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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Report by Gabriel Johnston concerning the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe landed in North Carolina, including petition from Juan Manuel de Bonilla
Johnston, Gabriel, ca. 1698-1752; Bonilla, Juan Manuel de
November 17, 1750
Volume 04, Pages 1305-1308

The Account of the Spanish Wreck on the Coast of North Carolina.


When the Governor met His Majesty's Council on the 25th of Septr at Newbern, The first thing He did was by their consent to send down Colonel Innes a member of Council, and who was well acquainted with the Spanish language and methods of Trading, to enquire into their circumstances, and make Report of what was necessary to be done for preservation of the Register Ship Neustra Segniora de Guadalupa then lying in distress at Ocacock, and whose Cargo was worth 1000000 pieces of Eight; And what their Reasons were for not applying to the Governor,

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for they had now been Thirty Days on Shore without making the least Application to any Body, though they were frequently told it was Their Duty to do so, The information He received on His way to Newbern gave Him Reason to suspect that the Bankers (a set of People who live on certain sandy Islands lying between the Sound and the Ocean, and who are very Wild and ungovernable, so that it is seldom possible to Execute any Civil or Criminal Writs among them) would come in a Body and pillage the Ships, what confirm'd Him in these apprehensions was that several Parties of Spaniards in the year 1747, during the Summer, had in small Vessels Landed in several different Places among these very Bankers, and killed all their Cattle and Hogs, and done a great deal of mischief, and in October 1748 after the time limited by the Treaty of Aix was expired a small Squadron from the Havannah had entered Cape Fear River and ruined and Destroyed the Town of Brunswick, to prevent therefore their executing the Revenge which they threatened, after taking all proper Measures within the Country to stop the first rising, He sent orders to the Commander of His Majesty's Ship the Scorpion to come to Ocacock, and lye along the side of the said Register Ship, and to protect Her from all Insults, for this purpose He sent Three different Expresses to the Captain, but it unluckily happened, that the last only came to the Captains Hand, after which He set Sail immediately, But before He could arrive and Colonel Innes got down to Ocacock (which is eighty miles distant from Newbern) The Spaniards, who as We afterwards understood were very Mutinous had fallen out among themselves, and had very Imprudently put on Board two North Country Sloops who came in there Accidentally, and whose Masters were intirely Strangers to them 106 Chests of money and thirty Bags of Cochineal The consequence of this wild Step and their behaviour afterwards cannot be better Expressed than in the Petition the Captain presented to the Governor some Weeks afterwards; A Copy of which follows.

To his Excellency Gabriel Johnston Esqr Governor and Com̄ander in Chief In and Over the Province of North Carolina and Vice Admiral of the same.

The Humble Petition of Don Juan Manuel De Bonilla Sheweth

That after your Petitioner had got into Ocacock with the loss of His Masts and Rudder, He found that by the Intrigues and Artifices of Pedro Roderiguez Boatswain of the said ship His Men very mutinous and ungovernable, that the said Boatswain having got most of the Men on His side and under Pretence of going to Virginia forced your Petitioner

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to put on Board two Sloops from the Northward which came into the Port and were entire Strangers to him above 100 Chest of Plate and Thirty Bags of Cochineal without any Bill of Lading or Receipt for such a Valuable Cargo.

That when Your Excellency was pleased to send Colonel Innes to enquire into the State of Our affairs and to make Report to Your Excellency, He the said Colonel expressed to Your Petitioner, His fear that the Masters of those Sloops would run away with the Cargo, and offered to take Possession of them and carry them up the River for their greater security which Your Petitioner heartily approved of, But the said Boatswain backed by most of the Crew told Your Petitioner that He would not suffer the Money to be moved, upon which Your Petitioner was forced to desist. That when Your Petitioner was coming up to wait upon Your Excellency by the advice of Colonel Innes He Ordered the Boatswain who in His absence had the Com̄and of the Ship, to unbend the sails of the Two Sloops and to clap Ten Men on board of each of them both which he neglected to do

That on Tuesday the 9th of October at Noon day both Sloops cut their Cables in order to go to Sea, but one of them getting a ground the Boatswain let the other Escape 'thō she was a dull Sailer and had not Ten men on Board while the Boatswain had the Com̄and of fifty Men

That Your Petitioner now the Bad Weather is coming on and his Men so mutinous, is under great apprehensions that the Remainder of the Plate, and Cochineal will be either lost or embezzled.

Your Petitioner Therefore humbly Prays Your Excellency to take the Premises into Your Consideration, and to direct His Majesty's Sloop the Scorpion to take on Board the remainder of the Plate and Cochineal, and to Transport the same to Europe for which He agrees to let Your Excellency have a Reasonable salvage, And the Captain of the Scorpion the usual and accustomed Freight. and Your Petitioner &c.

In Compliance with this Request the Governor gave necessary Orders, and the Captain of the Sloop has informed Him by a Letter from Ocacock Bar, that He has taken on Board the Captain of the Register Ship with fifty Chests of Dollars, and thirteen Bags of Cochineal, and a few other small matters, The Sloop that got away has carried off all the rest of this Valuable Cargo, Expresses have been sent to the West India Islands, and to the northern and Southern parts of the Continent, to give Notice of this Robbery, and likewise Two Schooners well Man'd and Arm'd, to Search the Coast least they should be lurking some Creek there.

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This is a true Account of what happened on this Occasion, and I shall reckon myself very happy if my Conduct is approved of by your Grace.


Edenton Novr 17 1750.