicians and planters exaggerated the predominance of the French in the sugar–trade. But at the same time French competition undoubtedly deepened the depression from which the British Colonies were suffering.
Economic rivalry was only one aspect, perhaps not the most serious, of the rising power of France in the Caribbean. Two diplomatic questions greatly exercised the British Government and generated many of the Documents contained in this volume. Under the AngloFrench Treaty of Neutrality of 1686 each side had undertaken not to trade or fish in any places possessed by the other under penalty of confiscation. The contracting parties had further agreed on a mutual right of asylum for ships driven into port by weather or other urgent necessity. In 1727, however, the French King had issued an Edict which had greatly circumscribed this right of asylum. At the same time strangers had been forbidden not only to trade at French islands but also to sail within three miles of any French possession whether inhabited or not. This last provision was especially obnoxious since in the Leeward Islands English and French settlements lay so close to one another that the three–mile limit was meaningless; ships with no intention of trading might be compelled to sail into the territorial waters of foreign Colonies.
French attempts to enforce this Edict led to numerous seizures and to demands by the British Colonists for counter–measures. A Memorial of West India merchants presented to the Board of Trade and Plantations in December 1736 mentioned five seizures, a sloop and the Dolphin taken in 1729, the Amity and the Humility in 1732, and the Margaret in 1734. Two other ships had been burned in 1729 (474). A useful summary of the history of the Neutrality Treaty, the effects of the French Edict of 1727 and the incidence of French depredations is contained in a Report from the Board of Trade to the Secretary of State in December 1736 (490 i). The whole question can be compared with the much better known dispute with Spain over the activities of the guarda–costas. Though, in the long run, Spanish depredations were to have the more serious consequences they do not, in the period covered by this volume, bulk so large as those committed by the French. The Report of the Governor of the Bahamas that the Spaniards "daily take our vessels" was a patent exaggeration (79).
While some of the French seizures appear to constitute breaches of the Treaty of Neutrality it is not to be denied that the British for their part were also infringing its provisions, though in a different way. The French authorities were undoubtedly provoked by the persistent illicit trading of New England ships which took off molasses and rum from the French sugar–Colonies. The British Government was as anxious as the French to put a stop to this trade, but was quite unable to devise effective means of so doing. It was, in consequence, placed in a somewhat equivocal position by the French seizures, and this probably accounts for its reluctance to take the strong measures demanded by the Colonists (296).
The situation of the British Government was made yet more difficult when the Legislature of Montserrat took upon itself the task of framing measures of reprisal against the French. An Act for the more effectual preventing all trade in those parts between H.M. subjects and the French was passed in 1736 and received the assent of Governor Mathew (361). The purpose of this Act was frankly retaliatory, but even so it did not appear to go to the same lengths as the French Edict of 1727. Francis Fane, the legal adviser of the Board of Trade, believed that it did not give power to seize ships merely for sailing within three miles of a British Colony (431). Nevertheless, both he and the Board were satisfied that the Legislature of Montserrat had been guilty of infringing the Prerogative of the Crown, and an immediate rebuke was sent to Governor Mathew (406). On the other hand, it was admitted that some such measure might be useful in causing the French to abandon their aggressive attitude. The dilemma of the British Government was summarized by Fane when he wrote: "tho the policy of it might be right and expedient, yet the manner of doing it is so new that I think it ought to receive in this first instance the highest discountenance" (431). In their Report of 17 December 1736 the Board condemned the Act in the strongest terms and discountenanced the seizure of a French ship, the Fleuron, which had been made under its authority. However, they advised against disallowance and proposed that the Act should be used to aid representations at the French Court for the repeal of the Edict of 1727 (490 i). This Report and a Memorial to the Board of Trade from the Agents of Leeward Islands (460) provide the most valuable summaries of the dispute contained in this volume. The interest of the episode, apart from its relevance to the history of Anglo–French rivalry in the Caribbean, lies in the skill with which the Legislature of an insignificant Colony such as Montserrat forced the hand of the British Government. The conflict between the public interest and the Prerogative of the Crown which was thus set up and played upon is a subject to which reference will be made later in this Introduction.
The other chief source of Anglo–French friction in the Caribbean was the old question of the evacuation of the islands of St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica, which had been agreed as long ago as 1730. In a Report of 11 September 1735 the Board of Trade and Plantations advised the Duke of Newcastle that there were 117 Frenchmen able to bear arms on St. Vincent, 100 families on Dominica and six families on St. Lucia (102). Yet more serious was the apparent tendency of these numbers to increase. In November 1735 it was alleged that there were now 200 French families on St. Lucia (183 ii) and in the following July Governor Mathew reported that there were 364 families on Dominica (361). In December 1735 the Governor of Martinique wrote to President Dottin of Barbados that the French would leave St. Lucia when their cotton was harvested (208, 290 i). But in the following August President Dottin sent to the Duke of Newcastle a Report from Captain Craufurd, R. N., which showed that the French were still there in force (378 ii). The same Report mentioned the presence of a few Englishmen, said to be servants of the French, although a year earlier the Board of Trade had claimed complete evacuation. The whole dispute merged into the question of illicit trade and seizures, since these islands were focal points of the illegal commerce between French settlers and H.M. subjects (290 i). Clearly it could not be settled locally, and the Board of Trade once again referred the matter to the Secretary of State to make such diplomatic representations as he thought fit (438).
Diplomatic exchanges, however, seldom carried such disputes very far towards solution; they tended to be quickly submerged in the infinitely complicated international politics of eighteenth–century Europe. Such measures as the planting of garrisons and the strengthening of defences were no more than wise preparations for the trial of strength which was assumed, almost without question, to be coming. The surest preventive to French aggression in America was the presence of a large white population, sympathetically disposed towards the British Crown and ready to take up arms in its own defence. To this solution the Board of Trade and Plantations returned again and again in 1735 and 1736. Immigration was rapidly coming to be regarded as the answer to many of the Empire's problems, economic as well as military, and as the sine qua non of progress (for example, 221, 277). During these eighteen months at least nine proposals for settlement were examined, though not every one was given serious consideration. From the Board's actions and recommendations upon these proposals it is possible to build up some sort of picture of the type of scheme to which favour was likely to be shown. First of all, settlers were required to be Protestants and therefore instinctively ranged against France and Spain. Secondly, the scheme should provide for the greatest possible number of settlers, each occupying a small or medium–sized holding of land. Large grants of land which might remain uncultivated indefinitely were an obstacle to imperial development for they served only to discourage the smaller settler. The object in view was not merely a large population; it was important that it should be a population of the right sort, farmers with a stake in the country who in the event of attack would have something material to defend. Finally the settlement should be strategically sited so as to serve as far as possible the purposes of imperial defence.
The three schemes in which most progress was made during this period were those for the settlement of North Carolina. The first, sponsored by Captain George Burrington, a former Governor of that Colony, Samuel Jenner and John Ochs, was for the settlement of 6000 German and Swiss Protestants (110, 238, etc.). The conditions laid down by the settlers were extremely reasonable; they asked for naturalization, some relief from quit–rents and the right to appoint their own civil and military officers and to maintain their own poor and no one else's. They also asked that their lands should be contiguous, not dispersed, and that each gentleman should have 1000 acres and every other man 200. These potential immigrants appear to have been business–like but not exacting. Their agent stressed that "they live well at home and are not obliged by any wants or necessity to go into foreign parts" (238). Not surprisingly this project gained the approval of the Board of Trade (301).
At the same time that this scheme was under consideration the Board was busy with a similar proposal by Henry McCulloh who offered to settle at least three hundred Protestants on 132,000 acres of land about the Cape Fear River in North Carolina (241). This likewise was favourably received and the approval of the Committee of the Privy Council for Plantation Affairs was obtained ('Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, 1720–1745', pp. 490–1). A third project, sponsored by James Huey and Murray Crimble, was for the settlement of 6000 Swiss, Palatine and other foreign Protestants on 1,200,000 acres of land in the same Colony. The quantity of land requested was very great, but the Board of Trade nevertheless reported favourably on the scheme: "We cannot but think their undertaking very much for H.M. Service, and the interest of a Province where there are vast tracts of land, neither cultivated nor claim'd by any person; especially as it will be the means of encreasing H.M. quit rents, improving the trade of the Province, and extending their settlements by protecting their frontiers" (465).
Although North Carolina was in this period the chief, it was not the only, venue of settlement schemes. In New York there was a plan for giving 200 acres of land to each of 500 Protestant families from Europe (366). Here defence considerations were especially relevant for, as President Clarke wrote, "when the Mohacks' country is setled we shall have nothing to fear from Canada". He could not have expressed more clearly the close relationship between the fear of French aggression and British plans to hasten the settlement of the Colonies. The hardy, independent, Protestant farmer could be a complete answer to the threat of French encirclement. The same strategic considerations were uppermost in a scheme put forward by Captain Coram for planting Colonists in Nova Scotia and Cat Island in the Bahamas. This plan, which was designed to contain the French in two particularly crucial areas, envisaged initial grants of 100 acres to each settler; when this had been brought into cultivation a further 100 might be granted, and so on up to a maximum of 1000 acres. Coram annexed to his proposals an interesting estimate of the cost of settling 100 families in Nova Scotia and a list of the stores which such a party would require from England (22).
The existence in North America of virtually unlimited land did not mean that settlement, whether undertaken with the blessing of the Government at home or by private enterprize, could be accomplished without some friction with previous rights. North Carolina, as we have already seen, was a Colony singled out in this period as the object of several schemes for planting settlers. The same Colony was the scene of a heated quarrel between the Governor, Gabriel Johnston, and some of the older Colonists. Two issues merged in this dispute. First, the Colonists claimed the right to pay their quit–rents in commodities of their own growth, tobacco, rice, skins, hemp and flax, after an agreed valuation. This was acceptable to the Governor, but he thought that for the older settlers at least the valuations should be in sterling rather than in the inflated money of the Province. The Colonists also sought to pay their rents at many different places in the Province, which greatly increased the costs of collection (410). Concurrently, there seemed to be a real danger that some titles to lands held under grants dating back to the proprietary period of the Colony's history would be called into question. The former practice had been for the Governor to sign blank Patents and lodge them with the Secretary of the Colony for distribution as required, and it is not surprising that there were allegations of corruption (20, 141, 410, etc.). In his efforts to compel the Colonists to pay what he thought they owed for their lands the Governor exploited the common knowledge that plans were afoot for bringing into the Province large numbers of new settlers. A vigorous and picturesque address to the Governor by some of the inhabitants of the Colony shows how the established Colonists felt themselves to be threatened by the new immigrants : "Your Excellency also alledges that we make a great matter of paying the King two shillings per hundred acres sterling and that, if we think it a hard bargain, we may leave the King's land, for that they are the King's lands and not ours and that there are to your Excellency's knowledge thousands of industrious Protestants that would come into our places gladly and pay the Crown double the rents without clamour or noise (we thank them kindly)" (p. 79). These quarrels about quit–rents and titles were not new, but they were given greater point by the plans for promoting immigration.
The Colonists, through their Assemblies and Agents in London, were easily able to make themselves heard and to defend their interests in such matters. The Indians, however, were not in that fortunate position. Their rights might be given some consideration in the case of settlements promoted by the central Government, for friendly tribes had an important part to play in the defence of the mainland Colonies. But settlements by private individuals, careless of imperial strategy, eroded their ancient rights which, once gone, could not be retrieved. A classic example of disappropriation is set forth in this volume, the case of the Mohicans (300, 318). Their lands had been reserved to them in 1684 and confirmed in 1692. The expansion of the adjoining Colony of Connecticut, however, had driven them to seek protection from the Crown, and a Commission sent over in 1704 had upheld their tenure. Now, thirty years later, further encroachments forced them to demand that the judgement of this Commission should be implemented (300 i and ii). The Mohicans took their case to the Board of Trade and Plantations in 1736 and their representative, Mahomet, crossed the Atlantic to give evidence at the enquiry ('Journal, 1735–1741', pp. 106–9). A new Commission was ordered by the Privy Council in 1740, but sixteen years later the Indians were still trying to obtain satisfaction ('Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, 1720–1745', p. 539).
The expansion of a province, or the creation of a new one might give rise to another problem illustrated by Documents contained in this volume, the problem of inter–colonial rivalry. Georgia, in this period, was still in its infancy and still the recipient of a Parliamentary subsidy (Stock, V, pp. 243, 303). But already disputes over boundaries and trading rights with South Carolina were multiplying. In October 1735 Lieutenant–Governor Broughton wrote to the Board of Trade and Plantations complaining that Captain Patrick Mackay, Agent for Indian affairs for Georgia, had prevented traders licenced by South Carolina from carrying on their business with the Creek Indians (157). The Georgia Trustees promptly dismissed Captain Mackay, but the Government of Georgia continued to claim the right to allow trade with the Indians only under licence from itself (376). At the same time, the Council and Assembly of South Carolina alleged, the magistrates of Georgia were interfering with the free navigation of the Savannah River, the boundary between the two Colonies. Under colour of an Act to prevent the importation of rum into Georgia several consignments of liquor in process of shipment along the Savannah from one part of South Carolina to another had been seized and destroyed (pp. 373–4). South Carolina tried to argue this dispute on the principles of free trade and free navigation, but the question was more one of prohibition. Georgia, under Oglethorpe's inspiration, sought to curb the use of liquor while South Carolina was more appreciative of its value in trade with the Indians. An early example of what was later to become a stock argument is contained in a Petition of the Assembly of South Carolina. They argued that if they did not themselves supply rum "it would put the Indians upon seeking it from the French and Spaniard who can very easily supply them with the same" (p. 375). Eventually, in 1738, the Committee of the Privy Council for Plantation Affairs devised a formula whereby Georgia granted Licences without charge to all bona fide applicants who had previously been approved by the Governor and Council of South Carolina ('Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, 1720–1745', pp. 512–4). Another inter–colonial dispute in agitation during this period was that between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. This long standing issue has left little record in this volume but it was frequently under consideration by the Board of Trade.
These problems of land–titles and rents, of Indian relations and of inter–colonial rivalry were all to some extent affected by immigration policy. No doubt they would have arisen anyway, but the attempt to strengthen the defences of the Empire by increasing the population and the area of land in cultivation and settlement gave them an added relevance and urgency. At the same time the British Government had to consider the establishment of new spheres of civil authority. The Board of Trade, writing to Lieutenant–Governor Armstrong of Nova Scotia, put its dilemma succinctly: "The only probable method to people the Province is to form a civil government there; but until there are English enough to compose an Assembly this cannot be done" (112). In the period covered by this volume an attempt was made to set up a new sub–area of government, though in an obscure and somewhat unconventional fashion. During the year 1735, Governor Mathew introduced "something of a Legislature in Anguilla, Spanish Town and Tortola" and set them upon framing laws on models supplied by himself (105). This was a necessary step, for the islands had long been governed by Deputy–Governors and Councils. Settlers to the number of 300 families had lately arrived there from the Leeward Islands and the need for proper civil government was urgent. The Board of Trade, however, took the view that the Governor was encroaching upon the Prerogative of the Crown (60). The matter was deferred and in 1740 efforts were still being made to obtain civil government for these Islands ('Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, 1720–1745', p. 678).
Parliament was fully aware of the seriousness of French rivalry in America. Apart from its investigations into the effects of French competition in the sugar trade, to which reference has already been made, the House of Commons on 12 May 1735 called for papers about the state of the British Colonies and "the danger the said colonies have been, or are apprehended to be, in, from the growing power of the French in America" (Stock, IV, p. 253). In the same session the Admiralty was required to furnish papers referring to British losses suffered at the hands of Spain in both Europe and America since 1725 (ibid., p. 258. Copies of the papers produced on this occasion are preserved amongst the House of Lords MSS., vide C. M. Andrewes and F. G. Davenport, 'Guide to the Manuscript Materials for the History of the United States to 1783, in the British Museum, in Minor London Archives and in the Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge', p. 209). Despite this show of interest the years 1735 and 1736 are not marked by any very notable developments in Anglo–Spanish relations in America. The situation in the Caribbean seems to have been comparatively quiet. But if the motif of Anglo–French rivalry dominated the plans and policies of the British Government, AngloSpanish discord, by reason of its explosion in 1739, calls for brief comment.
The activities of the Spanish guarda–costas figure hardly at all in this volume. Some disquiet was engendered by the seizure of the Mercury of New Providence which was taken four leagues off the American mainland (221 ii). But this was an exceptional case in a period of comparative tranquillity. Jamaica and the Bahamas continued to be apprehensive of Spanish invasion, but this fear was based on their exposed geographical positions rather than on any positive knowledge of hostile preparations. In America, as in Europe, Spain was the weaker of the Bourbon powers and Britain treated her accordingly. In these years Georgia was making spectacular progress. Oglethorpe reported to the Board of Trade and Plantations in August 1735 that the number of men able to bear arms had risen in twelve months from 100 to 800 (Journal, 1735–41, p. 58). This growth constituted a threat to Florida which Spain could not ignore. Two Documents in this volume set out the title of each Country to the disputed territory. The British claim, an excellent example of the maxim that any title is better than none, was based on Cabot's discovery, Drake's exploits and other remote events (348 xv). Spain asserted her rights under an Agreement of 1670 reinforced by the Treaty of Utrecht, and was able to put up much the more plausible case (391 i). By these tokens the mere establishment of Georgia was contrary to AngloSpanish Treaties, but it is a measure of Spain's weakness that she could not do much more than try to delay and contain the southward expansion of the British Colony. Complaints were lodged about the activities of Indians sympathetic to Britain, about attacks on a Spanish fort in Florida and about the building of British forts on Spanish territory (391 i). But Spanish forces in Florida were inadequate for anything but a defensive policy. It is true that the factor of the Royal Assiento Company in Cuba, conceiving it to be his duty to advise of "all mischief that are or shall be cooking or hetching against H.M. Colonys", gave warning of a rumoured attack on Georgia from St. Augustin (469). But, broadly speaking, Georgia went about the task of securing her southern frontier without serious hindrance from Spain.
Reference has already been made in this and earlier Introductions to the preoccupation of the House of Commons with imperial business, and during 1735 and 1736 a good deal of the work of the Board of Trade was undertaken in response to orders from the Commons. On 9 May, 1735, the House called for an Account of the money raised in the West India Colonies by certain import and export duties (Stock, IV, p. 253). On 12 May further calls were made for papers about French aggrandisement and about colonial laws which laid duties on British trade or shipping (ibid., pp. 253–4). Some of the information which the Commons required could no doubt be supplied from Records in the Office of the Board. But to meet the enquiry about colonial imposts and regulations upon trade it was necessary to refer to the provincial Governments. The collection of this information provides an interesting example of the efficacy of the Board as a fact finding body. A circular letter, dated 17 June 1735, was dispatched to all Governors of Plantations in America and the West Indies (Vol. XLI, No. 598). This was five weeks after the original request by the House of Commons. The first answer to this letter, from Pennsylvania, came to hand in November 1735 (120); during January 1736 replies were received from Barbados (142), the Leeward Islands (136), and Virginia (176). More replies came in during February, March and April; that of North Carolina arrived in May (192), while that of Maryland did not reach the Board until August (283). From some Colonies, Jamaica for example, no reply appears to be contained in this volume. The Board of Trade made its Report to the House of Commons on 23 February 1736, nine months after the original request (Stock, IV, p. 292). Inasmuch as this Report was based upon information freshly supplied by the Colonies it cannot have been comprehensive, for the replies of Connecticut, Rhode Island, North and South Carolina and Maryland all arrived too late to be of any service (418–420, 422, 451). Neither the Board nor the colonial Governors can be held solely responsible for this delay. As on other occasions, the arrangements for collecting information, however satisfactory they might be on paper, broke down through painfully slow communications. The Governor of Connecticut, for example, dated his reply to the Board on 18 October 1735, but it was not received until 12 April 1736. Part of delays such as this may have occurred after the letters reached the Custom House in London, for in August 1735 we find the Board complaining to the Commissioners of Customs that packets had lain there for many months (63).
Although imperial affairs continued to bulk large in Parliamentary business during the session of 1736 no further demands for information were laid upon the Board of Trade. It should, however, be noticed that other Departments besides this one were made responsible for supplying Parliament with intelligence relating to the Colonies. In their examinations of the state of the sugarislands in 1735 and 1736 the Commons ordered the Commissioners of Customs to furnish commercial statistics of various sorts. On 9 May 1735, for example, they called for accounts of the trade in rum, sugar, molasses, lumber, flour and other goods between the northern Colonies of America on the one hand and the West Indian Colonies, both British and foreign, on the other (Stock, IV, pp. 251–3). The Commissioners of Customs presented their Report in March 1736, and later in the same session were asked for information about chocolate imports (ibid., pp. 300–1). The Commissioners of Excise were likewise employed, particularly in connexion with the proposal to place a heavy duty on the retailing of spirits. On 3 April 1735 they were asked for an account of spirits drawn from molasses in the seven years prior to 1734 (ibid., p. 247).
Governor Mathew's attempt to erect civil Governments in the Virgin Islands has already been mentioned. The scheme had been nipped in the bud by the Board of Trade on the grounds that the creation of elected Legislatures fell wholly within the Prerogative of the Crown. On this occasion the home Government acted quickly to suppress any attempt to force its hand. But at other times it was less successful and found itself manoeuvred into a position of having to give some kind of recognition to acts by Colonial Assemblies or Governors which were clearly ultra vires. Twice at least during the period covered by this volume the Colonists succeeded in setting up in the minds of the authorities at home a conflict between the public interest on the one hand and the Prerogative of the Crown on the other. One such conflict concerned the troops sent to Jamaica to suppress the negro disorders. The Assembly of that Colony, in making provision for the pay of these troops, imposed penalties on any Officer who recruited men on the Island. The legal adviser of the Board of Trade pronounced this clause extraordinary and unprecedented and a restraint upon the Crown's Prerogative (124). The Board itself admitted that it would be improper to allow recruitment in the Island, and to disallow the Act would be to leave the soldiers without provision. The Act had a duration of only eighteen months so that, by the time the Board had come to a decision, it had almost expired. In these circumstances the Board decided not to recommend disallowance but to propose that an Order should be sent to the Governor not to assent to any similar bill (155). Just as the Legislature of Montserrat succeeded in forcing the hand of the British Government by passing the Act against trade with the French, so the outcome of this episode can be regarded as, on the whole, a victory for the Colonists.
The usual multitude of miscellaneous items appears in this volume. The Governor of New York, President Clarke, continued and finally won the battle against the factious elements in the Colony led by Rip Van Dam and Lewis Morris. The garrison in the Bahamas mutinied, with every justification judging by the Governor's account of the conditions the soldiers had to endure. Wavell Smith, Secretary of the Leeward Islands, carried on a dispute about the fees of his office which consumed a great deal of time and lasted until 1739. These and kindred topics of a more or less ephemeral nature bulk large in the ensuing Documents, but it is not the purpose of this Introduction to usurp the functions of the Index.