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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
February 20, 1732
Volume 03, Pages 331-339

[B. P. R. O. B. T. North Carolina. Vol. 9. A. 38.]

To The Right Honourable the Lords of Trade & Plantations.

I humbly represent to your Lordships that being received with the Greatest Demonstrations of Joy by the People of the Province when I published His Majesty's Commission; it must appear very surprising that the late Assembly would not pass one of the Acts required, or recommended in the King's Instruction, nor of my proposeing, which were only designed for the Ease of the People, and their own good; I had been seven or eight weeks in this Country, and held several discourses with the leading Men, who seem'd very well satisfyed with all I said to them of my Instructions, except the paying their Quit Rents in cash, and the Great advance of Rents for the Lands to be taken up.

Immediately before the Assembly I had summoned met, Mr Rice the Secretary and Mr Ashe came together from Cape Fear to Edenton the seat of this Government, till then there was not an immagination of any difference or dispute, every time the Council met the business before them was transacted with harmony & decency; Mr Ashe when quallified, began immediately to oppose me in the Council, and endeavoured with false reasoning, and fallacious arguments to impose upon the Judgements of the Gentlemen in the Council, he was very unsuccessful in the beginning, but in some time gained Mr Smith & Mr Porter to joyn him.

Moseley Speaker of the last Assembly and one James Castellaw a very factious Assembly man, came to me the third day after the Assembly met, and desired me or rather required me, to Promise to give my Assent, to an Act of Assembly to confirm the pretended Laws made

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here in 1729 after the King's Purchase; this I absolutely refused, there being many things in them Acts contrary to His Majesties Service, and such as I am forbid by my Instructions to pass; I was also Publickly and Privately sollicited to use my Interest and Endeavours that possession of the Lands, sold & granted by Sir Richard Everard and the late Council, should be confirmed to the Purchases, this I denied, judging any more therein, then sending a true account, would have been great presumption, these denyals to the Representations occasioned the cool answer they returned in their address to my Speech; and their subsequent behaviour.

I think the Journals of that Assembly make evident, how much I was in the right, and the advantages I obtained in every matter controverted, I am well assured the Assembly men would have carried themselves in another manner, if the Council had done their Duty.

Upon Smith's defection Mr Rice the Secretary resolved to go to South Carolina, I used my endeavours to persuade him to stay with me till the session was ended, but all my arguments proved ineffectuall.

The Surveyor General's Wife about this time landed in Virginia, coming from England dangerously sick, which caused him to go there, by this Ashe, Smith & Porter gained their end for then my own vote made but an equality in the Council, which obliged me to put an end to the Session; I have given the Characters of Smith & Porter in a Report and letter sent to England last Summer.

Mr Ashe is altogether bent on Mischief, I have been a great friend to him, my benefits he has returned with ingratitude, his wicked management in Tate's Affair is an undeniable Demonstration that he is a Villain, and unworthy of sitting in the Council of this Province (this Tate's complaint etc is inserted in the Council Journal.

Mr Cornelius Harnett another of the Council, was bred a Merchant in Dublin, and settled at Cape Fear in this Colony, I was assured by a Letter I received in England Harnett was worth Six Thousand Pounds Sterling, which induced me to place his name in the list of Persons to be Councellours; When I came into this Country he was reputed by many worth seven Thousand Pounds, but is now known to have traded with other men's goods, nor worth anything, and reduced to Keep a Publick House, How Harnett abused Capt Tate, and what he attempted against me in that busyness, may be seen in the Journals I am humbly of Opinion Harnett's sitting in Council is a disgrace to it.

It is a misfortune to this Province and to the Governor in particular that there are not a sufficient number of Gentlemen in it fitt to be Councellours,

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Neither to be Justices of the Peace, nor officers in the Militia, there is no difference to be perceived in Dress and Carriage, between the Justices, Constables and Planters that come to a Court, nor between the Officers and Private men, at a Muster which Parity is in no other Country but this.

Sir Richard Everard the late Governour for the Proprietors had the meanest Capacity, and worst Principles of any Gentlemen I ever knew, his Administration was equally unjust and Simple, he was under the Direction sometimes of one sett, then of others who advised him for their own Interest, and being incapable of Judging, was led to do anything they put him upon, which brought infinite Confusion on the Country, every man did as he pleased, the Militia which was very good, became so neglected that very few men now have serviceable Arms: The Roads so neglected that in my last Progress, I not only found them troublesome; but dangerous to pass.

I cannot refrain from astonishment when I consider that Sir Richard Everard complained against the late Secretary and Surveyor for Granting the King's Lands, when it was himself; that the Secretary advised him against it has been Proved, that the Surveyor Edward Moseley and Sir Richard were perfect Friends, is as well known; as Sir Richard and his Son having a large part of those Lands allotted to them.

I was informed at Cape Fear that the late Surveyor Edward Moseley and his relations there (some of them his Deputy's when Surveyor) used very unfair methods in their surveying, and claiming Lands they had no right too, by which means they imposed upon strangers and induced many to pay them for Lands, that they ought to have had the liberty of taking up, and that they held great quantities more than the Patents mentioned, some of these were summonded, before the Council in last January, Moseley gave in an account I knew to be false, others delivered me in Council evasive Papers to prove why they ought to be excused from giving in any account of what Lands they claimed, the further Consideration of this Matter is referred to a Council in March.

The Frauds and Concealments of Moseley and his Relations will constantly occasion them to oppose an Act required in my Instructions to oblige all People to Register their deeds for the Lands they hold in the Auditor's office; I judge such an Act, and such a Registry to be for the advantage of all honest men in the Country; without it the receipt of the Quit Rents Intricate and uncertain.

The Erecting a Court of Exchequeur has been deferred to the coming of a receiver, and Auditor; I humbly give my opinion (as Commanded)

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that it is not only for his Majesty's service to have a constant Court of Excheqr in this Country, but absolutely Necessary. The Chief Justice, the Secretary, Receiver and Auditor for time being, proper Persons to compose the Court; but much good cannot be expected from it without there was a real, not Nominal Lawyer to Preside. Such a One I hope to see from England, there is not a man that professes the Law here knows the Proceedings of an Exchequeur Court.

Before the Receiver and Auditor are present, I have thought the late Receiver's Accounts could not be Pass'd and if his Majesty declares the Grants void made by Sir Richard Everard after the Purchase, he cannot have any money in his hands, for this reason allso, am of opinion his Accounts should be deferr'd till the King's Pleasure be known.

Sometime after Smith the late Chief Justice left his Province I thought there had been no more than four of the Council in the Government, but Mr Rice was returned from So: Carolina, and Mr Ashe not gone to England as reported, which I know not till some weeks after, only two Members appearing at the Council Summoned in July, I swore two Councellours, otherwise I could not have held the Chancery Court, nor regularly appointed a Chief Justice, in September I sent a full account of this to your Lordships; I humbly hope this will not be judged a breach of my Instructions.

I desire leave to say a little about the Fees pay'd in this Governt particularly of those to the Governor and Naval officers, After the death of Mr Eden Governour of this Country, in an Assembly nine years since they altered the Fees of this office, which had been till then £1.2.6 to the Governr and fifteen shillings to the Naval officer is Sterling money, or fresh pork at one penny halfpenny per pound for Entring and Clearing etc, every Vessel not belonging to the Country and half that money for those belonging to the Country; this the President and Assembly altered by a Clause in an Act then passed, and made it £3.11.0 in Province Bills to the Naval officer, but quite omitted the Governour's Fee which is now at four for one £14.14.0 but it is not near so good as the old Fees, for fresh pork now sells for a shilling a pound, and less than twenty shillings worth of goods bought in England will sell for more than £14.14.0 Neither will any Master of a Vessel pay the old Fee, some busy People of the Country complain of this, I have not heard any Masters of Vessels that think it unreasonable it is certain the Trade is not lessened thereby, for more Vessels have come this Year than I ever knew.

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Before the Year vizt the Fees were usually paid in Commodities which as then Rated, were better than four for one in the Present Bills, these Species of Goods now selling from six to tenn more in Bills than Rated till that time.

As the officers in this Province take their Fees, they are less in value than in any of the King's Governmts in these Parts; the Fees accrueing to the Chief Justice, Secretary and their Clarkes, are three times as much, as to the Governor & all the rest of the officers here.

Bills will be of Great use to this Country, if His Majesty is pleased to allow them, but then, there ought to be no rated commodity's both will cause confusion in Trade, and the rated Goods depreciate the Bills, (as Remarked in the Laws.

Repealing the Biennial Act, would cause the elections to be more orderly and the Persons chose to behave more dencently in Assemblys than hitherto they have done, and if they serve at their own expense will be willing to do the busyness before them, and the best & most substantial men be Chose.

The settling Treasurers by the Pretended Act in 1729 is taken from the Method in New England, if this were suffered here, these men would have such an influence in Elections, that scarce a man could be Chose but by their approbation, in the Assemblys they must inevitably carry every matter in Debate as they please, I hope the Lords of the Treasury will be pleased to appoint one Treasurer for the Province.

In June last I was so extreamly buisied in writing letters drawing up a Report, causing the Laws of this Country to be transcribed, remarkeing upon them, making up the Journals of the Council and Assembly and abstracts in the Margins, that I generally was confined to my pen twenty hours in every day and night; And as there was not one Person in Confinement at that time, and having no assistance in my business; I did not make out a Commission for a Court of Oyer Terminer, & Goal delivery, in December there was a Commission of Oyer etc and the Court sate, but found no busyness for them to do, the Prisons being empty throughout the whole Province.

The dangerous sickness I was afflicted with last Autumn and tedious indisposition that followed, prevented me from finishing the Drafts and soundings of the Harbours, and completing the account of the Militia in the latter I have made some alterations for the Ease of the People, in April I design to put an end to both, and send them home as Commanded.

I have held several Conferences with the Tuscaruro Indians some Complaints against them from the Governour of Virginia, I setled their

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business to the satisfaction of all Parties, they remain in perfect Ease and Quietness.

I received a Letter in January from the Governour of South Carolina, to appoint Commissioners for running a Dividing Line between the two Provinces the Council then sitting, shew'd them the said Governour's letter, and a Paragraph in my Report of the first of July; they advised me not to appoint Commissioners, before I was honoured with an answer from England on that Subject.

It is mentioned in my Report that there are no Fortifications in this Country. At the South end of an Island called Ocacock there is a sufficient depth of water for any Merchantman to come in, & a secure Harbour, this Island is seperated from the main land by a Sound about fourteen leagues over, that cannot be passed by a Vessell, that draws tenn foot water, it has a Communication with many large Rivers that water so great a part of this Country, as contains four parts in five, of all the Inhabitants within the Province on this Island there is a Hill, whereon if a small fort was Erected Cannon would from thence Command the Barr, Channell and Harbour, there is no one thing would cause the trade of this Province to Flourish, like settling a Custom House on this Place, to serve the three districts of Roanoke, Currituck and Port Bath Town, this would procure a Trade from England, in a little time put an end to the Pedling carried on by the Virginians and People of New England, to this Place ships loads of Negros might be brought and sold well.

Port Beaufort and the Harbour at Cape Fear, may be made secure by being Fortified, but the Cost prove more than the Country is able at present to Discharge, these three are all the Places in this Country fit for shiping to sail into, there are a great many Inletts that shift their Channels, frequently the old ones fill and new break out, but none of them are good.

It has been a Policy of the Subtle People of North Carolina never to raise any money but what is appropriated, to pretend and insist that no Publick money can, or ought to be paid, but by a Claim given to, and allowed by the House of Burgesses; insomuch that upon the greatest emergency there is no coming at any money to fitt out Vessells against a Pirate, to buy Arms, Purchase Amunition, or on any other urgent occasion. This I hope will be redressed. The whole amount of the Publick Levys, and Powder Money paid by shiping, little Exceeds two Hundred Pounds sterling a Year.

It being hoped and believed here his Majesty will be pleased to let Lands be granted at two shillings per hundred, a few Warrants have been

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issued lately. to prevent all injustice and Confusion, in this affair, I have altered the Method used heretofore in this Government, was was to leave sign'd Warrants in the Secretary's hands to fill up as any man came for them, and very often the Deputy Surveyors, kept numbers in their Possession, by which they made considerable advantages, by their management some people were injured, and others benefitted, to put an end to all unfair Practices, the warrants are now all filled up before my signing, and Directed only to the Surveyor General, Who afterwards gives Directions to his Deputy's, All the Warrants made out are entred in a book at the Secretary's Office, when I sign them they are entered in another I keep on purpose, and when they come to the Surveyor's hands he do's the same I know not any method more fair and just than this: Desire to be further instructed by the Lords of Trade, if they see Cause, there are not any Returns made of the Surveys, by the time they come into the Secretary's Office, I hope to receive a form from the Lords of Trade (as formerly desired) to make out the Patents by.

There seems to be extraordinary care taken in the 47th Instruction that People should not hold much Land, but cannot answer the end Designed, a very little Money will purchase a vast Quantity of Land in North Carolina, any one may buy old Patented Land at this time, the Quit Rents at six pence per hundred Acres, under ten pounds Sterling the Thousand, the greatest price ever given in North Carolina for an Improved Plantation, Buildings and all included has not exceeded a Thousand Pound in Bills, which sixty pounds worth of Commoditys from England will sell for, the reason is, the small Value the Planters receive for their Produce, a Bushell of wheat is given for six penny worth of English Goods, a Bushell of Indian Corn, peas, beans, and other Pulse, for what costs fourpence, and a barrell of Tarr will not fetch above eighteen penny worth, besides the trouble of making the barrel, gathering and splitting the lightwood, the very bringing it out of the woods to a Landing in other Places would be worth the Money.

It cannot be expected that this Province should increase in People, if the Quit Rents are higher here, than in Virginia, and other Governments that are more Commodious upon many Accounts and Healthier.

Great Improvements may be made in North Carolina Here in Iron Oar enough to serve all the world, and I believe other sorts will be found when the upper Parts of the Province are Inhabited.

Great quantitys of Potash might annually be made, if the true Method was known.

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The soil in some Places produces wild Hemp, small Parcels are cultivated, some I have seen has excelled in strength, and colour any grown or brought into England.

Flax and Cotton are very good and easily Produced. Mulberry Trees that bear the thin leaf proper to feed silk worms grow naturally, this Country is certainly as proper and Convenient to produce silk as any in the world, the reason so little has been made, is that the very time required to look after the silkworms, is the season of Planting and Cultivating Rice, Tobacco, Indian Corn and Pulse.

The soil and Climate is particularly adapted for producing seeds to make Oyl, I put several sorts into the ground when last in the Country, the increase was beyond Expectation.

When this Province is better Peopled, and more Lands cleared of the Trees, it may reasonably be thought, these Improvements and many others may be undertaken to increase the Trade of Great Britain.

The Inhabitants of North Carolina, are not Industrious but subtle and crafty to admiration, allways behaved insolently to their Governours, some they have Imprisoned, drove others out of the Country, at other times sett up two or three supported by Men under Arms, all the Governors that ever were in this Province lived in fear of the People (except myself) and Deaded their Assemblys.

The People are neither to be cajoled or outwitted, whenever a Governour attempts to affect anything by these means, he will loose his Labour and show his Ignorance. They never gave a Governour any Present except Sir Richd Everard, with him they agreed for five hundred Pounds in Bills to pass the Pretended Laws in 1729, in the name of the Proprietors when he was showed the Act of Parliament of the King's Purchase, it must be allowed were those Acts Valid, the Assembly Men made a Good Bargain for the People they Represented.

About twenty men are settled at Cape Fear from South Carolina, among them three brothers of a noted family whose name is Moore, they are all of the sett known there, by the name of the Goose Creek Faction, these People were always very troublesome in that Governmt and will without doubt be so in this. Already I have been told they will expend a great sum to get me turned out; Messengers are continually going and coming from Moseley and his crew too and from them. Notwithstanding these Menaces, and the constant discourse that has passed here, allmost from my first Entrance upon the Government, that I should be superceeded by the Contrivances of a Gentleman in England, I have not been terrifyed, but Acted with such Resolution and

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Firmness, that the Province was soon put in a quiet condition, and has so continued without any Imprisonments or Persecutions.

I have patiently expected to be Honoured with your Lordps Commands, when I am so happy to receive them, and the hopes of my being Cashier'd extinguished, soon will the factious People here alter their Carriage; it is an insupportable grievance to them, they cannot invent, nor devise any stratagems to make me swerve from my Duty to the King, or inveigh me to favour some men to the Prejudice of others, by Acting Partialy in my Administration.

I am with great Respect (your Lordships) most humble and most obedient servant

N. Carolina. February 20th 173½.