Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Volume 5, January 1723 - December 1728. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1928.
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Journal, April 1726
Mr. Smith, Secretary to the Leeward Islands, attending, and desiring their Lordships would please to appoint a day for hearing what the counsel for Colonel Hart, Governor of the Leeward Islands, have to say, in answer to what was alledged against him at their Lordships' meeting of the 3rd of the last month, in relation to Mr. Smith's place as patent secretary; their Lordships acquainted him that they would consider thereof and appoint him a day, of which he should have notice.
The Secretary then laid before the Board a letter he had received from Mr. Robert Mann, desiring that his brother, Mr. Edward Mann, who is casual receiver, and receiver of the duty of 4½ per cent. in St. Christophers, may be appointed of the Council of that island, which was read. And their Lordships were pleased to give directions for preparing the draught of a representation for recommending him to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of Mr. Stephen Duport.
Sir Robert Sutton and some of the directors of the African Company attending, their Lordships took into consideration the several papers relating to the African trade, mentioned in the Minutes since the 23rd of February last inclusive, and made some progress therein.
A certificate from the Remembrancer's Office [folio 73–112] that Major Gordon, Deputy Governor of Pennyslvania, hath given the proper security for his observing the Acts of Trade, was read; and their Lordships were pleased to give directions for preparing the draught of instructions for him relating to the Acts of Trade and Navigation.
Their Lordships took again into consideration the draught of a representation, ordered to be prepared the 31st of the last month, upon the draught of a Bill for settling the Revenue of Jamaica and made a progress therein.
Their Lordships took again into consideration the several papers, in relation to the African trade, mentioned in the Minutes of the 7th inst., and made a progress therein, and resolved to proceed on Thursday the 14th inst.
The three papers under mentioned, being lately received from
the Royal African Company, were severally read, viz:—
Papers received from the Company relating to the fort at Gambia, etc.
Copy of the Gambia diary book, beginning the 1st of November, 1725, giving account of the forts being blown up.
Copy of Mr. Rogers' and Mr. Hull's letter to the Company, dated at James Fort, November 24th, 1725.
Copy of a letter from Mr. Rogers, Mr. Hull and Mr. Orfeur to the Company, dated at James Fort, the 19th December, 1725.
A letter from the Duke of Newcastle, dated the 2nd of April, inclosing an address from the House of Commons to His Majesty, desiring that the reports made by this Board upon the sale or value of the late French lands in St. Christophers, may be laid before the House, was read. Whereupon directions were given that copies of the said reports should be made accordingly.
This day being appointed for hearing what the Royal African Company had to offer in maintenance of their petition, referred to this Board by His Grace the Duke of Newcastle's letter of the 21st of February last, as likewise what the separate traders of London, and the merchants of Bristol and Liverpool, had to offer in relation to the African trade; Sir Robert Sutton and several other members of the Royal African Company, with Mr. Attorney General and Mr. Wills, their counsel; Mr. Humphry Morrice and Mr. Richard Harris, with several other merchants of London, in behalf of themselves and other separate traders to Africa, as likewise Mr. Earle, Mr. Brereton and other gentlemen, who are concerned for the traders of Bristol and Liverpool, with Mr. Serjeant Darnell and Mr. Fazackerly, their counsel, attended. Their Lordships proceeded to the said hearing, and the letter of reference from His Grace the Duke of Newcastle being read.
The Company should have the benefit of their Charter for certain distance, where they have forts, etc., an exclusive trade within the compass of the Company's present settlements, and the separate traders to traffic to other parts of the coast.
Mr. Attorney General opened the Company's petition, representing that the trade to Africa was of the greatest advantage and consequence to Great Britain. That the trade of His Majesty's Plantations in America is maintained and supported by it; and for that reason his late Majesty King Charles the 2nd was pleased to grant the Company a new charter in 1672, with the property of the lands and an exclusive trade from the Port of Sallee to the Cape of Good Hope. That the said Company, entering upon the trade, found it necessary, not only to purchase of their predecessors several forts and settlements, which they were possessed of, at a very great charge, amounting to £34,000, but to enlarge them and build new ones, as the power of other nations increased. That for recovering and improving this trade, they raised a stock and advanced it by several subscriptions and calls on their adventurers to near a million of money, but notwithstanding these repeated effects the trade is now in the greatest danger of being lost to the nation, and in consequence the British Plantations in the utmost hazard of being ruined. That the present ill state of the Company has arisen partly from their contest with foreigners, but more from the separate traders, who, not contributing to the charge of maintaining forts and settlements on the coast, though they had the protection of them, were enabled to undersell the Company, and thereby deprive them of the profit, which the said Company ought to reap. That by this competition between the Company and separate traders, the price of negroes has been increased to near four times the value they were bought at formerly, by which means they must go dearer to His Majesty's Plantations, and consequently render the commodities, which are made up or produced by their labour, dearer also. That the Royal African Company, having for some time carried on their trade to loss, at last have been obliged to put a stop to it, and by reason of their great charge must quit their forts and settlements, unless some remedy be speedily put to the grievances they at present labour under. Mr. Attorney, in behalf of the Company, likewise insisted that the African trade is absolutely necessary for the support of His Majesty's Plantations, and that it was necessary to maintain forts and settlements on the coast to prevent foreigners from ingrossing that trade. That, where a trade is to be carried on with savages, it is impossible to do it without forts and settlements, as Mr. Attorney instanced in the practice of the French, Dutch and other foreigners on the coast of Africa. And as to an objection made, that inland forts can be of no protection or service to ships upon the coast, he observed, it was one thing to maintain the trade with the natives, and another to defend the coast, both of which he alledged were necessary. That the necessity of forts and settlements on the coast of Africa for carrying on the trade there, appeared not only from the conduct of foreigners, but was likewise the opinion of the legislature of this Kingdom, expressed in the preamble of the Act of Parliament of the 9th and 10th of his late Majesty King William the 3rd to settle the trade to Africa. With respect to the separate traders alledging that they have carried on their trade to much greater advantage than the Company, Mr. Attorney desired to be informed what would be the case, when the Company's forts and settlements are taken away, or if they were in the possession of foreigners. And he urged that, if the forts and settlements were necessary and beneficial for the whole trade, it was but just they should be maintained at the expence of the whole trade, and not by the Company alone, whilst others have so great a share in it. That the next thing to be considered, was the manner of doing it. That, though he did not enter into the consideration of the legality of granting an exclusive trade on the whole coast of Africa, as the same is done by the Charter, yet he thought, the Company ought at least to have the benefit of their Charter, where their forts and settlements were, and for some certain distances round about them. That if the Company be allowed an exclusive trade within the compass of their present settlements, they would be content the separate traders should traffic in those other parts of the coast of Africa, where it is alledged they procure so much greater numbers of negroes. That the Company, by their said Charter, have a grant both of the land and government;and it is not to be contested but that where countries of savage people have been found out and discovered by the subjects of this kingdom, the lands have been vested in the Crown, as His Majesty's Plantations in America have done. That the said Charter, so far as it grants the land and government, is legal, and gives a property which the Company may sell or dispose of to the highest bidder. That upon a supposition that the said forts and settlements of the Company were in the hands of any one foreign nation, either Dutch, French or Portugueze, they would undoubtedly exclude the English and all other nations, in consequence whereof the whole trade of this Kingdom to Africa would be lost. Mr. Attorney concluded that, these being the principal matters of the petition, he conceived it necessary the lands and trade on the coast of Africa should be preserved to Great Britain, which could only be done by a well regulated company.
Mr. Wills, the other counsel on behalf of the Royal African Company, then proceeded and represented to their Lordships, that the Company have no other view but that so extensive and beneficial a trade should be maintianed, though the separate traders have each a greater regard to their own private interest. That it is a point generally agreed that this trade is necessary; but the separate traders here differ in opinion from all other nations, concerning forts and settlements for the preservation and improvement of it. That experience shows that, to the north of the River Gambia, the French ingross the trade by means of their forts;and that on the south part towards Angola, the Portugueze destroyed our Company's fort at Cabinda, upon an apprehension of its influence to extend and increase the British Company's commerce and interest in those parts, and lessen that of the Portugueze. That forts up in the country, though objected to as useless, are of service against the savages, as those on the coast are against pirates or enemies at sea. That the Dutch have forts on the coast of Africa intermixed with those of the English, which are a check upon each other. And if the trade should be lost from His Majesty's subjects to those of any other nation, who have forts on the coast, they, who have plantations of their own, would never supply His Majesty's Plantations with negroes, so that our plantation trade would soon be ruined thereby. That the South Sea Company have given their opinion of the necessity of forts and settlements on the African coast. That the House of Commons, as appears by their votes of the 8th of February, 1709, were of the same opinion; and the Board of Trade had represented to Her late Majesty, the 15th of March, 1711–12, that the African Company and separate traders agreed, "That for the preserving, better carrying on and improving the trade to Africa, it was necessary that forts and settlements be maintained and inlarged on that coast." Mr. Wills further observed in relation to men of war, which some had proposed for the only and best security of the African trade, that they could not be of any use against the savages. That ships of war are liable to stress of weather, and may have enemies or pirates to encounter, on which occasions forts may be useful and necessary for them to have recourse to. As to the separate traders' allegation, that forts are not necessary, because more negroes are had from places on the coast of Africa, where there are no forts, Mr. Wills desired that fact might be made out; and if, as the separate traders affirm, the commerce is most advantageous, where there are no forts erected, it would be no inconvenience to those traders, should the Company, upon agreeing to bear the charge of their own forts and settlements, have the sole trade of those places, where they have been at a vast expence in making and maintaining such forts and settlements, and to the parts adjacent, particularly from the River Gambia to Cape Formosa, with which, he said, the Company would be content. That if such a proposition be not approved, and forts and settlements are necessary, as the Company insist they are, it is self evident the charge thereof ought to be supported by the whole trade. And as it has been asserted that in the greatest years the Company have not supplied His Majesty's Plantations with above 5,400 negroes, whereas the separate traders have furnished them with 30,000 negroes a year, it is highly unreasonable to go on upon this foot, where the separate traders have so large a proportion of the trade, and the Company bears all the expence of the forts and settlements. Wherefore he urged that some proper regulations should be speedily made in this trade, which they submitted to their Lordships' consideration, and particularly referred to the proposals, mentioned in the representation of the Royal African Company to this Board of the 2nd of March last. And he concluded that, by reason of the Company's great and necessary charge above mentioned, they were unable to go on with the trade.
As to the lands and exclusive trade granted to the Company, Mr. Attorney General referred to the Charter to the Royal African Company in 1672, whereupon the counsel for the merchants of Liverpool and Bristol admitted that the lands were thereby granted in words, but denied them to be so in fact. As to the allegation that the Company, paid £34,000 for their forts and settlements, Mr. Serjeant Darnell said, as he was instructed, they cost nothing. Whereupon an account of the payment of £34,000 by the Royal African Company to the Company of Royal Adventurers for their effects, extracted from the Royal African Company's books, and signed by Mr. Richard Beaumont, their accountant, was produced and read. And the said Mr. Beaumont being present, was asked whether there was no name or names in the books, from whence the said account was drawn, of the person or persons, to whom the several sums therein mentioned were paid. He said there was not, but that he believed there were receipts taken for the said sums. The counsel for the separate traders observed that the Company's books were not produced, and they hoped their Lordships would require better evidence, as likewise that Corporation Books would not be admitted as evidence in all cases. A printed paper in the year 1671, containing an account of the subscription then made, and the great sums advanced by the Company for carrying on the African trade being produced, and Mr. Lynn, the Company's Secretary, being present, he was asked how long he had been Secretary to the Company, and how he came by that paper. To which he answered, that he had been Secretary about 5 or 6 years, that he had taken this paper out of a Minute Book of 1700, belonging to the Company, where he found it fastened in by a wafer, it being there before his time. The counsel on the other side desiring to see the original book of the subscription, Mr. Attorney desired the Company might have an opportunity to produce it, being not now brought. The next proof produced was an account, signed also by Mr. Beaumont above mentioned, and dated in 1688, containing the particulars of the purchase and charge of Fredericksburg or Fort Royal, which was read. Whereupon Mr. Serjeant Darnell observed that it was a mortgage, and might be supposed to be paid and delivered up, and that the Company ought to produce their deeds, to which Mr. Attorney General replied, that they were in possession, have a good title, and offered this account to prove the expence only. Another account, shewing the several sums of money paid in originally and since the Company's establishment, signed likewise by Mr. Beaumont, was read. And the said Mr. Beaumont being asked how these accounts were made, or from whence drawn, he said, they were copied from the Company's books, and examined by himself. Mr. Serjeant Darnell observed on the last mentioned account, amounting to £1,214,694 11s. 10d., several very considerable sums had been taken up by the Company on Bottomry bonds and calls, in order to make dividends to the proprietors. Mr. Beaumont, being asked how long he had served the Royal African Company, he said about 28 years, whereupon one of the separate traders took notice that it appeared by the Journals of Parliament, that the Company had some years ago alledged as an excuse for not producing certain accounts, that one Mr. Bishop had run away with their books. And it was thereupon inquired of Mr. Beaumont, how the accounts, now produced, could be drawn for so long a time back, from the Company's books. To which Mr. Beaumont answered, that the said Mr. Bishop had run away with those books in his custody as cashier, and not with those kept by him as accountant. Mr. Attorney General next referred to an account of the annual expence of maintaining the Company's forts and settlements for 5 or 6 years, signed also by Mr. Beaumont, amounting annually to £34,568 coast money, which account was read, and Mr. Beaumont being asked whether they had no accounts of the charge of their forts before the year 1721, when this account commences, and what the annual charge might be for that time; he said, they had such accounts for about 30 years past, and that as to the charge of Cape Coast, wherein that of all the forts on the Gold Coast is included, it has been much about the same one year with another, as in the present account. Mr. Beaumont, at the instance of the Council for the separate traders, was then sworn, and being asked whether the expences of their trading voyages were not brought into this account of the charge of forts and settlements; whether he had not known, that accounts have been first made here, and sent by the Company to Africa, in order to be transmitted back, and whether the expence of all their factors, chief merchants, writers, and of £1,000 per annum for a table, be not included in the said account of the charge of forts and settlements; he said, he did not know of any such accounts sent to Africa to be remitted thence. And to the last question, concerning the charge of the factors, chief merchants, etc., he answered in the affirmative; and that all the charges of the factories were included. As to the duty of 10 per cent., received by the Royal African Company from the separate traders, by virtue of an Act of Parliament made in the year 1698, an account thereof under the hand of Mr. Beaumont was produced and read, which upon examination, he said, was drawn from the Company's books. Mr. Beaumont was further asked, whether the charge of the Company's factories and settlements in Africa, did not amount to one half of what the Company laid out in the trade, he said, he believed it did not. And being further asked whether for some time the Company did not allow their factors the liberty of the trade on the coast in consideration only of the said factors maintaining their forts and settlements; he acknowledged that they did so, except at Cape Coast Castle. A list of the Dutch settlements on the African coast, signed by Mr. Lynn, the Company's secretary, who said he had drawn it from the map of the coast, was produced and read. Whereupon the counsel for the Company observed that nation was plainly of opinion such settlements were necessary, or otherwise they would not be at the expence of maintaining them. And Captain Lovett, who had been several voyages on the coast of Africa, being called upon and examined on oath, as to several particulars concerning the said Dutch Settlements, he said, he had been at or in sight of the said several places, and apprehended them to be all forts. That the Dutch Governors in those places do not allow the English to anchor or trade there without permission first obtained. But being asked, if he knew any particular English ship that had been molested there, he said, he did not. As to the French settlements he said, he knew only those at Goree and Senegal, where they do not admit of any foreign nation to trade. That he had himself been twice taken by the French in 1717 and 1719, on pretence that the whole coast, from Sallee, to Cape Bona Esperanza, belonged to them. That one of the said times that he was taken by the French, he was 50 leagues to the northward, trading between Senegal and Sallee. And notwithstanding he went to France on purpose, he could obtain no satisfaction. Being then asked whether he knew that the French suffered any persons of other nations than Great Britain to trade between Sallee and Senegal, he said, he did not know. As to the forementioned Dutch forts and settlements, he was asked how long they might be in possession of the Dutch, to which he likewise answered that he did not know. Upon further inquiries concerning the Dutch and Portugueze settlements in Africa, he said, that he knows Fredricksburg, which is inhabited by Dutch, and has a fort of 60 or 70 guns, and that they have forts in several other places. That the Portugueze carry off more negroes than any other nation from where the Dutch have settlements, paying them a certain national duty, which he believed was 10 percent. That he knows none but the Portugueze, who pay that duty at the Dutch forts, nor any other nation, that trade with the Dutch in like manner as the Portugueze. That it was never known the English did customarily trade with the Dutch there, only for wood, water and like necessaries; and being further asked, whether the English, French or others do not trade near the Dutch settlements, without paying the 10 per cent., or whether the Dutch made any difference between Portugueze ships from Europe and those from the Brazils, he said, he knew of no such liberty the English, French or others had from the Dutch, and that he believed no Portugueze whatever was excused from paying them the said duty of 10 per cent. Mr. Cleave being then sworn, and asked what he knew relating to the trade and settlements in Africa, he said, he went thither in the year 1679, that the French have two settlements called Goree and Senegal, which they took from the Dutch, and had afterwards confirmed to them by treaty. That the French took three of the Company's ships, two whereof were detained at Goree; the 3rd in 1687 being molested in their trade on the coast by the French, they fought, and the English ship then escaped, but was afterwards taken. That the French always take any separate traders or ships of other nations, which they find trading near their settlements, they laying claim to the sole right to the coast of Cape de Verd. And Captain Levit said, he was master of two several ships that had been taken by them. Mr. Cleave proceeded and said, the French have persisted so long in their right to take such ships, that it is now become a practice with all insurers of ships in London, to except in their policies the coast of Senegal belonging to the French. That as to the fort and settlement which our Royal African Company have at Gambia, if they should lose the property of it, the English trade there would greatly suffer. That the limits granted by the French king to the Senegal Company, are about six thousand miles, from Sallee to Cape Bona Esperanza, and that they claim an exclusive trade from Senegal to Arguin. The forementioned representation of the Board, relating to the trade to Africa, dated the 15th of March, 1711–12, the resolves of the House of Commons of the 9th February, 1709–10, and the preamble of the Act of Parliament of the 9th and 10th of King William, to settle the trade to Africa, were then severally read. And the counsel for the Royal African Company referred to the opinion of the South Sea Company, and others now before the Board, relating to the usefulness of forts and settlements on the coast of Africa, which they submitted to their Lordships' consideration.
Whereupon all parties were ordered to withdraw. And the Board agreed to proceed in the further hearing of this affair on Wednesday next at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, with which the several parties were acquainted.
Their Lordships took again into consideration the draught of a representation, mentioned in the Minutes of the 7th inst., relating to a Bill for settling the Revenue and continuing several laws in Jamaica, and made a further progress therein.
The draught of instructions, ordered to be prepared for Major Gordon's [folio 81] observing the Acts of Trade and Navigation in the Province of Pennsylvania, being laid before the Board, was agreed, and a representation for laying the same before His Majesty, was signed.
Ordered that the draught of the Bill for settling the Revenue and continuing several laws of Jamaica, and of the Board's representation thereupon, mentioned in the Minutes of the 15th inst., be sent to Mr. Scrope, to be laid before the Lords of the Treasury, for their observations thereupon.
Sir Robert Sutton and several other members of the Royal African Company, with Mr. Wills, one of their counsel, Mr. Humphrey Morice and Mr. Richard Harris, with several other merchants of London, in behalf of themselves and several other separate traders to Africa; as likewise Mr. Earle, Mr. Brereton and other gentlemen, who are concerned for the traders of Bristol and Liverpool, with Mr. Serjeant Darnell and Mr. Fazackerly, their counsel, attending, according to appointment, Mr. Wills acquainted their Lordships with the nature of some new proofs and evidence discovered since the last hearing, partly from the entries in the Company's books and other papers, and partly by persons ready to give their testimony viva voce, which he desired the Royal African Company might have liberty to lay before the Board in support of several allegations of their petition concerning the African trade, before the separate traders entered upon their answer. Which being agreed to, the original subscription book of the Company in 1671 was produced, and that part thereof, viz: the 4th Article in the 2nd page of the subscription book from 1671 to 1672, about their purchasing the effects of the former Company, was read, as was likewise and order of the Court of Assistants of the 3rd of December, 1672, relating to the Articles of Agreement and surrender of the Royal Adventurers, and a warrant for the payment of the first £17,000 in part of the £34,000 agreed upon. As to which Mr. Fazackerly observed that the indenture itself ought to be produced, whereby the consideration might appear, and the receipt to whom the money was paid. An entry in the Company's cash book of the payment of the said first £17,000 the 24th of January, 1672, with the directors' certificate, signed by Mr. Buckworth, etc., was likewise read. The copy of the cash book of the old African Company in 1672, being produced by Mr. Lynn, upon examination, he declared he found the said book in his office at his first coming into it. Upon which Mr. Serjeant Darnell took notice that the present Company, being purchasers, should have the original books of the Old Adventurers. To which it was answered, that the old Company subsisted some time afterwards for particular purposes, such as the payment of debts, etc., so that it was necessary they should keep their original cash book. The counsel for the Company likewise produced the entries in the book of proceedings of the Court of Assistants of the said Company, dated the 4th, 11th, 18th and 21st of March, 1672, relating to their suspending the payment of £17,000 to the Royal Adventurers, and their paying £12,000 in part thereof, which said payment of £12,000 was corroborated by another entry in the said cash book of the 21st of March, 1672–3, certified by Mr. Gabriel Roberts and others. The officers of the Company being asked, if there was no accounts of the particulars of the distribution of the £34,000, said to be paid for the Company of Royal Adventurers forts and settlements, they said, they had found no particulars, and, upon further examination, they declared that the said £34,000 was paid by the present Royal African Company for the forts and all the other effects of the Royal Adventurers, whereof about £5,000 were debts due to the Old Adventurers, for which reason the Royal African Company stopt that sum. Mr. Brereton then asking, whether the Company were not in possession of the vouchers referred to in their books of accounts, particularly the receipts for the several sums said to be paid in this account, Mr. Cleave, the Company's Treasurer, answered, that he had carefully searched for such vouchers, but found none. The counsel for the Company also produced and referred to an account extracted from the books of the said Company's exports from the year 1720 to 1724, which was read. Whereupon Mr. Fazackerly observing that there ought to be better evidence than the entries of the Company's books, relating to matters of so late a date, to which evidence viva voce might be had; Mr. Wills made answer, that the same was truly extracted out of the Company's books, and might be undeniably proved, but that the only use now intended by this account, was to shew what considerable traders the Company were. The number of ships imployed by the Company from 1720 to 1724, as mentioned in the said account, was particularly taken notice of. And an account of guineas coined for them, from the year 1675 to 1725, was likewise read. The counsel for the Company then called some living witnesses, and Mr. Walter Charles being sworn, upon examination he said, that he had been on the coast of Africa about six years ago, and continued on the coast about 33 or 34 months. That, in his opinion, forts and castles on that coast are very useful and necessary for the trade of His Majesty's subjects. That on the north coast, particularly, ships were often in distress. That the French Senegal Company claim an exclusive trade northward of the River Gambia, as he had heard, and that, wherever they have a settlement, they suffer no other nation to trade. That several ships have been seized by them, particularly that a ship from Barbadoes, commanded by Captain Simpson, had been seized at Port-a-dally by the French chief there. That in the River Cacheu, 50 or 60 leagues from Gambia, a Dutch interloper had likewise been seized. That as to the Dutch forts on the coast of Africa, he never knew any others permitted to trade near them. And that he was of opinion, if we deserted the settlements we have near those of the Dutch, they would ingross the trade in those parts. That he had lived some time on the Gold Coast. That all nations in general trade at our settlements, though none of the English traded at those of the Dutch. But this last, he said, was according to the information he had received, and did not declare it of his own certain knowledge that any English ships had been actually seized. But that having been at Minna, the principal castle of the Dutch, he had heard their chief at that place declare, no English should trade there. That all nations came to trade at Whidah, where more slaves were bought than at any other place.
Mr. Snow being next called and sworn, he declared upon examination, that from the year 1702 to 1719, he had been four or five times on the coast of Africa. That he had been chief for the Company at Gambia, where the place was surprised and taken by the French, but was retaken, and, as he heard, was lately by accident blown up. That in the late war with France, there seemed to be a mutual agreement between the English and French Companies in the River Gambia, to trade to each others' settlements there, but not above their forts, and the French did not pretend to interrupt the English trade in that river, though they did so on the coast, where they claim an exclusive trade. That he was of opinion, the English fort in Gambia being destroyed, the French would do what they pleased there. And should we abandon our forts on the Gold Coast, the Dutch would ingross the trade in those parts, and that none of the separate traders could carry on any commerce there. That the Dutch, within the influence of their forts, oblige even any fishermen that are foreigners to pay a toll for fishing. That at Whidah the trade could not be carried on without several necessaries, as canoes particularly, which are purchased of the Dutch, corn and other things, for which a settlement is useful and necessary. That the balance of the trade falls at present to the natives, the price of slaves being inhanced from about £8 they were formerly bought at, to £15 or £16 a piece, which is the present rate given for them on the coast, a price at which, he said, the trade cannot be carried on to advantage. And this he said was occasioned by the competition of traders there, and that only a company can cultivate a familiarity with the natives, and thereby render the trade more beneficial. Mr. Snow being further particularly asked concerning the destruction of the English fort at Gambia, the ransom of it, and other questions, he said, that the French took it in 1709. That he then gave forty slaves for ransom of it, which cost about 40 barrs a head, valued at 5 shillings Stirling per bar. And being asked if the value of £200 Stirling did not purchase all the said 40 negroes, he said, be believed not. As to the value of negroes between the years 1712 and 1720 at Gambia, he said it was increased, but could not say it was owing to any competition of the separate traders there; though he said, he believed, negroes were grown dearer in general by reason of a greater demand. That as to the River Senegal, none but the French could trade up it. As to the question what distance it might be from the River Gambia to Dickey's Cove, he said, it was about 460 leagues, but observed that the Company had a settlement and fort at Sierra Leone, between those places. And he added, that he was in the year 1703, at Cape Coast, where he had been informed that notice had been sent to divers separate traders on the coast, of two French ships of war arriving there, and that by the fire from their platforms, the said ships of war were obliged to sail away. That he had known 12 sail of 10 per cent. Ships protected by the platform at Cape Coast, where were 14 or 15 guns of 18 pound ball. Mr. Snow being likewise particularly asked whether, if there were no private traders, the Company would be able to buy cheaper than any other nations; he did not say they could. And as to the question, whether we could not trade at Annamaboo, in case we had no forts on the coast, Mr. Snow said, the Dutch would not suffer it. And that they permit such only of the Portugueze as come from the Brazils, to trade upon the Gold Coast, according to the stipulation between them, the Dutch confiscating any Portugueze ship coming directly from Lisbon to trade there.
The counsel for the Company then called upon Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Blackwood to give their Lordships an account of what they knew concerning the African Trade, who being sworn, and several questions asked Mr. Ramsey relating thereto, he said, that he had traded 12 years to the coast of Africa, and was chief for the company at Gambia in 1720. That he was of opinion, forts and settlements were necessary for carrying on the African trade. That the French claiming an exclusive trade northward of Gambia, and making prizes of all ships trading in those parts, the insurers of ships do of late particularly except out of their policies Port-a-dally and Joally. That he, the said Mr. Ramsey, being lately in France, he was told there, by one of the farmers or contractors with the Senegal Company, that they have a patent from the Crown of France of the African coast from Cape Blanco to Cape Verd, and that they take all interlopers going into Gambia River. That in the year 1723, being at Arguin, he was obliged to pay the Dutch an acknowledgment for trading there, but that the French are now in possession of that place. That if we abandoned our forts in Africa, he was of opinion, we could not carry on the trade. The French would in that case engross the north, and the Dutch the southern coast, and he had heard of a scheme in France for that purpose. Mr. Ramsey being asked, whether he knew any particular ship seized, he said, the French would have seized his ship, and fired at him, but that he got off.
Mr. Blackwood, upon examination, then gave the Board an account, that he had traded to that part of Africa called the Gum Coast, where, as he was loading his ship, he was driven from his anchor by a French man of war. That the Dutch have lost the fort at Arguin. And he being last year at Fort Andorick, his ship was pursued by two men of war, but that she made her escape. That no nation but the French can have forts on the Gum Coast. As to the price of negroes, he said, that at Gambia he paid the Company ten pounds a head, when the separate traders bought them for seven.
Mr. Lynn, the Royal African Company's Secretary, produced the copies of the petition of Messrs. Samuel and Joseph Travers, and other papers received from the Secretary's office, relating to the reclaiming of ships seized by the French on the coast of Africa, which was read.
Mr. Barrington being then sworn, a policy for insuring was produced, which the said Mr. Barrington declared to be an original policy, wherein was an exception against the said ships going to the French and Portugueze settlements. That some time ago the French settlements only used to be excepted, but it is now become customary to except likewise the Portugueze, though upon inquiry he said, they make no other exceptions than as above mentioned.
Mr. Overal was then sworn, and upon some questions acquainted their Lordships, that the Dutch at the coast of Minna had taken upon them to seize a Portugueze ship, which arrived there from Lisbon. That as to any agreement between the Dutch and Portugueze, he knows nothing of it. And upon inquiry whether the Portugueze had not first seized a Dutch ship, he said, he had heard some such thing.
Mr. Serjeant Darnell then desired they might have the inspection of the Company's books and papers, which were now produced, for that according to his instructions from a person, that is the representative of him, to whom some part of the money said to be paid for the Royal Adventurers' effects was due, there had been no money paid, but some equivalent spoken of. And Mr. Fazackerly urging that some of the accounts produced by the Company, being particular articles taken out of several books, the whole accounts might explain the particulars; whereupon it was agreed in behalf of the Company, that the separate traders should inspect the said books in the presence of some officer of the Board, or from the Company.
A letter from the Duke of Portland, Governor of Jamaica,
dated the 23rd of January, 1725–6, was read, and the papers,
therein referred to, were laid before the Board, viz:
Papers shereia referred to.
The Duke of Portland's speech to the Council and Assembly, with the Assembly's answer and His Grace's reply, relating to the revenue and laws of that island.
Minutes of Council, from the 20th January, 1724–5, to the 23rd November, 1725.
Journal of Council in Assembly, from the 19th of January, 1724–5, to the 23rd November, 1725.
Minutes of Assembly, from 21st November, 1724, to the 23rd November, 1725.
An Act for raising several sums of money and applying the same to the use of parties and other uses.
A memorial from Mrs. Penn, desiring the three following Acts,
passed in Pennsylvania, may be repealed, was read, viz:—
An Act to ratify proceedings on attachments, passed 2nd of March, 1722–3.
An Act directing the process of summons against freeholders, passed the 30th of March, 1723.
An Act for regulating and establishing fees, passed the 30th March, 1723.
Copy of a memorial to the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania in November, 1723, relating to paper money there, was read; whereupon their Lordships resolved to take that affair into consideration to-morrow morning.
An Order in Council, dated the 4th November, 1725, referring to this Board an account of the exports of the United East India Company, from Michaelmas, 1724, to Michaelmas, 1725, that the same may be examined and compared with the returns of other years and make a report thereof, was read.
An Order in Council, dated the 19th of February, 1725–6, referring back to this Board their report of the 1st July, 1725, upon the state of the East India trade, to consider and enquire into the occasion of the diminution in the exportation of the woollen manufactures of this kingdom, as mentioned in their said report, was read. Whereupon ordered that a letter be writ to Mr. Woolley, Secretary to the East India Company, in relation to this affair.
Mr. Smith, Secretary to the Leeward Islands, attending, desired that their Lordships would be pleased to appoint a day for hearing the counsel in behalf of Colonel Hart, Governor of the said islands, in answer to what the counsel for the said Mr. Smith had offered to their Lordships the 3rd of the last month, upon his petition in relation to his office of Secretary of those islands. Whereupon their Lordships were pleased to appoint this day sevennight for that purpose.
A letter from Mr. Chapman, dated at Frome, the 14th of February last, in relation to some woollen manufacturers lately gone from thence to Padua, and desiring he may be reimbursed the sum of £4 14s. 10d. the charge he has been at in prosecuting them for the same, was read. Whereupon ordered that the said money be paid to Mr. Chapman's order accordingly, and be inserted in the incidental accounts of this office.
Mr. West's report on eight Acts, passed in Pennsylvania in 1722 and 1723, relating to paper credit, and on several other Acts of that province, was read. And their Lordships taking into consideration the memorial from Mr. Penn upon three Acts passed there, as also the copy of a memorial to the representatives of that province, in November, 1723, relating to paper money, (both mentioned in yesterday's Minutes), their Lordships gave directions that Mr. Joshua Gee and Mr. Clement be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with them thereupon on Wednesday morning next.
A letter from Mr. Dummer, Lieut. Governor of New England,
dated 26th February last, was read, and the papers, therein referred
to, were laid before the Board, viz:
Papers therein referred to.
Copy of a petition of the officers of the Court of Admiralty to the Lieut. Governor of the Massachusets Bay, praying to be relieved against some prohibitions granted by the Supreme Court of Judicature there, in relation to seizures for breach of the Acts of Trade.
Copies sent to the Admiralty.
Copy of the Lieut. Governor's letter to the judges thereupon. Whereupon ordered that copies of the said papers be sent to Mr. Burchet, to be laid before the Lords of the Admiralty.
A letter from Colonel Armstrong, Lieut. Governor of Nova Scotia, dated the 2nd December, 1725, inclosing copies of several papers, in relation to the missionaries, the French inhabitants and Indians, was read. Whereupon ordered that Colonel Philips be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with him on Tuesday morning next.
A memorial from Colonel Spotswood, desiring the Board will defer making any representation upon Mr. Attorney and Mr. Solicitor General's report upon some queries sent them by this Board, in relation to his lands in Virginia, till his petition, lately presented to His Majesty upon this subject, shall be referred to this Board, was read. And their Lordships resolved to defer this business for some time accordingly.
Mr. Wavel Smith, Secretary to the Leeward Islands, attending, as also Mr. Sharpe, they desired their Lordships would be pleased to defer the hearing, which was appointed for next Tuesday upon Mr. Smith's petition, till some other opportunity, their counsel not being able to attend that day. Whereupon their Lordships were pleased to appoint Thursday sennight at 6 o'clock in the evening.
The Secretary then acquainted the Board, that Mr. Gee had informed him that he could not possibly attend the Board next Wednesday, according to their appointment of the 27th inst. Whereupon their Lordships ordered that Mr. Gee and Mr. Clement, who was directed to attend at the same time, should be acquainted with the Board's desire of speaking with them on Thursday morning next.
Mr. Fane's report upon an Act, passed in Barbadoes in May, 1722, entituled, An Act to prevent vessels that trade here to and from Mart inico or elsewhere, from carrying of any Negro, Indian or Mulatto slaves, persons indebted or contracted servants, was read, as also the said Act, and the draught of a representation thereupon was agreed and ordered to be transcribed.
A letter from Mr. Worseley, dated the 14th November last, was
read, and the papers, therein referred to, were laid before the
Papers therein referred to.
Affidavit of Jean Bouye about plundering the factory at Cape Lopez and running away with a sloop.
An account of the effects on board the brigantine Catherine.
Sir Robert Sutton, Sir Thomas Sanderson, and several other directors of the Royal African Company, with Mr. Attorney General and Mr. Wills, their counsel, attending, as they had been desired, as also Mr. Morice and Mr. Harries, and several other of the separate traders from London, Bristol and Liverpool, with Mr. Serjeant Darnell and Mr. Fazackerly, their counsel, their Lordships resumed the consideration of the African trade; and Mr. Serjeant Darnell desired, in behalf of the separate traders, that their Lordships would give him leave to make some remarks upon what the counsel for the African Company had offered at the last hearing.
First, Mr. Serjeant observed that the African Company had alledged as an evidence that forts and settlements were absolutely necessary, that the Company had been at the expense of buying them. Secondly, that everybody said they were necessary. Thirdly, that this was the opinion of the Legislature, when they passed the Act for laying a duty of £10 per cent. upon the separate traders towards maintaining the forts and settlements. And fourthly, that it was the opinion of the separate traders themselves, as they had given under their hands.
To the first, Mr. Serjeant observed, that allowing the African Company's having bought these forts and settlements, to be an evidence of their being absolutely necessary to protect the trade, yet they had given no evidence of their having bought these forts and settlements of their predecessors. That the £34,000, which they alledged to have been paid to the old Company of Royal Adventurers for their forts and settlements, did nowhere appear in their own books to have been paid for forts and settlements, but for effects, and that he was ready to prove that the Company had actually received £22,000 in effects, but that he could not admit of their having paid the £34,000 as alledged, they having produced as proof, nothing but entries of their books, without any receipt for the same.
As to their second allegation, that it was everybody's opinion, that forts and settlements were necessary, he said, that it was not only the opinion of all traders, that they were unnecessary, but of other nations also, and he particularly instanced the Portugueze, who carry on the greatest trade to the coast of Africa without having any fort there, but that they paid a duty of £10 per cent. to the Dutch Company, for being supplied with negroes at their arrival upon the coast.
As to the Company's third allegation, viz: That it was the opinion of the Legislature, the forts and settlements were necessary, Mr. Serjeant did confess it was mentioned in the preamble of the Act for laying a duty of £10 per cent., but that he thought it was an argument rather against them than for them, since the Legislature have let this duty drop, which they would not have done, had they thought that forts and settlements were in anywise necessary.
As to the Company's fouth allegation, viz: That it was the opinion of the separate traders that forts and settlements were necessary, and that they have given such an opinion under their own hands, as also their opinion for maintaining the said forts and settlements by a duty on trade; Mr. Serjeant observed, that the separate traders had indeed laid before the Board a memorial signed by Mr. Morice, Mr. Harris and some others, in pursuance of some directions sent them by the Board of Trade, but as they were thereby directed to give their opinion upon a supposition that forts and settlements were necessary, he hoped the Board would not interpret anything therein contained, as the opinion of the separate traders, to the necessity of the said forts. As to the Company's allegation, that, if they had an exclusive trade, they would be enabled to buy negroes on the coast of Africa much cheaper than they do now, Mr. Serjeant observed, that that was no reason for an exclusion, and that supposing the Company should obtain an exclusive charter, it would be only excluding their fellow subjects, as foreign nations could not be affected thereby, but would trade to the coast of Africa as they do now. That if a duty should be laid on trade, to support these forts and settlements, it would give foreigners the advantage, as it would enable them to trade cheaper. That when the duty of £10 per cent. Was laid on trade, it reduced the trade to so low an ebb, that Bristol sent out only eight ships, whereas, since that duty ceased, they have annually employed sixty odd. That the Company for many years together did not send out one single ship, but left their forts and settlements to their agents, who were at the charge of maintaining them. That the Company, since the year 1720, having made several great calls, had sent out £34,000, but he never had heard that they had received any return for the same, which had been the ruin of many. Mr. Serjeant Darnell observed further to their Lordships, that their Charter, being an exclusive one, was void in law, and instanced particularly a case, whereby it appeared that the Legislature were of the same opinion viz: A ship belonging to Mr. Dockwra, trading upon the coast of Africa, was seized by one of the Company's ships, commanded by Captain Dickinson, for which, after the revolution, Mr. Dockwra brought his action against the captain and recovered damages; the captain then applied himself to Chancery, where he was relieved, and the Company obliged to pay all costs; the Company then appealed to the House of Lords, where the decree was confirmed.
Mr. Serjeant Darnell begged leave to make one further observation with respect to the forts and settlements on the coast of Africa, viz: That as he conceived the property of the soil to be in the Crown, he thought, it was necessary for supporting that property, that some settlements should be maintained there, but then he submitted to their Lordships whether it was proper, that charge should be laid on the trade, or be paid out of the revenue accruing to the Crown from that trade.
Mr. Serjeant then acquainted their Lordships, that at the last meeting, the Company produced an evidence, viz: Mr. Snow, who affirmed that twelve of the separate traders' ships had been protected by the fort at Cape Coast Castle, from two French men of war, who came on that coast, which evidence was so far from the truth, that they had witness to produce that Sir Dalby Thomas, then Governor of Cape Coast Castle, sent to acquaint some of the Company's ships then on the coast, that his guns were not fit for service, and that he could not protect them, whereupon they cut their cables and made the best of their way. Mr. Serjeant then submitted to their Lordships, how far it was reasonable to believe Mr. Snow's evidence, with relation to the protection given to the twelve ships belonging to the separate traders by Cape Coast Castle, at a time when the Governor owned himself not in a condition to protect the Company's ships, but left them to take care of themselves.
Mr. Morice then acquainted their Lordships, that he was directed by the separate traders of the Port of London, to lay before the Board their thoughts concerning the state of the trade to Africa, with some observations they had made upon the African Company's petition and memorial, for which purpose he said, that the trade to Africa was the chief and only support of the Plantations, as it supplied them with negroes. That the Plantation trade is now the most considerable branch of the trade of this kingdom, and that, should the Plantations not be supplied with negroes, which would be the case, if the separate traders should be excluded from the negro trade, he was apprehensive the Plantations would soon become of little consequence. That the trade to Africa occasioned a great exportation of our own manufactures. That the only way to maintain this trade was to continue it open, and not to confine it to an exclusive company, who did not export annually to the Plantations above 5,400 negroes at the time they did trade, whereas the separate traders have this year made a disposition for furnishing of fifty thousand negroes. That the city of London employs annually in the African trade 87 ships, the city of Bristol 63, and the town of Liverpool 21; and that these ships, with respect to their trade in the Plantations, are the occasion of 1,000 more being imployed. As to the Company's allegation, that the trade to Africa was in danger of being lost, he said that, if this was true, it was high time to take the necessary precautions to prevent the same. That the Company had offered nothing in proof of this assertion. That if the trade was in any danger of decaying, it was not owing to the private traders, who had been the only means of supporting this valuable branch of trade to this kingdom.
In answer to another reason assigned by the Company for the decay of their trade, viz: the insults and hostilities which the said Company have received from the Portuguese at Cabinda, and from the French at Gambia, he said, that notwithstanding the settlements at Cabinda had been ruined, yet a greater trade was carried on there than ever. That it is a place of open trade, where all nations come promiscuously. That the greatest trade on the coast of Africa was carried on at places distant from the Company's forts. That the private traders have found out several places of good trade, that the Company know nothing of. That the Company's forts have frequently fired at the private traders' ships, and have behaved in the same manner as an avowed enemy, and therefore Mr. Morice submitted to their Lordships, whether it was not an inconsistency in the Company, to pretend that the private traders could not have carried on their trade without the assistance of the Company's forts. As to another part of the African Company's complaints, viz: That the South Sea Company's servants are continually enhancing the price of negroes on the coast, Mr. Morice said, that the South Sea Company would never have begun a trade to the coast, had the African Company performed their contracts with them. That the South Sea Company themselves do agree that the greatest trade is carried on where the African Company have no forts and settlements, particularly at Annamaboo, Whidah, Calabar and Cabinda. As to the Company's resolution of leaving their trade, and deserting their forts and settlements, Mr. Morice said, they had formerly done so, but that there were others to carry on trade, and are still ready to do so. That all the West India merchants do agree that the Plantations were never so well supplied with negroes as at present. As to another part of the Company's allegations, that the French do pretend to exclude all ships trading to the northward of Gambia, Mr. Morice said, there was no other way to prevent it, but by ships of war, neither can there be any other protection for ships on the coast, not any way to prevent the Emperor or any other prince from sending ships to the coast of Africa. Mr. Morice then concluded by enlarging upon what Serjeant Darnell had just before said, in behalf of the private traders, with respect to the Company's allegation, that they had signed a memorial to the Board, wherein they acknowledge the necessity of forts and settlements, which Mr. Morice said were of so little consequence, that he believed one single man of war could destroy them all.