America and West Indies: October 1735, 21-25

Pages 84-91

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 1735, 21-25

[Oct. 21.] 141. Representation of the principal inhabitants of North Carolina, dwelling at Cape Fear River and the parts adjacent, to the Council of Trade and Plantations. State case of themselves and others, who claim land by virtue of grants under the seal of the late Lords Proprietors. Abstract. Their first terms of granting lands being found too hard, the Lords Proprietors empowered Governor John Archdale, about 40 years ago, to sell land at £20 pr. 1,000 acres, with 1s. per 100 acres rent, but for land that lay above 100 miles from Charles Town, at £10 pr. 1,000 and 6d. pr. 100 rent. This method was followed until the arrival of George Burrington, H.M. Governor, in Feb. 1731. Divers of the subscribers hold lands on the latter terms, others have paid to the Receiver General £20 pr. 1,000 sterl. with 1s. pr. 100 rent, these latter grants being agreable to warrants since the Proprietors raised the price of their lands etc. They never imagined that any disputes would arise concerning grants issued before the arrival of Governor Burrington, conceiving that, until new orders should come from H.M. the acts of the Governor and Council, being no other than what was accustomed, would remain valid. H.M., by his Instructions to Governor Burrington directed only an account to be taken of such land as had been granted since H.M. purchase, that such orders might be given as should be thought convenient etc. As the purchase mony arising by grants issued since July, 1729, the time of H.M. purchase, was applyed by order of Govr. and Council to defray the charges of running the boundary with Virginia etc., we make not the least doubt, but that H.M. will be graciously pleas'd to direct, that the possessors of those lands may hold the same on the terms in the several grants mentioned etc. This hope is strengthened by the fact that the money arising from such grants was paid to the Receiver General, and by him applied by order of the Govr. and Council etc. Continue :—We do not only find the grants beforementioned like to be disputed ; but to our great astonishment, those grants that were issued before H.M. purchase are like to be called in question : altho' by the tenor of the Act of Parliament by wch. H.M. purchas'd, all such lands are accepted as passed the seal of the Province. The calling these grants in question, is what we gather from the purport of the Quit Rent Bill as amended by the Council, and one other Bill propos'd by the Council, as also by sundry proclamations and advertisements, and the errecting a Court of Exchequer etc. As the interest of so many of the inhabitants was concerned etc., several mesne conveyances having been passed from such grants etc., we thought it our duty to apply to H.E. that no farther proceedings might be had, until we had the oppertunity, by applying to yor. Lordships, to procure a more favourable interpretation of the royal instruction, etc., which being granted by the Govr., pray the Board to judge their case etc. Continue : We thought ourselves exceedingly happy in being more imediatly under H.M. Governmt. etc. ; we expected that the lands would have been granted on the same terms etc. as in Virginia : the lands in that province being much more valuable (occasioned by the good navigation) than it's possible they will ever be in this, where the navigation is so bad, and the land, in general, much worse. Instead of this, we find the rents not only enlarged for the future and much larger fees taken than ever were heretofore ; but an attempt made here (as we think contrary to the royal intention) to vacate those grants that were pass'd before H.M. purchase etc. Continue : The principal objections that we think are possible to be made against the validity of the grants may be reduced to two heads, vizt. first, the want of power in the grantors ; second the frauds, or injuries committed by such grants. As [to] the first; besides what has been before expressed etc., the notoriety of the Land Office being shut (as is sometimes urged here) is not so in fact; it having always been the received opinion, that were the monys required by the Proprs. paid, or an equivalent thereto, as divers of their instructions intimate, grants were to pass of course etc., etc. Concerning the second, that much talk hath been made etc. touching blank patents, and orders sent for an enquiry into such frauds. This has produced a regular enquiry before H.M. Governor at the Council table, to wch. the Secretary (whose business it has always been to be prepared with proper vouchers for his issuing grants) made an answr. to the full satisfaction of H.M. Govr. and Council; and since the arrival of the prest. Governor proclamations have been issued ; persons appointed to enquire into frauds, courts errected and held, and other methods used, but not the least sign of any fraud has appeard. Represent the method that has been used, (time out of mind) in issuing grants. Blank grants were lodged in the Secretary's office, which the Secretary caused to be fill'd up, as they were demanded; if the lands were taken on arrival of rights vizt. 50 acres for each person that came to settle in this Province, the Secretary kept the proof of such rights or enter'd it under the grant of his voucher; if on purchase, then the Receiver General's recpt. Something was offerd about the year 1718 to prevent the signing blank grants as usual, but at a Councel held——1718, Mr. Eden being Governor and Mr. Knight Secretary, it was then the unanimous opinion of ye board that grants should be signed blank etc., and this without the least view or intention of fraud, nor can we well conceive how a fraud could be committed, without its being very easily detected, in regard the Secretary, if call'd upon, was to produce his vouchers ; and it would be very easy to detect such fraud, if any, by comparing the records in the Secretary's office, with the Receiver Genl.'s accots. etc., etc. Continue :—The frauds may be of two sorts, the first respecting the monys paid or numbers of acres granted : the other in case those grants were fill'd up for lands justly claimed by other persons : and as so much had been made at the last Assembly both within dores and without: some who were members of Assembly being very desireous that such abuses should be detected, propos'd two clauses to be added to the Quit Rent Bill, the one to vacate all such grants as had been issued without the number of acres incerted, and such as the purchase mony had not been truly paid, and in that clause the most effectual method was propos'd to make the discovery by interrogating the partys and examining witnesses on oath before the Governor and Council or in any other Court he should appoint; the other clause was to vacate all such grants, how regular so ever issued, that had been laid on land justly claim'd by others : by those two clauses added by the Assembly, frauds, and injurys of any sort would have been effectually remedied. But those two clauses were rejected by the Council without any offer of amendment in case they had been thought in any part defective etc. Discuss the essential forms of grants. Continue :—As to frauds in blank grants being issued in such a manner as to leave the party possessing them room to incert more acres than were intended, we solemnly declare, we know of no grants issued without the numbrs. of acres, and purchase mony incerted, nor do we believe any such has been other than what is mentioned in that transaction wch. was before the Governor and Council conformable to H.M. royal instructions to Governor Burrington ; thereto the Secretary made such answr., as the Govr and Council unanimously aquitted him. We are informd, that it is suggested some blanks are still extant, but as we know of none, so we think were there any such, the frauds by them committed etc. will be very easily discovered by the method proposed by the late Assembly. We surely trust yr. Lordps. will not be of opinion, that because there is a possibity (and we think it is but barely such) of frauds that may be committed ; therefore all promiscuously shall be vacated etc. Cannot believe that their Lordships would use vacate grants on these grounds as a view to increasing H.M. rents etc. The gainful prospect of a great number of fees to the several officers on issuing new grants may have been a motive for the stir made in this matter etc. Understand that suggestions have been made in England of very great quantities of land held in an illegal and clandestine manner, "and particularly that Col. Morris Moore and Roger Moore, Esq., have each one hundred thousand acres. A wicked and untrue suggestion, so far from truth that upon the best enquiry we can make all the inhabitants of this river do not in the whole hold one hundred thousand. We the subscribers who are the principal inhabitants, upon a strict examination find, that ourselves and those our relations and friends do not hold or claim by our grants more than about seventy-five thousand acres of wch. about twenty thousd. are since H.M. purchase, and even of those before the purchase about fifteen thousand are so wretchedly poor, that we shall readily part with them, rather than hold them on a higher rent than our grants specify, and as our familys and those under our care consist of near 1,200 souls yr. Lordps. will easily discern how much the settlement of this place, and the increase of its trade is owing to us ; so that were the lands given to us clear of any rent, H.M. would be no looser seeing so great an increase of his revenue has been promoted by the settlemt. of this place, and the encouragmt. the trade has met with from us and our friends without which even at that time scarce one vessell in ten would be timely dispatchd. etc. Do not hold so much land as H.M. officers claim to hold by themselves and their friends, one tenth of their number. Signed, John Porter, Edwd. Hyrne, Jno. Swann, Sam. Swann, Jo. Davis, M. Moore, Thos. Jones, Nathll. Moore, Jn. Davis. Endorsed, Recd. (from Mr. Wragg), Read 21st Oct., 1735. 6¾ large pp. Enclosed,
141. i. Copy of two clauses proposed to have been inserted in the Quit Rent Law, N. Carolina, v. preceding. Same endorsement. 1½ pp. [C.O. 5, 294. ff. 225–229 v., 230 v., 231 v.]
Oct. 21.
142. President Dottin to the Council of Trade and Plantations. I am honour'd with your Lordships' commands of the seventeenth of June last directing me to transmit as soon as possible an account of the amount of the money which has been raised in this Island, by any dutys or impositions on the importation or exportation of negro's, wines, or any other goods or merchandizes, or by any other taxes payable by or collected upon the inhabitants of this Island for ten years last past etc. together with an account of what laws were in force here 25th March, 1731, and what laws have been since pass'd by which any dutys or impositions are laid on the trade and shipping of the Kingdom, as likewise an account of what dutys or impositions are now payable by any Act or Acts of Assembly in this Island on the importation, and exportation of negroes, wines or other kind of liquors, or any goods, wares or merchandize, and shipping, etc. I have in obedience to your Lordships' directions taken all possible pains to get the best information I can relating thereto, and humbly beg leave to referr your Lordships to the accounts herein inclosed, which I hope will be satisfactory for the purposes they are wanted, and as it will thereby plainly appear what very large sums have been annually raised here to the great impoverishment of the planters who are now exceedingly reduced, I doubt not but that there will be some care taken to preserve the trade of this Island, and save the inhabitants from the ruin they are threatned with, occasioned by the low price of their staple produce, which chiefly proceeds from it's being confined to a home consumption, and the heavy dutys laid thereon, while our neighbours the French, by the advantage of a direct exportation, easy dutys, and a freedom of trade have greatly enrich'd their settlements, and added a considerable advantage to that kingdom, but as I intend soon to take the liberty of troubling your Lordships with an enquiry that has been made concerning the trade and settlement which has been encouraged by the French in the adjoining Islands, I shall not now take up your Lordships' time by enlarging thereon. Your Lordships will observe that I have taken the liberty of adding to the accounts you directed me to send, another account of the annual expence of the Government of this Island, with the amount of the publick debts now remaining due and unpaid, which indeed appears to be a very large sum to be raised from a trade so greatly declined, and a people so poor, and I am inform'd the publick credit is now at so low an ebb that the matrosses are by their necessitys obliged to part with an order on the Treasurer for twenty-five pounds for no more than seven pounds being the most that they can get for it, and to me it seems a thing not to be thought of, to lay more taxes on the inhabitants for payment of these debts, when experience convinces us how unable they are to answer their present levys, and it is manifest there is not running cash in the Island to carry on the present small trade thereof. I have taken the liberty of making some remarks on the accounts and of the laws now in force laying any dutys or impositions on the trade and inhabitants of this Island, which I hope will not be deemed altogether improper, and should have represented the five Acts your Lordships have been pleased to mention that his late Excellency recommended to be repealed to your consideration for that purpose, they being thought by the merchants and traders to be cramps on trade, but I have so very lately received your Lordships' directions to take the opinion of the merchants and planters on that affair that I shall omit adding anything further thereon at present. This Island is very much obliged to your Lordships for your favourable report to H.M. concerning the ordinance and arms to be sent hither ; and I shall not fail after their arrival to acquaint your Lordships of our receiving them, tho I am sorry to be inform'd we are to have no small arms unless security is first given for payment of them, which truly the Island cant possibly do, and I hope will on further consideration not be insisted on for the reasons I took the liberty formerly to mention. It is almost incredible to conceive how very large sums of money have been raised from the four and a half p. cent. duty paid on our produce, and had that been collected with the least expence, and applyed to the uses for which it was intended when granted, this Island might have been now in a very good posture of defence as to it's fortifications and stores, and probably been clear of debt, whereas I am inform'd tho so very large sums have been raised therefrom the clear profitt going into the Exchequer has been but small, and had the officers, instead of paying themselves here their own salarys in the manner they have done, been obliged to remit the whole collection home and had annually their salarys and expences sent them from England hither in commodious peices of silver to pass in payment for something more than their real value, that method it is conceived besides adding a much greater ballance to the Crown, wou'd have occasion'd a currency of cash here by keeping that money in the Island which is now carryed from it. The French Colonys, I am informed, have felt very considerable advantages by this method, their King having sent them such silver to pay off his officers and to lend the planters in time of need, which is in a small proportion of less value than a regal or a bit, but they pass currently as such and are stampt particularly for these occasions. I must beg your Lordships' pardons for taking up so much of your time and shall only add that as there has lately happen'd a vacancy in the Council here by the death of Colo. Terrill, I thought it my duty to mention it and shall be extreamly obliged if your Lordships will do me the favour of recommending to H.M. Abel Dottin, Esqr., who is a gentleman every way qualifyed to fill up that vacancy. I cou'd enlarge greatly on his character and abilitys were he not my nephew, tho' I cant help saying thus much that no person in the Island can possibly be recommended more worthy of that station, and who can and will discharge the dutys thereof with greater sufficiencys etc. Signed, James Dottin. Endorsed, Recd., Read 8th Jan., 1735/6. 3¼ large pp. Enclosed,
142. i. Account of money raised by duties and taxes, 8th Feb., 1724—13th Sept., 1735. Totals : (apart from powder duty) 1725, £26,709 0s. 8¼d. ; 1726, £32,262 4s. 11¼d. ; 1727, £31,057 2s. 3½d. ; 1728, £28,458 6s. 1¼d. ; 1729, £18,333 17s. 0¼d.; 1730, £22,231 13s. 3¾d. ; 1731, £15,434 165. 6¼d. ; 1732, £13,062 12s. 3¾d. ; 1733, £11,088 6s. 5¼d. ; 1734, £10,353 6s. 10½d. ; 1735 (13th March—13th Sept.), £5,186 16s. 0d.
142. ii. Annual expenses of the Government (Officers, Courts, Matrosses etc.) £5,901 6s. 8d., besides Governor's salary and casual expenses. Mr. Worsley's salary was annually £7,800 ; Lrd Howe's, £400. Orders on the Treasury now unpaid amount to £23,143 12s. 2½d. 7½ large pp.
142. iii. Account of laws in force March 25, 1731, and laws since passed laying duties on trade and shipping of Great Britain, negroes, imported or exported, wines, goods and shipping etc. 5 large pp. Nos. ii and iii endorsed. Recd., Read 8th Jan., 173 5/6. [C.O. 28, 24. ff. 135– 136v., 138–144, 145 v.]
Oct. 21.
143. President Dottin to the Duke of Newcastle. Recommends Abel Dottin for Council as in preceding covering letter. Signed, James Dottin. 1 p. [C.O. 28, 45. f. 335.]
Oct. 23.
144. Governor Belcher to the Duke of Newcastle. Refers to letter of Aug.19. Continues: I have had an interview with them [i.e. the Western Indians], I think to their satisfaction, and to my own, as I judge it will be for H.M. honour and service, in bringing those tribes into a better subjection to the British Crown, and thereby lengthen out the peace of these Provinces with those Nations etc. Signed, J. Belcher. Enclosed,
144. i. Conference, held at Deerfield, N.H., 27th—30th Aug., 1735, between Governor Belcher and the Chiefs of the Cagnawaga, Houssatonoc and Scautacook tribes of Indians, and some St. François Indians and Moheegs. Printed. 19 pp. [C.O. 5, 899. ff. 177, 177 v., 179–188.]
Oct. 25.
145. Mr. Bladen to the Duke of Newcastle. In the year 1710 there passed an Act of Assembly in South Carolina, constituting an officer called the Vendu Master, and by a clause in the same Act, of which I take leave to send your Grace a copy, the nomination of that officer was placed in the Governour of that Province for the time being ; and the late Governour Mr. Johnson, at my request, bestow'd it upon Mr. Badenhop, a nephew to Monsieur Payzant, and an old servant to my Lord Gallway. I have been informed that application has lately been made to your Grace, to bestow this employment upon some other person; but as Badenhop is a very honest poor man, and in possession of that office by a proper constitution, I humbly intreat your Grace not to remove him, and I shall add your favour herein to the many obligations I already owe you etc. Signed, Martin Bladen. 2 pp. Enclosed,
145. i. Clause for Act of S. Carolina, 1710, for appointing a public Vendu-master etc. 1 p. [C.O. 5, 388. ff. 131, 131 v., 133.]