America and West Indies: January 1701, 1-3

Pages 1-17

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 19, 1701. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.

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January 1701

Jan. 1. 1. Extract of a letter from Governor the Earl of Bellomont to William Popple. I sent Sir John Stanley my answers to 32 Articles which I discovered Brooks the late Collector carried to England above two years ago against me. The Merchants' Memorial which you mention, Sept. 20, is borrowed from those Articles. I have not possibly time now to make another answer than that, the Master being in great haste to sail.
Mr. Champantè writes that Sir Charles Hara had obtained an order to be paid for the cloaths of the 100 Recruits detached from his regiment, which is so great an abuse that 'tis as bad as picking our pockets to stop so much of our Offrecknings. The cloaths are worn out, and there would have been a new cloathing due to the detachment, May 1st next. I desire you will move the Council of Trade to defend me and the other Captains from so wrongful a deduction. If Mr. George Clark, who countersigns the Lords Justices' Order, had done fairly, he should have given notice to our Agent of Sir Charles Hara's pretension, but it seems the Agent knew nothing of the matter till he received the Order. One thing above all others makes Sir Charles' challenge upon our Offrecknings a palpable injustice, and that is the King's Order that three Companies of his Regiment should be broke, which had been broke whether we had them or no. This is a mere trick between Sir Charles and Mr. Clarke, and I will not submit to it, unless the King himself is pleased to decide it against me. Endorsed, Recd. 24th Feb., Read 14th March, 1700/1. Copy. 1 p. Enclosed,
1. i. Lords Justices to the Earl of Ranelagh, P.M.G., July 30, 1700. H.M. having directed that a detachment of 100 private soldiers etc. should be made out of the Royal Regiment of Fuzileers and sent with their cloathes and armes to New York to be incorporated into the four companys there, and Sir Charles Hara having represented that he had lately cloathed the regiment upon the credit of the offrecknings to the 1st May, we therefore direct that in the accompts of the Regiment you allow the compleat offrecknings of that detachment from April 24th, when they were discontinued, till May 1st. Countersigned, Geo. Clarke. Same endorsement. 1½ pp.
1. ii. Deposition of Lt. Gwyn, Serjt. Boulter and Serjt. Button. New York, Jan. 7, 1700/1. A complete outfit would have been due to the above-mentioned Regiment in May. It had been insufficiently mounted for some time past, and for six years had had no new accoutrements. Signed, Robert Gwyn, John Boulter, Thomas Button. Same endorsement. 1 p. [C.O. 5, 1046. Nos. 1, 1.i., ii.; and (without enclosures) 5, 1118. pp. 218, 219.]
Jan. 2. 2. Attorney General to Mr. Popple. I never did make any report upon the Order of Council, Nov. 9, '99, mentioned in your letter Dec. 20, 1700, and the reason was that it was apprehended that the Proprietors of the Plantations could not be more effectually obliged to present the names of their Governors to His Majesty for his approbation, but by Act of Parliament, which was then intended to be endeavoured the last session, and to be provided for by some clause in the Act for punishing pirates, but was omitted, and therefore I humbly conceive it must be attempted this next Parliament to procure a remedy by some Act to be made for that purpose. Signed, Tho. Trevor. Endorsed, Recd. 13th, Read 14th Jan., 1700/1. 1 p. [C.O. 5, 1260. No. 86; and 5, 1288. p. 410.]
Jan. 2.
New York.
3. Governor the Earl of Bellomont to the Council of Trade and Plantations. I did not think to trouble your Lordships with another letter this winter. But Mr. Weaver being newly arrived, after a passage of 13 weeks, and bringing me your Lordships' letter of Sept. 19th, it gives me a fresh occasion for writing. I send my reply to your observations on the Acts of Assembly of this Province, which I hope will give your Lordships satisfaction, and will induce you to report favourably of them to the King, especially those for Preventing vexatious suits, Indemnifying all such persons, etc. and Repealing an Act, etc. The Revenue had never been obtained by me, had it not been upon the consideration of those three Acts; and the rejecting them would be a great mortification and discouragement to those people who gave the Revenue (against the humour and endeavours of an adverse party) to shew their loyalty and affection to the King. I also look on myself as unkindly used, if those Acts be not approved at home. Your Lordships seemed to be of the same opinion with me in your letter of April 11th, and to have made the same discrimination of men and parties here.
Mr. Weaver assures me that Mr. Champantè had prepared an answer to Mr. Mountague's Memorial, Aug. 13th last, which you send me, and was to lay it before you, when he came away, so I will only trouble you with an answer to two or three points, on which Mr. Mountague builds his false deductions and wrong reasoning. He pretends to be commissioned by several hundreds of the gentlemen and other inhabitants of this Province to oppose some of the Acts of Assembly that we sent to England.
I cannot but call in question the truth of such Instrument, as he pretends was signed by several hundred persons in this Province, and sent to him to oppose those Acts. If there had been such a body of the inhabitants averse to the passing of those Acts, 'tis a wonder they petitioned not the General Assembly against them, while they were passing, which is always done where a body of people look on themselves like to be hurt by a Bill depending before the Assembly: but there was not the least struggle against the Bills, but by three of the Council, who were either concerned in the irregularities of the late Government or in the extravagant grants of land. I confess I have a jealously, if such an Instrument was sent over to Mr. Mountague with some hundred names to it, that it was forg'd, and those names writ by a Club consisting in a few persons; there are people in this town that are capable of such a slight. Mr. Mountague takes upon him to call the Assembly a pretended one, whereby he would insinuate that the Representatives were not fairly elected; but I will put my reputation upon it, and all the fortune I have in the world, that there never was so fair elections of Representatives in this Province before: and I do not believe there was the least foul play or illegality used in any of the Elections. The only piece of management that I could hear was used, I acquainted you of, which was, that after the writs were out, the Sheriffs of this and the adjacent Counties agreed among themselves that the Elections in these Counties should be on one and the same day, which was a thing purely in the Sheriffs' power to do, and cannot be reckoned unfair. Mr. Mountague would make the commitment of Mr. Burt and Wilson a great offence, calling it arbitrary and illegal, and is so disingenuous as to charge it on me singly as my Act, tho' he knows very well it was done during the sessions of Assembly, and that the Council and I did it in our Legislative Capacity, wherein we had the concurrence of the House of Representatives; and if I may beleive Col. Smith and Mr. Graham, who are our Cheif Judge and Attorney General, the Governor and Council have during the session in such cases a judicial power, like that of the House of Lords in England, and can hear and determine Civil Causes, not appealable to the King, and imprison the parties offending. If the proceeding against Burt and Wilson was extra-judicial, why then have we not an able Judge and Attorney Generall to sett us right and keep us to the strict rules of Law? We acted by the best advice we could have here, and it was done to discover a fraud put upon the King in his Revenue of Excise.
As to the Act for vacating some of Col. Fletcher's extravagant grants of land, I doubt not but Mr. Champantè has before now answered Mr. Mountague's tedious, ill-digested arguments and objections to that Act, and therefore I will briefly observe only two or three of them, which he seems to fancy invincible. He affects to be thought witty in reflecting on Col. Heathcot's grant of part of the King's Garden, which, says he, is but 50 foot long, and yet is number'd among the extravagant lands: but by his favour, a grant may be extravagant as well in it's nature and quality as in its extent and quantity. For instance, I fancy it would pass for an extravagant grant, if the Crown granted away St. James's Park, no less than if New Forest or the Forest of Dean were granted away; and it was much more impudent and unjust in Col. Fletcher to sell away that piece of the Garden to Heathcot, (which was robbing all succeeding Governours of their necessary conveniency in a garden) than the granting Mr. Dellius near 1,400,000 acres in one grant. I was offer'd a Gardiner that would have repair'd that Garden and put it in good order, and supplied my family with all Garden-stuffe gratis, if he might have had the overplus profits of the Garden to himself and a lease from three years to three years, which was a great offer, but I could do nothing in it, till the Vacating Act were approv'd by the King. The King's Farm too had been better applied to the use of the Governor, (and more justly so, because it was intended by the Crown for the Governour's Demesne) than to the Church: for Col. Fletcher might have found out another and more valuable Glebe for the Church, if he would have denied himself the sale of other lands, and consequently the pocketing the money he sold the lands for. As for the wrong which Mr. Mountague pretends would be done the grantees (because of their charges for improvements) if the Act should be confirmed by the King, I will easily answer that argument. Upon the best information I can find, there is not a Christian inhabitant on either of Mr. Dellius's grants, neither that whereof he was sole Grantee, nor t'other wherein Col. Schuyler and others were partners with him, vizt. the Mohacks' Land. The same thing I am inform'd of Col. Bayard's Grant, who by the way has part of the Mohack's land in his Grant. Capt. Evans's great grant of 40 miles by 30, has but one house on it, or rather a Hutt, where a poor man lives, and that Hutt built by one Capt. MacGregory, a Scotchman who was killed at the time of the Revolution here, and his widow said to be compelled by Col. Fletcher to sell her house and land to Capt. Evans for £30 or £35, to the ruin of herself and family. And to give your Lordships an account of the merit of Capt. Evans; when I was at Rhode Island, several complaints were made me of him, and some affidavits given me of his robbing ships and people on pretence of impressing seamen for the King's ship, in that Government, where he had nothing to do. Col. Nicholson, when he was here lately, told me that Evans went with the King's ship to Virginia, and there in the night stole a great number of hogsheads of tobacco, and the Custom thereof, and brought it away. He said he would complain of him home to England; it was truly a great misdemeanour to rob the King in his own ship. Mr. Livingston has on his great grant of 16 miles long and 24 broad but 4 or 5 cottagers, as I am told, men that live in vassallage under him and work for him, and are too poor to be farmers, having not wherewithal to buy cattle to stock a farm. Col. Courtland had also on his great grants 4 or 5 of those poor families, but in his case there is yet something worse than in any of the others; he had first one great grant of 20 miles square, which would not content him, but just upon my coming from England he obtained another grant of Fletcher of 20 miles square also, and in the Patent there is a privilege annexed, which in my opinion is cause enough alone for breaking his grant, that is, that after 20 years that Mannor (for both grants were erected into a Mannor) should choose and send a Representative to the General Assembly. There are two grants more in the Province that have that privilege in the Patents, which is very irregular and illegal in my apprehension. Old Frederick Phillips is said to have about 20 families of those poor people that work for him on his grant. I do not hear that his son, Col. Schuyler, Col. Beeckman or Col. Smith have any tenants on their grants; and I hear but of one that Mr. Nichols has on his great grant on Nassau Island, and he a Scotchman condemned in Scotland to be hanged with Jamison, Clerk of the Council in Col. Fletcher's time, for blasphemy and burning the Bible. Jamison, young Graham, and Honan, Fletcher's Secretary, have a grant of Fletcher of 300,000 acres, against which there are many complaints, and so there are against most of the other grants I have named, many people being violently stripped of their Lands by these grantees, supported by the favour of former Governours. 'Tis observable that most of the Grantees were of the Council in Fletcher's time, which is a great aggravation of their breach of trust, for they were obliged by their oath to advise and act in all things for the King's best interest and advantage.
Then for Col. Fletcher's Instructions from the King, Mr. Mountague shews want of judgment in offering that clause in justification of the Grantees and their title. For no Governor before Fletcher had that unlimited power of disposing of the Crown lands in this Province, and that Instruction being unprecedented turns with greater force against Fletcher, making the fraud more apparent, because that clause was premeditated and contrived. 'Tis a very presumptuous and unnatural Act to make the King defraud himself, as by that clause in the Instructions he is made to do. How common a thing is it in England to break grants of land made immediately by the King himself, when 'tis found that the King is deceived in his grants? Here the reason is yet stronger, that fraudulent grants made by a corrupt Governour, should and ought to be made void. I believe there are not less than 7,000,000 acres granted away in 13 grants and all of them uninhabited, except Mr. Renslaer's, which is 24 miles square, and on which the town of Albany stands. That grant being made when this Province was first settled by the Dutch, the lands are fallen into many hands by the Dutch way of dividing them equally among their children, so that it would be a hardship to deprive the present occupants of their lands. But 'tis reasonable they should pay a quit-rent to the Crown of 2s. 6d. per 100 acres, and I believe most of the people concerned in those lands would freely submit to such a quit-rent, if they could be well warranted and secured in their title for the time to come. The vacating Act sent home is fully justified by the Lords Justices' Order to me, grounded on your Lordships' representation, and by the Act of Parliament, passed last session, to resume all the Irish forfeitures, which had been granted away by His Majesty. Mr. Sollicitor Generall's Report to your Lordships is very oddly drawn (to say no more of it), and shews he had a great deal of other business in his hands, and left the report to his Clerk to draw up. I am not angry with Mr. Mountague for his Memorial, nor the many errours and untruths in it; he has done it mereconarily and for a livelyhood. He is made use of as the organ to convey a parcel of untruths to your Lordships, which were infused into him by the factious people of this place. I doubt not but Mr. Champantè will have made a substantial answer to Mr. Mountague's frothy Memorial long before this letter will reach England. If the vacating Act I sent home had been approved by the King, I believe the General Assembly would have broke all the rest of the extravagant grants in the Province last Session; they were in the humour of doing it, but that the Acts being so delayed at home discouraged them. The suspension put on that Act breaks all my measures; your Lordships have been often told, that till that Act be confirm'd in England, the King has neither land nor woods in the Province; how then can I comply with your Orders, Sept. 19th last, of trying to make tar with the soldiers? Besides, I proposed 12d. per day sterling as a reward for each soldier, which is 15½ d. of this money, and alters the case very much, and 40 acres of lands for each soldier after 7 years' service, which would cost the King nothing, and yet be an advantage and security to the country and an encouragement to the soldiers; for if I cannot engage them to work heartily at first, my project will fail me. Therefore if you mean this design shall go on, let the vacating Act be passed, and new Orders to me and the Assembly to break the rest of the exorbitant grants, with orders also to me to give the soldiers 12d. sterl. per day apiece, and such a proportion of land to each officer and soldier as I formerly proposed, and then I will immediatly begin. The soldiers must be paid every Saturday, therefore 'tis not possible to pay them out of the produce of their work as you propose, but if I may be allowed to draw for 500l. home, for a beginning, I doubt not but I may be able to pay 'em on afterwards out of the produce.
Refers to enclosures. I cannot but think the bargain I have made for masts is a very valuable piece of service, and that alone is a sufficient refutation of Mr. Mountague's tinsel arguments. Your letter of Sept. 19 is writ with that unusual coldness in relation to the Vacating Act I sent home, and not encouraging me to prosecute your former Orders of breaking the rest of the Grants that are exorbitant that I was just going to break off my bargain with the undertakers for masts and to write to them to leave off cutting the masts. But then I considered the consequence of such an order might in all probability do a world of hurt, not only in discouraging the undertakers, but also in alarming our Indians and giving them some jealousy that might prejudice them against our building a fort at Onondage. I perceive they are made to believe I am in disgrace with the King, and that I am to be superseded in this Government: this they told as news to Col. Romer, when he was in that country.
A Messenger newly come from Albany brings word the undertakers for masts were very forward with their work; that they had drawn several masts out of the woods to the side of the Mohacks' River, ready to float down when the river is open, for at present 'tis froze up. I am certain the undertakers have agreed with the Mohacks, that the King shall have their woods, because I directed them to make a sure bargain for the King, before they offer'd to begin to work, for fear of giving the Indians the least disgust. If they knew that the Vacating Act is still unapproved by the King, I am confident they would immediately leave off working in those woods, for fear Mr. Dellius and the other grantees of the Mohacks' land and woods should sue them for a trespass and recover great damages. It were better that things of this kind were never called in question, than not to be vigorously prosecuted, when once they are begun to be questioned. A slackness in the orders from home makes everything uneasy here, and discourages a man that has an honest zeal to serve England. I have no doubt upon me as to the making tar with the soldiers, when your Lordships have done your part, and as for the masts there is demonstration of their being furnished, and I again desire that you will order a fly-boat or hag-boat of 500 tons to be here by the end of April or beginning of May to carry them away. I run some hazard in raising £1,080 New York money on my own credit to pay for them, and shall be forced to draw bills on the Admiralty for that value, which I will inclose to you, that you may take such a course as shall be effectual to prevent a protest on my bills, which is a thing that has never yet happen'd to me, and the discredit of it would very much trouble me.
They have got about 40 saw mills up in this Province, which I hear rids more work or destroys more timber than all the sawmills in New Hampshire: 4 saws are the most in New Hampshire that work in one mill, and here is a Dutchman lately come over, who is an extraordinary artist at those mills: Mr. Livingston told me he had made him a mill that went with 12 saws. A few such mills will quickly destroy all the woods in the Province at a reasonable distance from 'em. The trade of ship-timber from N. Hampshire and the Massachusets to Spain and Portugal will go on more and more till there be an Act of Parliament to forbid and make it penal, for, to use a person's expression that has lately writ to me from Boston about the mischief of that trade, those people laugh at your Lops' Order agt it, and so they would at an Order from the King. They know very well that nothing but an English Act of Parliament can hinder them, and such an Act would easily be obtain'd to passe, I should thinke.
The Commissioners of Accounts, appointed by Act of Assembly, would persuade me they shall make Col. Fletcher debtor to the King severall thousand pounds more than the account I sent your Lops. two years ago made him to be. They name some others, too, who they pretend they shall make very considerable debtors to the King. They talk of such summs to me as will go a good way towards building our fortifications; and our fortifications in this province, and to the Eastwd. of the Massachusets, if they be built as they ought to be, will cost £40,000 ster., with all the honesty and thrift that can be us'd. In the calculation I made and sent you wt my last letter of the charge of building forts, I omitted that of fortifying this harbor and defending this town from a bombardment, wh I believe will cost 7 or £8,000. I lately sent Col. Romer to visit the harbor and enclose his report. 'Tis great pity this town should be expos'd to the mercy of an enemy. 'Tis the growingest town in America. Since my coming hither there are not fewer than a 100 fair brick houses built, and a very noble Townhouse. If the ship were not forc'd to sail because of the great quantity of ice that comes down the Rivers, I would entertain your Lops. with a further discovery of Col. Fletcher's corrupt methods of getting mony, insomuch that he is reckon'd to have got 30,000l. N. York mony in five years and half that he was in this Government, and I know his friends here compute that he made that summe while he was here. And I can make out most of it upon a probable estimate. He left no trick or fraud unpractic'd to get money, and all under the mask of a pretended piety, and a zeal for the Church of England even to martyrdom, if people would have believ'd him, but he was quickly found out, and the officers who first experienc'd his hypocrisy nicknam'd him the Pharisee. He was given to drinking, to corruption and lying; but lying was his predominant vice, and some of his friends have own'd so to me in softer terms: they have told me Col. Fletcher was a man of parts and 'twas pity he gave himselfe too great liberty in discourse, and that he had not a guard on his tongue. In a word, besides the many frauds he has put on the King, he has left behind him such seeds of disaffection, sedition and immorality in the people here, as will require much time and pains to root out and extinguish. And I hope your Lops. will support me in the execution of your own orders; that you will make him refund all the money he has cheated the King of, wh the Commissioners of accounts will (as they assure me) shortly prove undeniably upon him. You know that severall marchands in this town are his securities in a bond of 10,000l. I hope you will still maintain your resolution of breaking all his grants of the lands, otherwise your acquiescence wth his corrupt bargains will be look'd upon as a sanction given them, wch I can never in the least imagine your Lops. capable of. If there were no other reason for breaking his grants and some few grants of other Governors, than the making tar, sending home ship-timber and masts, surely every man that has a grain of sense and honesty must own that so important a service as furnishing the King and his dominions wth those things outweighs all reasons and considerations whatsoever that can be offer'd in behalf of Fletcher and his grantees.
I remember I formerly returned Mr. Dellius's grant at abt 900,000 acres, and that upon Mr. Graham's report of its being 86 miles long and but 16 broad, by guess, for he own'd he had never seen it. Some of the Dutch that have travell'd that way have since assur'd me they judge it to be 25 miles broad. If so, it contains 1,376,000 acres, wch is a prodigious tract of country to grant away to a stranger that has not a child, that's not endeniz'd, and in a word, a man that has not any sort of vertue or merit. I do not hear one word of our Indians since my last letter to your Lops. I hope the Lords of the Treasury will enable the Judge and Attorney General to come away speedily, or we shall be all in confusion here. Justice is so strangely administer'd in our Courts here, that there are great complaints and dissatisfaction about it. I relie on your Lops.' favour for procuring me a reasonable salary, and some consideration for the time past. Surely I may pretend to deserve a mark of the King's favour, for the cheap bargain I have made for masts. Signed, Bellomont. P.S. Enumerates Enclosures. I send Col. Smith's Letter giving an account of the methods of proceeding in the Courts of Justice of this Province . . . Mr. Graham had been most capable of complying wth your order, but I have not seen him above these four moneths, he keeps house and either is really sick or sick of the Attorney Generall that's coming from England . . . I send a copy of Mr. Weaver's Commission, wherein he has procur'd a clause to be inserted, wch gives him a power of making a Deputy, notwithstanding what your Lops. lately writ to me, and observ'd the abuse of an officer's having such a power. I find Mr. Weaver intends very soon to make a journey to Barbados, wch is so unreasonable a neglect of his duty, that if he persists in it, I will most certainly suspend him, and apply to the Treasury to make another Collector. I take a great deal of pains to serve the King myselfe, and I will oblige all other officers in the Government to take the same pains in their respective employments, or I will turn 'em out, and apply home for new ones. Your Lops. were mightily in the right in intending to abolish for the time to come that clause in the King's Commission, wch impowers officers to act by Deputation. I hope you will order a new Commission both for Mr. Weaver and Mr. Brenton without that clause, or I see plainly I shall never be able to keep them to their duty, and to prevent officers from getting that or any other irregular power inserted in their Commission. I could wish your Lops. had the last supervisal of all Commissions for Civil employments in the Plantations, and no such Commission to be authentick unlesse it be attested by your Secretary to have been approved by your Lops. Endorsed, Recd. 24th Feb. Laid before the Board, 14th March. Read at several times and finished the 31th March 1700/1. Holograph. 12 pp. Enclosed,
3. i. Abstract of preceding. 7¼ pp.
3. ii. Lord Bellomont's reply to the observations of the Lords of Trade, etc. (Cal. A. and W.I., 1700., No. 786. i.) on the Acts of New York, passed there 1696–1699. (1) The first parcel of Acts were made in the former Governor's time and not solicited to be pass'd now, only that the Solicitor General was not willing, as I am informed, to make reports on the latter Acts without likewise reporting on the former. (2) I have strictly observed the King's Instructions in relation to Courts of Judicature, and not re-enacted any. (3) The publication of an Act of New York is after this manner. At the close of the Session of General Assembly, a Bell is rung to give notice that the Governor, Councill and Assembly do resort to the publick Town Hall of the City, where all Acts of Assembly that pass'd that Session are publickly read in open Court, and this is understood to be the publication to all the inhabitants of the Province. (4) The Act for preventing vexatious suits, etc. The reflecting expressions are such as were thought seasonable to answer the end on the like occasion upon their Majesties' happy accession in the Act of Parliament of 1st W. and M., and the enacting part of the New York Act is word for word the same, too, only the word executions is added because some executions had been laid, which by her Majesty's order of May 12, 1692, were commanded to be restored to the particular persons, and all suits brought against them in behalf of the King to be discharged. But notwithstanding, after the said order, such suits were brought, and these executions levied, which this Act discharges. (5) The opinion of the Solicitor General of England agrees with the design of the Act, nor can there be found persons in New York capable of assisting to draw up the wording of publick acts more exactly until H.M. is pleased to send a Chief Judge and Attorney General, able Lawyers, hither. (6) This objection is removed by perusing the Act of Parliament of 6 and 7 of Wm. III. for reversing the attainder of Jacob Leisler and others, where the words are the same wth the declaring part of the New York Act. (7) The Act hereby repealed was expressly contrary to the Law of England, giving power to five persons at their discretion to assess damages between party and party, to give judgement and grant execution against their Estates without any tryall by a jury, and this to be finall without appeal of reversing by writt of error, and therefore the Assembly thought fit to repeal so exorbitant and unjust an Act. (8) This is private and of no great consideration to the Publick. (9) Refer to my letter, Aug. 28, 1699. [Cal. A. and W.I., 1699, No. 746.] But I was likewise assured from Col. Hamilton, Deputy Post Master to the Patentee, that the Lords of the Treasury had it under consideration, and would send instructions relating hereto, which are not yet sent. Signed, Bellomont. Endorsed, Recd. Feb. 24, Read March 20, 1700/1. 2 pp.
3. iii. Extract from the Lords of Trade's Letter, April 11, 1700. [Cal. A. and W.I., 1700, No. 307.] Endorsed, Recd. Feb. 24, 1700/1. 1 p.
3. iv.–vii. Duplicates of Calendar A. and W.I., 1700, Nos. 953.x.–xiii. All endorsed as preceding.
3. viii. Col. Romer's Report upon the Harbour of New York. Jan. 13, 1700/1. Signed, W. Römer. Endorsed, Recd. Feb. 24, Read March 31th, 1700/1. 2 pp. Dutch.
3. ix. Governor the Earl of Bellomont to the Lords of the Treasury. New York, Jan. 2nd, 1700/1. Repeats objections of Nov. 23, 1700, to Mr. Weaver's salary. The Revenue is clogg'd with anticipations and therefore the public service faintly carried on; the debts of the Government are about 5,000l., which we are not able to overcome. The King's House in the Fort here is ready to fall on my head, the soldiers' barracks much out of repair, and the Fort in an ill condition, one of the bastions ready to fall, and the greatest part of the palisados wanting. Mr. Weaver arrived here last Monday after 13 weeks passage. 'Tis true I recommended him formerly to your Lordsps.' favour, and would still do him a reasonable kindness, but not to disoblige a whole Country for him; by his Commission he is entitled to a year and three quarters salary before he comes upon the place or be in the execution of his imployment, which gives great disgust to all people here; and perhaps will be the means of the Province's refusing another time to settle a revenue, which I with some difficulty brought the General Assembly to agree to last May was twelmonth. Your Lordsps. ordered, July 1st, '99, that Mr Brookes's accounts should be examined. I was then, and have been till lately, out of this Province, and so could not take any course there. His accounts are now with the Commissioners of accounts appointed by Act of Assembly, who pretend they shall be able to charge Col. Fletcher, Mr Brookes and others with considerable sums of money that they are indebted to the King. I hope you will please to settle an allowance for the Judge and Attorney General for this Province, pursuant to the King's Order in Council, for the publick business as well as the King's suffers extreamly for want of them here. Nobody here understands the drawing an Act of Assembly, and the Courts of Justice are manag'd att a strange rate, so that unless your Lordsps. will quicken ye Judge and Attorney Generall's departure from England, I shall be forced to put off the meeting of the Generall Assembly, and likewise to adjourn the Superior Court of the Province, both wch would otherwise be the first week in April next, to wait their coming, which delay may possibly be attended with great inconvenience to the King's service here. Signed, Bellomont. Endorsed, Recd. Feb. 24th, 1700/1. Copy. 1½ pp.
3. x. Governor the Earl of Bellomont to the Lords of the Admiralty. New York, Jan. 1st, 1700/1. Repeats information as to his bargain in masts, Nov. 23, 1700, and request for a hagboat to be at N. York by May. It will concern your Lordsps. and the rest of the Ministers to promote the King's confirmation of an Act of this Province, which vacated some of Col. Fletcher's corrupt grants of land, etc. The masts I have agreed for will certainly be ready by the last of April. I desire your direction whether I shall contract on behalf of yr Lops. wth the undertakers for a time certain, and after what manner. They are two very honest men, and 'twere pity they should not be incouraged to furnish the King wth all his masts, boltspritts and yards of all sorts and sizes. Signed, Bellomont. P.S. There will be a number of boltspritts and yards sent down the river with the masts. The undertakers were so reasonable as to submit the prices of them to my own judgment. . so that I will take care the King shall not be exacted on. Same endorsement. 1 p.
3. xi. Governor the Earl of Bellomont to the Commissioners of Customs. New York, Jan. 1st, 1700/1. I formerly acquainted you how strangely ill Mr. Hungerford behaved himself in the place of one of the Commissioners of Revenue. I find he made it a common practice to seize goods in people's houses, and, if they compounded not with him on his own terms, he secur'd 'em at his own lodging, without bringing them to the Custome-House. I may venture to say he made seizures of goods to the value of at least 1,000l., which he never gave any account of to the Government, nor to Col. Cortland, who was as much concerned in the Revenue as he. After a great many complaints, I writ from Boston and ordered him to be committed, but he broke the prison, and escaped into East Jersey, where he has absconded several moneths, and went for England ten days ago, with one Jeffers, master of a ship that sailed from hence to London. I never was so deceived in a man in my life . . . As he has sacrificed his reputation in betraying his trust, so neither has he made less free with his discretion, having married a woman that has neither beauty, fortune nor good reputation. Refers to his theft from the Custom House (see Cal. 1699, 1700). Mr. Hungerford was bound for Mr. Parmyter, the Naval Officer's faithful discharge of his office in a 1,000l., which bond I send you over. I believe Mr. Hungerford will apply to you for the release and delivery of his bond, but I hope you will not part with it. I think he deserves to be committed for his breach of trust here and breaking of the prison. Signed, Bellomont. PS.—Mr. Weaver has no constitution, it seems, from you for being your Collector; therefore, that the King's service may be carried on, I will give him one till you allow or. disallow hereof. I have not seen Mr. Ashfield since his arrival. The character I writ you of him, Nov. 23 last, is a very true one. Some of his creditors have since told me they will arrest him for the money he owes 'em. I desire some honest man may be sent and that is intelligent in business, as well as honest and well affected to his present Majesty, and an English Gentleman and not of this country, and he shall be made Naval Officer by me, as well as Comptroller of the Customs by you, and both together will be a competency for an honest man and a Gentleman. Same endorsement. Copy. 2¼ pp.
3. xii. Muster Roll of Lord Bellomont's Company of Foot at New York, Jan. 1, 1700/1. Signed, Bellomont, Peter Mathews, C. Ashfield, R. Gwyn, A. D. Peyster, S. Staats. 1 p.
3. xiii. Muster Roll of Lt. Gov. Nanfan's Company of Fuzileers at New York, Jan. 1, 1700/1 Signed, John Riggs, Charles Oliver, A. D. Peyster, S. Staats. 1 p. 3. xii. and xiii. endorsed, Recd. Feb. 24, 1700/1.
3. xiv. (1) Minute of Council of New York, Dec. 28, 1700, concerning Mr. Weaver's Bill of Exchange. 1½ pp.
3. xiv. (2) Minute of Council of New York, Jan. 2, 1700/1. 1 p. The whole endorsed as preceding.
3. xv. Col. Smith to Governor the Earl of Bellomont, giving an account of the methods of proceeding in the Courts of Justice in the Province of New York. Mannor of St. Georges, Nov. 26, 1700. Signed, Wm. Smith. Copy. 2 pp. Same endorsement. [C.O. 5, 1046. Nos. 2, 2.i.–xv.; and (without enclosures) 5, 1118. pp. 220–241; and (abstract with marginal notes for reply) 5, 1133. pp. 138–148; and (duplicates of ii.–vii., xiv., xv.) 5, 1083. Nos. 54–61; and (duplicates of Letter and x.) 5, 1044. Nos. 38, 38.i.]
Jan. 2.
4. Rear-Admiral Benbow to the Council of Trade and Plantations. In compliance to your commands to signifie my opinion how H.M. Dominions in the West Indies may be better secured then they are now, and perticular Jamaica. Jamaica is well knowne to be a large island, and not a tenth part inhabited and those promiscuously over the island, except that of Legane, Withiwood, and Spanish Town,. and cannot at this time raise 2,000 white fighting men, neither have they any fortifications more then that which leads into Port Royal Harbour, which is built very regular and has been a great charge to the country, but is of little or no use to secure that harbour or the inhabitants of Leagane, for at my being there I discovered a channel which lyes S. by E. out about a mile broad, and through this channel any ship or ships of what ranke soever may pass in and out of that harbour a mile from their Fort, and cleare of the battery of gunns that is planted on the E. side of the Point. Alsoe the Trade Winds that commonly blows is from the E.N.E. to the E.S.E., and with these winds ships may saile in and out of that channel, and there is nothing to hinder an enemy to goe through the harbour of Port Royall to Leagane, which is the best and strongest part of the island.
Seeing that the Fort at Port Royal cannot prevent ships saileing for Leagane, one at Musketo Point will. For the channel that leads in there is not above 100 yards from where they may build a Fort, and if but good guns in it, 'twill be impossible for any ship to pass, the Channel being so very crooked, this fortification will only hinder the enemy from coming in with their ships to Leagane, while the other inhabitants will be lyable to be ravaged, if the design of the enemy be for nothing else, having so many convenient places to land, where they are sure to meet with noe opposition. Whereas I humbly conceive that neither the King nor the inhabitants will be at the charge of fortifying all the Bays where an enemy may land, it will be absolute necessary for a regular fortification to be built at Porto Morrant, where there is a good harbour, and so large as to have conveniences in it, to receive all the inhabitants belonging to that Quarter, with negroes and utensils belonging to their Plantations, for enemies in these parts come oftner to pillage and plunder then to make a conquest. The inhabitants at the sight of anything they suspect may then retire into their fort, taking care it be built soe that they may have a conveniency of water in it. Likewise to have a fort at Old Harbour after the same manner, where all the inhabitants of Withiwood may retire to, for forts and fortifications sometimes prove buggbears. Also to have in every parish a place built with brick in manner of a fortification for small arms, and some great guns, to be so large that it may receive all the inhabitants, negroes, etc. in that quarter, and whenever they are invaded they may retire thither, taking care they be seated in such places where there is no want of water, etc., and that the enemy have noe opportunity of bringing cannon to beare, and likewise to fortifie all their narrow passes between the mountains which lead into their Plantations. On the North side of this Island there are many Plantations, but nothing at all to defend the inhabitants thereof, for should a boat or a sloop's crew land there they'd destroy them all. Therefore 'twould be absolutely necessary that either a fort, or such a place of refuge as aforesaid, were built at Montego Bay, which is near the middle of the Island, and a place where pirates use to frequent. All the Windward Islands except Barbados are lyable to this fate, and will be plundered, except soldiers be sent out of England and planted on the several islands, and some men of war to attend and transport them as occasion may offer, for the inhabitants of all those parts are not sensible of their danger nor willing to receive those who will protect them, so that their own safety must be forced upon them. If the inhabitants of H. M. Dominions in the West Indies will be at the charge of erecting Forts and fortifications as aforesaid, they may live easy and secure, tho' wee had a war with France and Spain, provided our forces be soe in those parts as to be stronger then theirs, but whenever that fails, all must. Signed, J. Benbow. Endorsed, Recd. 3rd, Read 8th Jan., 1700/1. Addressed. 3 pp. [C.O. 137, 5. No. 25; and 138, 10. pp. 112–116.]
Jan. 2.
Fort William
5. Minutes of Council of New York. Thomas Weaver produced H.M. Letters Patents and was sworn Collector of the Customs. H.E. informed him of the minute of Dec. 28th as to his salary, and he replied that he would comply with what H.E., the Council and Assembly should think fit to do in that matter.
H.E. produced a letter from the Board of Ordnance, March 9, 1699, directing him to pay 60l. to Thomas Ogden, Master of the Thomas and Elizabeth, that brought stores of war to this province for H.M. service, out of the Revenue. The Council are of opinion that it will be a great hardshipp on this Province to pay summes of this nature out of the revenue at a time when the same is so very much anticipated. But in consideration of the Order to H.E., paid 40l. pounds, 20l. being abated by reason the stores were damnified.
The High Sherrif of West Chester appearing before the Board with William Barns, Benjamin Collier, and Robert Bloomer, and having been heard in order to the detecting the supposed murder of David Burgett, ordered that Peter and Mary Villepontoon, son and daughter of Peter Villepontoon of the County of Westchester, together with the negro man of said Peter be taken into custody and brought with all convenient speed before this Board. [C.O. 5, 1184. pp. 405, 406.]
Jan. 2.
6. Journal of Council of Trade and Plantations. Draught of Letter from H.M. to Lord Bellomont, as Governor of New Hampshire, agreed upon. Directions given for preparing draughts of letters to other Plantations, and progress made with Representation upon the same subject—the Forts and Fortifications in the Plantations.
Jan. 3. Mr. Hodges attending, as ordered, laid before their Lordships an account of the adjournments and delays in the Court of Chancery of Barbados, which was read. Confirmed by Mr. Knapton's declaration. Mr. Hodges promised to put in writing what it is he desires of this Board.
Draughts of letters to the Plantations, relating to the forts etc. on the frontiers of New York, agreed upon. [Board of Trade. Journal, 13. pp. 303–305; and 98. Nos. 1, 2.]
Jan. 3.
New York.
7. Governor the Earl of Bellomont to Mr. Secretary Vernon. Since I writ you, Dec. 6., I have recd. a letter from Mr. Penn, (to whom I had sent the names of the persons in his Colony, who had part of Gillam's mony) wherein he tells me he has a prospect of recovering greatest part of the mony, and will write you word of it himselfe, wh. is equal to me, provided you get it. The 700 pretended to be buried in Long Island by Gillam is not yet found. Giles Shelley [see Cal. 1699] is now in London and appears openly on the Change. 'Tis pity he should not be taken up and secur'd, for it was the boldest villany that has been done since my being in this Government, his bringing so many pyrats. He is a pretty tall man, abt. my height, but broader set, abt. 38 years of age and pock-fretten. Mr Hackshaw, a Marchand in London (who, by the way, was one of the petitioners against me) was one of his owners, and knows, if he pleases, where he may be taken every day. Shelley is said to have got 8,000l. by that voyage for his own share, and he made some purchases here at his return from Madagascar. One Thomas Clark, who got to the value of 10 or 12,000l. of Kidd's effects, and keeps the greatest part of 'em, should quickly be prosecuted, if I had the Judge and Attorney General here from England, but for Mr Graham, the present Attorney, I believe 10 pieces of eight would bribe him at any time. 'Tis shameful that business is not more vigorously carried out. The King consented and order'd salaries for a Judge and Attorney near a year ago, but it seems the Treasury does not settle them for all that. Refers to his bargain for masts. Mr. Weaver has brought me a letter from the Council of Trade, Sept. 19, wch I do not like by no means. They seem to have lost mettle, and have not got the Act approv'd, wch we sent over, to vacate some of Fletcher's extravagant grants. Yet they direct me to set the souldiers to work on making tar, tho' I have told 'em in I believe a dousin of my letters that it was impracticable making tar or furnishing the King with masts till that Act was approv'd, and another pass'd to break the rest of the extravagant grants, for that the King has not an acre of land or a tree in this province as the case stands. I am so disturb'd at this letter that I am going to stop the undertakers from proceeding in cutting the masts, least I be left in the lurch, and Dellius and his partners in the grant of the Mohack's land seize on the masts and sue me for a trespasse. Really this sort of management is wonderfull, and the often change of Ministers is ruinous to our affairs in England. Mr. Locke, it seems, has quitted that Board; Mr. Stepney and Mr. Prior may be honest Gentlemen, but they are new and unacquainted with trade and perhaps not well appriz'd of the advantage Naval Stores would be to England from these Plantations. In short I do not like the air and turn of this letter from the Council of Trade, but I am not so poor spirited as to suffer so noble and usefull a design as this to miscarry, so long as there is a Parliament to apply to.
I have certain advice from Carolina that 4 or 5 very rich Pyrats were come to Charlstown, whereof one Martyn was one; my author saw Martyn and the rest and they had 2,000 pieces of gold, 3,000 pieces of eight, and a great quantity of jewels for each man's share. My author further tells me there were abt half a dousin Pyrats lately hang'd in Carolina, but it was because they were poor. But these rich ones appear'd publickly and were not molested in the least. Pray be pleas'd to let me know whether you deliv'd my letter to the King, and whether he was at the pains to read it, and what he said to the contents of it. Signed, Bellomont. PS.—If an appeal be brought to the King by Tierens and Crugger against Col. Abraham Depeyster, Marchand in this Town, I beg you will do Col. Depeyster all the just favour you thinke fit at the Council Board. Depeyster is a very honest man, and the right of the case is perfectly wth him in my apprehension. Since my writing this letter, I consider 'twill be absolutely necessary I go on wth my bargain for masts tho' at my own great hazard for fear of allarming our Indians by my putting a stop to that work. Endorsed, R. 26 Feb. Holograph. 4 pp. [C.O. 5, 1044. No. 39.]
Jan. 3. 8. Mr. Hodges to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Details of the adjournment and delays in the Court of Chancery of Barbados, complained of Dec. 19. (See Cal. A. and W.I., 1700, No. 1,030. i.) Concludes, The Court of Chancery there heard but two causes in eight months, and the Court of Errors did not sit once in all that time... . If there be in the Chancery alone many hundreds of cases (i.e. not less than 300) depending and but two of them were decided in eight months, the 300 may be decided in a hundred years, if no new causes come on to interrupt them, and the very number of causes depending in the Chancery of so small a place is alone an undeniable demonstration of the premisses and of the miserable condition of that island, and of the necessity there is to rescue the best trade England has from this apparent discouragement it now lies under and from the certain destruction such management may bring on it. If the great sickness, which was last summer in that Island, be urged in defence of this male administration, upon enquiry it will be found that the violence thereof lasted about six weeks and was not very mortal, and that if the Courts there must not sitt til it be a healthy Island, they may be adjourned til Doom's day. Endorsed, Recd. Read Jan. 3, 1700/1 2½ pp. [C.O. 28, 4. No. 68; and 29, 7. pp. 205–211.]
Jan. 3. 9. Mr. Knapton's Declaration concerning the delays in the Court of Chancery in Barbados. I was in Barbados for 8 or 9 months from Jan. 13, 1699, most of that time lodged in Mr. Chilton's house and concerned in most of his business, and did not hear of any Chancery Court that was held whilst I was there. I made a copy of the list of the Chancery causes depending, and to the best of my remembrance there was between three and four hundred causes. I have heard some of the inhabitants complaine of the delays of that Court, and have heard that Courts have been some times put off to attend burialls and some such inconsiderable reasons. Signed, J. O. Knapton. The violence of the sickness which raged there last summer lasted but abt six weeks and few dyed of it. Signed, J. O. Knapton. Endorsed, Recd. Read Jan. 3, 1700/1 1 p. [C.O. 28, 4. No. 69; and 29, 7. p. 212.]