America and West Indies: December 1697, 1-15

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 16, 1697-1698. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1905.

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'America and West Indies: December 1697, 1-15', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 16, 1697-1698, (London, 1905), pp. 53-61. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

. "America and West Indies: December 1697, 1-15", in Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 16, 1697-1698, (London, 1905) 53-61. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024,

. "America and West Indies: December 1697, 1-15", Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 16, 1697-1698, (London, 1905). 53-61. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,

December 1697

Dec. 1.
79. Clerk of the House of Burgesses of Virginia to Council of Trade and Plantations. Forwarding the journal of the House of Burgesses on their meeting upon an adjournment to 21 October last. Signed, Peter Beverley. ¼ p. Endorsed, Recd. 2 Aug., 1698.
A duplicate of the same addressed to the Duke of Shrewsbury. Endorsed, Recd. Read. 5 Aug., 1698. [Board of Trade. Virginia, 6. Nos. 34, 35.]
Dec. 1. 80. Minutes of Council of Jamaica. On the death of Stephen Towse, Thomas Nicholls was reinstated as Clerk of Council pending signification of the King's pleasure. Orders for sundry payments. The accounts of the King's revenue for 1697 were brought up after audit, and entered in the Council book. Here follow the accounts. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 79. pp. 24–28.]
[Dec. 1.] 81. Petition of Katherine Richardson, wife of Robert Richardson, and William Thornburgh, to Council of Trade and Plantations. Since the death of the late Sir Peter Colleton [whose executors we are] his brother James Colleton has kept possession of his estate in Barbados. Recently James Colleton has been made judge of the precinct wherein the estate is situated, in spite of our protest, enclosed, so that we can obtain no redress in law. We beg your instructions to the new Governor that James Colleton be discontinued being judge of that precinct. 1 p. Endorsed, Read 1 Dec., 1697. Enclosed,
81. I. Petition of William Sharpe and others to the President and Council of Barbados. Praying on behalf of Katherine Richardson and William Thornburgh that a disinterested person may be appointed Chief Judge of that precinct aforesaid in lieu of James Colleton, for the reasons set forth above. Copy. 1 p. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 7. Nos. 54, 54 I.; and 44. pp. 113–115.]
Dec. 2.
82. John Nelson to Council of Trade and Plantations. Some time before I left England for this place I laid before you a memorial relating to the 8th article of the peace lately concluded, which as you did then approve of, so likewise you ordered me to send you any further information that might come to my knowledge, being in France. I have not been wanting to sound their intentions here, and am thereby the more confirmed of the necessity of maintaining our rights, and having them especially inserted by articles conformable to my memorial aforesaid. But I have now to add that the French will endeavour, and will instruct their Commissioners accordingly, to extend their limits to the river Kennebec, designing to make that the boundary between us and them on the eastern parts of New England, under the plausible pretence that, that river being most noted and of the largest extent of any in those parts crossing through the land almost to the great river of Canada, they thereby shall be able to withhold their Indians under such a noted boundary from any further excursions upon us on the western side. I must now explain the nature, consequence and value of such a concession, which in time to come may be as fatal and irreparable unto the interest of the Crown and the prosperity of those countries as the late surrender of Nova Scotia (by Treaty of Breda) has proved. First, I cannot see any further security concerning the Indians; but on the contrary those of that river, being now our greatest enemies, will rather be encouraged than otherwise, seeing their country delivered up to the French, which those barbarous nations will rather interpret to be from want of power to keep than any voluntary resignation. So we shall thereby become the object of their scorn and contempt, which will sooner encourage than restrain them in their insolences and enterprises upon us; whereas, if the French will bona fide endeavour to maintain and promote the public peace and tranquillity, nothing is easier than to restrain them under the limits by which they were formerly bounded. This is the river St. George, about five leagues to eastward of Pemaquid, which was always the ancient boundary in my uncle's, Sir Thomas Temple's, patent, and further than which they have no manner of pretence nor claim. But the consequence to us in the contrary will be of utmost moment, as, first, we shall deprive ourselves of four or five of our best fishing islands and harbours. Secondly, the river, being of much longer extent than Piscataqua, will be a perpetual supply of masts, timber, deal-boards etc., when the other will fail, many parts of it being almost exhausted by the continual exportation that has been made. Thirdly, the goodness of the land and its convenient situation render it advantageous to be re-established, by which and by prudent management I do not hold it impossible to regain them to their ancient amity with us. It will manifestly be their interest so to do by reason of their being among us, and that we can and always do supply them cheaper and give them better prices for their peltry than the French. For it was not through hatred to us that they became our enemies, but by the mismanagement of some among us, of which the French took advantage to insinuate and influence them to break out into a war, as at present. I say that notwithstanding all this they are to be regained, being a people that love and study their own interest as much as others. As to our fishery on the coast of Cape Sable, I find that the French will obstruct us if they can, and that nothing but a vigorous assertion of our uninterrupted right and custom (ever since those countries have been inhabited) will preserve us; but I shall say no more on this subject, having said what is requisite in my former memorial. I hope to be in London three weeks hence, and shall always be ready to obey your commands in anything serviceable to the public interest. Signed, Jo. Nelson. 4 pp. Endorsed, Recd. Read 29 Dec., 1697. [Board of Trade. Plantations General, 4. No. 79; and 34. pp. 214–218.]
Dec. 2. 83. Minutes of Council of Maryland. The weather was so severe that only two members besides the Governor were present. Order for an envoy to be sent to the Mattawoman Indians, in the hope of obtaining information from them as to the late murder. The militia-officers of Anne Arundel County appeared and received their orders as to raising the forty-five men required and for setting their arms in order. William Bateman received the offer of the post of public drummer in the room of John Newton, displaced for negligence.
Dec. 3. Certificate of a brig being built in Maryland granted. The Justices of Talbot County were called upon further to explain the neglect of the County records. George Muschamp's report that he had found nothing concerning John Coode in Robert Mason's house, except his accounts, read, together with a second order for searching Mason's house and a second report of the result. Proclamation issued forbidding the exportation of powder and ball. Order for the field-officers to be warned to raise the men required in their counties without delay. [Board of Trade. Maryland, 13. pp. 388–395.]
Dec. 4. 84. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. Order for payment of £50 to three captives lately escaped from the Indians as a reward for their service against them, of £10 to Colonel John Pyncheon for his extraordinary service with his regiment on the frontier, of £30 to Ephraim Savage, one of the Commissioners for passing debentures, of £15 to a wounded soldier, and of £6 to Samuel Gookin for his attendance on Sir William Phips in two journeys in 1692. Leave granted to Richard Honnewell to erect a house in Boston. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. pp. 127–129.]
[Dec. 6.] 85. Memorial of Colonel John Gibsone to Council of Trade and Plantations. I reported to you in my narrative that I had been obliged to take provisions from the merchant ships in Newfoundland, for which purpose I was obliged to draw bills to the amount of £1,424. These bills will fall due in a fortnight, and I beg that you will enable me to meet them. The owners of some of the ships have applied to me to know how they shall be satisfied, and I have referred them to you. I beg that you will hear me and them together, that I may clear myself of the aspersions cast on me during my absence, which I am told have been common discourse not only in the coffee-houses but even upon the Royal Exchange. Signed, J. Gibsone. 1 p. Endorsed, Read 6 Dec., 1697. Board of Trade. Newfoundland, 3. No. 91; and 25. pp. 168–169.]
Dec. 6. 86. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Colonel Gibsone's memorial read (No. 85) and a representation ordered thereupon.
Dec. 7. Governor Codrington's letters of 5 July and 27 September read. The letter to the President and Council of Barbados as to Colonel James Colleton was signed (No. 88).
Dec. 8. A draft representation as to pirates, and a draft letter to Mr. Vernon upon Sir William Beeston's case were approved.
Dec. 9. The letter aforesaid to Mr. Vernon was signed (No. 92). Mr. Gilbert Heathcote presenting a second memorial (No. 90) in Sir William Beeston's defence, the sense thereof was added in a postscript.
Representations as to pirates and Colonel Gibsone's accounts were signed (No. 93). [Board of Trade. Journal, 10. pp. 363–366.]
Dec. 6. 87. Minutes of Council of Barbados. A ship came in from Cork bringing news of peace, but Mr. Sharpe dissented from issuing a proclamation of the same.
Dec. 7. Mr. Sharpe gave his reasons for dissenting from the Proclamation proposed by the Council, the chief of which was that no authentic notice of peace had yet been received from Whitehall. A second provision-ship came in, blown off the coast of Newfoundland.
Dec. 8. Several accounts passed. The Assembly came in and desired that their power relating to commitments might be ascertained, since Mr. Cox had refused obedience thereto; they also moved for an order for the Agents' money and for the Agents' bill to be passed. A Guinea-ship, come in to wood and water on her way to Jamaica, prayed for remission of powder-duty. Edward Walrond's petition for the taking of depositions under the public seal granted.
Dec. 9. Petition from the master of a seized sloop read, and referred to the law-officers for report. The Assembly brought up two bills concerning Grand Sessions, and a bill to ascertain the powers of the Assembly; and the Speaker desired that the commissioned officers and 112 men of the company formed from Garth's regiment be subsisted for a month, to which the Council agreed. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 65. pp. 261–265.]
Dec. 7.
88. Council of Trade and Plantations to President and Council of Barbados. A memorial has been laid before us by Katherine Richardson and William Thornburgh, enclosing a petition addressed by certain persons on their behalf to you (see No. 81). As it is wholly unfit that any person should be judge in his own case, so neither is it allowable that any person, by being a judge in a precinct, where matters in controversy between him and others lie, should be enabled to obstruct the regular course of justice. It is very requisite, if the allegations in the petition be true, that some other judge, impartial and disinterested, should be appointed to hear and determine this matter. Signed, J. Bridge-water, Ph. Meadows, John Pollexfen, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 44. pp. 117–118.]
Dec. 7. 89. Minutes of Council and Assembly of Antigua. Addresses from the Assembly sending up an Act for annexing of several chattels to the freehold, with an amendment, and requesting that their representation in vindication of the Governor might be returned to them for record, and that the messages from the Council may be sent always in writing. Message from the Assembly, sending up the Acts for regulating Assemblies and for ascertaining boundaries, and suggesting that, in view of the frequent reports of peace, their former resolution as to the remittances made during Governor Codrington's Government could no longer be taken as an earnest of their good intentions. Orders as to a minor's estate, as to the indictment of Henry Walden at next sessions and as to a land-grant. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 220–222.]
Dec. 9. 90. Gilbert Heathcote to Council of Trade and Plantations. I wish to add to my former memorial of 29 November (No. 74) that after Sir William Beeston and my brother had both lent all they had and the captains of the men-of-war were pressed for more, he called all the merchants at Port Royal together and earnestly entreated them to advance money for them. Their answer was that they had already lent, some more, some less; but the payment was long delayed in England and when made was in tallies and the like, by which they were such losers that they would lend no more. Signed, Gilbert Heathcote. Holograph. ½ p. Endorsed, Read 9 Dec., 1697. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 78; and 56. pp. 161–162.]
Dec. 9.
91. Governor Sir William Beeston to Council of Trade and Plantations. My last letters were sent on 11 September. I received yours of 2 July on the 7th October. With much reflection in myself I received the King's letter of 22 April concerning the Acts of Trade, because I do not know whether it is a circular letter addressed to all the Governors, or whether some one has made a particular complaint that I have neglected my duty therein. I have already reported to you that the want of necessary supplies and the scarcity and dearness of all things in this island in war-time have encouraged the inhabitants to assist the importers of necessaries, while the size of the island and the number of harbours and rivers for landing give great facilities therein; nevertheless little has been in that kind, and I have taken all possible care to prevent it, as my duty bade me. It is however plain that nothing is so ruinous to the settlement of these Colonies as these Acts, for we are not supplied from England nor suffered to be supplied from elsewhere. So too with our produce, the English send no ships to take it away and no one else is allowed to take it away, whereby the people lose their labour, charge and industry and the King his customs. It is easy to show that but for those Acts this island would be settled and peopled without any charge to the King, and the customs from hence thrice larger any year than they are now, besides the great expense of the English manufactory and the importation of so many thousands of pounds of gold and silver into England. Without some such encouragement these islands will dwindle to nothing, especially this, which is capable of anything for war or trade and may easily be made to give laws to the Spanish West Indies. Neither Admiral Nevill's squadron nor H.M. ships Foresight and Chatham brought any supernumerary seamen, so that we are much straitened for men to carry home the Reserve and the Princess Anne, nor have we men to man one privateer. Therefore the order to the Captains not to impress was very good, but at the same time to order the Governor to press when the Captains say they want men is hard and impossible; for men cannot be impressed where they are not, nor can any be impressed by the Government here but the inhabitants, which would force men from their families, probably never to see them again, besides weakening the country by forcing away what little strength we have. The French continue landing in the out-parts and do much mischief. There was a standing order of the King that two fourthrates and a fifth or sixth-rate should always be here, but since I sent home the Swan none of those small ships have been sent, though we have great need of them to keep these small pickeroons from the coast, which the big ships cannot do, being unable to follow them where there is but little water. I have already reported that I was obliged to make use of the soldiers' money to victual the ships, but now that two victuallers have arrived I have ordered some of the money that was advanced to be supplied from thence, and for others I have taken the bills on the Victualling Office, thereby making good the money to the soldiers' fund again. If I had orders for it, that money, on disbanding the soldiers, would go far towards assisting the King's ships and would save the drawing of bills.
I have observed your orders as to French engineers, but can find none here that can come under any such suspicion, though the French own (and I am convinced in my own opinion) that they have continual advice from this place of all that is done. Thus, in order to deal them a parting blow before the war ended (which we knew was at hand) I sent our four men-of-war to try what they could do about Petit Guavos, but, their passage being long, the French had intelligence, and sent all their force together and lined the shore, so that there was no landing and the ships returned without doing anything. Mr. Lewis, the Commissary, will have considerable money in his hands, proceeding from the sale of stores, for the disposal of which he has no orders. We have been at great charge in preparing and maintaining fireships for the defence of the place as well as for other matters, which has run the Treasury much in debt. Many that have furnished for these occasions want their money, and we know not how to pay them without peace and more trade to bring money to the revenue. If the King would bestow that money on the country it would release if from debt. I would call an Assembly and propose it to them, but that I knew it would be in vain, for they have the answer that since no ships come to buy their produce they can pay no taxes, which is too true. This is not only a great discouragement to them but a loss to the King's customs; and for this reason, and because of the extravagant price of freight, I have desired the men-of-war to take in some goods, such as may not be a prejudice to them, to help the country and raise customs. I hope that this will not be ill taken. I have already reported to you the prejudice it is to the country for the patentees of the principal offices to live in England and send whom they please to act as their deputies. Now Mr. Towse, Mr. Harris's deputy, is dead, and that before he understood anything of his office. By the same rule we may presently expect another as ignorant, which is a great injury as well as trouble, especially in that office where are most of the records of men's estates and where the officer of course is Clerk of the Council. I beg you therefore to order that none may be admitted but such as shall be approved here as of known capacity and integrity to execute those offices. I find that the captains of the men-of-war are much displeased because I have taken the victuallers out of their hands and would not let their pursers sell those provisions. I have good reasons for it, which I have now given to the Victualling Board, and which are recorded in the Minutes of Council sent herewith. I hope they will be approved of, since I had no design nor interest therein but the saving what I could to the King, which I am satisfied would otherwise have come to a small account. Mr. Broughton, one of the Council, goes home in this ship, an intelligent man and well acquainted with the Island's affairs, with which he has long been concerned. He can give you any information as to Jamaica that you may desire. Signed, Wm. Beeston. P.S.—11 December. Yours of 27 October with the acceptable news of peace arrived to-day. Peace has been proclaimed. 13 December. This evening Mr. Lewis was unfortunately killed by Mr. Beckford, the Receiver General, by which both offices are at present void. I shall fill them as well as I can. 2½ pp. Endorsed, Recd. Read 5 April, 1697. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 79; and 56. pp. 184–189.]
Dec. 9.
92. Council of Trade and Plantations to Mr. Secretary Vernon. In reply to the Duke of Shrewsbury's letter of the 23rd ult. we offer as follows. Sir William Beeston in his letters of 23 July and 7 August informed us that there had been great desertion of inhabitants from Jamaica, and especially of seamen, occasioned by much pressing, as also that the King's service suffered much from want of an Agent to supply his ships with necessaries. On 19 December last we recommended that such an Agent should be appointed and one hundred supernumerary seamen sent out. In his letter of 15 July Sir William reported that not one supernumerary seaman was sent out for the Southampton and Reserve, and complained much of the want of seamen, and of the hardship and danger to the island if he were obliged to press the inhabitants. He mentions also that he rendered Admiral Nevill's fleet all the service in his power. On the request of Lady Beeston we heard on his behalf Mr. Gilbert Heathcote, who brought with him two gentlemen lately arrived from Jamaica. They bore witness that the Government of Jamaica takes all possible care for the King's ships both in supplying them with provisions and in securing deserters, and gave instance of the diligence of the inhabitants in supplying the fleet with wood and water. They likewise answered the complaints about neglecting to give advice to Admiral Nevill, and set forth the sums advanced by Mr. Josiah Heathcote and Sir William Beeston, at great loss to themselves, for the men-of-war (see No. 74). Signed, J. Bridgewater, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, John Pollexfen, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 56. pp. 162–166.]
Dec. 9.
93. Council of Trade and Plantations to the King. We annex copies of Colonel Gibsone's account of provisions taken up by him in Newfoundland, observing that he was obliged to draw bills upon himself for them, those upon any office being refused, and that those bills will fall due in twelve days' time, when his person and estate will be liable for the same unless provision be made for meeting them. We beg your Majesty's consideration hereof. Signed, J. Bridgewater, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, Jno. Pollexfen, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. Newfoundland, 25. pp. 170–171.]
Dec. 9.
94. Council of Trade and Plantations to the King. We have considered the manifold mischiefs which have been committed of late years in the West Indies and elsewhere, and the too favourable encouragement which (as is notorious) these robbers have found in several of the Colonies (more particularly in Proprieties and Charter Governments), both in fitting out from thence and in returning thither as a secure receptacle. These pernicious practices will make all trading in the sea insecure and by the resentment of princes and states will tend more and more to the prejudice of your trading subjects. The most effectual remedy would, we think, be a law enacted here to extend uniformly through all your Plantations by which the methods of trying pirates might be directed, and the punishment of that crime made capital. Till such an Act shall be made we propose that you direct that copies of the Act of Jamaica, for restraining and punishing privateers and pirates, be sent to the Governors of all your Colonies, the Proprieties and Charter Governments included, with orders to each of them to use their utmost endeavours with their Assemblies to pass an Act to the same effect. We advise also, in concurrence with the opinion of the Judge of your Court of Admiralty here, that the Lords of the Admiralty give positive and pressing orders to all their Vice-admirals and Judges of Admiralty in the Plantations to be very diligent and vigorous in executing their powers by seizing, trying and punishing any pirates that may be found within their jurisdictions, or for sending them hither to be tried by the laws of England, as shall seem most conducive to bringing them to punishment. Signed, J. Bridgewater, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, John Pollexfen, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. Plantations General, 34. pp. 211–213.]
Dec. 10. 95. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. Letter from the Council of Trade of 27 October read, and peace proclaimed as therein directed. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. p. 129.]
Dec. 13.
96. Governor Sir William Beeston to William Popple. Yours of 2 July has been received and shall be observed. But at present I have no thought of calling an Assembly, nor shall I unless I can thereby produce some great advantage to the King's revenue or to the service of the Island, for we have more laws already than are observed, and I am of opinion that multiplicity of laws is a great prejudice to any country. I send the Minutes of Council, also the accounts of the revenue to Michaelmas last. I should take it as a great kindness if you would favour me with your correspondence. Signed, Wm. Beeston. Holograph. ½ p. Endorsed, Recd. Read 4 April, 1698. [Board of Trade. Jamaica, 8. No. 80; and 56. p. 190.]
Dec. 13. 97. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Mr. Story again asking for allowance for his voyage from New Hampshire, a letter to Lord Bellomont on the subject was ordered to be prepared.
Dec. 14. The Secretary reported that yesterday he had waited on Mr. Vernon to ask him to give his assistance to this Council of which, being Secretary of State, he was now a member.
Colonel Gibsone communicated certain information received from Newfoundland as to great mortality among the English soldiers there, and as to the weakness and discontent of the French garrison of Placentia.
Dec. 15. Letter to Lord Bellomont in favour of Mr. Story signed.
Dec. 16. Order for the Secretary to write to the Proprietors of the Proprietary Colonies for copies of their laws. [Board of Trade. Journal, 10. pp. 368–373.]
Dec. 14. 98. Minutes of Council of Barbados. Bill empowering the Assembly to appoint Agents read twice and rejected, being contrary to the royal instructions. Order for provisions to be supplied to the Bonaventure.
Dec. 15. Bill to ascertain the Assembly's powers read twice and committed. Address for printing the laws read. The Quakers produced a certificate from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, shewing that they were admitted executors upon making affirmation instead of oath. Resolved that it be recorded and accepted as of force in the Island. At the request of the Assembly an order for £750 for payment of the Agents was passed. Certain accounts were passed. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 65. pp. 265–266.]
Dec. 15.
99. Council of Trade and Plantations to Governor the Earl of Bellomont. Mr. Charles Story, who brought to us the news of the late disorders in New Hampshire, has desired our assistance towards obtaining some allowance for his trouble and expense therein. We determine nothing in that head, but we cannot refuse him our testimony that he has been a diligent solicitor in that affair, so we leave his claim to be dealt with by yourself and the Council of New Hampshire. Signed, J. Bridgewater, Ph. Meadows, Jno. Pollexfen, Abr. Hill, Geo. Stepney. [Board of Trade. New England, 36. pp. 331–332.]
Dec. 15. 100. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. Order for payment of £7 6s. 4d. to Duncan Campbell for provisions bought for the entertainment of the Earl of Bellomont, and of £3 to a prisoner lately escaped from the Indians. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. p. 135.]
Dec. 15. 101. Journal of General Assembly of Massachusetts. The Lieutenant-Governor acquainted the Assembly with the purport of letters from the Agents and from Whitehall respecting the proclamation of peace and the disallowance of two laws, after which he proposed that fit persons should be appointed to meet Lord Bellomont at New York.