America and West Indies: Miscellaneous, 1670

Pages 147-151

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 7, 1669-1674. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1889.

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Miscellaneous, 1670

368. Reply of Capt. Robinson to the answer of the West Country Gentlemen to his own proposals about Newfoundland [see previous vol. of Cal., 1661–1668, No. 1,732]. The papers of the West Country Gentlemen given in after so long premeditation on his proposals were not very pertinent to his Majesty's interest, but only a discourse on their own particular trade, nor is it material to insist on Sir David Kirke's Government, how careless or severe soever, for if there be a bad Government it doth not follow that said Governor and planters should be removed, and so the country left to any other nation, but rather that said bad Governor be removed. Still asserts that Sir David Kirke was Governor round great part of the island, and made many of the French pay toll; that Sir Humphrey Gilbert took possession by patent from Queen Elizabeth in 1586 [sic, mistake for 1583; he died in 1584], as Capt. Whitbourne an eye-witness relates in his book of that plantation; and that there is constant destruction of stages, outhouses, and woods, and the harbours spoiled, besides abuses between fishers and planters without any justice between them, and no offices of Christianity or public worship amongst them. But the thing in hand is, whether Newfoundland ought not to be kept from an enemy, and his Majesty's subjects encouraged and secured, being surrounded by the French to the north and south, Placentia Bay to the west with 100 ships before it, and the Bank to the east. That nation are not as they were 50 or 60 years ago, when they durst not encroach on the rights of the Kings of England, nor did mind any trade in navigation, nor delighted in their navy strength, nor had they men to man their few ships. Now 'tis otherwise, for that King is busy to increase his trade and to settle plantations in several parts, and increase his trade and navy at a strange rate, is rich, and values not wronging his neighbours for his own profit, and certainly will use all ways to gain such a nursery for seamen. Knowing that country may be kept at little charge, so it may be kept, if taken, from us, especially if the planters are taken off as some have begged. Some say if St. John's harbour were taken there are fishing places enough beside, as if they could not as well take the smaller and weaker as the greater, Havre-de-Grace to the north, and Freizeland to the south, and so command the whole country. But the main thing to consider is, if the French should take it, whereas now they employ 400 ships and 18,000 men, and we 300 ships and 15,000 men, they would then employ 700 ships and 30,000 seamen and others, and we be shut out of that nursery and its returns of 700,000l. yearly, for which is not carried out of the kingdom 100l. per annum, which the French would make better worth than 1,400,000l. yearly; and we that have been so flourishing a nation for seamen, have his Majesty at a loss to man his ships of war, whilst the French King shall have at his devotion 30,000 men, which will man 90 ships. Who would believe that any English noble spirit would plead with his Majesty against having a strength in those parts, we having so dearly paid for it by leaving places of concernment without forts, and power to withstand an enemy. Besides if the French gain this to what he possesses already, Canada, Nova Scotia, and other places, he would be an exceeding bad neighbour to New England, New York, and Virginia; and therefore as 500 men more would secure that harbour, country, and trade, he presents it to his Majesty's favour, especially at this juncture, and when their neighbours are lower they may be called off if thought convenient. Endorsed, "Capt. Robinson's reply to the answer of the West Countrymen about Newfoundland, 1670. Recd. in 1676," 2 large pp. closely written. [Col. Papers, Vol. XXV., No. 110.]
369. Certain arguments for a settled Government in Newfoundland, tendered by Capt. Robinson to the Duke of York, with a description of that part of the country inhabited by the English and French. That there hath been these 100 years a very profitable fishing in that country, with the yearly employ of several hundred ships and about 15,000 seamen and others. For many years Sir David Kirke was settled there as Governor by Charles the First, with several forts for security, and, caused the French that fished there to pay toll; since which they have seated themselves at Placentia Bay, the best place of fishing, where they have a Governor and forts. The glory of God and honour of his Majesty exceedingly suffer in having so many thousands of his subjects without any public prayers, preaching, baptizing, marrying, burying, or religious observation of the Lord's Day, which is altogether spent in drinking, every house being as it were a tavern, so that many fishermen and planters have complained to Capt. Robinson, and several have become wholly atheistical. His Majesty's laws for the preservation of the plantation are generally violated. (1.) There is a yearly destruction of 260,000 young trees, by reason of the seamen's breaking down all their stages and other rooms at the end of the year; (2) and of 50,000 bigger trees by pulling off the rinds to cover their stages, to the great hindrance of the fishing, the seamen being constrained to travel much further in snow and ice up the country for others, and also to come sooner, to the hazard of all from ice and fog, so that many have lost both their ships and lives; (3) many looser persons out of carelessness or wilfulness set fire to the woods to the exceeding prejudice of the country; (4) but the most pernicious custom is the throwing overboard at the end of the year their press stones of very great bigness into all harbours, to the endangering of vessels that follow, and the spoiling of as brave and safe harbours as any in the world; (5) there is no plantation of equal account but has laws for Church and State discipline, and a person to administer them, and keep the place from foreign powers; only this place is liable to be a prey to any Christian or Turk that comes to surprise it, as was seen lately in the example of De Ruyter, for had St. John's harbour 10 or 12 guns and a Governor a greater force could no more have hurt them than Barbadoes; (6) what is alleged against a settled Government is for private ends, and tends to anarchy, and is easily answered, viz., that it would occasion the forestalling of fish, raising the price of commodities, settling more planters than are fitting, and pulling down stages; all which his Majesty may take care by commands to his Governor to prevent; as to the last particular he knows that the fishers themselves do it, and not the planters, through want of a Governor to restrain them; and reason and experience teach us in peace to provide for war; (7) lastly, the charge will be inconsiderable, for one penny the "kentall" of merchantable fish, one halfpenny for refuse, and one shilling per hogshead of oil, and the benefit of the furs which the planters little use, and to have the benefit of the furs of the country would make the Governor a competent salary, which they need not grudge, who for all their fish and oil exported amounting to several 100,000l. pay no duty to his Majesty at all. Endorsed,"A paper given in by Capt. Robinson in 1670, touching Newfoundland. Recd. in 1676." 2 pp. [Col. Papers, Vol. XXV., No. 111.]
1670 ? 370. Petition of Morgan Lewis, merchant to the King. Has lived in Barbadoes for nearly 20 years, and being on his return prays license for the transportation of 100 horses, of which there is great want in the island. 1/2 p. [Col. Papers, Vol. XXV, No. 112.]
1670. 371. Six Acts of Barbadoes passed in 1670, viz., Aug. 11 (1), an additional Act to the Act concerning the conveyance of estates; (2) to prevent spiriting people off this island; Oct. 18 (3), an additional Act to the Act for establishing the courts of Common Pleas within this island; Oct. 19 (4), an Act to prevent the abuse of lawyers, and multiplicity in law suits; Oct. 21 (5), for trying all petty larcenies at the several quarter sessions within the island; and (6) for regulating the secretary's fees, with a list of fees. Printed. (Col. Entry Bk., No. XV., 75–83.)
Montserrat. 372. Nine Acts passed in Montserrat, viz. Feb. 24 (1), An Act touching the merchants selling liquors, and that the keepers of taphouses do not exact in selling of their liquors for money, &c., and containing a tariff for liquors; (2) for paying tobacco in leaf, &c.; (3) for planting of provisions, and disannulling of writings made out of the secretary's office; (4) Sept. 29, for reducing the trade of this island unto three certain towns in the same; and for encouraging of those who shall bring any foreign corn unto this island; (5) Oct. 8, for restraining the liberty of negroes and to prevent the running away of Christian servants, &c.; (6) Oct. 13, for the repairing the highways in this island, and for keeping them so; (7) Nov. 5, touching such as shall buy any sorts of liquors on board any ships or other vessels in this island, and against those who shall sell any liquors in or upon this island without license; (8) Nov. 19, to prevent the abuse committed by paying of such indigo and sugar as are not fit to be received; and that the sugars made in and upon this island shall not pass under the rates in this Act mentioned; and (9) an Act that the bounds of every person's land in this island be examined. 8 pp. [Col. Entry Bk., No. 49, pp. 79–87.]
Montserrat. 373. The preceding nine Acts passed in Montserrat are in the printed Acts passed in Montserrat 1668–1740. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. 55, pp. 14–24.]
Montserrat. 374. Five of the above Acts passed in Montserrat, Nos. 1 , 4, 5, 7 and 9, with two additional Acts, viz., 24 Feb., an Act against the importing of rum, and turning away servants in sickness; and 29 Sept., an Act for rating sugar, raising of foreign coin, and preventing the plague. 21 pp. [Col. Entry Bk., No. 50, pp. 199–219.]
1670 ? 375. A summary prospect of the advantages and conveniences capable to arise to his Majesty from the planting of Jamaica. The things in Jamaica that distinguish it from all other plantations are its situation, largeness, and value of commodities. As to its situation, lying off Hispaniola and Cuba, and not far from St. Martha and Carthagena, none can be chosen equal to it, to erect as a citadel over all the Spanish West Indies; and consequently there is no place so fit to be well manned, planted, and fortified, for awing or defending the Spaniard, strengthening trade, and preventing designs of French or Dutch. It is therefore more absolutely necessary to be regarded than any other plantation, because it is so thinly inhabited that it is scarce able to defend itself, there being, by Sir Thos. Modyford's own account, not much above one acre planted for every 200 in the island. It also lies so much to the westward of the rest of our plantations that no speedy communication could be held or any sudden succours sent on an emergent difficulty, so that it must rely wholly upon its own strength. It is not yet actually confirmed to us by the Spaniard; the French seem to be drawing down forces into those parts more than formerly; and by how much the more import Jamaica is to us by so much the more is it jealously looked on by our neighbours. As to its largeness, it is not only capable of receiving the greater number of inhabitants, but capable of breeding the greater number of horses and cattle on the many and large savannahs; which gives the greatest encouragement of any to plantations. As to the commodities, as no island abounds in cacao more than Jamaica, it is easy with good management to beat out the Spaniard; which commodity is not only exceedingly valued (as it is ready money in Spain, France, Flanders, Holland, and England), but is greatly growing in request; and the profit is such that if it keep up but the moiety of its price it will be of far more gain to the planter than indigo, ginger, cotton, or sugar. Wherefore if sugar has raised our plantations to far greater value than most plantations in the world, what may we expect cacao may do if once strenuously followed; and if Barbadoes have risen to be so rich by sugar alone, where land is dear and cattle, provisions, and wood scarce, what may Jamaica arrive to, where all these are in plenty. To which, if the quantity of pepper, spice, drugs, and commodities for dyeing and joiners' use be added, it is very evident that if well planted it might yield more wealth than all our plantations besides. Whether, therefore, we regard interests of State or trade, it will be found our main interest to mind the planting, settling, and increasing of its inhabitants. 4 pp. [Col. Papers, Vol. XX V., No. 108.]
1670 ? 376. Description of and conditions of settling the island of Vaca, [Vache] on the south side of Hispaniola, near the westernmost end and five miles from the shore. It has a convenient harbour, for which reason it ought to be settled to prevent the reception of pirates or other enemies, is environed with rocks and small cayes or islands, the principal of which is called Cay de Roy, about a mile in compass and necessary for fortification as it commands the harbour. The conditions to settle this island are these:–(1.) A patent under the Broad Seal, for said island, as lying vacant in the sea without inhabitants, so the true right belongs to the first possessor. (2.) Power to said patentees to send Governors and other officers with such powers as have formerly been granted to Lords Warwick and Carlisle. (3.) All fishing and royalties of the harbour of Vaca, with all cayes and islands, to be included in the patent. Vaca is 11 miles in length and three in breadth, and fit for planting cotton, indigo, sugars, tobacco, and cacao, with a good air, plenty of fish and tortoises and two small rivers. 1 p. [Col. Papers, Vol. XX V , No. 109.]