America and West Indies: February 1685

Pages 765-769

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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February 1684

Feb. 2. 2066. Minutes of Council of Jamaica. Sir Francis Watson sworn of the Council. The Governor announced the escape of Bannister, the pirate, with his ship from Port Royal. Major Beckford called in to explain how he was allowed to pass the forts, who having been heard, the Council resolved that he had done his duty, but ordered the corporal of the guard to be tried by courtmartial for negligence. The Lieutenant-Governor announced that he had received further confirmation of the proceedings against Sir Henry Morgan. Thomas Ryves' petition to be admitted to the Receivership-General as deputy to Leonard Compeere refused, and petitioner referred to his legal remedy. Charles Penhallow continued as Acting Receiver to 25th March. Order for remission of 75l. to William Blathwayt as half a year's salary as Auditor-General. Adjourned sine die. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. XXXVI., pp. 60–62.]
Feb. 3.
2067. Lieutenant-Governor Hender Molesworth to William Blathwayt. Sickness prevented me from explaining in my last the reasons for sending our galley and prize sloops to clear the coast of Cuba of the pirates that destroy our fishery. Volunteers enough not being forthcoming to serve the King against those pirates (whom they thought worth little) on the conditions of no purchase no pay, certain private persons offered to hire sloops enough for the purpose, provided that the embargo should continue, so as to give them the trade of that coast to themselves, only desiring that the galley might be fitted out at the public expense, and 200l. advanced them towards victuals. This seeming to be a cheap and reasonable demand I embraced it, and the more readily as all the commanders have families in Port Royal, are the most substantial of our seafaring men, and are of known courage and fitness for such employment. Besides they have their choice of men (the lowest of whom gets forty shillings a month), and so can depend on their crews, whereas if they had gone upon the first design as volunteers I should have been in constant fear of a mutiny, "the damned privateering business reigning much in the minds of those people." They left Port Royal soon after Christmas but were continually baffled by weather, but our last news is that they put to sea again a week ago. The galley sails before the wind better than the best of our sloops, and rows admirably in a smooth sea. Captain Mitchell brought no very satisfactory answer from Petit Guavos. The Governor was absent, and his deputy said that the sloop we asked for was fairly tried and condemned; Captain Mitchell might take what English there were, but they were few; finally the deputy had no knowledge of any men belonging to the Trompeuse in that port, and if he had he would punish them himself. I am sorry that I omitted Major Beckford's proposals to exchange several guns in the forts, for the new Governor might have settled the matter. If not too late it would be a great service if he could arrange for the return of the old guns and the grant of new. Without considerable interest and pains nothing can be done in such matters. The Spaniards finding that we cannot supply them with negroes have sent four sloops to Barbados in hopes to find them there. Captain Mitchell is not yet returned from the Sambalos. If common fame be true, he cannot have failed to fall in there with some of the privateers that have sailed from hence. Golden Island, one of the Sambalos, is the receptacle of all those who have lately gone to the South Seas under the conduct of the Darien Indians. It is reported that a thousand English have possessed themselves of a considerable place, insomuch that the general of the galleons has unmanned his ships to send assistance to the inland forces against them. These English are said to have a commission from the Emperor of Darien; and it is reported that some of the King of Spain's money is not come down to Portobello because the ways are beset by these privateers, who have already taken money from several merchants. These reports have enticed many men from this Island, in spite of all our efforts to prevent it. About ten days since Captain Bannister one dark night sailed in a desperate manner passed the fort. He had, it is said, fifty men ready in the hold with plugs to stop shot-holes. But the sentries being careless, the night dark, and the wind fresh, he was abreast of the fort before Major Beckford, the commander, was warned, and had passed fourteen of the guns. Beckford did all that he could, but could only place three shot in him. He at once sent me word of the occurrence, which was a great surprise to me, for I thought that Bannister's want of credit would prevent him from ever getting the ship to sea again. He had put in another master and sent the ship to London, but without profit; then he was in treaty with the Spaniards but without success; yet now he has obtained credit from some persons underhand, and has his ship well fitted out in every respect. It was done so artfully that no one suspected it, or I should have found some pretext for securing him. Directly after he was gone Captain Stanley sailed after him, fired several shots to recall him, without effect, and finally sent a note on board to say that, unless he returened, he would be treated as a pirate. Bannister answered that he had no piratical intention, that he was sailing to Honduras for logwood, and that the reason for his leaving the port in that manner was that he was forced to fly from his creditors. Captain Stanley then returned, finding himself unable to do more against a ship of her strength and size. Bannister being bound to our windward coast to pick up men, I ordered Stanley to cruise between him and the shore to prevent it. Baunister then sailed to leeward, where he will probably find several consorts. I could not let the matter pass without calling the commander of the fort to account, who acquitted himself very well. I have received a petition from Major Thomas Ryves to be admitted as Deputy Treasurer to the surviving patentee of the Receivership-General, Mr. Compeere. The Council referred him to the law for his remedy, and meantime enlarged the order in favour of the present receiver to the 25th March for the better perfecting of his accounts.
One, Gilbert, sometime chaplain of the Guernsey, was preferred by Sir Thomas Lynch to be rector of St. Dorothy's, and should have had a very good livelihood. But having more of the beast than the man in him he committed so many scandalous actions that he was rebuked by Sir Thomas Lynch. Remembering the rebuke, but forgetting his preferment, he has published the most scandalous libel against Sir Thomas that ever was heard, unworthy of a Christain, much more of one of his coat. He was indicted for this, fined 300l. and imprisoned for twelve months, under which sentence he still lies. I was too ill to write to you or the Bishop of London about it at the time, so that possibly his appeal might have reached the Lords before now. I enclose a copy of the libel. I enclose also the deposition of one Smith, a seaman, concerning a wreck and treasure. Sir Richard White and Captain Churchill went to look for it. Smith adheres to his statement through all cross-examination, and it agrees with the testimony of other witnesses. This concurrence first set me in the thought of sending Captain Stanley in the Bonito to look for the treasure, though I hesitated for a time, as the reef was not marked in the maps. Stanley, however, told me that he had seen it in a private map, and that his own pilot knew it as well as another. I therefore resolved to come to some agreement with Smith, who would not take less than a fifth share, to which I consented; as I understood from Stanley that Harman and Sir Richard White were to have half. The man was so confident that he would have agreed to be hanged if he did not show them the wreck, provided they brought him to the reef. But I have bound him only in a penalty to serve the King seven years in his ships of war without pay, and to submit to such corporal punishment as I shall think fit (which I have threatened to him to be very terrible and severe) if he failed to answer expectations. I did this to fright him from prosecuting the thing further, in case he has sworn to a falsity. But on the contrary he pressed hard for some encouragement to the seamen to prevent mutinies, promising them some of his own share. I therefore gave them assurance under my hand that, if the design was successful, they should each have 100l. for their extraordinary service, beyond what the King might give them. Captain Stanley's sailing orders are enclosed. I ordered him to spend two days in the Cays, to give Smith the better chance of escaping in case his story were false; but I heard from Stanley yesterday that he sailed into the Cays without saying a word to Smith, who immediately followed him in a wherry as though afraid to be left behind. I therefore hope that his story is true and that the design may be successful. My only fear is that the task is too great for me, so I promise nothing, but, at least, if it be a failure, there will be no expense to the King. The affair might seem important enough to deserve report to Lord Sunderland, but I fear to trouble him and to incur ridicule, if nothing should come of it. I should be glad if on Stanley's return I can announce to him that the thing has taken effect. I forgot to add that during Bannister's trial his men, being prisoners in the Ruby, consumed 60l. worth or more of the King's provisions; in satisfaction of which I ordered some privateers' arms to be detained and sold. Signed, H. Molesworth. 7½ closely written pages. Endorsed: "Recd. 2 April. Read 4 April 1685. [Col. Papers, Vol. LV.; No. 9, and Col. Entry Bk., Vol. XXXI., pp. 17–34.] Annexed,
2067. I. Deposition of Thomas Smith. Narrating that while on a cruise on the north-east coast of Hispaniola they came on a reef on which they saw several ingots of silver and one of gold, and within forty feet of it the hull of a ship wedged in upright. The wind freshened so that they were afraid to stand by, but witness believes that he can find the place again. Sworn before Charles Penhallow, 20 Jan. 1685. 1½ pp. Endorsed. Recd. 2 April 1685.
2067. II. Colonel Molesworth's instructions to Captain Stanley regarding the search for a wrecked treasure ship. Articles of agreement with Thomas Smith, the informer, as to the same; and with the ship's company, dated 31 Jan. 1685. Copies. 2 large pages. Inscribed. Recd. 2 April 1685.
2067. III. "Copy of the libel published by Parson Gilbert."

He that would murder when he pleased
And with the gout so oft diseased,
Whose will in ruling was his law,
To keep more nobler men in awe,
Because an ignoramus jury,
Would not submit unto his fury,
Who made interest his only God
Was for our sins the scourging rod,
'Cause all he called knave or rogue
Would not be so, not serve his vogue;
Who orphants cheated by his power,
Still seeking whom he might devour,
But Johnson's ghost by conscience spied,
Grew mad, and soon as madly died.
And now great ease Jamaica gains
By his ent'ring eternal pains;
And those who shall Governor be
Let the Divil and him agree.
The Prince of Darkness surely finds a rub
Since one more qualified for Beelzebub.
Copy. 1 p. Endorsed, Recd. 2 April 1685. [Col. Papers, Vol. LV., No. 9 I.–III.]
Feb. 5. 2068. Governor Lord Howard of Effingham to the Duke of York. I am extremely concerned to have so ill an occasion to address your Highness. Colonel George Talbot, the Deputy Governor left by Lord Baltimore, recently went on board H.M.S. Quaker in Patuxen river, and after trying to quarrel with Captain Allen and Mr. Rousby stabbed the latter to death. Captain Allen brought him to me for trial, but the Council of Maryland claimed him also. I refused to return him, having power under your commission to punish such offences until I had heard from you. I have sent all evidence to Lord Sunderland. Signed, Effingham. Holograph. 2 pp. [Col. Papers, Vol. LV., No. 10.]
Feb. 6. 2069. Journal of Lords of Trade and Plantations. Present, the King and twenty-seven Councillors. On this day between eleven and twelve o'clock in the morning King Charles the Second departed this life in the palace at Whitehall. The Lords prepared a proclamation and letters to the Colonies. Memorandum of the dates on which these letter were despatched and of documents received up to the 23rd February. [Col. Entry Bk., Vol. CVIII., pp. 84–93.]