America and West Indies: October 1736, 11-20

Pages 301-309

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 42, 1735-1736. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1953.

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October 1736, 11-20

Oct. 12.
407. Mr. Popple to Mr. Fane. Encloses collection of Acts of Montserrat, and requests his opinion in point of law upon six of them. [C.O. 153, 16. pp. 53–55.]
Oct. 14.
New York.
408. President Clarke to the Duke of Newcastle. I beg leave to do myself the honor to inform your Grace that on the 12th instant the Assembly met according to my adjournment and spent that day in debating the legality of my administration without putting the Speaker in the Chair, I adjourned them to yesterday, when they were to put the question whether or no they should sit and act, it is thought, and some of them told me, they should be able to carry the question for sitting ; however, early in the morning before the House met, I had the honor to receive H.M. additional Instruction dated the first of June directing the form of prayer for the Royal Family, I immediately summoned the Council and in their presence opened it. and the news being presently spread through the town most of the Assembly came to me, to whom I shewed it, they expressed much joy, went strait to the House, put the Speaker in the Chair, and adjourned themselves to this day, when I sent for them as usual and made my speech to them; they appear to be very unanimous and I hope a good effect from the Session which the Season of the year will make very short: The universal gladnes that appeared on my receiving that Instruction was as great as ever I knew it, and I hope the spirit of faction is now intirely broke; The Corporation came all to me to-day with the Mayor whom I swore as usual in their presence tho three only of their Aldermen are by their Charter to attend him. The first day the Assembly met they asked Morris if he knew of any orders or Instruction prepared or preparing for me, he stood up and in a solemn manner declared that he knew of none and believed I should have none; and tho we had an account from Boston soon after Morris's arrival there, for he came that way, that he and his son had said that Van Dam was not restored, nor he believed would be till a Governor arrives, that in the meantime the Government properly belonged to me, and that the son said he saw this very Instruction made, or making out for me, and that he offered to bring it, yet the son deny'd it in Zanger's Journal of the 11th instant, and said he believed that I should have no such orders nor any other order relating to the Government. These confident declarations of the father and son startled the Assembly, and confirmed the disaffected people in their opinion that the administration of the Government belonged to Van Dam who, its said, was resolved on this day to swear the Mayor and other officers whom he had appointed into their places, which might have been attended with fatal consequences, for I must have maintained H.M. Royal authority, and have protected and assisted his magistrates ; but the Instruction came very opportunely to prevent evils and to give the people who before favoured him a vile opinion of Morris. Tho' it is much in my nature to act with gentlenes, and to forgive private injuries, yet I think so many bold and daring insults on H.M. Government, and some of them very near if not high treason call for some severe notice : I pity Van Dam and heartily wish he could be distinguished from the rest, for he is really incapable of judging for himself, and has been wholly guided by Alexander, Smith, Morris and his son; I wish I could say that it is not generally believed that Captain Morris has had as great a hand in keeping up the spirit of faction as any man, but of that I have no regular proof, Mrs. Cosby knows his behaviour very well. It is believed that Alexander will apply in England for H.M. pardon, but surely my Lord no man ever deserved it les, 'tis to him as much or more then to any one that all the past sedition is owing. Van Dam has been only a tool in his hands, and I presume to think is to be considered in this case as an idiot, he is alredy severely punished in his purse for Morris, Alexander and Smith have undone him, he is an object of H.M. mercy and I truly wish he had it, notwithstanding he would have shewn me none had I been in his power; for the others, they may be punished and no man pity them, for even the mob who lately favourd them for Van Dam's sake, would now for his sake too, see them fall without regret. So sudden a turn as things have taken is easely seen, every man rejoices or seems to rejoice on the occasion, those who two days ago cryed Hosanna to Morris, now cry crucify him : I humbly beg your Grace that I may have orders how to proceed against these deliquents, at present I am pleased with the happy turn without appearing to have further views, lest too many should be driven to despair, but when things are setled, and the memory of them grown staler, I shall then be able without fear of new disorders to execute whatever commands I receive. A gentleman who is going to Boston waits for this, where I hope it will find a conveyance, I therefore in treat your Grace's pardon for whatever faults my haste may have committed, etc. Signed, Geo. Clarke. Holograph. 4 pp. Enclosed,
408. i. President Clarke's Speech to the Assembly, 14th Oct., 1736. Abstract. As they have by the resolve of the House engaged the public faith to make good the deficiencies of the revenue, expects that, from their well-known loyalty and duty to H.M., now cheerfully and effectually provide for it. Shipping is carried on to a large extent in the neighbouring Provinces and has become a considerable part of their returns to Great Britain, but has been much neglected in this Province. Recommends it to their consideration, and the further encouragement of hemp, for which Great Britain has long extended her bounty, though they have not yet taken hold of it. For the markets for their flour, the present staple of the Province, are so much overdone by great importation from this and other Northern Colonies, that unless some manufactures be set on foot, that are wanted in Great Britain, or do not interfere with theirs, there will be no way to employ the people to their advantage. Recommends provision for finishing the fortifications. Fort Hunter is in a very ruinous condition, and hardly to be repaired at a less charge than would build a new one. The principal end for which it was built, to cover and encourage settlements in that part of the Mohawks' country, is happily attained. Continues : If a new Fort be built on the carrying place, at the upper end of the Mohauks' country, and the garrison of Fort Hunter be removed thither ; this will cover the whole Mohauks' country, fix an easier communication between all the frontier garrisons from. Albany to Oswego, be a safe repositary for the goods that must be landed there, in passing to and from Oswego, and be a sure protection to that trade and country at all times; a small sum of money will do the work. The House at Oswego wants some present repairs, etc, The Commissioners for Indian affairs represent the necessity of sending a smith and some other persons to reside for a year in the Scrinakaa's country, with some small presents, to secure the fidelity of that nation. Hopes they will provide for this, and that their debates will be guided by moderation etc. Printed. 2¾ pp.
408. ii. Copy of President Clarke's letter to the Council of Trade and Plantations, Oct. 18. [C.O. 5, 1093. ff. 447–450, 451, 451 v.]
Oct. 15.
409. Council of Trade and Plantations to Lt. Governor Gooch. Acknowledge letters and enclosures etc. of 18th July, 5th and 26th Nov., 18th Dec, 1735, and 19th May, 1736. Continue:—In regard to the reasons you have offer'd (Dec. 18) in behalf of the Act of 1723 to prevent free negroes and mulattoes voting in elections, we shall let that Act ly by. We should have wrote to you before now on the subject of Mr. Ball's proposal for curing tobacco etc. (v. July 18, 1735), but that we waited to have some account from you of the success of his experiment, according to your promiss: But not having heard from you upon this head, we desire that in your next letter you will give us some account of it: However we can't help observing that Mr. Ball has misinform'd you, by saying that he communicated his scheme for this purpose to our Board by the means of Mr. Tomlinson, and that we had approved thereof. We shall be glad to hear that the project commenc'd in Virginia for making of wine does succeed. With regard to what you have wrote, concerning the propos'd grants of land on the westward of the great mountains of Virginia, we are of opinion with you that they may be of advantage, and may prevent the French extending their settlements on the Lakes, and as we cannot foresee any objections to the granting of land there as proposed, when the controverted bounds of Lord Fairfax's grant shall be settled, we hope you'l give all possible dispatch thereto. We have reconsiderd what you write in favour of the liberty of importing salt directly from Portugal. But notwithstanding that it may probably be of some advantage to Virginia, yet we apprehend it may be very difficult, if not impracticable, to obtain that liberty. PS.—Since the writing of the above letter we have received yours of the 12th Augt., and are very glad to find so good a correspondence between you and the people, which we hope may continue. [C.O. 5, 1366. pp. 136–139.]
Oct. 15.
N. Carolina.
410. Governor Johnston to the Council of Trade and Plantations. It is now above a year since I had the honour to hear from your Lordships except a few lines by Mr. Popple in December last, concerning Mr. Litle's books. When I first appointed Mr. Allen Receiver I ordered him to demand all the papers, relating to the Quittrents from Mr. Litle's executors, and then he could get no more but three loose sheets of paper which gave no manner of light into that affaire. If I could have procured anything which would give the least information, I had certainly transmitted it to your Board before this time. It is a very great loss to this Province that we have not the Attorney Genl.'s opinion as to the validity of those pattents referred to him, I must beg the favour of your Lordships to advise H.M. to determine them speedily in such manner as you shall think most proper, this long suspence keeps the whole country in great confusion and I shall be heartily glad to see any issue to it, rather than have it remain any longer undetermined. If your Lordships should advise the King to allow of them all, it is only the loss of five or six hundred pounds p. ann. to the Revenue, provided care is taken that no new ones which may be kept in petts and have never been recorded be trumpt up, for if that is not guarded against, they may lay them on any bodie's land they please and private property may suffer much by peoples' being robbed of their improvements who have taken up land under H.M., as the others had; and perhaps still have the power of filling up the date of their pattents, as shall best suit them. In order to setle this whole affaire, to doe justice to H.M. and at the same time shew favour to the possessors of these pattents (tho' I can't say their behaviour deserves much) I will venture with submission to propose the following expedient to your Lordships. Primo. That as the most considerable frauds in lands, have been carried on since the year 1724, that no pattents or titles preceeding that year shall be called in question on any pretence whatsoever. 2nd. That all persons who hold lands by pattents since the year 1724 if they have built upon or cultivated the same shall have them confirmed at the quittrents mentioned in their pattents, provided such pattents were preceeded by regular surveys. If not regularly survey'd, they may still have them at H.M. Quitt rents. 3rd. That no pattents for lands since 1724 which were never cultivated or built upon, shall be deemed valid or good unless they were preceeded by regular surveys. 4th. That all pattents in the name of the Lords Proprs. since the soil became vested in H.M. be declared void, but to such as have cultivated even under these pattents a liberty be given to take up the lands at H.M. Quittrents. This is the best that I can think of, but I once more repeat my request to your Lordships to putt an end to this controversie one way or other and I shall most chearfully doe whatever you are pleased to direct. There is another thing in this Province which occasions much debate and controversie amongst the people viz. the payment of their Quittrents in commodities. There is no law in the Province positively allowing this, and the Lords Proprs. demanded payment in gold and silver. But as they were very ill and negligently served by their officers here (the bad effects of which we their successors still feel) they took their rents in any commodities they pleased to give them. The people are willing now to pay in the following commodities and at the following prices. Tabacco at 8s. 4d. p. hund., rice at 10s. p.c, dear skins at 2s. 6d. p. li, hemp at 3d. and flax at 4d. p. li. But then they propose payment at so many different places that it would take more than one half to defray the charge of collecting, besides the loss one would be at in disposing of them in a country where the navigation is so indifferent and the disputes might be occasioned about the goodness of the of the commodities. What they realy want to be at is to pay their rents in tobacco and rice at the prices above mentioned, but as my Instructions are positive to receive the King's rents in proclamation money only, I have always insisted on their passing a law in conformity to them and after getting this proof of their obedience then to address H.M. to allow payment in their commodities and this method I design to continue in until I receive further orders from your Lordships. I have sent along with this the original bills as read the first time in the Lower House for payment of Quittrents and officers' fees. That your Lordships may see what strange unaccountable notions are instilled into the people by the late Lords Proprs'. officers and the possessors of the blank pattents, if ever your Lordships should be of opinion that they may be permitted to pay in commodities, it would not be amiss to reject both tobacco and rice, as these two products are already so much overdone the one in Virginia and the other in South Carolina, and if this large fertile country should run into the same it might sink their price, already low enough, still more, but to confine them to flax and hemp. The former at 30s. and the later at 20s. p. hundd., which might produce this good effect to sett them upon raising these two usefull materiels for the Brittish manufacture, and these commodities ought to be collected at the country's charge as tabacco is in Virginia and paid in neat to the Receiver: it is true in this case we must have sherrifs as they have in Virginia, for the Provost Marshall and his deputies will never be able to do it. Indeed their are a thousand inconveniences in this wide extended country for want of sheriffs, and the people are strangely bent upon having them established by a law, and in case they will give a consideration to the gentleman who enjoys at prest. the place of Provost Marshall and who has behaved extreamly well, I should be glad to have your Lordships' directions whether I might venture to give my assent to such a law. One thing I am sure of, it is impracticable to goe on as we are at present. There is another notion the same possessors of blank pattents have carefully inculated upon the people and which I cannot get the better of without a speedy declaration of your Lordships' judgement upon it. My Instructions require the payment of Quittrents in Proclamation money which I understand to relate only to the rents under the King of 4s. p. hund. acres; but these gentlemen want to extend it to the old rents of six pence, one shillg. and two shillings p. hundred acres, which before H.M. purchase was always paid in sterling money without the least dispute and accordingly for their own lands, which as they have managed matters are almost all at sixpence or one shilling p. hundd. They offered fourpence halfpenny and ninepence to the Receiver but I did not care for sinking J of H.M. Revenue upon what appeared to me so far fetched an inference and so oblidged them to pay sterling as formerly. I hope I shall soon hear from your Lordships on this head also. There is a practice of long standing in this country, which has been of immence prejudice to the Revenue of the Lords Proprs. formerly, and of the Crown now, that is the boxing of pine trees for turpentine and burning the light wood for pitch and tarr, without ever taking out pattents or paying Quittrents for the lands, which has entirely prevented their being taken up by any person, they being generaly of litle value for any other purposes, and by this means in many parts of the country the lands are waste and not a house to be seen in travelling a great many miles togither. A few months after my arrival I published a Proclamation with the advice and consent of Council, offering a reward of £20 currency to any person who would discover such practices, so that they might be prosecuted in the Court of Exchequer. This has very much disoblidged those who used to make great gains by such means. I cannot forbear observing here, my Lords, that my condition has been very hard since I came here, purely because I have been so assiduous in taking care of the interest and rights of the Crown, which is a very new thing in this country. In the time of the Lords Proprs. their officers collected the rents in a very incorrect, slovenly manner and what they did collect was generaly sunk among themselves. My predecessor under the King never once attempted to collect H.M. Quittrents, or gave himself the least trouble about any part of the Revenue, as far as I can learn. Besides, he gave several persons here a coppy of all even his most private instructions, which has sett them (supposing mine to be the same) a cavilling and making strange inferences on every one of them, and as if all this was not enough, he has by several letters to people here boasted of many audiences at your Lordships' Board, that both H.M. and your Lordps. entirely disaprove of my calling any fraudulent pattents into question, of collecting the quitt rents in the manner I have done and in short of every step I have taken, and he neglected, for H.M. service, intreating them to send over complaints and all the scandalous stories they can pick up against me and he would speedily do my busieness and gett them another Governor who will suffer things to go on in the old way; as those letters have been read in the feilds of election and other publick places, it is natural to belive that in persons who were never brought into any order before, they must produce bad effects and make them highly insolent. I am sure I have found it very difficult to carry on busieness upon the account of these confident assertions that my conduct is entirely condemned by your Lordships. I am very sensible how unjustly he has charged your Board by such suggestions as these. But still I must entreat that your Lordships would be so good as by the first opportunity to acquaint me with anything which you may think amiss in my conduct, and to favour me with a hearty approbation in what you shall judge I have done according to my duty and Instructions and assurances of being supported in it, that I may have something to shew against my predecessor's assertions. It has been a great impediment to H.M. service, that I have not had something of this nature before, for your Lordships' declaring in such strong terms in favour of a Court of Exchequer has quite silenced all the clamours Mr. Burlington's freinds made on that subject. Besides my Lords I am realy very diffident of my own judgement in any matters of consequence until T find it confirmed by yours, upon which I always have and will depend. The Receiver has collected of the arrears of H.M. Quittrents since 1729 above £4,200 sterling, which is more than ever was collected in this country, but my predecessor's correspondents (who are highly blamed by him for their tameness in paying the arrears) are by his encouragement making strong parties to oppose the next collection, tho' by your Lordships' speedy answer I make no doubt I shall soon get the better of them. The accounts are sent to the Lords of the Treasury by the Receiver. I sent your Lordships the only copies of our laws I could procure last December, with such remarks as my bad state of health would then permitt me to make. I did venture at that time to desire you to advise H.M. to repeal as soon as possible the Biennial Law and to order that no precinct should on any pretence whatsoever be represented by more than two members and to discharge me from consenting to errect any new precinct w[ithout] H.M. permission. I am still confirmed in my opinion [in] this matter and I am satisfied we shall never have a reasonable Assembly while this Act subsists. I have by this conveyance sent an attested copy of the said Biennial Law and shall only observe: 1st. That it is highly unreasonable that any Assembly should presume to meet without H.M. writt, and therefore I dissolved them when they mett last. 2nd. The six precincts in the County of Albemarle have in each five members making thirty, and the number of people in it is I am sure not fifteen thousand, which is by much too large a representative. 3rd. The whole Lower House by this means consists of fourty-six and it is impossible to pick out in the whole Province so many fitt to do busieness. 4th. The greatest objection is that there must be a new election every two years, which is too short a time to setle a country which has been so long in confusion, and men of sense who sincerely mean the publiek good are so much afraid of the next elections that they are oblidged to go in with the majority whose ignorance and want of education makes them obstruct everything for the good of the country even so much as the building of churches, or erecting of schools, or endeavouring to maintain a direct trade to Great Brittain. If your Lordships approve of this, I beg no time may be lost, but I may have this repealed by the way of Virginia and South Carolina by June next at farthest, and the Governors of these provinces may have orders to forward it. This one thing would contribute to the quiet and setlement of this country more than I am able to express. Inclosed I send your Lordships an estimate of the charges in running the line between this Province and South Carolina. I must do the gentlemen concerned the justice to say, that they performed their busieness with great dilligence and exactness, that they endured very great fatigues and were at great expences. Before they finish this affaire, they want to be directed by your Lordships where to apply for payment whether to H.M. or to the Assembly here. I have according to your orders sent a state of the currency of this Province, etc. Signed, Gab. Johnston. Endorsed, Recd. 16th, Read 17th Dec, 1736. 7 pp. Enclosed,
410. i. State of the currency of N. Carolina. Analysis of Acts for issuing paper bills since 1722–1734. Amount now circulating, £52,500. Endorsed as preceding. 2¼ pp.
410. ii. Copy of Biennial Act of N. Carolina. Same endorsement. 4 pp.
410. iii. Bill for providing H.M. a rent roll for secureing H.M. qt. Rents for the remission of arrears of quit rents and for quiateing the Inhabitants in their possessions and for the better settlement for H.M. Province of North Carolina. Read the first time and passed in Assembly, 9th Oct., 1736. Read in the Upper House the first time and rejected, 11th Oct. Same endorsement. 17½ pp.
410. iv. Act for ascertaining and regulating publick officers' fees and offices. Oct. 1736. Same endorsement. 16 pp. [C.O. 5, 295. ff. (with abstract) 39–58, 59, 60 v., 62–70 v., 71 v.]
Oct. 18.
New York.
411. President Clarke to the Council of Trade and Plantations. It is with pleasure not to be expressed that I do myself the honour to inform your Lordships that when Morris and his son, Smith and Alexander had wrought the people up to a pitch of rebellion, and they were the next day determined to commit some open act, I had the honour on the 13th instant to receive H.M. Instruction directed to me ordering the Form of Prayer for the Royal Familly; I immediately summoned the Council and opened it in their presence and communicated it to them; the members of the Assembly were then going to meet to determine whether or no they would sit, but hearing of the Instruction most of them came to me to whom I shewed it, they went strait to their house put the Speaker in the Chair and adjourned to the next day when I sent to them and spoke to them as your Lordships may be pleased to see in the inclosed, telling them after I had made my speech that the Council were to sit by themselves without me. So sudden a turn and so universal a joy upon the signification of the Instruction are rarely heard of; the common cry now runs against Morris cheifly, and against those others that I named every one pitys Van Dam and so do I too, he has been misled by them who took hold of his weakness, and I hope whatever orders are sent about the others he will be favourably dealt with. The Assembly have but a short time to sit because of the approaching winter, the tenth of November being the latest day that sloops venture up the river, what they will be able to do in that time I can't tell, they are in very good temper. I am perfectly easy in my administration and make no doubt if H.M. will be graciously pleased to continue me in it for a time, I shall be able to put the province in a more flourishing condition then it has hitherto known, etc. Signed, Geo. Clarke. Hoi. 2 pp. See end. ii in Clarke to Newcastle, 14 October, 1736. [C.O. 5, 1058. ff. 157, 157 v. Copy in 5, 1093. ff. 451, 451 v., 452 v.]