Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 10, 1677-1680. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1896.
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The present volume suffers from the misfortune of having changed Editors when it was but half complete. Mr. Noel Sainsbury, under whose care and industry the previous volumes of this Series had been produced, died early in the spring of 1895, leaving, indeed, a portion of the Calendar ready to his successor's hand, but unable to leave him the special knowledge and experience which he had gained by long progressive study of the Colonial Records, and had turned to such excellent account in his edition of the same. It will, I cannot doubt, be all too easy to the reader to hit the point at which his hand was withdrawn from the work, and it is therefore only in the few pages of this preface that I can hope to restore to it some kind of unity.
Virginia.; Arrival of Commissioners.
The volume opens with the year 1677, and is occupied at its outset mainly with the later events connected with the rebellion, known as Bacon's rebellion, in Virginia. In the previous volume were found abundant details of the rising itself, and of the measures taken by the English Government to suppress it; the curtain now rises on the arrival, on 29th January 1677, of the Commissioners appointed to investigate the grievances which were supposed to have kindled it. Of the three Commissioners, Sir John Berry and Colonel Francis Moryson arrived some days before their colleague Colonel Herbert Jeffreys, of the First Guards, and in advance of most of the troops; but they proceeded to their work forthwith, and within a week published a declaration inviting all the inhabitants impartially to come forward and make their complaints (25, 43). Almost immediately, however, they found themselves at variance with the veteran Governor, Sir William Berkeley, first on the lesser issue of his backwardness in providing victuals and ammunition for the troops, and almost directly after on the main question of his attitude towards those implicated in the rebellion. The King's policy was one of lenience towards the culprits; his orders were to spare all except the ringleader Bacon, who, to make things more easy, was already in his grave; and the mission of the Commissioners was therefore indisputably one of conciliation. Sir William Berkeley, on the other hand, was on the side of severity. Though the rebellion was at an end, he insisted on acting as in furore belli, arbitrarily overriding the King's act of grace by excepting a certain number of unnamed persons from the general pardon, and confiscating the property of delinquents right and left. For such confiscation the opportunities were great, for, as the Commissioners confessed, there were barely five hundred persons out of fifteen thousand that were untainted by rebellion; and this small minority, which called itself the loyal party, rejoiced at the chance of robbing and oppressing the rest for its own selfish ends (49, 52, 55).
Sir William Berkeley obstructs them.
The Commissioners protested, but in vain, and the bad feeling between the old Governor and his unwelcome guests became rapidly embittered. Colonel Jeffreys on his arrival displayed a Commission which required Sir William Berkeley to resign his Government and repair to England. The old Governor received it with every sign of dutiful subordination to the King's commands, but submitted the instrument to his Council and put it to the members whether he should obey it or not. The complaisant Council, speaking for the loyal party, decided in the negative, and the Commissioners were baffled once more (66). Emboldened, apparently, by this act of defiance, Berkeley, in a childish spirit of sarcasm, addressed the Commissioners with elaborate courtesy as "Right Honourable" (80), and added insult to disobedience. Meanwhile, he paid not the slightest attention to their protests against his illegal confiscations; he had seen the King do the like himself, he said, in similar circumstances; and, after all, what he had taken amounted not to a thirtieth part of what he had lost (84, 85). Finally, he broke off all correspondence with the Commissioners, and refused to answer their letters, until, as shall presently be seen, a ludicrous incident forced him into relations with them once more.
Misbehaviour of the Loyal Party.
It is difficult to account for the extreme recklessness and discourtesy of the old man's behaviour except on one hypothesis. Long and uninterrupted sway over the settlement sufficiently explains his discontent and obstruction, but there seems good reason to believe that he was hardly responsible for his actions. He was very ill, in fact actually dying, and could hardly have played so strong a part except as the tool of others, namely, of the small body of his adherents who were called the loyal party. The inquiries of the Commissioners all tended to show that the blood-thirsty repression of the rebellion was but part of a fixed policy of this oligarchical cliqne. The salaries of the members of Assembly were ridiculously high; the cost of the liquor with which they enlivened their deliberations was charged against the public; shameful jobs were perpetrated for the enrichment of their creatures, clerks employed by the Legislature receiving even "4,000 lbs. of tobacco for writing twenty lines" (82), and, in fact, the whole settlement was plundered for their benefit. The complaints addressed to the Commissioners (122–165) spoke freely enough against the Assembly, but hardly a word against the Governor, from dread, as the Commissioners conjectured, lest he might yet be reinstated in the Government (171). The Commissioners themselves were in an extremely difficult position. They were unwilling to proceed to extremities with a dying man, and yet their duty must somehow be done. Moryson wrote to England and begged his friends to procure his recall, "for this country will make us all fools and shortly bring us to Cuddy Cuddy." (fn. 1)
End of the quarrel.
At last an absurd occurrence brought matters to a climax. The Commissioners called on Sir William to take their leave, and Sir William sent them away in his coach, with the common hangman for postilion. An angry correspondence at once ensued over this flagrant insult (189–191, 193). Sir William swore that he knew nothing of the matter, and would have the unhappy hangman racked, tortured, and whipped, but the Commissioners perceived well enough who was the real culprit. "My lady Berkeley went into her chamber and peeped through a broken quarrel [carrée, square] of the glass to see how the show looked, but God be thanked we had the grace and good luck to go all the way on foot. . . . this trick looks more like a woman's than a man's malice." Lady Berkeley's letter of denial (191) does not strengthen her case. A few days later (April 27) Colonel Jeffreys issued a declaration whereby he assumed the Government, and old Sir William, after a last angry snarl, gave in (198). He presently embarked for England, where he arrived alive indeed, but "so unlikely to live that it had been very inhuman to have troubled him with any interrogations; so he died without any account given of his government." His last message to the King recounts his long service of thirty-five years in Virginia, and his readiness to clear his innocence before he dies; but it is clear from the letters written to Jeffreys after his departure that nothing but the recollection of his past services could have prompted the extreme forbearance of the King towards him (239, 240, 244–45, 247).
Lord Culpeper appointed Governor.
Thomas, Lord Culpeper, was at once appointed to the vacancy, but it was long before he started for Virginia, and Colonel Jeffreys was left to compose matters as best he could in the meanwhile. Berkeley's confiscations were annulled, and all his acts done in the face of the royal orders were cancelled. Complaints poured in from the relatives of the executed and dispossessed, and it is pathetic to learn that among those who suffered death was one of Cromwell's soldiers, by name Barlow (303). Next the Council was purged, and divers "rash and fiery" members, some notable oppressors among them, were put out. Still the Assemblies showed an arrogance which promised ill for future quiet. They called in question the legality of the seizure by the Commissioners of their records, and stigmatised the act as a violation of their privileges; an impertinence which was ill-received by the King and his Board in England (817, 821).
Death of Colonel Jeffreys.
Before the close of the year 1678 Colonel Jeffreys died. Poor Jeffreys deserves to be remembered as the first of a long series of officers of the standing army who have held the governorship of a Colony, a small point which should not be overlooked by the First (Grenadier) Guards, to which regiment he belonged. (fn. 2) The immediate results of his death were a bitter dispute between his widow and the relict of his old rival Sir William Berkeley over the salary which each claimed to be due to her departed husband, and a serious relaxation of discipline in the ranks of His Majesty's Guards. To this latter I shall presently return.
Arrival of Lord Culpeper.
Notwithstanding much parade of hastening Lord Culpeper to his Government, there was still no sign of his leaving England, so Sir Henry Chicheley, an "old and crazy" gentleman, meanwhile assumed the administration as Deputy Governor. After long delay Culpeper's instructions and preparations were at last complete, and after still further hesitation on the part of the new Governor himself, which called down from the King a threat that he would be superseded unless he embarked at once, he sailed for Virginia in the "Oxford" frigate towards the end of December 1679 (1231). It is worthy of mention, in view of future events, that he had received from the King full power to return back to the Royal presence as soon as, in his discretion, the state of affairs in Virginia might permit. After a most tedious passage, "full of death, scurvy, and calentures," which occupied in all nearly twelve weeks, he arrived in Virginia at the beginning of May, 1680 (1350), and in a few weeks began to transact business with his legislature.
Refractory conduct of the Council.
It is significant that the first act of the Council was an endeavour to reinstate the members that had been expelled by the English Government. If there were three men who had shown themselves to be of evil behaviour they were Edward Hill, Philip Ludwell, and Robert Beverley, yet it was on their behalf that the Council at once took up the cudgels (1375, 1384). Moreover, the Council made a direct hit at the hated Commissioners who had so much disturbed them two years before. In order to conciliate the Indian tribes, whose insurrection had been the original cause of the rebellion, Colonel Moryson and Sir John Berry had recommended the King to bestow on the tributary Kings and Queens small crowns or coronets, and purple robes. No unnecessary expense was to be incurred, for the diadems were to be only of "thin silver plate gilt, with false stones of various colours," and the robes only of "strong cloth"; and the advice was therefore accepted. The Council, however, pointing out that this counsel was given "without the permits of the Governor and Assembly," and that such "marks of dignity ought not to be prostituted to such mean persons," begged that the coronets might be for the present withheld. This was not encouraging for Culpeper's prospects; and a fortnight later the Virginian legislature went still further. The new Governor had brought out with him a number of Bills for the final settlement of all matters connected with the rebellion, and in addition to these a Revenue Bill. The House of Burgesses at once fastened upon this last and threw it out. Culpeper took the recalcitrant House to task forthwith, and read them such a lecture on the evils of wasting time and of unparliamentary conduct as brought them to their senses (1408). A compromise was arrived at, and shortly after he was able to report that he had passed all the Acts sent out from England, though with some trouble, and that all was quiet.
Unprosperous state of the Colony.
The country, however, was in no prosperous state. The price of the staple product, tobacco, was so low that it threatened ruin to all, and the Legislature could see no better remedy for the over-production than to petition the King to allow the Colonists to abandon planting during the year 1681. "A wild and rambling mode of living" and "want of cohabitation" were other great evils, for the healing of which an Act of Parliament was again invoked, to promote centralisation by permitting goods to be landed and shipped in one town only in each county (1433, 1434) Another difficulty, it is painful to record, arose from the behaviour of His Majesty's Guards, there being "mutinous humours" in the company which had once been under command of Colonel Jeffreys. The Ensign and the Lieutenant had personal differences which they carried into the ranks, thereby exposing the soldiers to the evils of disputed command; and the men were reported to be not only useless but dangerous after their long stay in the Colony. The truth probably was that they were neglected as well as unpaid, and having no employment fell naturally into mischief. However, the year came to an end without further trouble, and, indeed, Culpeper had taken leave of the colony so far back as August (1486). In his sudden return and the rejection by the Board of Trade and Plantations of the compromise granted to the Virginian legislature over the Revenue Bill (1536), we must look for the matters which will chiefly engage attention in the year 1681. For the present we close the business of Virginia, as comprehended in this volume at this point. A list of the civil and military authorities of each county, which appears to belong to 1680, will be found at No. 1637.
Maryland.; A happy country.
Of Maryland we hear singularly little in the four years under review, though there is an interesting account of the settlement given by Lord Baltimore in answer to the inquiries of the Board of Trade and Plantations (633). He does not indeed consent to give all the minute details required of him; "Such scrutinies as their Lordships desire would certainly either endanger insurrections or a general dispeopling of the Province, which is at present in great peace and quiet, all persons being secured to their content of a quiet enjoyment of everything they can possibly desire." He therefore professes himself unable to give any statistics of cultivated or uncultivated land or population. The English, he reports, know their own strength, but he can give no account of it. They baptise their negroes and instruct them in the faith of Christ, which most masters in America through covetousness refuse to do, and every man is at liberty to worship God in the manner most agreeable to his conscience; otherwise the settlement would never have been formed. Altogether Maryland was a happy country; though its trade was seriously obstructed by the late Act of Navigation, a criticism which could not have been agreeable to the Board.
Carolina.; The Rebellion of 1677.
Passing next to Carolina we find, though not till we arrive at the documents of 1680, that there, too, there was a rebellion on a trifling scale in the year 1677, an affair which was first brought to the notice of the Lords of Trade and Plantations by one of the aggrieved parties, named Thomas Miller. The Lords Proprietors on being questioned gave a concise account of the rising (1288) which throws a curious light on a detail of Colonial administration that was already leading to troublesome results. In 1677 the Proprietors sent a Mr. Eastchurch to be their Governor in Albemarle county, who betook himself, doubtless on private business, to Antigua, and appointed Thomas Miller, the Collector of the King's Customs, to be his deputy. Now Miller had a failing, not, as the Proprietors point out, the common one of religious bigotry which had bred such dissension in New England, but a weakness for strong liquor. On his arrival "he undertook to model the Parliament," no doubt with alcoholic readiness and assurance, which proceeding, we learn without surprise, gave the people occasion to oppose and imprison him. Thereupon certain unscrupulous men agreed together to usurp his place as Collector of Customs and defraud the King of his dues; and so made the matter one of Royal concern. John Culpeper the ringleader of the rebels was brought before the Lords of Trade and Plantations. He claimed to be tried in Carolina; failing which he confessed his guilt and threw himself upon the King's mercy. The whole affair having long blown over, the Lords wisely decided that the only important point was the recovery of the duties owing to the King; and therewith the rebellion of Carolina came quietly to an end (1343, 1490). Wise provisions for the settlement of disputes with Indians show the zeal of the Proprietors to keep the peace.
Good administration of Lords Proprietors.
There are, however, not a few documents of unusual interest relating to this same province in the present volume, testifying one and all to the great good sense and administrative ability on the part of the Lords Proprietors. The first of these consists in instructions to the President of the Council of Albemarle county, with a view to the ultimate building up of a grand model of Government for the whole province (879), but first and foremost to the attraction and encouragement of settlers. The system of land grants speaks for itself; sixty acres of land to every freeman over sixteen years of age, and the same area to "every able man-servant with a good fire-lock 10 lbs. of powder and 20 lbs. of bullet." Still more instructive are certain supplementary directions (992) to the authorities at Ashley river on the same subject, which show how little the nature of the English emigrant has changed in two centuries. The Proprietors have heard that "many persons who arrive to plant, spend their time idly and consume what they bring with them, and then finding themselves unable to quit the place, lay the blame on the soil and the country." It is just such persons as these that now swell the list of the "unemployed" in Sydney and Melbourne; and the remedy suggested is the same in both cases. The Pro prietors of Carolina ordain that all new comers are to be called upon to employ themselves in planting provisions; the Australian Governments try by means of village settlements and other devices to bring about the same result. In the same paper attention is called to a regulation limiting the proportion of river frontage to be allowed to holders of land, which proves the existence even then of the practice of "gridironing" (fn. 3) which has done such untold mischief in Australia.
Scheme of introducing French Immigrants.
Concurrently we find the Proprietors gladly accepting a scheme propounded by two Frenchmen, Réné Petit and Jacob Guerard, for the settlement of a number of French Protestants, seventy or eighty families, on the land in Carolina, there to cultivate their native produce of wine, oil, and silk, and make a home to receive their distressed brethren "who return daily into Babylon for want of such a haven." The whole story may be traced under the index of these two names; for the present it will be sufficient to say that Réné Petit sailed away with his emigrants to his destination, though not without some slight cavillings from the Commissioners of Customs, who would have preferred to see these settlers domiciled in England. "Too many families," said they, "already betake themselves to the Plantations and Ireland to the unpeopling and ruining of England, and this tendency should be checked rather than encouraged." The Lords Proprietors supplied the money and the King a frigate; and it is to be hoped that later volumes of this Calendar may throw light on the ultimate success or failure of the venture.
Building of Charlestown.
Lastly, there are precise instructions for the building of Charlestown, not the least centre of historic interest in the short life of the United States. The site of the city is precisely fixed; and, continue the directions, "You are to take care to lay out the streets broad and in straight lines, and that in your grant of the town-lots you do bound everyone's land towards the streets in an even line, and suffer no one to encroach with his buildings upon the streets, whereby to make them narrower than they were first designed" (1233). Here is a forethought of the model Colonial towns of Christchurch, New Zealand, and Adelaide, South Australia. Further, to encourage the building of houses, it was ordained that town-lots should be forfeited unless the house were built within two years, while anyone who should erect a house at least thirty feet long, sixteen feet broad and two stories high, besides garrets, within a twelvemonth, became thereby entitled to additional town-lots (1355) if he should desire them.
Massa-chusetts.; Dispute over New Hampshire and Maine.
I turn now to the Northern Colonies comprised under the generic name of New England, and in particular to the chief of them, Massachusetts. Here we find the interminable controversy over the claims of Robert Mason and Ferdinando Gorges to New Hampshire and Maine still waged with undiminished ardour between the two principals and the two Agents from Boston, Peter Bulkeley and William Stoughton. The whole matter was referred to the Board of Trade and Plantations on 7th February 1677 (47), which was obliged, in its turn, to call the Lords Chief Justices of the King's Bench to its assistance; and the struggle over priority of grants, legality of charters, and other subtle points was vigorously carried on. But meanwhile, another and far deeper cause of contention between Colony and Mother Country was introduced by Edward Randolph, in the shape of the following specific charges against the Government of Massachusetts: (1.) That they have no right to land or Government in any part of New England, and have always been usurpers. (2.) That they have formed themselves into a commonwealth, denying appeals to England, and do not take the oath of allegiance. (3.) That they have protected the late King's murderers contrary to royal proclamation. (4.) That they coin money with their own impress. (5.) That in 1665 they opposed the King's Commissioners and by armed forces turned out the King's Justices of the Peace in contempt of royal proclamation. (6.) That they have put men to death for opinion in matters of religion. (7.) That they impose an oath of fidelity to their Government to all within their territories. (8.) That they violate all the Acts of Trade and Navigation to the annual loss of 100,000l. to the King's Customs.
Edward Randolph's accusations.
The Board, on consideration of these articles, found them to be of such high concern that they separated them into questions of law and of state. The former, which comprised the rights of the "Bostoners" to land and government and the erection of the country into a commonwealth, they referred to the judges; the remainder they reserved to themselves, judging them to be not the less serious from the support given by independent testimony to Randolph's statements (294, 295). The Agents from Massachusetts, being called upon to answer the charges, said that they had no powers except to answer the claims of Mason and Gorges, but consented as private individuals to make some kind of defence; which amounted virtually to a confession of guilt with a plea of extenuating circumstances, and many promises of amendment (351, 354). This, of course, led to a rejoinder from the other side, with a recapitulation of the old charges and an additional list of new (357, 358). It was now averred that the Bostoners denied baptism to the children of those not born in Church fellowship, fined people for not coming to their meeting-houses and whipped others for not paying the fines, forbade the observance of Christmas day and other festivals, and had in sundry other ways exceeded their own powers and acted in repugnance to the law of England. Then the laws of Massachusetts were turned up, and there were found therein several illegal imposts and a curious list of fines, e.g., for galloping in Boston streets, 3s. 4d.; for playing at shovel-boards, bowling or other game, the house to pay 20s., and every person 5s.; persons playing for money to forfeit treble value of their stakes, half to the informer and half to the Treasury; every person dancing in ordinaries to pay 5s.; every person offending by observing Christmas to pay the same; persons importing or playing with playing cards to pay 5l.; and so forth, all tending to make an ideally holy and unhappy community. The Crown lawyers were set to work to pick holes in the obnoxious laws, and Mr. Attorney fastening on the phrase "offences made capital which are so by the word of God," showed without difficulty that if the "word" were taken to mean the Mosaical law " the Patent would not in many instances be fit to be followed by Christians" (378, 379). Mr. Solicitor followed with several proofs that the royal authority was unduly ignored (380); and in fact the statute-book of Massachusetts was subjected to such an inquisition as was to be looked for in the height of a reaction against Puritanism.
Unpleasant position of the Agents.
The unhappy Agents now became uncomfortable. They had come, as they said, only to combat the pretensions of claimants to their territory. But in doing so they had advanced themselves the most extravagant of claims. All was now going against them. Their charter was remorselessly criticised (359, 366), the extension which they had claimed for their boundaries was called "an imaginary thing no longer to be thought of by them," and, above all, the general faults of their community were ruthlessly laid bare. They feebly pleaded that it was time for them to return to Boston, but were answered that they must not think their stay too long, "for it was necessary and might be useful to themselves in showing them that the King did not treat with his subjects as with foreign powers, but was resolved to exert his own authority both for their good and for his own (371)."
Sale of Maine to Massachusetts.
The original wrangle with Gorges and Mason was then resumed. The question of Maine, which was in dispute with Gorges, was suddenly settled by his sale of the Province to Massachusetts (629), and thus so much of the dispute was at any rate cleared out of the way. But another point on which the Agents fought hard was the retention of four towns on the Piscataqua, which they alleged would be under no one's care if not under that of Massachusetts, and from which they produced petitions praying to be continued under its rule. They were, however, met by a fresh batch of charges from Randolph, and by accusations from New York of disloyalty during the late Indian war. Moreover, in spite of the King's warnings as to their former misdeeds, the Government at Boston had persisted in them; and the Agents were plainly told that so far from granting them an accession of territory the King was thinking seriously of diminishing their authority for the extension of his own (653). Meanwhile a letter was addressed to the Governor and Council of Massachusetts ordering the oaths of allegiance to the King to be taken forthwith.
The Agents at last allowed to go.
The Agents now again tried to make their escape (May 1678, see No. 703) but perforce remained in England answering objections and charges as best they could. Old stories were raked up (811, 813) and rival claimants for the possession of the settlements in the Piscataqua kept cropping up on every side. And so the weary controversy continued until at last in February, 1679, the pressure of business caused by the Popish plot forced the Board of Trade and Plantations to dismiss the Agents to their Government. They took with them sundry messages of warning and advice, with distinct instructions that the misdemeanours imputed to the Massachusetts should be answered, and that two more Agents should be sent over with more extensive powers (912, 1028). Thus Bulkeley and Stoughton, after a very trying ordeal, at last obtained their release.
New Hampshire established as a distinct Colony.
The Board had meanwhile proposed to shelve the question of the land on the Piscataqua for the present; but it was not to be. New Hampshire, for this was the province which was comprehended in the dispute, was a matter of too great importance to the rival claimants to be at once abandoned. If any be curious to follow the course of the controversy over New Hampshire they can do so by means of the index. Long before the combatants had ceased to pelt each other with representations and arguments, the English Government had settled the whole affair by taking the province into its own hands (May 1679, see No. 996). The new constitution was discussed in the following month, by the 10th July it was complete (1058), and in September or October a great seal, the Royal Arms and His Majesty's picture, were sent across the Atlantic (1131). The agreement arranged with Robert Mason on the subject was signed and sealed on the 1st July 1679 (1041), and a second troublesome matter was for the present settled. The next that we hear is that the President of the new Government, John Cutts, "a very just and honest but ancient and infirm man," has been duly installed, and that Massachusetts has revoked all its former commissions within the Province. In June 1680 the President wrote his first despatches (1413, 1414), whereon we read that, although by the loss of the ship that carried His Majesty's royal effigies and the Imperial arms, that precious freight had miscarried, yet that on the whole all was quiet. With this our information respecting New Hampshire for the present ends.
Dispute over the King's Province.
Concurrently there had raged a violent dispute as to jurisdiction over what is called impartially the King's Province, or the Narragansett or Niantic countries, lying between Narragansett Bay and the Pawtucket River. Here again, should any reader be ambitious to follow an extremely complicated and vigorous dispute I would refer him to the index. Massachusetts set the quarrel going by an arbitrary disposition of the country (797). Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Plymouth exceeded each other in indignant vindications of their respective rights, with a diversity not only of argument but also of spelling that is most bewildering. One document of genuine interest, however, was called forth in the course of the controversy, namely, a letter from the old champion of religious liberty, Roger Williams. There is a singular, almost Miltonic, dignity in his account of Mr. Richard Smith, "who for his conscience towards God left a fair possession in Gloucestershire and adventured with his relations and estate to New England," and his description of himself as "by God's mercy the first beginner of the mother town of Providence and of the Colony of Rhode Island." Compared with such language as this the letter from the inhabitants of Dover, for instance (587 III.), Which likens the King's favour to "the sweet influence of superior or heavenly bodies to the tender plants," seems tawdry indeed. But readers may see the whole of Roger Williams' letter for themselves (1069).
Dispute over Mounthope.
Yet another bone of contention, which gives a fresh example, if such were needed, of the quarrelsomeness of the New England States, was the possession of the scrap of land called Mounthope, which had attained a certain notoriety in the late Indian war, and which was finally adjudged by the Board of Trade and Plantations to New Plymouth (see index, Mounthope).
Randolph's fresh accusations against Massachusetts.
While all these wrangles were going forward, Edward Randolph, the original accuser of Massachusetts, had been sent out to supervise the collection of the King's customs in that recalcitrant state, establishing the government of New Hampshire on his way. His account of the state of things in Boston at the opening of 1680 was not encouraging. The Government was still collecting customs and coining money contrary to the Royal order; there was hardly a child baptised in Rhode Island, none lately in Maine, and few in the other Colonies, all of which things had been censured by the King months before. After a month's stay he was able to speak more decidedly. "The Bostoners, after all the protestations by their agents, are acting as high as ever, and the merchants trading as freely; no ship having been seized for irregular trading, although they did in 1677 make a second law to prevent it. It is in every man's mouth that they are not subject to the laws of England, neither are they of force till confirmed by their authority." Randolph now, as heretofore, was for strong measures. "His Majesty may make short work of them by bringing a quo warranto against them, and then they will beg that on their knees which now they will not thank him for." As we have seen, the Lords of Trade and Plantations had thought seriously of cancelling the Charter of Massachusetts, and we do not hear the last of this design in the present volume (1305).
Resistance to Randolph in Boston.
Randolph did not find his difficulties decrease with time. His zeal to suppress illicit trading soon involved him in litigation of the most unsatisfactory kind. If he seized a ship, all endeavours were used not only to cast him but to throw him into prison or clear him out of the way. His credentials from England were not accepted, and he was treated only as a common informer. He announces plaintively that in a pending suit in vindication of the King's authority against illicit trading, the Magistrates refuse to give him an attorney, and that he expects to lose his case whatever his defence. If he tried to board a ship he was threatened to be "knocked at head"; if it was expected that he would board one, he was warned not to do so under the same penalty. The Governor gave him little or no support. In fact, as he says, he has "only life and hope left, which he is "unwilling to expose to the rage of a bewildered multitude." Strong measures are essential; "for His Majesty to write more letters will signify no more than the 'London Gazette'" (1374).
Governor Bradstreet's Letters.
Meanwhile, however profitless the King's letters might be, the authorities at Boston thought that a little smooth writing from their side would do no harm. Governor Bradstreet accordingly wrote, while poor Randolph was still tearing his hair, to say that the work of reform as recommended by the King in July, 1679, was in steady progress (1388). The cloven hoof, however, showed itself almost immediately. "Concerning liberty of conscience, a chief design in our fathers coming hither was to enjoy freedom; but we presume that His Majesty does not intend that a multitude of notorious errors, heresies and blasphemies, should be broached among us, as by the Quakers, &c." Here was a prospect of pleasant neighbours for William Penn whose Patent was under consideration almost while this letter was a writing. But the cruellest sting lies in another paragraph. "We beg His Majesty's excuse for not sending over other agents [as the King had expressly ordered], and the rather for that we understand His Majesty and Privy Council are taken up with matters of greater importance." There was the rub. "The news of trouble at home gives encouragement to faction at Massachusetts," Randolph had written; and the Bostoners were fully aware of Charles's difficulties over the Exclusion Bill.
The English Government loses patience.
But the patience of the English Government was becoming exhausted. Before this letter had reached them the Lords of Trade and Plantations pointed out (1506) in the severest terms to the King that the Boston folk were trifling with him, and submitted the following draft of a letter: "By our letter of 24th July 1679 we signified our willingness to forget all past errors, and showed you the means by which you might deserve our pardon, and desired your ready obedience to certain commands, all of which we submitted to your agents. We little thought then that our favour would have found so little favour with you. . . . Few of our directions have been pursued and the rest put off on insufficient pretences. You have not even sent us the new agents that we ordered to be sent over within six months after receipt of our letter. . . . . Nevertheless we continue our clemency towards you and we therefore require you seriously to reflect upon our commands already intimated to you, and within three months of the receipt hereof send us. . . . your fully qualified agents. . . . . You will further call a General Court on receipt of this letter, read our letters and see to the execution of the commands therein, in default whereby we shall take the most effectual means to enforce the same." And at this interesting point the documents relating to Massachusetts in the present volume come to an end, though the final threat points almost to a landing of the red-coats in Boston a century before their time, when there should be no Washington to organise resistance, no European coalition to distract their operations, and no French fleet and army to drive them from the Continent.
New England.; General condition.
For the rest, the craving for information which marks the policy of the English Government towards the Colonies just at this period bore useful fruit in the shape of statistical accounts of the various settlements, which are of no little interest. First in order comes that of New Plymouth (1349), which seems to have been the most prosperous of all; then Rhode Island (1352), Massachusetts (1360), and Connecticut (1447). Except in New Plymouth, population seems to have been scanty and slow of increase. All the Colonies are inclined to lament obstruction to trade from one cause or another, generally blaming the Acts of Trade and Navigation. Massachusetts hits a great blot in her complaint of Algerine pirates, the mischief of which, even in the Channel, was a sad reproach to the naval administration of England. Indeed we twice find these pirates interfering seriously with the course of Colonial affairs by the capture of Seth Southell, Governor of Carolina, on his way to his Colony, and of William Harris, a delegate from a faction in Rhode Island, on his voyage homeward. The scarcity of labour is a grievance common to all the settlements, though in this connection it is curious to be reminded that over one hundred Scots were bought and sold for servants at Boston, "in the time of the war with Scotland." We are more familiar with transportation to Barbadoes than to New England. But the most healthy sign of all is the general absence of idle beggars and vagabonds. Such people were not suffered in these industrious communities; and though Massachusetts does indeed confess to the existence of a few of them, it is only for the sake of flinging a stone, after her malignant manner, at the Quakers of Rhode Island.
Treaties with Indians; William Penn.
In the matter of relations with the Indians some interesting particulars may be gleaned from the letters of Sir E. Andros from New York, of Colonel Nicholas Spencer from Virginia, of Governor Notley from Maryland, and from a letter by W. Greenhalgh, which can be found without difficulty by reference to the index. Lastly, the arrangements for the grant of territory to William Penn, of which we have our first notice on the 1st June, 1680, (1373), the negotiations with the Duke of York and Lord Baltimore, and so forth, can also be traced step by step under the head of the name Penn in the index. The most curious original document relating to this matter is probably that containing the observations of the Attorney-General, Sir Creswell Levins, on the proposed grant, which are scribbled on the back of an old letter so roughly and carelessly as to be only with difficulty decipherable, as though so trivial a matter were unworthy the dignity of a fair copy (1584).
Newfoundland.; Dispute between fishermen and settlers.
Pursuing our way northward we come to the distressful country of Newfoundland, respecting which the student will find a large mass of not greatly varied information. The gist of the story, which is carried forward from the previous volume of this Calendar (1120, 1159, 1160), lies in the conflict between the permanent settlers and the migratory fishermen. It was, as is avouched by the testimony of various witnesses, the habit of the fishermen violently to dispossess the planters of their houses, stages, and goods, under plea of a charter granted to the West Country owners or Western Adventurers, the company of gentlemen and merchants in Devon who equipped the fishing fleet for its annual voyage. Needless to say, the fishermen retorted their own accusations against the planters (e.g. 215), which led to much recrimination and not a little hard swearing. But while these two parties of English were fighting among themselves, the French, who were numerous and well provided for in Newfoundland, were always on the watch, ready to step in and take the prize when the combatants had exhausted themselves. For the present the Board of Trade and Plantations decided to order the King's officers of the convoy at Newfoundland to keep the peace between planters and fishermen, and to send out Commissioners to report. The first of these reports gives a curious account of the race for harbours on the arrival of the fleet. First come first served was the rule, and if the ships could not reach the harbours for foul winds they manned their boats and sent them forward alone. At such times the permanent settlers or planters were of untold value, for sometimes the ships did not arrive until ten days after the boats, and "what would become of the poor men at such a cold season if they were not relieved by the planters ?" (405).
Settlers appeal to the King.
During 1678, owing to an embargo enforced by the King, no ships went to Newfoundland except some few from the Devonshire ports, which sailed in defiance of the embargo and did the usual mischief to the settlersThese last now appealed piteously for protection and proper governance, summing np their spiritual and temporal wants in the three words, a government, a minister, and fortifications. These they declared themselves ready to maintain at their own cost (886, 958). The Board of Trade and Plantations summoned the Western Adventurers to answer these complaints (965), and the quarrel was renewed. The two questions at issue were, did the planters really injure the fishing trade? and, could Newfoundland and the fishery be preserved to England without a colony ? The latter was incomparably the more important, and was answered, of course, with equal assurance by the planters in the negative, and by the fishermen in the affirmative, according as the interests of each dictated. It was for the Board of Trade and Plantations to choose between the two.
Decision to appoint a Governor.
The first business was to go through the charter of the Western Adventurers carefully clause by clause, and amend it so as to heal the breach between them and the settlement, but with a leaning always to the side of the planters [settlers] (1294, 1300); and at the second sitting the Board agreed that a Governor should be sent to Newfoundland with jurisdiction alike over planters and over fishermen that offended ashore. The Western Adventurers were anything but pleased, but the mind of the Board was evidently made up. Sir George Downing of the Commission of Customs, who was called in to state the effect of the proposed change in his department, set forth by many arguments the mischief that was to accrue to the fishery by the appointment of a Governor, but he was silenced by the intimation that the opinion of his brother Commissioners would be taken as well as his own (1313). The Western Adventurers sent up agents to speak on the same side as Downing; and the Western towns, which were their head-quarters, supported their representations. But, says the journal of the Board, their Lordships finding no reason to alter their former resolution as to a Governor, agreed to proceed further towards preparing rules and provisions in that behalf (1536). It is evident that the opinions of the captains of the convoys seriously and rightly influenced the Board in forming its final decision (1313); and the extreme lucidity of their reports (1121, 1510) shows their capacity for judgment. The consideration that moved them in urging their reform was one which, though less potent perhaps in the reign of Charles II. than of other English kings, is always paramount in the mind of the English sailor—the exclusion of the French. Here we leave Newfoundland apparently on the eve of her erection into a Colony.
Bermuda.; Complaint of inhabitants against the Company.
Striking now southward from the mainland to the Islands, we touch before entering the tropic at the little archipelago of the Bermudas or Somers Islands. Here again we find the same troubles at work, leading, as in Newfoundland and Massachusetts, to the same issue between Chartered Company and State. Quite early in 1677 (9) certain members of the Somers Island Company petitioned the King for redress of grievances imposed by a majority of their body on the planters in the Island, grievances which had their root in the exercise of a most grasping and selfish monopoly. The Company had an answer ready (9 II.), and there for the present the matter seems to have rested. But in 1679 the planters in Bermuda themselves presented a table of complaints (990 I., II.), which brought the question forward in an acuter form. The Company, the planters alleged, virtually prohibited any ships except their own, even ships in distress, from entering the ports of Bermuda; the inhabitants could not consign their produce except to the port of London, where it was subjected to heavy duty for the Company's benefit, nor could they obtain any ships or goods except those that were furnished by the Company at its own time and its own scale of prices. The system is not so very unlike that which prevailed less than twenty years ago between the West Indian sugar-planters and the great firms that supplied them with money; but the crowning grievance of Bermuda lay deeper than this. "The inhabitants frequently have occasion to petition His Majesty for relief from many injuries; but the present Government will not suffer such petitions to come for England, unless allowed and approved by them." In plain English, the Company's agents exercised censorship over all documents that impugned its actions and would not suffer them to be delivered.
The Board of Trade decides against the Company.
A second petition a few months later (1052) expanded the previous articles of complaint, and called forth an answer from the Company which was simply a categorical denial of every statement (1062). The Board of Trade and Plantations, however, being still unsatisfied, determined to examine the matter, and called both parties before them to state their cases. Then the complainants appear to have become frightened, for we find the Board refusing to hear them further unless they paid five pounds to the Company as indemnity for unnecessary delay (1072); but they plucked up courage, and on the 30th July the informal trial was begun (1081). After a couple of sittings the Board dismissed all the charges but two, but on these reported strongly to the King, that the Company had no right to deprive any of his subjects of the power of petitioning to him, and that it had acted arbitrarily and illegally in dispossessing inhabitants of their lands without trial, and in itself trying causes as a Court of Judicature of First Instance. If the Company refused to submit to this decision the powers of their charter must be tested by an action at law. The Company did refuse; an order was issued for its prosecution in consequence (1277), and at this stage the proceedings for the present terminate.
West Indies.; Menaces of the French Fleet.
Lastly, we turn to the West Indies proper, which for our purposes fall into three groups; the Windward Island of Barbadoes, the Leeward Islands of Montserrat, Nevis, Antigua, and St. Christopher's, and, the leewardmost of all, Jamaica. Before treating of them singly it will be convenient to notice first a common danger that threatened all alike, and is indeed the first thing of which we hear in that quarter in the years under review. On the 8th February 1677 Sir Jonathan Atkins reported the arrival of a powerful French fleet under Count d'Estrees, which had picked up French soldiers from all the Islands, reinforced itself with several sail of privateers, and was throwing the whole archipelago into alarm (48). After coasting Barbadoes all night, it bore away to leeward, and the next that was heard of it was that it had destroyed the Dutch fleet at Tobago (92), defeated the Dutch ashore by a single lucky shell which exploded the magazine, and swept the island clean, with the loss to themselves of but one man (559). From thence it proceeded to Martinique, and then again appeared in November before Barbadoes. The militia of the Island was called under arms, but nothing happened beyond an exchange of civilities; and D'Estrées sailed away "with something of admiration to see so great a force of horse and foot in so small and Island" (498). At the opening of 1678, however, came rumours of war between England and France, and the panic at the presence of the fleet, which had never wholly subsided, rose again to fever pitch. In Barbadoes new defences were hastily erected; in Jamaica martial law was proclaimed and the spade set busily to work; and in St. Christopher's and Nevis, which were the most exposed of all, the Governor and all the whites were under arms night and day, while all the negroes that were out with them worked hard at the trenches (642). A month later warning came from England that a breach might happen with France, and that the Leeward Islands were to do as best they could for their defence (667). Before the message could reach its destination the fleet itself, twenty men-of-war and fifteen privateers, was at Basseterre in St. Christopher's, within sight of the anxious English, and apparently beating to windward to attack Nevis (687, 690). At sunset on the 29th April, however, it vanished to leeward, and nothing more was heard of it until on the 1st of June news was brought to Jamaica, that this dreaded fleet had come to disaster. It had sailed for Curacoa, whence the Dutch Governor sent three small vessels to watch it. The French gave chase, and the Dutch, knowing the navigation better than they, led them into a dangerous channel. The great ships began to run aground and fired guns of warning, which the rest of the fleet took as a signal for closer pursuit. One after another the great ships crashed on to the reefs; and thus miserably perished ten out of the twenty splendid vessels brought out by D'Estrées. Three smaller ships were also lost, as well as five hundred guns and five hundred men. Such was the scene at the Isle of Aves on the 4th May 1678. (fn. 4)
Military resources of the Islands.
The news did not reach St. Christophers until the 29th June, but the relief at its coming was great. The British possessions one and all had, as we have seen, strained themselves to the utmost to repel any attack, and it is remarkable to note the strength of the forces which they could put into the field. The accounts of these for the Leeward Islands (423, 679, 741, 1418), for Barbadoes (1336), and for Jamaica (1370), have been carefully abstracted at some length as of value to the student not only of Colonial but of Military history. They present indeed a curious reflection of English military progress in the forty years since the opening of the great civil war. Thus in Barbadoes some of the muster rolls show as crude an organisation as that of the English militia in the days of Elizabeth; while on the other hand, as we shall presently see in treating of another matter, the Island rejected certain weapons offered by the Board of Ordnance in London for others of a newer and more effective kind. In Jamaica again, though fifty years had passed since Gustavus Adolphus had reformed the organisation and tactics of infantry, we find at least one instance of a company (1370 IX.) drilled and organised according to the obsolete fashion of Maurice of Nassau, an interesting survival, forasmuch as the officers were many of them the same men who had been sent out under Venables, Sedgwicke, and Brayne in 1655–57.
Leeward Islands.; Stapleton and the command of the Sea.
But the ablest soldier and administrator alike in the West Indies was undoubtedly the Governor of the 'Leeward Islands, Sir William Stapleton. His despatches, dealing as they do almost exclusively with questions of defence, have a peculiar interest for the student not only of West Indian history but for all who would follow the long struggle of England and France for Colonial Empire. His position was one of no ordinary difficulty. St. Christophers was then divided between the English and French, the latter being in very decided preponderance. Moreover, the French had a good base of operations close by to windward at Martinique, while the most powerful English island to windward, Barbadoes, was separated from St. Christophers by three or four times the distance. But the standing danger to the English islands lay in the continual presence in the Caribbean Sea of a powerful French fleet. As Stapleton again and again pointed out, all empire in the West Indies turned on the control of the sea. As far back as 1675 (see No. 254) he had urged (and the Board of Trade, to do it justice, had supported him) the imperative necessity of maintaining a powerful English fleet to keep that of the French in check; and all through the present volume we find him harping on the same string, and pleading that if not a fleet, at least a frigate might be spared him to enable him to sail from island to island of his government. Again and again the Board of Trade returned to the charge, and pressed the King to send both frigate and fleet (e.g., 288, 299); and once we find matters pushed so far that an estimate was prepared of the expense of six ships and one thousand men for the Leeward Islands (700–702).
Apathy of the English Government.
Little, however, came of this. The whole naval force consisted of the "Quaker," ketch, "as meanly manned," wrote Stapleton, "as ever I saw vessel. . . . . commanded by a mere brute unfit to live among men… I have several ketches from New England, which in a few days might be manned and fitted with as much credit to the Crown as the 'Quaker' is often represented" (603, 604). What the Government did supply was a trifling sum for the building of fortifications (280), a small supply of stores, and a small reinforcement of men for the two companies of regular troops quartered in Stapleton's command. These last, just fifty-seven men, dressed, be it noted, in red coats (335), arrived at their destination in January 1678, "but, my Lords (wrote Stapleton), in that condition that never soldiers were sent—without arms, ammunition, or money to subsist withal, not so much as a sword or the ammunition loaf to a place where there is no magazine nor any stores to be purchased. . . . I submit it to your Lordships' serious consideration how dishonourable it is to the King and nation to send soldiers to garrison where French and Dutch are spectators of such their naked condition. They have given me one of the greatest confusions I ever had" (582). When it is added that the two companies to be reinforced had themselves hardly any arms, owing to the destructive effects of the climate, and that their pay was in arrear since from the year 1671, poor Stapleton's feelings at the aspect of these recruits, especially when compared with ten French companies of old soldiers, well paid and clothed, which had recently arrived in St. Christopher's, may be more easily imagined than described.
Treaty of neutrality between French and English in Leeward Islands.
In the height of the alarm from D'Estrées's fleet the French General, Count de Blenac, offered Stapleton to make a treaty of neutrality between the French and English in the Leeward Islands, to subsist, whatever the relations between the mother countries. Stapleton eagerly grasped at the chance; the Treaty was signed on the 91/9th May (741. IX.), and readily sanctioned by the English Government (745, 750). The French Government, however, refused to ratify the agreement, and the whole matter became for a time the subject of negotiation between the two Courts, the idea being to extend the Treaty to the whole of the West Indian possessions. The negotiations, however, were abruptly broken off by the French. The proceedings may be traced in the Index under the head Treaty, and need not, therefore, detain us longer, though it may be remarked that Stapleton held the behaviour of the French in the matter to be neither honourable nor straightforward. Yet he was not surprised, for he had once heard from Mazarin's own lips the saying, "Le roy n'est pas l'esclave de sa parole" (1359).
Renewed menaces of the French fleet.
Meanwhile, the respite that had been granted by the destruction of D'Estrees's fleet was not of long duration. By March, 1679, the arrival of a new French squadron was expected, and there was not even an English ketch among the Leeward Islands to meet it. The general insecurity had had its effect on the inhabitants, who were inclined to emigrate to safer settlements, such as Jamaica, a tendency which required to be checked by orders from the English Government (907, 1000). To aggravate that insecurity further, the French in the Island of St. Christopher's used their superior strength for the oppression of their English neighbours, to the immense indignation of the helpless Stapleton. Knowing by bitter experience the backwardness of Charles in affording protection, he thought out a scheme for replenishing the slender stock of his war material by making it obligatory on every merchant vessel to carry with it a certain proportion of ammunition on every outward voyage; a plan which was duly accepted in principle by the Board of Trade (968, 978) though we hear no more of it. Meanwhile, in June, the expected French fleet had reached Martinique, and in the same month a French man-of-war sailed into Nevis without taking the slightest notice of the English flag, and did not retire till six shots had been fired at her and she had herself answered by firing seven others towards the shore (1024). Two other French men-of-war offered the like insult to Jamaica (1059), and in July the fleet was again in the vicinity of Nevis worrying the inhabitants to death by the suspense of an attack. How, asked Stapleton, could he be expected to defend the Islands, though all blame of disaster must rest on him (1063) ? The French in St. Christophers became more high-handed than before (1137, 1235), and Stapleton, finding the present situation unbearable, at last proposed as the only possible solution of the difficulty that the Island of Montserrat should be surrendered to the French, even at personal loss to himself and to others, in return for their evacuation of St. Christophers (1235). This suggestion again was eagerly snatched at in England (1320, 1324), in the hope of checking the importunity of the Leeward Islands, for Stapleton had coupled with his proposal a renewal of his request that either an efficient man-of-war should be sent to him or none at all.
The English Government's paltry assistance.
At last, after further insults from French vessels had driven the much-harassed English Governor almost to desperation, the English Government made a great effort and agreed to allow 1,500l. for the building of a fort at Nevis (a "bountiful supply" as the Board of Trade, in the desperate state of English finance, judged it to be), and with high commendations for Stapleton's spirited treatment of the French men-of-war, instructed him to vindicate the King's honour with the like readiness in future (1192, 1279). The Board also for the fiftieth time tried to persuade the King to send an adequate naval force to the Leeward Islands, and held out hopes to Stapleton of success (1320, 1324). But even while they were debating, the shameful inefficiency of the Admiralty Board had been visited on Stapleton in a quite unexpected fashion. The one paltry ketch on the station, the "Deptford," ran short of ammunition, and was obliged, after supplying herself from the slender stock at Nevis, to sail homeward. "It is a sad thing," wrote Stapleton, that we who have so little store must lessen it. I hope that if any English men-of-war be sent here, the Admiralty will see them provided for a West Indian instead of a Channel voyage as was the 'Deptford'" (1337). The French naturally took fresh advantage of the weakness of the English. "Hardly a week passes, but some proud Frenchman or other comes and will neither salute nor lower topsails until forced to it or compelled to bear off by our guns. . . . . It frets me to nothing but skin and bone to see such indignities put on the King's flag by their very merchantment" (1418, 1437).
Sir William Stapleton.
So the months passed on in constant alarms during the year 1680. The intelligence of the "bountiful supply" of 1,500l. towards the fortification was Stapleton's only crumb of comfort. He was thankful for small mercies, but pointed out that the sum was absurdly inadequate. "How far short it will fall even to pay the masons I leave to your Lordships' consideration. . . . . If you would procure the bestowal of the 4½ per cent. duty on the erection and repair of forts (which was the purpose for which it was originally designed) you would "infinitely oblige the inhabitants." All such representations were, however, useless. The Councils of the Islands added their entreaties to Stapleton's without avail (1392, 1441, 1442); and the only result was the reappearance, in spite of Stapelton's repeated protests, of the "Deptford" ketch as the sole representative of British naval force. "It is my duty to be as silent as satisfied with what is sent," wrote Stapleton calmly, though with such bitterness as may be guessed. In truth his patient patriotism during these trying times entitle him to an honourable place in British Colonial history, should that history ever be written. The eternal menaces of the French fleet meant not only incessant hard work but immense pecuniary loss to the Islands. Stapleton reckoned it in 1678 at a million of sugar per week (687); yet he kept his government in good heart and good order; and the Councils of the Islands in their letters begged that whatever happened he might remain with them as Governor. His troops, as we have seen, were unpaid; the resources which should have been available for him were diverted by the King; he himself was the King's creditor for many years of arrears of pay for which he pleaded so often in vain that he was obliged at last to give a modest account of his services in war to show that "without vanity he deserved his pay as much as anyone" (1557). Yet he never lost heart. The amount of business which he contrived to transact was enormous. Apart from ordinary administration and preparations for defence he was constantly engaged in negotiations with the French; and it fell to him also to withdraw the derelict English from Surinam and superintend the restitution of St. Eustatius and Saba to the Dutch. Yet he wrote out all the statistical particulars of the Leeward Islands (1418) with his own hand, judging it derogatory to the dignity of the Lords of Trade and Plantations that such a duty should be entrusted to a clerk. It is refreshing to encounter at such a time so fine a type of quiet courage, resolution, resource and devotion, as that presented by William Stapleton. The example was not lost upon general officers in the West Indies in the desperate year 1795.
Barbadoes.; Governor Atkins.
I turn now to another Island and another Governor, which offer us a study of a different though not uninteresting kind. Sir Jonathan Atkins, who had arrived in Barbadoes as Governor in 1674, had drawn censure upon himself from home by his disapproval of the Acts of Trade and Navigation, and his partiality for free trade (see previous volume, 1179); and it is evident from his early letters in 1677 that he was somewhat uneasy as to his position (11). He had found the Island distracted by two factions, and having reconciled these and called an Assembly, he discovered that the planters were at variance with the English Government on two principal subjects—the misbehaviour (as they judged it) of the Royal African Company, which enjoyed the monopoly of the supply of slaves, and the extortion of the farmers of 4½ per cent. duty levied for the service of the King (11). As both of these interests were particularly favoured by the English Government, the difference resolved itself virtually into a dispute between Colony and Mother Country; and Atkins threw in his lot with the Colony. The Board of Trade and Plantations was, as we have already seen, busily gathering information respecting all the Colonies with a view to more decided interference in their affairs, and, as it seems, with the hope of gathering more from them for the Royal Exchequer. This information Atkins, either from laziness, or from fear of trouble with the Barbadians, or from opposition to the policy of the Board, or, as is most probable, from a combination of all three causes, was most unwilling to furnish; in fact he said flatly that it was impossible to supply it (11, 187). Most unfortunately, however, there was a certain number of West Indian merchants, who claimed to speak as the representatives of Barbadoes, and were constantly haunting the Colonial Office (as we should now call it) with requests and recommendations which, though sometimes undoubtedly for the good of the Colony were, consciously or unconsciously, prompted mainly by consideration for their own interests. The administration of the West Indies has long been divided between three contending powers, the actual inhabitants on the Islands, the merchants at home, and Exeter Hall. The student can trace in the present volume the first two in full and active operation, and early symptoms of the rise of the third.
His quarrel with the English Government.
The first passage at arms between the Governor and the Board arose out of the danger of a French war. The merchants, doubtless, in terror for their investments, represented that Barbadoes was short of weapons (231); the Board, therefore, although Atkins had expressly declared that there was no occasion for it, ordered the despatch of fifteen hundred pikes (248, 259). The Assembly on receiving intimation of this resolved that the fifteen hundred pikes were wholly useless to the Island, and would be a great and unnecessary charge; and moved the Governor to buy twelve hundred plain firelocks, " after the French work, about the value of twenty shillings each," and two hundred carbines (397). Such outspoken, though well deserved, contempt for military opinion in England must have been galling enough; but the matter did not end there. Atkins seized the opportunity to make vehement complaint that the Board should have taken action on the advice of merchants without the consent of himself and his legislature. Pikes, he said, were useless, as there was a worm in Barbadoes that destroyed English wood. The Island was bound by charter to pay for its own armament, and the people begged that they might be allowed to select it for themselves. Merchants of the Exchange, the Royal African Company, and others, took upon themselves in some measure to be Governors of Barbadoes, and he had thus so many masters that he did not know whom to please; it were to be wished that these gentlemen, and especially Sir Peter Colleton, would move in their own spheres for the future. He complained also that places of profit were given away by Patent, a subject to which I shall presently recur. Finally, he flatly refused to give some of the information on military matters that was required of him. "The strength and weakness of a place so important as Barbadoes should [he said in effect] be kept secret. No doubt your Lordships are entrusted with many more important secrets, but the King has appointed me his CaptainGeneral here, and I am responsible with my head for the safety of the Island (403)."
Irritation in the Island.
The letter was audacious and free-spoken enough, but its tone was supported, so far as concerned the interference of the merchants, by both the Council and the Assembly. Additional irritation was caused in Barbadoes by the arrival of a travelling Englishman with a copy of the heads of information issued by the Government. This gentleman, Sir Thomas Warner, a prototype of the modern tourist, had received some kind of vague request from Secretary Coventry to note down any intelligence that might be useful to the Board, and had apparently allowed the heads of inquiry to become public property, thereby creating much suspicion among the ever suspicious Barbadians. Atkins, to whom he confided his thirst for military intelligence, told him that if he had attempted to satisfy it, he would have hanged him for a spy, and intimated as much to the Board of Trade and Plantations (422). It is hardly surprising that the Board somewhat resented the lofty tone of Atkins, but it had put itself so completely in the wrong that it was obliged to return a soft answer. Meanwhile it did not improve its position by summoning the Speaker of the Assembly, William Sharpe, to England, to answer a charge preferred by the hated Royal African Company, of illicit trading in negroes (266, 498). The Assembly deprecated such arbitrary measures, with the remark that inhabitants of such extreme parts of the King's dominions, if removed to England for trial, must inevitably be ruined whether they were innocent or guilty (p. 191).
Governor's position weakened.
Nevertheless, the Board was not disposed to yield altogether to Atkins; and it found, amid all its many complaints against him for withholding information, good ground of censure in the persistent difficulties which he raised against the transmission of the laws of Barbadoes. Atkins, on his part, remained as insubordinate as ever, as his next important letter sufficiently shows (592), and now fought the English Government on another issue. The Board had, in the prevailing zeal for religious toleration which was just now encouraged in England for the Duke of York's sake, fallen foul of certain penal laws against the Quakers. Such laws were undoubtedly reasonable, for the Quakers not only refused to take their share in the defence or even the fortification of the Island indeed, a Quaker in making a map of the Island, had declined to mark either churches or forts—but encouraged a disorderly spirit among the negroes by inviting them to their meetings. This, considering the frequency of negroes' rebellions, was a most serious danger. Atkins, on this point again, was right and his masters wrong, but in virtue of his correctness he assumed too imperious a tone. The Board clamoured more and more for a complete list of laws, and then Atkins began to shuffle and prevaricate. At the opening of 1679 moreover a party in the Assembly sent one of its members, Colonel Drax, to join the very merchants of whom the Governor had complained, in independent negotiation with the Government; and from that moment Colonel Drax and Sir Peter Colleton became, in Atkins' own phrase, the Governors of Barbadoes (969). They took upon themselves to settle the whole difficulty of the 4½ per cent. duty by offering to take the matter out of the hands of the farmers and make the King a larger payment, and they even took credit to themselves for saving the ancient constitution of Barbadoes. Thus, the Assembly being no longer united at his back, the Governor's position became very unstable.
Through the complaints of the farmers, as it happened, the Board discovered that Atkins had not furnished them with copies of all the laws of Barbadoes (1023). It sent him thereupon two despatches (1074, 1079) which show that it was rapidly coming to the end of its patience. Atkins's reply was in his old tone—" My Lords, I must finish with a request that you will please to consider me as the King's Governor here. That you are pleased to put the opinion of merchants and people that are concerned in this Island in balance with me—tis something hard to bear, as your letter expresses—they tell you their own interests, and it may be not the King's, which when 'tis required I will faithfully do." The principle which he here enunciates is so sound, and has so often been neglected with disastrous results, that it is distressing to find it employed for purposes of subterfuge. The Board now cut matters short by saying plainly that, unless Atkins obeyed orders he would be superseded (1270); and thereupon Atkins wrote a long letter of defence, and enclosed with it at last the answers to the Board's heads of inquiry. These documents have a remarkable interest for their picture of the Island's condition and of its peculiar system of hand-to-mouth legislation (1334, 1336), and not less for its examples of the intense suspicion which is still characteristic of the Barbadians at large. Thus Atkins was put down as a traitor who designed to sell the Island to the French simply because he was able to speak the French language; and he explains that he was obliged to consent to a certain enactment because if he had even hesitated he would have passed for " as arrant a papist as ever was hanged at Tyburn." His defence, however, availed him little. Every statement of his was checked by inquiry of the merchants in London (1386), and it was plain that he lay at their mercy. A second long letter of defence (1362) was followed by a second curt letter of censure (1427), and three weeks later the Board decided to recall him, and appoint Sir Richard Dutton to be Governor in his stead (1469).
The results of the struggle.
The Board now gave the methods of administration in Barbadoes more serious attention. Their ignorance of the existing system is shown by a list of questions as to the actual power of the Crown in respect of legislation in the Colony; and the general vagueness of the Governor's powers is proved by Dutton's request for special authority to deal with refractory members of the legislature, and to pass laws without the sanction of the Assembly (1505). These proposals were fully in accordance with the general policy of the English Government at the time, but the subject will be more conveniently discussed in a later page. We therefore part with Barbadoes with Sir Richard Dutton's projected departure for the Island at the close of 1680 (1610). The story of Atkins' supersession is only that of the first of many contests between the local legislature and the English merchants for supremacy in the administration, wherein the victory, in consequence of the defection of a part of the Assembly, lay with the merchants. The part played by the element now known as Exeter Hall shall be dealt with presently.
Jamaica.; Controversies with the Home Government.
I pass now to Jamaica, the island round which is centred the principal interest of this volume for the student of Colonial history. Already in the previous volume (986 I.–IX.) we find the Governor, Lord Vaughan, with the Legislature at his back, in controversy with the English Government over the admission of a Receiver of the King's dues, one Thomas Martin, who had been appointed by Letters Patent to the authority thereby imposed on him. Not only did Vaughan obstruct him in the discharge of his duties, but the Legislature passed an Act transferring certain moneys formerly payable to the King from his service to that of the Island. We have already seen Sir Jonathan Atkins fighting against the Crown in resistance of the same encroachments, and we shall now see the quarrel between Crown and Colony widen itself to a battle all along the line in attack and defence of what is now called Home Rule.
Quarrels of Governor and Assembly.
We may pass by the dispute over Martin's Patent with the remark that in defiance of the Royal instructions he was not only denied his rights by the Jamaicans, but thrown into prison, where he remained, once more in defiance of repeated Royal orders, for nearly a year until finally released in 1678 (650). Meanwhile, the Legislature of Jamaica had been summoned, and the Assembly had fallen out with the Governor and Council over an Act of Privileges, which secured to the Island the benefit of the laws of England (208, 209); while both Houses had run foul of the King's Commission to the Governor respecting the command of the Militia, of his instructions in favour of the Royal African Company, and, in fact, of the Royal wishes at large. Trouble was brewing fast. The Council were, most of them, "old standers and officers of Cromwell's Army," whom the Governor had no power to suspend; and their discipline was by no means perfect. A great and inveterate evil in Jamaica was the privateers who not only caused endless trouble with foreign nations, but led away rich and poor alike from steady work and honest enterprise. Vaughan tried hard to suppress them, but in vain, for many of the Legislature, particularly Sir Henry Morgan and one Robert Byndloss, were interested in their success; and matters came to a climax when the Assembly interposed to exert the prerogative of mercy and prevent the execution of a condemned pirate. Vaughan, however, was firm; the culprit was hanged, and the Assembly dissolved (August 1677, see 365, 375, 383). A new Assembly was called in September, of which we hear little, though as it voted 1,000l. to the Governor we may suppose that its humour was less recalcitrant (398, 402). Lord Vaughan remained in the Island until March, 1678, when he returned to England a poorer and sadder man (622, 646).
Poyning's Law for Jamaica.
But while these matters were going forward in the tropics the Board of Trade and Plantations had been extremely busy with the affairs of Jamaica at home. After long neglect it had been decided to examine certain laws of Jamaica which had been sent home by Lord Vaughan in 1675, and which, being valid for but two years, would require renewal. Even while the Assembly of Jamaica was fighting with the Council for the Act which declared the laws of England to be in force in the Island, the King's Attorney-General was considering how far the enactment was consistent with the King's right of dominion. Further, and here we see the ground prepared for the coming contest, he was ordered to prepare a Bill, modelled on Poyning's Law in Ireland, directing the manner of enacting, transmitting, and amending the laws of Jamaica by the King in England (206, 226). The work went rapidly forward. Lord Carlisle was ordered to prepare to go to Jamaica to carry out the new policy (395). The laws as received from Lord Vaughan were amended; the style of enactment was altered from the "Governor, Council, and Assembly, &c." to the "King by and with the advice &c., of the Assembly"; and much debate took place over the Commission and Instructions for the new Governor (457, 474). Sir Thomas Lynch who knew Jamaica well by experience, counselled moderation (465), and even the members of the Board hesitated for a time as to whether they should not avail themselves of sharp practice, rather than arbitrary authority, to obtain an Act granting perpetual revenue, which was one great object of the new departure (461). But on the whole the Lords decided to weave all their designs into the new scheme of Government, and to curb once for all the headstrong Assembly of Jamaica, which had so recently shown signs of taking the bit into its teeth.
Lord Carlisle to carry the new policy.
By November the programme was complete. Jamaica was henceforth to be governed according to Poyning's law. No Assembly was to be called in future, except in case of invasion, without the King's special directions; the Governor was empowered to remove refractory members of Council and appoint others in their stead, and forty ready-made laws modelled on those sent by Lord Vaughan, were passed under the Great Seal and entrusted to Lord Carlisle to be laid before the Jamaican Legislature. A perpetual Bill of Revenue, providing among other things for the safety of the King's Receiver, which had been imperilled as we have seen in the person of Thomas Martin, was among them. Equipped with these powers (480, 641), and strengthened by a force of two companies of English troops and a large quantity of stores Lord Carlisle sailed for Jamaica, after infinite delay, at the end of April or beginning of May 1678 (693).
The new policy rejected.
After a long passage, wherein he suffered much from gout, he landed at his destination on the 18th July. He had lost, we may note, but two of his soldiers on the voyage, a very small mortality in those days, and those "from excessive drinking of water." The red coats were welcomed to overawe the negroes, who just then were "very outrageous." On the 19th he produced his batch of laws and summoned an Assembly for the 2nd September; but even before its meeting he reported dissatisfaction in the Council over the new policy. Indeed, according to his own account, he had anticipated trouble while it was still under debate in England. The Assembly met, received the Bills in instalments, and proceeded to discuss them in a spirit of criticism which soon resolved itself into a spirit of rejection. The next incident was a quarrel between the Governor and the House, because the Clerk refused to communicate to His Excellency the Assembly's reasons for throwing out the Bill of Revenue. The matter ended in Carlisle's threatening to lay the Clerk by the heels unless he produced them by six o'clock next morning. The Governor then tried conciliation, but without success, and finally the whole forty Bills were uncompromisingly thrown out. With great difficulty Carlisle prevailed upon the Assembly to pass a Revenue Bill to provide money for the next twelve months, the members only after a struggle consenting to use the new style "by the King" in place of "by the Governor." This done he dissolved it (12th October). The reasons alleged by the Assembly against the Bills were mostly frivolous, the weightiest being that they had not been compared with the later batch sent over by Lord Vaughan in 1677; but the resentment against the new system was insuperable. The members would not part with their deliberative power though Carlisle might charm never so wisely; and the Governor finally wrote home that he agreed with the Assembly in the opinion that distance from England rendered the Irish system impracticable in Jamaica (Lord O's. letters, 779, 794, 814, 816, 827, 832. Journals of Assembly 786, 806, 1648).
The English Government tries coercion.
The Board, on hearing what had passed, was not a little disturbed, for apart from the rejection of all its Bills, Carlisle had transmitted for the Royal assent six Acts containing provisions, particularly in respect of the extension of the laws of England to Jamaica, which directly set at nought all its previous determinations. After short consideration it decided to fight the matter out, and if the Assembly still proved stubborn, to reduce the Island to the Military Government established by Colonel Doyley after its original capture by the expedition sent out by Cromwell (954). After some difference of opinion, due possibly to the influence of Halifax, it presented a report on the whole question dated 28th May, 1679, (1009), which was at once a summary of the dispute and a refutation of the Assembly's objections. Nor can it be denied that this refutation was very able and complete not only in defending the King's position, but in delivering a counter attack on the Assembly's encroachments, particularly in respect of the prerogative of mercy. The one weak point was that which concerned the crucial question, namely, the applicability of Poyning's Law to a West Indian Island. It was evaded by a vague assertion that what was good enough for Ireland was good enough for Jamaica.
Carlisle adverse to the new policy.
The report was duly forwarded to Lord Carlisle with a letter of censure on various small points. He, like Atkins, had been furnished with a number of heads of enquiry to which to supply answers, but so far he had failed to do so; and it is noteworthy that as regards military information he raised the same objections on the score of secrecy that had been adduced by Atkins. This, however, was a small matter; it is more important to note that before the letter of censure reached him he had fully made up his mind that the new policy would not be accepted by Jamaica and must be abandoned; and he sent Sir Francis Watson to England to urge his views upon the Board of Trade and Plantations (1030, 1096). A new Assembly met on the 19th August, and the Governor frankly told them what he had done, adding that if Watson failed he would go himself. The House voted him six months' supplies, and then at once came to loggerheads with him about the examination of the Receiver-General's books. The members contended that they had a right to investigate the accounts; the Governor denied it; and as the Receiver-General was the same Thomas Martin who had made himself obnoxious to the Assembly before, the whole irritating question about officials appointed by Letters Patent was re-opened (1098, 1099, 1103). The alarm caused by the appearance of the French fleet then drove the whole of the legislature from the council to the camp, and the Parliament was prorogued till 28th October (1104). It is, we may note in passing, somewhat comical to find, among the objections transmitted through Watson to England, that Jamaica like Barbadoes was further advanced in the choice of military weapons than the military authorities at home (1141).
Embitterment of the quarrel between Governor and Assembly.
During the interval Lord Carlisle seized the opportunity to appoint one of his own servants to be Clerk of Assembly, in order that he might be the better informed of its proceedings (1129); but the wrangle thereby caused did little to further the objects of the Board of Trade and Plantations. The Assembly again threw out all the English Bills, and answered all his expostulations by an address criticising some of them in detail and deprecating the new policy as a whole with considerable freedom. Not content with this, it also vehemently urged the Governor to suppress privateering, an action which, considering that it had baulked his most strenuous efforts in that direction, was a deliberate piece of impertinence. The moving spirit behind this Address was one Colonel Samuel Long, who had acted as Speaker in late years and was also Chief Justice of the Island; and it was against him that Carlisle now turned. His reputation was not altogether spotless (see previous Vol. 1665. 837, 934, 962), and it was now discovered that he had erased the King's name from the last Bill of Revenue transmitted by Lord Vaughan in 1675 after it had passed both houses. Carlisle, adding this to his other delinquencies, dismissed him from his of Chief Justice and suspended him from the Council, a strong measure which decidedly sobered the Assembly. He then announced his intention of sending him and others of the recalcitrants home, that the whole matter might be cleared up once for all (1188, 1189, 1199).
Vacillation of the English Government.
Meanwhile the Board of Trade and Plantations was taking advice from former Governors (1234, 1239) as to the actual position of the Crown towards Jamaica, evidently with the object of denying altogether the constitutional privileges claimed by the Island. The question even of the King's right to Jamaica by conquest was raised, so strong for the moment was the inclination to a high-handed solution of the difficulty. The merchants of Jamaica, however, joined the Island in complaints of the new policy (1259), and the Board hesitating between wrath and fear vented its feelings in captious criticism of sundry petty details of Carlisle's action (1269, 1318), and after recapitulating the proceedings of the Assembly came to the lame conclusion that upon the whole matter an apology was due to the King. Then following up its aggressive mood it submitted to the law-officers of the Crown the question whether Jamaica really possessed any rights whatever beyond those that the King might think fit to concede (1323, 1347, 1405). Matters were finally cut short by the departure of Lord Carlisle from Jamaica with the culprit Long in his charge (May 1680 (1370)).
The quarrel settled in England.
He arrived in England early in September, and on the 16th formulated his charges against Long, which amounted to three: (1.) The erasure of the King's name from the Bill of Revenue aforesaid; (2.) The attempted release of the condemned pirate Browne; (3.) General contumacy towards the King's orders (1509, 1512). The subsequent proceedings may be briefly told. After some discussion of the whole question by the light of the past history of Jamaica (1540, 1550, 1561) the dispute was settled by the mediation of Chief Justice North. The new policy was abandoned; and the constitution of Barbadoes, differing little if at all from that for which the Jamaicans contended, was granted to Jamaica, together with virtually every other concession for which they asked. In return the Assembly pledged itself to grant the King a fixed revenue, which, if not perpetual, should last at all events for seven years. The liberties of Jamaica were saved, and Samuel Long was the Hampden who had saved them (see Instructions to Lord Carlisle, 1571, 1572).
Jamaica follows up her victory.
But the champions of Jamaica did not stop there. They pursued their success by submitting a further programme of reforms, embracing practically the removal of all the grievances which have been touched on in the course of this prefatory sketch. First and foremost came the question of privateering, which all parties, whatever their secret thoughts, outwardly agreed to be the curse of West Indian trade. The Council of Jamaica had complained strongly of these "ravenous vermin" (1361), and no one had been latterly more sweeping in his condemnation than the veteran buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan (1425, 1462). The Board of Trade and Plantations had busied itself not a little with the question of legislation against piracy (601, 606, 607, 611), but the true means of suppressing the evil was the maintenance of an efficient English fleet in West Indian waters, and this, as we have seen in the sketch of the Leeward Islands, was a difficulty in the days of King Charles the Second. The request was shelved by referring it to Chief Justice North and Secretary Jenkins (1622). The next grievance took the form of a violent attack on the Royal African Company, its monopoly of the negro-supply, and its oppression as a creditor. This again was not only a Jamaican but a West Indian matter. Barbadoes had taken measures for its own protection, to the great indignation of the Company, but the Leeward Islands were loud in their complaints (pp. 573, 575, No. 1454), and the Board was fain to put pressure on the monopolists to force them to concessions (1583, 1622). The point is of interest, for the West Indies have passed their whole life in similar struggles against monopolist firms of a similar kind.
Appeals from the Supreme Court.
A third request was for allowance of appeals from the Supreme Court of Jamaica, and for permission to apply public money to the payment of a solicitor to represent the Colony in London. The question of appeals arose out of the case of one Francis Mingham (see Index), who had been imprisoned in Jamaica for a breach of the Act of Navigation, but was summarily released by the Board against the representations both of Governor and Council. The Council, while submitting, protested strongly against the reversal of the judgment (1577, 1585), and indeed, on the evidence before us, the action of the Board, though supported by Long and his party, seems to be wholly indefensible. The most interesting feature in the controversy is a letter drawn in the course of it from old Sir Henry Morgan, who as Judge of the Admiralty Court had been reponsible for the case: "The office of Judge Admiral was not given me for my understanding of the business better than others, nor for the profitableness thereof, for I left the schools too young to be a great proficient either in that or other laws, and have been much more used to the pike than to the book; and as for the profit, there is no porter in this town but can get more money in the time than I made by this trial. But I was truly put in to maintain the honour of the Court for His Majesty's service." Juries would not convict in such cases. A cargo of soap had been seized in pursuance of the Acts of Trade and Navigation, but a witness had sworn that soap was victuals and that a man might live on it for a month, and the jury had thereupon found for the defendant with costs. The point is worth noticing as a further example of the opposition, which we saw so rampant in New England, against the Acts of Trade and Navigation.
Her triumph sufficiently complete.
Lastly, the gentlemen of Jamaica made a final attempt to limit the Governor's powers in respect of suspended Councillors, with the evident design of preventing a repetition of Carlisle's treatment of Long, but this was asking too much, and they were only rebuked for their pains. Nevertheless, their triumph on the whole was sufficiently complete.
The Church and the West Indies.
I have hinted before at the growth in England of the particular influence which is now comprehended under the name of Exeter Hall. Its origin, I need not say, is to be traced to the Church. The activity of Compton, the Bishop of London, towards the Church in the Colonies may be judged from his representations respecting the ministry in America (337–9, 348–9, 881) and in the West Indies (1484, 1488, 1522). The six ministers whom he had sent out to the Leeward Islands were not, indeed, shining lights, for we find the Council of St. Christophers begging that the next batch might be of riper years and better read in divinity, so as to be able to foil the Roman Catholic clergy in argument in case of need (p. 572). But we see him showing zeal of a different kind in behalf of the negroes when he pleads for their admission to the Christian religion. Considering that the principal question between the Colonies and the Mother Country in respect of negroes was whether they were " goods or commodities" within the meaning of the Act of Trade, his persistence in urging this charitable design deserves to be remembered. In the West Indies as in New England the planters objected to it as destructive to their property and dangerous to the Islands (1535), and Maryland alone set a finer example.
The Board of Trade and Plantations Reforms.
Finally, a word must be said of the Board of Trade and Plantations, and its progress in the work of administration. First, we must notice its reconstitution by Order in Council of 22nd April 1679, with the list of its members (677). The names show an array of administrative talent that is by no means contemptible, but it is noteworthy that those of Halifax and Edward Seymour, two of the ablest of them, are rarely found at the end of a Report. The working man of the Board was evidently Henry Coventry. Next, we must mark the correspondence a notable stage in the advance of official routine. Governors had been so lax about correspondence that an order was needed to enforce attention to the same. The circulars issued for the purpose, not only to Governors, but to Colonial Secretaries and Clerks of Parliament, will be found at Nos. 1261–1263, of 14th January, 1680, from which day we may date the rise of those Quarterly Returns, which are still carefully prepared in the Crown Colonies, and as sedulously neglected by the Colonial Office. It will be interesting to see how soon the Board of Trade and Plantations adopted the present plan of persistently writing to the Colonies for information which is already to its hand in the Quarterly Returns. Nevertheless, even the growth of routine shows progress in administrative organisation and deserves honourable notice. Another standing order, respecting the absence of Governors from their Colonies, dates also from 1680 (1573); the occasion will probably prove to be Lord Culpeper's unexpected departure from Virginia in that year, though his absence would appear to have been sanctioned by his instructions already quoted. A proposal to establish a Colony at Demerara (714, 771) may also find a place in a reference to the general work of the Board.
Offices held by Patent.
The next point that calls for remark is an inquiry instituted into the tenure of offices in the Colonies at large, a piece of good work which was due to Secretary Coventry (p. 440, No. 1204). We have already seen the complaints preferred by Sir Jonathan Atkins against the granting of offices by Patent, and the quarrel that arose in Jamaica over the functions of the Patentee, Thomas Martin. Martin's was no isolated instance, and the imposition of these officials and their deputies on the Governors was a constant source of irritation. Sir Jonathan Atkins on receiving his cue to speak adduced instance after instance of the most flagrant kind. The passage is too long for quotation, but will be found on page 535, and is worth study. The Governor, Atkins complained, forfeited 1,000l, and was declared incapable of serving the King if anything went amiss in the Naval Office, yet an official was imposed on him from whom and from whose deputy he could not obtain security. Again, "The last Patent was brought me by one Mr. Binkes, who is deputy's deputy to two persons whom I never heard of before." Lord Carlisle's opinions were hardly less forcible, and the Board of Trade and Plantations took care to guard against further recurrence of the abuse in Barbadoes by a clause in Sir Richard Dutton's instructions. Moreover, the whole question of offices in the Colonies was made the subject of inquiry.
Increasing interference of the Board in Colonial affairs.
For the rest the general policy of the Board during the four years under review was emphatically one of direct interposition in the details of Colonial administration. How far this was dicatated by the King's general attitude towards the Government of his subjects at large, and by his hope of increasing his revenue are questions too wide to be discussed here. But beyond all doubt the condition of the various Colonies called aloud for the stronger exercise of the authority of the Crown. It is customary since the loss of the American Colonies to deprecate the interference of the Mother Country in the internal affairs of her children beyond sea, and it is therefore probable that the recalcitrance of New England and the successful resistance of Jamaica may appear matters to be glorified at the expense of the Board of Trade and Plantations. It is too readily assumed that the rebellion of any dependency carries with it its own justification. The bare fact that Ashley, Arlington, and Lauderdale were of the Board of Trade and Plantations in 1677–1680, might seem sufficient reason for damning the English Colonial policy without further inquiry. But, on the other hand, the various settlements show themselves in the present volume to have been for the most part unfit to manage their own affairs. The ceaseless wrangles of the New England Colonies, their harsh treatment of the Indians, which had been the origin of the Virginian rebellion, the high-handed dealing of the dominant cliques, whether political as in Virginia, or religious as in Massachusetts, and the general bitterness of their sectarian animosity, made the lives of many of the settlers a burden to them. The chartered companies again showed themselves alike in Bermuda, in Newfoundland, and in the West Indies, to be grasping and oppressive. The white oligarchies in Barbadoes and Jamaica, moreover, were then, as always, divided between fear and hatred of their negro population, which throve better than the whites under a tropical sun. In Maryland alone was there peace and goodwill among all sects of the white and all races of the coloured, and it is of Maryland accordingly that we hear the least. In all the other Colonies the Board of Trade and Plantations was compelled to interfere, and in every case it found itself confronted by dishonesty, shiftiness, and prevarication. The despatch of its business was not what we should call rapid in these days, but on occasions, as, for instance, in the business of Bermuda, of Newfoundland, and finally of Jamaica, it showed abundance of industry, and a general desire to do justice; and where it went wrong it erred principally on the side of excessive moderation. In spite of its first arbitrary intentions in Jamaica it met the Island finally in a conciliatory spirit, and although the enforcement of Poyning's Law seems a ridiculous system for West Indian Islands in those days of slow and precarious communication, yet it must not be forgotten that the measure of self-government then conceded to the West Indies was proved by time to be far too great, that it broke down disastrously, after a far too long existence, within the present generation, and that, though still enjoyed rather in form than in substance at Barbadoes, it has everywhere else been rightly swept away.
In conclusion, I must plead once more the difficulties
inseparable from a divided editorship that have compelled me to load this Preface so heavily with references.
In future volumes I hope by adding to the Index a
few broad headings, such as Administrative, Economical, Naval, Military, and Ecclesiastical, to disentangle
from the ravelled skein of merely local detail the
principal threads not only of Colonial policy at large,
but of the ancillary subjects that are enwoven with it,
in order, if possible, to place them more readily in the
hands both of general and of special students.
J. W. Fortescue.
26th March 1896.