Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 11, 1681-1685. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1898.
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State of the Colonies, 1681.
THE present volume of this Calendar includes the State papers from the 1st of January 1681 to the 7th of February, the day of King Charles the Second's death. The preceding volume closed at a critical moment for many of the British Colonies. In the West Indies Barbados was awaiting, not without anxiety, the arrival of a new Governor. Jamaica, just emerged triumphant from a constitutional struggle, was wondering, full of suspicion, whether the Crown would keep faith with her. The Leeward Islands, trembling before the eternal apparition of French warships and French bayonets, were striving to gain for themselves neutrality in case of war; and Bermuda was full of the unrest generated by a successful attack on the Somers Islands Company and by the prospect of a new government.
In America all New England was watching for the fate of rebellious Massachusetts, rebellious for so long with impunity. New Hampshire, little less interested in the struggle than New England, looked, not without misgivings, for the establishment of the direct government of the Crown within her border. In New York the whole administration of the government was under inquiry by special commissioners; Pennsylvania was only lately come into being, but was already eyed askance by her neighbour Maryland; finally, Virginia was but just recovered from a rebellion, and was in a state of discontented calm which might easily break up into turbulence and riot. In England the Crown had fairly initiated the policy of greater interference with the Colonies, and the Colonies, hardly one of them without some earnest claim or burning grievance against the Crown, were waiting to see whither this policy would lead.
MASSACHUSETTS. Evasion of the Royal orders.
Massachusetts was the leader of the opposition to the Crown, and to Massachusetts we must first direct our attention. She had been sternly warned in the year 1680; and on the very first page (2) we find an instance of that pliancy in speech and stubbornness in action which had governed her relations with the Crown for the past half century. The King had directed agents to be sent to England: agents should be sent as obedience to the King required. Such a procedure did not want for scriptural sanction, and had been found in the past "a "means of lengthening out tranquillity," a means, that is to say, of tiding over times of difficulty till embarrassment in other quarters should distract the Royal attention from Massachusetts. The agents, therefore, should be sent, but with strict injunctions to yield nothing that could weaken the government established by Patent, or the rights and privileges bestowed by the Lord their God.
This was in January 1681, and the resolution was known, probably, to few outside the limits of Boston. No letter was written to the English authorities until June (126), and then only with the usual object of gaining time. However, at last the Secretary of Massachusetts informed Sir Leoline Jenkins that the Royal orders had been obeyed in every respect, except in the matter of sending agents. The General Court had made choice of several men, but had received the consent of none. "So it is, Right " Honourable, that we cannot prevail with persons in " any degree qualified to undertake such a voyage at "this time." Too many agents had been captured by Algerian pirates and were not yet ransomed. The Colony, while disclaiming all intention of evading obligations, hoped that this explanation would be satisfactory.
While this letter was on its way the indefatigable Edward Randolph was working steadily at the mines which were to bring the Charter of Massachusetts crumbling about the Colony's ears (48, 68, 83, 84, 91). The Attorney-General's opinion was taken respecting certain illegal acts of the government at Boston (92, 122), and these being considered by the Lords of Trade, it was resolved that unless that government made speedy submission its charter should be called in question next Hilary term, (147). Lord Culpeper, the Governor of Virginia, strengthened Randolph's hands by a condemnation of the base coin issued by the mint at Boston (200), and the Commissioners of Customs, though writing in a more judicial spirit, spoke hardly less strongly of the obstruction shown towards the King's revenue-officers by high and low in the ports of Massachusetts (211).
On the 12th September 1681 the temporising letter from the General Court arrived and was read at the Board of Trade and Plantations. Such letters had served their purpose often enough during the past half century, but it would have been thought that their time was gone by. In effect the draft of a very strong despatch, unfortunately undated, seems to have been submitted to the King at this time (266), but to have been withdrawn in favour of a milder message, professing unwillingness to believe that the excuse as to the agents was untrue, and merely appealing to the Colony to obey the injunctions, which so far it had taken special pains to ignore (264), as to the enforcement of the Navigation Acts.
The Colony sends Agents.
For some months little more is heard of the Colony, till in February 1682 we find the agents, Joseph Dudley and John Richards, duly chosen and their instructions drawn out. After two more months came letters from Randolph filled with the usual reports of obstruction and violence shown to him in the execution of his office of King's collector, of evasion of promises made to the King, in a word of a continuance of all the old evils. "The "King's letters," he writes, "are of no value here. "Nothing will serve but bringing a quo warranto against "their charter, which may save my life and reform this "government" (466). Another month passed away, and then the news that the writ of quo warranto had actually been ordered against the charter brought the Colony suddenly to its senses. Having proclaimed a fast-day for the Divine blessing on the errand of their chosen agents, the General Court despatched them with a letter and petition of excuses for the delay, and with the sum of 4,000l. to "improve any meet instrument for "the obtaining of a general pardon, and a continuance "of the charter" (521, 529, 558, 662).
On the 24th of August the agents presented themselves before the Board of Trade and Plantations (660), assured the Lords of the submission of the Colony, and were directed to bring on that day week an account in writing of its compliance with the King's orders. On the meeting of the Board on the 31st of August a recapitulation of the old charges against the Colony was first read (672), and the agents then presented their answer as they had been bidden. In reply to the many charges of obstruction to the King's revenue-officers, they put forth the simple but shamelessly untrue statement that Mr. Randolph had been and was still supported in the execution of his duty. Being asked for proofs, they begged for time to produce them; being asked as to their powers, which the King had directed should be full powers, they said they had none. On the other side the Board had before it abundant proof that the allegation as to the support given to Randolph was, in plain language, a lie, while the Colony, far from giving evidence of improved loyalty, had ostentatiously sheltered a Scotchman who boasted himself to be one of the murderers of Archbishop Sharpe (441, 447, 466, 526, 547, 559, 579, 580). Indeed, Thomas Danforth, the leader of the opposition to the Royal authority, had been heard to say that in New England they were a free people with whom the King had no concern (594).
Peremptory action of the Lords of Trade.
A fortnight later the Board, having considered the instructions of the agents and the proofs adduced by them, ordered them peremptorily to write at once for full powers to agree to a reform of the government; in default of which a new writ of quo warranto would be brought at the beginning of Hilary term, or, in other words, in January 1683 (697). The first day of Hilary term came but brought nothing from the agents except a petition for time (911), though the interval had produced a fresh crop of damaging accusations and testimonies from Randolph (645, 698, 715, 728, 753, 781, 926). The more moderate leaders in the Colony, however, began to grow nervous, and in February 1683 the Governor, Bradstreet, wrote to Randolph, who was just starting for England, begging him to do nothing to the prejudice of Massachusetts. Randolph's answer (930), considering the immense provocation which he had suffered and the triumph that he must have felt over such a plea for mercy, is moderate enough. "You have acted illegally," he said in effect, "and are at the King's mercy, but I forgive all "offences to me heartily, and when once you have "submitted I shall do my best for you." And therewith he sailed for England, arriving, after a foul passage, on the 29th of May (1083). On the very next day the Board of Trade and Plantations summoned the agents, and receiving as usual no satisfactory reply from them, ordered the Attorney-General to take the business of the quo warranto in hand (1084). Randolph's arrival in London quickened matters considerably. He brought, indeed, a letter with him from the Governor and Company, containing congratulations on the preservation of the King's life from conspiracy, and begging abjectly that the charter might be spared (1032). But an address from the inhabitants praying for the maintenance of the established government, which had been signed under compulsion (1100), and a list of the magistrates nominated for 1683 with Danforth, the head of the disloyal party, at the top of the poll (1114), told a different story. On the 12th of June the Attorney-General was directed by Order in Council to obtain Randolph's evidence, and to issue the fateful writ against the Governor and Company of Massachusetts (1101, 1120, 1124).
The Quo Warranto issued and despatched by Randolph's hand.
The articles against them were easily drawn up (1121), and Randolph, to cut the ground from under the feet of the disloyal party in the Colony, petitioned that no taxes for the defence of the charter should be imposed on such of the Colonists as were willing to surrender (1135). The agents, seeing that the game was up, begged for permission to return that they too might counsel surrender (1151). Finally a Royal declaration, offering liberal terms on condition of immediate submission, was drawn up by Randolph's advice (1145, 1159), and was despatched, together with the writ of quo warranto, by the same indefatigable hand. Randolph begged hard for a frigate to convey him, but the Admiralty could not provide one (1150, 1161), so he was fain to take his passage in a merchantman for the quicker despatch of his business, recommending only that a frigate should follow him to support the parchment writ and to show, by the mere display of force, that the King was at last in earnest (1165, 1174). Letters received from Governor Cranfield shortly after his departure showed that Massachusetts only persisted in her recalcitrance from an idea that the King would not go to the expense of coercing her. It was clear enough that, promise the agents what they might, the ruling faction could not be trusted to keep faith (1129, 1130).
Division in the Colony.
Randolph arrived in Boston on the 26th of October, and found that the agents, who had started earlier than himself, had warned the General Court that the quo warranto was on its way. The General Court met to deliberate as to its course, but the disloyal faction, still trusting that troubles in England would deliver them from the clutches of the Crown, adhered to their old policy of trifling in order to gain time, and, stimulated by a hot-headed young Minister, decided to instruct counsel to defend the charter. The Governor, however, and a majority of the magistrates were for yielding, and made their submission independently (1445); while the people at large, taking advantage of the King's declaration, refused to pay taxes to defray the cost of the defence (1541, 1566, I.). Having fulfilled his mission, Randolph sailed again for England, and arrived, after a terrible passage in the middle of February 1684, too late to get judgment entered against the charter. He set to work, therefore, to put the machinery of the law once more in motion (1574, 1575). There were sundry little hitches, due, it should seem, to the obstruction of the sheriffs of London, who had their own reasons for not loving writs of quo warranto (1662, 1677). Thus it was not till June that the proceedings came to a definite issue under a writ, not of quo warranto, but of scire facias (1742, 1745, 1762), and not till October that the judgment against the charter was finally confirmed.
Proceedings on the dissolution of the charter.
Throughout this period, from the spring to the autumn of 1684, the disloyal faction in Boston, with the ministers of religion at their head, continued to preach defiance, declared the party of surrender to be enemies to their country (1589, 1808), and even repaired the fortifications of Boston. But the more moderate party, and in particular Joseph Dudley, saw the futility of this empty bluster, and did their best by reiteration of their submission to obtain good terms for their country (1603, 1670). The Lords of Trade then busied themselves with discussion of the new government of an united New England, which was to be formed under the headship of Colonel Percy Kirk, of the Tangier Regiment (2nd Foot), but the proceedings, though worthy of study, do not progress far enough to deserve more than mere mention. (See Index under Massachusetts.) The charter was gone, and one chapter in the life of Massachusetts was closed.
I have dwelt on the story at some length since the American historian of New England, with perhaps pardonable bias, can see nothing but evil in the relentless energy of Edward Randolph as the servant of the Crown, and nothing but heroism in the attitude of the disloyal faction led by Thomas Danforth. It is, however, reasonable to remember that the charter which Massachusetts prized so highly was after all granted by the Crown, and that the privilege which it arrogated as the gift of the Lord its God was simply that of violating it at its own sweet will. It is true that it claimed to have established a reign of the saints, a dynasty, however, under which, as may repeatedly be seen in this Calendar, truthfulness did not flourish in high places. The surrender of virtual independence, which Massachusetts had enjoyed for fifty years, was of course a bitter humiliation for a proud and ambitious little community, but whether in the light of subsequent events it is still cause for lamentation is another question. Independence such as Massachusetts now enjoys was impossible until the French should be expelled from Canada, liberty such as she now enjoys as impossible until the theocracy which she had established in defiance of her cherished charter had been broken down. Both of these services were rendered mainly by the Mother Country.
NEW HAMPSHIRE. Its subservience to Massachusetts.
I turn now to New Hampshire, where the influence of Massachusetts was little less strong than in Boston itself. The close of the previous volume of this Calendar left the province under a provisional government, with John Cutt, "a very just and honest but ancient and infirm man," installed for the time as Governor. Cutt died in March 1681, and his funeral having been honoured by the consumption of two barrels and a half of gunpowder (p. 46), the presidency passed into the hands of Richard Waldern (fn. 1) or Waldron. The first letter from the new government transmitted the laws of the province (98, 98, I.), which are not unworthy of study as showing the extent to which the theocratic principles beloved of Massachusetts had taken root in New Hampshire. The proceedings of the Council enclosed with the same letter are also of interest. They give us among other matters the organisation of the Militia and the state of the Treasury—viz., debitor, 131l. 13s. 4d.; creditor, 85l. Os. 4d. But they show the influence of Massachusetts still more in the steady rejection of the Royal authority, first by the constant thwarting of Edward Randolph and his deputies in their efforts to enforce the Navigation Acts, and, secondly, in the resolute refusal to accept Robert Mason as proprietor of the province, as had been enjoined upon the inhabitants by the King. The controversy on these two points governs the whole history of New Hampshire so far as it is disclosed in the present volume (see Index, Mason, Randolph).
Resistance to the Royal orders.
The first letter from the new secretary, Richard Chamberlain, who had been appointed by the Crown, gave sufficient indication of the troubles that lay ahead. Chamberlain was duly admitted to his office as a matter of form, but no salary was given to him and the books were not delivered to him. Moreover three of the Council, appointing themselves joint secretaries and registrars of the province, not only took upon themselves his functions, but appropriated to themselves his perquisites (106). The Council then turned upon Robert Mason, and, far from yielding to his claims of proprietorship, actually ordered his arrest for usurpation of Royal authority, while at the same time protesting vehemently to the Lords of Trade and Plantations against his pretensions (113, 124). Mason in despair returned to England, and in September 1681 laid his complaint before the Lords (228, 288, 292). Waldern, the President, he accused of speaking dangerous words of the King, Martyn, the treasurer, of saying that the King had no more to do in New Hampshire than Robin Hood. The Board decided that in such a state of affairs a Governor with the King's commission must be sent out to settle the country (346, 361). Mason offered to surrender a fifth part of his estate in New Hampshire for the support of the Government, and a Governor was appointed in the person of Edward Cranfield (374, 375).
Governor Cranfield despatched. His difficulties.
The instructions to Cranfield were in the circumstances moderate. He was ordered to suspend Waldern and Martyn from the Council, but empowered to re-admit them if he thought fit, and he was directed to decide all disputes between the inhabitants and Mason (454). This last was a direction more easily given than executed. In October Cranfield arrived at New Hampshire (738, 756), and after inquiry into Mason's charges against Waldern and Martyn decided that they were overstrained, and re-admitted both men to the Council (824). A month later he wrote that his mind was totally changed (868). A representation from Edward Randolph had shown that the Royal authority was utterly contemned by Waldern and Martyn (755), and that no justice was to be found in New Hampshire or in New England, except for members of the Congregational Assemblies. Juries, encouraged by the recent acquittal of Lord Shaftesbury at the Old Bailey, an event which wrought great influence in the Colonies, gave verdicts against the King whatever the evidence (870). Cranfield suspended the principal offender, Elias Stileman, from the Council, the first of many such suspensions; but he confessed that in the present mood of the people he saw no prospect of obtaining money for the expenses of government, and begged for power to raise 1,000l. a year by the sole authority of himself and the Council (885).
The Governor's forebodings proved to be well grounded. The Assembly, taking its cue from the Congregational ministers, would pass no laws according to the methods prescribed by the Royal Commissioners, and was accordingly dissolved. A few days later the prevailing discontent showed itself in an abortive rising, or, as Cranfield called it, rebellion, headed by one Edward Gove. The disorder was easily suppressed; Gove was tried for high treason and condemned, though not until Cranfield had secured an Act giving him sole power of impanelling the jury; and the culprit was finally sent home under the charge of Edward Randolph, to atone for his treason, not by death, but by a few years of imprisonment in the Tower (906, 953, and index, Gove).
Cranfield powerless to enforce the Royalorders.
There seems little doubt but that Martyn at any rate was privy to this petty insurrection (1306). Cranfield, finding troubles increase, suspended him, together with Waldern and another obstructive, from the Council, and urged the Lords of Trade to take strong measures against Massachusetts, as the true leader and inspirer of the spirit of disloyalty (997, 1024). All New England, by his account, was of a piece. Connecticut and New Plymouth were the same as Boston, as corrupt but more ignorant. There was matter enough against them to cancel their charters. The Rhode Islanders were "a mean and scandalous sort of people," whose charter also should be cancelled. Above all, the preachers in Massachusetts were leaders of mischief, and the College at Cambridge, which Cranfield could never vituperate enough, was a school for trumpeters of sedition (1316).
The news that the capital sentence on Gove had been remitted produced a bad effect in the Colony when it arrived. Robert Mason, attempting to enforce his rights by eviction, found himself opposed by gunpowder, hot water, and spits, the people being incited by Waldern and by the Boston preacher, Moody. Another obnoxious member was purged from the Council, but with little result (1386). A new Assembly was called, but refused, like the first, to vote any supplies, and was dissolved without passing a Bill. Cranfield was in despair (1508). A new councillor of his own nomination was now found to be a snake in the grass, and was, like many others, suspended (1683). Cranfield's health was failing and he pressed hard for leave of absence and implored that a frigate should be allowed him to enforce the Royal authority (1700, 1701).
His troubles, however, were near their end. An old enemy of his, Nathaniel Weare by name, in July 1684 formulated charges against his behaviour in respect of the disputes between Robert Mason and the people. These in spite of a long defence, were held to have been proved (1800, 1807, 1895–1897, 1970), and he was presently recalled. His position was an impossible one, but he cannot be said to have made the best of it. He seems to have been easily duped into false trust, and as easily spurred to arbitrary violence, sure signs of a weak and incapable man. Moreover, he was not above suspicion of corruption. The cure for the evils of New Hampshire was sought in its comprehension within the reconstituted government of New England (1928), which will be better studied in the next volume of this Calendar.
NEW ENGLAND. The whole Government to be reconstituted.
Of the rest of the New England States there is little, from the documents before us, to be said. The dispute about the Narragansett country or King's province, which raged so furiously in the last volume of this Calendar, was referred to a Commission (1039), which duly undertook the task of deciding it. Rhode Island, of course, objected to its proceedings (1252, 1253), but the Commissioners, none the less presented a voluminous report in favour of Connecticut and the grantees of Connecticut (1986). It was hoped that the inclusion of this province also in the government of New England would settle the dispute for ever (1941).
Of New Plymouth we see little except a petition for a new charter (1389), and of Connecticut practically nothing; while from Maine we have little beyond a petition for relief from the rule of Massachusetts and for immediate subordination to the Crown (841, I.). New Plymouth and Maine were also thought suitable for admittance to the united colonies of New England (1928, 1955), so no more need be said of them here.
NEW YORK. Arrival of Governor Dongan. His energy against French encroachments.
Turning next to New York, our earliest notices are of the report of John Lewin on the government of Sir Edmund Andros, Sir Edmund's systematic denial of every imputation therein (348, 352), and the final acquittal of Andros. But early in 1682 the Duke of York announced his intention of granting to the settlement the privileges of other English Colonies (449), and followed this by the appointment of Colonel Thomas Dongan to be Governor, with all the powers entrusted to the King's Governors and a salary of 400l. a year (724, 725, 917, 918). The interest of this appointment consists in the fact that Dongan was the first Englishman who saw the importance of resisting French encroachment and of checking their design of seizing the interior and confining the British to a mere strip of the coast. In the present volume only a foreshadow is to be seen of the energy that he was to show during his period of government, but his correspondence with Governor de la Barre of Quebec, protesting against his hostilities against the friendly Iroquois, sufficiently show what manner of man he was; ever watchful over the interests of his country and jealous of any interference with his native allies. As a soldier of experience he showed, almost alone among British Governors, appreciation of the value of strategic as well as commercial stations (1415, 1735, 1746, 1772, 1773, 1817, 1818). The closing instructions which he received from the Duke of York to avoid anything that might involve New York in dispute with the French (1979), can hardly have been welcome to him. Another four years, however, was to see the dependence of Britain on France ended for ever.
PENNSYLVANIA. The dispute with Maryland as to boundaries.
From New York the natural transition is to Pennsylvania, which began its existence in the year 1681. The early pages of this Calendar contain record of debates and decisions as to the patent to be granted to William Penn (6, 8, 30), culminating in a draft of the patent itself (32), and a letter to Lord Baltimore to agree with Penn as to the boundaries between Pennsylvania and Maryland (62). Probably no one dreamed how difficult this question would be found of settlement, nor how acrimonious a controversy would rage over it. The opening of the dispute may be traced in a letter of Lord Baltimore's, enclosing one of Penn's in March 1682 (437); and there are records of four several meetings between the two men (849, 1089, 1117, 1179), the first of them purporting to be a report taken down in shorthand of the actual words employed, but denied by Penn to be authentic. Penn's object was to obtain an outlet to the sea, and Lord Baltimore's to forbid it. The whole of the weary wrangle can be traced through the index to its final reference to the Lords of Trade and Plantations, before whom it remained unsettled until the following reign. Penn's own letters are but three (437, II., 1171, 1179), the second of them, addressed to a secretary in Lord Sunderland's office, being characteristic enough. The chief point of interest in the third is Penn's statement that his policy of buying, instead of taking, land from the Indians was due to advice of the Bishop of London. Penn has always enjoyed the credit of this just dealing, and it is curious to find that it was due, not to a Quaker, but to the Anglican prelate, once a life-guards-man and not yet quite done with the buff coat, Henry Compton.
MARYLAND. Lord Baltimore's resistance to the King's revenue-officers.
Passing from Pennsylvania to Maryland, we find ourselves once more in troubled waters. Lord Baltimore, the Catholic proprietor, entertained exactly the same dislike of the Navigation Acts as the Congregational republicans of Massachusetts. He refused, therefore, to support the King's revenue-officers and preferring to establish his own. The revenue-officers in question, Nicholas Badcock and Christopher Rousby, seem to have done their duty with singular fearlessness, and Lord Baltimore, wise in his generation, was careful to complain of them before they could complain of him, though the Commissioners of Customs received at least one letter in time to put them on their guard. By Lord Baltimore's account Rousby possessed every vice to be found in the human heart, his range of crime extending from low debauchery to high treason (129, 151, I.): but Rousby retorted with a telling vindication of himself, and with strong hints that Lord Baltimore only desired the removal of himself and Badcock to make room for two of his lady's sons-in-law (328, I.–IV.). The result was a crushing letter of rebuke to Lord Baltimore from the King, warning him that he had only narrowly escaped the impugnment of his patent by quo warranto (403), which brought him quickly to his knees (507).
Alarm of a rising.
Meanwhile Maryland had been disturbed by what, in Lord Baltimore's eyes, seemed a threat of rebellion, roused by two supposed sympathisers with Bacon's rebellion named Fendall and Coode. Unfriendly letters hint that these persons were arrested for the purpose of intimidating voters at the forthcoming elections, and it should seem that there was some friction between Catholics and Protestants (184, 185); though the version given by the Calverts is very different (351). Be that as it may, and it seems certain that Lord Baltimore was in the wrong, the culprits were tried and Fendall was found guilty. His trial was taken down in shorthand to the minutest word, and survives, beautifully transcribed, for the inspection of the curious (391, I.).
Murder of Christopher Rousby, the revenue-officer, by the Deputy-Governor.
Disputes with William Penn over boundaries form the bulk of the records respecting Maryland for the three following years, and may be easily traced in the Index (see under Penn). Lord Baltimore hastened to England to support his claims before the Lords of Trade and left his first councillor, George Talbot, to reign as Governor in his stead. Then the old feeling against the King's revenue-officers broke out afresh with most tragical results. George Talbot one evening went aboard the King's ship "Quaker" in the river Patuxen, and after certain singular demonstrations of friendship suddenly drew a dagger and stabbed the unfortunate Christopher Rousby, who happened to be present, to the heart. It was suspected that the captain of the vessel had been designed as the real victim, for his energy in enforcing the Navigating Acts; but to a modern reader the narrative only suggests that Talbot was egregiously drunk. The anxiety shown by the authorities of Maryland to try the murderer in their own Courts shows that this violent act of resistance to the Crown did not lack sympathy in the Colony. The fate of Talbot, owing to the disputes over jurisdiction, remains still unsettled at the close of this volume (1963, 1963, I.–VI.).
VIRGINIA. Distress owing to low price of tobacco.
I come now to Virginia, which we find at the opening of 1681 in a very peaceable and quiet state, free from threats of Indian invasion, but much distressed by the extremely low price of tobacco (104). Within two months, however, the Indians had made raids on some of the back-settlements, and, though they presently drew off, had revived a feeling of insecurity and unrest which boded ill for the peace of the Colony (185, 195). Lord Culpeper, the Governor, was now at home, consulting with the authorities as to the best means of relieving the prevailing distress. The first of his proposals was crude enough, namely, to encourage the building of towns in order to create markets, as provided by an Act recently passed by, the Assembly of Virginia. To this the English Commissioners replied, in a report which is well worth reading, that trade must be courted and not forced, and in effect that trade makes towns, not towns trade (318). The remaining suggestions were practical enough, namely, that the King should pay the two companies of English troops in the Colony punctually, keep a small man of war on the coast, and open trade with Russia as a new market for tobacco. The last proposal, it may be mentioned, was at once taken up, and the Muscovy Company, being consulted on the point, advised that the patriarch and favourite of the Czar should be persuaded by "fitting arguments" to permit the use of tobacco in the country (326, 329). (fn. 2)
Disbanding of the King's troops.
But the first point, the punctual payment of the soldiers, brought an unexpected reply from the King in the shape of a demand to show cause why the two companies should not be forthwith disbanded (259). Culpeper was ready with reasons enough. He pleaded the danger of Indians; he cited the peril of rebellion, well known by actual experience and likely to recur owing to the poverty caused by the low price of tobacco; he recalled the expense of suppressing that rebellion, and he urged the difficulty of collecting militia from a population so sparse and so much scattered (268). He called in the merchants, who testified to apprehensions of a rising among the "white servants," the very class that filled the ranks of the militia; and he persuaded the Lords of Trade, but he did not persuade the King. The soldiers were ordered to be paid off and disbanded unless the Colony should care to take them into her own service (300), and it was only by the direct intercession of the Lords of Trade that the unfortunate men were saved from the necessity of selling themselves as servants in Virginia (335, 336, 341). Culpeper himself wrote of the hardship of the whole proceedings in utter astonishment and dismay (347).
Imprudent action of the Deputy-Governor.
This imprudent resolution was taken in December, at which time Lord Culpeper wrote orders to his deputy to summon no Assembly, except on urgent occasion, till the 20th of the following November. Almost the next notice that we receive of Virginia, however, is of the meeting of the Assembly on the 20th of April (478). The Lieutenant-Governor, the "old and crazy" Sir Henry Chicheley, not having received his orders in time apparently, convened the Assembly at the beginning of March; so when Culpeper's orders at length reached him, the members were all streaming towards James City "big with the expecta-"tion of enacting a cessation of tobacco-planting, which " the most, though not the wisest of them, thought the " only expedient to advance the price of tobacco." As a distraction Chicheley laid before them the alternative proposed by the King, that the soldiers must be disbanded or taken into the pay of the Colony. The House of Burgesses at once drew up a mournful address, begging that the prorogation might be delayed, and contrived on various protests to defer it until the 27th April, when they replied that the Colony could not bear the burden of maintaining the soldiers (478, 494). In that short interval there was time enough for mischievous spirits, one of whom, Robert Beverley, was an old offender, to do their work.
The tobacco-cutting riots.
The next news that reached James City was that on the 1st of May the people in Gloucester County had risen and were destroying the tobacco plantations in all directions. Before the Governor could move the rising had spread to New Kent, and the mischief was only by prompt action prevented from becoming general. It was psychologically one of the maddest, and economically one of the most curious of popular movements. The leaders of the insurrection, foiled in their attempt to prohibit the planting of tobacco by law, began first by cutting up their own plants and then proceeded not only to cut up those of their neighbours, but to impress them likewise to the work of destruction. The craze for mischief spread like wildfire. " Such was the folly, madness, and often malice of the " inhabitants, that when the rabble had by force or per- " suasion destroyed the plants of one plantation the master " of this plantation was soon possessed of the like frenzy " and willingly helped to make his neighbours as incapable " of making tobacco as himself." When the destruction was put down by day it was effected at night; when men were afraid to continue it, it was carried on by women. So formidable seemed the insurrection at one moment that Lord Baltimore stationed troops on the Potomac lest the infection should be carried into Maryland (495, 507, 524).
Alarm of a mutiny of the King's troops.
The danger, moreover, did not end with the native rabble. The soldiers, aware only that they were to be disbanded, ignorant of the fate that might be in store for them and not yet paid off, became mutinous and seemed more likely to join the rioters than to aid in suppressing them. They were hastily paid off on their own terms; and patrols of horse under competent leaders struck terror into the plant-cutters. The arrest of Beverley damped the further progress of the rioters, and by the first week in June order was restored (531, 546, 548). There was a slight renewal of the disturbance in August, when all the plantations were flowing with cider (652), but this was put down with little difficulty, and by the end of the year all was quiet in Virginia.
Lord Culpeper's return as Governor.
The news of the insurrection reached England in June. The Lords of Trade decided that the Governor, Lord Culpeper, must return to his post at once (581). A frigate was prepared for his passage, and Culpeper professed all willingness to start at once (597). From various causes, however, he did not sail until October (742), and though he laid the blame for the delay on others, yet it is evident that he raised every obstacle against his departure. He refused to pay the fees on his commission, kept the ship waiting for a month in the river, and finally loaded her like a merchantman with goods, including white human creatures, to be disposed of for his own profit (983). Arriving at Virginia on the 17th December 1682, he found the Assembly sitting and the Colony quite quiet (944). His own description of his proceedings on landing shows his huge contempt for the Virginian Assembly. He altered, he says, almost every one of their Acts, rejected their proposals on behalf of their favourite, Robert Beverley, divided some forfeited deer skins among them, "which they carried in triumph home," and dissolved them with a speech against plant cutting (fn. 3) Taking the rioters in hand, he was somewhat embarrassed to find that Sir Henry Chicheley had pardoned the chief ringleader, on condition that he built a bridge "conveniently situated for Sir Henry's plantation." Sir Henry, however, had died in February (1007), so there was nothing to be done but to try four of the rioters for high treason under a statute of Elizabeth, execute two and reprieve two more. Then, after hiring a sloop of war to enforce the Navigation Acts and raising a small force of troops, Culpeper at the end of May 1683 took his departure and calmly left the Colony to take care of itself (1076, 1278).
Lord Culpeper's dismissal for absence without leave.
The Lords of Trade at once took notice of this violation of the new rule that no Governor should be absent from his charge without leave, and declared his government to be forfeited (August 1683), appointing Lord Howard of Effingham to take his place (1191, 1193). Culpeper showed the supremest indifference. He had written before he left England that he looked upon his visit to Virginia as a punishment (742), and he now averred that he thought his departure from the Colony was the best thing possible for the King's service. No doubt, he pleaded, another governor of greater ability would outdo his poor endeavours, but what the wit of man could expect of a Governor beyond peace and quiet and a large crop of tobacco he knew not. He was well content to be eased of the cares of government, provided that his "dues and concerns" did not suffer. These "dues and concerns" consisted of certain relics of proprietary rights which the Colony was anxious to acquire and he himself not averse to part with (see Index, Culpeper), and of 4,000l. of salary in arrear (1258). He therefore passes from the scene for the present, unremembered except for the unfavourable character attributed to him by Burnet.
Lord Howard of Effingham succeeds him.
His treaty with the Indians.
Pending the arrival of his successor, the secretary, Nicholas Spencer, administered the government, not without considerable anxiety owing to the inroads of Seneca Indians (1406). Meanwhile Lord Howard of Effingham's instructions were preparing (see Index, Howard), and in February 1684 he arrived in the Colony. He had the usual difficulties with the House of Burgesses, which remained incorrigibly quarrelsome, but seems to have shown a tactful and conciliatory spirit, and to have been rewarded with success (1706), though he could not keep the house from addressing the King in a style which was much resented at Whitehall (1994). More important, however, was the treaty which he made with the Indians at Albany (1822–1824, 1828), in July and August 1684, no small service for a Governor to accomplish within six months of his arrival in the Colony. This matter, and a dispute over boundaries with the ever quarrelsome Lord Baltimore, may be traced through the Index.
CAROLINA. A disreputable community.
Last of the Colonies on the continent I come to Carolina. In the years 1681 and 1682 the proprietors issued their second and third sets of fundamental constitutions (359, 656), articles which they were fond of altering, apparently with the hope of satisfying all parties, and in particular a new settlement of Scots (807). The result of course was to please none of them. In truth the vision that we obtain of Carolina in the present volume is not very pleasant. The northern portion was the sink of America (p. 155), and the population generally seems to have been lawless and unscrupulous to a remarkable degree. Men in high places appear to have been incurably given over to a regular slave trade with the Indians, making war upon them and encouraging the tribes to fight each other for the sake of buying and selling the prisoners. The proprietors wrote, in a letter which is worth reading (1284), expressing the greatest indignation at the practice, and made endless rules to prevent it, but it should seem with much success. They appear in fact to have had the greatest difficulty in discovering trustworthy men to set in authority, for official after official failed in his duty (1722). Thus they framed regulations for the holding of elections expressly to hinder men from running from place to place for the purpose of awing the people and hindering freedom of choice. These, however, were flatly disregarded, with the result that the enslavers of Indians were left free to carry on their evil designs. Finally, as a climax, the southern province passed an Act suspending prosecutions of foreign debts within its limits; publishing to the world, in the indignant words of the proprietors, that any man who had taken his neighbour's goods had only to come to Carolina and he would be protected by law (1733). With this characteristic enactment, worthy of notice as an early and flagrant instance of roguery legalised by a settlement of rogues, I leave Carolina and the mainland for the insular Colonies.
As to Newfoundland there is little of interest. The reforms so constantly urged by naval officers re-appear, but only to be ignored. The reader can find such scanty information as is to hand by reference to the Index.
BERMUDA. The Company not yet dissolved.
Of Bermuda, on the contrary, the accounts are very full. At the close of the last volume we left the charter of the Somers Islands Company apparently doomed to extinction at the hands of the law. In February 1681 we find rival petitions, one asking, not for the destruction but for the reform, of the Company, and others setting forth the defiance with which the Royal orders against it had been received in the island, and praying for deliverance (18, 21, 24, 25). The Lords of Trade took prompt notice of the charge of contempt of the Royal authority, but the culprit, Sir John Heydon, was acquitted on trial. It was not until December that the Lords bethought themselves that, though the writ of quo warranto against the charter had been granted in November 1679, nothing had yet come of it. They therefore ordered Attorney-General Sawyer to prosecute it vigorously; and there, for the present, the matter rested.
The charter dissolved after much delay.
Six months later, the trial having made no progress, the Lords sent for the petitioners who had set the law in motion, and discovered from them the legal shifts by which the Company had delayed the proceedings. Here, once more, as in the case of Massachusetts, we find the sheriffs of London offering technical obstruction to the writ of quo warranto (635, 638). In November the case again came on and was again put off owing to some flaw (802), but the Lords of Trade, with remarkable complacency, contented themselves with renewing their orders to the Attorney-General. Meanwhile the islands themselves, divided into two hostile camps and uncertain whether King or Company was in command, were in a state of utter disorder. The cry of "No popery" was raised by the Nonconformist ministers, the Governor giving out that if the King's Government came "the people would be forced to go to church by drum and fiddle" (1075, 1097). It was plain that the Crown must take some steps, but doubts were raised whether, in the first place, the King could appoint a Governor, and whether, in the second place, he could take the command of the militia out of the Company's hands (1095, 1109). So matters drifted on till November 1683, when advice was again given for the issue of a writ of quo warranto, four years almost to a day since the same order had originally been delivered (1399).
Governor Cony appointed. Anarchy in the Colony.
Meanwhile a new Governor, one Richard Cony, assumed command, and became at once the object of every kind of accusation from the party adverse to the Company. He was said to be so much given to drunkenness, lying, and swearing that there was not a spark of respect in him (1695). It was now ascertained that in the general anarchy the defences of the islands had gone to pieces, and that the whole frame of the polity was in the same state as the defences. In June 1684 the legal proceedings were at last pushed forward in earnest, and in November the charter was finally cancelled (1967). We have, fortunately, a letter from Cony, the Company's Governor, describing the scene when the first rumour of the fall of the Company reached the island. His authority was at once disclaimed, and he himself attacked by a "mobile" headed by one of his own captains of militia. The captain drew his sword on him, the captain's companion tripped up his heels, and the rest of the "mobile" stamped on him, leaving his left leg "in a very sad condition." Arms were turned into pestles, work on batteries erecting by the Governor's order was stopped, and powder was fired away recklessly in false alarms. As a climax to his misery, Government House was so rotten and leaky that the unfortunate Cony slept and ate in water, while his slaves died round him of wet and cold (1899). In such plight we must for the present leave Bermuda.
BARBADOS. Arrival of Governor Sir Richard Dutton.
Passing to Barbados, the first incident is the arrival in March 1681 of the new Governor, Sir Richard Dutton (35). He was an old Royalist officer, who had fought at Edghill, and had since held a commission in the Life Guards. By his own account he found the island in a sad state, owing to the malice of his predecessor, Sir Jonathan Atkins. The House of Assembly had intended to pass a Bill for an excise on liquors for two years, but had been scared by a hint that the King would give the money to "Lady Portsmouth," that is to say, to Madame de Querouaille. The people thought that monarchy was at its last gasp in England, and were preparing to set up a commonwealth. The Assembly even had the bad taste to send up a Habeas Corpus Bill, copied from the English model. Again the gaol, though only a private house, was full of malefactors, not having been delivered for three years, owing to the expense, which the Governor was expected to pay and which Sir Jonathan Atkins had shirked. Finally, the Church was in a lamentable condition; the sacrament was rarely administered, and there was one clergyman, holding two livings, baptising, marrying, and performing every other sacred function, who had never been ordained (123, 141).
His apparent zeal.
Sir Richard, as he tells us, put all these matters right, overawed the factious and disloyal, rejected the Habeas Corpus Bill, held sessions of gaol-delivery, and set the example in taking the sacrament once a month (123, 218). He also found good helpers in Mr. John Witham and Mr. Stede, the secretary, and in fact he was successful in every way. He even extracted from the Assembly a loyal address to the King, the first ever sent from the plantations, and well worthy, as he thought, of insertion in the Gazette (216, 218). Still he found the expense of the place very great, and therefore pleaded in every letter for larger salary. For these services he duly received approval from the authorities in Whitehall (231), who called upon Sir Jonathan Atkins for an explanation as to the state of the Church, and in particular as to the scandal of the unordained minister. On the latter point Atkins answered with quiet humour, "There was such a minister there, and "had been for more than twenty years; his parish loved "him well, but whether he were ordained or not I cannot "say. If he were not. I am sure I could not ordain him" (311). Atkins had formed his own opinion of Dutton.
His quarrels with the Council.
Sir Richard, in spite of all these triumphs, presently fell foul of the Assembly by arrogating to himself all powers in the Court of Chancery instead of admitting his Council, according to local custom, as assessors (251), and did not answer the Council's protest in the most conciliatory terms (345). The question was one which was to concern him not a little later on; but for the present he carried matters with a high hand, dissolved the Assembly, removed all officials who had made themselves obnoxious (394), and continued to write long despatches over his own eminent services and his distressing want of cash (357, 414). The Lords of Trade, quite overcome by his energy, not only commended him, but procured him punctual payment of his salary and satisfaction for arrears (463).
Approval of his proceedings at Whitehall.
These exertions, added to the influence of the climate, brought this industrious Governor so low that in June 1682, he applied for leave of absence for the spring of 1683. None the less, always energetic, he managed to strike a blow at the head of the factious party, which not only brought in some 600l. to the King, but frightened the Assembly into passing a revenue bill, and, more important still, into presenting Dutton himself with 1,500l. more. He also overhauled the administration of certain charitable funds, and got the militia clothed, like the King's army, in red coats and black hats, the first Colonial militia ever dressed in the now familiar scarlet (666). These services not only procured him his leave of absence but a high compliment from the Secretary of State in charge of his department, Sir Leoline Jenkins. "Take care of your health," wrote Sir Leoline, "for so valuable a man as you is not often "met with" (688). Sir Richard accordingly came home on leave, having named John Witham in the most complimentary terms to act as his deputy. The King on this occasion ordered that such deputies should henceforth draw half of the Governor's salary or emoluments during his absence (836); a rule which still holds good in the Colonial service, but which brought about strange results in this its first application.
Damaging accusations against him.
Meanwhile Dutton's proceedings in the Court of Chancery were finding him out. Not only were they disapproved at Whitehall, but a merchant named Hanson, who had been fined without the Council's concurrence, by the Governor, now began a campaign of vengeance against him, and when committed to custody to ensure his silence, broke prison and took ship for England. There he brought forward charge after charge, some frivolous, others more serious, against his enemy, enumerating the presents which the Governor had extorted from the Assembly and the profits that he had taken to himself from other sources. These most damaging revelations could not but make Sir Richard Dutton uneasy (e.g., 1409, 1435, see Index, Hanson).
His appointment of Sir John Witham as his Deputy.
During Sir Richard's absence in England, Witham, now by succession Sir John Witham Baronet, pursued the work of repressing the factious, which brought him into violent collision with two brothers, Thomas and Henry Walrond, in the Council. These two, apparently, were so deeply in debt, that honest men regretted their own appointment to the Council lest it should be thought they wished to defraud their creditors (1093). Their brother-in-law, John Peers, worked with them, thereby also becoming obnoxious to Witham (1177), and the Deputy Governor did not fail to let them feel the weight of his hand. Another member of the Council had been offended in a different fashion. It appears that then, as now, baronets were jealous of their precedence, and that at the funeral of Ann, Lady Willoughby of Parham, Sir Martin Bentley's coach took post in advance of that of Colonel Newton, a member of Council. Sir Martin apologised, and the Council, accepting the apology, "appointed that Sir Martin "and his lady should henceforth not only know but "observe their places in the Island." The point was no sooner settled than another baronet in the Council, Sir Timothy Thornhill, laid claim to precedence in virtue of his baronetcy, and being overruled by precedent, left the Council without cause assigned. He too, therefore, was added to the list of Sir John Witham's enemies (1292, 1344 I). I have dwelt on this small point not only for its bearing on the narrative and for the quaint insight which it gives into the Barbadian aristocracy of the seventeenth century, but because, as everyone who has served on the staff of a Colonial Governor is aware, the question of precedence between British and Colonial titles of honour constantly crops up to this day, and it is well for unfortunate private secretaries to have a precedent which they can quote with authority.
Dutton's persecution of Witham on his return.
Thus during his short period of administration, which was characterised by no lack of vigour and ability, Sir John Witham made at least four members of Council his enemies. His reign was sooner ended by the return of Sir Richard Dutton, than he found himself attacked by the Governor, who submitted seven distinct charges against him in the Council. As was to be expected from a majority of his enemies, the charges were held to be good, and he was at once suspended from the Council and from all employment in the Island (1890). Witham was not present, being ill at the time, but he sent off a hasty letter to Lord Sunderland stating that the sole cause of this trouble was his refusal to return to Sir Richard Dutton the half salary which he had drawn during the latter's absence, and hinting at certain countercharges against the Governor which he could easily make good (1891). A second letter, a little later, made a fuller defence and a more definite statement of the countercharges (1912); but Dutton had no intention of stopping at mere suspension of his victim from his public offices. His next proceeding was to arraign Witham in a series of criminal charges, and to appoint Henry Walrond, his bitterest enemy, as the judge to try him (1934, 1935, 2006). The accusations were inexpressibly frivolous, but Witham was found guilty and fined 11,000l. (2023). Meanwhile the Lords of Trade had received the report of Witham's suspension and come to the conclusion that he had been very hardly treated. They pointed out further that Sir Richard Dutton himself had violated an established rule in respect of the acceptance of presents. A curt letter of censure therefore was all that Dutton received for his pains; an answer which he little expected, and which boded ill for the success of his persecution of his deputy. The full depth of the Governor's rascality is not shown in the documents of the present volume, so at this point we must take leave of him and of Barbados with him.
LEEWARD ISLANDS. Sir W. Stapleton's trouble with Caribs.
From this deplorable specimen of a Colonial Governor it is a relief to turn to the straightforward old soldier who held the Government of the Leeward Islands. The present volume finds him, through the neglect of Whitehall, in precisely the same difficulties as the last, and confronted by a new danger from an invasion of Carib Indians. In July 1681 a party of these savages made a descent upon the tiny settlement in Barbuda and murdered eight of the inhabitants (189, 204). They came from St. Vincent and Dominica, islands which, as Stapleton remarks, could be more easily reached from Barbados to windward than from his own islands to leeward. He had made application to Barbados before for assistance in stamping out these pests, but Barbados was far too selfish to move to help the Leeward Islands. She conceived the Indians to be her friends (259) and would have welcomed the extinction of her sisters to Leeward, whom she accounted dangerous commercial rivals. So Sir Richard Dutton, soldier though he was and though as a soldier approving a war of extirpation against the Caribs, declined to give help on the ground that his instructions forbade him (357).
His successful attack on them.
Failing assistance from others, Stapleton resolved, after waiting for more than a year, to do the business for himself. The poor, impoverished little islands resolved to fit out a small flotilla of hired sloops, apportioned the cost of the expedition according to their resources, and made it an indispensable condition that Stapleton should command in person (790). A fresh raid in Montserrat in November 1682, immediately after the forming of this resolution, quickened the preparations, and by the spring of 1683 Stapleton was ready. "Necessity compels me to "go a hunting Indians," he wrote (1006), "which is worse "than hunting miquelets in Catalonia or bandits in Italy, "but I judge it better to prevent their design by "aggression than to live in perpetual fear." So off he started with the two independent companies of regular soldiers that formed his garrison; and in spite of enormous difficulties from "cross winds, calms, and incredible currents," which scattered his tiny fleet in all directions, he made his raid on St. Vincent and Dominica and taught the Caribs a lesson. Unfortunately, he did not think it worth while to send his journal of the expedition, which would have been valuable as a contribution to military history, but merely records the success of his attack and his return with the loss of one killed and four wounded. Two of these, we learn, were hurt through their own supine negligence, having gone ashore to catch crabs, heedless of the poisoned arrows that might await them from the forest that fringed the beach, a proceeding thoroughly characteristic of the British soldier (1126). At the close of this letter comes a little sigh of weariness, which shows, in spite of himself, how the work had told on Stapleton. "May I beg for a quietus from this most "troublesome and changeable government that the King "has abroad, or at least for a furlough. Pray also "mediate for payment of my arrears new and old, for "payment of my creditors here."
The neglect of his English garrison.
Long neglect, in fact, was wearing him out. Letter after letter pleads for money to pay his unfortunate soldiers, now four years in arrear. The French soldiers within sight of him at St. Kitt's were well fed, paid, and clothed, and he keenly felt the disgraceful appearance, through no fault of his own, of his own companies. "I cannot keep red coats on their backs longer, nor can "they live longer without victuals ... my credit "will not long support them (188) ... The French "soldiers do not want for flour, meat or brandy, while "ours are naked and starving. It were much more "honourable to disband them than to famish them "(291) ... I beg again for orders as to the two "companies in garrison at St. Christopher's. They are "in a worse condition than I can describe, worse even "than the Spanish citadel garrison, whom travellers "might have seen begging. The poor soldiers on the "frontier-line see with heartburning their neighbours "(French) paid on a drumhead, while we are four "years in arrear. ... I am out of purse for "shrouds for the dead and cure of the wounded, for "minding their arms and giving them credit in merchants' "storehouses" (860). The Lords of Trade for very shame represented the matter strongly to the King (399), and payment was actually ordered; but in May 1684 we find Stapleton again pleading for his unfortunate men, still three years in arrear. "I wish to leave," he wrote, "after seventeen years of government without any just "clamour for debts and promises" (1660), debts and promises incurred because neither he nor his men could obtain the wages due to them.
His difficulties with his officers.
His difficulties in other respects were as great. The petty Assemblies made constant difficulties over their power of the purse (e.g., 473–475). The officials in the Islands were negligent and lazy; no sooner was his back turned than everything was forgotten; and he was obliged to hire vessels at his own expense to visit them. He had repeatedly asked for a man-of-war, but the request had been refused. One of the King's ships that chanced to be cruising by, under the command of a Captain Billop, turned the orders issued for protection of the Royal African Company's monopoly into a pretext for piracy (see Index, Billop). Stapleton, who was a choleric man, was furious, and made energetic complaints to Whitehall; but Billop was acquitted by a court-martial, to the boundless indignation of all in the Leeward Islands. Once only did the Governor enjoy for a short time the luxury of a man-of-war under a good officer at his disposal, and, as will be shown later, he turned it to excellent account. But the end of the relation is sad enough. "I hear from Jamaica that H.M.S. 'Francis' is "not there, so I conclude that Captain Carlile was "lost in the storm that struck Barbados—a thousand "pities, a brave, hopeful young man" (1681).
His quarrel with the Governor of St. Thomas.
Another terrible thorn in his side was the Danish Governor of St. Thomas, a retired privateer, by name Esmit, who openly sheltered and abetted pirates and shared their gains. The sale to this worthy of certain coasting craft captured by pirates from Leeward Islanders irritated Stapleton beyond endurance; and even more did Esmit's claim of sovereignty over the Virgin Islands for the Danish Crown. Stapleton's temper got the better of him in addressing this man. "If," he wrote to him, "you do not make atonement for the injuries you have "inflicted on the English, I warn you, have a care. I "shall come from the Leeward Islands with an armed "force and blow you up" (1189), and beyond all doubt he would have been as good as his word. "I should "have visited that squire (Esmit) before now had I a "vessel to transport me," he observes grimly in another letter; "there is no safe trading to or from these parts "until St. Thomas be reduced or that Governor handed" (1504). It was some comfort to him that, when the King of Denmark finally ordered the arrest of Esmit, he was ordered to give help in case of resistance (see Index, Esmit).
His return home on leave.
Such few consolations as Stapleton enjoyed came not from Whitehall, but from the West Indies. Sir Thomas Lynch, hearing of his trouble with the Caribs, at once sent him a man-of-war from Jamaica and a letter with it, which, if it ever came to Sir R. Dutton's ears, must have made them tingle. "I am amazed," he wrote, "that at "Barbados they said they would not spend 20l. to save "the Leeward Islands and Jamaica ... I wish to God "we were not so far to Leeward or I could send you brave "men enough, and such as would be fitter than the " planters to hunt the Indians, but I doubt not that your " presence and conduct will ensure success." The Islands of his Government again, hearing that he was quitting them on leave, begged with one voice for his return, or, if he must go, for the appointment of such another (1526, 1538, 1543, 1545). But when a man past a certain period of his life suddenly craves after long absence to leave his work and return home, it is always doubtful whether he will ever leave home again; and Stapleton never returned to the Leeward Islands. So here we take leave of this blunt, straightforward solidier, as good a type of an able, conscientious public servant as ever was left unrewarded. To contrast his honest appeals for wages long overdue, always first for his soldiers and next for himself, with Sir Richard Dutton's eternal whinings about expense and want of salary, is instructive, particularly when we discover that Dutton had made 9,000l. out of Barbados in two years. But most characteristic of the man is his reception of the order forbidding Governors to go home without leave. " I always thought it was death to quit one's post." He wrote, "If it be a capital crime for sentinels, (fn. 4) I am " sure that it ought not to be less for Governors" (860). Not until he had done seventeen years of hard work did he quit his post on leave of absence, driven to England by the home-sickness that heralds the approach of death.
Last of the Islands we come to Jamaica, just emerged triumphant from her constitutional struggle. The last vestiges of the chief actor therein are found in two papers from the hand of Samuel Long, securing immunity for himself and his fellows from injury in consequence of any damaging revelations that they might have made respecting privateers (11, 12). Long returned to Jamaica in a much more moderate temper than when he left it (118), was reinstated as Chief Justice, and died some few months later.
Unsuccessful administration of Sir Henry Morgan.
Meanwhile the Government was for the present entrusted to Sir Henry Morgan, the veteran buccaneer, whose letters though, for reasons that will appear later, sometimes a little incoherent (see e.g., page 6), attest the reformation of his character by his interest in the Church (13), his rigour against privateers (13–17, 51, 73), and occasional pious ejaculations (p. 29). In May he summoned an Assembly, and endeavoured to persuade it to vote a Revenue Bill for seven years, though, in spite of much effort, with very indifferent success (115, 137). After considerable negotiation the Revenue Bill was finally passed for two years, rejected by the virtuous Sir Henry (246), and again passed for seven years, but with several other Acts tacked to it, a proceeding which was not likely to be relished at Whitehall (285), more particularly when the reasons for this tacking was explained (367). Meanwhile Sir Thomas Lynch, who had already once governed Jamaica, had been appointed Governor, with instructions, if possible, to obtain a Revenue Bill not for seven years only, but for perpetuity (227), while a warrant was prepared to void all Acts passed by Sir Henry Morgan unless the Revenue Bill for seven years should be passed before Sir Thomas Lynch's arrival (257). As a favour to the Morgans apparently, the command of the chief fort in Jamaica was entrusted to Sir Henry's brother Charles (330), a proceeding at which Lynch with just prescience looked with some dismay (333).
Governor Sir Thomas Lynch arrives. His success in restoring confidence.
Having remained over three months wind-bound at Plymouth, Sir Thomas at last set sail, and after a most disastrous voyage, which cost his wife her life, landed in miserable health at Jamaica on the 14th of June (552, 575). On the 21st of September he met the Assembly, and after warning them tactfully that the King would not accept laws tacked to a Revenue Bill, begged them to trust their Sovereign and banish their suspicions (699, 711). Such confidence did he inspire that the Assembly voted the revenue for seven years (711), even before the Lords of Trade had time to formulate their objections to the system of tacking (760), and to add thereto a threat that, if the Assembly refused a revenue, the King had power under the laws of England to levy tonnage and poundage (771). The new Act was, therefore, received with the greatest satisfaction at Whitehall, and confirmed together with all the rest of the Acts for seven years (966).
The good feeling in the Colony improved rapidly after the King's ready fulfilment of his Governor's promises; the Assembly addressed Sir Thomas Lynch in terms of real gratitude (1237), and Sir Thomas, a few days later (Sept. 21. 1683), took advantage of the moment to plead for prolongation of the term of the Revenue Bill for twenty-one years (1275). Just at this point two incidents occurred which went near to wreck the whole structure of confidence and goodwill which he had so carefully reared.
His quarrel with the Morgans.
A petty dispute between Captain Churchill, of the Royal Navy, and a cantankerous merchant-skipper led to the ducking of a sailor by Churchill so severely that, whether from injury or from shock, the unfortunate man died a few days later. This led in turn to a violent feeling against Churchill, which culminated in a riot between the King's sailors and the townsfolk. The coroner's jury hesitated whether their verdict should not be wilful murder against Churchill, but was overawed by Sir Henry Morgan and a little clique of followers. Taking part with Churchill, Sir Henry and his brother Charles kindled fresh disorder, which rose to such a point that Sir Thomas Lynch dismissed them both, together with another of their gang, from all public employment. Old Sir Henry had by this time sunk into eztreme disreputability, was constantly drunk, and when in this state abused the Government, swearing, damning, and cursing extravagantly. His brother was worse than himself. He never went near the fort which he commanded except in a drunken state, had almost, if not quite, killed several soliders, and had driven many to desert (1249, 1348). Their dismissal was confirmed, and the captor of Panama bids fair from this moment to disappear from our notice. In spite of his fair words, he had been guilty of not a few scandalous jobs while acting as Governor, and was no more to be trusted. It says much for the general confidence in Sir Thomas Lynch that the Assembly, despite the faction of the Morgans, passed the Revenue Bill for twenty-one years (1317). In fact his wise and conciliatory administration changed the old suspicious feeling against the Crown into hearty and healthy loyalty.
His troubles with pirates.
Beyond the difficulties of internal government, piracy was a mischief which gave Sir Thomas Lynch extraordinary trouble. In the Index, under the heading Privateers, will be found a list of the names of over two dozen notorious pirates, by which those interested in the subject will be able to follow it. Some of these held commissions from the French Governor of Petit Guavos, in Hispaniola, and it was a constant question whether these commissions were to be respected or not. But even more troublesome were the petty thieving craft who plundered unfortunate fishermen and turtlers, being afraid to fly at higher game. Apart from the exasperation created among these poor men, the cutting off of the supply of turtle was a serious matter, for it formed the staple food of the crews of ships in port at Jamaica and the daily meal of at least two thousand of the inhabitants on the coast (1958). Lynch, always energetic, built a fifty-oared galley to sweep these pests of the sea, and with some success (p. 393, No. 992), but the evil re-appeared later (1938, 1949, 1964), and the fishermen begged hard for a man-of-war of shallow draught to protect the fisheries. These petty pirates were the most brutal of their kind, a Spaniard named Juan Corso being the worst of them. They thought nothing of landing the fishermen that they had robbed on a barren islet and leaving them to perish.
is death astened hereby.
Of the greater privateers, St.Thomas, with its rogue of a Danish Governor, was one stronghold, and New Providence, Bahamas, under an equally roguish English Governor, one Clarke, another almost as pernicious. Clarke was early rebuked by Lynch in a letter (668, I.) which even he admitted to be perhaps "too aigre and imperious," and was ultimately sent home under arrest, but not before untold mischief had been done. The Bahamas were a very Alsatia of rascaldom, the scum of the world being attracted thither by the prospect of recovering treasure from wrecked ships, in which pursuit they were helped by a rude divingbell invented by an ingenious Bermudian (p. 284). But the favourite harbour was the French port of Petit Guavos, where French commissions could be had for the asking. It was apparently vexation at his failure to repress piracy that hastened Sir Thomas Lynch's death in August 1684 (1852). His acting successor, Colonel Molesworth, did his best to carry on his work, but Lynch was a man not easily to be replaced.
The exploits privateers.
The exploits of the privateers at this period include the sack of Vera Cruz and the cruise of the Trompeuse, a vessel which, originally launched on her career by the stupidity or worse of Sir Henry Morgan (364–366), gained after a time a world-wide reputation for her astonishing success under the command of her French pirate captain, Hamlyn or Hamelin. A full account of her cruise, of her captures of slave ships on the West Coast of Africa, and of the brutalities of her captain will be found at No. 1313 (see also 1216, I., and Index, Trompeuse). Her destruction in the harbour of St. Thomas by Captain Carlile, of H.M.S. "Francis," Sir William Stapleton's favourite, will also be found described at length in No. 1168. Even after she was destroyed her name was so popular that a successor named La Nouvelle Trompeuse started on a like career (see Index).
The evils of privateering were not of course bounded by the mere disturbance of trade. The Spaniards, who were the principal victims, of course made reprisals on any English vessels that they could catch, whether innocent or guilty, whether seeking contraband trade in Spanish ports or driven to them by stress of weather. The treatment of the unfortunate prisoners taken on these occasions was barbarous in the extreme. A specimen of it may be found in the relation of one of them named Jonas Clough (303), supplemented by the narrative of two more prisoners (385). The part that religious animosity played is seen in the degradation of the corpses of the dead, which were dragged through the city, obscenely mutilated by the scholars of the free school by order of the clergy, and left to the dogs. More notable vengeance for the aggression of the privateers was the surprise and sacking of New Providence, Bahamas, by an expedition from Havana (see No. 1509), a stroke which, however furiously denounced by the English, cannot be said to have been unprovoked. The corruption of the Spanish officials, however, deprived them of all sympathy from English Governors. They were governed by no principle of executing the regulations of the Spanish King in relation to trade; they winked at contraband traffic where they found it profitable; and they would allow British vessels to come and go unheeded for a time that they might the more easily make capture of them by surprise. One form of such traffic, which had long been carried on by tacit consent, we find openly recognised in the present volume, namely, the supply of negro slaves to the Spanish Colonies through Jamaica, a trade which brought immense gain to the island (see Index, Jamaica trade). Our only marvel is, on reading the letters of Sir Thomas Lynch, that it needed another half century and a fable of "Jenkins's ear" to bring England and Spain to open war over these matters.
The danger privateering to the old system of Colonial defence.
A still more serious result of piracy was that it drained away the poorer portion of the white population from the tropical settlements, exercising much the same effect as what is called a "gold rush" at the present day. The full significance of this is not realised unless we bear in mind the old system of colonial defence. In England up to the Civil War the principle of home-defence had been to keep a few weak independent companies attached permanently to such garrisons as required them, and to depend for the rest on the militia. In the Colonies the same principle was applied with little or no change. There were, as we have seen, two independent companies of English in Virginia, as many in Jamaica, the same number in the Leeward Islands, and the same, thanks to the prudence of the Duke of York, in New York. These were the only regular troops in the Colonies, and this small handful of red coats, together with four or five frigates, alone showed that there was some thought of Imperial defence. Apart from these the safety of the Colonies depended upon themselves, that is to say, upon their militia.
In the Northern Colonies of America, where the white man could increase and multiply, this militia consisted at any rate potentially of the whole male population, and occasionally, as for instance in Massachusetts, was extremely efficient. In the tropical Colonies, where the white man could not thrive, the ranks of the militia were filled with "white servants," with white men, that is to say, transported form England and bound to serve for a term of years, at the close of which they received their freedom and in many cases a grant of land. Every planter was bound to produce so many white servants for the militia, according to his property, and the planters themselves, as was natural, took their place as officers. Interest quite as much as patriotic sentiment prompted the planters to keep the militia in strength and efficiency, for they had before them always the spectre not only of foreign invasion, but of a rebellion of slaves. Then, as now, the whites in the West Indies were very much afraid of the blacks, and shrank nervously from any attempt at educating or improving them (see No. 59); while the least symptom of insubordination was visited with frightful penalties. A negro who ventured to say to his mistress that one day the negroes would serve the Christians as the Christians now served them was burnt alive for the words (1475). The loss of white servants through the attraction of piracy was, therefore, not only a commercial loss, but a formidable danger, for it became a question how their place should be supplied.
"White servants" and transported criminals.
Moreover, as we have seen, the King, having cut off the two companies from Virginia and also (434) from Jamaica, had made the need for them the more urgent. The white servants who volunteered, for what was after all little better than slavery, were the scum of the earth (768, I.), and transportation of criminals seemed to be the most obvious method of keeping up their numbers. Of this accordingly we hear a great deal (see Index, Transportation). There was also a vile traffic in white slaves which was carried on by crimps and kidnappers, and lasted, as "The Vicar of Wakefield" tells us, until Goldsmith's day. Merchant captains also, as two passages in the Calender shows us (1939, 1997), would sell their apprentices to planters without scruple. But certain action by one of the judges in England (p. 597, No. 768, I.) had given general discouragement to the exporters of white servants, and the West Indian Islands were not a little troubled in consequence (768, I.). The point is of importance, for from these years we must date the breakdown of the first primitive system of colonial defence; and it is characteristic of the apathy and carelessness of King Charles the Second that he should have chosen just that moment for reducing colonial garrisons to the lowest point. It should be noticed, too, that he refused to grant a free passage home to the disbanded soldiers in Virginia (347). This wicked precedent was followed by the War Office for fully half a century after this date, insomuch that, even when the multitudinous independent companies in the Islands gave place to garrisons from the regular army, one regiment of the Line was kept in the West Indies unrelieved for sixty years.
From military matters to naval the transition is easy. The student will find all information grouped under the head Naval in the Index. The most interesting points are the prohibition, owing to the loss of H.M.S. "Norwich," for officers to carry merchandise on board men-of-war, and a sharp dispute between Sir Thomas Lynch and the Admiralty over a Governor's powers as Vice-Admiral, wherein, needless to say, the Admiralty came off victorious. Other naval points have already been touched on in previous pages of this Preface.
As to the work of the Church, I would again refer the reader to the Index, and in particular to Sir Thomas Lynch's report on that of Jamaica (757), and Lord Culpeper's on that of Virginia (1272). The existence of a sect called the "Sweet-singers" in the latter country may be of interest to those who are curious on such points. The activity of Bishop Compton in the ecclesiastical affairs of the Colonies is noteworthy, for the peculiar connexion which still survives between the Bishopric of London and the Anglican Church in the Colonies is doubtless to be ascribed to his efforts. It was he who put forward the plea for the conversin of the slaves to Christianity, which was so hastily set aside by the planters of Barbados (57), as well as for fair treatment of the Indians in Pennsylvania. It is the irony of history that he should be remembered only as the prelate who donned his long discarded buff coat to escort Princess Anne at the Revolution of 1688.
The King and the Board of Trade and Plantations.
As regards the general administration of the Board of Trade and Plantations, nothing is more noticeable than the general increase of apathy, slackness, and procrastination. The Secretary of State in charge of the department was Sir Leoline Jenkins, the intelligent person who was so far taken in by Sir Richard Dutton as to tell him that the world contained few such men. It is evident, however, that, be the Secretary who he might, he and the whole Board were paralysed by the indolence of the King. Active Governors like Lynch and Stapleton begged in vain for instructions, for countenance and for support, not only in matters of internal government, but still more as to their attitude towards the Spaniards and French. An informal letter from Lord Conway to Jenkins gives us a glimpse of the Merry Monarch's methods of transacting business. "I return the French and Spanish letters. The " King saw no reason to give any orders in respect of " them, excepting that in regard to Virginia he took " notice that the country had been disturbed and " appeared to be calmer, and that it was necessary to " hasten a Governor over thither." There was little hope for English prisoners in Spanish dungeons from such a King. The scandalous mismanagement of the business of Bermuda, and the long delay in bringing Massachusetts to book, must, I take it, be traced to the same cause. The picture of inefficiency, selfishness, and neglect is not pleasant to dwell on.
The Board and economical experiments in the Colonies.
On certain points, however, where the Board was guided by the Commissioners of Customs and the Commissioners of the Mint, we find its decisions dictated by the soundest good sense. The Colonial Governments then, as now, were fond of resorting to crude experiments for the remedy of present commercial or financial distress, such as the enforced prohibition of tobacco-planting to raise the price, with its amazing development of the tobacco-cutting riots, arbitrary legislation for the creation of towns, for fixing the value of money and the like. The memoranda treating of these subjects (to one of which I have already called attention) are worth reading, and it is interesting to see, in the palmy days of the Navigation Acts, such apophthegms as " Trade must be courted not forced;" " Trade is " not balanced by notions and names of money and " things, but by intrinsic values." (See Index, Economical.)
Finally, it must be remarked that the Board was alive to the disadvantages that accrued from the isolation and selfishness of the different settlements. It sent, for instance, peremptory orders to Barbados to help the Leeward Islands against the Caribs; and followed up the dissolution of the Charter of Massachusetts immediately with a project for a united New England. What form that project would have taken had Charles the Second lived to see it completed is doubtful, but the scheme was reserved by fate for the decision of his successor, who, with all his faults, had very considerable talent for administration. The contrast between his transaction of business and that of his incorrigibly idle brother will form the chief object of interest in the next volume of this Calendar.
I have only to remark in conclusion that I have added a few general headings, such as Naval, Military, Ecclesiastical, Economical, to the Index of this volume, and instituted similar divisions under the name of each Colony, in the hope that such classification may lighten the labour of students in the search for special information.
J. W. FORTESCUE.