Charles Thomas, dated from Barbados, to the Treasury Lords.
May it please your Lordships, Col. Russell, our Governor, went out
with our last fleet with Capt. Reeves, Commander of her Majesty's
ship Newcastle, for his health; but within four days after he came in
he was taken ill with the fever and in five days afterwards it did please
God to take him away, which was the 7th of August last. As soon as
Col. Russel came from on board Capt. Reeves['s ship] he sends Col.
Richard Salter, one of the Council, for those papers I had of one
Thomas Morris a felo de se, that the said Salter had put into my hands:
which when he demanded them I told him that it was true he had put
them in my hands as a trust but since that his Majesty had been pleased
to give me a commission to be his Casual [Revenue] Receiver of this
Island [thereby] that trust was void and that they [the said papers]
did belong to me [ex officio] and that I could not answer the parting
with them out of my hands and that I had gave their Lordships of the
Treasury an account of those papers.
Two days afterwards I was with our Governor and there was Col.
Salter and the Attorney General by, and then he asked me for those
papers. I told him I could not answer the delivery of them to Col.
Salter. He [the Governor] said I might deliver them to Col. Salter,
he putting them into my hands as a trust. I tould our Governor that
I could not deliver them without I had an order under his hand. Then
he tould me they did belong to him but said no more to me and the
next day was taken sick. I understood that since my commission
came over Capt. Richard Brewster had got a will proved that the said
Thomas Morris had gave his estate to him and another. I have looked
in the Secretary's Office but cannot find the will recording. His brother
Mr. Thomas Brewster tould me it stood his brother a great deal of
money to get that will proved. I made answer that if it was a good
will what occasion was there to pay a great sum of money for it and
assured him that I would search into the bottom of it.
"Inclosed I have sent you of every paper I have of the said Morris
in my hands."
One Mr. David Stewart, a man about 70 years old died three months
ago without a will and has no relations here nor can anybody tell he
has any alive in Scotland which was his country. There were several
that strove to administer upon his estate, he dying as tis believed
worth 3 or 4,000l. It was thought that Mr. Thomas Fullerton, the
Solicitor General of this island, would have had the administration but
he tould me that one had offered the Governor a great sum to have the
letters of administration, which made him [the Solicitor General]
desist: and it was granted to one Mr. Holder, gent. I have thought
fit to send to your Lordships for your consideration a copy of Mr.
Holder's petition for letters of administration upon Stewart's estate
with an order upon it for administration. Tis believed by all people
here that this David Stewart has been said Holder's best friend in this
island in letting him have money at any time he had occasion and 'tis
believed he owed Stewart at least 1,000l. Mr. Foulerton has promised
to give me an account of most of his estate and I was tould that the
letter of administration was not granted till my commission came over.
When I went to the [Secretary's] Office to have my commission recorded
there was no such petition brought into the Office; and the next day
I went again for my commission out of the Secretary's Office and I
found that [? petition] recorded the last [entry prior] to mine.
One Mr. Francis Brooking tould me that one Mr. Adam Barrs gave
250l. for a house and some land that does belong (as 'tis believed) to
his Majesty but I shall try what title they have to it. I believe it is
my duty to acquaint your Lordships of these things.
I have sent you enclosed the account of the Attorney General's fees
and the Solicitor [General's] fees which was allowed in Mr. Brewster's
accompt. I cannot get from Mr. Brewster the Marshall's accompt and
Capt. Paine's accompt, who was Judge of the Court of Escheat. For
I shall desire to know of your Lordships what ought to be allowed as
to each of their fees.
In two days after Col. Russell's decease I waited for the President
and Council to know of them if the Court of Escheat might sit for I had
ordered a Court before Col. Russell fell sick. They tould me they had
great affairs in hand concerning the safety of this island and that they
could not have any Courts as yet called. I petitioned to the President
and Council the 14th August last and a copy of the petition goes here
enclosed; and I attended them every day they sat but could not get
up but three times to speak with them. The first time I came before
them I desired my petition might be read. The Honourable Edward
Cranfeild made answer that they were so busy in settling the affairs
of the Island they had no time to hear. I tould them that the business
I came about was his Majesty's interest. The Honourable John
Bromley asked me if my business was 20,000l. concern. I tould him no,
but it might be in time 20,000l. damage to his Majesty if he [the King]
could not have a Court of Escheat and a Court of Exchequer. The second
time I could get up to speak with their Honours they were so busy that
they could not give an answer to my petition but I should have an
answer before the Fleet sailed, though I got it then to be read. The
4th [September] this instant I got another hearing. The copy of
what they ordered in their Minute Book concerning my petition I
desired that I might have a copy of it to send home to your Lordships,
which they granted me, and it is attested by the Secretary that your
Lordships might see that I have used what means possible that his
Majesty's interest might be got in. And though they have promised
me that there shall be some person chosen to be his Majesty's Escheator
and to appoint some Judges or Barons to hold the Court of Exchequer
I believe there will be greater delays: which if any happen I will
acquaint your Lordships with.
I then demanded his Majesty's share of prize that Capt. Reeves took,
which the President had ordered her afore to be appraised, designing then as I understood to send her to England as a packet boat.
She was appraised at 317l. They asked me what the King's share was.
I tould them one third belonged to his Majesty, one third to the ship's
crew and one third part to the Treasurer of their Majesties' navy for
relief of sick and wounded mariners and seamen and the widows,
children and impotent parents [of men] slain in their Majesties' service:
[for] which I showed them the Act of Parliament entituled An Act for
Continuing the Acts for prohibiting all trade and commerce with
France and for the Encouragement of Privateers, and I desired of
their Honours to know who should keep that part that belonged to the
Treasurer of His Majesty's [Navy] etc. They tould me that the
Captain should keep it. I desired that they would order it to be
entered in their Minute Book, that I might write home about it.
Here is orders to one Mr. Richard Walter from the Commissioners
of the Admiralty to lay out what money the sick seamen have occasion
for here for doctors and fresh provisions, and to draw bills for the
same home to England: which I acquainted their Honours of. So
I tould them that this third part did likewise belong to the King as I
believed but desired their advice. They made answer as before [viz.
that] the Captain should be answerable for it at home [in England].
The prize that was taken had 8 guns and 6 Padorados which the Captain
reckons as 14 guns. I tould them that according to the Act of Parliament the Captain of the Man of War was to have for each piece of
Ordnance 10l. and that they could not make appear that a Padorado
could be the least of an ordnance but as yet they have not decided that.
I acquainted your Lordships by the last Fleet that Col. Hallett had
not come for his money, which a little after the Fleet was gone he came
to me for it, which I tould him I would pay him according to his
Majesty's order but that I must take out [deduct] such fees as his
Majesty had been at in condemning that money and the Attorney
General's fees and mine; which said accompt goes enclosed: upon
which we had a hearing.
P. S. Capt. Fisher being going on board I have not had time to
copy the letter out: but I hope the other (which I have sent three)
are come safely to your hands. Out Letters (Plantations Auditor II),
Charles Thomas to the Treasury Lords dated from Barbados. Since
my last (of which a copy goes enclosed) I have attended the President
and Council every day they sat to put them in mind of their former
order on "their" [sic for the] petition which I sent home last: but
finding nothing but delays, they not minding their promise, I presented
them with a petition yesterday (which copy goes enclosed) by which
you will find how that his Majesty's affairs of the Casual revenue is
taken very little notice of here. And as soon as I delivered the
petition the Council sent it down for me to sign. I tould the Provost
Marshall that brought it to me that it was not customary to set one's
hand to a petition, but if they pleased to send for me up I would [own]
it was my petition. In the afternoon they sent for me and when I
came up they askt me if it were my petition. I desired the Secretary
to read it (which was [done]) and then I owned it was mine. They
askt me to sign it again, which I tould their Honours it was not usual:
upon which they bid me go downstairs and they would send for me up
again. But after I had stayed two hours they tould me I must wait
upon them the next morning, which I attended and had no answer from
I understand that they are all angry with me that I should offer such
a petition. I am assured that there is nothing in my petition but
what is truth: and I having the honour to be his Majesty's Casual
[Revenue] Receiver here believe it is my duty to acquaint you with the
truth (as I have in my petition). I do believe that as soon as these
two ships are gone, which sails this day, they will commit me. But
I desire your Honors that if I have acted nothing contrary to law you
will please to justify me in it and send me over letters accordingly.
I know the King's business in this affair [of his Casual Revenue]
has been neglected between this two or three years; and I find nothing
harder to be done than to get his Majesty's rights. I have treated the
President and Council with all the submission that can be but they
made me wait seven or eight weeks (which they sat almost every day)
and promising me when going to Council I should have a hearing, but
never could speak with them but thrice. But if I had other business
I could get up [to speak to them about it] or any little business might
be heard before me. I hope your Honors will not take it amiss that
I can give no account that I can get in of the King's Casual Revenue.
Just now I have been acquainted that their Honors though they
have gave me no answer to my petition, hath sent a copy home to your
Lordships with a letter. And I further understand that what I mention
of Col. Hallett in my petition they deny: but having but just
now notice [of this] and the ships [being] under sail I have not
time to prove [my statement] but by the next I will send you what I
can get attested by the Secretary of this island, proved by such evidence here which will make it plainly appear. I did take his Honor
Cranfeild, Esq., to have been obliged to speak on behalf [of my request];
to have got a court of Escheat and Exchequer, he being deputy to the
Honourable William Blathwayt, Esq., as Auditor General, that the
King's interest might be got in. But instead of that no man in
Council has taken me up so much, and always said they had extraordinary business to do and could not attend it: which he generally
seemed in a passion to me in Council. I never gave him occasion I
know of. I think it is very hard that the President and Council should
write home to your Lordships about that petition, when I could not
be able to defend myself, but only a particular friend tould me of it.
But when I was before them they never argued one point thereof but
only askt if it was my petition.
I do not doubt of your Lordships doing me justice on my petition
of their writing home against me, and not being able to prove anything
[in time early enough to come] by these vessels, till I can send it home
attested by the next opportunity. I assure your Lordships I am at
least 4l. per month in charge in keeping possession of land and some
negroes, which are forct to be kept up for fear of running away; having
sometimes 10 and sometimes 12 [of such negroes] that belong to his
Majesty and for want of Courts of Escheat and Exchequer I cannot
My petition I gave to the Attorney General, Robert Hooper, Esq.,
and desired him to read it, which he did and if anything there amiss,
to alter it and he answered it was very well (knowing the delays as
well as I) he very often sitting in Council: which is all the account I
can give to your Lordships now. Out Letters (Plantations Auditor)
II, pp. 3–4.