Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Volume 6, January 1729 - December 1734. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1928.
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Journal, July 1732
Mr. Smith, Chief Justice of North Carolina and Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer there, attending, he presented to the Board the warrants from His Majesty, appointing him for those offices, which being read, ordered that copies be taken thereof. And the Board asking his opinion with respect to the necessity of holding the Court of Exchequer, he said, he thought that Court the more necessary, because the King was defrauded of so much land, and that that was a matter only cognizable in that Court.
A letter from the Lord Harrington, dated at Hannover, the 23rd
June, 1732, was read, and the papers, therewith transmitted,
were laid before the Board, viz:—
Extracts of Mr. Finch's letters.
Extracts of Mr. Finch's letters to the Lord Harrington, of the 24th and 27th of May and 7th of June, 1732.
12th article of the treaty.
The 12th article of the treaty made with Sweden, January the 21st, 1719–20.
The letter from the Duke of Newcastle, enclosing the address and representation of the Council and Assembly of Jamaica, praying that an Act, passed there, for laying an imposition or duty upon the importation and exportation of negroes, may be approved of, not withstanding His Majesty's instruction to the contrary, read the 1st of last month, being again considered; ordered that the South Sea Company and Mr. Wood, agent for the Bristol merchants, be directed to attend the Board on Wednesday next.
Mr. Smith, Chief Justice and Chief Baron of North Carolina, attending, he presented to the Board a memorial, relating to such laws of the province, as have not been confirmed by the Lords Proprietors, upon which he states some difficulties with respect to the duration of them, which was read, and directions were given for stating the said difficulties to the Attorney and Solicitor General.
The letter to the Duke of Newcastle upon the two addresses from the House of Commons to His Majesty, relating to laws, manufactures and trade of His Majesty's plantations, and to the Governors taking presents from the people there, agreed the 29th of last month, was signed.
A letter from Mr. Jeremiah Dunbar, dated the 13th instant, giving an account that the Government of the Massachusetts Bay oblige all ships bound from Boston to the eastward of Kennebeck River to pay fees of clearing, was read, and the Board resolved to consider further thereof at another opportunity.
A letter from Mr. William Wood, dated the 15th instant, was
read, and the papers, therein referred to, were also read, viz:—
Act, duty on negroes.
Petition of the merchants of London trading to Jamaica against an Act, passed in that Island in 1732, laying a duty on negroes imported and exported, contrary to His Majesty's instructions.
An Order of the Lords of the Committee of Council, dated the 5th of last month, referring to this Board the petition of the merchants of Bristol against the said Act.
A memorial of the South Sea Company against the said Act.
A petition of the merchants of Liverpool against the said Act.
Mr. Delafaye, agent for Jamaica, attending, as also Sir John Eyles and several members of the South Sea Company, with several merchants, and Mr. Wood, in behalf of the merchants of Bristol and Liverpool, their Lordships took again into consideration the several Jamaica papers, mentioned in yesterday's Minutes, against the Act, passed there in 1732, for raising several sums of money, and applying the same to several uses, which lays a duty on negroes, as also the address from the Council and Assembly of that Island, mentioned in the Minutes of the 12th instant, and after some discourse with this gentlemen upon this subject, they desired to be heard further by their counsel, for which purpose the Board appointed this day sennight.
The letter to the Attorney and Solicitor General, ordered to be prepared the 13th instant, relating to such laws of North Carolina, as have not been confirmed by the Lords Proprietors, was agreed and ordered to be sent.
The report upon the petition of Mr. Ochs and others, praying for a tract of land behind the mountains of Virginia, agreed yesterday, was signed, as also a letter, for inclosing the same to the Duke of Newcastle.
Mr. Norris and some Swedish merchants attending, as they had been desired, the Board took again into consideration the letter from the Lord Harrington, with the extracts of Mr. Finch's letters and the 12th article of the treaty made with Sweden, read the 12th instant; and after some discourse with them thereupon, they informed the Board, that the Swedes pay no more taxes or parish rates than English subjects do, nor any more for weighing and measuring; that they had the privilege of putting their goods in such warehouses as they please, of which they may keep the key; that there was an alien duty in the customs of 2s. 3d. per ton, payable by all foreigners, but not demanded, so that the Swedes had no reason to complain of any duties or taxes paid or imposed since the year 1720.
Mrs. Anne Jones attending, a letter from the Duke of Newcastle, inclosing a letter from her to the Queen, relating to a silver mine in Virginia, was read; and the Board desiring her to inform them of the names of the persons concerned in the said mine, she said, Dr. Watkins, Joseph Smith, Colonel William Beverley, Colonel More and Captain Hawkins were the only persons at present concerned. And she further informing the Board, that Colonel Armstead, Mr. Forward and Captain Launey could give an account of her character: ordered that they be desired to attend the Board on Thursday morning next.
Sir John Eyles and Several directors of the South Sea Company attending, according to appointment, with Mr. Gambiere their counsel, as also Mr. Harris and Mr. Wood, in behalf of the merchants of London, Bristol and Liverpool, with Mr. Browning their counsel, against the Jamaica Act, passed the 6th of February, 1731–2, entituled, An Act for raising several sums of money and applying the same to several uses, to impower the Receiver General to take up money at interest, and appoint a committee to settle the public accounts, during the continuance of this Act; Mr. Delafaye and Mr. Gregory, agents for Jamaica, attending likewise, with Mr. Wills their counsel, in behalf of the said Act. The Board took the Act again into consideration, as likewise the representation from the Council and Assembly of Jamaica, mentioned in the Minutes of the 19th instant, desiring the said Act may be approved of. And Mr. Wills, in behalf of the Island, acquainted the Board, that he did not conceive the merchants had any foundation of complaint against General Hunter for having given his consent to the Act in question, contrary to His Majesty's instruction against laying any duties on the import and export of negroes, because he passed the Act on the 29th of January, and did not receive the instruction till the 6th of February following: that should this Act be repealed and the instruction continue, the trade of the Island would not only be ruined, but the island also, having no other way to raise the sums those duties produce, and having many difficulties at the same time to struggle with from the constant charge they are at in maintaining parties against the runaway negroes: that the export duty on negroes had continued ever since the year 1693, without intermission or complaint, until the year 1717, when a duty was laid on the import of negroes, and the whole cargo being charged with the duty, if but part was sold, the South Sea Company then made their first complaint; His Majesty having thereupon given the Governor an instruction to remedy that complaint, Acts have been since that time passed in conformity thereto: that the island of Jamaica, having lost all their trade to the Spanish West Indies by the South Sea Company's carrying on their Assiento trade from thence, which had likewise raised the price of negroes, he thought it was but reasonable the said Company should contribute something towards defraying the public charges of that Island, and desired the Board would please to let this Act continue during its own limitation, and propose to His Majesty the recalling the said instruction.
Mr. Gambiere, counsel for the South Sea Company, then informed the Board, that the Assembly of Jamaica being prorogued, the Governor convened them in a hurry, nowithstanding their said prorogation, and privately communicated to some of the members a copy of the Board's report of the 25th of August last against the Act then subsisting for laying duties on negroes, wherein the Board proposed the sending the last instruction which the Governor now has: that the Act in question was immediately prepared, read twice in one day, and passed the 29th of January: that it was easy to conceive these precipitant proceedings were designed to elude the force of the instruction, which was daily expected in consequence of the Board's report. In answer to what Mr. Wills had said concerning the loss of the trade of the Spanish West Indies, he observed, that the carrying on the Assiento trade from the Jamaica, was an advantage to the Island, in as much as the South Sea Company employed many of their sloops and men, and as the South Sea Company was obliged by their contract to furnish the Spaniards with 4,800 negroes annually, they were obliged to carry to Jamaica near double that number, because the Spaniards being very nice in their slaves will not receive any with the least blemish; and that this great importation of negroes must consequently make negroes cheaper in Jamaica. Jamaica being thus become the market for slaves between the South Sea Company and the Spanish West Indies, he apprehended the Island must have other advantages thereby, as he did not conceive the Jamaica sloops came home empty from the Spanish West Indies. That on the other hand the South Sea Company were losers by their negro trade, of which the Spaniards were so sensible, that they allowed them their annual ship to make up that loss: that the South Sea Company had many times complained of the imposition of these duties, and should be obliged to leave the island, if they were continued: that this Act was also not only contrary to His Majesty's present instruction, but also contrary to that, which His Majesty was pleased to give in the year 1727, forbidding the Governor to give his consent to any Act that should charge the whole cargo of negroes with duties, where only part thereof was sold; and therefore hoped their Lordships would lay this Act before His Majesty for his disallowance, and that the aforesaid instruction might be continued.
Mr. Browning, counsel for the merchants of London, Bristol and Liverpool, acquainted the Board that he conceived the laying duties upon the import and export of negroes, except under such restrictions as had been proposed by the instruction, was in fact laying duties on the manufactures of Great Britain, because the merchants trading to Africa constantly export there malt spirits and other manufactures of this kingdom, which they barter in exchange for negroes: that the duties were particularly prejudicial to the merchants, not only for the above-mentioned reasons, but because their factors in Jamaica were obliged to keep considerable sums of money by them, or to sell part of the cargoes consigned to them almost at any rate in order to pay the duties chargeable upon the remainder; that this duty must greatly discourage people from settling there, because new planters must be at so much additional charge in stocking their plantations with negroes; that the Assembly might indeed pretend some excuse for having passed the Act laying duties on negroes in 1731, because at that time they were at the charge of maintaining two regiments, which His Majesty had been graciously pleased to send them to reduce the runaway negroes, but that the reason did not now subsist, those regiments being recalled; that allowing Mr. Wills's assertion true, that the Assiento contract had been a prejudice to Jamaica, yet that could be no reason for charging the merchants with those heavy duties, against which the merchants, as well as the South Sea Company, had several times complained; that the produce of Jamaica being computed at about £600,000 per annum, surely it could not be a difficult matter to raise an equivalent sum to the produce of these duties on negroes on their stock in hand; and therefore he hoped their Lordships would report to His Majesty against this Act, and for the continuance of the aforesaid instruction.
The several gentlemen, who attended yesterday, attending again this morning, except the South Sea Company and Mr. Delafaye, Mr. Wills, by way of reply to what had been offered yesterday by the South Sea Company and merchants, acquainted the Board, that from the year 1693 to 1717, during which time the exportation duty had subsisted, he was instructed to say, that there was never any complaint against it, and so little reason for any, that the Governor was instructed to endeavour to get that duty continued for a longer duration than from year to year, but that the island of Jamaica would never agree thereto; that when the South Sea Company complained, in the year 1717, against the duties on negroes, it was because their negroes landed for refreshment only, were charged therewith, and that their whole cargo was likewise charged, when only part thereof was sold, and therefore he submitted to their Lordships whether the instruction, which His Majesty was pleased to grant for remedying the said complaint only, without totally prohibiting the import and export duty, was not a tacit approbation thereof; especially considering that the importation duty upon such negroes as were landed and sold there, was actually approved by the said instruction; that this duty could not be complained of as a burthen upon the merchants, because if the planters bought their negroes, they in fact paid the duty by the enhanced price, and if they were sold to the Spaniard they then paid the duty. In answer to what the South Sea Company had alledged that the Assiento contract was of advantage to Jamaica, he acquainted the Board, that before this contract took place there were annually imployed from Jamaica in the trade to the Spanish West Indies about 200 sail of sloops and 1200 men, whereas at present the South Sea Company imploy six of their snows and about 200 of their men; and whereas the South Sea Company had alledged that they lost by the Assiento contract, for which the Spaniards allowed them their annual ship, he was directed to acquaint the said Company, that the Island of Jamaica were willing to take the said contract off their hands, and to allow them their annual ship in at the bargain; that as these duties, although payable by the importer, were in fact actually paid by the purchaser, he hoped their Lordships would be of opinion that neither the South Sea Company nor merchants had reason to complain.
These gentlemen being withdrawn, their Lordships took the whole into consideration, and gave directions for preparing the draught of a report to lay the said Act before His Majesty for his disallowance, and to propose the continuance of the instruction.
Mr. Forward, Colonel Armstead and Captain Launey attending, as they had been desired, with Mrs. Anne Jones, whose papers were mentioned in the Minutes of the 25th instant, the Board desired these gentlemen would give them an account of what they knew concerning the said Mrs. Jones, who acquainted the Board, that she lived in very good repute in Virginia, where she formerly kept a school, but of late years was imployed in gentlemen's families to teach their children.