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, October 1729
October 1. Present:—Mr. Bladen, Mr. Cary, Sir Thomas Frankland.
The draught of a letter to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, agreed yesterday, in relation to the behaviour of the Assembly of the Massachusets Bay, was signed.
Warrants for new seals prepared.
Letter to the Duke of Newcastle.
The draughts of warrants for His Majesty's signature, impowering the Governors of Barbadoes, Jamaica, Virginia and South Carolina to use the new seals prepared for those colonies, pursuant to the Order in Council, mentioned in the Minutes of the 26th of August, being laid before the Board, a letter for inclosing the said draughts of warrants to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, was agreed and signed.
The Board this day took into consideration the several Acts now lying in this office, whereby duties are laid in any of the colonies in America upon the importation of negroes.
Act, duty on negroes, to lie by.
First, the Act passed at Barbadoes in 1705, intituled, An Act for laying a duty on negroes and other slaves imported to this island; whereby "Five shillings is laid on each negro imported: no person is to trade or land slaves, till oath be made of their number, on pain of paying double duty: the slaves landed before entry made on oath to be forfeited: the actions for penalties to be tryed the first court after the same are filed: the treasurer to have 3 per cent, and stand to losses of the duties in case of his neglect, and the duties and half the forfeitures arising are appropriated for paying the debts and growing charges of the island." Their Lordships, considering that no complaint hath hitherto been made against this Act, and that the duty thereby laid is very inconsiderable, resolved the said Act should continue to lye by as probational.
Act, duty on negroes.
The Act passed in South Carolina in February, 1722–3, intituled, An Act for granting to His Majesty a duty and imposition on negroes, liquors and other goods and merchandises for the use of the public of this province; whereby among others a duty of ten pounds is laid on all negro slaves imported from Africa directly, or any other place whatsoever, Spanish negroes excepted, if above ten years of age, and five pounds on all negroes under ten years of age (sucking children excepted). Their Lordships agreed, when other matters relating to this province shall fall under consideration at the appointment of a new Governor, to propose the said Act may be repealed.
The Act passed at New York in 1728, intituled, An Act to repeal some parts, and to continue and inforce other parts of the Act therein mentioned, and for granting several duties to His Majesty for supporting his government in the colony of New York, from the 1st of September, 1728, until the 1st of September, which will be in the year 1733, whereby among others a duty of five ounces of plate or forty shillings in bills of credit or paper money is laid upon every negro imported directly from Africa, and from any other place four pounds of like money; whereupon ordered that the agents for New York be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with them on Tuesday sennight.
Act, duty on negroes.
An Act passed in the province of Maryland in 1715, intituled, An Act laying an imposition on negroes and on several sorts of liquors imported, and also on Irish servants, to prevent the importing too great a number of Irish papists into this province; whereupon ordered that Colonel Hart, who was Governor of the said province when the said Act was passed, be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with him on Tuesday sennight.
October 6. Present:—Mr. Cary, Sir Thomas Frankland.
Complaints against the Governor.
A letter from his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, dated the 3rd instant, referring to this Board the petition or memorial of Mr. Wilks and Mr. Belcher, agents for the Assembly of the province of the Massachusets Bay in New England, containing complaints against Mr. Burnet, their Governor, was read, together with the said petition; whereupon ordered that the said Mr. Wilks and Mr. Belcher be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with them at eleven of the clock to-morrow morning, and that they would come prepared with such proofs as they may have to offer, in support of the allegations of their said petition.
Further ordered that Mr. Thomas Burnet and Mr. Mitchell, who are concerned in behalf of the Governor, be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with them at the same time.
A letter from Mr. Byrd, one of the commissioners for settling the boundaries between Virginia and North Carolina, dated in Virginia, the 27th of June last, relating to the difficulties attending that service and the pay of the persons imployed therein, was read, and the Journal of the said commissioners, with a chart of the dividing line, therewith received, were laid before the Board; whereupon directions were given for preparing the draught of a letter to Mr. Byrd in answer thereto.
October 7. Present:—Mr. Bladen, Mr. Cary, Sir Thomas Frankland.
Hearing about the complaints.
Mr. Belcher, one of the agents for the Assembly of the province of the Massachusets Bay, attending, as desired, with Mr. John Sharpe, his solicitor, and Captain Tin and Mr. Holford on the part of the Assembly, as also Mr. Thomas Burnet in behalf of his brother William Burnet, Esq., His Majesty's Governor of the said province, the petition of the said agents containing complaints against the Governor, as mentioned in yesterday's Minutes, was again read; whereupon several questions being asked Mr. Belcher and Mr. Sharpe, they referred their Lordships to several passages in the printed proceedings of the Assembly of the Massachusets Bay, wherein the Governor's messages and speeches are contained at large, and Mr. Belcher affirmed most of the allegations in the said petition to be of his own knowledge: that as to the particular complaint of Mr. Burnet's adjourning the Assembly from Boston to Salem, and calling a new one to meet at the last mentioned place, they did not dispute the Governor's power of doing it, but hoped they might have the liberty of remonstrating against the great inconveniences and hardships, which the Assembly suffered by that proceeding, and alledged that His Majesty's instruction requiring the Governor to press the Assembly to settle a fixed salary on him did not authorize him, upon their non-complyance, to punish them by harrassing them, as he had done, and keeping them sitting at inconvenient seasons, without offering to them any public business, or suffering what was begun to be compleated; but that they conceived it to be the Governor's duty only to represent to His Majesty the Assembly's declining to comply with what had been recommended, and in the meanwhile to permit all other acts of government to go on in their usual method, without interruption: that the method insisted upon by Mr. Burnet for supplying the Treasury, as had been practised before the year 1721, without particular appropriations, having been found prejudicial to the public, was upon debate of both houses, altered to the present method, and consented to by the then Commander in Chief, Colonel Shute, and a copy of a report of Sir Philip York, His Majesty's present Attorney General, and of Sir Clement Wearg, the late Solicitor General, was produced in favour of the Assembly's right to appropriate the money they grant for the public services of the Government. Mr. Belcher further alledged that, till Governor Burnet's time, there were never required any let passes for ships going out, though he now suffers no ship to pass the castle at Boston, without paying twelve shillings that country money, and has raised the fees for registering ships from six shillings to twenty shillings as the Governor's fee, but the fee of three shillings to the Secretary is continued the same.
Mr. Thomas Burnet then acquainted their Lordships, that he had not been apprized of this petition, nor was he instructed to make a defence to all the several articles of complaint contained therein; wherefore he prayed to have a copy of the said petition, and a reasonable time allowed for transmitting the same to his brother, the Governor of Massachusets Bay, for his answer thereto, which their Lordships consented to. In the meantime, Mr. Burnet observed that it appears by the printed votes of the Assembly in relation to the manner of supplying the Treasury of the province since the year 1721, that no money can be issued out of the Treasury for any particular bill of disbursment, though a warrant for the same should be signed by the Governor in Council, unless it be first allowed by the Assembly, and by them passed for payment, which he conceived to be contrary to the charter: that as to the article, which complains of the Governor's refusing to sign warrants for the salary to the members of the Council and Assembly, by the last letters he had from his brother he was informed those warrants were signed. And in relation to the other articles of the petition, which are personally against the Governor, he did not doubt his brother's being able in a short time to clear himself, and, particularly as to the let passes for ships, the Governor was determined to dispute that matter with the House of Representatives.
Mr. Belcher and Mr. Sharpe concluded with desiring the Governor might have immediate conditional orders to redress the irregularities, for which there was just foundation of complaints.
These gentlemen, above mentioned, being withdrawn, their Lordships agreed upon the draught of a letter to the Duke of Newcastle, in answer to that from his Grace of the 3rd instant, relating to the complaints of the agents for the representatives of the province of the Massachusets Bay against Mr. Burnet, their Governor, and ordered the said draught to be transcribed.
October 8. Present:—Mr. Bladen, Mr. Cary, Sir Thomas Frankland.
A letter to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, as agreed yesterday, in answer to that from him of the 3rd instant, relating to the complaints of the agents for the representatives of the province of the Massachusetts Bay against Mr. Burnet, their Governor, was signed.
October 14. Present:—Mr. Bladen, Mr. Cary.
Act, duty on negroes.
Colonel Hart, formerly Governor of the province of Maryland, attending, as desired, their Lordships had some discourse with him in relation to the Act, passed there in June, 1715, intituled, An Act laying an imposition on negroes and on several sorts of liquors imported, and also on Irish servants, to prevent the importing too great a number of Irish papists into this province; whereby a duty of twenty shillings sterling per poll is laid for every negro imported and the like duty for every Irish servant, part of which Act was read. And Colonel Hart being asked what particular motives induced the Assembly to lay the duties above mentioned on negroes and servants, he said, as to the duty on negroes the reason given for it by the people of Maryland, though he could not approve it himself, was that they had too much tobacco, which was thereby lowered in value and the labour augmented. As to the duty on Irish servants, there being in the reign of King James the second a greater number of papist than protestant inhabitants in Maryland, and after the revolution many papists going thither from Ireland, it was thought advisable to encourage the protestant interest, and prevent the danger, which was apprehended from such a number of Irish papists as frequently arrived there.
Colonel Hart being withdrawn, their Lordships agreed to discourse with the Lord Baltimore, proprietor of Maryland, as well in relation to the partiality of the said Act in favour of the owners of ships of the province as in relation to the said duties on negroes.
Their Lordships then took into consideration the Act passed at New York in August, 1728, intituled, An Act to repeal some parts and to continue and enforce other parts of the Act therein mentioned, and for granting several duties to His Majesty for supporting his government in the colony of New York, from the 1st of September, 1728, until the 1st of September, which will be in the year 1733, part whereof was read; whereby a duty of five ounces of sevil pillar or Mexico plate, or forty shillings in bills of credit of the colony, is laid upon every negro slave imported directly from Africa, being of the age of four years or upwards, and for every such negro imported from any other place the sum of four pounds of like money. Mr. Fane's report upon the said Act, amongst others of the same province, was likewise read. And Mr. Leheup and Mr. Drummond, agents for New York, attending, as desired, they were acquainted with the general complaint against Acts of the Plantations, whereby duties are laid on negroes, to which they answered, that they had not heard of any particular complaints or objections of the merchants against this Act: that there were but few negroes imported at New York, and that the Act, being temporary, would soon expire, and therefore they hoped it would not be thought necessary to repeal it.
Mr. Leheup then desiring their Lordships would please to take into consideration a scheme or proposal for the more effectual improving the staple of tobacco, which he understood Major Gooch, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, had lately transmitted, and that in the meantime he might have a copy thereof: Mr. Leheup was acquainted that it was at present under the consideration of the Board, and their Lordships gave directions that a copy be made him as desired.
Mr. Leheup and Mr. Drummond being withdrawn, directions were given for preparing the draughts of letters to the Governors of His Majesty's several colonies in America, where Acts have been passed laying duties on negroes imported there, recommending to them to procure Acts to be passed in their several governments, whereby other duties may be substituted in lieu of those on negroes imported, in as much as the said duties on negroes do in some measure enhance the price of labour, and consequently the price of several commodities produced in the Plantations, wherein our neighbours rival us in foreign markets.
October 16. Present:—Mr. Pelham, Mr. Bladen, Sir Thomas Frankland.
A letter from Mr. Vernon, one of the clerks of His Majesty's most honourable Privy Council, to the Secretary of this Board, dated yesterday, was read, signifying that the Lords of the Committee of Council thought it necessary and desired to discourse with the Board this evening upon two of their reports, viz: the one made the 8th instant, upon a memorial of the agents of the House of Representatives of the Massachusets Bay, and the other, upon the address of the members of the Council of North Carolina against Sir Richard Everard, their Governor, and also upon Sir Richard's letter, with his orders and resolutions, delivered to the said Council; and a message being brought that the Lords of the Committee had adjourned to Monday next in the evening, their Lordships of this Board adjourned to the same time.
October 23. Present:—Mr. Docminique, Mr. Pelham, Mr. Bladen.
Mr. Burnet's death.
A letter from Mr. Wentworth, Lieutenant Governor of New Hampshire, dated the 9th of the last month, giving an account of the death of William Burnet, Esq., his Majesty's late Governor in Chief of the Massachusets Bay and of New Hampshire, as likewise of a fray, which lately happened between some inhabitants of those provinces about their boundaries, was read. And their Lordships agreed to consider further thereof, when the agents shall next attend upon the subject of the said boundaries.
The Lords of the Committee of Council having, since their adjournment the 16th instant to Monday last, thought fit further to adjourn to this evening, the Lord's Commissioners of this Board attended the said Committee pursuant to their desire, signified by Mr. Vernon's letter, which was read the 16th instant.
October 28. Present:—Earl of Westmoreland, Mr. Pelham.
An Order of the Lords of the Committee of Council, dated the 23rd instant, upon the letters writ by this Board the 8th of the last month to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, on the petition of the agents of the House of Representatives of the Massachusets Bay complaining against Mr. Burnet, their Governor, and upon their Lordships of this Commission attending the Lords of the Committee in relation to the said complaint, the said Order, signifying that instructions should be prepared for the Governor or Commander in Chief of the Massachusets Bay for the time being, relating to the manner of raising and issuing of public money there for the future, and to certain fees to be taken by the Governors for let passes for ships, and directing this Board to inform themselves of the said agents, what steps have been taken by the Assembly in complyance with His Majesty's instructions, or are intended, concerning the settlement of a fixed salary for His Majesty's Governor of that province, was read: whereupon ordered that Mr. Wilks and Mr. Belcher, agents for the said House of Representatives, be acquainted that this Board desire to speak with them at twelve of the clock on Friday next.
Another Order of the Lords of the Committee of Council, of the same date, referring back to the consideration of this Board two of their reports, one of the 21st of March, 1728–9, the other of the 14th of May last, upon the proposal of Colonel Dunbar, Surveyor General of His Majesty's Woods in America, for settling within the province of Nova Scotia some Irish families now in New England, and also some Palatine families to be brought from Germany by Mr. Hintz, and requiring the Board to discourse further with Mr. Coram and Mr. Hintz about the method of settling the said families, and to adjust with them the conditions and terms upon which these settlements may be made, was read; whereupon ordered that Mr. Coram and Mr. Hintz be acquainted that the Board desire to speak with them at eleven of the clock in the morning on Thursday sennight.
October 31. Present:—Mr. Docminique, Mr. Pelham.
Mr. Belcher and Mr. Wilks, agents for the House of Representatives of the Massachusets Bay, attending, as they had been desired, their Lordships acquainted them that there not being commissioners enough present to make a Board, they would defer discoursing with them upon the Order of the Committee, read at the last meeting, till Thursday next, at which time they desired these gentlemen would attend again.
Settlement of Palatines.
A letter from Mr. Thomas Lowndes, dated the 11th inst., relating to the settlement of some Palatines in South Carolina, was read.
Value of the lands.
An Order of the Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council, dated the 14th instant, referring to this Board to consider the value of the lands of the Bahama Islands, what sum may be proper to be given for them, who are the present proprietors, and what methods are proper to be taken for completing the purchase, was read; whereupon ordered that Mr. Shelton, Secretary to the lords proprietors of these islands, be desired to attend the Board on Thursday next.