America and West Indies: May 1737, 11-15

Pages 142-155

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 43, 1737. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1963.

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May 1737, 11-15

May 11.
280 Governor Jonathan Belcher to Alured Popple. The 22nd of last month I received your favour of 19 January last with Samuel Graves of Kingston's petition (or rather complaint) to Lieut.-Governor Dunbar against the King's governor, whom H.M. is pleased in his instructions to me to call the representative of his royal person. (fn. n1) If that ungrateful fellow had any complaint to make against the King's governor, why did he not address it to the governor's royal master to whom he is undoubtedly accountable for the whole of his administration, but by no means to his inferior officer; and how dare the lieut.-governor take cognizance of such an affair without immediately acquainting me with it ? which was most certainly his duty to do, and it might have prevented the fellow's perjuring himself which I assure you he has in that part of his petition wherein he says, which judgment was stayed by advice or order of H.E. Governor Belcher until such time as the lines might be settled. (fn. n1) The last words in this assertion are absolutely false for I never pretended to put any positive stop to the matter nor to do it at a time so very uncertain as the settlement of the line might be which has been in agitation for above 60 years. Though I was always willing to do this man any kindness I could but well knew it was not in my power to dispense with the law or stop the course of it, currat lex being a liberty all Englishmen boast of, nor does the King himself ever interfere with or stop the course of law and justice, but it is one of H.M.'s glories that he rules his people according to the laws of the land.
I also believe what he says the Haverhill men told him to be an absolute falsehood of his own, vizt. that H.E. Governor Belcher has informed them this summer that the lines would never be settled and therefore they might again proceed with their actions. (fn. n1) The affair of the lines, as above, has been above a 60 years controversy, and for 12 or 15 years past to my knowledge the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations have had the trouble from several governors of many letters about them, and the borderers upon the lines have from year to year conceived hopes that the matter would be brought to a head, and for about seven years past when the people have applied to me I have told them to be patient, and did two or three years ago desire the assembly of this province to come into an order of a cessat lex till we might see further about the lines; but the house of representatives would by no means listen to my motion. Upon this the contending parties went again into the law well knowing no order of the governor's could control them. However, upon the application of this Graves I gave him a letter to the sheriff, 19 September 1734, copy whereof I enclose you, as also another letter I gave him at Portsmouth 25 March last to the Justices of the Pleas in Essex County, a copy whereof is also herewith. This was all I could do for this vile fellow that has made me such a return.
What I have said and now enclose I think is a full answer to the second clause of your letter, nor ought anything to be allowed as matter of complaint but what is supported by good evidences (exclusive of the party). Turning to my letter to their lordships of 13 January 1732/3; will refresh their memories of my great care and concern for the settlement of the lines and for the peace and ease of the borderers; and I shall with great pleasure do every warrantable thing I can to prevent the courts of either of the provinces under my government from intermeddling in the affairs of the other until the lines are settled. But my Lords Commissioners will upon the most mature deliberation say that the King's governor is but one part of the legislature and is neither capable of making or abrogating laws. I verily think Col. Dunbar not only put this man upon making his complaint but drew it for him to breathe out a little of his ill-nature and vengeance at the governor, for ever since he has had his lieut.-governor's commission it has been his manner to be steadily restless and his constant study to make everybody else as much so as he could. Signed. PS. In consequence of my letter to the justices the action against Graves is continued to the next court, 5½ small pp. Endorsed, Recd. 6 July, Read 8 July 1737. Enclosed,
280. i. Boston, 19 September 1734; Governor Belcher to Sheriff Marston of Essex County, asking for a stay of execution against Samuel Graves of Kingston. Something material to the boundary controversy is daily expected from England. Copy. 1 small p.
280. ii. Portsmouth, 25 March 1737; same to Hon. Timothy Lindall to be communicated to the rest of H.M.'s Justices of Pleas for Essex County, enclosing a petition and asking favour for the petitioner. The commissioners to run the line are to meet 1 August next. It would be no great damage to have this matter continued. Copy. ½ small p. Endorsed, as covering letter. [C.O. 5, 879, fos. 199–206d.]
May 11.
Palace Court.
281 Minutes of Common Council of Georgia. Resolved, that 50l. be paid to Francis Moore in consideration of his acting as storekeeper and clerk to Mr Oglethorpe from October 1735 to January 1736/7; that 20l. be paid to Mrs. Frances Watt out of the rent of her house at Savannah. Read, a letter of Francis Harbin praying for some consideration for his going to Holland to procure servants for the colony; resolved, that 20l. be given him in full. Read, memorial of Capt. William Thomson setting forth that, whereas John West of Savannah and Elizabeth, his wife, have nominated him for a grant of the town-lot in Savannah late belonging to Joseph Hughes deceased with the deed of sale annexed, he prays for a grant of the said lot and leave to alienate it; resolved, that John and Elizabeth West have leave to alienate the same to a person duly qualified and recommended by Capt. William Thomson. Resolved, that 2 guineas be lent to Mrs. Elizabeth Stanley to be repaid by her husband in Georgia. Resolved, that the Trustees will give to Mr. Wragg 6 guineas per head for 80 foreign servants to be delivered in Georgia from Rotterdam provided none be under 12 years of age or above 40. Resolved, that 100l. be paid to Mr. Paris on account of counsel's fees and charges of the Carolina representation. Resolved, that the charge of the servant sent to James Haselfoot by the Peter and James, Capt. Dymond, be paid by the Trust to be repaid by James Haselfoot. Received, certified account from Mr. Causton to Messrs. Minis and Salomons dated 29 December 1736 before the sola bills were received, amounting to 218l. 7s. 9d.;the same was referred to committee of accounts.
Resolved, that 50 acres in Frederica be granted to George Foster who goes at his own expense by Capt. Thomson. Received, a bill of Richard Wilson, gunmaker, for arms amounting to 102l 5l. 9d.; resolved, the accountant pay the same if he finds it to be true. Resolved, that the remaining 25l. of the 50l formerly ordered to Rev. Charles Wesley be paid him here. Ordered, that 250l. be paid to Aid. Heathcote on account. Read, a grant of 150 acres of land to Thomas Upton; sealed the same, secretary to countersign and sign a memorial of the said grant to be registered with the auditor of the plantations. Read, instructions to John Matthias Kramer to engage 60 foreign servants for the colony; sealed the same, secretary to countersign. Resolved, that 10l. be given to Mr. Kramer in consideration of his having waited here and his carrying the said instructions into execution. Signed, draft on Bank of England for 250l. A proposal being made by Daniel M'Lachlan for engaging 100 Highlanders to go to Georgia and that the Trustees will allow to each manservant carried over by the ten gentlemen mentioned in the said proposal 20 bushels or five Scots bolls of meal and a stand of arms and that the Trustees will defray his charges down to Scotland; resolved, that the Trustees will allow to each manservant carried over by the said ten gentlemen the meal and arms as desired but will not advance any money for the said Daniel M'Lachlan's expenses. 4½ pp. [C.O. 5, 690, pp. 80–84.]
May 11.
Palace Court.
282 Minutes of meeting of Trustees for Georgia. Received by Mr. AnderSon, 41l. 15s. 6d. at the desire of the Society in Scotland for propagating Christian Knowledge to be remitted to Rev. John McLeod at New Darien. Mr. Paris reported that the Council of Trade and Plantations have deferred hearing the complaints of South Carolina and the Trustees against one another till 19th inst. 1 p. [C. O. 5, 687,p. 17.]
May 11.
Georgia Office
283 Benjamin Martyn to Thomas Causton. The Trustees named in the trust-grant are to put the bearer, George Foster, in possession of a 50-acre lot in Frederica Entry ½ p [C.0. 5, 667,fo. 17.]
May 11 284 Instructions by Trustees for Georgia to John Mathias Kramer. You are to acquaint foreigners who apply to you that the Trustees will grant to each man of 21 years of age and upwards who goes to Georgia at his own expense 50 acres of land to himself and heirs male; and to sons of 21 and upwards (except the eldest because he is the heir) the same. To each person whose birth, honour, reputation and ability are approved by them, they will grant 500 acres to himself and heirs male, the gentleman carrying over and maintaining ten menservants, the lands to be marked out within three months of arrival. They will grant to each manservant, on certificate of good behaviour at the end of five years' service, 20 acres of land to himself and heirs male.
If persons apply who cannot pay their own passage and will bind themselves to the Trustees for five years or (if under 20) until the age of 25, you may engage as far as 60 heads. If they can repay their passages any time within six weeks of arrival in Georgia, they will be free, otherwise remain servants as above-mentioned. No family must be divided. Children under six remain with their parents, those of six and above are to serve, if boys, to 25, if girls, to 18. The Trustees' servants will be provided with clothes, food, lodgings and necessaries, and be given, subject to good behaviour, 20 acres of land on conclusion of service. Persons born in Georgia will have all liberties of naturalborn subjects within the British dominions. Liberty of conscience is allowed in the worship of God to all and all except Papists shall have free exercise of religion so they be contented with the quiet and peaceable enjoyment of the same, not giving offence or scandal to the government. Entry. 2 pp. [C.O. 5, 670, pp. 369–370.]
May 11. 285 Grant by Trustees of Georgia to Thomas Upton of London, gentleman, of 150 acres of land in Georgia. Entry. ¼ p. [C.O. 5, 670,p. 309.]
[May 11.] 286 Memorandum on the Indians of Georgia. H.M. by the advice of the Privy Council and with the consent of the Trustees for Georgia enacted that no person should go among the Creek or Cherokee or other Indians of Georgia without licence from the Trustees and security for good behaviour. The lieut.-governor of South Carolina was ordered to assist in putting this act in execution. But the lieut.-governor in defiance of this act and of the commands of the crown sent one Wright, who had been transported for felony, on a private message to the Upper Creeks. He persuaded one Opayhatchoo to come down to the governor at Charleston where, besides a public speech which was owned, he gave him private instructions the consequence of which has appeared by the murder committed by Obeeauchy upon the Spaniards. Besides which, the lieut.-governor sent up one Childermas Crofts amongst the Creek Indians and ordered those Indians to fall upon the Floridas who are subjects of the Spaniards and with whom they are intermixed. This appears from a letter to the Duke of Newcastle from some of the Carolina merchants, dated Charleston 6 February. In consequence of these proceedings it appears by letters from Charleston dated 5 March that Opayhatchoo the above-named Indian chief with six other Indians fell upon the Floridas, being Indians and Spaniards, and killed one Spaniard, one Indian, one mulatto and one negro. These are the melancholy consequences of the lieut.-governor of South Carolina's refusing to obey H.M.'s orders and intermeddling in a province where he had nothing to do. 1½ pp Endorsed, Recd, from Mr. Oglethorpe, 11 May 1737. [C.O. 5, 654, fos. 107–108d.]
May 11.
St. Christopher's
287 Governor William Mathew to Alured Popple, enclosing the following. The box of papers therein mentioned I have delivered to Capt. Wootton who will deliver it to you Signed 1 p Endorsed, Recd. 4 July, Read 10 August 1737. Enclosed,
287. i. Same to Council of Trade and Plantations, same date and place. Among other papers now transmitted are the following Acts: an Act of Montserrat for raising a poll-tax, this is a usual tax act and requires no explanation; an Act of Montserrat for the further restriction of slaves by prohibiting them from planting indigo, cotton, ginger, coffee or cocoa, and from keeping a public market on Sundays, and for further restraining licentious meetings of negroes. As to the first part, preventing negroes planting indigo etc. it is a most reasonable provision as their planting such commodities was not only an injury to the poor but chiefly a cover to hide their robberies and stealing such commodities from those inhabitants, pretending what they stole was of their own produce. The clause of the market I had a petition against, signed by some of the town inhabitants; but it would have been more regular had that petition been presented to one of the Houses before the bill passed, to which the petitioners gave for excuse that, the bill going through the assembly in one day, they had neither notice nor time to prepare and offer such a petition. I found there was a mixture of personal prejudices between the persons that formed the legislature on one side and the petitioners on the other, and therefore without sending thither the petition with the names of the petitioners I rather chose to send to both Houses the reasons alleged by the petitioners and some of my own; and then I called upon the council to advise me as a council whether I should pass this law including the market clause, which they advised me to do. I refer you to the minutes of the council of Montserrat now transmitted. The concluding part of this law, for restraining licentious negroes, has long been wanting, and I imagine the danger Antigua lately has been in occasioned it. The same danger has at last induced Nevis to alter their old militia laws and make one with common sense in it and with a better regard to the welfare and safety of that poor island than anyone heretofore made. T had long litigated this matter with them in vain, and still (though I have gained by this law almost every point I had proposed and held fast by, resolving to pass no law in the old insignificant forms and for but eight yearly meetings) yet the article of bayonets is thrown out, and I was forced to pass this law or have none at all. I hope hereafter they will judge better for their own preservation: it wants nothing else to make it a very good law.
I come now to three laws of great moment passed by the legislature of Antigua in consequence of the negro rebellion, and I hope the emergency will reconcile you to the share I have had in making them. The first is an Act to attaint of high treason two freed negro men named Benjamin Johnson and William alias Billy Johnson. When this bill came up to the council from the assembly and had had its first reading, I then made but one observation upon it (and I have fallen into the parliamentary method of leaving entirely to the council all correspondence with the assembly in making of laws as from one House to another, still reserving to myself a negative voice; but if I am present as generally I am and I overhear at the council's reading a bill any clause I cannot agree to, I do not wait to reject the bill after it has passed the assembly and the board but I mention as my private opinion that it will be best such or such matters as clash with my instructions or are quite contrary to my own way of thinking should be altered and I often say how, but still I leave it to themselves to accept my observation or not. Thus I expedite laws that otherwise would be quite lost for want of easy explanations; and if we followed the English parliamentary method of never introducing a same law twice in one session, as our assemblies though for seven years are a continued one session by adjournment not by prorogation, laws though never so necessary and wholesome would be lost for years, and for error it may be in form only). The observation I made was the want of a suspending clause in so extraordinary a law, and I was pretty much pressed in council by arguings against my objection, but I have too lately ventured upon such a breach of my instructions to be guilty of it again, and my positively declaring I would not pass the bill without it occasioned its being sent back to the assembly to be amended with such a clause. The bill had been carried in the lower House very precariously accidental sickness or other avocations had called away two or three members from attending, else the bill had been thrown out there and never come to the council who were almost to unanimity fond of it; and upon sending it back again to the assembly there was danger of its being entirely lost. However, the same members being absent as before, it escaped to the council again but not with the amendment but some scrupulous doubt as from people that were ashamed though not a little willing to give a nay to what they afore had given an affirmative to. When the council got the bill again they dropped the amendment of the suspending clause and called upon me for help. I told them the clause might be left out, but then after the bill had passed both Houses I would not pass it but send it (as I now do) to you to be recommended to H.M. for obtaining his leave for my passing it. And now I think myself bound by my duty to give you a candid, fair sum of the evidence upon which both Houses (but the council especially) were induced to pass this bill. I will not say a word of my own poor opinion on it: I leave all as grounded on the evidence only and the recital of that evidence to you. This puts the whole in a ready way of being determined on by your unerring judgment: the lives of two freeborn subjects depend upon it, I therefore hope you will not disapprove my being very exact though long.
The evidence against Benjamin Johnson given by four of the negro evidences (who as they were all very deeply concerned in the plot could therefore make the best discoveries and whom the justices all along averred to have been very steady in all the informations they gave) does not point out any certain time but only mentions that on some Saturday night or Sunday about six or seven months or longer afore, and they each of them declared here but to a separate fact at a separate time except that two of them aver that on such a Saturday night and Sunday Benjamin Johnson took the oath twice to destroy the Christians, and a third of these evidences only says that Benjamin pledged his brother Billy without saying anything when his brother Billy drank the health to him, and offering himself to attack the town-guard that Benjamin answered Billy that he would be his friend. Another negro evidence says that Benjamin Johnson said that he had thought of going for England to marry but now he hoped to get a white wife here, that Damn them (meaning the Christians) he did not get his freedom from them, Damn them, his mistress gave him his freedom. Another negro evidence said that a wife of Court's and a negro woman went into Benjamin Johnson's with a keg and a box; that she said it was Court's powder; that she seemed afraid of its being found with her, but that Benjamin Johnson replied No matter for that I will say I bought it; that Benjamin Johnson sent to a negro called Parham Cuffy and told him if he was asked by the justices he should not own he had lent his mare to him, Benjamin Johnson, but that it was a long time afore since he lent it him. Several of those executed had declared that both the Johnsons were concerned with them.
White Christian evidence against Benjamin Johnson is Henry Cuyler who says that he sold to Benjamin Johnson (it might be remembered he was a shopkeeper in town) eight cask of gunpowder of about 1 cwt. in the whole. This was about the time the plot broke out; he then and afterwards importuned Johnson to buy more, but he refused. Robert Stevens says that about the time of discovering the plot, when the first negroes were taken up, Benjamin Johnson said in his hearing had he known the plot would have been discovered he would have gone to Barbados and spent 30 or 40 pistoles and would have returned when the plot was over, and that at another time he heard Benjamin Johnson say he was glad he did not go to Barbados that he might stand in defence of the country. Thus upon positive and circumstantial evidence this man is put for the safety of his life upon the hard circumstance of proving where he was for 52 Sundays afore, for that was the time limited to him, so as to acquit himself from having taken the damnation oath. However, among other Christian evidences that he produced for his justification, one positively declares that for eighteen months past he has seen him, Benjamin Johnson, morning and evening every Sunday to the best of his knowledge going to or returning from church; and a second declares upon oath that she verily believes that she has seen him, Benjamin Johnson, every Sunday for twelve months past go to or returning from church; and there was a negro evidence, supported pretty circumstantially by a gentleman of repute in town, to prove that James Hanson, a constable, had been tampering with this negro to contrive an impeachment against Benjamin Johnson, and this gentleman had heard this Hanson declare that he would do Benjamin Johnson an injury if in his power. There was a third evidence of a young man of one of the best families in town that very positively affirmed Benjamin Johnson's constant attendance at church for a year past.
I must now come to Billy Johnson. The evidence against him is much stronger than against his brother, and as there seems to have been great intimacies between them the guilt proved upon Billy seems to be very circumstantial against Benjamin. The evidence against Billy Johnson is chiefly the same, vizt. negro conspirators, as appeared against Benjamin. There are two positive evidences that at one of the conspirators' feasts he drank the damnation health twice in one day and a single evidence proves his drinking of it a third time at another place. Several of their meetings used to have been at negro funerals: at one of them there is an evidence that proves that in discourse with one Secundy (a most principal conspirator and who was executed) he made use of these words It would be better if we had the country to ourselves. At another funeral an evidence proves he took Court by the hand, declaring aloud to the negroes present that he (Court) was fit to be king. Another evidence proves his drinking the damnation health a fourth time. Another mentions his being at a meeting at John Obia's (a conspirator) where he took the oath again, administered to him by Secundy, where he declared he would find powder, ball and flints, and would be the first (as he lived in town) to attack the town-guard; and at another place he declared that although he always lived very well yet he hoped to live better. White evidence proves that he saw him at one of these feasts. He produced a great many Christian inhabitants, but all he pretended to by them was that in his shopkeeping and dealings he had been punctual and honest. Now I submit to you the success of the bill. I have endeavoured to inform you the best on it I can, though very little able from being hardly recovered from a most dangerous fit of sickness, much less am I able to present it to you under my own handwriting. Heats and colds during the late troubles that often kept me on horseback many hours at all times of the night have brought this on me with the bad circumstance that my limbs are now affected.
The other two Antigua laws relating to this conspiracy I am at last disappointed of and cannot send them now. I must venture a suspension of some of the officers, still hoping to be supported by you. H.M.'s service always suffers from their negligence and want of diligence as well as of obedience; and in the present case the island of Antigua suffers as to one of those laws by this delay. I left them both with the proper officers to have duplicates made of them and immediately transmitted after me: this is a month ago. I since wrote to the lieut.-governor in all speed for them. I have received his answer that he had given his orders and that they would be sent to me; still they are not come.
To the other public papers I now send I can add a transcript of minutes of council of Antigua, 30 April to 27 October 1736, which I have received from the deputy-secretary but the 9th inst. I can now add hereto some further particulars relating to Anguilla, Spanish Town and Tortola in obedience to your commands, but I must get more health before I can complete to send to you the draft of the Virgin Islands I formerly mentioned. In Anguilla John Richardson is deputy-governor, John Harragan, Abraham Chalwell, Richard Richardson and Arthur Hodge are of the council. There are two vacancies by the death of Bazael Rogers and Thomas Howell. There are three divisions in the island to chose three members of the assembly for each, vizt. the Valley division, the Road division, Joanshole division. At Spanish Town, Philip Markoe is deputy-governor, Peter Markoe, John Hodge, Francis Frett and Christopher Burroughs are of the council there. William Penn being dead and John Farrington having quitted, there are two vacancies in the council there. There are but two divisions to choose members of the assembly, vizt. the Valley division to choose six members, and the North and South Sound division to choose three. In Tortola the post of deputy-governor is vacant by the death of Stephen Sills. The council consists of John Pickerring, John Norton, Richard Carty, Peter Turnbull, Alexander Belnaves. There remains one vacancy in the council by William Nanton's being gone to Sta. Cruz to settle. There are three divisions in the island to choose three assemblymen each, vizt. Fat Hog Bay division, Road division, Sako Bay division. Signed. 14 small pp.
287. ii. Abstract of preceding. 2 pp.
287. iii. Copy of an act to attaint of high treason two freed negro men named Benjamin Johnson and William alias Billy Johnson. It appears from evidence taken past all reasonable doubt that Benjamin and Billy Johnson were as deeply engaged in the plot as any of the conspirators. By the laws and practices of this island a slave cannot give evidence against a free man; and yet it appears with all moral certainty they are guilty. They are accordingly hereby convicted and attainted of high treason and are to suffer death, their lands, goods, etc. to be liable for payment of gaol fees and other fees. Passed the assembly 28 February 1736/7, W. Smith, clerk to the assembly. Passed the council 12 April 1737, Edward Gamble, deputy-clerk to the council. 2½ pp. Endorsed, Recd. 4 July, Read 10 August 1737 and sent to Mr. Fane. [C.O. 152, 23,fos. 5–19d.]
May 12.
288 Governor Jonathan Belcher to Council of Trade and Plantations. The beginning of March last I made a journey to New Hampshire where I had ordered an assembly to meet me, and they continued sitting about a month in which time (after an obstinate refusal of other assemblies for six years to supply the treasury) they took effectual care for the payment of the public debts, passed several public and private Acts for the advantage of the province and of particular persons; I enclose authentic copies of all their proceedings under the seal of the province, as also my answer to the queries you sent me as they relate to New Hampshire. I prorogued the assembly there to 6 July next that they might be in a readiness to have laid before them any commands I might receive from H.M. respecting the boundaries betwixt this province and that; and during the session all things were carried on with decency and good order, as I am more and more persuaded they would always have been had the province been so happy as never to have seen Col. Dunbar, who I am perfectly satisfied has been constantly at the bottom of every ill-natured mischievous affair that has happened there. It is said he is to sail this week for London; I wish it may be true that the province and the governor may be rid of one perpetual vexation, for the man loves nothing so much as quarrelling and contention. I think it my duty to enclose to you a proclamation I issued on the occasion of a vile riot committed in this town and of several seditious letters wrote upon it; the management of the mob in pulling down the public market seems to be imitation of the villainous affair of Edinburgh in the case of the unhappy Capt. Porteous. I also cover to you a print where you will see some wicked people are beginning the way of writing anonymous menacing letters for the practice of a new sort of robbery. Upon the appearance of these things I have often wished that there might be an additional Act made to the Riot Act in Great Britain extending to the Plantations. Signed. 3½ small pp. Endorsed, Recd. 6 July, Read 8 July 1737. Enclosed,
288. i. Boston Evening Post, No. 91, Monday 9 May 1737. Printed. 2 pp.
288. ii. Proclamation by Governor Belcher of Massachusetts Bay, Boston, 14 April 1737, directing all H.M.'s officers and subjects to give information as to the authorship of three threatening letters, one posted on the door of the Town House of Boston and the others addressed to Edward Winslow, Sheriff of Suffolk County. Printed. 1 large p. Endorsed, as covering letter.
288. iii. Answer of Governor Belcher to queries received from the Council of Trade and Plantations. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 4 April 1737. (1) The situation of New Hampshire is between what was formerly called the colony of the Massachusetts Bay and the province of Maine, bordering 15 miles in width upon the Atlantic. The latitude of Portsmouth (the chief town of the province) is 43 degrees 20 minutes north, the longitude 69 degrees 7 minutes west from London, settled by good observation. As to the nature of the country the seashore is rocky, the inland parts mountainous; between the sea and the mountains are hills, plains, meadows and swamps. The soil of all sorts is well adapted to hemp and flax, grass, Indian corn, barley and oats, not so well to wheat by reason of frequent mildews. The climate is healthy, though the winters in some years are very cold and the summers as hot. No Spanish settlement but at a great distance to the westward, the French to the northward and westward on Mississippi and Canada rivers. (2) The reputed boundaries are a line three miles to the northward of Merrimac river and every part thereof on one side, and the province of Maine (now called County of York) on the other, these being the bounds mentioned in all the governors' commissions except the last which mentions no bounds at all; neither do any of the former commissions mention any bounds at the head or at the sea; both the aforementioned boundaries are disputed by Massachusetts. New Hampshire, considered as a province, is but a small strip of land not more than 15 miles wide by the sea and not so big by one-half as some single counties of Massachusetts, without any bounds save on two sides and without any ,grant from the crown, the right of the inhabitants being mostly by Indian deeds and occupancy.
(3) The constitution of the government is by a commission from the crown to a governor by virtue whereof he convenes general assemblies consisting of a council appointed by H.M. and a house of representatives chosen by the people. The governor, council and representatives make laws which are sent home for H.M.'s approbation or disallowance. There are three courts established by law for administering justice in civil and criminal cases, called a Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace, an inferior Court of Common Pleas, and a superior Court of Judicature, from whence lies an appeal to the governor and council in civil actions where the thing in controversy amounts to 100l. sterling. The governor, according to his commission and instructions from the king, appoints the justices of the courts, treasurer, secretary, sheriff, king's attorney, coroner and notary public, and all the military officers who hold their commissions under him during pleasure; the justices of the courts appoint their clerks; and the general assembly the recorder of deeds. (4) The trade of the province is by pine lumber and casked dry codfish to the British West Indies for rum, sugar, molasses and cotton wool; by merchantable codfish to Spain, Portugal and Mediterranean; and by building new ships and lading them with oak timber to Great Britain, Spain and Portugal; these last articles being in return for British manufactures. The trade of building ships and loading them with oak has increased something of late but the trade of pine timber is within ten years past decreased at least three-quarters, the trees growing on private property especially those near the seashore being mostly gone. The number of vessels belonging to and trading to and from the province (exclusive of small fishing and coasting vessels) are 8 or 10 amounting to about 800 tons. The number of seafaring men about 70. The trade may have increased within four years past near one-quarter part. (5) The province takes off in British manufactures of all sorts annually upwards of 10,000l. sterling, as woollens, haberdashery, ironware, canvas etc. (6) I do not find any trade carried on to foreign plantations unless now and then a vessel to the Portugal islands which brings wines in return for lumber and fish; nor to any part of Europe but to Spain etc. as beforementioned, and the produce of their cargoes is generally remitted to London and the vessels return home with salt. (7) To prevent illegal trade there is a collector appointed from home and a clerk of the Naval Office appointed by the governor, and when any such trade is detected the Acts of Parliament are put in execution.
(8) The natural produce of the country is fish and timber, principally pine and oak, some beech, ash and birch. The manufactures are chiefly new vessels, then boards, plank, clapboards, shingles, masts, houseframes, chests, desks, chests of drawers, tables and chairs, sent to Virginia and Carolina. The whole exportation (including new ships) may be about 15,000l sterling a year. (9) Some iron mines have been found, the quantity small and the value little; hardly 10 tons of iron have been made annually for seven years past. (10) The number of inhabitants, men, women and children, whites, may be upwards of 11,000; blacks, about 200. (11) There have died within two years past (mostly children) about 1500 persons by a mortal distemper in the throat, yet the province has increased in numbers in the last four years about a tenth part. (12) The number of the militia is upwards of 1900 men in two regiments of foot and two troops of horse. (13) There is only one fort in the province, on an island at the entrance of Piscatagua river, called Fort William and Mary, has 45 guns, many of them honeycombed and unfit for service, without powder, ball and other warlike stores, the walls with the other works and carriages in a ruinous condition; towards the repair whereof the assembly in their last session have ordered about 140l. sterling. To this fort are belonging only a captain, a gunner, and one sentinel, the assembly always pleading the poverty and inability of the province to support this fort in any tolerable manner.
(14) and (15) No Indians in this province nor any in the neighbourhood except in the eastern part of the province of Massachusetts where are about 300, much in the interest of the French King, his subjects cohabiting and often intermarrying with them. (16) [Same as (16) in No. 121 i.]. (17) Not much affected in this province by French or Spanish settlements in times of peace, but when it is war the French greatly distress the land frontiers, coming from Canada and mixing with the Indians; and it is also to be expected (in that case) that the French from Cape Breton will entirely ruin the fishery of this province as well as the trade from Great Britain and all other parts. (18) and (19) The revenue is about 80l. sterling a year appropriated towards the payment of the governor's salary, and 5d. sterling a ton on foreign vessels appropriated to buy gunpowder for the fort. This is all, save the annual tax on polls and estates of about 160l. sterling for support of the government. (20) The establishments are 200l. sterling, or 600l. bills of credit, on the governor for an annual salary, 5s. a day for the council and 3s. for the representatives during the sessions of general assemblies, and 150l. a year on the captain and others belonging to the fort. There is no other establishment, civil or military, but the general assemblies make allowances from time to time as they see meet to the treasurer, secretary etc. The fees (if they may be called so) of the judges, justices, sheriffs, clerks and all others, are paid according to law by the parties and persons whom they serve, but they have nothing out of the treasury. Signed. 7½ small pp. Endorsed, as covering letter. [C.O. 5, 879, fos.208–212d; C.O. 5, 880, fos. 1–4d.]
May 13.
289 Governor Jonathan Belcher to Duke of Newcastle. I am told Col. Dunbar sails this week for Great Britain, and I am told goes away With all the ill-nature he can possibly have against the governor to whom he has been but one continual plague ever since he received his lieut.-governor's commission, fire and contention being the element he delights to live in, loving to be restless and to make everybody so he has to do with. You cannot but be sensible of the great trouble and fatigue I have undergone since my appointment to this government with one obstinate assembly after another for my steady adherence to H.M.'s royal orders; and I have been often threatened by men of influence that they would grant me no support unless I would go from the king's instructions. And during the dispute for about three years respecting the supply of the treasury I did not receive one farthing to defray my yearly expense in this province. At New Hampshire, by Col. Dunbar's little arts and crafts with the members of the assembly there, that province is at this time considerably in arrears with me although they passed a law settling my salary to be paid half-yearly. It has been my steady care to advance the king's honour and interest to the utmost of my power, nor have the worst of my enemies been able to justify any complaint against me, my conduct being particularly approved by H.M. in his royal order of II January 1733/4 and by the Council of Trade and Plantations in their letter of 27 September 1733. I can assure you upon my faith and honour that the governments of both provinces have not been worth to me communibus annis 750l. sterling, which is but a poor pittance for the support of the king's governor whom H.M. in his instructions to me is pleased to call the representative of his royal person in the governments where he has placed me; and the support they give me does but barely pay my necessary annual expense. Yet as this is my native country where are my family, my friends, and my little fortune, I own with great and humble gratitude the continuance of H.M.'s royal favour to me.
I am sensible Col. Dunbar will do everything in his power right or wrong to my prejudice: I therefore beg of you that his representations may make no impression till I am heard in answer. He wrote me a few months past he did not intend to return hither but to seek some employment at home: happy will it be for this country they may never see him again where I do not believe he can make out one single service he has done for the crown. But I am well satisfied he has done a great deal to alienate the affections of the king's subjects from his government; his despotic arbitrary way, as beating the king's subjects, threatening to burn and destroy their substance, etc., will by no means do in civil government.
The two provinces where I command are in good peace and tranquillity at present, but should there be any change of governor I have reason to believe it would throw the provinces into new difficulties and give the king's ministers fresh trouble who have had too much already with this people. I am told Col. Dunbar intends to endeavour Mr. George Jaffreys may succeed him as lieut.-governor of New Hampshire, who is as opposite to me as Col. Dunbar himself. And with great deference to you I cannot see what advantage it can be to H.M.'s service or to the ease of his ministers to have persons put into post in one and the same government who will be continually thwarting and opposing one another. I therefore pray Col. Henry Sherburne, who has been for many years of H.M.'s council in New Hampshire, may succeed Col. Dunbar in the lieutenancy of that province: he is a very worthy gentleman and would be acceptable to the province in general and to me in particular. Upon the consideration of these things I hope you will allow me a share in your justice and favour that I may still enjoy the royal grace in holding H.M.'s commissions for the provinces where he has placed me and that I may not have those under me in commission who delight in giving trouble and opposition. Signed. 12 small pp. Endorsed, Recd. 11 July. [C.O. 5, 899, fos. 261–266d.]
May 14.
Secretary's Office,
290 Thomas Morse to James Oglethorpe, giving notice of a legacy of 10 guineas left by Stephen Lamolliere, a French gentleman, who died in 11th inst. to be distributed among the poor German Protestants in Georgia. As executor I will pay that sum here to your order. Signed. ½ p. [C.O. 5, 639,fo. 252.]
May 14.
291 President James Dottin to Council of Trade and Plantations, acknowledging letter of 6 October last. You need not have troubled to send copies of my letters to the Duke of Newcastle, since he had copies transmitted to him. But I have not yet had any answer nor received further commands from H.M. upon that head [French settlements in St. Lucia]. The inhabitants in general are greatly uneasy on account of these new settlements being so much continued and improved, as you will perceive by the copy of the council's address enclosed, which is likewise the sentiments of the assembly. I hope from the opinion you gave on the consequences that may attend these settlements that H.M. will give such speedy directions thereon as will best tend to the welfare and security of his islands and the trade thereof. If you approved of the method I formerly mentioned and will procure proper instructions to be sent from the Admiralty to the captains of the ships of war stationed at these islands for destroying these settlements, and they were strictly to be put in execution, the settlers would soon evacuate the islands. But that indeed will be depriving the commanders of those ships of the great advantage they reap by encouraging an illegal trade to be there carried on, by which they grow very rich; but this is done in such a secret and private manner that unless their own officers would prove it on them they cannot be detected in a practice which I am persuaded you will contrive proper methods to prevent for the future.
It gives me the utmost pleasure to find that H.M. confirmed the Act for paying the late governor's debts: I was fully convinced that this island, notwithstanding the declining condition it then was and still remains under, could not show too much gratitude to the memory of a governor whose equal we had not known.
I was unwilling to trouble you with the particulars of the hardships imposed on the planters and shippers of the produce of this island by the Custom-house officers in the collection of the 4½ per cent, duty because I well knew it was fully represented to our agents who I thought would have taken proper care to represent that matter and solicit for redress if the Commissioners of the Customs had not altered their directions to the officers here.
I shall observe what you mention with respect to the five Acts. If the assembly prepare an Act for their repeal I shall not pass it unless a suspending clause be inserted. But you will allow me to remark that the assembly here seldom care to make an Act wherein this clause is inserted because it has generally happened to lie a long while without being confirmed or disallowed, an instance of which is the Churchwardens' Act transmitted, with this clause, about four years since.
There are at present only seven members of council besides myself on the island, Ralph Weekes, John Frere, Thomas Maxwell, Thomas Applewhaite, Richard Salter, John Gollop, and Abel Dottin. John Colleton went off this island in 1729 and has continued absent ever since, and it does not appear by the council books where it ought to have been entered that he had any leave to be absent, either from H.M. or the governor. Mr. Ashley last year went off the island in a secret and clandestine manner without my leave; and as he well knew his affairs were in such a condition that he ought properly to have resigned, as he could not hope to appear again here possessed of such fortune or estate as would render him fit to be continued in that station, and as I thought you would consider his place vacant, I hoped you would have regarded my recommendation of Col. John Maycock to supply it, and I shall think myself obliged if you will now recommend him to H.M. Charles Dunbar, H.M.'s Surveyor-General, who is appointed a councillor both ordinary and extraordinary, lately attended and was sworn here; but soon afterwards returned back to Antigua where he generally resides. There was a dispute about his seat in council, as you will observe by the copies of minutes enclosed. I determined it as I thought was just, agreeable to the opinions of the other members of council, and conformable to several precedents; so I flatter myself my opinion herein will meet with your sanction. Although Mr. Dunbar may be a most proper person to be of H.M.'s council here, was he generally to reside on the island (which I presume he intended when he procured this mandamus) and to purchase an estate here (for at present he has none in the island), I think it is worthy your consideration whether he should continue a councillor in ordinary if he does not constantly reside, as the public business may meet with some delay for want of his presence and as he thereby occasions the other members who are resident more trouble and takes up the place of another that would be present. I hope your determination herein will oblige the absent members either to resign or live on the island, where it seems their duty obliges them to remain, to be of the service they ought when they are appointed to be of the council.
I am pleased to have construed my instruction in granting appeals in the manner you intended, though I was much pressed to be of a contrary opinion and given to understand that my refusal of that appeal might be much to my prejudice. Signed. 3 pp. Endorsed, Recd. 30 June, Read 7 September 1737. Enclosed,
291. i. Speech of President Dottin to the Council and Assembly of Barbados, drawing attention to defects in the Militia Act and the arrears of the half-crown levy. The annual expenses of the government greatly exceed the public income. If the former are not reduced as much as possible, debts will increase. I cannot help observing what very large sums have been paid out of the treasury for executed negroes when I am convinced that many of these unhappy wretches have been unjustly condemned on a pretended misconstruction of the act by which they are tried. This matter deserves your attention. Frequent instances of perjury suggest the need for greater punishments. 2½ pp.
291. ii. Address of Council of Barbados to President Dottin. We cannot omit this opportunity of entreating you to represent to H.M. the great disadvantages by means of the settlements made by the French on those islands stipulated and agreed to be evacuated by both nations and which the English readily quitted in obedience to the orders published at St. Lucia. But the other nation has been so far from complying therewith that, we are credibly informed, their settlements on those islands are brought to a much greater perfection than ever; in case of a rupture with the French, it will not be possible for this island to be preserved under the British dominion, as they may prevent any vessels coming hither. An end to these settlements might easily be brought to pass were the commanders of the ships of war obliged, instead of carrying on that large trade with those people, to compel them to evacuate the same. Copy, certified by William Duke, Deputy Clerk to Council. 2 pp.
291. iii. Address of Assembly of Barbados to President Dottin, expressing satisfaction with his government. Your ample fortune here has enabled you to execute your office at a small expense to the public, which from our present low circumstances cannot afford a larger; much less are we in a condition to make a suitable provision for a governor. A great discouragement has been given to the trade of this island by the late duty on retailers of spirits. The French settlements on St. Lucia are increasing and, if completed, would in the event of war cut us off from the mothercountry. We doubt not of your enforcing this matter in the most earnest manner possible. 2 pp. Endorsed, as covering letter.
291. iv. Extract of minutes of Council of Barbados, 15 March 1736/7. Charles Dunbar was admitted a councillor and took the several oaths. After debate about precedence in the council, the president ruled that precedence dated from the time of being sworn of the council and not from the date of the mandamus. Copy, certified as No. ii above. 3½ pp. Endorsed, as covering letter. [C.O. 28, 25 fos. 50–57d.]


  • n1. Underlined in MS.