Entry Book: June 1685

Pages 508-511

Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 8, 1685-1689. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.

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June 1685

June 21. Lord Howard [Governor of Virginia] to Mr. Blathwayt. I have sent herewith to the Treasury Lords an accompt of my proceedings as to the collection of the quit rents for this year which I was forced to suffer to be after the former method of 2d. per £, for the King's instructions came so late to my hands that had I not at a General Court taken order with the sheriffs to collect it the King [would have] had none this year, for every person by reason of the scarcity of tobacco collected their debts or secured them as soon as possible. I suppose they were likewise sold to good advantage for I have bills of exchange from every person though most have received half the [usual crop of] tobacco. I have now made public at the last General Court the King's letter concerning the payment of quit rents and escheats in money and have taken order accordingly that all persons provide so to do, but I find it is impossible for a thorough compliance, here being so little money in the country and so many having no trade or correspondence with England. But it will be all one for I can sell them [i.e. payments in tobacco] to those that will give good bills of exchange, if they pay ad valorem; and so [long as] the price be set by the governor of tobacco, that will amount to as much. Out Letters (Plantations Auditor) I, pp. 178–80.
But as to the escheats I have not as yet pursued the method prescribed in the King's letter: the reasons I have set down to the Treasury Lords. If you peruse the last journal of the Assembly you will find how ungrateful the method was to the people and how they insisted on the benefit of their charter, though I am now sensible that it takes no place [effect] till Lord Colepeper's grant expires and so (as you intimate) the King may very legally take them in the same manner during that term. But the difference will be so small that I believe it will not be judged worth the altering it from the method it is now in which, since that Assembly, has been at the rate of 2 lb. of tobacco for an acre. The Secretary assures me that when he was employed by Lord Colepeper, and made any commission for an escheat he brought it as near as he could to the value of 2d. [sic? for 2 lb.] per acre, except some few my Lord gratified his servants with, who rated them high and as I may say sold them by inch of candle. Besides all people will never know or consider the King's right herein, but judge it an imposition and so may raise dissatisfaction. These are my sentiments, but I will perform what I am ordered.
From Lord Colepeper's account to the Treasury you appear to judge the escheats to be very valuable. I fear, nay, know, they will much fall short of that; for the reason why they were so considerable to Lord Colepeper was that the office had not been open in many years before he came to his government and when it was he made the best of it. As to those warrants which he said he signed for inquisition as to escheated lands the Auditor and the Secretary assure me that most of them were found not to escheat or [had been] compounded for before. I confess, if the Northern Neck be bought and appropriated as the Southern is, there the escheats will be very considerable, those inhabitants having not had any office [inquiry] of that nature open these many years, nor any patents for lands issued out, so that they are as to that in great dissatisfaction. Many have been with me, but I will not meddle with it in the least. And as to what my Lord relates as to the estates of Arnold and Bacon, the rebels in the rebellion, there has been but 1,100 [lb.] weight of tobacco received this year and that was [to be] had for himself by the person employed to follow that business by my Lord [Colepeper] he being employed by Sir William Berkeley and my Lord and continued by me, but [he] never had any satisfaction as yet so that by the time his demands are satisfied and desperate debts discounted there will be little or nothing to the King. What there is I will be accomptable for. There was a mill of Arnold's but it has been lately burned with all the materials.
Finding that the produce of the quit rents and other profits (granted by the King to the country) is to be disposed of by orders from the Treasury Board I have represented to the Board the necessity of raising 20 men with a captain and a cornet to be continually in a readiness, here being nothing to put a stop to the least disorder if any should happen. Let the plant cutting be a testimony of the necessity of them. The revenue will now bear the charge, being not above 500l. per an. and I am sure the addition to the revenue will next year be 1,200l. besides the advantage we all hope from the Northern Neck. It is a great disgrace to the King and government that in so considerable a place as this there should be no one in the King's pay for the defence of the government and the more secure ensuring his Majesty's revenue which had been lessened greatly by the late disorders which had been easily stopped at first.
I have ordered the Auditor to send you the accompt of 2s. per hogshead as also the accompt of the quit rents as they will amount this year if God send us a prosperous year. They will be more than double the next besides the escheats and the fines and forfeitures which I believe will be worth above 100l. per an. when all those that are laid in the County Courts are converted to the King's use, as I intend to have an Act passed in the next Assembly that they shall. But at present they are accomptable for to the Courts in which they are levied [and] for public uses.
Lord Colepeper left great arrears to be paid: having the benefit of everything he was unwilling to pay any salaries, viz. to the gunner at Fort James, where most of the ships ride [there is an arrear of] four years' salary at 20l. per an. (I have reduced him to 15l. [per an.] with promise that he shall be paid) and three years' salary to Mr. Jennings, the King's Attorney General, at 20l. per an. which certainly is too small for that place, especially [if] not paid. I have paid him whilst I have been here and have promised his arrears, here being but little [private legal] business for him to advantage himself and to support that place. I hope next year's revenue will clear all [arrears] and settle a fund in the country.
I have desired of the Treasury Lords that we may have 40 cases of pistols and holsters sent in for the use of the country, here being not any to be got. If there be any despatches or orders in relation to the Assembly which I intend to have about the beginning of October, send them by the first ship that I may have time to consider. It is much against my will to have had one [Assembly] could I have avoided it but am forced to it for the payment of the soldiers which range for security against the Indians. "I will put [sic? pull] hard again the next Assembly to get an Act that the Governor and Council may have power to lay a levy to such a proportion that we may not so frequently be troubled with Assemblies." I have not signed the warrant for 700l. to Lord Colepeper. It is the Auditor who is the creditor, he having discharged [paid] the sloop and the soldiers' quarters. Send me word whether Lord Colepeper will insist on his right to the government of Virginia, as that is not included in the King's agreement with him. I think it very requisite that the nomination of the Clerk of the Assembly be in the Governor. Let me have an order to this effect, if thought fit, before the next Assembly.
June 23. Dormant warrant by Treasurer Rochester to the Customs Cashier to pay the salary or allowance of 380l. per an. from Lady day last to Nathll. Lodington, Consul at Tripoli: as by the privy seal of April 29 last. Money Book VI, p. 112.