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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from George Burrington to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Burrington, George, 1680-1759
September 04, 1731
Volume 03, Pages 202-210

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 9. A. 17.]

North Carolina. September 4th 1731.

May it please your Lordships.

A. After the Prorogation of the Assembly which I called pursuant to the Kings Instructions, I wrote a full State of the affairs of this Province and of my own Proceedings with that Assembly dated the first of July which I had the honour to address to your Board. Your Lordships must perceive the many difficulties I have had to encounter by the Artificies of some and folly of others in the Council which rendred the house of Burgesses obstinate I can truly Say I met with more Obstructions in my Endeavours for his Majesties Service and the good and Welfare of the Province from part of the Council than from all the heat and Rashness of the Lower house who were encouraged by some of the Council and spirited up in their undutifull behaviour and small regard they shew'd to his Majesties Instructions, notwithstanding all the mean Acts and little Tricks that have been used to cause Tumults among the People and render my Administration uneasy I can with great Truth and Satisfaction acquaint your Lordships that I keep all People in perfect Peace and Quietness and have entirely put a stop to those frequent Tumults and Riots which were frequent when I first came into this Country and were grown to that height that men were not a Security even in their own houses.

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B. These disorders were generally sett on foot and the Rioters headed by Mr Edmund Porter Judge of the Admiralty and one of the Council of whom I have made mention in my Report to your Lordships this man bears so infamous a character that I think it would be for his Majesties Service and the Reputation of the Council and Country if he was removed.

C. In my last dispatches to your Lordships I gave you an Account that Smith late Chief Justice here was reported to be gone out of this Country and designed for England I could then only Say it might be true because I had no better Information than common Rumour this man after travelling through Some parts of the Government Spreading many false and Scandalous storys to draw people into a Subscription for defraying the Expences of his voyage and maintenance in England (wherein he had Slender Success) Secretly went out of the Government after giving out many Boasts of his great Interest in England he has promised to procure the removal of myself and Several other of his Majesties Officers and has already nominated our Successors. Mr Smith by reason of his rashness and folly was much dreaded in this Country Sitting as chief Justice I aver upon my own knowledge that there was not a man among the Factions here that he did not threaten and personally affront however after they had deluded him they gave him Some money and Sent him home with a Prospect that if he had the Interest he brag'd of possibly he might create mischief against me but if not they were Sure of ridding the Province of a busy Shallow wretch on whom there was no dependance and who might in a little time be very hurtfull to them in the post he had the honour to be placed in and to which he was no ways equall, this fellow is now the Jest and Scorn of the very men that perverted him has left the Country with the Character of a Silly, rash boy, a busy fool, and engregious Sot to which I must add that I know him to be an ungratefull perfidious scoundrel and as much wanting in Truth as Understanding, after all the ill behaviour of this Creature to me, I never spoke an uncivil word to him nor did him one ill Office while he was here, but on the contrary gave him the best advice I was capable of; he never informed me of his intention of going home, neither did he write me any letter from Virginia where he Staid Some time.

D. I think it was the latter end of June when Smith quitted this Province, before I was certain of it July was far advanced, the General Court by Act of Assembly sit on the last Tuesdays in the months of October March and July yearly but had been prevented by Porters management

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almost two years before my coming in so much that no legall course could be taken for suppressing the Tumults before mentioned which caused great complaints against Porter throughout the Province, long before my arrival, to this State and Condition my enemys desired to bring the Country again, and by means of the Same Porter when I had appointed a Council for the Nomination of a New Chief Justice which I put off to the day before the General Court was to sit there only appeared Coll: Jounoure his Majesties Surveyor of this Province and Porter the other Councillors being dead, out of the Government or at Cape Fear (two hundred miles from this Place) I postponed the meeting of this Council to the very last in hopes the Gentlemen of the Council who were at Cape Fear would have come to me and I might have seen a full Board on this occasion as I had all reason to expect because the Court of Chancery constantly sits at the same time the General Court is held and consists by the Rules of the Court of the Governour and four Members of the Council at least. The Gentlemen from Cape Fear not attending and there being but two of the Council in this part of the Country and no more than four in the other, two of which I then thought to have been out of the Province vizt Mr Ashe who was reported to be gone to England to joyn with the Chief Justice in the design of procuring my removal, and Mr Rice the Secretary who had been in South Carolina to fetch his Family but was then returned as I have been since informed also Mr Ashe who after the most diligent enquiries throughout this Country not being able to raise Materials for a charge against me would not put his Reputation and sence so much at stake to go to England as I am informed he had promised several men here who now curse him for Nonperformance and [by which failure of his Baby Smith will be quite lost haveing nothing but a few lies to Support his Cause unless he can obtain an Instructor from a Gentleman in Hannover Square] there appearing but two Members at the aforesaid Council I desired their Opinion whether they did not judge it absolutely requisite for his Majesties Service the Peace and Wellfare of the Government that two Councellours should be appointed, otherwise the General Court would be again stopped and the Court of Chancery the same by reason it could not subsist without four Councellours being present Coll: Jenoure very readily declared he thought the Country would suffer extreamly and the Government be digraced if the Courts were not supported, on the contrary Porter gave in his objections in writing and declared that I had no Power to nominate Members of the Council without a Majority of the Council agreed to the appointment and asserted that there were Seven
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Members of the Council then in the Government and that by my Instructions I was not permitted to make more; his first allegation had no foundation the Kings Commission and Instructions giving me full power to fill up Vacancies to the number of Seven, the Second was notoriously false, there not being so many then in the Province I have required him to prove the Persons he mentioned in his Paper were then in this Government, but as he knew it was not True he excused himself

E. Coll: Jenoure recomended Mr Lovick late Secretary of this Province for one of the Council this Gentleman was first in the late Council and when I came here with his Majesties Commission and is perfectly well aquainted with the affairs of this Government Sir Richard Everad and Mr Porter had wrote complaints against him to the Duke of Newcastle when I examined into it neither Sir Richard nor Porter (though I called upon the last very particularly) had not the least proof to make good any thing against him, indeed there were some affidavits concerning Patents for land after the Date of their accusations which Mr Lovick answered these were sent your Lordships in the Cauncil and Journal Mr Lovick has proved to me that after the certainty of the Kings purchase was known he advised Sir Richard to grant no more Patents but by the Artifice and management of Mr Moseley then Surveyor Sir Richard did continue to issue Patents on which the Said Moseley and his Kindred were the most considerable gainers as appeared to me by the relations of persons unconcerned the affidavits sent your Lordships are all that is laid to Mr Lovicks charge there having been no complaint of any sort but one by Mr Porter against him and many others for obstructing the Said Porter in exercising his office of Admiralty Judge which Porter delivered to me in Council and after some reasoning and debates upon the Subject he withdrew it before it could be entered on the Council Book and has continued Silent ever Since. I am obliged to do Mr Lovick the Justice to Say he has comported himself very handsomely upon all occassions since the Change of Government here especially during the Sitting of the late Assembly of which he was a Member besides his capacity in Government affairs, another inducement for making him one of the Council was his knowledge in Indian business (we expect our Indians will be attackt by those of South Carolina, the Northern Indians called the five Nations are in alliance and amity with ours and have promised to assist them with a thousand Men part of which are already come into this Province) I assure your Lordships there is no man in this Colony more capable of serving the King than Mr Lovick for these reasons I swore him a Councellour and Mr Edmund Gale a relation of

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Mr Gale a Commissioner of the Excise a Gentleman in very good circumstances and unblemisht Character

F. When this was done with the advice and consent of the Council I appointed Mr John Palin Chief Justice who has given a general Satisfaction by his wise and prudent behaviour.

G. I cannot doubt but that your Lordships will approve of these appointments made in So critical a time and will esteam them as I intended a real Service done this Government and the best means could be thought on for preserving peace and good order in North Carolina notwithstanding Mr Porter was of another opinion.

H. The knowledge I have of this man since I came last here (I knew little of him before) induces me to believe he will have the assurance to trouble your Lordships with a Paper delivered as reasons against my appointing any Councellours. Mr Allen mentioned in his Paper to be in North Carolina was not then in this Government neither has he been here since I came myself that Mr Rice or Mr Ashe were either of them here at that time was what he did not know any more than myself thō it really proved they were in the Government The Original I Send your Lordships weak and Silly as it Seems to me I am assured it was the result of the party I have against me and that Mr John Montgomery his Majesties Attorney General here drew it up which I believe it being much like the way of reasoning he uses and calculated to perplex me and disorder the course of Bussiness in this Government.

I. Give me leave to add what has been already said of Porter that he is a man of a most infamous Character, has been guilty of many vile Frauds and is now under many Prosecutions and Actions for Debt which will reduce him to great Poverty I am Sorry I am obliged to Say much of such a contemptible fellow

K. In my remarks upon the Laws of this Country which were sent to your Board I made some observations upon the Law for holding Biennial Assemblys which I hope your Lordships have considered. In a few days the People (by Nature of that Act) are to choose Representatives will meet in Assembly (if not prorogued) the first Monday in November next, I am fully convinced no good can be done with an Assembly before his Majesties pleasure is known in relation to the pretended Laws in 1729 after his Majesties purchase was completed whether any Equivalent is to be taken in Lieu of cash for his Majesties Quit Rents, whether his Majestie will be graciously pleased to moderate Quit Rents for Lands to be taken up to the Same that is paid in Virginia which is insisted on by the people here as their undoubted Right, whether

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the Officers are not to take their Fees in Proclamation or Bills as they are rated by the Assembly to that value Before I have an answer to these Material Points I know it will be to no purpose to hold an Assembly therefore Shall propose to the Council the Prorogueing them till I am further instructed.

L. In the Body of Laws sent home is an Act relating to Escheat and Lands and Escheators which I have already remarked upon and have refused to grant Patents for any Escheat Lands till I hear from your Lordships, the composition being very small in that act and the Quit Rents but two shillings for every hundred acres. It is insisted upon here that I ought to grant Such lands agreeable to the Law but as I find this Law not to be consistent with the latter part of the 43rd Instruction I have obeyed the Instruction in not complying with the Law.

M. I gave some reasons in my remarkes on the Act for Biennial Assemblies to which I beg leave to add the following to Shew the Act ought to be repealed the time of an Assemblies continuance being So Short causes Several well meaning Members to be Timorous fearing they should not be chosen again that by the Said Act a Small part of the Province have Twenty Six Representatives all the Remainder but ten I judge it necessary to reduce the four Precincts called Chowan, Perquimmons, Pasquetank and Curratuck into Two because in the second and fourth there are neither Persons fit for Magistrates nor Burgesses I am also of Opinion that two representatives are Sufficient for a Precinct the Counties in Virginia send no more, the number of Burgesses and Precincts are Settled by this Act. This Act also allows all freemen to vote for Burgesses, but his Majesty's 12th Instruction to me is very particular that none but Freeholders be admitted to vote which being against that Law has occasioned a great deal of heat among the people and much heightened by those who love to raise a Clamour against me. I cant help thinking we shall have more orderly Elections and more substantial men chosen if none but Freeholders vote as the Instruction directs so I hope the Law will be repealed that I may not be under the necessity of acting against a plain Instruction or against a Law of the Country and which may furnish my enemies with a handle for complaints against me.

N. By the 26th Instruction I am directed to take care that Just accounts of Receipts and payments of all publick monies being first attested by the Auditor be transmitted to the Lords of the Treasury but as there is yet no Auditor nor Receiver General nor the appointment of a Publick Treasurer yet Settled and as there has been very little money either received or paid I Shall not Send the Account before the Arrival of an Auditor or further Order from England.

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O. I have not yet been able to obey the 100 Instruction in Surveying the harbours being hitherto prevented by a Multiplicity of business and a dangerous Sickness of which I am not yet perfectly recovered this will be a work of Some difficulty and expence which I Shall readily undertake as Soon as I am capable of travelling the Inhabitants of this Country declare very much against Fortifications but as we have three harbours capable of receiving large Ships there will be a necessity of erecting Some at each of the Said harbours of which I will give your Lordships a further account before Christmas.

P. The late Receiver General of this Province whose accounts lye before a Committee of the Council having given Sufficient Security to answer to the King for what money is in his hand I design not to pass the Said accounts before the Receiver and Auditor are appointed and present.

Q. I am now able to give your Lordships an exact account of the value Bills are of in this Country, A Pistole is not to be purchased under eight pounds in Bills I have offered all people that have paid me Fees to take an eighth in Proclamation money in Lieu of four for one in Bills if they would let me have Silver, only one man would comply of all those I have received any Fees from English goods Sell from fifteen to twenty in Bills above the price they cost in England, but if the Bills are allowed by His Majesty to be current my opinion is they will Soon come to the value they are rated which is four for one in Proclamation money.

R. Your Lordships may think there was not enough said in my report of Sir Richard Everard, being commanded by an Instruction to enquire into the complaints made against him by the late Council I have further to observe that Mr Moseley was in great Friendship with Sir Richard and his Family and they had been much concerned in taking up lands as appears by the List of Patents granted by Sir Richard when the enquiry was made Mr Smith Mr Porter and Mr Ashe violently insisted nothing more ought to be enquired into than the words he had spoken against the King &c: there were but two Councellours present at that time besides, for this good office they did him, I am informed Sir Richard his Lady and Son have promised to make some affidavits they judge will prove servicable to their cause

S. I must informe your Lordships that I have had Information of Mall practices by Mr Moseley and his Deputies in returning to the Secretaries office Immaginary Surveys by which his relations hold great quantities of land more than are specified in their patents it is very certain

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Moseley and his Relations have in four or five years time strangely enriched themselves

T. I am assured by several people that my enemys have or will complain against me for buying some lands, the real truth I now declare to your Lordships which is that a few days after I came into this Province I heard Mr Lovick and Mr Moseley offer to sell some lands to Smith then Chief Justice and Mr Halton one of the Council they offered me some also which I then declined, sometime after I was told the Indians took up oar upon those Lands of which they made Bullets with, upon this Intelligence I bought the lands and gave more for them than they are judged to be worth, if I cannot find the oar I have made a very bad bargain having no manner of occasion for the lands which are by water one hundred miles above the Falls of Cape Fear River. if my enemies have impudence and villany enough to charge me with any clandestine or unfair practices upon this score I am ready to joyn issue with them and take upon me to prove the purchase was just, and that any other person might bought them as well as myself, the major part I bought of Moseley the great Land Jobber of this Country who has still twenty thousand acres to sell when he can find purchasers.

V. Of the Council appointed by his Majesty Mr Smith has resigned and left the Province Mr Porter for several reasons already given I hope your Lordships will think ought to be left out Mr Eleazer Allen was recommended unto me by several gentlemen in London to be put into the Council but he is not an Inhabitant in North Carolina, lives in South Carolina where he is Clerk to the Assembly therefore ought not in my opinion to be in the Council here Mr James Hallard and Mr Richard Evans never came neither do I think they design it, Mr John Porter is dead Mr Matthew Rowan is not at this time in the Province but expected soon.

As directed by my Instructions I send your Lordships a list of Names to fill up the Council. I put Mr Lovick first because I think he is the only person in this Government capable and fit to be intrusted with the care of this Province if his Majesties service or death takes me away. John Lovick Chief Justice when appointed, Nathaniel Rice Secretary, Joseph Jenoure Surveyor General, Robert Halton John Ashe Thomas Pollock, Edmund Gale, Matthew Rowan Cornelius Harnet, George Martin and Mackrora Scarborough. This is the best list I am able to make which I leave to your Lordships consideration.

W. By the running a Division line between Virginia and this Province many Plantations were gained from Virginia Some of the owners

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have taken out Patents here but the Major part refuse. I desire your Lordships directions whether they that have not Patented their Lands here, ought not to do so.

X. I shall do myself the honour to send your Lordships before next Xmas an Account of the Militia and the Improvments that may be made in this country which I think entirely depends on the Quit Rents that are to be paid for Lands to be taken up and opening a Port on Ocacock Island the Pilots I have appointed assure me that at Ocacock they can bring in vessels that draw Sixteen or eighteen foot water, at Port Beaufort that draw twenty and at Cape Fear two and Twenty this account the Pilots offered to Swear too, Curratuck Inlett is shut up and Roanock is so dangerous that few people care to use it but go round to Ocacock.

Y. A great number of people have come into this Country to Settle lately I hear of more that are coming from the Neighbouring Colonies nothwithstanding there is but one Entry for taking up land neither has the person who made the Entry gone on with the Survey by reason of the Quit Rent I acquainted your Lordships how great a Prejudice this was to the Officers therefore shall omitt writing any more at this time on the Subject

Z. When I undertook the Settlement of the Southern part of this Province (with consent of the Proprietors Council) warrants were given to people that were disposed to Settle there, by which inducement a great many people did then Seat lands in that uninhabited Country and have not since had Patents, I think it will be hard upon these people to be removed, many of them would be ruined. I pray your Lordships directions in this tender affair.

I am (with all respect) your Lordships most humble and most obedient servant