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Letter from George Nicholas to Arthur Dobbs
Nicholas, George
May 20, 1755
Volume 05, Pages 347-350

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 12. C. 96 and C. 97.]

Brunswick May 20th 1755.

Sir [Gov. Dobbs]

The last time I had the pleasure of seeing you at Newbern I had your Excellencies leave and directions to lay before you a State of my Office as Attorney General of this Province.

The Salary upon the Establishment is £80 Sterling per ann: payable out of the Quit Rents and by the Establishment there is an Allowance

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for holding Courts of Oyer and Terminer of £100 sterling per ann: which upon a division between the Chief Justice Attorney General and Sheriff the Attorney General was allowed £30 sterl: more, the amount of the whole Salary upon the Establishment being £110 sterling per ann: and of which tis now 4 years since my appointment I never received one shilling besides Mr. Alex: McCulloh the Deputy Auditor informs me he has orders from his Principal not to give any Debentures for the £100 for holding Courts of Oyer and Terminer so that my whole Expectation from the Establishment is only £80 sterl per annm

By an act of Assembly since repealed I had an allowance of £20 procl money for my attendance at each Court of Assize amounting in the year to £120 procl nor could I by that Law receive that unless I attended in person that Salary was always greatly in arrear and has not been paid 'till very lately. The circuit of Edenton Edgcomb and Wilmington obliged me to ride 600 miles twice a year before I could receive that Salary and which is payable out of a fund for that purpose.

By the Act of Assembly lately passed for holding Supreme Courts of Justice &c: I am allowed the same Salary of £120 procl money payable annually but with the addition of Salisbury Court at Rowan I am obliged to ride 500 more, The Chief Justices Salary is enlarged upon this account but mine is left as it was thrō what motive I am not able to learn I am obliged to be at the same expence and trouble as the Chief Justice besides there are but very few Fees arising on Indictments now as the Country since my appointment is much more civilized and where there were formerly brought 24 Indictments to a Court not above 6 are brought and frequently under that number. The Fee allowed for that Service is £1.6.8 Procl if the Bill is found by the Grand Jury and if returned Ignoramus then but 13s 4d to be paid by the Prosecutor nor have I any Fee for taking any Examinations or for any other Services which I am obliged to do as the Magistrates frequently return Recognizances without any Examinations or Depositions so that before I can prepare a Bill for Indictment I am frequently obliged to examine half a dozen Witnesses for which no Fee at all is allowed and very frequently after Conviction of many Offenders the Indigency of their circumstances oblige me to go without my Fees for which they must be liable to continual Imprisonments were I to insist on it, althō in other Provinces in such cases the Fees are paid by the Publick.

I must beg leave to observe to your Excellency that there is no allowance for anything done in my Office but on Indictments and in the County Courts I am allowed half the Sum as in the Supreme Courts but as tis impossible for me to attend all the Courts the last Act of Assembly

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impowers me to appoint a Deputy in each County and it is with difficulty I can get an Attorney to accept of the Office althō they receive all the Fees incident to the Office.

Formerly there was a Fee allowed the Attorney General for his Fiat to every Warrant and Patent for Lands granted, the Assembly have now left out those Fees in the Fee Bill and by a Clause in the Law no Officer can take any other or greater Fee than there is therein set forth and allowed under the Penalty of Five Pounds Procl money for each offence and I have known the Members of Assembly subscribe each a small sum to make up a Fee to give a Gentleman of the Law to sue the late Secretary Rice for taking an accustomed Fee not mentioned in that act.

Upon my mentioning the foregoing hardships to his late Excellency Gov: Johnston there was an Order of Council that no Patent should issue without first being examined by the Attorney General and by him certified and that the usual and accustomed Fee should be paid for that service this gave an Alarm to the Members of Assembly and I was threatened if ever I took the Fee formerly allowed the Attorney General I should be sued. This is the unhappy Situation I am in with my Office.

I must beg leave further to observe to your Excellency that the Attorney General's Fees are not so low in any of his Majesties Dominions as in this Province nor does that Officer in any of the Colonies go through half the fatigue and Expence in travelling as I do. Why the Attorney General of this Province should be treated with less Dignity and receive less Fees than in any other of his Majesties Dominions I am at a loss to know.

The Fee that used to be allowed on patents would be the best Branch of my Office and I leave it to your Excellencies better Judgement whether his Majesty can't grant his Lands upon what Terms and for what Fees he thinks proper, besides as I should keep a Record of the Fiats with the Buttings and Boundings Dates of Patents Names Counties and quantities of Land I apprehend it would be of great use as the more cheques there are the securer the Titles would be and in South Carolina the Attorney General is allowed ten Shillings Procl on each Fiat, nor have I any Fee allowed for my Attendance upon your Excellency and the Council in case I should be called upon, in all the other Provinces there is a Fee allowed for this Service althō the Officer has a Salary from the Crown which is regularly paid him quarterly.

I shall send for a Table of the Fees allowed the Attorney General in the Neighbouring Province and shall beg leave to lay the same before your Excellency not at all doubting your Excellencies recommendation

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to the Assembly that such steps may be taken therein as shall be agreable to justice and the hardships of my case shall require. I must ask your pardon for thus intruding on your Patience and am with due Respect, &c.,

GEO: NICHOLAS