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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Arthur Dobbs to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
January 22, 1759
Volume 06, Pages 1-7

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[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 13. D. 47.]

My Lords, [of the Board of Trade.]

I have not had any Letters, Orders, or Instructions from your Lordships since the 7th of November 1757 which a little surprises me, not thinking that they should all miscarry.

I herewith send you the reports of the Committees of Accounts and Claims together with the Copy of a Bill of an extraordinary nature which affected His Majesty's Prerogative, which the Upper House laid aside upon the 3d reading.

As there has been a great deal of caballing and management this last Session particularly as to that and the Bill for fixing the seat of Government which I have passed, I must write fully to your Lordships upon it, as I shall want several instructions & enforcements or explanations of Instructions to know how far I shall execute them or suspend them for the future.

The situation I was in at Newbern in a small House at a high rent which I was obliged to pay without either Garden or field to keep either horse or Cow in a low unhealthy situation in which I had several relapses in Fevers and agues and the Assembly having complained of it and voted it an improper place, and no hopes of fixing on a place for the seat of Government made me enquire for a proper place to reside in, and the Gentlemen upon Cape Fear having offered me a new convenient house covered in but not finished in properly with convenient land to reside in there in a healthy dry open situation, I last Spring removed my family thither, and proposed holding Assemblies alternately at Edenton and Wilmington to prevent any jealousy between the Northern and Southern Inhabitants. This however alarmed the Gentlemen in the north lest hereafter the seat of Government might be fixed at Cape Fear, as it has the best navigation in the Province, and they made me a proposal to fix the seat

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of Government upon Neuse in the situation I recommended to your Lordships, where I had purchased a Plantation with that view that the price might not be raised upon the publick in case it should be fixed there, and engaged to build a house for the Governor, a State House and Secretary's Office, in case I would reside there, at the publick expense, and to erect a City there, this I consented to, and thought upon your Lordships having approved of it in case they addressed His Majesty upon it to lay them under an obligation of paying for the buildings, I might venture to pass such a Bill without a suspending Clause which they thought would delay the building, since His Majesty, if He disapproved of it would repeal the Bill, and if it were delayed, they might change their mind and not fix the seat of Government.

But by what has passed since I found that this was a scheme to draw me in to pass the second Bill, which was laid aside upon account of paying me the money I had expended, and would have also paid my expenses in attending the Philadelphia Congress, and the rent of my house for the time past which were at my private expense, thinking I would break through my instructions and pass a Bill which so greatly affected His Majesty's Prerogative and the Power of the Governor and Council.

The draught of this 2d Bill was not shewn to me until the Assembly met at Edenton, much about the same time I was informed that a Junto of 2 or 3 leading Members and the 2 Treasurers had met at the Supreme Court at Edgcomb to prepare & digest their plan and to get our proportion of the sum which His Majesty had graciously recommended to the Parliament to reimburse the Southern Provinces, which they expected would be at least £15,000 into their Custody under the direction of the Assembly which they ruled, and so apply it as they thought proper without His Majesty or the Governor and Council's interfering in it.

When this second Bill was shewn to me I objected to some parts of it particularly bringing over the sum in Specie, and lodging it with the Treasurers, and appointing an Agent without my approbation in Council who was only to follow their Instructions to him by their Committee of Correspondence, upon which they insisted upon it that the first Bill for the seat of Government should not pass unless the other went with it, as hand and glove, that they were to gain the Assembly by having the money in their disposal and not in the Governor in Council, which was a point they could not gain in Virginia from Mr Dinwiddie and the Council, and the lodging the

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money in the Treasurer's hands was Mr Starkey's price without which he would oppose it—Upon this fine spun scheme I thought to finesse as well as they, and spoke to my friends in Council not to oppose the 2d Bill until the third reading except in some trifling amendments, and whenever the Lower House had read both the Bills the 3d time and they had passed their House, and were sent up to the Upper House, I went & assembled the Council and told them that I wanted their advice whether to pass a Bill of an extraordinary nature which affected His Majesty's Prerogative and the rights of the Governor and Council, which was contrary to my instructions and gave them a Copy of the 29th & 30th Articles of my Instructions and desired they would give me under their hands their opinion and advice upon it without which I could not pass it, the gentlemen in Council who were for the Bill then proposed a suspending Clause. I told them even with that I could not think it prudent to pass it, upon which I left them and they without a negative put off the reading of the Bill until the first instant, before which the Assembly was to be prorogued, upon this Disappointment the Lower House were all in a flame, the managers being greatly disappointed, & represented to me that there must be a Dissolution unless the Upper House would resume the Bill, desiring I would speak to the Council to revoke their resolution, and pass the Bill—I told them I thought it was unprecedented, but they were to have no restraint put upon them—The Assembly then cooled and it ended in an application to me that I would concur with them in recommending so much of the money they were in arrear to their former Agent to be paid out of that sum, this I thought just and concurred with them in it; they then appointed an Agent of their own, without the approbation of the Governor & Council, & resolved to pay him £150 p. ann: for 2 years out of their proportion of the dividend of the £50,000 and then addressed His Majesty congratulating him upon the success of His Arms, at the same time praying that part of the sum should be laid out in purchasing Glebes and establishing Free Schools in each County—This address they never communicated to me, but are to send it to their Agent to deliver it, otherwise the Council would have concurred in a proper Address, upon which the Governor in Council have sent separately a congratulatory address to His Majesty, and then I closed the session.

As the bringing over the money in specie would be very expensive and would answer no end but the Treasurer's and the Committee or Junto of Correspondence, and would as fast as paid be sent back again to Britain to answer demands instead of sending out commodities,

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I proposed that it should be lodged in the Bank, or to purchase Bank Stock with it, which upon a happy peace would rise considerably, and to remit it as wanted to this Province, and as the Discount of our Paper Currency is at present £190 above the par of English Coin, the Bills would answer above 50. p. cent above specie in whatever manner His Majesty thinks proper to apply it, but if it came in specie into the Treasurers hands, they would pass it a par at 33⅓. and the surplus would sink into their pockets and their friends in the Committee of Correspondence. However I leave it to you to judge whether it mayn't be equally for His Majesty's service and the benefit of this Colony, if so much as they proposed of it for the building of the Stadhouse &c. should be laid out for that service instead of issuing Treasurer's notes for the like sum, & the remainder or a Proportion of it be laid out in finishing the forts of Granville and Johnston on Cape Fear & at Portsmouth near Ocacock Bar since the Assembly refused to give more money to finish Fort Johnston upon pretence that the Commissioners had not accounted before them, whether these Forts are necessary and fit to be continued or finished which I find, as they apprehend the war will be soon over they think Garrisons for them may be a charge upon the Province, which they would be eased of if there were no forts, but I apprehend it will be much for his Majesty's interest, that these Garrison's should be supported and paid by Britain, as they will keep the Province more dependant, and the Government as well as the Collectors may want their assistance and countenance to prevent an illicit trade which prevails over all the Colonies. I also think it for His Majesty's service that part of it should be reserved for the repairs of forts or building of Magazines or other contingencies of Government which the Assembly is unwilling to provide for but in a very scanty manner chiefly to bear their own expenses attending the Sessions.

Your Lordships will further consider whether the disposal of the money granted by His Majesty should be under the direction of the Governor and Council, and to have the accounts audited by the Auditor and transmitted to Britain according to my Instructions to be laid out as His Majesty shall direct and approve of, or to give up all accounts of money to the Assembly who will neither pay nor allow the Auditor to audit the accounts and keep the Vouchers, by which means they endeavour to engross all power, as they endeavour from time to time to increase it, now is the time on a pease to stop their schemes of their power, as very little money will be raised upon the Province but for their own benefit, if there should be any

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part of the sum remaining after such Appropriations His Majesty may direct it at His pleasure either in sinking the Paper Currency or in purchasing Glebes and establishing schools, but I must remind your Lordships that there was £7200. granted in Bills for building Churches & purchasing Glebes and £6000 for publick schools, which notes were not to be issued without His Majesty's approbation, which Bills were borrowed and issued to answer the expenses of this war to be sunk by proper taxes, as these Bills are restored by the taxes His Majesty may either allow these to be applied for Glebes or schools, or order them to be burnt as they are paid in to lessen the Paper Currency. But I should think one Public Provincial school for the languages &c would be enough to be endowed, and the County schools be only for English scholars to learn to read write and account with some other branches of the Mathematicks.

Since we have passed a Bill this Session for the better maintenance of the Clergy by which their annual stipend is increased to a hundred (£100.) this Currency and £20. annually instead of a Glebe, I believe your Lordships will recommend the repeal of the Church Bill which passed in the year 1754. when the Crown in effect was obliged to give up the Patronage, as the Vestries have always contrived to evade the lapse upon their not nominating and their chusing Vestrymen who wont act, and therefore they pay no Parish taxes and turn out their Clergymen at pleasure where Vestries act, so that now this Bill securing a better Provision for the Clergy, they are safe, and the Vestry Act may be repealed, by which better Vestries may be got hereafter, the repeal of that Law will be of great benefit to the Province and encourage pious learned Clergymen to reside here.

I also thought it prudent to concur in repealing Atkinss Law which was to continue 2. years, as we had prohibited the Indian Trade without Licences from him, and neither Virginia nor South Carolina would pass any Bill to the same purpose, and the Indians complained for not being supplied by us with Provisions or English Goods, and find that Mr Atkins has never yet gone up to treat with the Indians.

I must also desire your advice and Instructions considering the caballing of the Members of Assembly, whether it wont be prudent to dissolve this Assembly at least after next Session, but this I can't do until I have further Instructions from His Majesty before I can issue any writs as so many Counties have been dissolved & created again, who have no Members until Charters are granted to them,

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which none have demanded and if they do not, I can issue no writs for these Counties, among them Tyrrel is one in Lord Granville's district which sent 5. Members, and Bertie another which sends 3. Members; ought I then to give these small Counties 5. or 3. Members when much larger Counties send but two; will it not be more equitable & equally Lord Granville's Interest that as I have divided one of his Counties, Edgcomb, into two, & erected Halifax County out of it upon their Petition, that 2. of the 5. Members be taken from Tyrrel County & granted to Halifax County, otherwise I must give Charters only for one Member to each of the new Counties, Chowan County in which Edenton is, also petitioned to be divided and have another County erected out of it, but when I informed them that I could grant them no Members by Charter unless Chowan from which they would be divided would part with 2. of their 5. Members and take out a Charter for three Members which they would not consent to do, then they withdrew their petition; But if Lord Granville approves of giving to each County of Tyrrel & Bertie Charters for 2. Members, then Halifax and Edgcomb shall have two each, and when any of his other western Counties come to be divided which are very large, then the other 2. Members taken from those Counties may be made up by that County without any cause of complaint by the inhabitants of His Majty's Southern district. The giving two Members to Dobbs County separated from Johnston County will be according to my Instructions, as Johnston County is entirely in His Majesty's Southern district.

Since I find the Treasurers have a great influence over the Members particularly Mr Starkey by paying them their appointments for attendance each Session, and as he is a declared republican, and is constantly scheming to lessen the Prerogative, and take the Power from the Council and giving it to the Assembly and acts not as His Majesty's Treasurer for his service, but calls himself Treasurer for the Public not accountable to the Crown, I can't but think it advisable that the Bill which made him Treasurer without limitation should be repealed, and the Treasurer or Treasurers for the time to come should be made by the Crown during pleasure, and be incapable of being a member of either House if named by the Assembly, if that be not thought advisable, it can't be expected that the Treasurers should pass their accounts and have them properly audited and sent to Britain pursuant to my instructions, it was not prudent to litigate any Point with them when unusual Supplies were demanded from them, but upon an approaching peace, when nothing will be required

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but for their own benefit will be a proper time to insist upon his Majesty's Prerogative pursuant to my instructions with a new House of Assembly before Parties are formed in it.

These points I hope you will take into consideration and advise His Majesty what further instructions to send. We are greatly at a loss upon account of the Boundary lines not being fixed, no Taxes can be raised upon Anson County nor the Laws executed there, Patents are daily granted by both Governments in it, for if 2 people petition and one gets a warrant, the other goes to the southern Province & takes out a warrant there, by which means the bordering Counties can't be settled; it will be also necessary that the line be continued between His Majesty's & Lord Granville's Lands, there are Patents taken out above 100. miles westward beyond where the line was run before and we have been obliged to order that no lands for the future should be surveyed or granted within 5 miles of each side of an imaginary line (run by a Surveyor under Lord Granville) to prevent mistakes

I am with great respect, my Lords &c

22nd January 1759.

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: This letter enclosed two General Assembly committee reports - See Related Documents.