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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Robert Holden to the Commissioners of Customs of England
Holden, Robert
June 10, 1679
Volume 01, Pages 244-246

[B. P. R. O. Colonial Papers.]

Boston in New England June 10th 1679.

May it please your Honours,

Since my arrivall at this place (in order to my passing for the County of Albemarle in the Province of Carolina having received from yr Honrs Commission & Instructions for the collection of His Majesty's Customs &c.) haveing met with divers informations tending to my place there & the frauds used by the traders here about Tobacco transported thence to this place and else where, It is my duty (& per the greatest injunctive tie devised) to give information of all affaires thereunto relating as also per severall articles in my Instructions required in such negociations to serve the King faithfully in ye misdemeanours of his subjects about the defrauding of customes &c. The subwritten accompt of such affaires in here inserted.

About ½ dozen traders of this place with their complices receive the greatest part of the production of tobacco in the County of Albemarle in

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the Province of Carolina annually & per a person whom through their interest wth the people have factiously made one Mr Culpeper (a Gentleman I Know not) the Collector of his Maty's Customes, by which meanes they & he have played such notorious pranks with the specious pretences of doing justice and preserving the King's rights that a people and Customes Treasure were never more infatuated, cheated and exhausted by the current late received stamp in these parts of New England Christian policy.

And as the Tobacco trade current causeth their concourse thither & their wayes to leniate ye impost (which the other subjects of the King pay) resteth not there, for from thence brought hither, they have liberty without farther examination here to carry the same to Ireland, Holland, France, Spain or any other place under the notion of fish and such like goods by which the trade is so diverted from the true rules of Commerce that trafique in this Western world must be monopolized in this Commodity only to New England & the rest of His Majesty's people so trading must become Bostoniz'd or relinquish dealing if speciall care is not had thereto & a settlement of Customes here with the King's Officers.

That the Canary trade in like nature is carried on: Ships from hence go thither & load wines, touch at Maderas or some other of the Western Islands & there take about a tun of their wines which they put in the hatchway coming home; From whence your ship? From Maderas, with their lading Wines, & so draw off the upper Caskes for a taste & so the whole ship under this notion is unladed without further enquiry. I was told this by one who saled in a ship that practised it.

That the Scotish Trade by the like Legerdemain jugles is driven. A ship at Newcastle Berwick Poole &c. toucheth taketh in coals or some slight goods, goes for Scotland and there receives great quantities of linen & other Scotish goods what they think best to bring & coming here by her English clearings at the Ports &c. abovesaid passeth for current without farther inquisition.

The French, Spanish & what Country else European trade in like nature passeth home under the pretence of French or Spanish salt &c. by which from France they import all that Country wares as Linen, Wines, Rubans, Silks &c. from Spaine wines, fruits, oyle Portugall the like goods &c. from hence transport as aforesd under the notion of fish to all these places what will turn to account.

Here is just now a ship returned from Madagascar by the way put severall Negroes on shore at Jamaica, she touched I hear at severall parts

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of East India & besides hath brought Elephant teeth where she got them knows not, she hath been a year & ½ out.

The fame that this place hath bore in this Western part of the World as well as elsewhere (in this article makes me somewhat digress) about their church governmt and integrity of life in breef is now almost wholy devoured with Christian Policy of New England by which meanes they have made their adoration their prime best Commodity of Merchandize & their Zeale their cheef broaker, as their occasions and affares in the world shall require, that these two now may pass for the grand Cheates of the world.

For my part I have thought this my duty both to my King & yourselves in that place (under your favor) I enjoy, to advise that these irregular courses may be prevented & care taken as your wisdomes herein may appoint, without which not only many of His Maty's Liege People will be oppressed; But my Masters the Lords Proprietors of the County of Albemarle in the County of Carolina will through their interest of trade there be kept in faction & Rebellion as now it is and for severall yeare hath been & they the cause wholy that their Lordships government cannot take place.

I shall omitt no time nor paines in the execution of my office according to my capacity & wholy follow your Instructions and Orders & indeavour to regulate within my power & by all opportunities give advice of all occurrences.

In the 12th Article of Instructions is expressed a Copy of his Majtis Proclamation of the 24th Novr in ye 27th yeare of his Reigne relating to European wares and Merchandize delivered me &c, which I have not neither in the Book of Rates can I find it inserted. I desire Yor Honrs by the next conveniency to send me all the Proclamations that have been tending to His Majts Customes; that according to my place I may cause publick reading of them in our Country with what else may farther relate to my more full & truly excecuting my place.

I subscribe my self
Yor Honrs most humble & bounden Servt

Within this 2 or 3 dayes I depart hence for Albemarle County in ye Province of Carolina having been about 10 dayes here.

R. H.