My Lords [of the Board of Trade]
As I have the honour to be appointed Receiver General of his Majesty's Quit Rents for this Province I think It my duty humbly to lay before your Lordships an account of the many difficultys and obstructions I have met with in my Collection from which I am but lately returned, more especially from the Inhabitants of Albemarle County the most numerous in the Province and from whom the largest sums are due.
Your Lordships are no doubt perfectly acquainted with the Tenours under which the people of that County hold their Lands and the indulgence given them by the Governour in Council by rateing their paper currency at no more than at seven for one sterling (for want of Gold or Silver) and allowing their arrears of Quit rent to be paid at that rate, although it was notorious that a much larger proportion of paper would not purchase the sterling either in specie or in any of the saleable commodityes of the Countrey. And indeed the people seemed so sensible of this favour that in my last years collections which were for the whole arrears due since his Majesty's purchase. I found very little opposition but from some few who had been too deeply concerned in former irregularitys not to hope they would be over lookt among other confusions of their own raising. It was then my good fortune to procure a considerable rent roll and receive as large a sum of money as could be expected considering the situation of affairs at that time. From whence I thought I might reasonably conclude a proportionable success in the annual Receipt instead of which I have met with the greatest opposition under various Pretences.
First that the Quit rents are and ought to be payable at their several and respective dwellings in the commodities of the Countrey.
Secondly that the taking seven for one sterling is illegal and expressly contrary to a law past the 27th of November 1729 entituled an Act fors to be equal to 15d wt of Silver as current in Virginia which is in proportion as four to one and from thence deduce the exchange of five for one sterl at which rate they insist the Quit rents ought to be paid althō it is well known throughout the Province that 20s sterling is worth ten pounds in the Paper currency and as I have seen it sold at the place of the Receipt of the Quit rents in Bertie Precinct in Albemarle county.
Thereby that the Quit rents throughout the Province are payable in proclamation money by an Instruction to his Excellency the Governour relateing to the remission to the arrears of Quit rents &c. to which I beg leave to refer your Lordships from whence they would conclude that the Quit rents of Albemarle county which by their Grand deed in 1668 are payable at Two shill sterl and 100 acres should now be reduct to Two shill proclamation and that too payable in Paper money at such rates as they shall please to affix, an absurdity too glaring to require any answer.
I shall not presume my Lords to make any further Animadversions on these points but humbly leave them to your Lordships consideration only thus much I would beg leave to observe that the bulk of the people are well inclined but their understandings are imposed upon by a few designing men of which Mr Moseley a member of the Council (and who for these two years has refused to pay his Quit rents) is I apprehend the chief. This Gentleman has been deeply concerned in the disposal of the Blank Patents so detremental to the revenue of the Crown which are now under your Lordships consideration. And I hope I shall not be accused of doing any injustice to his character if I say that all the difficultys and obstructions which have attended the several Collections of the Quit rents especially the last are entirely owing to that Gentleman and his Friends who leave no stone unturned to perplex the Government and render the Quit rents of as little service to the Crown as possible.
Your Lordships will be pleased to pardon if I enlarge, and mention one instance of this Gentlemans conduct (among others of the late Lords Proprietors officers) while he was their surveyor General and one of their Council. It was usual with them when the Blank Patents began to grow too numerous to be disposed of in Bath County at the exhorbitant rates they were originally sold at, to endeavour to find out a new market and lower the prices. To this intent they offered them to several persons in Albemarle County who already held Lands from the Lords Proprietors by Grants at 2s sterl per 100 acres for a smaller consideration (thō sufficientr Moseley's disposal.
These my Lords were among those called purchased patents Purchased by connivance of the Officers then in trust from the Lords Proprietors by them and them only at twenty pounds per 1000 acres paper currency and received in payment of their several and respective salarys as they became due so that by this management their Lordships (and consequently the Crown) have made an exchange of an annual revenue of fifteen shill: sterl: for ever out of every thousand acres so disposed of for the triffling consideration of about £3.10. sterl paid to their Officers and accounted for as they thought proper.
The Paper here inclos'd is what I took from the Publick Place of Receipt in Bertie County Precinct signed by three of the then members of the Assembly which I conceive will sufficiently demonstrate to your Lordships the terms they would pay their Quit rents at.
I should not have trespast so long on your Lordships time and Patience were it possible to remedy the evil by exerting myself in my Office. But the contagion is too far spread and renders it impracticable I therefore humbly submit it to your Lordships judgements whether his Majesty's Quit rents should not be paid at certain places throughout the Province, and (for want of silver or gold) in the paper currency at such a rate as will equal the sterling vallue. I am