America and West Indies: March 1680

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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'America and West Indies: March 1680', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 10, 1677-1680, (London, 1896), pp. 492-507. British History Online [accessed 15 June 2024].

. "America and West Indies: March 1680", in Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 10, 1677-1680, (London, 1896) 492-507. British History Online, accessed June 15, 2024,

. "America and West Indies: March 1680", Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 10, 1677-1680, (London, 1896). 492-507. British History Online. Web. 15 June 2024,

March 1680

March 1. 1308. Nathaniel Colson to Mr. Blathwayt, respecting the Narragansett country. At the desire of Mr. Crown gives an account of the Narragansett country, describes the surrender to the King's Commissioners, the disputes between Rhode Island and Connecticut for it. Is of opinion that the jurisdiction and property lies wholly in the King; reckons the undisposed part at 100,000 acres and the selling price at 1,000l. or 1,500l. Endorsed, "Recd. 1 March 1679–80." 1 p. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 33.]
March 2. 1309. Journal of Lords of Trade and Plantations. Petition of John Crown for the gift of Boston-neck in Narragansett, with His Majesty's reference of 14th February, read. Also read, a paper printed at Boston in July 1678, declaring the property of this tract of land to belong to the persons there named and the government to Connecticut; the representation of Randall Holden and John Greene of 4th December 1678 setting forth the submission of the Indians in 1644 and the decision of the Commissioners in 1664 committing the government to Rhode Island; His Majesty's letters of 12th February 1678/9 to the four colonies of New England, requiring all things relating to the Narragansett to be left in the same condition till further orders, and that persons pretending claims thereto should send over agents; the answer thereto of New Plymouth of 1st July; the letter from Rhode Island of 1st August, and the letter of the Commissioners of the three united colonies dated from Boston the 25th August. Their Lordships order the respective charters to be produced at their next meeting, when they will examine the state of the province in order to settle the government and propriety thereof.
Order of Council of 28th January last read referring to the Committee an appeal from the judgment given in New York in the case of Ward against Palmer. This being the first appeal made from that place, the charter to the Duke of York of 29th June 1674 is first read, and then after a brief state of the case the parties are called in. But as only Captain Ward and his Counsel on one side appeared, their Lordships examined the reason of Mr. Palmer's default, and found that by letters to Captain Ward and Colonel Thornburgh he confesses the equity of the debt claimed. The various documents having been read, their Lordships agree that the judgment of the Mayor's Court in New York should be upheld and that of the Mayor's Court reversed, the appellant to come to terms with the defendant's representatives as to costs if possible.
3rd March. Arrived a packet from Sir W. Stapleton containing the laws of Antigua from the year 1668. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. CVI., pp. 138–144.]
[March 2.] 1310. Proposals of William Downing and Thomas Oxford towards the support and maintenance of a Governor in Newfoundland at the rate of 400l. a year. The most just and ready way is to lay a tax upon the boats kept by each inhabitant, to be paid in fish cured and ready for the market, money, or bills of exchange for England. The following, being able men of estates, to be receivers:—George Kirke at Fermooze, John Downing at Queue de Vide, Thomas Oxford at St. John's, and John Pinn at Havre de Grace. Signed, Willm. Downing, Tho. Oxford. 1 p. Endorsed, Recd. 2 March, Read 12 March 1679–80. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 34.]
[March 2.] 1311. Petition of John Ward to Lords of Trade and Plantations. Their Lordships have decided in the case between petitioner and the defendant Palmer that the judgment obtained by petitioner in New York should be confirmed, with allowance of charges and interest. But money due upon the bond being to be paid in England, sterling money, and the difference of payment in New York being mostly 80 per cent. between the commodities of the country and the payment of wampum, beaver and New England money, prays that he may have his money made sterling by any of the last three payments. Endorsed, Read March 2, 1679–80. 1 p. Annexed,
1311. i. Abstract of John Ward's principal debt, interest, and charges. Bond, 80l.; interest, 17th April 1675–17th August 1680, at 6 per cent., 25l. 12s.; allowance for 105l. 12s. at 25 per cent. difference of money if paid in beaver or wampum or New England money, 26l. 8s.; commission at New York, 10l. 10s.; charges his attorney has been at in the Counter at New York, 20l.; charges in prosecuting the appeal, 20l. Total, 182l. 10s. Scrap. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 35.]
[March 3.] 1312. Proceedings of the Commissioners of the two Nations in St. Christopher's. Extract from the Minutes of the National Court at Basseterre, 29th November 1671, in the matter of certain English negroes taken by a Frenchman named "Le Barroone." The views of the different Commissioners, French and English, in the case, and their decision, being unable to agree, to remit it to the Governors. Similar extract of date 26th January 1671–72, respecting an English complaint against Monsieur John Jeffard, with the same result. Similar extract respecting complaints against divers Frenchmen for encroaching on the lands of the English, with same result. Another case of the same kind, 27th February 1672; another, 12th March 1672; another, 10th April 1672. Several more of various dates to the 4th March 1679, the French Commissioners in all cases refusing redress to the English claimants. 18 closely written pages. Inscribed, Recd. 3 March. Probably the enclosure referred to in Stapleton's letter of 5th January (ante, No. 1252). [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 36.]
March 4. 1313. Journal of Lords of Trade and Plantations. The parties concerned in the case of Ward against Palmer being unable to agree as to the payment of costs, their Lordships consider the matter further, and agree to report to the King, as they had first decided that the appeal be allowed.
Sir George Downing and Mr. Lithcot, Controller General of the Customs, called in to inform the Committee that they had received no account concerning the trade and customs of Jamaica since Lord Carlisle's Government save that of exports from the 9th June to 9th October 1679. Ordered that Lord Carlisle and the other officers concerned in Jamaica be directed to furnish punctual accounts of the trade inward and outward. Mr. Lithcot also presented an account showing the trade of the Plantations with each other.
Sir George Downing is then asked to give his opinion respecting the business of Newfoundland, and sets forth by many arguments the mischiefs that would attend the fishery by the institution of a Governor on a plantation; but at length he is told that not his opinion only but that of all the Commissioners of Customs is required in this matter, so far as it affects the question of Customs. The Captains of the convoys, Sir William Poole, Sir Robert Robinson, and others being called in, declare the great use of a plantation and a Governor, and say that without them the French will get possession of Newfoundland. Sir William Poole mentions as one disturbance to the fishery that men occupy too much room with their stages, and that a fixed space should be assigned to every boat. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. CIV., pp. 144–150.]
March 4.
Council Chamber.
1314. Report of Lords of Trade and Plantations to the King. On an appeal brought from New York on the case between John Ward and John Palmer, recommended that the judgment given in the Court of Assizes against John Ward be repealed, and a former judgment granted in the Mayor's Court confirmed. Signed, Anglesey, L. Jenkins, Radnor. Endorsed, Read in Council, March 9, 1679–80. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 37, and Col. Entry Bk., Vol. LXVIII., pp. 47–49.]
1315. Draft of foregoing in William Blathwayt's handwriting. 4 pp. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 38.]
[March 4.] 1316. A collection of papers bearing on the lawsuit mentioned in the foregoing paper.
1316. i. Letter from J. Palmer to Mr. Lewin, dated 12th October 1677. 2 pp. Endorsed, Read 4 March 1679–80.
1316. ii. Letter from the same to Colonel Thornburgh, same date and endorsement. 2 pp.
1316. iii. Copy of the Order and Judgment of the Court of Assizes at New York in the appeal of John Palmer et vxor, against John Ward of London, from the Court of Mayor and Alderman. Judgment for the plaintiff. Defendant appeals to the King of England. Appeal allowed. Endorsed, "Read, 2 March 1679–80." 1½ pp. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., Nos. 39 I.–III.]
1316. iv. Copy of the bond of security entered into by John Ward, through his attorney, William Pinhorne, to prosecute his appeal in the case of Palmer v. Ward, before the King in Council in England. Dated 6th October 1679. Endorsed, "Read, 2 March 1679–80."
1316. v. John Palmer to John Ward. The trouble I now give you is occasioned by the violent proceedings of your attorney, William Pinhorne. I wish you could have found a more moderate person, for he will not hear of a friendly settlement, but I hope to find more civility from yourself. I have overthrown him in the Court here, but I think the money which you claim is your due. I cannot possibly pay the money in England, but if you will drop your appeal I pledge myself to pay it here in provisions or tobacco, and allow you interest for the delay. The event of lawsuits is uncertain and the charges great, so I would willingly do anything reasonable to avoid them. I always intended to pay the money, and would never have denied it if Pinhorne had asked me first. He alone is to blame. Give me eighteen months wherein to pay the debt. I trust much to your goodness herein. 1 p. Dated 23rd October. 1679. Endorsed, "Read, 2 March 1679–80."
1316. vi. John Palmer to Colonel Thornburgh. Encloses the foregoing letter and begs Thornburgh to use his influence with Ward to persuade him to accept his offer. "Your most affectionate kinsman and humble servant." 1 p. Dated 23rd October 1679. Endorsed, Read 2 March.
1316. vii. State of John Ward's appeal. 1 p. Endorsed, Recd. 21 Feb. 1679–80.
1316. viii. Duplicate of foregoing, with an additional statement respecting exchange between New York and England. Endorsed, Read 4 March 1679–80.
1316. ix. Account of principal and interest due upon John Winder's bond to plaintiff, as adjusted between plaintiff and Colonel Thorneburgh, amounting to 135l. 14s. Endorsed, Presented 4 March 1679–80.
1316. x. Charges of John Ward's suit at New York. 1½ pp Endorsed, Presented 4 March 1679–80.
1316. xi. John Palmer's bill in the Court of Assize. Endorsed, Recd. 2 March 1679–80.
1316. xii. Answer of John Ward, by William Pinhorne his attorney to the said bill. 2 pp. Endorsed, Read 4 March 1679–80. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., Nos. 39 IV.–XII.]
March 4.
Council Chamber.
1317. [William Blathwayt to Lord Vaughan]. The Lords of Trade and Plantations desire an account in writing from you concerning the alleged omission or razing of the King's name from the Bill of Revenue passed in Jamaica during your government. Copies of the papers referred to are enclosed to you (ante, No. 1188). Draft [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 40.]
March 5. 1318. Journal of Lords of Trade and Plantations. Lord Carlisle's letter of 23rd November read (ante, No. 1188). Their Lordships think that his reading aloud of their report of 28th May was disagreeable to their direction, and they particularly take note that it was neither necessary nor convenient for him to expose their Instructions to the Assembly. They approve, however, of his appointment of the Clerk of Assembly. Agreed to report that Lord Carlisle be ordered to send home Colonel Long; also to discourage Privateers and prevent the landing of plundered goods by all the means in his power. Their Lordships, however, take notice that Lord Carlisle has not sent home a copy of the petition presented by the Assembly for the suppression of privateering, nor copies of two laws lately passed for paying the expenses of the fortifications and for prolonging the Revenue twelve months longer. Further, in the law for paying for the fortifications, the Collector established by Patent to collect the parochial tax is passed by and another appointed. The Address of the Assembly of Jamaica being read, their Lordships observe that there are many mistakes and falsities therein, as that the Island took up the civil form of government in the time of Sir Thomas Modyford, whereas it is certain that Colonel Doyley soon after the King's Restoration governed by the Civil power. Again their denial of having razed the King's name from the Revenue Bill is refuted by the evidence of the Governor and Council. The Assembly is guilty of another mistake or falsity in respect of the perpetuity of Revenue Bills, which was possible to effect in the time of Sir Thomas Lynch. Further though they speak of the misapplication of public monies they can give no instance of such misapplication by any of the Governors, and in various other points they equally mistake or misstate the facts, "so that upon the whole matter they have reason to beg His Majesty's pardon for all their errors and mistakes." [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. CVI., pp. 151–157.]
March 8. 1319. Journal of Lords of Trade and Plantations. Lord Vaughan attends concerning the charge against Colonel Long of Jamaica for leaving the King's name out of the Revenue Bill, and declares he is confident that the Bill came up from the Assembly to the Council with the King's name in, and that it was not struck out by the Council. He first perceived the erasure when Mr. Martin came out to be Collector, when he sent for the Act and perceived the erasure to be in Colonel Long's hand.
Sir William Stapleton's proposal for the exchange of Montserrat against French St. Christopher's considered and report agreed on. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. CVI., pp. 158, 159.]
March 8.
Council Chamber.
1320. Report of Lords of Trade and Plantations to the King. We have read Colonel Stapleton's letters of 18th December and 5th January last (ante, Nos. 1235, 1252), reporting his failure to obtain satisfaction from the Count de Blenac for certain injuries to British subjects, and encroachments in British territoryn St. Christopher's; and we recommend that copies of Sir William Stapleton's demands, and of his answer to Count de Blenac's reply, be sent to the English envoy at the Court of France with instructions to pursue the orders formerly given to him, and in particular to press for the restitution of the Salt Ponds and to offer Brimstone Hill in exchange for them. As to Sir William Stapleton's suggestion to offer Montserrat in exchange for the French territory on St. Christopher's, we recognise the advantages that would accrue, but can come to no decision until we know the feelings of the French on St. Christopher's itself as to such an exchange. We therefore advise that Sir William Stapleton be directed to sound the French community on the subject, and report to us on the best information that he can privately make, how the balance shall be struck between the two nations, and by what rules the arrangement may be accomplished and negotiated in Europe. We cannot omit further to bring before your Majesty Colonel Stapleton's opinion that ships of war are essential to the safety of your possession in the Leeward Islands, but that a ketch is both useless and discreditable for such a purpose. Signed, Anglesey, J. Bridgwater, L. Jenkins. 2½ pp. Endorsed, Read in Council, 9 March. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 41, and Col. Entry Bk., Vol. XLVI., pp. 416, 418.]
March 9.
1321. Order of the King in Council. After report of the illsuccess of Sir W. Stapleton's conference with the Count de Blenac (see ante, No. 1235). Ordered, that a copy of Sir W. Stapleton's demands, with the French Governor's reply and other papers concerning the negotiation be sent by Secretary Coventry to the King's envoy in France, who is hereby ordered to push forward the negotiations according to his former instructions and in particular to press for the restitution of the Salt Ponds offering Brimstone Hill as an offset. 1 p. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. XLVI., pp. 418, 419.]
March 11. 1322. Journal of Lords of Trade and Plantations. The proposals of Mr. Downing and Thomas Oxford on behalf of the inhabitants of Newfoundland (ante, No. 1310) for maintenance of a Governor read, and approved on condition that the money be raised voluntarily and without the constraint of the Order in Council.
Business of Jamaica resumed. Four queries (see next abstract) addressed to the Attorney and Solicitor General, respecting the operation of English laws, &c. in the Island. [Col. Entry Bk, Vol. CVI., pp. 159, 160.]
March 11.
Council Chamber.
1323. William Blathwayt to the Crown Law Officers. The Lords of Trade and Plantations desire your answers to the following questions:—(1.) Have the King's subjects in Jamaica a right to the laws of England as Englishmen, or in virtue of the King's proclamation or otherwise ? (2.) Are not those subjects in Jamaica who claim to be governed by the laws of England bound as well by such laws as are beneficial to the King (e.g., for subsidies) as by such as tend only to the benefit of the subject? (3.) Are not the subsidies of tonnage and poundage upon goods lawfully carried to Jamaica payable by law by the King's subjects that inhabit it, or that trade thither by virtue of Acts of Tonnage and Poundage or other Acts made in England ? (4.) If wine or other goods be brought into England for re-export and rebate allowed thereon according to law, and the same be afterwards carried to Jamaica, shall they not there be liable to the full tonnage and poundage which should have been paid if they had been consumed in England, with the deduction of the sum not rebated in England ? [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. XXIX., pp. 376, 377.]
March 12.
1324. Lords of Trade and Plantations to Governor Sir William Stapleton. We have received your letter of the 18th December (ante, No. 1235) reporting your demands of satisfaction from the French Governor in St. Christopher's. Copies of your demands have been sent to our envoy in France (see ante, No. 1321). We like your proposal for the exchange of Montserrat for the French half of St. Christopher's well, and could wish the same were brought to effect, but we desire first to know the inclination of the French inhabitants thereunto and, if it be favourable, how the exchange may be duly balanced. We have also laid before the King your request for a frigate instead of a ketch; and we doubt not but that it will receive such consideration as will be for His Majesty's service. We have also received your despatch of 5th January last with several Acts of Antigua, whereof the latest is dated the 9th January 1676–77, so that all others made since that time, which we esteem of great importance to be transmitted to us, are wanting, as likewise all others last made in the other islands, which by your instructions should have been sent directly after they were enacted. We refer you to those instructions and to our letter of 23rd January wherein we ask for authenticated copies of all laws. The directions which you ask for guidance in relation to French men-of-war which come under the King's forts have already been sent to you. As to the French threats to chase or sink all ships approaching their roads the King has received such assurances from the French Court as encourage him to believe they will make good their former promises of civility and friendship made in the French ambassador's memorial of 9th September 1670. Signed, Anglesey, J. Bridgewater, L. Hyde, L. Jenkins, Winchester, 3 pp. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. XLVI., pp. 419–422.]
March 17. 1325. Journal of Assembly of Barbadoes. Bill presented by the Joint Committee for amendment of the Militia Act, read a first time and ordered to be transcribed.
March 18. The new Militia Bill passed. Bill for the levy on land returned from the Council with amendments. Voted that the levy be 2 lbs. of sugar per acre. Bill passed. Bill to continue the Act appointing a committee for public accounts passed. Bill to prohibit negroes from learning a trade passed. Bill of Replevins passed. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. XIII., pp. 378–380.]
March 18.
1326. Nicholas Spencer to Lords of Trade and Plantations I did not write before for I could not write with certainty on our Indian affairs, but must now assure you that we cannot be sure in any Indian treaty. In my last of 15th January I told you what we had in hand, and the ways and means chosen by the Governor and Council to effect it by Colonel Wood, a person well skilled in all Indian affairs. He negotiated the same with great prudence and at length arranged that the chief men of the Indian confederate hostile towns should meet at Jamestown on the 10th of this month, to be heard on behalf of their towns and to answer the charges against them. They received every assurance of safe protection but appeared not, whether kept back by the knowledge of their guilt, or misapprehensions of our sincerity (for which the Christians have given but too good reasons), or perverted by the clandestine designs of some Indian traders, who wished to upset this arrangement of Colonel Wood for their own ends, I cannot guess. I incline to think the last is the true reason, because, since the day when the Indians failed to appear, two interpreters with great seeming confidence undertook to bring the Indians in. I informed the Deputy Governor, but there has been no time yet to take action. I can give no reasons for the late murder, but suspect revenge to be the motive. When we consider that Captain Byrd killed seven surrendered Indians and took away their wives and children prisoners, on the mere suspicion that they were assassins of our people, we can hardly wonder at the failure of the treaty. The interpreters say that the murderers came from that town of Indians. I hope the matter may be cleared up soon, but we are full of doubt, so false are the Indians and falser the interpreters. By my next I may tell you positively whether it is war or peace. Signed. One closely written page. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 42.]
March 19.
1327. Order of the King in Council on Report of the Lords of Trade and Plantations of 4th March (see ante, No. 1314). Repealing the sentence of the New York Assize Court of 3rd October 1679 and affirming the judgment of the Mayor's Court of 22nd July 1679 in the plaintiff Ward's favour. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. LXXXVIII., p. 50.]
March 25. 1328. Commission for Thomas Sharp to be Ensign to the company of foot soldiers raised for the defence of New York. ¼ p. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. LXX., p. 38.]
March 26. 1329. Journal of Lords of Trade and Plantations. Petition of the Dutch West India Company for new arrangements on receiving the proceeds of the negroes seized in 1677 on the Golden Sun read. Agreed to report in favour thereof. [See Letter to Lord Carlisle of 8th April, No. 1340.]
Report from the Commissioners of Customs concerning the fishery and Colony of Newfoundland read, and ordered to be presented to the King in Council.
The business of the Narragansett country or King's province being brought up, ordered that all charters and papers material thereunto be sent to the Attorney and Solicitor General for their report. Three questions to be put to them (see next abstract). [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. CVI., pp. 162–164.]
March 26. 1330. William Blathwayt to the Attorney and Solicitor General about the Narragansett country. By command of the Lords of Trade and Plantations transmits charters and papers and desires their answers to the following questions:—(1.) Whether the said tract of land is contained within the bounds of the Connecticut Charter. (2.) Whether Rhode Island has any lawful pretensions to it. (3.) Whether the said country which continucd till of late in the possession of the Indian Princes who formerly subjected themselves to His Majesty, be forfeited by conquest into the hands of the English of those parts and what degree of sovereignty remains in His Majesty.
Answer of the Attorney and Solicitor General. Find that the Narragansett country was granted to both Connecticut and Rhode Island, but the grant to Connecticut being first has the priority of title; yet in the grant to Rhode Island there is some mention of a consent by Connecticut; and after all this on a Commission of His Majesty's it is seized and made the King's Province. Cannot reconcile these things, therefore must submit it to their Lordships' judgment whether it would not be better that the matter remain as it has been settled by His Majesty's Commission, till the parties be heard and the matter better explained than yet it appears to be. 3 pp. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. LXI., pp. 38–40.]
[March 26.] 1331. Petition of Peter Hacker, acting for John Wachtendonck, Commissary for the United Provinces, to Lords of Trade and Plantations. By Order in Council (see ante, No. 900) His Majesty directed Lord Carlisle that, as soon as the evidence making out the right of the Dutch West India Company and Balthazar de la Rue to 200 negroes seized in the ship Golden Sun in 1677 should be produced by the Company's Agent in Jamaica, the bond of 3,000l. given for restitution of the said negroes should be delivered to the said agent. The agent, Sir Thomas Modyford, died before the money was received, and Balthazar de la Rue is also dead. Prays that Lord Carlisle be instructed to proceed on behalf of the Dutch West India Company with the execution of the said order with the representatives of the deceased Balthazar de la Rue as if Sir T. Modyford were still living. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 43.]
March ? 1332. Report of Lords of Trade and Plantations to the King. On petition of Peter Hacker, we recommend that, owing to the death of Sir Thomas Modyford, attorney and procurator of the Dutch West India Company in Jamaica, before the King's commands could be executed, Sir Charles Modyford, Francis Hanson, and Hender Molesworth be empowered to receive in his stead the bond entered into by Richard Brayne for restitution of certain negroes. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. XXIX., p. 377.]
March 26.
1333. John Ward to William Blathwayt. Desires his bond and other papers; has set his name to a blank receipt to be filled up. On the same sheet: Receipt for a bond from John Winder of 17th July 1674, Winder's order for sending another quantity of iron wares, 5th June 1675, Winder's letter owning the receipt of the goods; promises to produce the three papers on occasion. 1 p. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 44.]
March 26.
1334. Governor Sir Jonathan Atkins to Lords of Trade and Plantations. I have taken all imaginable care to satisfy you in the material things required in your letter of 6th July 1679. I have more than once written to you most of the things then required, but, as it seems, in too general terms, which was my mistake, for I thought such details would not be grateful to you amid your many other great occasions. I have furnished you with everything that you ordered so far as possible, but I cannot omit to give an answer to your objection of sending the laws made here within the limited time expressed in my Commission and Instructions, which I hope to show was due not to wilfulness but to accident, for it could be of no advantage to me to conceal them from you if you desired to know them. My first arrival here was in November 1674 (I must mention this since much of the charge rests on the circumstance of time), and some little time must be allowed for the ceremonies usual on the entrance of a new Governor. An Assembly cannot be called suddenly, the law enacting that the writs for elections must be published three Sundays in every parish before electing. When the Assembly meets it seldom sits for more than a day and then adjourns for a month or longer, so that very great laws are made in a very short time. Moreover not long after my arrival the old Council of Plantations was dissolved, and there was no one to whom I could write except Mr. Secretary Coventry, and him I acquainted with all occurrences. In May 1675 came the negro insurrection which interrupted all other public affairs. Few laws were made except with reference to it, and I reported everything to Secretary Coventry. Your Lordships' letter announcing your appointment to the Committee of Plantations was dated 11th August 1675, which could not reach my hands until long after, for on the last day of that month came the fatal hurricane which destroyed every ship in the harbour, and levelled almost every building in the Island. The people required a long time to recover themselves after this disaster, and were so discouraged last year and this succeeding that many of them resolved never to be at the charge of repairing their works again. This was no time for public business, every man being busy with his own concerns, which was the reason why no ships came to us for some time, and when they did come were obliged to stay for a long time before they were laden, for the canes were so twisted that they could not be easily wrought out, and when they were wrought out yielded very little.
I conceived it my duty to acquaint you with the whole state of Barbadoes so near as I could, and therefore I told you that the arms were wholly in the people's hands, and for the following reasons:—1st. All other islands have some standing force in the King's pay, and we have none. 2nd. The revolt in Virginia took place just about this time, and it was my duty to provide against any ill consequences thereof, for I remembered how Sir Thomas Modyford, who had a regiment here, combined with Sir George Ascue and the Parliamentary fleet to drive the King's Governor, Lord Willoughby, from the Island. Not that I distrust the people. I believe their professions of fidelity to the King, but how long this may continue is uncertain, and I esteem it not impertinent to give you a true account of the place and of my condition since I found you so much require it. I have said thus much in the hope that consideration of accidents, times, and circumstances may somewhat alienate your Lordships' censure from me. I have sent you all the laws made in my time by two several expresses within four years, and the rest as soon as they could be written out. If there has been any defect by mistake, I must strive to amend it. It is true that the Militia Act has been re-enacted, but there was good reason for it, for the continuous cruising of the French fleet compelled us to put ourselves in a state of defence, and, as I have often told your Lordships, nothing can be done here without laws. The people are very obedient to their laws when made and published, and if disobedient they cannot be punished but by those laws. I never imagined that the circumstance of time was so material to the confirmation of laws, especially a law so necessary as this of the Militia. As your Lordships observe, I am Captain General of the King's forces in these dominions, of whom, however, I have no great command except under that Act, for they are under no restraint except so far as they are bound by that law, and have neither salaries nor articles of war to oblige them.
Your Lordships' letter of 11th August 1675 enclosed thirty-two queries. I answered them as fully as I eould on the 4th July following, and by other letters, yet not, it seems, to your Lordships' satisfaction; so I have, pursuant to your orders, sent you the particulars so far as I could get them collected, and your Lordships have no conception of the difficulty with which they have been obtained. The inquiries as to their land and the number of their negroes raised a hundred apprehensions of heavy taxation. As evidence of their suspicion, when the French were cruising in these parts, a letter written me from England gave the people alarm that the Island was to be sold to the French; and because I spoke French, I was put down as Frenchified and the fittest man to deliver it up. It is easy to deceive these people, but very hard to rectify it. Now, as to the answers to your queries:—(1.) I send the accounts of the christenings and burials registered in the several parishes, certified under the hands of the ministers and churchwardens; but that it is complete I cannot affirm, for the Anabaptists and Quakers never bring their children to be christened, and they bury their dead in their own places, while many others bury their dead in the gardens and other spots near their houses, the parishes being some six miles, some seven miles in length, and containing most of them many thousand acres. It is forbidden under a considerable penalty of sugar to bury any Christian servant until so many freeholders of the neighbourhood have viewed the corpse to make sure that he may not have met a violent death at the hands of his master, the distance from the church being often so great that those who live far off know not how to get the corpse down. This is an old custom which they will not easily forsake. (2.) I send next a list of all the acres of land in each parish, the number of negroes and white men-servants, with the master's names in alphabetical order. These also are attested by the ministers and churchwardens, since I find that I have so little credit with your Lordships. (3.) Next, a list of all the militia, horse and foot, of the eight regiments in the Island; but the whole cannot be expected to be as they should be, by reason of their want of servants. Nor are they more certain than the Militia in England, for they alter every year, as the servants get their freedom, for when their time is expired they seek a new master or a new fortune. These lists are attested by the Colonels, except Colonel Lambert's regiment and Colonel Lyne's, which are attested by their Lieutenant-Colonels, the former being dead and the latter in Jamaica. They have never had a muster-master nor can I persuade them to appoint one, for they think it will be a great expense, so they leave the duty to the field-officers. (4.) Next is a list of all that have left the Island, and that you may be the better informed I have sent you all the tickets from the Secretary's office, for by law of the country no man is permitted to leave the Island unless he set up his name three weeks before his departure in the Secretary's office, where it may be underwritten. This is to prevent the carrying off of servants, and the absconding of debtors and others who would leave their wives and children to be a burden to the parish. Every master of a ship gives a bond in considerable security to carry away no one without a ticket. I can give no account of the people that arrive in the Colony; few white servants come, from the scarcity of land available for them when they have served their time; they prefer Virginia, New York, and Jamaica, where they can hope for land, to Barbadoes, where they are sure there is none. Very few come hither to stay; the names of those few are in the parish books or the Militia lists, it being not worth while to erect a new office to take account of them. (5.) An account of negroes imported, with the prices which they fetched. Further information, if required, may be obtained from the books which are sent every year to the Royal Society. (6.) I send also a copy of the law for taking the oath of allegiance, which, as it refers only to the present occasion, I thought you would not wish to be troubled with, and, with your Lordships' favour, I find nothing in my Commission or Instructions which forbids me to consent to anything that may tend to the security of the King and the safety of the Island. I assure your Lordships that the heat here was such that if I had not passed the law, I should myself have passed for as arrant a Papist as ever was hanged at Tyburn. There is a clause in my Instructions forbidding me to put the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to Quakers, but to govern them "some other way." What that "other way" means I am still to seek, But if that be the meaning of your Lordships' exceptions, you will see in perusal of the Act that it extends only to such as are in any public trust or office, in which the Quakers have no share. But to the great discontent of the people and their own great ease and advantage, they will neither serve on juries, find arms, send to the Militia, or bear any office, shifting it off with the trick of inability to swear, whereas profit is all that they aim at. Thus the King's faithful and dutiful subjects are forced to bear their burden, when by Act of Parliament the Quakers, for refusing to take the oath, were banished to this and other of the Plantations, whereof they have made such good use as to put themselves into a better condition than they could be in elsewhere. (7.) As to the establishment of the Courts, they were established by law of the Island long before I came and have continued many years. I have made no alteration therein, except to remove Judge Sharpe by the King's order on complaint of the Royal African Company. This made some removals. Mr. John Witham was by the King's Mandamus made one of the Council, and Mr. Reid and Mr. Ruddock took their places, the one at Speight's, the other at the Court of Scotland. They call them all Courts of Common Pleas, and they are so fond of them that Lord Willoughby, who tried to do away with them, was obliged by the general stir to restore them. These Courts are of no profit to anyone but the lawyers and officers of the Court. I have sent you the names of the Judges and officers according to your order. I have erected no new jurisdictions, nor Courts, nor offices. The officers whom I appointed at my coming were turned out by patents obtained in England, and that by people who never came here to execute the same, and who had no interest or credit in the country. (8.) The account of the stores is attested by Colonel William Bate, who is in charge thereof. Every ship pays a pound of powder for every ton if it trade here, but the extreme charge is seldom collected. This has been a custom here from the beginning of this Plantation, and is practised, I believe, in all the other Plantations. (9.) As to entry of goods made throughout the Island, I can give you no certain account, for there is no customs-house here. All ships from England or any other place pay at their first ports, for which their cockets serve them for a discharge, and they make their entries in the Naval Office, where, if they are free ships they have a licence for trade, and give other securities, as the law requires them to pay their powder and to carry off no one without a ticket, as also to carry their goods to England. All these documents must be signed by me; I believe I set my hand a thousand times a year, by which I have not a farthing profit. No imported goods that I know of pay any duty, except liquors, of which Madeira wine is the chief. This was done long before I came, and is continued always by temporary Acts, sometimes for three months and never for more than six. This they uphold, as they say, for paying gunners and matrosses, storekeepers and others, and for keeping the forts in repair. You will find these Acts among the collected Acts. They have now let it fall, for reasons explained in a letter to Sir P. Colleton and Colonel Drax, of which I have sent a copy to Secretary Coventry. (10.) The amount and value of exported goods lie under inexplicable difficulties. First, they ship from all quarters of the Island, where, being bound to ship their goods to England, they make no entry but with the farmers of the 4½ per cent. duty, who keep no records beyond what concern their own business. The value must, of course, vary according to the market in England, of which none but particular persons can have advice. Of all goods that do alone pay customs the Commissioners in England appointed to receive them give every year an account, which is sworn before me and transferred to the Customers there attested by those employed here. For four years past, as long as that farm was in being, I was ordered to send home an account of all the collections of that impost. This is the only light that I can give to your inquiries in this particular. (11.) For imported goods there is no duty paid since the laying down of the liquors. For goods exported that pay duties I have sent the last half-year's account. For the revenue of 4½ per cent., the former rent of two pounds an acre was swallowed by the Act of the 1½ per cent., as will plainly appear by the Act itself. I gave you an account of that very Act, though I perceive that it is forgot; I did so, but that Act being passed by the King I believe the record remains with you, and therefore thought it would seem impertinent to repeat it. The Act is also to be found among the Acts transmitted. Your Lordships refer to two Acts passed for particular persons, which were sealed with the seal of the Island; they were two Acts of such a nature as were never passed before, and related to particular persons, whose confirmation was to be transacted by themselves, and who therefore desired the seal to strengthen their pretences. I did not know till after the Acts had been sent that you wished them to be sent by the seal, for if I had known it I could as easily have set the seal on them as otherwise. I shall cause them to be newly transcribed and sent to you, for I find in my Commission and Instructions no such thing required as to send them under the seal. (12.) The list of shipping is enclosed, the same that I have sent to the Commissioners of the Customs by particular order of the Lords ever since I came here. (13.) As to Acts of State, we make none in Council. All these things are done by Acts of the country, according to the old custom, which are confirmed by the Council and myself, when they become laws and are afterwards well obeyed. They must be published in all the churches of the Island on the Sunday after they are confirmed. As to what I sent you of the proceedings at the General Sessions, it was what was done often before, and I believe the records thereof are with you. I thought it a duty not an offence to do it. As to the merchants, I have always done my best to encourage them. As to the gentlemen you speak of, who are employed by the country by any authority they can show but private letters from some of the Assembly, I know of none.
It is true that upon the going of Colonel Drax the Assembly addressed the Council asking their consent to certain propositions in a paper delivered by them, which, as they alleged, was much for the good of the country. The Council did not approve these propositions except in certain points which were reasonable and did not concern the Royal prerogative, but sent down the paper, unconfirmed, with such amendments as it thought fit. As the propositions might be for the country, they were content that the Assembly should proceed, but they were never satisfied by me nor the Council. After Colonel Drax had been some time in England he returned an answer to these gentlemen that he had good hope that they might redeem the 4½ per cent. duty from the farmers on indifferent terms, with some other things that might please them, adding that they had prevented the Governor's power of placing and displacing Councillors, but for which power, then vested in Lord Willoughby, the Act for the 4½ per cent. had never been passed. I have no desire for more power than I possess, but I am sure that it may be to the King's service that my successor should enjoy it; but this must be left to your Lordships' consideration. On receipt of Colonel Drax's letter those gentlemen prepared an answer which they presented to the Council for its concurrence, but on consideration the Council found that the measure was not for the country's good but would lay a general burden on it, that it was to ease those that did not ship sugar (who alone were concerned) rather than benefit the public at large, and that it was not right to concur with them in a matter which might prejudice the King, the existing arrangement being more advantageous to His Majesty than any new one. These and other considerations made the Council utterly reject joining with them in that letter or in anything that they thought might be to the King's detriment. A copy of the letter I have sent to Mr. Secretary Coventry, from which your Lordships will see what they are about and take measures to defeat them, for though the Council has refused to join with them I doubt not that they will send their instructions home to their correspondents. I protest that I have no animosity against either of these gentlemen but have always kept on good terms with them, and I look upon them as two persons as considerable as any in the Island while they are here. But it is strange to me that Sir Peter Colleton could give your Lordships so much satisfaction as you are pleased to express, considering that he has not seen this place for five years or thereabouts, and therefore could not have been present at the making of any of these laws or give you as good a reason for them as I, who was on the spot. The other gentleman, Colonel Drax, was present at the making of the law wherein the 4½ per cent. duty was concerned and was the most forward of all persons to have it passed, and as much concerned, if not more, than any. He might easily have done me the justice to acquaint your Lordships with the reasons that induced me to consent to it, and the importunity and the reasons wherewith they persuaded me to it. But having already dealt with this subject I shall say no more. It is indifferent to me whose intelligence you are pleased to make use of so you inform yourselves, but I hope that you will not permit unjust reflections on me, for no man living can endeavour to fulfil your wishes better than myself. It is not to be wondered at that, upon the great mutations I see your Lordships are about to make, I at this distance may mistake some of your orders, where I cannot be present to ask questions when I doubt, nor penetrate into your reasons but by guess. No man has tried more faithfully to serve the King than I. I am now seventy years of age, and it may be that my inactivity for business lays me under some stress, but my experience and judgment, I thank God, remain. I know I serve a gracious master. Forty-two years have been consumed in his and his father's service in England, Ireland, and elsewhere. But this is unfashionable discourse and I leave it, placing myself at the King's disposal and willing, if he think anyone more fit to serve him here, to submit to his pleasure. 10½ closely written pages. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 45, and Col. Entry Bk., Vol. VI., pp. 313–322.]
[For enclosures see post No. 1336.]
March 27.
1335. Captain Sir Robert Robinson, R.N., to [William Blathwayt]. Though the Lords of Trade and Plantations have commanded the opinion of the Captains that have been at Newfoundland touching the method that is fitting to be used between the fishers and planters in their ground-stages, &c., in time of the fishing season, I humbly offer that they will order the Captains that have the convoy this summer to take advice in every point on the spot with the fishers, planters, and sacks, and to draw up a written report signed by them all with their general freedom and opinion in every particular. (1) "What everyone will be willing to allow, and nothing to be expected from them but by their own free consent" (sic). (2) "The fortification and how to be done" at St. John's this year if the Lords approve, and how to be kept up. (3) Concerning the stages, outhouses, flakes, &c., that belong to each fisher. (4) The security of each stage, the preservation of forests, the spoiling of the harbours by throwing press-stones overboard 1½ p. Signed. Endorsed, Recd. 27 March 1680. [Col. Papers, Vol. XLIV., No. 46.]