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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Report by Edward Randolph concerning illegal trade in proprietary colonies, including a related petition from the proprietors
Randolph, Edward, ca. 1632-1703; Lane, J.; Et Al.
November 10, 1696
Volume 01, Pages 464-471

[B. P. R. O. B. T. Proprieties. Vol. 25. P. 6.]

To the Honourable the Commissioners of his Majesty's Custom—

May it please your Honours

Your Honours were pleased in your presentment of the 17th of July past to the Right Honourable the Lords Commrs of his Majesty's Treasury

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to represent, that it hath been found by experience, either through the remissnesse or connivance of the Governors of the severall Colonies and plantations which are under distinct proprieties, The Acts of Trade & Navigation, and your Honours Orders & Instructions, in pursuance thereof, have not been observed as in other Colonies and plantations which are under Governors nominated & appointed by his Majesties immediate Commission, and did therefore humbly move their Lordships that the Respective Governors of the said proprieties may be persons of good Estate & Reputation, and otherwise duely qualifyed for the discharge of their truth, being by a clause in the aforesaid Act for preventing frauds and regulating abuses in the Plantation Trade to be allowed & approved by his Majesty his heirs & successors, and obliged to take the oaths enjoined by that, or by any other Act to be taken by the Governors or Comanders in chief in other his Majesties Colonies or Plantations before their entrance into their respective Governments under the like penalties which his Majestys Governors & Commanders in chief are by the said acts lyable to.

Notwithstanding the owners of the proprieties upon the Continent of America and Islands adjacent take no notice thereof, but omitt to nominate fitt persons to be allowed and approved by his Majesty in Councill, before their entrance on their respective Governments, from whence it follows that whilst the principles omitt their obligations at home, it cannot be expected their Deputies will do their Duties in the plantations, so that althō (pursuant to the said Act) The Officers of the Customs, the Judges and other officers in the Courts of Admiralty, the Attorneys Generall, & the Commissioners under the Great Seal for Administring the oaths to the respective Governors in the said Colonies and plantations are appointed & prepared ready for dispatch:

Nevertheless the Governors and other publick Ministers in the Proprieties are continued in their offices & places, & no care taken to appoint others in their stead, thō they maintain and support the illegal Traders as much as ever:

It cannot therefore be expected that the Frauds & Abuses in the Plantation Trade so long practiced & so often complained of can be prevented untill persons of good Estates and reputation, and otherwise duly qualified the discharge of their Trusts, be first allowed & approved by his Majesty and to be the Governors of those Proprieties according to the said Act, otherwise it is to no purpose, nor will it countervaile the charge to send over officers and maintaine them, to put the Acts of Trade in execution, in Virginia & other places, under his Majesty's immediate authority so long as the Governors for the Proprietors take upon them a power to dispence with the open breach of the Acts of Trade, and

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thereby keep their ports open to Illegal Traders, whilst others are barred up by oaths & strict penalties, which must needs occasion the draining & soon depopulating his Majestys own plantations by the people enjoying an extraordinary liberty in a generall Trade and constant benefitt by pirates and the Scotch Trade in the proprieties and private Charters.

The chief end of granting those vast Tracts of Land (now called proprieties) to noble men and others, was doubtless to encourage the first undertakers to plant & improve them for the benefitt of the Crowne, & to be always subject & depending on England, & conformable to the Laws thereof. Great numbers of people are now seated in some of those proprieties, but have been long endeavouring to break loose & sett up for themselves, having no sort of regard to the Acts of Trade, and discountenancing appeals from their Courts to his Majesty in Councill. The persons appointed by the Proprietors to be their Governors, are generally men of very indifferent qualifications for parts & Estates. Their maintenance is inconsiderable, which renders their Governments precarious also. They have power only (like civill Magistrates in petty Corporations in England) to make Municipall Laws with consent of the people, for their quiet & peaceable Government but are indeed Stewards only & overseers accountable and alwaies lyable to be turned out at the pleasure of those who employ them; So that it cannot be presumed that Governors made by the proprieties only, as such, are impowered, or in any wise concerned to put in execution the Acts of Trade in their Government, But on the contrary, I am humbly of opinion that twill be judged a high misdemeanor in any of them to attempt it, untill they are first qualified, as by the said Act for preventing Frauds is directed : the proprietors themselves have no such power, nor can have granted them by their Patents

I humbly lay before your Honours, an account of the present Governors of proprieties, & of their qualifications, in relation to the Acts of Trade.

Bahama Islands: Mr Nicholas Trott is the present Governour; those Islands have been and still are a common retreat for pyrates and illegal Traders: Cadwallader Jones the late Governor under pretence of a power to make all officers, made one Boulton Collectr of the Customs: he entred and cleared vessels according as the Governor and he pleased. In the year 1693 Thomas Carter Master of the Ship Bridge Town of Barbados richly laden from Jamaica to London, run the ship wilfully aground upon the Island, the Master & sailors divided the money, and the best of her loading; the Governor made his advantage by it, all appeals lye from their Courts to the Lords proprietors in England.

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Carolina: Mr John Archdale a Quaker is deputed Governr by the Lords proprietors (as I am informed) during his son's Minority who is one of the Lords (Proprietors; the Cheif Towne for Trade is Charles Towne, free to all, from all places. They Trade to Carasaw from whence the Manufacture of Holland is brought to Charles Towne and carryed by New England men, and other illegal Traders to Pensilvania, Boston etc and returns are made for them in Plantation Commodities, which are carryed from Carolina to Carasaw, and thence to Holland, about 3 years ago 70 pyrates having run away with a Vessell from Jamaica, came to Charles Towne bringing with them a vaste quantity of Gold from the Red Sea, they were entertained, and had liberty to stay or goe to any other place. The Vessell was seized by the Governor for the proprietors as a Wreck & sold, they have no regard to the Acts of Trade. The present Governor is a favourer of the illegal Trade, having given his permit to the Master of a Forreigne Vessell to trade, taking no notice of Mr Guerard appointed the Collector by your Honors Deputation, as by a Copy of the Governors Permitt Noe appears; all appeals are likewise from the Courts in this Province, to the Lords proprietors in England.

North Carolina has 60 or 70 scattered families, but under no regular government. One Jarvis was appointed the Governr by Coll. Ludwell then Governr of all Carolina, he had no sallary. The Inlet of Carituck lies conveniently for carrying away the Tobacco made in the Southern parts of Virginia. The Inlet of Roanoake is frequented with small vessells trading to & from the West India Islands. Pyrats & runaway Servants resort to this place from Virginia etc.

Pensilvania Mr William Markham is the present Governor, Samuell Carpenter, & John Goodson (both Quakers) were joined in the Government with him but they refused to Act.

The Acts of Trade (whatever they pretend) are not observed here; a plain discovery has been made of nine Vessells loaden with Tobacco, which have from the year 1690 to the year 1695 gone directly from this Province to Scotland (besides Gustavus Hamilton the Cheif factor for the Scotch Merchants) who last year carried out of Delaware 300 hogs-heads of Tobacco without clearing, as also other Vessells from the same place, went with Tobacco to Scotland as appears by letters from your Honors Agent in that Kingdom. The Brigantine William & Mary (called the New Castle Brigantine) when in August 1694, she cleared out from Pensilvania for England, William Righton Master & Maurice Trent a Scotchman, an old Transgressor Merchant (one of her owners lives in London) imported into Pensilvania a great quantity of Scotch goods, & was admitted to an entry in the year 1695, by the Collector in Pensilvania.

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She was afterwards seized in West Jersey by Capt Meech, appointed by Coll. Nicholson (pursuant to her late sacred Majestys order in Councill of the 9th of August 1694. He seized also another Vessell called the Mill; Everett Johnson Master from some port in Norway. (as I am informed) loaden with wine & European goods, having no clearing from any port in England, the Master confessed himself to be a Dutchman, as appears by Capt. Meeches Journal, No 2, his tryall was putt off, the Master being gone to New York, And afterwards suspended till further orders from England. The Governor entertains several pirates from the Red & South Seas, who carry on an illegal trade to Carasaw, & other prohibited places. It appears by a Copy of Mr Markham's Letter to me No 4. that he has but a small maintenance, desiring me to make him Collector of the Customs in Pensilvania by which your Honors may please to take notice that Governors under such necessities will be easily tempted to doe, & connive at unlawfull things. The Charge to maintain officers of the Customs in that Province together with a Vessell of about 40 Tuns, & men sufficient to cruise upon the Coast thereof, as by her late Sacred Majesties order in Councill, Coll1 Nicollson is directed to provide will amount to above 2000£ a year, to prevent the Illegal Trade in Pensilvania, & the shipping of Tobacco brought overland from Maryland to Delaware Bay, which notwithstanding will be carryed on untill there be such a Regulation in the Government of that Province, as by the said Act for preventing frauds etc is enacted.

Pensilvania lies in the centre between Maryland and New York most commodiously to carry on all illegal Trade, & that place will soon become a Staple of all European & plantation Commodities.

Jerseys. East & West Jersey Mr Andrew Hamilton a Scotchman is the Governor of those Provinces appointed by the Proprietors to Lease out their Lands & receive their Quit rents. He is a great favourer of the Scotch Traders his Countrymen, & would not allow of Capt Meech's power, when he had seized the Brigantine William & Mary William Righton Master. The Governor sat Judge in Court The vessell was favoured upon the Masters setting forth in his petition that the French mett him at Sea, & took away his Cocquets, she is since gone to Barbados: Patrick Robinson a Scotchman the Secretary, and David Lloyd the Attorney Generall in Pensilvania went to the Court in West Jersey to defend the vessell against the persecutors for his Majesty.

Connecticott in New England, Coll1 Robert Treat is the present Governor of that Colony, granted to the Inhabitants by Charter, to have a Governor annually chosen, with power to purchase, and sell Lands. The Inhabitants are generally husbandmen & planters. The Governor permitted

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a Vessell from Holland under pretence of wanting wood and water to come into New Haven, where she unlivered great part of her loading, which was carried to New York, and having taken horses aboard, sailed with the remainder of her goods to Barbados. Thomas Fisher Master of the Brigantine Adventure of London imported about December 1691 a very great Cargoe of Scotch goods at New London in that Colony, they were seized by Mr Brenton the Collector; he thought it most advisable to admitt Gustavus Hamilton to a Composition (which he willingly agreed to) rather than submitt the Cause to a tryall in that Colony.

Road Island, Caleb Carr was late Governor of that and Providence plantation granted by Charter also, tis become a free port to illegal Traders and pyrates from all places: Thomas Tew a pyrate came thither from the Read Sea in the year 1694 and brought with him 100,000 lbs in Gold and & Silver, he shared 12000 lbs for himself & his Sloop; the people are enriched by them. Tis necessary that place be taken care of & putt under a regular Government, the present pretenders to govern being either Quakers or Ana. Baptists.

Province of New Hampshire, Mr William Partridge being nominated by Mr Samuell Allen the present Proprietor is allowed by his Majesty & made the Deputy Governor of that Province.

Province of the Massachusetts Bay, Tho' his Majesty has the appointing the Governor of that Province, yet the illegal Trade is carried on as much as ever, to Scotland Holland, France etc for want of a Governor to surpress that Trade, & to support and countenance the officers of the Customs in the Execution of their duties. Mr William Stoughton is the Lieutenant Governor, he is a good Scholar, but not bred up to Military Discipline. The Country lying open is exposed to the fury of the French, & Indians whenever they please to attack them. They have in their Laws hitherto made no provision for a Governor's maintenance as is done in all other his Majestys Governments, & was likewise in that Province for their former Governors, on purpose to discourage men of honor & abilities to live amongst them; but whatever it costs that countrey, and the Trade thereof ought to be taken care of.

Now from what has been herein humbly offered, it cannot reasonably be imagined, that the proprietors Governors are persons qualified or fitt to be entrusted with the conduct and execution of the principall powers reposed by those Acts only in the Governors & Commanders in Chief in the Plantations under his Majestys immediate authority; so that if the proprietors and owners of those Lands refuse to conform to the Rules & method prescribed them in the said Act for preventing Frauds etc; It's humbly proposed that they should be obliged to accept of such Regulation

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in Government, in reference to Trade, as his Majesty shall think necessary to make, which will in no wise invade their just Rights & Proprieties in those lands, nor hinder them from imploying their Agents & factors to take care & dispose of their estates & to receive the Rents & profits arising from them.

The Lord Baltemore the proprietor of the Province of Maryland, Mr Samuell Allen the proprietor of the Province of New Hampshire, & the Inhabitants in the province of the Massachusetts Bay have all their Rights and properties entirely Secured to them in their respective proprieties.

They have their agents and Attorneys upon the place to manage their affairs with all freedom, tho' at the same time the Governors of all those provinces are appointed by his Majesties immediate Commission.

All which is humbly submitted by etc

November the 10th 1696.

To the Kings most Excellt Matie in Councill.

The humble Petic̄on of the Lords and other the Proprietors and Agents of the Province of Carolina, the Bahama Islands, Pensilvania East and West Jersey and Conecticott in America.


That by Summons from Mr Attorney Generall dated the thirteenth of October last, your Petrs received intimation of an order of Reference to him from the late Lords Justices to consider and report whether an Attorney Generall might not be appointed for your Matie in the said severall Provinces, notwithstanding their Grants & Charters.

That upon your Petrs attending the said Attorney Generall, a Paper annexed to the said Order of Reference purporting a Representation to the said Lords Justices from the Councill of Trade was read, wherein is suggested that some Complaints have been made to the Commrs of yor Maties Customes and to the said Councill of Trade by one Edward Randolph, that divers Irregularities have bin lately committed in the said Provinces contrary to the Acts of Navigation, and to your Maties Prejudice, and that the Persons whom your Petrs have (as they are advised they lawfully might doe) Constituted Attorneys Generall in the said Provinces are unqualified for their severall Imployments.

And forasmuch as your Petrs have bin alwaies careful to appoint Officers in the said severall Provinces well affected to your Maties Government and Interest, and qualified for their Offices and Imployments, and that the said Representation is (as your Petrs conceive) the occasion and ground

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of the said Reference, and that the suggestions in the said Representation do not only affect the Persons therein named but in Consequence your Petrs also, and for that your Petitioners till their attendance on Mr Attorney Generall had no notice of the said Complaints and Representation, or the Contents of it, and so no oppertunity to rectifie or cleare some misinformations given to your Matie's said Commissioners and Councill of Trade.

Your Petrs therefore most humbly pray they may have a Coppy of the said Representac̄on, and that your Petrs may be heard, and the truth and reason of the said Complaints farther and more clearly examined before Mr Attorney shall make Report in the matter referr'd to him.

And yor Petrs as in duty bound shall ever pray &c.