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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from James Abercromby to James West
Abercromby, James, 1707-1775
June 25, 1750
Volume 04, Pages 1095-1097

June 25th 1750.

Sir, [to the Secretary of the Treasury]

I had the honour to lay before you Governor Johnston's letter wherein he takes notice of Mr. Macculloh's complaint against him with regard to the King's revenue in North Carolina, and that he was immediately to give his answer to the said complaint as my Lords for Trade and Plantations had required him to do, I have therefore been obliged to lay the Original Papers which have been transmitted to me within these few days, containing the Governors answer with the proper proofs in support of the same under the Provincial Seal, before that Board, but at the same time, as the Governrs Answer Opens a scene not only with regard to the peace and the good settlement of that Province, but also more

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particularly with regard to the King's revenue in South as well as in North Carolina, and as the Governr in his own defence and justification has been necessarily obliged to point out some defects in Mr. McCulloh's Commission, which may require some consideration; I have therefore thought it my particular duty to lay a Copy of the said Answer before my Lords of the Treasury in hopes that their Lordships will either call for the Original Papers and from thence take upon themselves the examination of this whole matter which so materially concerns the revenue, or suspend their determination upon particular points, till such time as my Lords for Trade and Plantations have reported upon the whole case now before them.

The reasons which I beg leave to offer in behalf of my Constituents for moving that my Lords of the Treasury either take this matter wholly upon themselves, or suspend their determination on any part till such time as it has been reported upon by the Lords for Trade, are these,

First that as in the course of an examination into the merits of this case it will be found necessary to take Mr. Macculloh's Commission into consideration, and if upon a reconsideration of such Commission it appears that the King has been deceived in his Grant by some Clauses being contained therein that are arbitrary and oppressive, and not warranted by the fundamental Law of the Land; it is therefore hoped that till this point is considered that their Lordships will make no final or interlocutory order that may operate so as to corroborate the said Commission which it is apprehended that an order for payment of Salary or arrears of Salary might do.

2nd That admitting such Commission to be found warranted in point of Law, yet from the proofs now before the Lords for Trade &c. and to which the Governor referrs, it may appear that the Commissioner has incurred a forfeiture of such Commission through his own misfeasance.

3d That upon examination it may appear that the Kings Intention declared in the said Commission has not been any way answered, so as to improve his revenue of Quit rents but that such Commission has produced a quite contrary effect, in such case the utility of such Commission may come in question, and from thence will arise this very material consideration (viz.) whether the Establishment of £800 sterling per annum attending this Commission upon this express supposition that the King's revenue was to be improved thereby, in point of policy may not be applyed in aid of the appointments for the Governor and the other essentionaly necessary Officers of Government of North Carolina, whose case is now before my Lords of the Treasury for relief.

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From these considerations which occur on the face of the Governor's Answer to Mr. Macculloh's complaint, I hope that their Lordships will acquiesce in this my motion in behalf of my constituents (viz.) That no final Order pass for Salary or arrears of Salary under Mr. Macculloh's Commission, till the whole of the matter in dispute between him and Governor Johnston so far as the same has relation to the revenue of the Quit rents, is discussed, either by their Lordships, or by the Lords for Trade and Plantations, who have the case now in issue before them; and in the mean time I submit it to your consideration, whether it may not be necessary, that a state of the Quit rents of both Provinces be laid before their Lordships by the Auditor General with the several appointments payable thereon, that their Lordships may form from thence a Judgment as to the Application of the surplus Rents prayed for by the several representations now before their Lordships Board.

From the Defects of the rent roll taken notice of in Governor Johnston's Answer it will be no easy matter to ascertain the quantum of the rents of North Carolina, but the quantum that has been received and collected will appear from the receiver's Accounts from time to time transmitted by the Deputy Auditors to the Auditor General or to the Treasury.

From the state of the quit rents of South Carolina now laid before you, as taken in the year 1744, when I left that Province, tho' not altogether exact as there may be some difference in the returns made by the Inhabitants Land holders, to the Collectors of the Public Land Tax, and in the entries of their Lands on the King's rent roll, the comparing of which together I take to be necessary in order to adjust the King's Rent Roll, however admitting some defects in this calculation there must now necessarily be a very large surplus of rents in South Carolina (if duly collected) beyond the present Establishments on that Fund, however this cannot properly appear untill the Receiver's accounts of rents actually collected are compared with the rent rolls which Mr. Walpole as Auditor General if called upon by my Lords Commissioners of the Treasury may settle and adjust from the accounts transmitted to him by his Deputys in these Provinces. Praying your attention to this Case, I am, Sir, Your, &c.,

To James West Esqre first Secretary to the Lords Coms of the Treasury.