Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Volume 9, January 1750 - December 1753. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1932.
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Journal, May 1752
Their lordships pursuant to the minutes of the 28th of April last, took into consideration the address of the Assembly of the Island of Jamaica to his Majesty praying that the additional instruction to the Governor of that Island restraining him from assenting to any law whereby absentees should be taxed in a greater proportion than residents may be revoked; and Mr. Sharpe, agent for the said Island, in support of the said address, and Mr. Paris, agent and sollicitor in behalf of the absentees, attending as desired they were called in and the said address having been read,
Mr. Sharpe in support of the address observed to their lordships the length of time during which the Legislature of Jamaica had exercised the power of making laws for taxing absentees in a greater proportion than residents. He stated to their lordships the periods and particulars of every Act of the like nature which had been passed in that Island from 1718, when first such Acts took rise to the year 1748, (when his Majesty, by an additional instruction forbad his Governor to assent to any such law), and observed that the usage from 1718 to 1748 was sufficient to give a right of passing Acts of the like nature.
That although this instruction was not given till the Assembly had exercised this power for above thirty years, they had not attempted to pass any law in breach of it, but humbly represented the necessity of such an Act in their address now under consideration; that the reasons contained in the said address were strong and cogent; that the only facts therein mentioned which stood in need of any proofs were the great Negro Rebellion which broke out upon the estate of an absentee and the rebellion lately set on foot, but timely discovered, which facts, besides being asserted by a legislative body, were notorious from many letters. And as the address is a publick Act of the Assembly the facts asserted in it must according to usage be taken for truths, as all Acts carry with them their own authenticity.
That the giving this instruction to the Governor of Jamaica arose from a like instruction having been given to the Governor of the Leeward Islands upon an Act being passed in Antigua for taxing absentees; but that neither the circumstances of the two Islands nor the objects of the two Acts were in the least similar; that Jamaica being an Island of the utmost consequence and the most exposed to the French and Spaniards, might be justified in using such means to people itself with white men as would be elsewhere very improper: that the 29th and 43rd articles of the instructions to the Governor of Jamaica take notice of the great want of white people. The first of them relates to the forces sent to defend the Island from rebellious negroes and to the making provision for those forces, and assures the Assembly that the eight companies shall be recalled when it shall appear that there is a number of white people to defend the Island. The latter article directs that all laws relating to white servants and to the encouragement of white settlers (and the Deficiency Act was one of those laws) should be strictly executed: that the 29th article above-mentioned is very material to the present point because it shews that the regiment is continued there still for want of white people, and as Mr. Sharpe is informed the legislature have applied for a second regiment; that as the money raised by the tax on absentees has been constantly applied to the subsistance of the forces as recommended by the said 29th instruction, it was highly probable the additional subsistance would be discontinued, if no such Act should be allowed for the future.
That as to the difference between the Deficiency Acts of Jamaica and Antigua, the object of the former was to accelerate the settling the Island with white people, the money raised by it was a penalty on those only who defeated the intention of the Act, and that penalty applied according to the King's instructions, in the subsistance of his forces; the intention of the latter was to raise money, (the payment of which could not be prevented but by the personal appearance of the absentee) to raise a regiment in the Virgin Islands a specious pretext but a mere impossibility; that the Antigua Act was immediately complained of, and the Jamaica Act had continued many years without any complaint from the absentees who had voluntarily submitted.
That as to the objections of the inequality of tax, the burthen laid on the absentees was only one third more for every twenty slaves and 100 cattle than the residents are charged with, one pays three, the other two shillings, which might be reckoned a very easy composition for the advantage of avoiding the fatigue and trouble of the many duties and offices which the residents are obliged, by the absence of so many gentlemen of fortune, to go through in a quicker rotation, to the great neglect of their private affairs; that the loss which the community suffers from the absence of so many of it's most wealthy members made it also highly reasonable that absentees should be taxed in a greater proportion than residents; that the differences between them were not ballanced by the additional tax which however would appear to be no tax at all, as the absentees might send the number of white servants required by the Act, might receive the benefit of the labour of such white servants and need not pay any tax at all.
Upon the whole therefore Mr. Sharpe hoped their lordships would be of opinion that Acts of this nature are necessary and just, and that they would advise his Majesty to withdraw the instruction according to the prayer of the Assembly's address.
Mr. Paris, in behalf of the absentees observed to their lordships that he apprehended the point of dispute was mistaken, that his Majesty's instruction did not forbid the passing of a law to tax absentees but forbade the passing any such law without a suspending clause to the end that his Majesty might judge of the proper degree of inequality of the tax: that as to the quantity of tax imposed by the last Jamaica Act, he insists that the absentee paid one half more than the resident on a like estate, since the one was to pay three and the other two shillings; that Acts of the like nature had been passed in other islands, many hearings had upon them, and that the determination had constantly gone against such Acts; that the first instance happened in Antigua when Mr. Martin, the agent, petitioned the Council, and the Order of the Committee thereupon declared the Act unequal and unjust, and the Governor was forbid by an additional instruction to assent to any more such laws; that two Acts of like nature having been passed in St. Christopher's the Board of Trade on the 27th March, 1745, advised the repeal of one of them (the other being already expired) and the giving the like instruction with regard to all the Leeward Islands which was accordingly ordered by the King's Order in Council; that with regard to the precise times of application against the Jamaica Act, the absentees applied 15th January, 1746; on the 1st May, 1747, the Board advised the sending the like instruction, as had been given to the Leeward Islands; that on the 1st July, 1747, Mr. Sharpe petitioned to be heard against the report of the Board of Trade and to have time to get proofs, and the affair accordingly lay by unheard till 25th June, 1748, (very near a year) and on the 30th July, 1748, the Council by their Order in Council declaring the taxing of absentees to be unequal and unjust; that he hoped so many determinations, always contested, ought to suffice.
That with regard to the present address it came over in November, 1749, the absentees attended upon it in April, 1750, when the same arguments were offered in support of it, but proofs being called for and Mr. Sharpe having none to produce, it was then put off, notwithstanding which Mr. Sharpe has not now produced any proofs, but has insisted that none were necessary; that this application was from the late Assembly, who are dissolved, and is not patronized by the present; that he is informed the Governor and Council refused to join in it, when asked; that it is therefore a deserted complaint and as no proof nor any new matter offered in a case which has been so often determined, he hoped their lordships would advise the Crown to reject the address of the Assembly.
And the following papers being read at Mr. Paris's desire,
So much of the report of the Board of Trade, dated 24th October, 1717, as relates to two Acts passed in Jamaica for the encouragement of white settlers, and the 32nd article of his Majesty's instructions to Edward Trelawney, Esquire.
Mr. Sharpe observed in reply to what Mr. Paris had offered that the report above-mentioned was rather favourable than against him since it does not touch on the objection of disproportion of taxes: that the instruction which had been read was not to the purpose, since it only ordered that the proportion of white servants [be] as directed by the Act of 1704; that the address of the Assembly was not deserted, that the orders he received from the Committee of Correspondence having never been countermanded remain in force, and that the letters he has lately received are very earnest upon this point; that it cannot be reasonably inferred that the Governor and Council were against the address, because they have not joined in it, and whether that circumstance be true or not can only be known by the Governor's letters, to which he refers their lordships; that it does not appear that the sense of the Crown has been repeatedly given upon this point, because the intent of the Antigua Act was so very different and the Acts of St. Christophers not similar, inasmuch as they imposed a double tax on persons who should go out of the Island, so that they became liable to it for being in any other of the Islands under the same government, and this tax was to be applied to the payment of publick debts; that the Act in 1719 was expressly confirmed, which confirmation is the stronger proof that the Crown approved the principles of it, because the Act was at that time expired, and to confirm it then, could answer no other end than to declare an approbation of it; that the avowed purpose of the Act for taxing absentees is to oblige them to send white servants, which would at once tend to their own profit and the security of the Island, if they will not comply but pay the tax imposed in case of deficiency they defeat the intention of the legislature; and that the tax complained of must be very light if the absentees found it less expense to pay it than to send their proportion of white servants.
The parties being withdrawn their lordships were unanimously of opinion that the additional instruction to Mr. Trelawney restraining him from passing laws whereby absentees should be taxed in a greater proportion than residents without a suspending clause should be continued to Mr. Knowles, the present Governor, and inserted in the draught of his general instructions now preparing, it not having appeared to their lordships that any new arguments had been offered or proofs laid before them which might induce them to alter their former opinion or recommend the departing from a measure which had been so often and so fully heard and adjudged.
Colonel Hopson, Governor of Nova Scotia, attending with Mr. Kilby, the agent, their lordships took into consideration the affairs of the said province, and Mr. Kilby having laid before the Board an account of what sum of money would be necessary for an allowance of 3d. per day to each of 1,000 settlers for twelve months amounting to £4,562 10s. 0d., their lordships gave him directions to procure that sum in milled Spanish money or other proper specie in order to be transmitted to the province of Nova Scotia, and Colonel Hopson was directed not to apply any part of the said money to any other purpose whatever than the allowance of 3d. per day to the settlers in lieu of provisions and not to open the chests or casks which should contain the said money until the actual time when the said allowance should commence.
Their lordships then fully represented to Mr. Hopson the present exhausted state of the grant of Parliament for the service of this colony arising from the great and unexpected demands made by Colonel Cornwallis for services of which no account had been transmitted to the Board, and Mr. Hopson was desired immediately upon his arrival to send the Board an account of all expenses which have been incurred and how they arose; what is the present state of the publick works and an estimate of what will be necessary for the ensuing year.
It was further recommended to Mr. Hopson to avoid as much as possible any works which might create a further expense, and even rather to lose the advantage of the labour of the foreign protestants who were to work out the charge of their passage than to employ them in works which might bring on a considerable, collateral or consequential expence or were not of absolute necessity.
Mr. Hopson then observed to their lordships that as it appeared that rum and molasses were at present allowed as well to the settlers as the troops it would be necessary he should have their lordships' opinion whether that allowance stood independent of the allowance of 3d. per day in lieu of provisions or whether the 3d. was for the whole of the former allowance including rum and molasses; whereupon their lordships acquainted him that the allowance of rum and molasses to the settlers was included in the provisions furnished by the contracts, and as the 3d. per day was for the whole of the provisions they now receive, that allowance should not be continued; but that as to the troops, as their allowance of rum and molasses was over and above the provisions supplyed by the contractors it must still remain independent of the allowance of 3d. in case Mr. Hopson should find it practicable to bring about that regulation.
Mr. Hopson further desired their lordships' directions whether in case it should be necessary to transport stores and provisions to any part of the province when settlements are or shall be made, and the contractor should refuse to be at the expence, such expence should be made a contingent charge to the publick, their lordships were of opinion that in such cases it must be made a contingent charge and that in case he should find it necessary to appoint storehouses at any settlements which might hereafter be made the allowance to such storekeepers should also be made a contingent charge.
Mr. Hopson then observed to their lordships that as he found the Board were of opinion that the allowance of an eighth to the persons who issued the wet stores was improper, he thought it his duty to represent that if that allowance was discontinued and the storekeeper left at large to charge what waste they thought proper it would be impossible to prevent their charging a great deal more than they ought, which had always been found to have been the case and therefore he submitted whether it would not be more for the publick advantage that the allowance of an eighth should be continued. Whereupon their lordships observed to him that they hoped it would be in his power to prevent the frauds he represented in which case it would certainly be most advisable not to make such allowance, but if he found that impracticable he was at liberty to put it in any other way he should think most proper and for the advantage of the publick.
Their lordships further observed to Mr. Hopson that a very considerable expence had been incurred on account of several sloops imployed by Colonel Cornwallis in the service of the colony, and therefore desired he would make enquiry what the number of these sloops were, how they had been employed and whether they were of publick utility, and transmit an account thereof to the Board.
It was further observed to Mr. Hopson that in case he found it impracticable to send the foreign protestants to distant settlements or that the sending them would be attended with a considerable expence, that in that case he should settle them about Halifax in such manner as should be most for their convenience and security and the publick advantage.
Their lordships then took into consideration the establishment of civil officers in Nova Scotia and it appearing that Benjamin Green, Esquire, was Naval Officer and Judge of the Admiralty and also one of his Majesty's Council and Secretary to the Council, their lordships observed to Mr. Hopson, that although they had no reason to complain of the conduct or behaviour of Mr. Green in the execution of these offices, yet as the Naval Officer and Judge of the Admiralty being executed by the same person were contrary to law and inconsistent with his Majesty's instructions, and the offices of Councillor and Secretary to the Council were incompatible in the nature of them, their lordships did recommend to him upon his arrival to require Mr. Green to sign a resignation of the offices either of Naval Officer or Judge of the Admiralty, and of Councillor or Secretary to the Council as he should judge proper, and that Mr. Hopson should appoint such other person to the said offices so resigned as he should find duly qualified to execute the same until further directions.
Read a letter from Mr. Amyand, Secretary to the Lords Justices, dated the 30th April, 1752, referring to this Board copy of a letter from Mr. Clevland, Secretary to the Lords of the Admiralty, inclosing several papers relating to disputes between the English Council at Dixcove and a party of the natives thereabouts.
Read a letter from Mr. Hollier, Secretary of the Company of
Merchants trading to Africa, dated 29th April, 1752, inclosing
a copy of Mr. Melvill's letter to the said Committee, dated at
Cape Coast Castle, the 5th November, 1751, and transmitting:—
Short narration of the Dixcove quarrell.
Articles of agreement between the Council of Cape Coast and the Dutch General of Elmina.
Abstract of letters between the President and Council at Cape Coast Castle and the Dutch General of Elmina relative to the Atchumah quarrell.
Transactions between the Council at Cape Coast Castle and the Dutch General at Elmina relative to the Commenda quarrell.
Valuation of the Company's slaves at the outports.
Copies of letters between the Honourable Captain Howe and the Council at Cape Coast Castle.
The Secretary laid before the Board the draughts of general instructions and of those which relate to the Acts of Trade and Navigation for Charles Knowles, Esquire, appointed Governor of Jamaica, and the said draughts having been taken into consideration their lordships made some progress therein.
Their lordships also took into their consideration the papers relative to the dispute between the Council of Cape Coast Castle and the Dutch General at Elmina mentioned in the preceding minutes and ordered the Secretary to write to the Committee of the Merchants trading to Africa to desire their attendance at the Board on Thursday next at 11 o'clock in the morning.
Read a letter from Mr. Amyand, Secretary to their Excellencies, the Lords Justices, dated May 11th, 1752, referring to the consideration of this Board the petition of several merchants of London, praying that a charter of incorporation for themselves and their associates, and a grant may be made to them of all that tract of land in North America called Labrador or New Britain, and that they may have an exclusive right of trading thither for the term of sixty-three years.
Read an Order of their Excellencies, the Lords Justices in Council, dated 7th May, 1752, approving the representation of the Board of Trade of 27th April last, recommending nine persons to supply vacancies in the Council of North Carolina, and directing the Board to prepare warrants for their appointment.
The draughts of warrants having been accordingly prepared and also the draught of a representation to their Excellencies, the Lords Justices, thereupon, the same were agreed to and ordered to be transcribed.
The Secretary laid before the Board a memorial of Mr. Kilby, agent for the settlement of Nova Scotia, to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury praying that £4,562 10s. may be issued to him to purchase dollars for the payment of the allowance to the settlers in that province in lieu of provisions, and the said memorial having been approved Mr. Kilby was directed to present the same to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury for their Lordships' directions thereupon.
Their lordships took into consideration the draughts of general instructions and of those which relate to the Acts of Trade, prepared for Mr. Knowles, Governor of Jamaica, and made a further progress therein.
Ordered that the Secretary do write to Mr. Clevland, Secretary to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, to desire to know whether any and what regulations have been made since the year 1705 relative to the flags to be worn by private ships and also for a copy of the Commission and instructions given to privateers during the time of war.
The Secretary having acquainted the Board that he was desired in behalf of General Fleming, Commander in Chief of the Leeward Islands, to move their lordships for their favourable representation in obtaining a licence for his being absent from the said Islands for the space of twelve months on account of his health which was much impaired, their lordships ordered the draught of a representation to their Excellencies, the Lords Justices, thereupon to be accordingly prepared.
The Secretary moved their lordships in behalf of Gilbert Fane Fleming, one of his Majesty's Council in the Island of St. Christopher's, for their favourable representation in obtaining him a licence of absence for the space of twelve months on account of some private affairs which require his attendance in England.
Ordered that Mr. Kilby, agent for Nova Scotia, do pay or cause to be paid to Lawrence D'Obbeville or his order the sum of ten guineas on account of services done by him on board one of the transports with settlers for Nova Scotia in the capacity of surgeon.
The draught of a representation to their Excellencies, the Lords Justices, with warrants for nine Councillors in North Carolina, having been transcribed pursuant to the preceding minutes, was laid before the Board and signed.
Read a letter from Mr. Clevland, Secretary of the Admiralty,
dated the 14th May, 1752, inclosing a copy of regulations
established by his Majesty's Order of the 7th January, 1730–1,
in relation to colours to be worn by all ships and vessels except
his Majesty's ships of war, also transmitting:—
Copy of a letter of marque or a commission for a private man-of-war against France and Spain, or the subjects of the French king or king of Spain. Dated 18th September, 1747.
Their lordships then took into further consideration the draughts of instructions for Mr. Knowles, Governor of Jamaica, together with a representation thereupon to their Excellencies, the Lords Justices, and the said instructions and representation having been agreed to were ordered to be transcribed.
The Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa
attending with Mr. Hollier, their Secretary, as desired, their
lordships took into consideration the present state of affairs upon
the coast of Africa and the following papers were read, viz.:—
Copies of two letters, dated Cape Coast Castle, 20th February, 1752, from Mr. Melvill to the Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa.
Copy of a letter from Messrs. William Husbands and Ebenezer Young, two of the Council at Cape Coast Castle, to the Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa. Dated 20th February, 1752, at Anamaboe.
Letter from William Husbands, one of the Council at Cape Coast Castle, to the Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa. Dated Anamaboe, 18th February, 1752.
Copy of a letter from Captain Buckle, Commander of a squadron of his Majesty's ships of war upon the coast of Africa, to Mr. Clevland, Secretary to the Lords of the Admiralty, dated the 19th February, 1752.
Letter from William Ansah Sessaracoa, son of John Corrantee, chief cabboceer of Anamaboe to the Earl of Halifax, dated the 20th February, 1752.
Their lordships then observed to the Committee that it clearly appeared from the foregoing letters that unless a fort was begun to be built as soon as possible not only that place would be lost, but with it the whole British interest upon that coast; that the late transactions confirmed the opinion which the Committee gave to the Board some time ago of the necessity of building such a fort, and therefore their lordships did recommend to them to make as early an application as possible to the Lords Justices, laying before them the present state of affairs upon the coast for their Excellencies' directions thereupon that no time might be lost in taking the necessary steps to preserve and save the British interest there.
Their lordships then observed to the Committee upon such parts of the foregoing letters as related to the conduct of Mr. Melvill, the Company's agent at Cape Coast, that it appeared that he had acted upon principles inconsistent with the sense of the nation, the opinion of this Board and the positive directions of the Company themselves, and which could not but prove fatal to the trade and interest of this country; that instead of cultivating a friendship with the Fantees it appeared that he had done everything that could be done to alienate their affections; that he had taken no step to defeat the designs of the French upon their arrival at Anamaboe, but on the contrary sent the Fantees a bottle of rum in contempt, at the time the French were giving them some hundred gallons, and that it appeared that the confessed motive of the encouragement given to the French upon their coming last to Anamaboe, was Mr. Melvill's treatment of the Fantees, and that while that government was sending out fleets of ships and measures are taking to prevent that place from falling into the hands of the French, an officer of the Company contrary to their directions is counteracting these measures and endeavouring to render ineffectual every step which it has been thought proper to take; that therefore as it appeared that Mr. Melvill had acted so improper a part and had behaved so ill, the Board desired to know what directions the Committee proposed to send him.
Whereupon the Committee acquainted the Board that they would consider of what had appeared with respect to Mr. Melvill's conduct and attend the Board on this day fortnight in order to lay before them their opinion thereupon, and desired they might have a copy of Mr. William Ansah's letter to the Earl of Halifax which was ordered to be given to them and then they withdrew.
Ordered that the Secretary do transmit copies of the letters laid before the Board by the Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa, and also a copy of Mr. Williams [Ansah's] letter to the Earl of Halifax, to the Secretary to the Lords Justices to be laid before their Excellencies as soon as possible.
The draught of a representation to their Excellencies the Lords Justices proposing that Gilbert Fleming, Esquire, Lieutenant-General of the Leeward Islands, may have leave of absence for twelve months on account of his health, having been prepared pursuant to the preceding day's minutes was laid before the Board, agreed to, transcribed and signed.
The draught of a representation to their Excellencies the Lords Justices proposing that Gilbert Fane Fleming, one of the Council in the Island of St. Christopher's, may have leave of absence for twelve months on his private affairs having been prepared pursuant to the preceding minutes, was laid before the Board, agreed to, transcribed and signed.
Ordered that the draught of a representation to their Excellencies, the Lords Justices, proposing that Mr. Popple may have further leave of absence for twelve months, be prepared, and the said draught having been accordingly prepared, was agreed to, transcribed and signed.
Read a letter from Mr. Popple, Governor of Bermuda, to Mr. Hill, dated the 7th May, 1752, renewing his application to the Board in favour of George Forbes, Esquire, formerly recommended by him to supply the place of Mr. Burrows in the Council of Bermuda.
Ordered that the draught of a representation to their Excellencies, the Lords Justices, be prepared proposing Mr. Forbes to be of the Council of Bermuda in the room of Mr. Burrows, deceased, and the said draught having been accordingly prepared was laid before the Board, agreed to, transcribed and signed.
The Secretary laid before the Board the two following papers
received from Mr. Hollier, Secretary to the Committee of the
Company of Merchants trading to Africa, viz.:—
Copy of a letter from the Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa to Thomas Melvill, Esquire, President of the Council, etc., at Cape Coast Castle, dated London, 29th January, 1752.
Copy of a letter from the Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa to Thomas Melvill, Esquire, President of the Council, etc., at Cape Coast Castle, dated February 18th, 1752.
The draught of a letter to Mr. Knowles, Governor of Jamaica, relating to the 28th article of his instructions directing a revisal of the laws and inclosing a copy of an Act passed in Virginia for a revisal of the laws of that colony, was laid before the Board, agreed to and ordered to be transcribed.
Ordered that the Secretary do transmit a copy of the instructions given to his Majesty's Governors in America relative to the laws concerning the plantation trade to the Commissioners of his Majesty's Customs for their opinion and observations thereupon.
Their lordships having taken the said Acts into consideration and the draught of a report to the Lords of the Committee of Council upon the said Acts having been prepared, was laid before the Board, agreed to and ordered to be transcribed.
Read the following letters from Mr. Dick to Mr. Pownall,
Letter from Mr. Dick, dated at Rotterdam, the 2nd June, N.S., 1752, containing a further account of his proceedings in fitting out his ship for Nova Scotia.
Letter from Mr. John Dick, dated at Helvoet Roads, the 5–16th May, 1752, acquainting the Board that one of his ships with foreign protestants for Nova Scotia was ready to depart and inclosing:—
List of passengers on board the Speedwell, Joseph Wilson, master, bound from Helvoet Roads to Halifax in Nova Scotia, May 16th, 1752.
List of passengers on board of the Betty, Robert Warden, master, bound from Helvoet Roads to Halifax in Nova Scotia, May 16th, 1752.
The draught of a circular letter to the Governors of the several colonies and plantations in America recommending a strict observance of his Majesty's instructions having been laid before the Board, was agreed to and ordered to be transcribed.
Ordered that the Secretary do write a circular letter to the Governors of Jamaica, Barbados, Leeward Islands, Bahamas and Bermudas, directing them to use their utmost endeavours to prevent his Majesty's subjects taking up lands and making settlements in any foreign islands or colonies, and also to prevent any illicit importation of foreign sugars.
The Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to
Africa attending, with Mr. Hollier, their Secretary, pursuant to
the minutes of the 14th instant, were called in and they presented
the following papers to the Board, viz.:—
Copy of a letter from Thomas Melvill, Esquire, President of the Council, etc., at Cape Coast Castle, to the Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa, dated 26th December, 1751, inclosing several papers relating to the disputes with the Dutch.
Observations of the Committee of the Company of Merchants trading to Africa upon the conduct of Mr. Melvill, their agent at Cape Coast Castle.
Their lordships then took the said papers into their consideration and after some time spent therein the Committee were again called in, and their lordships observed to them that having considered their observations upon Mr. Melvill's conduct, it appeared that in some articles they did not think he was to be blamed, that in others he was not greatly to be blamed, but that some parts of his conduct they are not able to account for; that in general they thought his conduct right, and that his behaviour with respect to the disputes with the Dutch and in the dispatching ships was much to be commended; that this was a part of his conduct which the Board did not in the least complain of; that the charges arising from the several letters were, that he endeavoured to stop the trade from going to Anamaboe and was upon ill terms with the Fantees which was a conduct inconsistent with the principles which ought to be observed by the Company's agents; that whether he was guilty in whole or in part, or whether he acted from mistake or neglect, this circumstance made Mr. Melvill a very improper person to carry on so great and important a work as that of building a fort at Anamaboe and restoring the affections of the Fantees which must necessarily require his being upon good terms with them, and therefore he could not perform these services so well as a man not liable to these objections; that their lordships did not wonder at the Committee's tenderness with respect to Mr. Melvill, themselves being equally tender, and therefore should be unwilling to advise any step that might prejudice either Mr. Melvill's character or interest; that on the other hand however they had their duty to consider, and that by Act of Parliament they were empowered to remove any officer of the Company which should be guilty of misbehaviour, that however, as the Committee themselves could not but acknowledge that it was impossible for Mr. Melvill to carry on the service so well as another person not liable to the same difficulties, and that they as well as the Board must be uneasy lest any misfortune should arise to the service from such conduct, it were to be wished that some expedient could be fallen upon; that they had heard that Mr. Melvill had desired to come home to concert further measures for carrying on this trade and therefore their lordships offered it to the consideration of the Committee whether it would not be advisable for them to give Mr. Melvill leave to come home when he might have an opportunity of answering all complaints against him, and the service might be entrusted to a person who would be more agreeable to the Fantees.
The Committee then observed to their lordships that Mr. Melvill had indeed in some of his letters mentioned a desire of coming home, that however ill consequences might attend the too frequent changing of agents and that they apprehended the service of building a fort might be carried on by some other person; that however it was impossible for them to give any positive opinion or answer at present and therefore they hoped the Board would indulge them with a few days to consider this affair when they would wait upon the Board with their determination. And then the Committee withdrew.