America and West Indies: December 1698, 16-31

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'America and West Indies: December 1698, 16-31', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 16, 1697-1698, (London, 1905), pp. 578-594. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

. "America and West Indies: December 1698, 16-31", in Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 16, 1697-1698, (London, 1905) 578-594. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

. "America and West Indies: December 1698, 16-31", Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 16, 1697-1698, (London, 1905). 578-594. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

December 1698

Dec. 16.
1,057. William Popple to the Attorney and Solicitor-General. I have acquainted the Council of Trade with Sir Thomas Trevor's explanation of the delay in the report on the address from Massachusetts. You will consult Sir Henry Ashurst on the question, and if he neglect to attend you, you will draw out such a report as you can without his assistance. [Board of Trade. New England, 37. p. 58.]
Dec. 16.
1,058. William Popple to Sir Henry Ashurst. The law-officers have acquainted me that their report on the address of the Council of Massachusetts (see No. 677) is suspended for want of your attendance on them. You will give them such assistance as you can. [Board of Trade. New England, 37. p. 59.]
[Dec. 16.] 1,059. Copy of a speech delivered by the Lieutenant-Governor of Pennsylvania to the Assembly, recommending them to pass an Act for adapting the Act of Parliament for regulating the Plantation Trade to local requirements. ½ p.
Copy of the Pennsylvania Act for regulating frauds and preventing abuses in the Plantation Trade. 7 pp. The whole endorsed, Brought to the Board by Mr. Penn. Recd. 16 Dec., 1698. [Board of Trade. Proprieties, 2. No. 40.]
Dec. 19. 1,060. Memorial of William Penn to Council of Trade and Plantations. I have given the Secretary a copy of the law objected to (see No. 1,059) with my Deputy-Governor's speech on the subject, which, with the address of the Assembly, will, I hope, mitigate his fault, if on consideration it be still thought to be one. I have vetoed it, in consequence of one disagreeable clause, though the rest is much for the King's service. There is another slip to those of our persuasion that no provision is made for those that cannot swear other than in the laws of navigation, whereby we shut out our own people and confirm a grievance to ourselves by copying the said laws so close. The law itself is so darkly and inconsistently worded: in Section 10 juries are taken for granted in all cases concerned with illegal trade, which we have strictly copied. I hope the Lords will not think us so much disobedient as mistaken and unskilled in law. For the replevin of justice by one Morris, Governor Markham defends himself, I think, to the full, by refusing to grant a replevin himself and ordering the Sheriff to supersede that action, keeping the goods for the King's service. The people deny trading with Curaçoa, and, if the Assembly's address be believed, the country cannot be guilty of it. As to Randolph's charges, I am prepared to prove them to be in part malicious, and that if he was not guilty of perjury himself he ventures hard to perjure another man in proof of it. I shall always endeavour to stand well with the Council of Trade. If my attendance be required I beg that it may not be long, since the settlement of my only son awaits my return. Signed, Wm. Penn. 3½ pp. Annexed,
1,060. I. Copy of Section 10 of the Act of Parliament for preventing frauds, etc. ½ p. The whole endorsed, Recd. Read 19 Dec., 1698. [Board of Trade. Proprieties, 2. Nos. 41, 41 I.; and (without enclosures) 25. pp. 272–275.]
Dec. 19. 1,061. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Mr. Penn presented a memorial in answer to some complaints against him (No. 1,060). He added in discourse that he had sent two instruments to repeal the Pennsylvania Act for regulating trade; as he then represented that he had business in Bristol, it was not thought fit to detain him.
Representation concerning Rhode Island agreed to.
Dec. 20. Mr. Thomas Houghton presented a book concerning mines in Jamaica.
Secretary Vernon's letter of this day as to the examination of the charges against Colonel Fletcher read (No. 1,063) and order given to warn Colonel Fletcher thereof. Lord Bellomont's letters of 21, 24 and 27 October last, received yesterday, were read. List of the enclosures therein and of other documents also received.
Dec. 21. Colonel Fletcher's letter of yesterday read (No. 1,065), and order given for a copy to be sent to Mr. Vernon.
Mr. Usher's letter of 29 October, 1698, read.
Representation concerning Rhode Island signed.
Dec. 22. Order for copies of the papers received from Lord Bellomont as to ports in New Jersey to be sent to the Secretary of Customs, with an enquiry as to the issue of the trial of a ship seized in New Jersey by Mr. Randolph.
Dec. 23. Copy of an Order in Council of 3 November as to Edward Walrond read (No. 970).
Mr. Blathwayt informing the Board of a design of the Duke of Courland to make a settlement at Tobago, the Secretary was ordered to write to Mr. Sansom on the subject.
Letters from Mr. Partridge and Mr. Benjamin Jackson of 11 November read, also Mr. Stoughton's letter of 24 October last as to French encroachments. Ordered, upon this last, that the Agents for Massachusetts attend on Thursday next, and that a letter be prepared to Mr. Vernon upon the matter. Mr. Addington's letter of 18 October, with public papers of Massachusetts read.
Colonel Quarry's letters of 10 September and 20 October last presented, and referred for consideration with the other business of Pennsylvania.
Order for the Secretary to write to Mr. Sansom about a mistake in the instructions to the Proprietors of Plantations (No. 1,074). [Board of Trade. Journal, 11. pp. 305–315.]
Dec. 20. 1,062. Thomas Houghton to Council of Trade and Plantations. I send you the enclosed book to show you that I am not unfit to undertake what I propose to have done, viz., if you will grant me an order for the Governor of Jamaica to pay me £500 I will immediately take two or three miners with me there to discover mines, of which since the late earthquake there is great appearance. You may each of you have part of what shall be found, and allow me a proportionate part with you. I doubt not to discover silver, copper, or quicksilver mines in some of the King's Islands, any of which would reimburse the King in a little time. And since there is great probability of raising a sufficient profit for such of you as please to be concerned without putting you to any charge, as also of reimbursing the King for such charge as he will be at, I hope you will encourage so feasible and profitable an enterprise, especially as I propose to undertake it on such easy terms. I will wait on you in a few days to receive your answer. Signed, Thom. Houghton. 1 p. Endorsed, Recd. Read 20 Dec., 1698. [Board of Trade. Plantations General, 4. No. 148.]
Dec. 20.
1,063. Secretary Vernon to Council of Trade and Plantations. It is the King's pleasure that you proceed with all expedition in the examination of the matter relating to Colonel Fletcher. Signed, Ja. Vernon. ½ p. Endorsed, Recd. Read 20 Dec., 1698. [Board of Trade. New York, 8. No. 31; and 53. p. 119.]
Dec. 20. 1,064. William Popple to Benjamin Fletcher. The King has ordered the examination of your affair to proceed with all expedition. The Council of Trade therefore expects your answer to the charges which have been delivered to you. [Board of Trade. New York, 53. p. 119.]
Dec. 20. 1,065. Benjamin Fletcher to William Popple. Yours of to-day found me engaged in preparing my answer, which will very soon be ready; but hearing of the arrival of a ship from New York in the Downs, I hope that it may bring papers which will be useful to me in part of my answer. Signed, Ben. Fletcher. ½ p. Endorsed, Recd. Read 21 Dec., 1698. [Board of Trade. New York, 8. No. 32; and 53. p. 120.]
Dec. 20. 1,066. Minutes of Council of Montserrat in Assembly. The Council answered several proposals of the Assembly, as follows. (1) We concur as to renewing the Act for an impost on liquors for a year, and as to publication of the date for putting the imposts and the licence on taverns up to farm. (2) We concur in thinking that the judges and justices of the island should be sworn, but we think the laws of England sufficient without a local law to prevent Roman Catholics from holding office. (3) We consent to the election of two coroners. (4, 5, 6) We consent as to certain Acts and a certain trial at law [details not given]. (7) We consent to the drawing up of an Act concerning warrants of arrest. (8) We think that the present number of members of Assembly is sufficient and that an Act should be drawn up to regulate the Assembly. (9) We think that a surveyor should be appointed, and an Act drawn to regulate his fees. (10) We believe that no person is obliged to give more than he is willing to give for a commission. (11) We approve of building a house for the Assembly to sit in. (12) We agree as to the appointment of a joint committee to draw up the Acts aforesaid and to audit the accounts. We recommend that provision be made for maintenance of sick and wounded soldiers of the King's regiment, that the Sessions-house and gaol be repaired, and that some care be taken to supply the country with arms and ammunition.
Dec. 21. The farm of the impost on liquors and licence for taverns was let to William Frye for the next year for 70,000lbs. of sugar. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 537–539.]
Dec. 20. 1,067. Minutes of Council of Nevis. Two letters to the Lieutenant-Governor of Montserrat read and approved, the one asking for what number of men of Collingwood's regiment the island can provide quarters; the other warning him that, as one of the Commissioners for the restitution of the French part of St. Christophers he must be prepared for the duty on or before the 24th December. Proclamation for any that know anything of Thomas Cressey's confession in relation to the late conspiracy against the King, to attend and give evidence before the Council. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 482–483.]
Dec. 20–22. 1,068. Minutes of Council and Assembly of Antigua. In reply to a message from the Council the Assembly represented that the failure to transact business in its late meetings was due to the want of a full Council, and asked that the Act of Aliens and Marriages might be passed. The Council denied that the failure was due to want of a full Council, and the Assembly yielding to them sent up two separate Acts concerning aliens and mixed marriages, the former of which the Council approved with some slight amendments but held the latter back. A conference was then held upon the Mixed Marriages Act, after which the Acts for Courts and for Militia were sent up by the Assembly, which further voted £150 to the Deputy Governor. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 286–290.]
Dec. 21. 1,069. Minutes of Council of Barbados. The Governor having been taken ill in Court, it was debated whether he had power to adjourn Grand Sessions. The Council decided that he had such power, and the Assembly concurred. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 64. pp. 381–382.]
Dec. 21. 1,070. Journal of Assembly of Barbados. The Assembly's address concurring in the adjournment of Grand Sessions (see preceding abstract). [Board of Trade. Barbados, 65. pp. 327–329.]
Dec. 21.
1,071. Council of Trade and Plantations to the King. We beg to lay before you a further report as to illegal trade and piracies, in particular connection with Rhode Island. That colony is incorporated by letters patent and governed by a Governor, Deputy Governor and ten Assistants, with subordinate officers and a General Assembly chosen by themselves. It has been frequently reported to us by the officers of your Customs that the whole body of the magistrates and inhabitants claim exemption from the obligation of taking an oath, and that in consequence their partiality is so great that no manner of justice is done or can be expected among them. One instance is the refusal of Walter Clarke, lately Governor, to swear to the observance of the Acts of Trade, as the enclosed depositions show (see No. 282). Their favouring of pirates and carrying on of illegal trade has been so often complained of, and the instances so manifest, that we cannot doubt it, and we are confirmed herein by the letters of Lord Bellomont and Mr. Randolph. Lord Bellomont adds that he is well informed of their constant encouragement of pirates, from which we may conclude that there are but faint hopes of the prosecution of these crimes in a Court of Admiralty of their own erecting. We must add that we cannot find that they have any right to Admiralty power or jurisdiction, though Governor Cranston in a letter to us (see No. 434) owns it and insists upon it, giving the instance of one William Maye who received a privateer's commission from that Government. We are not only assured that they have no right to give these commissions, but we have reason to believe that they have done so knowingly for unlawful purposes. Recently you directed Courts of Admiralty to be erected in all the Colonies, but in Rhode Island the aforesaid Walter Clarke refused to swear the Judge appointed by you, and by detaining his commission frustrated your intentions. The Government of Rhode Island has never presented its Governor for the Royal approbation, as required by Act of Parliament, and the other Charter and Proprietary Governments have also been faulty in this respect. Again, in compliance with an address from the House of Lords you required the Governor and Company to give security for the due observance of the Acts of Trade and Navigation by its appointed Governor or Deputy Governor, yet Rhode Island has not done so, and the other Proprietary and Charter Colonies have also declined to do so, though we have already reported to you our opinion that they would do much towards redressing the irregularities in the Colonies. We therefore recommend that for the prosecution of these misdemeanours in Rhode Island a commission be sent to Lord Bellomont to enquire into all these matters in order to a quo warranto or such other proceedings for remedy of these evils as you think meet. Signed, J. Bridgewater, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, Jno. Pollexfen, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. Proprieties, 25. pp. 275–281.]
Dec. 22. 1,072. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. A commission issued for trial of Jacob Smith for piracy. Proclamation ordered forbidding the inhabitants to accept licences from the French to fish off the coast of Acadia. Orders for several payments, including £100 to John Nelson for his expenses in collecting the French prisoners, redeeming the English captives and other good service, and £4 to two Indians for service as soldiers in 1696. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. pp. 184–188.]
Dec. 22.
1,073. William Popple to John Sansom. I am directed by the Council of Trade to send you several papers concerning Governor Basse's opposition to the Order in Council of 25 November, 1697, respecting the port of Perth Amboy in New Jersey. The Council of Trade observes that Mr. Basse now rests his pretensions chiefly on the commissions given by the Commissioners of Customs to their officers at Perth Amboy. The Council desires to know whether the Commissioners have received the like information hereon and what orders they have given thereon, as also that they will give their opinions on the enclosed papers, since obedience to the Order in Council seems to be of the greatest importance to New York. The Council desires also to know the subject and issue of the trial of a ship seized by Mr. Randolph in the Jerseys. [Board of Trade. Proprieties, 25. pp. 282–284.]
Dec. 23.
1,074. William Popple to John Sansom, Secretary of Customs. There were some instructions prepared by the Commissioners of Customs above a year ago for the Governors of Colonies with relation to the Acts of Trade. The Council of Trade supposed these to have been despatched by the Treasury, and knew nothing to the contrary till Mr. Day came to enquire for them before starting for the Bermudas. Since that time several copies have been sent to several of the Colonies, but there are still copies to send to the Proprieties. In the original copy sent to the Council of Trade there is a marginal note to the 13th article, that it should be omitted to the Governors of Proprieties. Should not this note have been placed against the 15th article? [Board of Trade. Plantations General, 35. p. 1.]
Dec. 23.
1,075. William Popple to John Sansom. The Council of Trade have received information of an intended settlement on the island of Tobago, under the protection of the Duke of Courland, which would be very prejudicial to Barbados, and that two ships are now fitting out from hence upon that design. I am to ask you if there are any ships now entered at the Custom-house for Tobago direct, or if, among the entries for Barbados, you have cause to suspect that the ships are bound to Tobago. Some instructions were prepared by the Commissioners of Customs over a year ago, which the Council of Trade supposed had been long ago despatched to to the Governors of Colonies by the Treasury, until Mr. Day came the other day to enquire for them. I am to enquire whether it be not an error that a marginal note to these instructions marks the 13th article to be omitted to the Governors of Proprieties, and whether it is not the 15th article which should be so marked. [Board of Trade. Barbados, 44. pp. 233–235.]
Dec. 23.
1,076. William Popple to the Agents for Massachusetts. Desiring the attendance of one or both of them on Thursday at 10 a.m., on the subject of the encroachments of the French, referred to in Mr. Stoughton's letter of 24 October last (No. 922). [Board of Trade. New England, 37. pp. 81–82.]
Dec. 24.
1,077. Benjamin Fletcher to Council of Trade and Plantations. When the Duke of Shrewsbury sent me my recall from New York, he wrote that this was not done because the King was dissatisfied with me, for that his Majesty would take care to employ me otherwise. My appointment to New York was utterly unknown to me and not of my seeking. I arrived there on the 20th August, 1692; and on the next day the Council appointed Mr. Nicoll and Mr. Graham to lay the state of the province before me. Their account was as follows. The Government was £3,000 in debt, no credit left, and the people most unwilling to pay the taxes. The fort of New York was in a very bad condition and the barracks tumbling down. The fortifications on the frontier were out of repair, the soldiers insufficient to defend them, and the Indians wavering. The extreme frontier, Senectady, had been cut off, the town burnt and many people destroyed. In a week I hastened up to Albany, 150 miles, and to Senectady, 20 miles further. I presently began, and afterwards continued both there and everywhere else, to put things into such a state of defence that the King lost no part of his dominion, nor, as I hope, of his honour during the war. As to civil affairs, your own books are doubtless full of the confusions which arose in New York through the life and death of Jacob Leisler and of Milborne his Secretary. I found many of his associates in prison and under sentence of death. These I set at liberty, and turning all my thoughts to heal the animosities which had run the people into general poverty, I did by God's help appease all marks of distinction and did equally prefer into places and commands such as were fit. Perhaps the different nations of the province were never more united nor had more trade and plenty than when I left the place. It is impossible that the public attestations which I have from the principal of the English, Dutch and French nations who there reside should have been so freely given me as they were at my departure, had I been the ill Governor which some have laboured to make me. If malice itself could have accused me of any heinous thing, such as want of reverence to God's laws, defect of courage or zeal, robbery of the public or oppression of the meanest subjects, I believe my enemies would have little minded what now they have raked up. I am very sorry that I am not to know my accusers, nor in what manner I am attacked, for I might have spared you time and not needed to pray that my counter-witnesses may be examined to make good this short and defective defence.
As to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th heads against me, I say as follows. About April, 1693, Mr. Nicoll (whom I found a member of Council and who also practised the law) informed me that a ship called the Jacob, Edward Coates master, was come to the east end of Long Island. This ship (he continued) had been formerly the Union of Rochelle, had been taken from the French, had been condemned early in 1690 in a Court of Admiralty erected by Jacob Leisler, and had been sold by Milborne to Mason, Goates and others, the captors. These had obtained a commission from Leisler against the French, gathered a crew from New York and the neighbouring Colonies, and after roving till the time aforesaid, had come to Long Island. Then hearing of Leisler's fate they had mutinied, ransacked the ship and dispersed, while those who belonged to New York had sent two of their number to me to mediate for permission to return home; if this permission were refused they were resolved to seek some other port. My answer was that I would do nothing in a matter so new to me without consulting the Council, before whom the matter was accordingly laid. The excuse of the Council was that though the long absence of these men laid them under suspicion of having gone to the Red Sea and for wealth, yet that, she being a ship of force, it was possible that she might have taken it from pirates; that since they had started from New York and those who addressed me belonged to New York, they could more easily be found there and made answerable to law in case of future complaint against them; and that, the province being then exhausted in men as well as money, nothing could be worse than to drive these men to other parts. The Council therefore unanimously advised that the men should be received into the protection of the Government on giving security to be answerable to law and not to leave the province without licence for a year and a day; and to this resolution I conformed, but I positively deny that I influenced any member of the Council thereto; on the contrary, when some of them urged the law mentioned in the charges, I convinced them that it could give no countenance nor authority. Yet they were unanimous, and not only advised as above, but requested my concurrence, so far was I from persuading them to their vote. I also deny that any of the ship's company or any other ever treated with me, or with any for me, directly or indirectly, for the protection aforesaid, or for the bringing of the ship to New York. I can produce a gentleman of credit who can testify that one of the crew (who was reported to have sworn against me in this case) told him that he was frighted to it and did not know what he had done. Time may bring to your notice other instances of the like. I acknowledge, however, and did never disown that some time after the fulfilling of the Council's resolution aforesaid, the owners of the ship publicly and openly offered her to me as a present. As she lay under no forfeiture, condemnation nor arrest, I accepted her, and shall nakedly acquaint you how I disposed of her. It is objected that the securities given do not now remain among the public papers of New York. I say that they did remain there for a year and a day, when, the time being expired and no prosecution made, the sureties claimed their bonds (as by law they might) and received them. My motives for accepting the ship were as follows. The victuallers of the forces had a great arrear due to them and were unwilling to give further credit. A merchant of the place bid £800 (New York money) for the ship and had it accordingly. I touched no part of the money, but directed it to discharge and supply the victuallers, which was honestly done. Hereupon I wrote to the Colony's Agent in England that when he could recover the value of the money (about £600 sterling) he should remit to me in Ireland, where my small patrimony of an adventure had been laid in ashes by the rebellion. Let me mention here that I took part in the Irish war and appeal to all the commanders in the Army as to my behaviour, and as to whether in thirty years' service any complaint was ever brought against me not only from officer or soldier, but from the inhabitants of any corporation, when I often commanded. So far was I from making gain by the misfortune of our friends that I never did it from the ruin of our enemies. I presume that it was the report of this behaviour that sent me to New York, for I had never thought of the place till it was proposed to me. What Governor is there, not only in my ruined circumstances but even in the greatest plenty, who having a present publicly offered to him, falling so by accident and not by any fraud or contrivance, would refuse it? But if this were rashly or inadvisedly done by me, and I of all men stand single in the guilt of accepting a present, then I submit to the King's judgment.
Charges 4 to 12 relate to the actions of those called pirates, the granting of commissions and protections to them for reward, the ill security taken and the neglect to prosecute. The persons named for pirates are Edward Coates, Rayner, Thomas Tew, Richard Glover, John Hore and Thomas Moston. I here solemnly declare that I was never in my life concerned, directly or indirectly, in unlawful or even lawful trade; that I never had, nor any other for me, other gift from Coates than his part in the ship Jacob, presented as aforesaid; and if the hearsay of his giving £1,300 for his share to others be truth, I hope it will be discovered. In general, I never gave protections or commissions without the Council's approval, and never upon promise or expectation of reward, though I am very apt to believe that for such instruments so granted the parties concerned might pay fees to my servants or to such as drew their despatches, but whether they gave 100 dollars or other gratuity never fell within my cognisance nor to my profit. As to my neglect to prosecute persons now called pirates, I had no complaints brought before me on which to ground a suit or prosecution. If any of the persons are now discovered to be pirates, the law and a good magistrate can prosecute them, though the time for their giving sureties is elapsed and their bonds cancelled. As to the weakness and inefficiency of the sureties, I conceive that this depended wholly on those whose duty it was to enquire into the ability of those persons. If a servant of mine ever joined with others in any such surety it was unknown to me. I have retained the man complained of still in my service, so that he can answer for himself to the charge of tampering with the bonds. If he be found guilty, no man can feel greater indignation at his act than myself. As to the case of Rayner I never saw the man, nor knew, nor do yet believe, that he had served with Tew or gone on any piratical voyage. But I well remember that one acting as his counsel brought me a complaint that the Sheriff of Suffolk County had seized the effects of one Rayner, without authority or legal process, and prayed for an order of restitution and for protection until he were accused in due course of law. I granted this, as I thought justice required; and if the goods were a treasure (as is now represented) I might have been suddenly rich and not now complained of for a present of £50, New York money. The Commissioners to Tew, Glover, Hore and Moston were granted with the advice and full approbation of Council, they being men of reputation for bravery and courage. Hore, while holding a commission from the Governor of Jamaica, had after an obstinate fight taken a powerful ship from the French, which he brought into Rhode Island, and for which I gave him a commission against the French. Glover was an inhabitant of New York and master of a ship built there and then riding in the harbour; he had another ship of the like sort. Tew had held a commission from the Governor of Bermuda, and having then another ship riding at New York, I granted him a third to make war on the French. I could ill have answered the refusing commissions to men who undertook to make war on the French. I never knew nor heard that any of them intended for the Red Sea or had ever been there except Tew, who openly vowed and protested never to return thither again. Glover, I hear, went directly with a cargo to Barbados, took a new commission from the Governor there, was sent thence for negroes to Madagascar and was then taken by the pirates. If Tew and Hore did abuse their commissions and turn pirates, it is an event that has happened before; but as I could not foresee it I could not prevent it. The same applies to Moston's case, which was as follows. Several English and Dutch merchants had hired the ship Fortune to bring negroes from Madagascar, which was every year usual with them. They asked for a commission, which considering the quality of the men and the opinion of the Council, I granted, though I do affirm that I never knew nor was informed that she was an unfree bottom, or I should have held my hand. As to my intimacy with Tew, the truth and whole truth of that poor affair is this. This Tew appeared to me not only a man of courage and activity, but of the greatest sense and remembrance of what he had seen of any seaman that I ever met with. He was also what is called a very pleasant man, so that sometimes after the day's labour was done, it was divertisement as well as information to me to hear him talk. I wished in my mind to make him a sober man, and in particular to cure him of a vile habit of swearing. I gave him a book for that purpose, and to gain the more upon him I gave him a gun of some value. In return he made me a present which was a curiosity, though in value not much, and this is the sum total of the kindness that I am charged with; for as to his coming to my table (which I think was such as became me and was hospitable to all), I hope that will not stick upon me if you enquire what others have done and still do in that kind.
The 13th charge (12th charge in No. 1,007) I confess looks like a probable consequence; that if the revenue decreased when trade increased, there must have been connivance in illegal trade. I repeat that I have never been concerned in any trade; but I am told that this consequence results from the alteration of trade. Formerly the chief trade of New York was principally to and from Europe, and the city was the principal mart of European goods for the neighbouring Colonies. The merchants found their losses in ships and goods so heavy during the war that, for greater security, they traded chiefly with their neighbours and with the West Indies, and in such exports and imports as brought little duty to the King. It is said that the other Colonies have lately fallen into direct trade with Europe, and obtain from England things which they were wont to obtain at New York. You will be able to ascertain the truth or untruth of this by examining those who are conversant with trade. But I affirm that I did all that in me lay to execute and enforce the Acts of Trade and Navigation. And let me add that, unless it were the Jacob (of which before), no ship came to New York from the Red Sea or the East Indies in all my time.
As to the 14th and 15th charges (13th and 14th in No. 1,007) respecting land-grants, I cannot answer so particularly as if I had copies of the papers relating thereto, but I will say this much. It was one of my instructions that when any opportunity should offer for purchasing large tracts for the King from the Indians for small sums, I was to use my discretion therein. Peter Schuyler and Company, being four Dutchmen of Albany, set forth to me by petition their good service on the frontiers during the war and asked leave to purchase some lands from the Mohawks. Knowing the merit of the men, I and the Council gave our consent, being willing to extend the King's dominions as far towards the French settlements as possible, and hoping that in due time the enlarging of the frontier might preserve a second destruction of Senectady by the French. Accordingly, in July, 1697, the petitioners treated with the Mohawks for a tract of land, and eight of the principal Sachems for the consideration given signed and sealed a conveyance of the land to them, in as solemn a manner as any Indians had done before, yet reserving to themselves and their heirs such parcels of ground as they or their heirs should have occasion to plant. The contract was brought to Council and the grant was ordered, for the Mohawks had the same use of the lands as they had had before and the French were excluded from any such purchase. So well satisfied was I that I ordered that the petitioners should not pay even the common fees of the seal. How those Mohawks have now been stirred up to complain I do not know and will not surmise; but if the grant does really offend them and may be as mischievous as is alleged, it is not very hard for the Governor to void it. So, too, if defects appear in this or any other grant, surely the Attorney-General, who drew them and knows the forms and methods of the province, is accountable for the same. You will find in your books that all the most valuable land in the province had been granted away before I went there, and that some of the Governors had large tracts thereof. As to the King's Garden I remember that at the beginning of 1696 Colonel Caleb Heathcote petitioned for liberty to erect a wood-wharf (as a thing of public convenience) on a waste piece of ground lying to westward of the stockades of the King's Garden and so down to low water mark, about 120 feet in front. A Committee of Council was appointed to survey the ground, and on their report a lease was granted him for 41 years at four shillings rent and one shilling quit-rent. I never saw nor knew that this spot was reputed to be part of the King's Garden or that it could be of necessary use to any Governor. I certainly found it lying waste. As to the King's Farm, I did indeed grant a lease of the same. The case was thus. When Sir Edmund Andros was Governor for the Duke of York he granted a lease of that farm for twenty years at an annual rent of 60 bushels of wheat. The term expired in 1697. I was offered and refused £200 for a lease; but as a church was then building for the English part of the Colony (of which it was destitute before I came) I, for the encouragement of that work, granted a lease thereof to the churchwardens. It was without fine, at the old rent, and for seven years only. But if building churches be a crime I shall take warning how I build any more. I will only add that I never took an acre of land for myself or children, nor had reward for any that was granted.
The complaints in the 16th (15th in No. 1,007) sound highly criminal against me as a soldier until I explain the whole matter to you. I utterly deny the charge of hard usage of the soldiers and detest that of having defrauded them of their subsistence or of the pay voted to them by the country (which was only for one year) or of having stopped their subsistence when any of them were allowed to work. On the contrary, it was my constant care by sending victuallers to provide them wholesome diet and give them all possible due encouragement; but all my care could not avert the death of some and the desertion of many more. As to the cause of this, and as to the harsh charge of sending home false musterrolls, I would set forth as follows. While the country raised enough for the war to give the soldiers the extra fourpence a day (which help was granted and enjoyed for but one year) the desertions were very few; but when this help failed numbers deserted and I was very hard put to it to supply them, for having no power to press the men of the Colony (which was but thinly peopled) I was constrained to hire men at their own rates, often at £4 or £5 per man, nor would any of these indent for more than a year's service. When the desertions and deaths had been made good by my advancing considerable sums, then and not before were the musterrolls sent home full; had it been otherwise, the whole charge and maintenance of these recruits must have rested on me. This was the method which I followed until my Government was transferred to another and no power was left to me to recover money that I should in like manner lay out. I agree that at my successor's arrival and after the peace there were many men found defective, and it is not to be wondered at, for the poor soldiers had wanted their clothing as well as their off-reckonings for two years. But who it was that stopped the coming of these things, when sent for and in a way of providing, and who had the tallies for £1,500 for these ends, you may easily ascertain by enquiry at Lord Ranelagh's office, as also you may ascertain elsewhere the reason why, in the dearth of men complained of, seventeen of my company, most of them sent as recruits from England, should be disbanded without the clothes they had served for or any money in lieu thereof. I mention this only in compassion to men I know and who bring their cries to me when I am unable to help them.
The 17th charge (16th in No. 1,007) is that I neglected the fortifications of the frontier, and did not demolish Cadaraqui. As to the latter point, I assert that being at Albany I not only called a Council of War, but held conference with the Indians about the work. They confessed that the fort of Cadaraqui was 400 miles off, that it was built of lime and stone, and was a regular fortification, that it was situate on a tongue of land between a river and a lake, and that the mountains and morasses in the way made marching very difficult even for light and single men (one of the morasses being 20 miles long); on which the Council, considering the force and materials that must be employed, unanimously declared under their hands that the project was impracticable. I therefore furnished the Indians with arms and ammunition to defend the fort if a resettlement should be attempted; I charged them to be on their guard, and promised upon timely notice to send succours to them. But the French came afterwards and surprised them. They never sent me notice, and have still acknowledged that it was their own fault and misfortune, however they come to be now otherwise instructed. Time was that they themselves were of another mind, when they gave me the name of Great Swift Arrow to acknowledge my being suddenly with them at every call. As to neglect of our own fortifications, they were always of wood, which is very subject to decay. I found them very bad. But the forts of Albany and Senectady were both new stockaded by me and supplied with such addition of great guns and necessaries during the war that the enemy durst not approach. Nor was I wanting in this part when the danger was less, whatever may have been said to the contrary. At New York I renewed all the sod-work; I flagged the two bastions towards the sea with freestone; I rebuilt from the ground the curtain between the two bastions; I new-made the well and a large cistern for water; pulled down and rebuilt half the barracks; made new carriages for thirty-six guns; made a house to protect the field pieces against weather; new-built the chapel and finished it to the pews. The Governor's house, again, was new shingled by me, two rooms wainscotted, an addition thereto built and shingled, though not finished within; a new pump made without the fort-gate, and 1,050 tons of lime paid for and stored for pointing and rough-casting the fort. As to the 18th charge (17th in No. 1,007) of giving Nodin an illegal letter of denizenation, I say that every Colony desires an increase of settlers, and that I followed my predecessor's example in granting denizenations to several poor French. I do not remember Nodin in particular, but I do remember well that whereas the Attorney-General demanded £5 fee in such cases I forbade any fees at all to be taken from the poor French Protestants, and this I presume is now remembered against me. But surely if anything illegal has been done herein somebody else is to blame, and no such grants can injure the plantation-trade, for they are void. I observe that in this single article alone it is objected that I proceeded without authority, so that if in all other things I went by the advice of the Council, it was as my instructions commanded me to do. The 19th (18th in No. 1,007) and last complaint is that I neglected to write to the Governor of Canada when sending him notice of the peace. I answer that I had no notice nor orders about the peace from Whitehall, but heard of it from my friend, the Lieutenant-Governor of New England. I sent notice of what I heard to the Governor of Montreal, that being the garrison next bordering on New York, for the prevention of hostilities, but I never sent to the Governor of Canada, nor could I have written to him in French if I had desired it.
Thus far I am able to answer without knowing my accusers nor their evidence, and having no more allowed to me than the bare heads of complaint. But I cannot be ignorant that there are two Scotchmen got into credit who are my mortal enemies, men who are able not only to trouble a province, but to turn it upside down, and if they can by successive complaints keep me under prosecution they will have their ends. For I am thus hindered from any credit with you for what I could advise after near six years' experience for the peace of the Colony and the preservation of our Indian friends. God grant that the needful information may not come too late. As to myself, when I consider the cloud I am under, the bitterness with which I am pursued, and the ransacking of all my actions, I only wonder that in so many years' administration I should not have fallen into more absurdities and errors than what my enemies accuse me of. It is certain that a Governor must make enemies if he punish bad men or even prevent them in their ill design. But were I the wicked man they paint me for, where are the complaints of any single man who is credible, or of any body of men either in New York, Pennsylvania, or Connecticut, where I also commanded, or from the Jerseys, with which I was in constant intercourse, or from New England with which, though remoter, I was in correspondence? It is certain that I ever acted according to the best of my understanding, though not as a greater and wiser man might have done. I hope you are convinced now that I never touched any of the public money and that there was no reason to require of me at parting the extravagant bonds of £10,000 for which fourteen principal men still remain bound without cause. Invidious reports have been spread that I had gotten some say forty, some say twenty thousand pounds, and made this the measure of my guilt. I invite the closest scrutiny as to the truth of what I say. I have not got full £3,000, if I had all that is my due. It is as yet little over £2,000, and when I shall get the arrears due to me from the Exchequer and for what I have advanced from the subsistence of the companies it will all fall under £3,000. Mr. Gilbert Heathcote can better than any other man inform you herein. After going with my wife and family to so remote a part, twice from New York to Pennsylvania, once to Connecticut, every summer to Albany, staying there one severe winter, and being in every place where the danger of war called me, I submit to you whether £3,000 for six years' care in the best part of my life is an invidious sum. I trust to your justice and candour that you will not allow me to be stifled by any enemies, but will concur in the King's opinion, who, when recalling me, declared that he was not dissatisfied with me, but would take care of me and employ me in future. Signed, Ben. Fletcher. Endorsed, Recd. 24th, Read 29th Dec., 1698. 31 pp.
Abstract of the foregoing. 2 pp. [Board of Trade. New York, 8. Nos. 33, 34; and 53. pp. 148–173.]
Dec. 24. 1,078. Minutes of Council and Assembly of Nevis. On the proposal of the Assembly the Council concurred in the preparation of an Act to confirm five Acts passed on 1 April, which need confirmation since they were not sent home within three months; and consented to the issue of a writ for election of two new members to fill vacancies in the Assembly. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 483–484.]
Dec. 27. 1,079. Minutes of Council of Montserrat. A letter from the President of Nevis, together with two copies of letters lately received by him from the Lords Justices of England, were sent down to the Assembly. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. p. 539.]
Dec. 29. 1,080. Minutes of Council of Massachusetts. Order for payment of? £750 to the Commissioners of War for victualling the soldiers and the Province galley. The judges of the Superior Court took the oaths of office, and were appointed Commissioners for the trial of Jacob Smith for piracy. [Board of Trade. New England, 49. pp. 189–190.]
Dec. 29. 1,081. Memorial of the Agent for New York to Council of Trade and Plantations. Lord Bellomont has given me repeated instructions to represent to you the miserable state of the forces of New York. Neither officers nor soldiers have received any subsistence from the Treasury for twenty-four months. The victuallers who have given credit to the Government for subsistence of the troops have so much due to them that without some speedy care they will refuse further credit. The officers also had but private centinels' subsistence on the same credit, except £500 which Lord Bellomont paid them on his own credit, and which has since been discharged from the Exchequer. Without immediate care it is feared that the Government's credit with the victuallers will sink, the soldiers desert and the officers resign. The Indians fall off when they find we have no strength to support them; the rich fur-trade will pass to the French, and for want of the Indians the whole province and the neighbouring Colonies will be endangered if another war should break out. The forces at New York are on the same establishment with the forces in England and presumably are to be paid out of the same funds. Lord Bellomont begs for speedy representation of these matters to the King and the Lords of the Treasury. Signed, T. Weaver. 1 p. Endorsed, Recd. Read 29 Dec., 1698. [Board of Trade. New York, 8. No. 35; and 53. pp. 146–148.]
Dec. 29.
1,082. Council of Trade and Plantations to Mr. Secretary Vernon. Since our letter of 8th inst. reporting the menaces of the French Governor of Canada to the Five Nations, we have received accounts of further encroachments of the French upon Massachusetts in Mr. Stoughton's letter of 24 October, which we entreat you to lay likewise before the King. The substance of their claims is as follows (see No. 922), and the deposition and Mons. Villebon's letter enclosed in Mr. Stoughton's letter show how they insist on them. We would add that this encroachment of theirs by land would deprive us of four or five of our best fishing harbours, but would open to them and close to us one of the best districts for Naval stores. This letter is confirmed to us by our commissions to examine Naval stores, who are on the spot. You will see, too, that while the Governor of Canada seeks to seduce English subjects of New York, Mons. Villebon detains by force an English subject to settle in Acadia. Lastly, the French Governor declares himself specially instructed to govern himself by the Treaty of Neutrality of 1686. Signed, J. Bridgewater, Wm. Blathwayt, Jno. Pollexfen, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. New England, 37. pp. 84–87.]
Dec. 29. 1,083. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Lord Bridgewater presented a letter from the Assembly of Antigua of 12 August last (No. 747), with another concerning John Lucas's case.
Letter to Mr. Vernon as to French encroachments in America signed.
Mr. Weaver's memorial as to the forces in New York read (No. 1,081). Ordered that a copy be sent to Mr. Lowndes with an expression of the Board's opinion thereon.
Governor Fletcher's answer to the charges against him read (No. 1,077). Order for copy to be sent to Mr. Vernon, and for Mr. Weaver to be allowed a sight of it with copy of extracts or of the whole, as he may desire.
Dec. 30. Order for Governor Fletcher to attend on Thursday next, and to have the depositions in his favour properly attested. Lord Bellomont's letter of 7 November read. Order for copy of that portion which concerns Mr. Brooke to be sent to Mr. Lowndes for communication to the Commissioners of Customs. List of enclosures in Lord Bellomont's letter.
Order for the Secretary to write again to Mr. Sansom to ask for answer to his letter of 23rd inst.
Lord Bellomont's letter of 8 November read, and order given as to an answer thereto. List of the enclosures in the above letter. Lord Bellomont's letter of 14 November read. Letter to Mr. Vernon enclosing the charges against Colonel Fletcher and his answer thereto, signed. Mr. Weaver asked for a copy of the said answer, whereupon order was given for one to be delivered to him.
Order for a representation to the King as to the ships of war necessary to attend the Plantations. [Board of Trade. Journal, 11. pp. 315–324.]
Dec. 30.
1,084. William Popple to William Lowndes. I enclose a memorial from Mr. Weaver (see No. 1,081) to be laid before the Lords of the Treasury. It is extremely necessary that speedy order be given for support of the forces in New York. [Board of Trade. New York, 53. pp. 173–174.]
Dec. 30.
1,085. William Popple to William Lowndes. Forwarding copy of Lord Bellomont's letter of 7 November (No. 978) for the information of the Treasury. [Board of Trade. New York, 53. p.210–211.]
Dec. 30.
1,086. Council of Trade and Plantations to Secretary Vernon. We are proceeding with all speed in the examination of Colonel Fletcher's business. We send you copies of our charges and his answer. Signed, J. Bridgewater, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, Jno. Pollexfen, Abr. Hill. [Board of Trade. New York, 53. pp. 210–211.]
Dec. 31. 1,087. Minutes of Council and Assembly of Nevis. On the request of the Assembly the Council fixed a day for perusing and passing the Acts newly prepared. The Assembly also addressed the Council as to Thomas Cressey's confession of being implicated in a conspiracy against the King, to which the Council answered that the matter did not lie before the Assembly, but that they would look into it. The Council consented to a proposal for engrossing the Act to confirm certain former Acts, with a view to passing it speedily. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 64. pp. 484–485.]
Dec. 31.
1,088. President and Council of Nevis to the Lords Justices of England. We have reported the death of Governor Codrington and have assumed the Government of the Leeward Islands pursuant to the Royal instructions to him. Yours of 29 September and 20 October reached us on the 12th inst., and were at once communicated to the other islands that they might prepare to receive Colonel Collingwood's regiment. Signed, Wm. Burt, Walter Symonds, H. Holt, Dan. Smith, Jno. Smargin, Ricd. Abbott. 1¼ pp.
Copy of the above. 1 p. [America and West Indies. 551. Nos. 90, 91.]
Dec. 31.
1,089. President and Council of Nevis to Council of Trade and Plantations. Four days after our last letter we perceived that by the death of Governor Codrington and Colonel Hill and by the supersession of Colonel Gardner, the Government of the Leeward Islands devolved upon us, and we assumed it accordingly. On the 12th inst. we received our confirmation therein, together with the letter announcing the coming of Colonel Collingwood's regiment. We at once communicated this to the other islands, in order that healthy quarters may be prepared for the men. The Marquis D'Amblemont has demanded the restitution of the French part of St. Christophers, and we daily expect him to come and receive it. Signed, Wm. Burt, H. Holt, Walter Symonds, Dan. Smith, Jno. Smargin, Richd. Abbott. 1 ¼ pp. Endorsed, Recd. Read 20 March, 1698–9. [Board of Trade. Leeward Islands, 5. No. 127; and 45. pp. 331–333.]