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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Petition from James Abercromby concerning Gabriel Johnston's government
Abercromby, James, 1707-1775
February 13, 1748
Volume 04, Pages 928-930

To the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.

The Memorial of James Abercromby Esqre Agent for the Province of North Carolina, & for Gabriel Johnston Esqre Governor of the said Province. Sheweth,

That your Memorialist during his Attendance before your Lordships while a Letter from his Grace the Duke of Bedford relating to complaints against Gabriel Johnstone Esqre Governor of North Carolina was under consideration your Memorialist took notice of several verbal Allegations which were then Exhibited to your Lordships by one Corben Morris and by other Persons who appeared before your Lordships as your Memorialists believes at the Instance of the said Corben Morris, which said Allegations then and there so Exhibited did tend not only to impeach the Proceedings of the Legislature of that Province together with Governor Johnstones Administration as productive of Grievances to his Majesties Subjects in that Province, but also to charge personally the said Governor Johnstone (amongst other things) with a Crime of the most detestable nature and particularly odious to him the said Gabriel Johnstone as Governour of that Province, vizt, disaffection to his Majesty's person and Government.

That the said Governor Johnstone is thereby most sensibly injured but as [at] the same time confident of your Lordships justice he pleads this fundamental maxim of the Constitution (vizt) that the greater crimes are, so much the less, are they to be presumed and taken by construction or conjectures and thinks it his particular good fortune in the present case, while he stood accused secretly to have received the strongest mark of his Majesty's goodness that those who act in authority under him are not to be deprived of his royal favour, nor condemned by others unheard, for from such principles of humanity and natural Justice your memorialist

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conceives the case of Governor Johnstone to come referred to your Lordships examination by his Majesty's secretary at State in order that the Person accused may thereby have an opportunity of making his defence to every point alledged against him, and more particularly to that of disaffection to his Majesty which of all others affects him the most as it is exhibited and applied by the said Corben Morris against the said Governor Johnstone in order to deprive him the said Governor of His Majesty's Royal Favour and thereby not only to expose him to his Majesty's resentment, as a person who had betrayed that great Trust reposed in him, but at the same time to defeat his Right to those arrears of salary which his faithfull tho' unsuccessful endeavours for the space of fifteen years to promote his Majesty's service in that province entitles him to under his Majesty's Commission & for which said arrears, amounting to no less a sum than that of eleven Thousand Pounds sterling, a sollicitation is now depending.

That these Accusations have taken rise here (in England) and being exhibited before your Lordships by a person no ways concerned in that Province nor in the least aggrieved by the proceedings of the Governor or Legislature of North Carolina, nor any publick Documents from that province so much as called for in order to support such complaints it cannot therefore be expected that those who are themselves ignorant of such accusations should or could have instructed their Agent so as now to make a proper Defence in their behalf nor can he the said Agent (so lately introduced into that service) of himself Answer to Matters wherein he has not the smallest belief or knowledge.

That for these reasons and more particularly for that your memorial has not in this Case been at liberty to object to the Informality & Irregularity of the Accusers. Notwithstanding whereof as your Lordships Report for ought that your Memorialist knows or can any ways be informed of in point of practice may in the present case prove final and thereby the said Governor Johnstone and Legislature of North Carolina become deprived of the ordinary course of Defence in cases of complaints of a publick nature relating to the Plantations by a Litigation of Reports from your Lordships Board before his Majesty in Council your Memorialist is thereupon advised with your Lordships permission to make his Defence in behalf of his constituents before that the Report is made absolute by your Lordships Board and in order to enable him to make such Defence now moves your Lordships that copies of such Articles of Accusation as have been exhibited against the Legislature and the Governor of North Carolina so far as the same have been admitted by your Lordships to be grounds for complaint against such Legislature & Governor may

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be transmitted to the parties concerned and time given to Answer, by which it will be made evident that the Legislature of the said Province by passing that Bill (amongst other purposes for granting to his Majesty the sum of six thousand pounds for erecting Forts for the Defence of the Province) which at present does not appear to your Lordships, did not intend as has been alledged to deceive his Majesty or his subjects trading to that Province, but that the same was calculated for his and their service and that with regard to Governor Johnstone. That he will be able to prove by the evidence of persons who are in the highest channel of Council to his Majesty and in great Rank in Church and State and whose Testimony cannot fail of having wheight in satisfying your Lordships that notwithstanding what has been most unjustly and injuriously alledged against him the said Governor Johnston in order to promote purposes more particular and more interested on the part of his accuser Corben Morris than mere zeal for his Majesty's service, that the said Governor has done his Duty as Governor of that Province as far as it was possible for him to do, obstructed in the execution thereof by some of those Persons who are now his Accusers, and that he remains stedfastly attached in loyalty and affection to his Majesty's person, Family and Government.

All which your Memorialist in behalf of the said Legislature and the said Governor of North Carolina submits to your Lordships Consideration.


Febry 13th 1748.