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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
December 1761
Volume 06, Pages 596-600

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 14. E. 52, 53, 54.]
Letter from Governour Dobbs to the Board of Trade

Brunswick December 1761.

My Lords.

I had the Honor to Receive yours of June last in September together

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with the Queens relative to this Province but have not been able until this time to prepare an Answer to them such as I had hopes to send you; and therefore must postpone sending you a proper Answer unto the third and fourth Queries until I get proper Returns from the Revenue Officers and Merchants from whom I must receive my Information; some of which have not made me any Returns and as the Treasurers particularly the Northern one have not yet made me any return of Taxables, I cannot at present Answer your Queries but Imperfectly nor can I procure proper Returns from the Colonels of the Militia, and therefore cannot answer those Queries: However as I have Answered all the other as far as in my power I would not delay sending them over in the Manner I now do least you should think that I neglected your order but shall send answers to those Omitted or not fully answered as soon as I receive proper Information I have not had any other letters from your Lordships since to Acknowledge.

The only Extraordinary thing that has happened since is the Assembly's having refused [to] meet and Act pursuant to Prorogation by Proclamation because they had not thirty eight Members present which makes up a Majority of the House of Assembly when by his Majestys Instruction fifteen make a Quorum. As I found it necessary for them to meet as the peace with the Cherokees was not ratified in order to Know whether the whole Regiment should be disbanded and the Company that garrisoned the forts or what number should be thought proper to be kept on foot as by the Law they were to be disbanded the first of this Instant, I, to try to bring them into Temper and to Comply with his Majesty's Instructions prorogued them five times by short Prorogations for nineteen days and then finding they would not comply Even to meet and Adjourn as well as Acknowledge his Majestys Right in Appointing a Quorum; I told them I would no longer prorogue them as there were then thirty Two Members in Town and the Consequence would be that they would dissolve themselves and though they had in former Sessions sat upon a Quorum of fifteen and did Business with a Smaller Number than thirty two, yet they Continued Obstinate and therefore I let them Dissolve themselves; and next day Issued Writs for a New assembly returnable the 19th of June by this Means the Troops are disbanded and not a Company left to garrison the Forts they gave out that their Constituents directed them not to meet unless there was a Majority of the whole House of Assembly alledging that their Charter still Subsisted and the King had no right to lessen

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the Quorum by his Instructions. I told them that if they Submitted and moved his Majesty by Petition or Address to Enlarge the Quorum, I would send it over and should acquiesce with his Majesty's further Instructions upon it but I found this would not answer their purpose and their Scheme was that the five Member Northern Counties and a few adjoining should rule the whole Province and that no Assembly should meet or do Business without they had a Superiority in the Assembly for that they could withdraw and thereby dismiss the Assembly at their pleasure and for that reason they refused to divide a large County called New Hanover though both Parts petitioned for it that they might Keep down the numbers of the Southern District; and yet they themselves were attempting to divide the Counties in the Northern District to add to their Numbers which I peremptorily refused having agreed to two New Counties there before in Order to have others much larger divided in the Kings District

If they should continue to deny dividing Southern Counties where Convenient I desire to know his Majesty's pleasure whether he will Exert his Right by Charter for though he Complied with the Request of the Assembly to have to [the] Repealed Counties Restored by Charter upon Reserving his Right to appoint Members by Charter yet the favour does not bind the Crown but he may resume it and appoint or divide Counties by Charter

I shall refer your Lordships to my former letter about the Repeal of the Bath Town Law by which New Towns of 60 Families are to have a Right to Elect a Member without a Charter or even without a Writ as was the case of Halifax in April Sessions 1760 I hope also to have his Majesty's Instructions about the Treasurers and Manner of passing their Accounts of which I have given a full account in my Answer to the Queries

I have not yet received my New Commission or Great Seal nor his Majesty's Instructions.

Since the Assembly have not met nor is it likely that the Governour and Council will agree with the Assembly and their Committee of Correspondence who want to get the Money in Specie from England which is lodged in the Agents hands in London heretofore granted to us by parliament should it be allowed to Come over in Specie so much would be lost by Commission Freight and Insurance and their Treasurers Fees for receiving and paying it and the Jobbing it in their hands to get it allowed to themselves and Friends at the par between Paper Currency and Sterling of 33 & ⅓ when Paper

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Currency is at near 70 p cent Discount above the real value I apprehend very like [little] Benefit would accrue to the Publick; and your Lordships may perhaps think Treasonable [it reasonable] to link [sink] as much of our paper Bills as can be Purchased for it though as you have not thought fit to repeal the Bill made in 1759 to fix the Seat of Government upon Neuse wherein £4000 of it is appropriated to Build the Public Buildings if it should come & if it should come over it could be so much locked up in the Treasurers hands until such time as that Act should be Confirmed or Repealed by his Majesty and in such case it would be necessary to repeal that Bill and vacate the Purchase of the Land Appropriated for the Seat of Government and then the whole Money might be paid in taking so much Paper Currency as would be paid in by Merchants or others who wanted to send Bills to England without any draw back upon it; for if it came over in Specie it would be Immediately bought up to send over again to pay debts or Purchase Goods in Britain. This I hope you will think worthy of your Consideration.

I hope you will also Consider whether it is not reasonable to repeal the Fee Bill since it was Originally an Encroachment on the prerogative of the Crown and Every Person now intitled to Fees by being paid in Paper Currency at near Cent per Cent Discount is defrauded of near half his Fees granted by the Act and there are Many Cases where no Fees are paid for Services Done and no other Fees dare be taken as in the Case of the Chancery Fees which are generally so low that no Person of Credit can be procured to Act in it and thereby such delays are occasioned as things hang up for years together I not having made above two decrees since I came over and Scarce dismissed any Cause Except Dissolving Injunctions. I find his Majesty upon account of this Discount has allowed the Officers upon the Establishment to be paid off in Sterling Value Surely then the other Fees allowed should be also paid at like Value and not at so great a discount

And a Fee I apprehend should also be allowed upon the Great Seal for as the Assembly refused to fix a Salary upon the Governour though applied to pursuant to his Majesty's Instructions; it seems reasonable that the Governour should have reasonable Fees. And as his Majesty has allowed a Pistole upon each Patent in Virginia where a great Salary is paid by the Province; it is a little hard upon this Province that the Governor should only have 3 shillings 4 pence Sterling paid for a Patent and his Majesty's hands locked up by the Fee Bill upon granting his Lands. It may be thought I am argueing

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for myself but it is for his Majesty's prerogative and for my Successors as at my time of Life I can Scarce Expect to reap any Benefit from the repeal of the Bill or his Majestys Gratuity upon it

I have mentioned to your Lordships in Answer to the Queries and the Manner of Passing and Auditing the Accounts to which I refer, but I must make Complaint of the Execution of the Office of Auditor here I cant say it hath ever been duly Executed of which I made a former Complaint; but since Lord Walpole's Death the Deputation has been worse Executed than ever I may say not Executed at all; for a Gentleman one Lucas was sent over by the Auditor as his Deputy he was Six months here before he applied to be sworn into his Office and instead of residing in his Majestys District to attend the Court of Claims he was above his Business and acted as Deputy Attorney without attending the Courts and took upon him to appoint Illegally a Deputy Auditor under him, he never Kept any Office Books or Register so that Patents were Postponed and I was obliged to appoint a Deputy whom I ordered to Keep half the Fees as usual when the Duty is not performed by the Auditor until he should attend in person. he then went to the Northward and neglected to attend and without any leave quit the Colony and went to England upon which I have been obliged to appoint another Person Deputy Auditor I do not doubt but the Auditor General will make a Complaint against me though for doing my duty; and therefore thought proper to state the Case to your Lordship that you may see how Offices are neglected here this Non attendance of the Auditor will be a Pretence to the Assembly for not having the Publick Accounts Audited

I have just received Advice of the Death of Mr. John Swann one of our Council and therefore beg leave to Recommend to your Lordships Colonel William Dry Collector of this Port a Gentleman of Great Worth and Fortune and zealous in Supporting his Majesty's Rights to Succeed him as there will be one wanting in this part of the Province to make up a Council or Court of Chancery

I am My Lords &c