America and West Indies: February 1739, 16-28

Pages 37-50

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 45, 1739. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1994.

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February 1739, 16-28

February 17
Thomas Jones to Harman Verelst. On the 13th in the afternoon thirty Indians of the Chactaw nation arrived here: we knew not of their coming till we saw them at the bluff. They were conducted to the courthouse where they were entertained with tobacco, wine and biscuit. They by their interpreter (a French youth who lived some years among them and deserted from a French garrison in their country about two years ago) acquainted us that they were friends to the English, that they protected the English traders and conducted them safe to and from their nation, that they were come a great way to have a talk with the Great Man and were determined to see him, that they would tarry for his coming here or go to where he was. There was no meat in the store nor beer: I bought two hogs and three barrels of beer (with my own money) and last night had three of the Trustees' steers killed and brewed an hogshead of molasses beer which I hope may suffice until the general arrives. I immediately (with Col Stephen's concurrence) dispatched a canoe to advise the general and hope to see him or to receive his orders in a day or two, for they are troublesome and expensive guests but have hitherto kept them in good humour. Tomochici with his chiefs came yesterday to pay them a visit. The further particulars his excellency, when he comes here, will I doubt not acquaint the Trustees with.
The melancholy condition this colony is in at present, my own insufficiency to undertake any measures (if I was sufficiently instructed) that may tend to bring affairs into a better situation, the absence of the general for so long a time from these parts, and the artful contrivances daily renewed by a party here to bring all things into confusion and to reproach the good intentions of the Trustees, endeavouring to lay the blame of all the calamity and distress the people labour under at their door, give me great uneasiness; but am resolved with God's help to use my best endeavours to stem the torrent if I perish in the attempt, hoping their honours will not forsake the few honest, industrious persons in Georgia who have been the only persons for some time past neglected and put under hardships but will in due time appoint some person of a better capacity that can use closer application to business than I have been inured to. You have (for some years past) known that my good wishes always attended the welfare of this colony which continue the same still; therefore entreat you will excuse to the Trustees any unguarded expression, the prolixity and plainness that may be used by me. I shall have at all times a regard to truth in what I write, which had it been more consulted by some others in times past this colony would in all probability have been in a more flourishing condition than it is in. For some time after I came to Savannah I imagined that the great disorder the Trustees' affairs were in proceeded rather from neglects, through Mr Causton's haughtiness of temper and his having too many affairs to manage than from any designed knavery or injustice in him. I took the liberty of communicating my thoughts to his excellency to the same purpose and daily pressed Mr Causton to render as plain and full account as he was capable of all the affairs under his care and management. And though it was evident the Trustees had suffered greatly by his misconduct, which he might be led into through an hurry of business and his being obliged to entrust the management of some affairs to others, yet I did not doubt but their honours would be satisfied when he represented to them the difficulties he had laboured under and that it appeared he had not sought his private interest therein. He said that he had not got the value of a pair of shoes in the Trustees' service but spent his own fortune, complained of his hard usage and threatened to apply to Parliament for satisfaction, that he would not concern himself about the accounts, that was the clerks' business, that he had never writ in the books, that he had been too faithful a servant and had not dealt in any one commodity nor been concerned in any traffic or business whereby he gained one penny (though often solicited thereto) since he had engaged in their service. I was soon after convinced to the contrary.
Rev Mr Bolzius of Ebenezer desired me to see what credit had been given him for a parcel of linen (whereof the prime cost in Germany was 71l sterling) which he had delivered to Mr Causton. I looked into his account in the books but found no mention therein of any. I therefore inquired of Mr Causton the reason he had for not giving Mr Bolzius that credit. He told me that he had taken that linen on his private account and had sold the greatest part of it and that Mr Bolzius might bring his action against him if he pleased, there was one piece and a remnant left which Mr Bolzius might have or he would leave it in the store. Many such instances you will meet with in his accounts when sent over. They heavy expense which the Trustees have been at in supporting this colony will appear when the vouchers for those expenses shall be sent over for your perusal. In the meantime I shall only mention two instances of what has been undertaken this last year, how necessary I shall not determine. The one is Mr Bradley's house which cost at least 600l and though magnificent enough is not tenable nor will last two years without being underpropped as I am informed. Mr Bradley is still carrying on additional buildings: I have told some of the people who supply him with materials for building and workmanship that the Trustees have not given any directions for such building but he assures them the contrary and carries on the work. The other are additional buildings to the store. The carpenter's bill being but a few articles, have enclosed a copy with some remarks I have made thereon; therefore shall only add that when I first came to this town I intended to build a small room as an addition to the lodging I had taken and talked with carpenters about the price of their labour. They demanded 4s per diem being what Mr Causton had always given. I told them that what I agreed for I would pay them in money and should not oblige them to take it in commodities, that I never would employ any carpenter or other that required more for his labour than the usual prices in London where labour was dearer than in any other part of the world I had ever seen. They then offered to work for me at 2s 6d a day. I have not undertaken anything of that nature hitherto, not knowing how soon I may remove hence (if with approbation of the Trustees), yet should I see any way wherein I should be serviceable to their interests or that my endeavours might be of any use for the good of the colony I should cheerfully spend the remainder of my days here, being I think a very healthy climate and agreeing the best with my constitution of any that I ever breathed in. There are some things in the behaviour of the people very disagreeable and offensive to me, viz the profanation of the Lord's Day: when at church in the time of divine service, can hear continual firing of guns by people that are shooting at some game, others carrying burthens on wheelbarrows by the church door; the uncommon lewdness practised by many and gloried in; the negligence of officers in permitting several in this town to retail rum and strong liquors, unlicenced, who have no other visible way of livelihood, where servants resort and are encouraged to rob their masters: all of which I doubt not, when the Trustees shall be fully apprised of, will be remedied. I need not mention profane swearing and drunkenness which are not so common here as in some other places and few are notorious therein besides Mr Bailiff Parker who I have seen wallow in the mire. On Monday last in the evening he went to Jenkins's (a public house) where (for the entertainment of the company) he agreed for a bowl of punch that Jenkins should be magistrate and he the landlord for that night. They stripped themselves before the company and exchanged clothes. Parker called for the liquor but Jenkins exercised his new authority in a very despotic manner not only by calling his host Parker drunken swab and other opprobrious names but chastized and threw him down. It is with no small concern of mind that I trouble you with such trivial (though melancholy) accounts but have nothing agreeable and pleasing from this part of the colony to acquaint you with, yet do hope when his excellency visits us affairs will take a better turn.
The stores are (by the issues made towards payment of the debts incurred) nigh drained of all necessary provisions. There's no meatkind of any sort nor rice and but a small quantity of biscuit. But having some flour yet remaining I have of late bought Indian meal (which I paid for) with which and half flour I caused bread to be made which gives better content than biscuit and comes at a much cheaper rate. The meal costs 5s per cwt. There is a large quantity of Indian corn yet remaining though none of it sound and good, a great part damaged, all which I have removed into the store and hope to preserve from further damage. 6000 bushels of corn was bought last summer at 2s 4d – 2s 8d and 3s per bushel and put in large heaps into several houses in the town hired for that purpose at a dear rate where it remained without ever being turned or taken any care of till 28 November. (I could not prevail on Mr Causton to deliver it into my care before that time, saying that William Ewen, his servant, who had privately withdrawn from the colony and gone to Carolina, had the corn under his care and that I must wait until he came.) The corn had sweated, the weevil was got into it, and some of the houses it had rained into, that when opened the corn seemed to be a green field; it had sprouted and was grown to a considerable height. I have issued the best corn at 18d per bushel (being the price the people at Ebenezer sell their new corn at) though it is much cheaper in Carolina as I am informed; the damaged corn at 1s per bushel. The inventory of that and the other effects delivered into my care I shall send over as soon as the general arrives here and hope soon to send an account of the issues, though am much straitened in time being (at the best) but slow in writing as well as apprehension and having no person to assist me that I can confide in so much as to transcribe what I have written. I have a youth (William Russel, one of the clerks) to assist me sometimes but is so attached to Mr Causton by his being sent for to Oxtead and caressed that I dare not depend on him, having found him tardy when examining the daybooks with me. Yesterday Mr Causton told me that he had discovered several errors in his cash account and desired me to deliver him the copy which he gave me of that account (which I refused) and told me he must have William Russell to write that account over again, the which I consented to, he being of little service to me. If what I write is worthy of the regard of the Trustees I doubt not but you will acquaint them therewith. Signed. 3½ pp. Endorsed, Recd., by Capt Yeomans, 14 May, Read 23 May 1739. [CO 5/640, ff 281–282d]
February 17
Unsigned letter to Earl of Egmont acknowledging his letter. Silk, hemp and flax grown in Georgia would be beneficial to mother-country and could be cultivated by the same people at different times of year. I have contrived a machine for dressing hemp and flax. I would go to Georgia taking cloth and wheat on promise of 500 acres of land each for self and son. PS. Direct for Mr Brooks at Dr Burton's in York. 2 pp. Endorsed, Mr Brooks. Recd. 19. [CO 5/640, ff 279–280]
February 19
Palace Court
Minutes of Trustees for Georgia. Consideration of the petition to the House of Commons was further postponed. Entry. 1 p. [CO 5/687, p 108]
February 19
Georgia Office
Harman Verelst to Rev Samuel Urlsperger. The Trustees acknowledge the care given to the colonists for Georgia on their way from Augsburg to Frankfort, particularly the generosity of the von Hoeslin family. Credit for the colonists going on will be answered in England. Care will be taken of them on arrival at Rotterdam. Entry. ¾ p. [CO 5/667, p. 212]
February 21
Commissioners for Trade and Plantations to Committee of Privy Council. We have considered Act passed in Pennsylvania in 1738 supplementary to Act for imposing duty on importation of persons convicted of heinous crimes and of poor persons. The Act to which this is supplementary is a virtual prohibition of importation of convicts. The supplementary Act should be repealed. Under the charter Acts must be transmitted within five years but the Crown has only six months in which to consider them. Pennsylvania's laws have not been regularly transmitted and are sometimes prolonged even after the time fixed for laying them before HM whereby they may make perpetual laws to the detriment of the prerogative and of the interest of Great Britain. Proprietor should be admonished to be more careful. Entry. Signatories, Monson, M Bladen, E Ashe, R Plumer. 4 pp. [CO 5/1294, p 115 and three following unnumbered pages]
February 21
Palace Court
Minutes of Trustees for Georgia. Received receipt from the bank for 20l, benefaction of James Vernon for use of the Salzburgers. Resolved that a meeting be called to consider presenting petition to Parliament that Georgia may not be affected by the 2nd article of the convention which refers the settling limits between Carolina and Florida to plenipotentiaries. Entry. 1 p. [CO 5/687, p 109]
February 22
St Simons
Gen James Oglethorpe to Duke of Newcastle. We have had the misfortune of a difference in the regiment. The lieut-Colonel accused one of the captains, viz Capt Hugh Mackay, of (1) neglect of duty, (2) insulting his commanding officer, (3) not taking proper care to provide the two companies under his command with necessaries he knew they must want, (4) his ill usage to the men which was the occasion of a general discontent and an uneasiness amongst the men, (5) disobeying and contempt of orders, (6) endeavouring to excite the men to mutiny. Capt Mackay accused the lieut-colonel of having followed merchandise to the neglect of his duty and selling to the soldiers at exhorbitant prices, of occasioning the spirit of mutiny, or having broke the treaty with the Spaniards or of matters to that purpose. The captain could be tried here but the lieut-colonel could not because no field-officer can be tried unless the court-martial be composed of thirteen captains or officers of a superior rank, and there are but six captains and field-officers in this regiment. Capt Mackay was tried and acquitted, and I send you the opinion of that general court-martial as also their representation. The lieut-colonel, after one article was examined, wrote the enclosed letter to which the court made the enclosed declaration and adjourned. The next day, having given Lieut-Colonel Cochran notice, they went on with the trial and made a report which concludes with the enclosed opinion. The lieut-colonel hath also had a difference with another captain, viz Capt Richard Norbury, and hath accused him of mutiny and giving him abusive language. A general court-martial was held for the trial of Capt Norbury and they came to the enclosed resolution.
Capt Mackay applied to me for leave to go to England to prosecute the lieut-colonel, and the lieut-colonel wrote to me for leave to go to England and gave assurances that he would strive to get out of this regiment that all proceedings might be stopped, upon which the captains had a meeting where the lieut-colonel and Capt Mackay were present, where they gave assurances that all matters should be quiet and I was to give leave to both to go to England. Capt Mackay went to his command at St Andrews where Hurley, one of the mutineers, was executed for attempting to fire at his captain. I was walking with the lieut-colonel on the sea beach when Capt Mackay returned, landed, and came up to me with several officers. After I had spoke to them and Capt Mackay had given me an account of the execution, the lieut-colonel called Capt Mackay aside. I turned aside to speak to the chaplain and, suddenly turning my head about, I saw the lieut-colonel strike Capt Mackay with a great stick that he had in his hand. The officers ran in to prevent mischief: I inquired of them and they all declared that they had not heard Capt Mackay give him any ill language. Upon this I put them both under arrest till they are embarked in different ships. They desired examinations to be had of several facts, on which I appointed commissaries to take them and have sent them to the secretary at war to be laid before HM. I am sorry to trouble you with these affairs. Signed. 4 pp. Enclosed:
66 i Sentence of court-martial on trial of Capt Richard Norbury. Not guilty of mutiny. Guilty of using reproachful or provoking speeches to another officer, the penalty for which is imprisonment and asking pardon of the person offended. Copy. 1 P.
66 ii Proceedings in court-martial of Capt Hugh Mackay, including a paper and a letter put in by Lieut-Colonel James Cochran. Capt Mackay was found not guilty of all six charges. Copy. 3½ pp.
66 iii Report of the court-martial for trying Capt Mackay to Gen Oglethorpe, stating that there has been a spirit of mutiny amongst the soldiers, particularly those of Lieut-Colonel Cochrane's company; and that by evidence given in the court it appears that Lieut-Colonel Cochrane was in the knowledge of and concealed a mutiny. Copy, certified by Francis Moore. 2 pp.
66 iv List of the twelve members of the court-martial. Major William Cook was president. ¼ p. [CO 5/654, ff 188–196d]
February 22
Lieut-Governor William Gooch to Commissioners for Trade and Plantations commenting on Acts passed by Assembly which met on 1 November last.
Act for amending and continuing Act for amending staple of tobacco and preventing frauds in Customs. This Act being the principal motive for calling the Assembly as it was near expiring, I very strongly recommended its continuance as being of the greatest importance to the interest of the colony in keeping up the price of it, and have so far prevailed that the Act is continued for three years longer than it was by the Act in 1736; by which time it is to be hoped the planters will be so pleased with it that it will meet with few opposers. Indeed there are hardly now any of the better sort against it, but such seldom carrying an election in this country, it had many enemies in the House. There are in this Act many alterations to make it more agreeable to the humour of the people, such as allowing the county courts to nominate annually four persons out of which the governor is to choose two inspectors for every warehouse who are constantly to attend from 10 November till all the inspected tobacco be delivered out to the ships; that the inspectors shall be accountable to the county treasurer for all the tobacco gained by the allowance for shrinkage to prevent their being tempted to make a benefit to themselves; every hogshead of tobacco is to weigh 850 pounds nett tobacco. Inspectors, sheriffs, and other officers are to take an oath to discover all tobacco packed into casks or cases and put on board any boat or vessel in order to be exported without being inspected, under a penalty; and the justices are accordingly to issue warrants for seizing such tobacco and destroying it, and the persons in whose custody such tobacco is found are to forfeit 10s for every hundredweight and proportionably for a less quantity. By these lastmentioned regulations many frauds will be prevented which have hitherto escaped the knowledge of the officers of the Customs. As to the other parts of this Act, consisting of appointing more convenient warehouses and increasing rents and salaries, it is needless to trouble you with them. Act for reviving Act for making more effectual provision against invasions and insurrections. This Act is the same with the Act made in the first year of His present Majesty, whereby a method was prescribed for raising, arming, and marching the militia for suppressing any insurrection or invasion and for ascertaining the pay of the officers and soldiers so employed; and being a temporary law in the nature of a money bill, I hope I shall not be judged to have transgressed my instructions by passing it again on this occasion since it is calculated for the protection of the country and has nothing in it derogatory to HM's interest. Act for better regulating the militia. As it would be unnecessary to trouble you with a recital of all the particular clauses in this Act, I shall only observe that it is well adapted to the circumstances of the colony, and to oblige the officers as well as private men to do their duty under proper penalties; and I question not, by the manner directed for arming them and the care that will be taken of them, the militia will be better than ever and more to be depended on for the common defence. Act for altering the method of trial of certain criminals. The great number of convicts yearly imported here and the impossibility of ever reclaiming them from their vicious habits have occasioned a vast charge to the country in the expense of their trial for felonies committed since their arrival, for as each of these criminals has had a jury of twelve men summoned to Willliamsburg who have been paid by the public, it became necessary to lessen the expense as there are no hopes of lessening the number, and it was of no benefit to the persons accused who are for the most part scarce known in the neighbourhood where they lived and committed the offence. So that this Act directs that when any person, being a transported convict, shall be accused of any crime the county court shall examine and certify whether he be a convict and not out of his time of servitude; and if he be, then no venire shall go to summon a jury of the county, but such convicts shall be tried by a jury of bystanders, saving to the prisoner his challenges to those jurors, and by this method the charge of jurymen will be saved which for some years has been equal almost to all the other public expenses of the government. Act for continuing and amending Act for laying duty on liquors. By this Act the same duty on liquors as has subsisted for many years past is continued until the last day of July 1744, but there is a further allowance of 15 per cent given to the importers of rum in lieu of the leakage which will render that duty much more easy to the merchants than formerly. And there is also a further provision for the better securing the payment of the said duty so that this Act is more beneficial to trade and more convenient to the collectors than any heretofore. Act for amending and further continuing Act for laying duty on slaves. This Act continues the like duty of 5 per cent ad valorem on all slaves imported and sold here, and was imposed by the former Act. And because many of the buyers of slaves have been found to be negligent in the payment of the duty to the former collectors, the sellers of such slaves are hereby empowered to receive the duty or promissory notes for the same at the time of sale, and to account for it to the treasurer, for which they are allowed 6 per cent salary, a method more easy to honest men and more advantageous to the public. Act for amending Act for making, clearing, and repairing highways, and for clearing rivers and creeks, and for making more effectual provision for keeping mill dams in repair. Though by many former Acts of Assembly surveyors of the highways were enjoined to keep them in repair and to make bridges and causeways, yet the proprietors of the adjacent lands often refusing to allow timber for such uses, the roads were but ill kept. But by the provision made in this Act the surveyors of the highways are empowered to cut down and take timber from any lands next adjoining, and that the owners of the land may have no reason to complain the timber is to be valued and the price paid by a tax upon the inhabitants of the county. Here is also a provision made for obliging people of the next counties separated by water or a morass to contribute proportionably to the charge of building bridges and making causeways for the conveniency of travellers, and a penalty on the justices who shall refuse to do their duty herein. Posts with directions for strangers are likewise ordered to be set up at all cross or parting roads, and owners of mills standing on the great roads are made liable to a penalty if they suffer their dams to be out of repair and unfit for the passage of travellers or carriages. And as this is the most effectual Act that has been made for the public conveniency I apprehend no objections can be offered against it. Act for amending Act concerning tithables. The intent of this Act being to detect and discover a very fraudulent practice of listing tithables in counties and parishes where the taxes were like to be most moderate, and by that means increasing the charge on the people of the county and parish where they ought to have been listed and taxed, and likewise to prevent for the future the combination of others who agree not to list their tithables and then inform against one another: to prevent all such unrighteous doings one half of the penalty which is one thousandweight of tobacco for every concealed tithable is given to the use of the parish and will prove a sufficient restraint on such frauds hereafter. In this seafaring men who pay towards the support of Greenwich Hospital out of their wages are exempted from payment of any levies or taxes. Act to restrain sheriffs and other officers from making unreasonable distresses. The slaves of the inhabitants chargeable with public levies or private debts, being most easily come at, and being for that very reason more frequently seized and taken in execution, though for the most inconsiderable demand, this Act restrains sheriffs and other officers from seizing any slave where the debt and costs do not amount to 10l or 2000 lbs of tobacco if other sufficient goods of the debtor shall be shown to the officer to satisfy the debt, and so prohibits all collectors of public, county, or parish levies from making distresses on slaves and from taking any other unreasonable distress, and in that case gives the injured an action and full costs, though the damage does not exceed 40s. It also restrains bringing an action for parish levies but allows distresses to be made for them at any time within three years after they have become due and no longer and, in favour of liberty, prohibits the taking a debtor's body in execution for any small debt recoverable before a justice of the peace, which can only amount to 20s. Act for better regulating and collecting officers' fees. Of this kind there have been many Acts heretofore with little variation, and this Act pursuing the same method with a small alteration in the fees of surveyors of land and in cases not before provided for, it would be needless to take up your time with the particulars since they affect none but the people of the country and they are satisfied with them. Act for licensing pedlars and preventing frauds in the duty on skins and furs. The reason for framing this Act is because the greater part of the deerskins and furs got by our frontier inhabitants, and which were formerly sold here and exported to Great Britain, have been of late engrossed by the people of Pennsylvania and the northern colonies who under the denomination of pedlars import rum and other spirituous liquors distilled in those governments, and with suchlike trifling commodities brought hither by land they purchase skins at the people's houses, and without paying any duty for them carry them to Philadelphia and other towns where they are manufactured into gloves and stockings and sold in the plantations, to the detriment of the trade of Great Britain and to the damage of the College of William and Mary which has part of its support from a duty laid on skins exported from hence. So that for securing the duty to the College and bringing the skin trade upon an equal bottom for foreigners as well as our own inhabitants, it is enacted that all persons travelling as pedlars shall take a licence from the court of that county where they first enter the colony and give bond to pay the duty before the skins they purchase are exported; that if any pedlar is found travelling and trading without such licence he shall forfeit and pay 20s for every several dealing, recoverable before a justice of the peace, or have twenty lashes on his bare back. Collectors of the duty on skins are to be appointed on the frontiers and all skins found in the hands of any pedlar beyond the residence of the collector, without a certificate that the duty is paid, are to be seized and forfeited unless the owner shall in two months make proof that the duty was paid. By this means I hope the exportation of skins and furs to Great Britain will be increased and the revenue to the College augmented for the encouragement and support of that useful nursery of religion and learning. Act to encourage settlements on the southern boundary of this colony. The enlarging the frontier settlements and strengthening them by proper encouragements for cohabitation has always proved the most effectual method of securing the country against the Indians and improving the King's revenue. For these reasons, upon advice that a considerable number of Swiss and German Protestants were embarked in England for this colony, and that many of HM's natural born subjects from the northern colonies were inclined to come and be their neighbours, the Assembly readily agreed to exempt from payment of all levies for ten years all who should settle on that frontier, and to allow them to pay all officers' fees, such as the surveyors for bounding their lands, and all costs for the business they may have during that time in the courts of justice at the rate of ¾d a pound for tobacco, which will be a very great ease to them, and have also indulged them to receive letters of naturalization on producing a testimonial of their having taken the oaths in the county where they reside instead of taking them before the governor as others are obliged to do. This settlement is intended to be near the great ridge of mountains on Roanoke River but it has met with a very fatal beginning, for the ship in which these Swiss and Germans were, after a tedious passage in which for want of provisions they were almost starved, happening at last to arrive within our capes in very stormy weather, and the coldest we have had this winter, was drove ashore from two anchors, and the poor people in this weak condition endeavouring to get to land were many of them drowned and others frozen to death before they could reach any place of shelter; and I think only 70 out of about 200 men, women and children, escaped with life, who have been hospitably received by the inhabitants and are going to settle up the country. There are some goods saved which I have taken care to secure for those to whom they belong. This calamity, the most tragical I ever heard, happened on 2 January. Act declaring the law concerning attachments and altering the court days in the Counties of Accomack and Amelia. This Act only explains and makes more certain part of an Act made in 1710 for establishing the county courts, which through the ignorance of some and the artifice of others had in some places of the country been misconstrued, and therefore enacts that an attachment against the effects of an insolvent debtor, whether goods or money, in the hands of a third person may be attached and the party summoned to give an account thereof upon oath, and thereupon judgment may pass against such garnishee without other formality. The other part of the Act, being for changing the two court days therein mentioned into others more convenient, needs no comment. Act for better preservation of deer and preventing unlawful hunting. The unaccountable practices of many idle vagrant fellows near the frontiers were like to extirpate the breed of deer by watching them in their retreats in the rivers and killing them there, destroying the does big with young and the fawns when just fallen merely for the sake of the skins though then of little value, and by many other destructive means. It became absolutely necessary to lay a restraint on such pernicious doings which were attended with many other ill consequences set forth in the preamble of this bill. For preventing this sort of hunting a penalty is inflicted on persons killing any deer within the time therein limited or buying or receiving any deer or deerskins so killed, except in cornfields or grounds where any grain is actually growing, and except also deer killed by any person living on the frontiers for the necessary food of his family. Red skins found in any man's possession may be seized and constables are empowered to search for them and recover the penalty of 10s for each skin. No hounds are to go at large unless when used in hunting. Fire hunting (which is setting the woods on fire in large circles enclosing a number of deer therein, and then shooting them when forced together by the violence of the flames) is hereafter forbid, and no man is to hunt on his neighbour's land without licence under the penalty of 20s for every offence, one moiety of all these penalties to go to the poor of the parish and the other to the informer. And that there may be no excuse for concealing offenders the county courts are annually to swear the several constables to give information of all offences against this Act, and the justices on such information are to award judgment and execution against the goods of the offender. By which rules it is presumed the breed of deer will be again increased. Act for appointing treasurer. The office of treasurer of the duty on liquors and slaves becoming vacant on the death of Sir John Randolph, late Speaker of the House of Burgesses, and only executed by virtue of my commission until a new appointment, this Act transfers that office and the profits thereof to John Robinson jnr, esq, the present Speaker, as has been the constant usage heretofore.
Act for appointing several new ferries and discontinuing a former ferry. There is no occasion to trouble you with any other remarks on this Act except that the increase of the people and the conveniency of trade made it necessary to add to the number of ferries, and this Act only makes provision where they were wanting and discontinues one ferry for a better and easier passage at another more useful. Act for raising public levy. This being a usual Act passed every session of Assembly to ascertain what proportion everyone is to pay towards defraying the public tobacco charges of the government, it will suffice to inform you that notwithstanding the extraordinary expense of juries brought to the general court and courts of oyer and terminer for the trial of criminals, most of them convicts, yet since the beginning of the last preceding Assembly the whole public expense amounts to no more than seven lbs of tobacco per poll. Act for better securing the title of certain lands to the feoffees of the town of York and for settling the same for a common for the use of the inhabitants. The reason for this bill is fully set forth in the preamble, which was this. In 1691 an Act was passed here for establishing ports and towns, and 50 acres of land was directed to be bought and laid out into lots for a town in each county. According to this appointment 50 acres were purchased by the County of York and divided into lots and were sold by feoffees to many persons who long since built on them, and the place is become a town of considerable trade, having a commodious and safe road for ships and one of the greatest thoroughfares in the country. But by the imprudence of the surveyor, and to ease himself of some trouble, he left out about five acres which lay in broken points of land jutting out into the river, and were indeed unfit to build on, calling it by the name of a common. And this not being computed within the 50 acres, the heir of the person who conveyed the land discovering it and knowing it to be entailed, entered upon it after his father's death. To avoid, therefore, any controversy about the title the inhabitants of York came to an agreement to pay him 100l for it, and this Act is made to establish that agreement for the general benefit of the town, and I hope it will receive HM's royal approbation as it is of public concern to the trade of the country though private persons have contributed towards it. Act for relief of persons who were sufferers in the loss of records of County of Nansemond whose cases have not been already provided for. This is no more than a continuation of two former Acts, the one passed in the 8th and the other in the 10th year of His present Majesty, for admitting the proof of deeds and other records burnt in the clerk's office of that county and directing new commissions for taking and perpetuating the like evidence and proof, a necessary provision for quieting men's titles and possessions. Act for dividing the parishes of Southwark and Lawns Creek and other purposes therein mentioned. The two parishes in this bill were some of the first settled and established here and for many years were but little extended back from James River. But the people having run their plantations and dwellings upwards of sixty miles south from the river there was a necessity of giving those parishes a different shape. And as they were in their former separation, as they lay north and south, better than sixty miles long, they are now by a dividing line lying east and west brought to almost thirty miles square. Provision is also made to enable the people to buy more convenient glebes, to sell the old ones, and build houses for their ministers, which is all that is in it.
Act for erecting two new counties and parishes and granting certain encouragement to the inhabitants thereof. The great number of people that have of late years made settlements on the west side of the mountains and the far greater number daily expected, as well foreign Protestants as HM's natural-born subjects, give great hopes of making that frontier a strong barrier both against the French and Indians. And therefore to encourage people to settle there two several districts of land are erected into counties and they are exempted from the payment of public, county, and parish levies, in the county and parish from whence they are separated. But because most of the people likely to settle there are illiterate and many of them not yet understanding the English language, it is left to the Governor and Council to fix the time when justices and other officers are to be established among them which perhaps may not be in some years. In the meantime they are to be free of levies and are indulged the liberty of paying officers' fees at ¾d for every lb of tobacco and no more. And under these encouragements there is great expectation of a speedy and large addition of people for securing that frontier. Act to prevent inhabitants of borough of Norfolk from being compelled to serve in militia of County of Norfolk and to exempt sailors and seamen from serving in any militia. The town of Norfolk being the most considerable place for shipping and trade of any in the country, and on that account erected lately into a borough, it would be very inconvenient and in truth dangerous to force all the serviceable men in it to go far from the town to attend the common musters and exercise of the militia when they may with more ease be trained and disciplined in their town; and therefore this Act directs them to be under such officers at home as the governor for the time being shall appoint within the limits of the borough, and that the fines for not attending and other delinquency shall be assessed by the ordinary magistrate of the place agreeable to the law for regulating the militia. There is also a clause in this Act that no sailor or seaman in pay on board any vessel shall be obliged to serve in the militia in any county where he resides during the time he is so employed, a necessary indulgence to men of that occupation who might otherwise be subjected to fines for non-appearance though they are perhaps out of the colony and very useful to their country when they were called to muster. Act allowing fairs to be kept in town of Fredericksburg. The town of Fredericksburg is situated at the falls of Rappahannock River and is the nearest place for bringing to water-carriage the commodities produced by the inhabitants at and beyond the mountains. For the conveniency of that traffic two fairs are appointed to be kept there yearly in the months of June and September for two years only, and in that time it will be seen what progress (and I mean what projects) the inhabitants of those parts make in their improvements so as to encourage the continuance of this privilege or discontinue it. And as there is a saving to the King's prerogative I hope nothing in this Act is liable to any exception.
Act for vesting 300 acres of land in Accomack, whereof John Wallop is seised in fee tail, in Joshua Kendal in fee simple, and for settling several slaves to the uses of the remaining entailed land. The scope of this Act is expressed in the title, which is to make effectual the agreement of the fathers of the two parties concerned and mentioned therein, and is no more than selling part of a tract of entailed land in order to improve the residue by stocking it with slaves more beneficial for the seller than the keeping entire such unprofitable land, as all lands without slaves to work upon them are. But as the two parties interested will direct their agent to wait on you for your favourable report thereof to HM I shall say no more of it except that all the formality required by HM's instruction has been duly observed as you will see by the certificates herewith sent. Act to enable Ralph Wormley to sell and dispose of certain entailed lands to raise money for payment of his sisters' portions and performance of his father's will. This Act, if I may presume to say it, well deserves HM's royal approbation as containing an uncommon instance of piety and generosity, for the father of this Mr Wormley at whose desire this Act passed, having no other estate than one in tail which he could not charge with children's portions to the prejudice of his heir, and dying much more in debt than the value of his personal estate, this young gentleman has not been content to apply the profits of his land since his father's death to the discharge of his debts but is also now willing by the sale of two tracts of land herein mentioned to pay the several portions to his sisters and an annuity to a younger brother according to his father's will, amounting to near 4000l, though he has not one foot of land by descent from his father and after all is to be at the expense of obtaining the royal approbation to this Act, which I hope by your favourable recommendation it will receive and, by your indulgence to a young man so deserving, will be obtained without the expense of a solicitor, I having out of kindness to him desired Mr Leheup to attend you for that end and to pay the ordinary fees.
The foregoing Acts severally abridged are all that passed this session. But, as I have been addressed by the House of Burgesses to use my endeavours to get an Act of Parliament for leave to import salt from Portugal, a liberty the northern colonies enjoy, I beg leave to remind you of the difficulties Virginia is under for want of it as they are set forth in the letter I wrote to you 9 September 1734, and to acquaint you that presuming upon your favour to us I shall accordingly make other proper application in order to obtain it for them. I have sent in the box the journals of the Council and House of Burgesses, with the Naval Officers' lists. Signed. 10½ pp. Endorsed, Recd. 17 April, Read 3 May 1739. [CO 5/1324, ff 156–161d]
February 23
St Simons
Gen James Oglethorpe to Duke of Newcastle. Since my arrival I have used my utmost endeavours to give the Spaniards no pretence of complaint and have succeeded in it. But the people of Carolina have complained to me that the governor of Augustine published a proclamation that all Negro slaves who could retire thither should be freed. Pursuant to this proclamation several Negroes have escaped thither by sea and have been received and freed. The planters fear that the greatest part of their Negroes will leave them. This colony lying between them and the Spaniards hath hitherto prevented the desertion by land but their daily losses and fear of entire ruin hath occasioned the Assembly of that province to send to Augustine to demand restitution of their slaves, for which purpose they sent deputies who came up to me to desire my assistance. I acquainted them that I could do nothing till I received HM's commands from you except sending an officer and a letter with them to give what countenance I could to their demand in an amicable manner. I beg your instructions what I should do in this matter of the Negroes, for if the Spaniards continue to protect the runaway slaves Carolina will be entirely ruined, their wealth consisting in slaves, amongst whom there is a general inclination to liberty; and a revolt among them where they are protected by a Spanish garrison lying on the same continent will be much more difficult to quell than the rebellion of the Jamaica Negroes. Signed. 1½ pp. Endorsed, Duplicate. R, 17 May. [CO 5/654, ff 197–198d]
February 23
Thomas Jones to Harman Verelst. In mine of 17th I acquainted you that the Chactaw Indians were come to this place and that I had on 13th instant sent a canoe advising the general, then at the camp at St Symons, of their arrival. I expected his excellency here by 19th or to have received his orders but am hitherto disappointed. The difficulties I daily meet with render the situation I am in very uneasy to me. I cannot patiently acquiesce with the injuries done to the Trustees in the havoc and waste committed on their estate and effects in this colony which is now carried on without my control. Mr Causton would give me no account of the livestock belonging to the Trustees, therefore can only report what I had from others. Mr Mercer tells me that 99 head of cattle, bought of Mr Clay in Carolina, were brought to this town and by Mr Causton's order were delivered to the care of Mr Henry Parker this last year. These cattle were turned out of the pen without being first marked with the Trustees' brand as had been accustomed, of which number there are not 40 now remaining (on Mr Parker's island or plantation near Vernon River whither they were sent) but have either gone back to Carolina or are destroyed. There are several steers and other cattle belonging to the Trustees (under whose care I know not) that feed near Matthews (Musgrove's) plantation. The said Matthews is lately gone to live at the forks (being a great way in the nation, on the Altamaha). He has some cattle on his plantation here which he has left to the management of Mr Robert Williams as reported, and has left one Critchley in his house at the plantation, which Critchley has killed several steers of late (belonging to the Trustees as I am informed) and disposed of the carcasses to people in this town. He has threatened to shoot me as I am told. I acquainted Col Stephens with the affair and designed to have gone with an officer yesterday to Matthews's in order to view the hides, if not destroyed, but am advised to wait until the general arrives, who is daily expected. I received a letter from the general on 8th instant wherein he wills me to let Mr William Bradley have out of the store (inter alia) 11 lbs of meat per diem. I accordingly on the 10th issued to him 109 lbs beef and, since, 60 lbs of pork. About the same time Mr Bradley brought into his yard two of the Trustees' steers (being the largest in the colony as said) which steers I had some time ago brought in with design to have them broke for draught but was then told that they could not be broke, being six years old. Mr Bradley said he would break the steers for ploughing the Trustees' farms, which I did not oppose. I was told the next day that he had marked the steers with his own brand and had sent them into his lot, and yesterday morning I was informed he had slaughtered one of the steers. About two hours after he sent his servant to me at the store desiring I would let him have some meat, being out of provisions. I told the servant that Mr Bradley might be assured I would find some way to supply him with the provisions which the general had ordered before the fifteen days were expired for which time provisions had been given him. It is generally reported that he has frequently killed and disposed of the Trustees' cattle, besides those he calls his own, but cannot come at any certainty of the facts. The reproaches and insults I meet with do not much affect me but cannot calmly endure to see the Trustees' effects (with which I am in some measure entrusted) squandered away by a set of idle and luxurious people. I have heretofore been entrusted with and had the direction of much larger concerns (though not of so public a nature) for others; I always looked upon the interest of my employer as my own and hope shall always think and act accordingly. I would not willingly offend the Trustees for whom and their generous designs in establishing this colony I had the greatest esteem (even before they were my masters) but must beg leave to say that, unless their honours can find some expedient to put a stop to the prevailing iniquity and rapine which at present prevail, I hope I shall be excused from the engagement I am now under in their service and that I may not be a witness to the utter ruin and overthrow of one of the most generous, beneficent and disinterested designs that I ever knew undertaken. Signed. 2 pp. Addressed. Endorsed, Recd., by Capt Yeomans, 14 May, Read 23 May 1739. [CO 5/640, ff 283–284d]
February 24
Palace court
Minutes of Trustees for Georgia. Resolved that a petition be presented to the House of Lords and House of Commons desiring protection of Georgia. Entry. 1½ pp. [CO 5/687, pp 110–111; entry of the petitions, dated 24 February, in CO 5/670, pp 375–378]
February 27
Earl of Wilmington to Duke of Newcastle acknowledging letter of yesterday's date and copy of address of House of Lords to the King of 22 inst for copies of several papers. I find that only one of the papers therein mentioned, viz representation of the Assembly of South Carolina concerning the state of the province, was ever in the Council office, which was transmitted hither by you and was in a few days after referred to the Board of Trade where it still remains. Signed. ½ p. [CO 5/384, ff 52–53d]
February 28
New Providence
President John Howell to Commissioners for Trade and Plantations. I presume Governor Fitzwilliam has long ere now delivered to you the public accounts and papers of this government to midsummer last; and as, by reason of the absence of some of the members of the Council, I have but lately had an opportunity of examining the treasurer's accounts I hope you will not take it amiss that I have not till now acquainted you that by the absence of the governor the chief command of these islands has devolved upon me, which trust I shall endeavour to discharge in such a manner as not to give you any cause to blame my conduct. And I doubt not but the governor will upon his return find the country and garrison in the same tranquil and orderly disposition they were in at his departure, which is greatly owing to the absence of John Colebrooke whose turbulent and aspiring temper, supported by a few people of the worst of morals, did during the whole administration of Governor Rogers and some part of Mr Fitzwilliam's keep the country in a continual ferment and so much diverted the people's minds from pursuing the proper means of getting a comfortable livelihood that most of their time was spent in caballing and party disputes, whereof they are now so sensible that the people in general and even his greatest intimates wish for the reasons beforementioned he may never return to this island.
Although you are thoroughly apprised of the ruinous condition the barracks of this garrison are in, I hope you will pardon the liberty I take to mention the hardships the poor soldiers have undergone these two summers past and they will in all likelihood suffer next rainy season when scarce five of them will be able to find a place of shelter in the barracks from the violence and inclemency of the weather, which in the hurricane times surpasses the comprehension of those who have not been eye-witnesses of it. And I also take leave to represent to you that the gun-carriages in the fort are so rotten and decayed that few of them would bear firing twice without falling to pieces, those we use for morning and evening guns and ordinary salutes being propped and supported in the best manner we can, yet not so as to be of any service in case of an invasion from an enemy, which the inhabitants are greatly apprehensive of if a war should happen either with France or Spain because of our nearness to some of their valuable settlements and the opportunity either HM's light ships of war or our privateers would have of interrupting or at least greatly annoying the trade of both those nations to the adjacent part of America. Papers enclosed. Signed. 1¼ pp. Endorsed, Recd. 12 September, Read 18 October 1739. Enclosed:
72 i Accounts of the duties inward and duties outward arising in the Bahamas, midsummer 1738 to Christmas 1738. Accounts of HM's revenues arising in the Bahamas for same period. Passed in Council and sworn to by William Stewart, receiver-general and treasurer. Signed, J Howell. 7 pp. [CO 23/4, ff 70–75d]
February 28
Palace Court
Minutes of Common Council of Georgia. Agreed to report of committee to send 70l in sola bills for issue to Mr Gronau for building his house and to Mr Bolzius for maintenance of Salzburgh widows and orphans. Entry. 1¼ pp. [CO 5/690, pp 199–200]
February 28
Consul John Crosse jnr to James Oglethorpe offering to supply to Georgia wines of this island which are like Madeira but cheaper. Samuel Eveleigh of Charleston has taken 100 pipes. Brandy and Malmsey also available. Signed. 2½ small pp. [CO 5/640, ff 285–286d]