Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Arthur Dobbs to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
January 20, 1757
Volume 05, Pages 739-743

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 12. C. 125.]
Letter from Governor Dobbs to the Board.

Newbern 20th January 1757.

My Lords,

I wrote fully to you upon the breaking up of the Assembly in October by a packett boat from the West Indies, which had been dismasted in the Gulph, and put into Virginia to refit, which I hope got safely to England, to which I refer being a full answer to all your last Instructions. This conveys to your Lordships the attested copies of all the Acts of Assembly of last Session here with the Journals of the Upper House and Minutes of the Council.

I have also sent you the numbers of white souls upon the 12 great Tracts granted to Messrs Huey and Wilcocks and their Associates being the best return I could get, and which I believe is very near the truth, the last four numbers and part of the seventh are on Lord Granville's Lands, those numbers on the King's Lands particularly the first six numbers are so near the Latitude of 35° that they will not take out Grants from this Province being all in Rebellion, and will pay of late no quit

-------------------- page 740 --------------------
rents under pretence that the Lands belong to South Carolina, upon Account of that Provinces claiming all the Lands West of the north West Branch of Cape Fear River if 30 miles distant from it; so that they sit upon it without Rights or Titles to it. This is the case of Mr. Selwyn and my case, as we are seated next the Line, however I hope this Line will soon be fixed, as Governor Lyttleton informs me he will immediately send over the opinion of their Council upon the Boundary they would choose to be compared with what I sent to your Lordships, that you might advise his Majesty how to have it fixed.

I wrote fully to your Lordships about repealing the processioning Law, which if not soon repealed will give the Planters an opportunity of fixing their Titles upon Fraudulent grants where they are possessed of much more than they have a right to by patent, and laid before your Lordships some Regulations proper for your consideration to have his Matys Instructions to the Council here to regulate their proceedings accordingly to which I refer I have in this sent you two cases to be laid before your Council for his opinion upon them, and hope when the right is determined you will send me His Majesties Instruction to oblige the Council here to determine according to them in the Court of Claims with a power to suspend such who shall act contrary to those Instructions; for they seldom act uniformally and some may be concerned or connected with others who have such Grants & determine accordingly. If the Right be in the Crown I am humbly of opinion that the Discoverer should have the preference of the Patentee, or should have a suitable recompence from him for making the discovery, otherwise no discoveries will be made, there being such Connections and Combinations to protect each other, that very few can be got to inform or take out Warrants of Resurvey, especially when it is decided in the Court of Claims that the Patentee shall have the preference, and select the best of the Lands, leaving the refuse to the Discoverer, so that the Discoverer has only his Labour for his pains, and the odium of being an Informer.

In the Case laid before you, I have been obliged to be the Discoverer, as it is in my Neighbourhood, and have declared that I will assign my right to another in Case his Majesty's Instructions shall be to give the Discoverer the preference, for which reason they are not pleased that I should look into their Frauds, although they know I am a Trustee to preserve his Majesty's Rights; If I found this to be a singular Case, I would not have stirred in it, but I apprehend it has been generally so in the Province, and all the old Patentees will combine together, & in Case of a Tryal at Law may procure Verdicts and judgments against the Crown. If such should be notorious and evidently contrary to Law, would it

-------------------- page 741 --------------------
not be proper where His Majesty's right is in dispute that there might be an Appeal to the Council in England under proper Regulations, which might prevent many iniquitous Verdicts in the Courts here, it may be also proper where no Discoveries have yet been made, that a time should be allowed by Proclamation or Publick advertisement that whoever should take out Warrts to resurvey their own Lands, should have the preference to the new Patents for the surplus Lands, if done in a limited time, and then they could have no reason to say they were ignorant and not judges of the Quantity they held, and when the surplus is granted to the Discoverer the Patentee should have that side of his Land upon which his Improvements are made.

There is also another fraud and point necessary to be settled. On most Rivers, Creeks and Branches there are great Quantitys of low marshy ground and are a continued Thickett of Trees and Shrubs and high reeds, as are all what they call dismal Swamps, sometimes of great Extent, which are very expensive to improve, but when once reclaimed will be the most valuable Lands in the Province, when Warrants have been granted upon these rivers and Creeks, the Surveyors have made it a rule upon Account of the Difficulty they found in surveying through these swampy Thickets never to survey them, but thrō them as trifling into the survey, surveying only the high grounds, and begin their survey at a Tree on the high ground, althō half a mile from the River or Creek, and if they should survey the 3 sides from the River, which they very seldom did, they generally marking a corner Tree, and then lay down the Courses and Distances upon their Paper to make a return of the Quantity in the Warrant, and leave it to the Patentee to mark whatever Trees he pleased of any length or Courses he liked best at his leisure; so that the marked Trees now seldom answer the Courses and Distances in the Patent. But if at any time the Surveyor run 3 sides he never run the fourth, but says from thence to the first station, and in case it be upon a Creek or river he then says, and then along the Creek to the first station, although he has never been down at the Creek, and the winding upon the Creek be so far beyond the last straight Line to the first station, so as to contain perhaps hundreds of Acres all which is lumped in the Survey, and pass for nothing In Case these low swamps don't extend above 20 or 30 poles below the high grounds, I think they might be thrown into the survey as insignificant, but when it exceeds perhaps hundreds of Acres, there should be some Limitation, and the remainder be esteemed surplus Lands to be new granted and charged with Quit rents, for no other person can build or improve on a March without having some dry Ground to build upon.

-------------------- page 742 --------------------

Mr. Glenn having buoyed up the Catawba Indians, whom I found to be about 300 Warriors and are computed at about 700 souls in the whole, that he would grant to them and have it confirmed by the Crown a Circle of 30 miles round their Towns within which radius no white man should settle, and Governor Lyttleton having acquainted me that the Catawba King Haglar had complained to him that the English were settling within their Bounds, it will be proper when the Boundary is fixed to consider how much Land to allow to them in proportion to their Numbers, as we are now building a Fort in the midst of their Towns at their own Request we can the better fix their Lands. I find that when the Tuskerora Lands were fixed, who where then more numerous than the Catawbas are now, that they were content with a tract less than 10 miles radius round their towns. I find that in a Circle of Ten miles radius is contained 200,960 acres, and in a Circle of 30 miles radius it contains 1,808,640 acres the least Tract divided among 700 souls would be 287 acres to each person, and in the larger Circle 9 times as much above 2,500 acres to each person. in whatever way his Majesty is pleased to determine it, I humbly think it ought to be done by a publick Treaty with them to please them, by both the Colonies in which the several lands may lie, and in case they should make any large demand, that then the several Governments may be empowered to purchase from them by their free consent whatever may exceed a sufficient Competency for their numbers to be paid out of His Majestie's Quit rents, as the Crown will be reimbursed by the Quit rents, at the same time allowing them to hunt on the English adjoining Lands equally as the English Subjects which may be purchased for a small sum, in goods which they should choose, and what ever they have granted to them should not afterwards be purchased from them, altho' their numbers should greatly diminish, by any private person or planter, but should only be purchased by Agreement from the Crown, & then they would not be defrauded out of their remaining Lands.

These are the only things necessary at present to communicate to your Lordships, besides what I mentioned in my former Packets.

I am with great Respect My Lords Your Lordships
Most obedt & most humble servant.

Newbern 20th Janry 1757.

In Mr. Selwyn's Tract No 1 & 3 about
In Mr. Dobbs No 2 and 5 about
In No 4 about 4 Baronys, 50,000 acres Mr. McCulloh's
In No 6 8 different Grantees McCul. no Interest
In No 7 Andrew McCulloh Jos. Wilcocks
-------------------- page 743 --------------------
In No 8
All but about 20,000 acres in No 8,
within Lord Granville's Line.
In No 9
In No 10
In No 11
In No 12

The Tracts 1, 2, 6, 7, are very much broken with steep, stony and rocky Hills, therefore not settled but in few places.

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: This letter enclosed a legislative journal and council minutes - See Related Documents.