Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Volume 9, January 1750 - December 1753. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1932.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
Journal, December 1750
Read a letter from Mr. Glen, Governor of South Carolina, to the Board, dated 15th of July, 1750, with a postscript of 16th of September, in answer to the Board's letter of the 1st December, 1749, relating to the present state of Indian affairs and to some attempts of the Council to encroach on his Majesty's prerogative.
Ordered that an extract be made of such part of the said letter as relates to Indian affairs and the said attempts of the Council, in order to be transmitted to his Grace the Duke of Bedford and that the draught of a letter to his Grace be prepared accordingly.
Mr. Paris, sollicitor in behalf of Wavell Smith, Esquire, Secretary of the Leeward Islands, and Mr. John Sharpe, agent for the Island of Nevis, attending, moved the Board to appoint a day for taking into further consideration the Register Act passed at Nevis (mentioned in the minutes of Thursday last) and desired to be heard by their counsel for and against the same. Their lordships were pleased to appoint Tuesday, the 18th instant, when both parties were ordered to attend; and Mr. Sharpe desiring to have a copy of Mr. Smith's observations on the representations of the Council and Assembly of Nevis to General Mathew, contained in his memorial presented to the Board on the 13th of June last; ordered that a copy of the said observations be made and delivered to Mr. Sharpe accordingly.
Read a letter from Mr. Popple, Governor of Bermuda, to the
Board, dated 14th July, 1705, inclosing:—
Copy of the address of the members of his Majesty's Council of Bermuda to his Majesty against Governor Popple, dated the 2nd of July, 1750, with his observations thereon.
Copies and extracts of letters and other papers taken from their originals, which are still in Governor Popple's custody as his own private papers; relating to his proceedings in Council and Assembly from his arrival and taking upon him the Government of the Bermuda Islands.
Read a letter from Mr. Wood, Secretary to the Commissioners
of the Customs, dated the 4th of December, 1750, inclosing the
following accounts, viz.:—
An account of the value of goods exported from England to the Northern colonies, distinguishing each colony respectively, betwixt the years 1720 and 1730 and betwixt the years 1738 and 1748.
An account of the amount of duties paid in the Northern colonies upon the importation of rum or spirits, molasses or syrups, sugar and paneles, of the growth and produce of any foreign settlements from the year 1733 to the present time, in pursuance of the Act, passed in the 6th year of his present Majesty, for the better encouraging the trade of his Majesty's sugar colonies in America, distinguishing each year etc.
An account of the amount of duties paid in the Northern colonies, upon the importation of rum or spirits, molasses or syrups, sugar and paneles, of the growth and produce of any foreign settlements from the year 1733 to the present time, in pursuance of the Act, passed in the 6th year of his present Majesty, for the better encouraging the trade of his Majesty's sugar colonies in America, distinguishing each colony.
Read a letter from Mr. Cornwallis, Governor of Nova Scotia, to the Board, dated at Halifax, September 30th, 1750, relating to the non performance of Mr. Townshend's contract, desiring a sufficient naval force may be stationed at Nova Scotia and giving advice of bills drawn by him for the service of the settlement.
Read a letter from Gabriel Johnston, Esquire, Governor of
North Carolina, dated at Edenton,..…, 1750, inclosing an
account of five ships of the Spanish Flota put on shore on the coast
of that province by the great storm, August 18th, 1750.
N.B. A copy of the account inclosed in the above letter was sent to the Duke of Bedford with a letter from the Board, dated the 29th of November, last.
Read the following paper received from Mr. Crokatt, agent for
the province of South Carolina, viz.:—
Account of the wholesale prices of rum and molasses at South Carolina for nineteen years, from 1732 to 1750.
Read a letter from Mr. Grenville, Governor of Barbados, to
the Board, dated the 20th of October, 1750, inclosing:—
Copy of a letter from Captain Bladwell to Commodore Holburne in relation to Tobago, dated Rose, in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, the 1st of September, 1750.
Ordered that the Secretary do transmit to his Majesty's Commissaries at Paris an attested extract of the allotment made to the Earl of Stirling of the lands between the river St. Croix and Pemaquid in 1633, in consequence of a previous agreement of the Council of Plymouth for that purpose, that extract being referred to in the draught of a memorial prepared by their lordships, to be delivered to the French Commissaries, containing a state of the proofs of his Majesty's right to the entire province of Accadia or Nova Scotia.
The merchants, sugar planters and others interested in and trading to the Sugar Islands and also the agents of the several Northern colonies attending, as desired, with their respective sollicitors, their lordships acquainted them that having now received information upon the point necessary for their determination upon the request of the agents of the Northern colonies, made by them on Tuesday the 13th of last month, they had come to a resolution to permit Mr. Sharpe to proceed in laying before them the proofs in support of the allegations of the merchants' memorial, apprehending that as no steps, which they should take thereupon, would be conclusive, no injury could arise to the property or interest of any parties concerned.
Whereupon Mr. Sharpe produced the following depositions
and examinations, which were read, viz.:—
Deposition of Mr. Manning relating to vessels trading from the Northern colonies to the French Sugar Islands, taken before the Assembly of Jamaica, 10th November, 1749.
Examination of Richard Mumford on the same subject, taken before the said Assembly, 9th November, 1749.
A French letter and the translation of it from Monsieur L. Cholet to Mr. Nichols, dated at St. Domingo, 9th September, 1749.
and then proceeded to call several gentlemen to give their lordships an account of what they knew concerning the illicit trade complained of.
Admiral Knowles acquainted their lordships that in the year 1737, being on the Leeward Island Station, in going into Basseterre Road he met a sloop which seemed lightly laden; that in sending on board her, he found she was bound for Boston and had clearances to that port as if laden with rum and sugars, but that her real lading was empty English casks, which she was to fill at Eustatia with rum and sugar; that he afterwards went to Eustatia and saw sixteen or seventeen North American sloops loading and unloading there, and that he wrote an account thereof to Mr. Horace Walpole; that several vessels carry only staves, not casks to Eustatia, and that he has seen ten or twelve tents of coopers at work there making casks of such staves; that during his command at the Leeward Islands, several of the vessels of the Northern colonies not finding cargoes ready for them at Eustatia had taken Dutch passes and gone to Martinique; that Captain Tyrrell, one of the cruizers of the Admiral's squadron, had fired fifty-two shots at one such vessel, before she would bring to, as appeared by a letter from the said Captain, which the Admiral produced and read; that every Captain of his squadron knows that these North American vessels supplied the French with provisions, otherwise he should certainly have taken Martinique; that there were at one time forty-two sail of North American vessels at Hispaniola with fictitious flags of truce, and three at Port Louis when taken by the Admiral, one of which vessels belonged to Providence; that having represented this to the Duke of Newcastle and received no orders in consequence, he ordered his squadron to take such vessels whenever met with; that Captain Holmes accordingly took a snow, with a considerable cargo, and two vessels were taken by Captain Hughes, the cargoes of which were condemned at Boston in January, 1746–7; that the vessels carrying on this trade generally refuse rum and sugars in pay for the lumber etc., they bring to the British Islands, and will sell only for specie, for which consideration they will even take less than the real value of their lumber, etc., in order to buy cargoes at Eustatia, for which purpose specie is necessary, as no freight of lumber or staves they can carry will be sufficient to buy a cargo of rum and molasses; that the colonies are hereby drained of all their specie. The Admiral being then asked by Mr. Sharpe whether he apprehended the French could be supplied with the same kinds of lumber, etc., but from the Northern colonies, he answered he believed not, for that when St. Pierre, a town in Martinique, was burnt down, the Governor of that Island had by proclamation invited the North American vessels to trade thither; that provisions have been so scarce in the French Islands that the Governors of them have applied for leave to buy 100 barrels of flour at Jamaica; that he did not apprehend that Hispaniola could afford them a sufficient quantity of lumber, and that the species of woods growing in their Islands were different from those of the Northern colonies, neither could they be supplied from Canada, the navigation of the river St. Lawrence being so dangerous, that six sail of ships never made a safe passage up and down; that the danger and length of the voyage is also a reason why the French could not be supplied with lumber from the Mississippi; that he believed, but could not positively assert, that the value of the lumber and provisions carried from the Northern colonies was sufficient to pay for the rum and molasses they buy of the French, but as these commodities would be useless to the French, if not disposed of in this manner, he did not believe the French would trade with the Northern colonies, if obliged to pay them in specie; and therefore an Act forbidding the importation of rum and molasses into the Northern colonies would, if faithfully executed, reduce the French to extreme necessity. The Admiral being then asked by Mr. Sharpe whether the said North American vessels do not take off the French sails Osnabnegs, etc., could not assert that of his own knowledge, but said that he heard they took off great quantities of silks, dry goods, etc.
Captain Hughes said that during the time he was under the command of Admiral Knowles in the West Indies, he has been three times at Leogan, and had each time seen there a number of North American vessels; that since the peace he had been asked by merchants, whether he would take them if they fall in his way.
Captain Tyrrell, who was late of the said Admiral's squadron and has a plantation at Antigua, being asked whether rum and sugars had not been refused and money insisted on by these North American traders, answered that he had himself been obliged to draw bills upon England in order to procure specie, when they refused rum and sugars in payment for lumber; that a particular instance of this happened to him in 1747, when the master of a New England vessel, who had refused his rum and sugar, was seen afterwards loading at Eustatia; that it is their common practice to insist on specie, because a cargoe of lumber carried to Eustatia would not purchase a cargoe of rum and molasses there; that by means of this trade, our own Sugar Islands find no' market for their rum, etc., that of the Northern colonies being forestalled; that if this trade could be effectually stopt, the French in time of war would not be able to supply their Sugar Islands with any thing; that the prosperity of the French Islands and the ruin of our own must be the certain consequences of these practices if continued; that the king's fleets had felt the effects of them as well as our own Islands.
This circumstance Admiral Knowles confirmed and said that the Northern colonies used to buy French prisoners at a great price one of another, for a pretence to go to the French Islands, that he had at length been obliged to threaten the French Governors that he would send to England all French prisoners, if they delivered any English to the Northern flags of truce.
Mr. Crokatt desired leave to ask if the French could not be supplied with lumber from the Mobile river, which is to windward of the Mississippi; that he apprehended that Mobile would in time be capable of supplying all the French islands with lumber, and therefore the encouragement that must arise to that settlement from making it difficult to the French to get North American lumber, must in the end be prejudicial to our own sugar colonies. To this Admiral Knowles replied that the rivers Mississippi and Mobile were not more than eight or ten leagues asunder, that the timber growing on each is not the same as that of the Northern colonies, and that the difficult navigation of each together with the length and expence of the voyage would, in his opinion, render it impossible for them to be supplied from either of those places.
Mr. Daniel Moore said he has been three or four months together at St. Eustatia, and has seen great numbers of vessels laden with horses and staves which they sold for molasses; that great quantities of cordage and canvas were also bought at St. Eustatia; that he has known people of New England to have sold their cargoes at Barbados for ready money, to have bought rum hogsheads, which they have filled with water, cleared out as laden with rum and then go to the French islands and buy rum; that he has also been at Martinique, where he has heard the French say, they should have no use for their rum and molasses, if they could not sell it to the British settlements; that the Dutch as well as the French supply Rhode Island with rum and molasses, of which he had heard several instances; that he agreed with the other gentlemen that these practices would end in the destruction of our sugar colonies, and if a stop was not put to them, he would sell his own plantations; being asked by what means this trade might be effectually prevented, he said that, one or two men-of-war stationed at Rhode Island would be sufficient in those parts, and that the Custom House officers of New York and Pennsylvania, if they did their duty, might without the assistance of any men-ofwar effectually stop any trade of this sort in those provinces.
Mr. Maynard said, he was in trade at Barbados from 1715 to 1747; that it is the constant custom of that island to make all agreements for money; that the people of Rhode Island bring horses thither, which they sell for money, that they then buy molasses, casks, and go to Martinique, of which they make no secret; that the Rhode Islanders do generally but not always refuse to take rum at Barbados in payment for the cargoes they bring thither.
Mr. Maitland acquainted the Board that he had been several years at the Leeward Islands and sometimes at Eustatia; that he has seen there thirty sail of North American vessels at one time; that he has seen rum and molasses loaded in such vessels; that he has been told 300 vessels have called there in one year; that great part of the inhabitants of Eustatia are English; that those English have set up still houses in which they distill French rum, and then buying a commission from the Governor of Martinique (which for one voyage costs 500 pieces of eight) they trade with said rum which passes for English; that several people from the Leeward Islands have set up cooperages at Eustatia and have considerable business; that the North American traders dispose of the cargoes they bring to the Leeward Islands for money, if possible, whereby the islands are so distressed for specie that merchants are often obliged to order their correspondents here to send them out Spanish and Portugal money; that Eustatia though small and mountainous exports and imports more than any one of the Leeward Islands; that if this trade was effectually stopt, the French planter would lose 25 per cent. on his net produce, which in his opinion would ruin their Sugar Islands; that there come to St. Eustatia every year ten or twelve Dutch ships with Osnabnegs, Cambricks and all sorts of European and East Indian manufactures, with which all vessels coming thither are supplied to the great detriment of the mother country; that during the late war, the French trade was entirely stopt except to their own Sugar Islands, and he thinks it possible to prevent their making any sugar, but for themselves; that if the 25 per cent. above mentioned was taken from them, a French sugar planter must become a bankrupt; that he agrees with Admiral Knowles, that they can have lumber nowhere but from us, for the reasons set forth by the Admiral; that their Northern colonies can be of no use while Nova Scotia is ours and they have no port to the East; that they cannot be supplied with lumber from Europe on account of the expence; that smuggling is practiced over all the Northern colonies particularly at Rhode Island, where it is less expensive, and goods are landed and exported again as English; that large quantities of rum distilled of French molasses are imported into Ireland and the West of England; that sixteen puncheons from North America are now bonded at the Custom House, which is a proof that those colonies have more than they want; that the Leeward Islands would willingly give their rum for lumber.
Mr. Gray said he had lived six years in Jamaica and supplied 30,000 soldiers and sailors (Admiral Vernon's fleet) with rum, and that he was of opinion that Jamaica would now very nearly furnish a sufficient quantity for all America, in which Admiral Knowles agreed with him, upon computing the number of inhabitants in all the colonies from the number of those in Newfoundland including the fishery.
It being late, and impossible to close the evidence to-day, their lordships desired these gentlemen to attend again to-morrow at twelve o'clock and bring with them such persons of ability, as would ingenuously give the Board their sentiments as to the proper remedy to be applied to the evils complained of.
Read a letter from the Duke of Bedford, dated the 6th of December, 1750, signifying his Majesty's pleasure that this Board do prepare a memorial containing a separate right of his Majesty's right to the Island of Canceau, in order to have his Commissaries instructed fully thereupon.
Mr. Moore being particularly asked, repeated the assertion he made yesterday that if the officers of the Customs at New York and Pennsylvania did their duty, the illicit trade complained of could not be carried on in those provinces; that four snows would sufficiently watch the coast of Rhode Island and New England.
Mr. Gray being asked, what quantities of rum our Islands made, said that Jamaica makes 12,000 puncheons per annum of 110 gallons each; that if the uncultivated parts of that island were settled, it might make 30,000 puncheons, and in three or four years, might make 50,000, if there was demand for it, and that the increase of the demand would be the most effectual encouragement to settle the unhabitated part of the island; that if this illicit trade was effectually prohibited the Northern colonies would then be obliged to take from our Sugar Islands the commodities they now take from the French, and that our Islands could very well supply them; that Barbados does now make 12,000 puncheons of 110 gallons each, to which Mr. Moore added that that Island does actually ship off 10,000 puncheons, but little or no molasses.
Mr. Maitland said that Antigua makes from 10 to 12,000 puncheons of rum, St. Christopher's 6,000, Montserrat 1,500 puncheons; that Nevis chiefly sold their molasses and made but very little rum as yet, but are now going into that trade and will be capable of making about 1,500 puncheons.
Being asked what is the proportion of sugar to molasses, he said, that in St. Christopher's the sugar, not being rich, yield little molasses, that five hogsheads of sugar would yield three of molasses in that Island, but in Antigua, where the sugars are richer, three hogsheads sugar yield two of molasses; that something depends on the skill of the distillers, but much more on the difference of richness in the sugar cane; that 100 gallons of Jamaica rum is equal to 140 gallons of French rum and is 10 per cent. stronger than the rum of our other Islands.
Mr. Sharpe observed to their lordships that the above quantities of rum said to be now made in our Sugar Islands at the most moderate computation amounted to 41,500 puncheons or 4,565,000 gallons, to which quantity the allowance for superior strength in the Jamaica rum would still make a considerable addition.
Mr. Gray said that lumber is of late brought to Jamaica in less quantities and at a higher price than in the year 1733; that between the year 1740 and 1746 he several times bought lumber and had offered rum and molasses in exchange for it, but was refused and obliged to pay cash: that he also bought flour for the fleet, for which he was obliged to pay in specie.
Mr. Maitland said that he had enquired of many captains in the North American trade, who had assured him that the price of lumber was double what it was twenty years ago; that the price is now from £20 to £30 currency per 1,000 boards or staves, which could have been bought ten years ago from 25 to 30s. sterling, and twenty years ago for half the first price, the reason of which he conceived to be the quantities of timber that have been cut down by new settlers; that the want of lumber would daily increase by the continuation of the Northern colonies to supply the French with it and that as the difficulty of getting necessaries for a sugar plantation must greatly discourage a sugar planter, the making a less quantity of sugar and of course the decline of our sugar colonies must be the consequence of this illicit trade, the prohibition whereof would be the best means of settling the Island of Jamaica, of which he said not one-sixth or one-tenth part is at present cultivated. Mr. Maitland confessed that he had never been in North America, but that the information he had given was grounded on the frequent intercourse he had had with the people of that country; and with regard to what he had asserted on the article of lumber he said he had been concerned in a vessel that went to North America to load lumber and carry it to St. Christopher's, but it was then so scarce that the Captain was obliged to disobey his orders and take freight to Cape Breton.
Mr. Penny said that in the year 1738 at Nevis he had offered rum or molasses in exchange for a cargo of lumber, that his offer being refused and he still insisting he would only pay in rum, he was at length obliged to take an order to pay in rum to a third person; that it is the constant practice of the North American vessels at Nevis to insist on being paid in specie.
Mr. Sharpe then desired their lordships' leave to open a new head of evidence in order to shew that this illicit trade extends its effects to the trade of Great Britain and that great quantities of sail cloths, linnens, silks, spices, china, etc., are illegally carried to the Northern colonies, whereby this nation is deprived of the benefit of supplying them; and having called upon Mr. James Warren, a merchant settled at Marseilles, to give an account of the trade carried on from that port to North America, Mr. Warren acquainted their lordships, that he has had cargoes of pitch, tar, logwood and timber from Piscataqua, and others of spars, staves and planks, sometimes from Boston, sometimes from Carolina; that he has also received small parcells of rum and furs from Cançeau; that he has been settled at Marseilles for twenty years, and these consignments have come four times in some years; that it is not an accidental but a settled trade carried on by commission; that the returns made from Marseilles consisted of silks, velvets, gold, and silver wire buttons, silk stockings, gold and silver lace, twist, gloves, olives, capers, wine and earthern ware; that the ships concerned in this trade go from Marseilles to Cadiz, where they load salt and then proceed to Boston.
Captain Cole said that he has known of several of these cargoes consigned to Mr. Warren to another merchant of the same name, and other houses at Marseilles, as much or more than to Mr. Warren; that he remembers the same trade carried on at Toulon; that Lyons hats were sent in great quantities to North America, in exchange for furs; that the Governors of Mississippi have told him there was very little timber in that country, that they never sent any lumber from thence to their own colonies and very little from St. Lawrence, on account of the difficult navigation of that river, and that he was therefore persuaded the French could not be supplied with lumber but by our Northern colonies; that it is easy to stop this trade at New York and Pennsylvania, there being so few ports in those provinces, and that four sloops of war would effectually watch the coasts of Rhode Island and New England, but that cruizers on the contraband vessels would in his opinion do better.
Being asked whether spars brought as above to Toulon have not been sold to the French king's arsenal, he answered, that spars, blocks and other things of the like nature have been so sold, and Mr. Warren said that he sold a cargo of timber and plank from Piscataway to the arsenal at Marseilles.
Mr. Bellas, Register to the Court of Admiralty, acquainted
their lordships that he had in his custody, by virtue of his office,
several letters and papers which were taken by a man-of-war in
Scotland, some of which confirm the evidence given yesterday
by Admiral Knowles and others, prove a regular trade between
Messrs. Quinseys of Boston and Messrs. Hops of Amsterdam, in
which trade some persons at Newcastle and Cowes, were also
concerned. Mr. Bellas then read the following letters, viz.:—
A letter from Thomas and Adrian Hop to Edward and Josias Quinsey, dated 23rd August, 1745, giving advice of a cargo of naval stores, arms, powder, etc., shipped for their account.
A letter from Ralph Car to said Josias Quinsey, dated at Newcastle, September 6th, 1745.
Their lordships desired Mr. Bellas to prepare and lay before them an abstract of all the letters in his custody relating to this illegal trade, that they may the more readily turn to such as are material evidence in the matters now under their consideration.
Mr. Sharpe then read the following papers:—
The proceedings in the Court of Admiralty against the Elizabeth of Eustatia, Joseph Black, sole owner, James Johnston, master, taken by Captain Philpot of his Majesty's ship the Woolwich. She was bound to the Mole, a French Island, laden with Osnabrigs, glasses, etc.
Proceedings in the said court against the sloop Endeavour, Lawrence Paine, master, which vessel sailed from New York, 31st January, 1746–7, as a flag of truce with twelve French prisoners to Cape François. She carried with her a cargo of fish, flour, beef, bread, and beer, which she sold there, received back nine prisoners and took in a cargo of thirty-six hogsheads sugar, thirty-six hogsheads of molasses and 200 weight of loaf sugar, which she was to carry back to New York, but was taken by Captain Hughes and carried to Boston where both ship and cargo were acquitted.
Proceedings in the Court of Admiralty at Boston, against the
Victory brigantine, which sailed as a flag of truce from
Newport, 12th January, 1746–7, with five French prisoners
to Cape François; she carried thither a cargo of 300
quintals of codfish, some onions, etc., with the produce
whereof she bought 174 casks of molasses of different
sizes which were to have been delivered to Joseph Whipple,
Esquire, of Newport, her owner, but on the 23rd May, 1747,
she was taken off Lock Island, by the Hind sloop, Captain
Hughes, and carried into Boston where the ship was
acquitted but the cargo was condemned.
The sentence passed by the Judge of the Admiralty Court of Boston on said ship and cargo.
The case of the sloop Mary of Bermuda which sailed in August, 1747, as a flag of truce with one French prisoner to Leogan; she carried out 200 and odd barrels of flour, for which she had a clearance to Jamaica, and took in at Leogan eighty-nine hogsheads of sugar, eight hogsheads and two barrels of indigo, and forty-eight loaves of refined sugars and six English prisoners. Her owners were Francis Jones and George Forbes, Esquires, and Co. of Bermuda. She was taken the 1st October, 1747, and had when taken a French pass.
Mr. Sharpe would have proceeded to offer some observations on the evidence that he had laid before their lordships, but it being late, the gentlemen were desired to attend again on Monday next, at twelve o'clock.
The draught of a representation to his Majesty proposing James Graeme, Esquire, to be of the Council of South Carolina in the room of John Colleton, Esquire, deceased, having been prepared pursuant to the minutes of the 5th instant, was laid before the Board, agreed to, transcribed and signed.
The draught of a letter to his Grace the Duke of Bedford, inclosing an extract of a letter from Mr. Glen, having been prepared, pursuant to the minutes of the 4th instant, was laid before the Board, agreed to, transcribed and signed.
Ordered that the draught of a letter to Messrs. Shirley and Mildmay, his Majesty's Commissaries at Paris, be prepared, in answer to their two last letters of..…; and the same being prepared, was agreed to, transcribed and signed.
The draught of a memorial to be presented to his Most Christian Majesty's Commissaries, containing a separate state of his Majesty's right to the Islands of Cançeau; and the draught of a letter to the Duke of Bedford for inclosing the same having been prepared pursuant to the minutes of the 7th instant, were agreed to, transcribed and signed.
The draught of a letter to his Grace the Duke of Bedford inclosing copies of Mr. Grenville's letter of the 30th of October and of the paper therewith transmitted, having been prepared pursuant to the minutes of the 6th instant, was agreed to, transcribed and signed.
The merchants, sugar planters, etc., with their sollicitor, Mr. Sharpe, and the agents for the Northern colonies with their sollicitor, Mr. Paris, attending, as desired by the minutes of Friday last, Mr. Sharpe, recapitulating what had been given in evidence at the two hearings on this subject, observed to their lordships,
That he had in the opening of the case stated the Act of 1733, and insisted that the sense of the Legislature had thereby determined the illicit trade complained of to be in its consequences destructive, and had intended that Act to operate as a prohibition; that he had proved the Northern colonies, and particularly Rhode Island, to have been guilty of carrying on this trade to the great prejudice of his Majesty's revenue, to the very great advantage of the French and to the ruin of our own Sugar Islands; that by means of flags of truce in time of war and of false clearances in times of peace, they had in the manner set forth by the evidences supplied the enemy with all kinds of provisions, naval stores and lumber, introduced their molasses, sugar, rum and manufactures, not only into the Northern colonies but even into Great Britain and Ireland, and supplied all North America with the manufactures of Europe and the East Indies, bought of the French or Dutch: that he had proved also that to this trade the French owed the flourishing condition of their sugar trade (the extent of which was not known till the late war), the existence of their navy and the possession of territories, which (as had been given in evidence) must have otherwise been taken from them: that the consequences proved to result from these practices with regard to the British Sugar Islands were a great scarcity of lumber, a very high price on the small quantities they could get, and such a scarcity of specie, by being obliged to pay for lumber in ready cash, that they had been necessitated to send for specie from England; that such evils called for a speedy and effectual remedy, that several of the gentlemen concerned being out of town, the sense of the whole body was not yet agreed on, but those who had consulted on this affair had authorized him to propose a total prohibition of all trade between the Northern colonies and all foreign settlements; that he had proved in answer to all the objections that could be made to the prohibition of such trade, first, that our Sugar Islands were at present in want of lumber, and that the demand would be greater whenever the prohibition desired should encourage the settlement of the uncultivated part of Jamaica; that secondly, the French, for the several reasons given in evidence, could not possibly be supplied with lumber from their own colonies nor from Europe (of which their buying it of our settlements is a circumstantial proof), and thirdly, that Jamaica alone is able to supply the Northern colonies with rum (as appears by the quantities said by the evidences to be made there) and with molasses too if they will take it; that since the Northern colonies had not named their annual demand, he had estimated it (and in the opinion of good judges reasonably) at 10,000 hogsheads of sugar, 12,000 hogsheads rum and 16,000 hogsheads molasses per annum, which several quantities may be had from our own Islands; that the duties of these several quantities under the Act of 1733 were for:—
|10,000 hogsheads sugar||£25,000|
|12,000 " rum||£45,000|
|16,000 " molasses||£40,000|
That this sum for sixteen years to 1749 amounts to £1,760,000 and whatever the duties that appear by the Custom House accounts to have been actually paid, fall short of that sum, so much are the duties of which the Crown has been defrauded; and if the Northern colonies should make their annual demand to exceed the above estimate, the arrear of duties due from them would increase in proportion; that upon the whole the consequences of this illicit trade were so pernicious in every respect, and the putting an effectual stop to it of so great importance to the very being of the trade of the Sugar Islands and to the benefit that ought to accrue to Great Britain from the Northern colonies, that he hoped and intreated their lordships' assistance in obtaining an Act of Parliament for the total prohibition of all trade between the colonies of North America and all foreign settlements.
To this proposal, Mr. Paris very strongly objected as prejudicial to the interests of North America, and a means of hindering the settling it; that the consequences of such a prohibition if determined on would be so fatal to the Northern colonies, that he entreated that time might be allowed to them to answer the several articles of which they were accused.
Mr. Bollan, agent for the Massachusetts Bay, said that the proposal made by Mr. Sharpe tended to the destruction of all the North American trade whether legal or illegal; that several of the persons who had given evidence were not sufficiently acquainted with the matters they had spoke of, and that the point in question was of such consequence that he prayed their lordships not to determine hastily but to grant time for the Northern colonies to make answer according to the request made by their respective agents on the 13th of last month.
Mr. Abercromby, agent for North Carolina, and Mr. Charles, agent for the province of New York, urged the same request that the Northern colonies might not hereafter be said to have acquiesced in the accusations brought against them and in the remedy proposed; which remedy they looked on as a monopoly prejudicial to Great Britain and destructive of the birth right of the people of North America.
Mr. Tomlinson, as a sugar colony merchant (not as an agent), objected to the prohibition proposed and said that he should look on the contrivers of this application as the greatest enemies to the sugar colonies; that Mr. Sharpe had sufficiently proved the fact he had asserted, and there were still other instances of illicit trade, of which he himself knew; but that the Act of 1733, if effectually executed, was sufficient prohibition, and if it had not been found effectual the collectors and officers of the Customs were chiefly to blame; that he had many objections to the evidence that had been given, in which there had been a frequent misrepresentation of facts; and that if the evidences had been cross examined or the Northern colonies were to make answer to these accusations, things would wear a very different face; that Mr. Maitland's evidence as to the price of lumber and his reasons for the scarcity of it were not true; that the settlement of Nova Scotia and the danger of going into the woods last year were the apparent reasons of that scarcity; and as to the price, that he had twenty years ago sold lumber at £7 per 1,000 at Antigua, and this year two ships in which he was concerned had sold it at £5 and £4; that when he sold lumber for £7 per 1,000, rum was then 15d. per gallon and is now 2s. 6d.; that if the North American traders were to take rum at that rate in exchange for lumber, the quantities would be very small, and they must besides allow 28s. for each cask, in which they take the rum; that the traders of New England have desired to take molasses, but that the Sugar Islands will not part with a drop; that these are the true reasons why specie is insisted on by the North American traders; that he believed the calculation of rum made in our Sugar Islands to be right, but that the consumption was so great that they had none to spare; that the application of the sugar planters etc., was ill timed and the proposal of dangerous tendency, and if this affair should come before Parliament, he expected the wisdom of the Legislature would, as the best remedy for the evils complained of, repeal part of the Act of 1733.
Their lordships were then pleased to defer the further consideration of these matters to Thursday, the 10th of January, and to desire that the merchants, sugar planters etc., will on that day lay before them such expedients, as upon consultation shall be agreed on among themselves as the most effectual remedies for the evils complained of; and the agents of the Northern colonies are desired at the same time to lay before the Board their sentiments how far the total prohibition proposed by Mr. Sharpe would effect the interests of the Northern colonies, reserving to themselves the benefit of the objections they had made to it.
Read a letter from Mr. Clinton, Governor of New York, dated
the 4th of October, 1750, transmitting the following publick
Copy of a letter from Lieutenant Butler to Colonel William Johnson, dated Oswego, the 3rd September, 1750.
Copy of a letter from Colonel Johnson to Governor Clinton, dated Mount Johnson, the 14th of September, 1750.
Copy of a letter from Mr. Hamilton, Deputy Governor of Pennsylvania, to Mr. Clinton, Governor of New York, dated at Philadelphia, the 20th September, 1750.
Message from the Twightwees delivered to the Governor of Pennsylvania but addressed to all his Majesty's Governors, May 29th, 1750.
Copy of a message from the Ohio Indians delivered to the Governor of Pennsylvania imparting messages from and to the Twightwees, and likewise a message from the Owendacts.
Ordered that copies of the said letter and papers be transmitted to his Grace the Duke of Bedford, and the draught of a letter to his Grace for inclosing the same having been prepared, was laid before the Board, agreed to, transcribed and signed.
Read a letter from Lieutenant-General Fleming, Commander
in Chief of the Leeward Islands to the Board, dated at St.
Christopher's, the 19th September, 1750, transmitting the following
Minutes of Assembly of Montserrat, from the 10th of February, 1749–50 to the 25th of June, 1750.
Minutes of Council and Assembly of Nevis, from the 19th March, 1749–50 to the 9th of August, 1750.
An Act passed at Nevis the 24th of August, 1750, to impower James Emra, Esquire, late Treasurer of that island to collect the taxes raised when he was Treasurer.
Read Mr. Lamb's report upon a private Act, passed in Jamaica in May, 1746, to intitle Richard Furnell, an infant of the age of four years, a free mulatto, the reputed son of Peter Furnell of the parish of Kingston in the said Island, merchant, by a free negro woman, to the same rights and privileges with English subjects born of white parents.
Read a letter from Mr. Clevland, Secretary to the Lords of the
Admiralty, dated the 3rd December, 1750, inclosing the following
papers relating to the state and condition of the British forts
and settlements on the Coast of Africa, viz.:—
Copy of a letter from Captain Pye, Commander of his Majesty's ship Humber, to the Secretary of the Admiralty, dated Humber, off St. Thomas, the 18th of March, 1749–50.
Copy of a letter from Captain Pye, Commander of his Majesty's ship Humber, to the Secretary of the Admiralty, dated March 19th, 1749–50.
Copy of a letter from the Council at Cape Coast, to Captain Pye, dated at Cape Coast Castle, the 18th January, 1749–50.
Copy of a paper dated Cape Coast Castle, 10th February, 1749–50, signed with the marks of the principal Caboseers and inhabitants of the town of Cape Coast in Africa in favour of Richard Stockwell, Esquire, their late Governor.
An account of the state and condition of Cape Coast Castle together with the Castle slaves, military stores, canoes and other vessels, thereto belonging, by order of a survey made by order of Captain Pye, the 4th February, 1749.
Plans of the several forts and settlements on the Coast of Africa.
The draught of a representation to his Majesty proposing the confirmation of a private Act passed in Jamaica, having been prepared pursuant to the minutes of yesterday, was agreed to, transcribed and signed.
The draught of a representation to his Majesty proposing the confirmation of a private Act passed in Virginia in 1749, having been transcribed pursuant to the minutes of the 11th instant, was laid before the Board and signed.
Read a letter from Mr. West, Secretary to the Lords of the Treasury, dated the 12th of December, 1750, referring to this Board jointly with Mr. Secretary at War, copy of a proposal made to their lordships by Mr. Alderman Baker for entering into a contract for victualling his Majesty's forces in Nova Scotia, exclusive of Colonel Cornwallis's regiment.
Read a letter from Mr. West, Secretary to the Lords of the Treasury, dated the 14th December, 1750, inclosing extracts from the officers of the ordnance relating to expenses incurred in the province of Nova Scotia, for the Board's consideration.
Read a letter from Mr. West, Secretary to the Lords of the Treasury, dated the 12th instant, inclosing two memorials from Mr. Chauncy Townshend, contractor for victualling 3,000 settlers in Nova Scotia; and one of Mr. Kilby, agent to the said colony, for this Board's consideration and report thereupon.
Mr. Chauncy Townshend and Mr. Kilby attending, their lordships had some discourse with them upon the subject of the said memorials and being withdrawn, the draught of a letter to the Lords of the Treasury thereupon was ordered to be prepared.
Read Mr. Lamb's report upon a private Act, passed in Virginia in December, 1748, to dock the intail of 600 acres of land in the parish of Lunenburg in the county of Richmond, whereof Bernard Gains died seized in fee tail and to vest the same in William Jordon, Gentleman, in fee simple, etc.
The Secretary having acquainted the Board that the parties concerned in the said Act had desired him to move their lordships for their representation to his Majesty in favour of the said Act, their lordships ordered the draught of a representation to his Majesty proposing the confirmation of the said Act.
Read a letter from Captain Ogle, Lieutenant-Governor of Maryland, to the Board, dated at Annapolis, the 28th of September, 1750, inclosing a certificate relating to a plateing forge working with two tilt hammers etc., in obedience to an Act of Parliament to encourage the importation of pig and bar iron from his Majesty's Colonies in America.
Mr. Chauncy Townshend and Mr. Kilby attending, their lordships took into consideration the draught of a letter to the Lords of the Treasury ordered to be prepared by the minutes of Friday last, and the same having been agreed to, was ordered to be transcribed.
Their lordships took into consideration Mr. Davidson's answer to the articles of charge against him relative to his conduct as Secretary and Treasurer to the province of Nova Scotia; and Sir Danvers Osborn, lately arrived from thence, attending, informed their lordships that he was at Halifax six weeks; that when he arrived there Mr. Davidson was returned from Boston, but did not sail for England till about ten days before he left Halifax, that when he arrived there Colonel Cornwallis had given orders to Mr. Davidson to make up the accounts and frequently, while he was there, repeated those orders, intending to send the said accounts home by the first ships that went to England in the fall; that when Mr. Davidson brought his accounts to Colonel Cornwallis, they were made up in such a manner that Colonel Cornwallis said he could not possibly make himself master of them, and expressed great uneasiness that they were not in a better method, and told Sir Danvers Osborn he could not possibly sign such accounts; that he believed he would not have signed them should Mr. Davidson have pressed him to do it; that Colonel Cornwallis finding the accounts in such a state appointed a Committee of the Council to examine them; that he believed that Colonel Cornwallis had more perplexity from the irregularity of the accounts than from the complaints against Mr. Davidson; that Mr. Davidson's excuse for the irregularity of this was that many of the particulars were of such a nature as could not be vouched, more especially the money paid to the labourers from whom it was impossible to take receipts; that as to the article of rum bought of Mr. Callendar, Mr Davidson acknowledged to Colonel Cornwallis that he was to blame, but that it was to serve a friend; that Colonel Cornwallis was not satisfied with this and declared he thought him blameable; that as to what concerned the alteration in the accounts after they were examined by the Committee of Council, he informed the Board that the Committee having drawn up their report, laid it before the Council, who delivered the accounts to Mr. Davidson, which he returned and said that the article of contingencies was not cast up right and referred to the page, that upon the Council's looking upon it they took notice that a figure was altered which Mr. Davidson acknowledged, and said there were others altered, and that the Committee had made a mistake of £1,000 in casting it up, but the Committee adhered to their report; that Colonel Cornwallis was struck with this and sent home the fact as it appeared: their lordships then observed to Sir Danvers Osborn that it appeared by the accounts that Mr. Davidson had stated a ballance in Colonel Cornwallis's hands of upwards of £2,000, to which Sir Danvers Osborn informed them that he did not believe there could be such a sum, for upon casting it up the night before Davidson sailed there was not above £800; that the Council were of opinion that the accounts were very irregular and that proper diligence had not been used.
That Colonel Cornwallis declared to him that if Mr. Davidson returned he should never entrust him with public money, intending to separate the offices of Treasurer and Secretary; that Mr. Davidson had many enemies, the general conversation being against him except amongst the Scotch; that Mr. Callendar was looked upon as an agent of Mr. Davidson's.
Mr. Paris, sollicitor in behalf of Wavell Smith, Esquire, Secretary
of the Leeward Islands, with his counsel, Mr. Forrester, and Mr.
Sharpe, agent for the Island of Nevis with his counsel, Mr.
Martin, attending, as desired by the minutes of the 4th instant,
their lordships took into consideration, the Act, passed in the
Island of Nevis in 1748, for establishing a Registers Office, and the
said Act having been read, Mr. Forrester, counsel for Mr. Smith,
observed to their lordships that this Act would appear to be as
violent an infringement of the Crown's prerogative, as of the
particular rights of the Secretary of the Leeward Islands; that
with regard to Mr. Smith, although there was not till this any
Act in Nevis to oblige persons to register deeds, yet the people of
that Island had constantly registered them in the Secretary's
office; that the Act passed in 1710, which was confirmed and is
consequently in force till repealed, gives the Secretary a fee of
£14s. currency for recording deeds of sale of lands, and enacts
that the Secretary's office shall be an office of record for all past
and future deeds; that pursuant to this Act the Secretary acted
as Register of Deeds till 1732, when an Act passed and was
confirmed, which established new fees to the Secretary for distinct
services, but does not, as is said, augment old ones; that there is
a clause that the Secretary shall give £1,000 security to act
according to the tenor of this Act; that Mr. Smith was obliged
to give this security for discharge of his office, though given
him by the Crown, to which he was perhaps inclined by the
addition thereby made to his former fees; that Mr. Smith was
appointed Secretary of the Leeward Islands on the 22nd October,
1722, by patent, giving him all fees, rights, etc., in as full and
ample manner as any Secretary of the Leeward Islands had ever
enjoyed the said place, by which words he was entitled to all the
benefits of the Act of 1710 and was therefore appointed perpetual
Register, and that whatever is taken from that Act derogates
from the Letters Patent; that General Mathew in giving his
assent to this Act, had disobeyed the 21st, 23rd, 42nd and 57th
articles of his instructions, and instead of countenancing and
encouraging the king's Patent Officers in their just rights, as
directed by the last mentioned article, had bestowed part of
them on a favourite of his own; that upon the representations of
Mr. Smith against this Act, their lordships wrote to General
Mathew on the 28th of June, 1749, (an extract of which letter Mr.
Forrester read, as entered on the minutes of Council of Nevis of
the 17th October, 1749); but that it appeared from the minutes
of Council of the 3rd January, 1749, that General Mathew did
not lay the said extract before the Assembly as directed by their
lordships, but before the Council who sent it to the Assembly.
Mr. Forrester then read the answer returned by the Assembly to
the Council on consideration of the said extract of the Board's
letter, on which he observed that the precedents of Register Acts
in Antigua and St. Christopher's, by which the Assembly of
Nevis pretended to justify themselves, were not similar cases;
that the Register Act of the County of Middlesex (to which they
seemed to refer as a reason for the security required by this
Act to be given by the Register) required only £2,000 security
for this great county, and this Act requires £5,000 currency, which
is almost £3,000 sterling, whereby the crown is excluded from
appointment, since no man at his first going can get such security;
that in another part of their answer, they in effect acknowledge
they had rather have no such law, than make an officer of the
king's as independent as the king meant him to be; that their
assertion that the Act of 1710 is obsolete, is false, it being a known
rule in law that no Act goes into desuetude by not being used,
and if it does not, Mr. Smith then continues Secretary and Register
under the Act of 1710; that besides the objections he had offered
with regard to Mr. Smith the Act was clogged with many
absurdities which he begged leave to point out to their Lordships;
that the Act of 1710 appointed the Secretary's office as the place
to register deeds, that this of 1748 contradicts it, and may thereby
ensnare purchasers; that this Act of 1748 says all deeds not
registered according to it shall be fraudulent, contrary to the rule
of law, according to which, though a man's title be not registered, if
it be sufficiently notified no advantage can be taken against him;
that it enacts that all wills shall be legally proved, before they are
registered, and shall not be valid till registered in the office
appointed by this Act, although it is in many cases impossible to
get legal proofs of wills; that it obliges Statutes of Judgments
and Recognizances to be registered, contrary to the custom of
England, they being themselves records; that these absurdities
are sufficient on publick considerations to induce the Board to
propose the repeal of this Act. The following papers were then
read as evidence, viz.:—
Extract of the Board's letter to General Mathew of the 28th July, 1749, as entered in the minutes of Council of Nevis.
Minutes of Council of the 17th October, 1749.
Deposition of Mr. Calder, dated 14th December, 1749.
Minutes of Council of Nevis of the 3rd January, 1749.
Ditto of the 9th March, 1749.
Mr. Martin in behalf of the Act acquainted their lordships that he appeared in support of a law beneficial to Nevis but displeasing to Mr. Smith, that the utility of it is self evident; that Mr. Smith acknowledges he should be content with the Act if he had been appointed Register; that as to the absurdities Mr. Forrester complains of, the Act is taken from those of like nature in other Islands; that as to the security required to be given, if it is supposed that the Patent officer is entitled to the office of Register, then the objection to it is good; but Mr. Herbert made none, and if the Island may appoint its Register it may be presumed they will appoint such persons as will have no objection to giving the security demanded; that as to the difficulty of legally proving wills before registered, such proof is easy by exemplification made here under the Lord Mayor's Seal and sent over; that as to Mr. Smith's great objections to this Act (which are, first, that it trenches upon his patent, secondly, that it ought not to be passed without a suspending clause) it is incumbent on Mr. Smith to prove he has a right of registering to the exclusion of all others; if he has it not exclusively, there is no injustice done him; that an exclusive right does not appear from the words of his patent; that if he claims that right from custom of people's registering their deeds at the Secretary's office, such exclusive right is supposed in the first Secretary, which is not true, since the Legislature might at any time have appointed another office for Registry; that Mr. Smith is so far from having an exclusive right of recording deeds that he has none at all, and that he does not pretend to say he could call on anybody to register at his office, therefore no right is violated; that as to the second objection that this Act should have had a suspending clause, being of extraordinary nature and repealing the Act of 1710, there is no opposition in the provisions of these two Acts, nor incompatibility; that except in fees there is no alteration from the Act of 1710; that this Act confirms the right he had before to record such deeds as are brought to him, and if the Act of 1710 gives no right and this of 1748 does not trench upon the patent, then it does not contradict the Act of 1710; that if this Act should be confirmed, Mr. Smith's will still be an office of record, and the appointing one office of record does not destroy any other; that at St. Christopher's in 1715 an Act was passed, the same as that of 1710 at Nevis, and in 1727 they passed a Register Act which was never considered as a repeal of the Act of 1715; that a suspending clause could not be necessary in this case, the Crown having declared its' pleasure before on Acts of the like nature in Antigua and St. Christopher's; that notwithstanding Mr. Smith's application against the Act of St. Christopher's in 1727, the Board proposed the confirmation of it and it was accordingly confirmed; that it is true Mr. Smith will not by this Act have so many deeds to record as formerly, but there is great difference between right of office and accidental advantage; that Mr. Forrester had said all the advantages of this Act might be obtained by letting things remain as they were; which could not be, as great accuracy was required in the execution of the office of Register, which must be consequently personally attended; that Mr. Smith being Secretary of all the Leeward Islands, had he been appointed, could not have had leisure to do the duties of this post, which was a good reason why the Legislature of Nevis had attempted to make them distinct; that if this Act should be repealed it was doubtfull whether Nevis will ever pass such an Act again, and therefore submitted it whether for Mr. Smith's private advantage so beneficial an Act should be lost to the Island. To this Mr. Forrester replied that if this Act is the same as those of St. Christopher's and Antigua, he was very sorry for it, the objections in point of law being unanswerable; that exemplifications under the Lord Mayor's Seal are not legal proof in case of wills, and if this Act is passed, there must be an Act of Parliament to make exemplifications legal proofs; that Mr. Smith has by rule of law the exclusive right insisted, the Act of 1710 having appointed the Secretary's office for the recording of deeds, and the king's patent having given him all rights etc., enjoyed by his predecessors; that it has been said he was left in his former situation and that deeds might still be brought to be recorded in his office, which was of the absurdities he had complained of, as confusion must be the consequence of having two offices of record under two Acts interfering with each other. Upon the whole, that if the objections on Mr. Smith's behalf were too trivial, those on publick considerations were, he hoped, sufficiently strong to induce their lordships to propose the repeal of this Act. And both parties being withdrawn their lordships agreed to consider further of the said Act at another opportunity.