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, May 1726
A letter from Mr. Tilson, in the absence of the Secretaries to the Lords of the Treasury, dated this day, signifying that their Lordships do approve the draught of a report to be made by the Board on the Revenue Bill of Jamaica, to the Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council, as also the draught of the said Bill was read. Whereupon the draught of the said report was ordered to be transcribed.
A representation upon an Act, passed at Barbadoes in May, 1722, entituled, An Act to prevent the vessels that trade here to and from Martinico or elsewhere, from carrying off any Negro, Indian or Mulatto slaves, persons indebted or contracted servants, ordered to be transcribed the 29th of last month, was signed.
Ordered that a letter be writ to Mr. Fane, one of His Majesty's counsel at law, inclosing a copy of one from Mr. Worseley, Governor of Barbadoes, dated the 14th of November, 1725, mentioned in the Minutes of the 29th of last month, for his opinion in point of law, how far Mr. Worseley is to be justified in detaining the two persons in prison upon suspicion of piracy, which he sends an account of in that letter.
Colonel Philipps, Governor of Nova Scotia, attending, their Lordships took again into consideration the last letter from Colonel Armstrong, Lieut. Governor of that province, mentioned in the Minutes of the 28th of April last, with the papers, therein referred to, and had some discourse with him thereupon.
A representation of the Lords of the Committee of His Majesty's Privy Council, with the draught of a Bill to be passed in Jamaica, relating to the settlement of a revenue, and perpetuating the laws of that island, was signed.
Sir Robert Sutton and several other members of the Royal African Company, with Mr. Attorney General and Mr. Wills, their counsel, Mr. Humphry 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. Elton, Mr. Bootle, Mr. Brereton, Mr. Beacher 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. Beacher of Bristol read to their Lordships a paper containing his answer and observations upon the petition and representation of the Royal African Company, referred to this Board by His Grace the Duke of Newcastle's letter, mentioned in the Minutes of the 14th of the last month, which paper he left with the Board.
Mr. Fazackerly then proceeded in behalf of the separate traders from Bristol and Liverpool to Africa, and represented to their Lordships, that the said separate traders have an equal and natural right to trade to those parts. That by our constitution no one should be constrained in his right, unless it were for a public good. That the question is at present, whether the benefit of this trade should be dispersed over all the kingdom, or monopolised by a few of His Majesty's subjects. That when it is in many hands, every particular person imploys his thoughts for the improvement of it, and that it has been considerably advanced, appears by the great number of ships of late employed, and manufactures exported from Bristol, Liverpool and other parts of this kingdom. That the trade to Africa is very beneficial, is agreed on all hands, and Mr. Fazackerly particularized several branches of the Plantation trade, which depended upon it. Observing that ingrossing the African trade, would be in effect to ingross the Plantations, which he thought highly unreasonable, especially by a Company who, according to their own state of their affairs, seem to be in a broken condition, and therefore, as he thinks, they are not fit to be trusted with further priviledges. Mr. Fazackerly then took notice, that there were four material parts of His Grace the Duke of Newcastle's forementioned letter of reference to be considered, viz: His Majesty's pleasure that this Board should give due attention to a matter of so great weight and consequence, as the subject of the Royal African Company's petition; the hardships the Company lye under; the decay of the trade for negroes, and the causes of it; and that their Lordships should report their opinion what methods are proper to be taken, for the preserving so considerable a branch of the trade of His Majesty's subjects. As to the first, Mr. Fazackerly said, it was not to be doubted but the Board would give all possible attention to an affair of such consequence. In relation to the second, he said, the Company could not pretend to have any hardship done them, without first shewing some merit on their side, or some right, of which they had been deprived. That the right, they pretend to, is founded on the Charter granted them in 1672, which he opened, and alledged that the grants therein contained were against law, and that the said Charter was therefore void. That by our constitition the King had not a power, without consent of Parliament, to exclude any of his subjects from trading to any parts of Africa. That there had been a like charter for the trade to the Canary Islands, which in King Charles the Second's time had been adjudged to be void. That the Company are no legal body or corporation, and have therefore no right even to the forts; and if there be no right in any corporation, the right is properly in the Crown. In relation to the merit of the Company, as is pretended by their purchasing and maintaining of forts and settlements on the coast of Africa, he said, it did not appear the thirty four thousand pounds paid by the Company to their predecessors, the Royal Adventurers, was for anything besides their effects and debts due to them; though by their accounts they would have it believed the last mentioned sum was disbursed for their forts and settlements. That the effects and sums employed in this trade by the separate traders did very much surmount those of the Company, and that, if the Company had made an ill bargain, the separate traders ought not to bear it. That, if the Company had suffered any real hardships, they were recompensed by the duty of 10 per cent. laid for a time upon the separate traders, which amounted in the whole to almost one hundred thousand pounds, and was a good over–balance to what the Company had laid out on any public account. In relation to the decay of the trade for negroes, Mr. Fazackerly observed, that the Company had given no evidence to that purpose, and that it was so far from being true, that there had been an improvement of the trade in general. That the increase of negroes in the Plantations was a benefit to the trade of the Kingdom, and increased the Revenue of the Crown. That during the continuance of the duty of 10 per cent., the number of negroes carried to the Plantations were much less than of late years; they being increased to thirty, forty, and sometimes fifty thousand negroes per annum. That as to the dearness of negroes, a greater demand than usual will always raise the price. That, since the said duty of 10 per cent., the number of ships employed in the African trade, had increased at Bristol from seven or eight to sixty three sail, and at Liverpool from one or two to twenty two, or twenty three. That this benefit of the increase of ships, employed in the African trade only, has been very extensive, occasioning likewise a greater number of ships to be employed in the Plantation trade. In relation to the fourth head of the reference, as to the methods for preserving so considerable a branch of the trade of His Majesty's subjects, Mr. Fazackerly observed, in answer to what had been urged from the preamble to the Act of Parliament, which gave the 10 per cent. duty, and from the representation in 1711–12 of the then Board of Trade, whereby forts and settlements were declared necessary for carrying on and preserving the trade to Africa, that experience ought to be our guide rather than the precedents now mentioned; and that when the said 10 per cent. Act was made, it might then seem reasonable to have forts and settlements in Africa for the purposes beforementioned, when we had not known so much the advantages of an open and free trade, as we since have done by above 13 years' experience. That the shore of Africa is six or seven thousand miles in length, and that the greatest trade is where the Company have no forts. That two or three ships of war would be a better security to the trade than all the Company's forts; the charge of which ships he said would be sufficiently compensated by the increase of His Majesty's duties on the produce of the Plantations.
As to the number of negroes imported of late years into His Majesty's several Plantations, Mr. Humphry Morice acquainted their Lordships that there had not been time, since the Company's petition was communicated to the separate traders, for procuring certificates thereof.
Mr. Serjeant Darnell then called upon several witnesses present, who were respectively sworn and examined viz: Mr. Samuel Wragg, who informed their Lordships that he had been a trader to Carolina seventeen or eighteen years. That that country formerly had but very few negroes, but that now they employ near 40,000. That they now usually import 1,000 per annum, whereas they formerly imported none, and sometime 2 or 300. That the Company never supplied the Province with any on their own account, except by a particular contract with him, when they supplied him with 300 instead of 900. That the Province has been regularly supplied with what negroes they want, by the separate traders. That the rice trade is increased from 1,500 to 25,000 barrels a year, and that the price is fallen from 45 shillings to 22 shillings per cwt. That the price of pitch and tar is likewise fallen from 50 shillings and £3 to 10 shillings or 11 shillings per barrel.
Mr. Splatt being likewise sworn, acquainted their Lordships, that he was lately come from Carolina, and that the Province was then very well supplied with negroes. That he never knew of any negroes brought into that country by the Company, excepting those contracted for with Mr. Wragg. That the Province annually takes about 1,000 per annum, and that they sell at about £30 or £35 sterling per head. That a negro can make £10 per annum clear profit to his master, and that he thinks the Colonies would be cheaper and better supplied by the separate traders than the Company.
Mr. Perry, a Virginia merchant, being sworn, acquainted their Lordships, that by his accounts, that province is very plentifully supplied with negroes, and that there has been but very few of the Company's ships at Virginia since he has been concerned in trade, which is about three or four years.
Mr. Bradley being sworn, acquainted their Lordships, that he has been in the trade to Virginia above 20 years, and that the Province has been well supplied with negroes by the separate traders. That the labour of a negro produces about £15 annual duty to the Crown. That he believes negroes are cheaper now than they were formerly, but admits that there was formerly a duty of 5 per cent. laid on negroes, which made them dearer.
Mr. Hunt, a trader to Maryland, being sworn, acquainted their Lordships, that of late years there are annually imported into Maryland between 500 and 1,000 negroes. That the produce of a negro is about 4 hogsheads of tobacco per annum, and that the duty of 4 hogsheads is about £40 or £50. That the Province would take off more negroes, if they could get them, and that they would increase their trade. That Gambia, the Northern coast, and Angola, are the chief parts of Africa from whence Maryland is supplied. That he believes, if the trade was confined to a Company, negroes would be dearer, and the Province worse supplied. That the price of negroes had formerly been £30 or £40, but are now sold at £18, £20 and £25.
Mr. Byam, a trader to Antigua, being sworn, acquainted their Lordships, that he has traded to that island about twelve years, and that during that time the island has been well supplied with negroes by the separate traders. That without them they could not make their produce of sugar, cotton, ginger, etc. That there was made 19,000 hogsheads of sugar in that island last year. That negroes has been brought thither so plentifully by the separate traders that they have been forced to carry some away unsold. That they pay less sugar for negroes now than they did formerly, and that he apprehends the Plantations would be in a very bad condition, if the trade of Africa were restrained to a Company.
Mr. Gerrish being sworn, acquainted their Lordships, that he had lived at Montserrat many years. That the island had been supplied with negroes, 3 to 1 better since the duty of 10 per cent. ceased than before. That they had as many brought by the separate traders as the planters could pay for, and that they never had the like supplies from the Company. That the planters sometimes sent ships themselves to Africa for slaves. That during the duty of 10 per cent. they made about 2,000, but now they make 3,000 hogsheads of sugar annually, and that a less quantity of sugar is now paid for negroes than formerly.
Mr. Day, being sworn, acquainted their Lordships, that he lived in Jamaica in 1708, 1709 and 1710, and that the island was then well supplied with negroes by the private traders. That as he lived there with the naval officer, he had an opportunity of knowing the quantity of negroes bought. That the separate traders imported seven to the Company's one, even when the 10 per cent. was paid. That in 1723, there was twenty three thousand hogsheads of sugar shipped off, each containing fourteen or fifteen hundred weight, whereas formerly there was only about twelve thousand exported, each hogshead containing eleven or twelve hundred weight. He further said that, if the Company should have an exclusive trade for negroes, he apprehended it would ruin the Plantations.
Then Mr. Timms, Mr. John Ketcher and Mr. Ogden, being severally sworn, were examined to prove the respective lists of the ships employed by the separate traders of London, Bristol and Liverpool in the African trade.
Mr. Gee attending, as he had been desired, their Lordships
took again into consideration the following Acts, passed in
An Act for the emitting and making current £15,000 in Bills of Credit.. Passed the 2nd March, 1722–3.
A supplementary Act to an Act, entituled, An Act for emitting and making current £15,000 in Bills of Credit. Passed the 30th March, 1723.
An Act for the better and more effectual putting in execution an Act of Assembly of this Province, entituled, An Act for emitting and making current £15,000 in Bills of Credit Passed 11th May, 1723.
An Act for emitting and making current £30,000 in Bills of Credit.
Their Lordships then desired Mr. Gee would inform the Board what he had to offer concerning the said Acts. Whereupon he said, that he feared several ill consequences might attend the repeal of these Acts, as the Bills, thereby directed to be made current, were already issued, and at present circulating in the trade of that province. He therefore, desired their Lordships would please to let the said Acts lye by, and, in order to prevent the increase of paper money for the future, that their Lordships would signify to Major Gordon, Governor of Pennsylvania, their disapprobation of Acts of this nature.
Mr. Clement, agent for Mrs. Penn, attending, as he had been
desired, their Lordships took again into consideration his memorial,
mentioned in the Minutes of the 26th of last month, desiring the
repeal of the 3 following Acts, viz:—
An Act to rectify proceedings upon attachments.
An Act directing the process of summons against freeholders.
An Act for regulating and establishing fees.
All passed in March 1722–3 and 1723.
And their Lordships desiring to know what objections he had thereto, he said, that if they should be confirmed, they might prove very injurious to the trading people and other inhabitants of that province, the two first tending to obstruct the course of justice by restraining creditors from proceeding in the usual and effectual method for recovering their debts, and the last by reducing of fees, more especially of the practicers of law, so low as to discourage men of capacity from acting in that profession.
Their Lordships taking into further consideration the following
Acts, passed at Pennsylvania in March, 1722–3, and 1723, agreed,
as is expressed under each respective title, viz:
An Act to rectify proceedings upon attachments.
To lye by probationary.
An Act directing the process of summons against freeholders.
To be repealed.
An Act for regulating and establishing fees.
To lye by probationary.
The draught of a representation, ordered to be prepared at the last meeting, for repealing an Act, passed in Pennsylvania in March, 1723, directing the process of summons against freeholders, was agreed and ordered to be transcribed.
A letter from the Lord Viscount Townshend, inclosing a memorial from Monsieur Hopp, Envoy Extraordinary from the States General, complaining of an imposition of 20 per cent., procured to be laid upon English cloths in Turkey, if imported by Dutch, French or Jews, was read. Whereupon ordered that the Turkey Company be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with some of them on Friday morning next.
A letter to the Duke of Newcastle, inclosing the extract of a letter from Mr. Worseley, Governor of Barbadoes, dated the 14th of November, 1725, ordered to be prepared the 4th inst., was agreed and signed.
Sir Robert Sutton and several other members of the Royal African Company, with Mr. Wills, one of their counsel, Mr. Humphry 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. Elton, Mr. Bootle, Mr. Brereton, Mr. Beacher 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. Morice desired of their Lordships that Mr. Newport, a considerable trader to Barbadoes, and Mr. Knight, of Jamaica, who were present, might be examined as to the supply of negroes, with which those islands had been served, during their being acquainted with that trade. Whereupon Mr. Newport, being sworn, and several questions asked him, he said, that he had lived six years in Barbados, to the year 1706. That during that time of his own knowledge, and since, according to his advice from thence, the negro trade to that island was chiefly carried on by the private traders. That there are now as many negroes in Barbados as in the year 1700, and at present as cheap as formerly, and that many are sent off the island and disposed of to advantage at the Leeward Islands, Virginia, and other His Majesty's Plantations, which he observed, was a proof they had no want in Barbados. And upon Mr. Newport's being particularly asked whether the ships, which came with negroes to Barbados, and did not dispose of them there, were not under orders not to sell under such and such a price, Mr. Newport said, he had known some masters of ships limited to sell their negroes at £22 a head.
Mr. Knight, being likewise sworn, and examined, said he had lived several years as a factor in Jamaica, and having been Receiver-General for some time, had an opportunity of knowing the numbers of negroes brought thither. That in six years time he did not remember above 3 or 4 ships coming to Jamaica with negroes on account of the Company, though the separate traders had 30 ships with slaves there in one year. That whilst he remained in Jamaica, the island was very well supplied with negroes. That since that time, the price of them was advanced £7 or £8 a head, which he said was occasioned by the advance of the commodities of that island. And that there is less got now by negroes at Jamaica than formerly. Mr. Knight being particularly asked, whether he has not heard the planters of the said island complain of the want of negroes, he acknowledged that he had heard some, but that they were generally such persons as could not pay for them.
Then Mr. Serjeant Darnell, in behalf of the separate traders, observed to their Lordships, in answer to the evidence, which Mr. Snow had given, of the strength and usefulness of the Company's forts on the coast of Africa, that they had proof of the said Mr. Snow's declaring that with one ship of strength he could beat down all the said Company's forts. And, as to the protection pretended to be given to ships belonging to the separate traders against an enemy, it was by advising them to cut their cables and get away. So that in truth these forts were no better than sheds or warehouses for goods. And to prove in what mean condition, and of what little consequence the Company's forts and settlements on the coast of Africa were, Captain Bonham being called, was sworn, and upon examination declared, that he had been acquainted with the coast of Africa about twenty four years, for 13 or 14 whereof he was master of several ships in that trade. And being desired to give their Lordships an account of the several forts belonging to the Company, and the places of trade between the same, from Gambia to Whidah, he said, that he had been at Gambia in 1710. That the factory was demolished, and that he had heard the fort was formerly taken without any resistance. That it is impossible to maintain any fort settled in James Island, the place where the former one was, there being no provisions or fresh water upon the island. Mr. Hayes, one of the African Company, then desired Captain Bonham would give their Lordships an answer to the following question, whether, if the French should settle and fortify James Island, it would be in their power to prevent the English and all other nations trading there. To which he said, that the charge of building and maintaining a fort strong enough for this purpose, would be greater than the trade could bear.
That from Gambia to Sierraleone, is about 150 leagues. That the Company have no forts there, though they formerly had one, which was of no use, because ships could not come within 15 or 16 miles of it. That it was taken the last war by 3 or 4 open boats. That from Sierraleone to Sherborough is thirty leagues. That he had been there 15 or 16 years ago, and imployed by the Company, and that in the late French war the forts there had been taken by a small vessel of about 8 or 10 guns. That all nations trade to that place, and if well fortified, it could not hinder them from so doing. That from Sherborough to Dicky's Cove is about 300 leagues, that ships commonly get slaves before they come there, and that even without going ashore. That he never had been ashore there. That there is a small factory, which can be of no service to shipping. That the only use of Dicky's Cove, is to supply ships with wood, water, etc. The next place, belonging to the Company, is Seccundee, where he had been ashore. That there is a factory, and some guns, with about 6 men to defend it, but that it can only be of use against the negroes. That there is a Dutch factory very near it, and that ships cannot come near enough to lye under the protection of the guns. From Seccundee to Commenda, there is about half a mile's distance. That he had never been ashore there, but did not believe it capable of protecting ships. That Cape Coast Castle is the metropolis of all the coast. That there is a battery of guns mounted, but that he does not think this place capable of protecting any ships in the road, because by reason of foul ground, there runs such a sea at full and change that ships cannot ride safely there. Being asked if he had never heard of any ships being protected by the guns at Cape Coast Castle, he said, he had heard but of two small ones, the reason of which he conceived to be, because no ship of burthen would venture after them. That there is no trade there at present, but that the trade is now carried on at Anamaboo, where all nations trade without interruption. That there was a little factory there, but it is now demolished, and the natives will not as yet suffer the Company to rebuild the same. That all nations trade there promiscuously. That he believes there are 10 negroes bought there to one to any other part of that coast. That it is a very large town, near a mile long. That he has some times anchored in the main road, and has bought negroes there of the Dutch. That any one may trade freely where the English fort is at Anamaboo, but not with the same freedom where the Dutch forts are. That slaves are bought at many other parts of the Gold Coast and, cheaper than at Anamaboo. Being asked the price of negroes at that place, he said that about twenty years ago they were sold at about £10 or £12 per head. That he is not certain of the price now, but that he believes them to be dearer than they were thirteen years ago, when they were sold at £13 or £14 per head, and according to the best of his advices, they are sold now at about £24 per head. Being asked the reason of the increase of their price, he said, he believed it to be owing to the great demand there is for them. As to Winnebah, he said, he had never been on shore there, but that he had been in the road. That there was a small factory much like the others, which he did not believe was capable of defence. That he had been on shore at Accra, and that the fort there was much like the others, neither capable of protecting the traders, nor preventing any persons trading there. That the Danes and the Dutch had forts near Accra. And being asked whether, if the English had no fort there, the Danes or the Dutch could prevent our trading there, he said, he believed it was impossible to hinder the natives bringing off their negroes. As to Whydah, he said, he had known it to have been a neutral port for 20 years past. That he believes there are as many negroes carryed off from thence, as from any other part of the coast. That he believes forts and settlements are of no manner of use, but that two or three men of war would be the only security. Being asked how long the French have had settlements there, he said, during his time, which was upwards of twenty two years, And being asked whether the English do not trade where the French have forts northward of Senegal, he said, he has known ships trade there, and not taken, but that he believes the French in general do not admit the English to trade there. And being asked whether the Dutch, where they have settlements, allow the English openly to trade, he said, that he had traded at some places, where the Dutch and Danes have settlements, both with the natives and the Dutch, particularly at the Dutch settlement of St. George del Mina. Being further asked, what was the difference between the price of negroes at Whydah, before it was made a free port and now, he said, about six pounds sterling, negroes being then at £4 and now at £10.
Captain Gordon was next called, and being sworn, upon examination he gave the following account of his knowledge, and what he had been informed relating to the Company's forts and settlements, and the trade on the Coast of Africa, viz: That he had used that trade from the year 1702 to 1715, it being now eleven years since he was upon the coast. That he had been often at the Company's forts and settlements from Gambia all along the Gold Coast. That in the year 1708, the fort at Gambia had been taken by three or four men from a sloop, about 3 weeks before his, the said Captain Gordon's, arrival at that place, Mr. Snow being then chief there, and not so much as one shot made. That the said sloop afterwards left it. And whilst he, the said Captain Gordon, was there, a French vessel belonging to the Governor of Goree came in, assigned to the said Mr. Snow, which he, the said Captain Gordon, took. That he knows no one fort the Company have, which is capable of protecting a ship. And that in the year 1704, upon advice of some French men of war being upon the coast, Sir Dalby Thomas gave orders for one of the Company's ships to put to sea, as knowing he was not in a condition to protect her. That he did not remember above one of the Company's ships protected, which was by getting under the fort at Cape Coast. Being asked whether he did not think Cape Coast Castle capable of protecting ships there, he said, he believed it might some times, but that upon the change of the moon there runs such a sea, it was not safe for ships to lye at anchor near it. Captain Gordon being particularly asked, whether he thought the English forts and settlements on the coast of Africa would not be of advantage against the Dutch, French or other foreign settlements there, he said, that the Company always opposed the separate traders according to what strength they had, and that an enemy could do no more.
Captain Snelgrove, being likewise called and sworn, he said upon examination, that he had been acquainted with the African trade these two and twenty years, and was upon that coast about fifteen months ago. That it is about 250 leagues from Sherboro' to Ancobra, between which settlements there are several good places of trade, the natives coming off to the ships in canoes. That since the duty of 10 per cent. ceased, the trade has greatly increased in those parts, where the Company have no forts or settlements, and to the windward of all the said settlements, the trade is carried on chiefly by our separate traders, and no others of any foreign nation. That our separate traders have been obstructed by armed canoes from the forts. That he, the said Captain Snelgrove, was at Dicky's Cove in the year 1723, when there were but five white men of the guard, and that he was informed by the factors, the trade there was so little, the place was not worth keeping, besides that, the water there is not good, and the place incapable of receiving vessels to careen, bigger than long boats. At Seccundee, which is about ten leagues distant from Dicky's Cove, Captain Snelgrove said, he was on shore in October, 1724, there being then four white men to guard it, and that the trade was so inconsiderable, the Dutch had shut up their factory there on that account. At the same time Commenda, seven leagues distant from Seccundee, had only five men to guard it, which he said, was a place like His Majesty's powder magazine near Greenwich. That he was at Cape Coast Castle in October, 1724, which is about six leagues from Commenda, in the former of which places he saw but 20 white men, where they had upwards of 40 guns, but not of use. That the Castle was out of repair, and the trade there inconsiderable, being drawn away to Anamaboo, which is not above 5 leagues distant. That ships cannot be protected in the road, and if they come nearer the shore, are in danger of shipwreck, the ground there being foul and rocky. That Phipps's Tower and Fort Royal, which are appendices to Cape Coast, are usefull against the natives only. That as to Queen Ann's Point, he was never there, but believed it of no use, Anamaboo being so near it, which last place, he said, he was at in November, 1724. That it is a neutral port. That the Company's fort was fallen down, and that the natives would never permit them to repair it. That he was at Tantumquerry, (a small settlement 6 leagues from Anamaboo), in February, 1722, and saw but two white men to guard it. That it is of no use. That he was at Winnebah, (a settlement about 6 leagues from Tantumquerry), in January, 1722, and saw but 5 men to guard it, and the river near that place is brackish, so that fresh water is very scarce. That in November, 1724, there were five white men at Accra, (distant ten leagues from Winnebah). That the Dutch have likewise another factory within half a gun shot of it, and the Danes another within about a mile, but that all three are not capable of commanding the trade, the far greater part being carryed on at Shado, a free place 7 leagues above them, and at Statia and Labadie, 3 leagues below them. That from Accra to Taquin is about 60 leagues without any settlement between them, except Whidah, but that there are several places of good trade for negroes and elephants' teeth. That the trade at Whidah is free for all nations, being carried on at the town of Sabee, 7 miles from the sea side, where the English, French, Dutch and Portuguese trade in their houses. That the African Company's factory here is about 3 miles from the sea side, has a dry ditch with walls made of the earth taken out of it. That he was there in January, 1724–5, and saw but six white men to protect it. That from Taquin to Cape Lopez is about 300 leagues, between which places that is no settlement of any nation, but many places of trade, though other nations than the English are very little concerned therein. That in his opinion the settlements on the coast of Africa are of no protection or service to the trade in general, but have been an obstruction to himself and others. That ships of war will be the only proper and effectual protection to the trade, particularly against pirates. Captain Snelgrove being particularly asked, whether he had ever traded with the Dutch on the coast of Africa, he said, he had often done it with them and the natives near the Dutch settlements, and once with the Dutch General himself. That the Dutch, having fewer plantations in America than we have, do not regard slaves so much. That there are other places where a free trade is carryed on in Africa besides Anamaboo, and the natives often come along the coast to the places where shipping arrive. That in conversation with the General for the Dutch at the Mine, the said General complained that their forts were burthensome, and if the English Company were inclined to make the Dutch a present of their forts, he would not advise the Dutch to accept them, though he owned the Dutch had given thirty thousand florins, or about three thousand pounds sterling, for Cape Three Points and a fort at Arguin. But upon further examination, he said, that any nation, which had not yet traded to Africa, instancing the people of Ostend, might send their ships and trade there without being hindered by any forts of what nation soever. Captain Snelgrove being asked, if, besides the white men, which he said were at Dicky's Cove, there were not several blacks, and whether there might not be more white men there than he saw. He said, there were four or five blacks, and it might be more, which he did not see; and did not deny but they might be of service in defending the place, but said, the white men were principally to be depended upon, and as to the number of the latter, he said he did not believe there were more than he saw, because the chiefs at each settlement always make the best shew they can of white people when they receive any stranger on shore. Mr. Wills then asking Captain Snelgrove whether the Dutch could not hinder any ships or traders within the reach of the guns of their forts; and if forts and settlements were not of service, for what reason he thought the Dutch gave the value of three thousand pounds for Cape Three Points and Arguin, and were at expense upon other forts. He said, as to the first, that he believed they might hinder any other ships or traders that should come within the reach of their guns. That as to the purchase made by the Dutch, of Cape Three Points and Arguin, it was about the year 1720, in the Bubbling time, when pretences were made of mighty advantages from some mines, said to be discovered in those parts. That the Dutch West India Company bought those places of the King of Prussia, though the fort is since fallen into the hands of the natives of Africa, who answered when the Dutch demanded it again, that they might have the materials, but not the place. And the Captain further said, he had been at most of the Dutch settlements, whereof they have about ten at different places, and the greatest part of them in the same ill state of repair as those belonging to the English Company.
A letter from Mr. Burnet, Governor of New Jersey and New
York, dated the 12th of May, 1724, was read, and the papers,
therein referred to, were laid before the Board, viz:
Minutes of Assembly of New Jersey, from the 27th September, 1723, to the 30th of November following, both days inclusive.
An Act for an additional support of this government and making current £40,000 in Bills of Credit for that and other purposes therein mentioned.
Passed 30th November, 1723, with 4 other Acts, passed in New Jersey at the same time.
Further reasons for the said Act for an additional support, etc.
Scheme of the method of issuing, applying and sinking £40,000 Bills of Credit made current in New Jersey by the foresaid Act.
This evening being appointed for hearing Colonel Hart's counsel, in his defence against the petition and complaint of Wavel Smith and Savil Cust, Esquires, patent secretaries of the Leeward Islands, against him, upon which their Lordships had heard Mr. Smith's counsel the 3rd of March last, and the said Wavel Smith attending, with Dr. Henchman and Mr. Common Serjeant Lingard, his counsel, and Mr. North, his solicitor, on the one side, and Mr. Wills and Mr. Bootle, counsel for Colonel Hart, with Mr. Sharpe, his solicitor attending also, on the other side.
4th. That an Act had been passed at St. Christophers in 1724, entituled, An Act for establishing a Court of King's Bench and Common Pleas and for the better advancement of justice in the Island of St. Christophers and for settling certain fees, etc., whereby several fees belonging to him as public secretary were given to a new officer thereby made, called judges' clerk.
Mr. Wills observed to their Lordships that the 1st and 2nd of these complaints do intirely depend on his right to the several offices and to the custom of the Leeward Islands, they not being named expressly in his patent. That the office of Clerk of the Crown was particularly expressed in his patent, wherefore he conceived that, if it had been intended that Mr. Smith should have enjoyed the several other offices, that they would have likewise been particularly named. That the Acts Mr. Smith had produced at the last hearing, as a proof of his right to the several offices claimed by him, could not be so, as they were only temporary and are expired, but even supposing them perpetual, they could be only taken as a declaration of the sense of the people. That the copy of the commission from the Lord Willoughby of Parham, Governor of Barbadoes and the rest of the Charribbee Leeward Islands, dated the 5th of May, 1668, appointing Francis Sampson, Esquire, Secretary of the Island of Antego, which had been produced by Mr. Smith at the last hearing as an evidence of what offices the Public Secretary then enjoyed, was an evidence rather against him than for him, because the person thereby appointed secretary claimed the other offices only by virtue of his grant from Lord Willoughby as Governor, and not immediately from the Crown. That in 1702 General Codrington appointed Cabel Rawleigh Register in Chancery at St. Christophers. That Colonel Parke, when he succeeded in the Government, not only continued the said Rawleigh as Register in Chancery, but likewise appointed him Register of the Admiralty. In 1708 Colonel Parke appointed John Helden to be Clerk of the Ordinary of the Island of St. Christophers, at a time when he had a distinct deputation for Deputy Secretary. That General Douglas appointed John Esdale, the then Deputy Secretary, to be Clerk of the Ordinary and of the Admiralty, and that he continued in those two places nine years after he had been turned out from being Deputy Secretary.
Mr. Wills observed to their Lordships that as to the 3rd Article of Mr. Smith's complaint in relation to Colonel Hart's private secretary having taken fees that properly belonged to him, that if this had been the case, he should have proceeded against him according to the law of those islands. As to the last Article of his complaint, relating to the Act, passed at St. Christophers in 1724, Mr. Wills submitted to their Lordships whether this was not an extraordinary complaint against Colonel Hart for giving his assent to an Act passed by both the Council and Assembly for reducing those officers' fees, which, according to the opinion of the legislature, were exorbitant.
Mr. Bootle, counsel of the same side, acquainted their Lordships that he conceived Mr. Smith could not pretend to any offices but to those mentioned in his patent, viz: Public Secretary and Clerk of the Crown, and as they are the only offices named there, he could not set up any right by prescription against the Crown. As to the office of Register of the Admiralty, it was not in the power of the King to grant it, the Crown having already given that power to the Lords of the Admiralty. And as Colonel Hart had received a Vice Admiralty commission from them, he conceived Colonel Hart to be the proper person to grant the said office.
To prove this, Mr. Bootle desired Mr. Brown might be examined, who being sworn, acquainted their Lordships, that he was deputy to the Register of the Court of Admiralty in England, and that he had brought with him two books of that office, wherein were entered all Admiralty commissions; he then read to their Lordships some clauses of a commission under the Great Seal, whereby the King gives to the Lords of the Admiralty the power of disposing of the several places belonging thereto. He also read to their Lordships an extract of Colonel Hart's commission, dated the 8th of June, 1721, whereby he was appointed Vice Admiral of the Leeward Islands.
Mr. Bootle then desired their Lordships would please to have read the affidavits of John Helden, William Lyddell and John Esdale, senior, in order to prove that they, as Deputy Secretaries to the Island of St. Christophers, had never acted in the offices of Clerk to the Ordinary, Register in Chancery or Register of the Admiralty, by virtue of any power from the Patent Secretary, but that they, and the other persons, mentioned in Mr. Esdale's affidavit, who exercised the said offices, had always acted by virtue of powers from the Chief Governor, which were read accordingly.
Mr. Fleming being sworn, Mr. Bootle desired he would give their Lordships an account of what he knew in relation to the Secretary's Office in Antego, whereupon he said, that he resided in Antego from 1719 till June last. That he acted as Deputy Secretary till Mr. Smith succeeded Mr. Knight, that he never executed the Office of Register to the Admiralty there, that indeed he laid claim to it, and brought his action against Mr. Kirby, the then Register, but that it was given against him by the courts of law there; that after this suit, General Hamilton gave the said office to Mr. Warner. That during the time he acted as Deputy Secretary, there had been no entries made in his office in relation to the Admiralty.
Dr. Henchman, counsel for Mr. Smith, desired their Lordships would please to read a letter from Mr. Fleming, dated at Antego, the 26th October, 1719, to Mr. Knight, as also a memorial from the said Fleming to General Hamilton, giving an account of the several branches belonging to the Secretary's Office, as also a letter from Mr. Lyddell, which were severally read. And Dr. Henchman desired leave to observe by way of reply to what Mr. Bootle had said, with respect to the Governor's power of appointing a Register of Admiralty, that the Vice Admiralty commission, given to Colonel Hart, did not impower him to appoint officers, or give him any other power than to be Vice Admiral there.
Mr. Common Serjeant also said, by way of reply, that he did agree nothing was granted to Mr. Smith by virtue of his Patent, but the Office of Secretary to the Leeward Islands and Clerk of the Crown, but then, as that office of Secretary was granted with all the rights, profits, etc., thereunto belonging in as full and ample a manner as any former Secretary had enjoyed the same, and, as His Majesty's pleasure had been further signified by the Lord Carteret's letter of the 6th day of May, 1723, that Mr. Smith should enjoy the same in as full a manner as Mr. Hedges particularly had done, and as Mr. Hedges had given their Lordships an account upon oath that he had received the profits of the said offices during the time he was Patent Secretary there, Mr. Common Serjeant said he hoped their Lordships would be of opinion that Mr. Smith had fully made out the allegations of his petition, and that their Lordships would be pleased to report in his favour.
Mr. Dunster, Mr. Snelling and Mr. Townley, three of the members of the Turkey Company, attending, as they had been desired, their Lordships took again into consideration a letter from the Lord Townshend, dated the 7th, and mentioned in the Minutes of the 11th inst., referring to the Board a memorial from Monsieur Hopp, Envoy Extraordinary from the States General, in relation to the imposition of 20 per cent. procured to be laid upon English cloths in Turkey, if imported by Dutch, French or Jews, which was again read. And their Lordships, after some discourse with these gentlemen thereupon, gave directions that they should have a copy of the said memorial, and desired they would lay before the Board in writing, what they have to offer upon this subject.
Ordered that Mr. Carkesse, Secretary to the Commissioners of the Customs, be reminded of the latter writ him by the Secretary of this Board, the 9th of March last, desiring an account of the produce of the duty of 4½ per cent. in Barbadoes for nine years since 1715.
Ordered that Mr. Woolley, Secretary to the East India Company, be likewise reminded of the letter writ him by the Secretary, the 28th of last month, for the reason of the diminution of the exportation of the woollen manufacturers of this kingdom, by that Company.
Sir Robert Sutton, Sir Thomas Sanderson and several other of the 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. Harris and several other 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. Attorney General desired leave, in behalf of the African Company, to observe to their Lordships, by way of reply to what the counsel for the separate traders had represented to their Lordships, that the only answer the separate traders had offered, with respect to the hardships the Company labour under, was that they had neither right nor merit, though at the same time, he said, he had not observed that the other side had advanced anything against the Company's right, that was consistent with common law. That it had been alledged that the Company's Charter being for an exclusive trade, was against law; Mr. Attorney General observed that was no reason against their being a corporation, because supposing that part of the Charter, which grants anything not within the prorogative of the Crown, to be void in law, yet as it is the undoubted right of the Crown to create a corporation, he hoped the counsel on the other side would admit that part of the Charter to be in force. And as to the Company's right to their forts and settlements, he submitted to their Lordships, whether they had not made it appear that the present Company had purchased them from the old Company that had been subsisting before the year 1672, and that the Company had been in quiet possession of them ever since.
As to the other allegation of the separate traders, that the Company had no merit; he said, that would depend upon the forts and settlements being usefull or not. That if they had been usefull, it was meritorious in the Company to have erected them, and to have maintained them ever since. That the erecting these forts had preserved the coast of Africa from falling into the hands of the Dutch in the first Dutch War in 1674; and he further submitted to their Lordships, whether it was no merit to have borne this labour and expences at a time when he did not observe there had been any proof offered, of any one separate trader being concerned in that trade, and that, if the Company had not then traded to the Coast of Africa, the Plantations must have been ruined.
In answer to some questions that had been asked, with respect to what methods were necessary for preserving and supporting this trade, and to the cause of its decay, Mr. Attorney observed, that the Company had been at a great charge in maintaining their forts and settlements, and that as the separate traders, after the 10 per cent. ceased, had no other charge laid on their trade, towards the maintaining these forts, they could consequently trade upon easier terms; and this Mr. Attorney said, he conceived to be the cause of the decay of the Company's trade.
Mr. Attorney General further said, that he had not observed any evidence produced that forts and settlements were not useful. That from experience no trade could be carried on to advantage without some settlements, as appears by the separate traders themselves sending their ships to those places where the negroes are brought down for them, and allowing those places only to warehouses, yet these warehouses could not be protected on the coast of Africa, even from the insults of the natives, without forts.
That forts and settlements were further necessary for extending the trade up the country, without which there will be fewer slaves exported to the Plantations, than if the settlements were extended, and the negroes for that reason will be dearer. As to the proposal of the private traders, that two or three men of war should be appointed on the coast, to protect the trade, Mr. Attorney observed, that they might indeed be of service in defending ships from pirates, but could be of no use to extend the trade into the country, which could only be done by a force at land. That the Dutch, French and Portuguese were so sensible of the necessity of forts and settlements on the coast of Africa, that they were at great charge in maintaining them. That the Portuguese particularly were so jealous of the African Company's increasing their strength, that they sent some ships of war from Lisbon, on purpose to destroy the forts erecting by that Company at Cabinda. That forts and settlements, if of no service in protecting this trade, were absolutely necessary to preserve possession, and to create an evidence of the property of Great Britain on that coast. That as this trade had never been carried on without forts and settlements, Mr. Attorney said he feared it would be of dangerous consequence to make such an experiment. That should they be deserted and fall into the hands of a foreign power, all the evidence of our possession would cease, and we should be excluded from any trade there. As to the bad condition of the present forts and settlements, the great disadvantages the Company have traded under are sufficient reasons for it; however, if they have strength enough to resist the natives, they are sufficient to answer the Company's purpose.
As to the manner how these forts and settlements may be supported, Mr. Attorney observed to their Lordships, that they had already proved the Company's property in them, and that he conceived they ought to have the sole use of them, or else the liberty of parting with them. That as the Company had purchased them and been at the charge of maintaining them, it could hardly be thought the Company would have been at this charge, without a sufficient title to this trade, and that supposing the Company had been under a misapprehension of their right, he submitted to their Lordships, how unreasonable it would be, that separate traders should have all the advantage, and the Company be at the whole charge.
Mr. Attorney, then in behalf of the Company, made the following proposition to the Board; and said that, whereas the private traders have represented to their Lordships, that the chief trade for negroes was carried on on that part of the coast of Africa, where the Company have no settlements, the said Company were willing to be confined to that part of the coast where their own settlements were, which was only a space of 300 leagues, and leave the rest of the coast, which is about 1,700 leagues, to the separate traders. That, if this was not approved of, he conceived it might be worth the Government's while to buy them. But if they did not care to do this, and the Company should desire leave to dispose of them, he did not see how this liberty could be denied to the Company. He further said, if it was worth while for any other nation to buy them, it might as well be worth the while of Great Britain to do it. And if it was the interest of Great Britain to refuse the Company the liberty of selling, it must be for the interest of this nation to purchase them.
Mr. Wills, counsel on the same side, then enlarged upon what Mr. Attorney had offered, and submitted to the Board whether Mr. Snow's evidence had not fully proved that forts and settlements were absolutely necessary for protecting the trade upon the African coast. As to the proposal of the private traders, to send ships of war to protect this trade, Mr. Wills observed to their Lordships, that the private traders having already represented, that ships could not come near the coast; that they could be of no service but against pirates at sea; whereas it is necessary to have some settlements to protect the traders against the insults of the natives.
Mr. Wills likewise acquainted the Board, that the African Company would not insist upon the whole extent of their Charter, provided they might enjoy the trade exclusive of all others, at Gambia, Sierraleone, Sherborough, and from Cape Palmas to Cape Formosa, which is about 250 leagues, and where the chief of their settlements are; and that they would leave the rest of the coast free to the private traders. That in consequence there would be a greater number of slaves exported, as this proposal would create an emulation between the Company and the separate traders. That the Company were willing to oblige themselves to maintain their settlements upon that part of the coast which they desire, for ever, or during a term of years, and to lay before the Board annual accounts of their whole proceedings, provided they might enjoy this exclusive trade as before proposed. That the only reason why the separate traders would not allow the forts and settlements to be necessary was, because as it is highly reasonable that those, who reap the benefit, should share the charge, they were apprehensive of this additional expense. As to the African Company's property and right thereto, Mr. Wills observed that a quiet and uninterrupted possession for upwards of 50 years was a sufficient demonstration. As to the Cape Coast Castle, the property of which the separate traders had insisted was in the Crown, by reason of its having been taken from the Dutch, Mr. Wills said the Crown had given up that property, by granting the Charter. And as to the Company's being a subsisting corporation, he said that several Acts of Parliament had taken notice of them as such.