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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth to Josiah Martin
Dartmouth, William Legge, Earl of, 1731 - 1801
November 04, 1772
Volume 09, Pages 351-352

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. No. 219.]
Lord Dartmouth to Governor Martin.

Whitehall November 4th 1772.


Your dispatches of the 18th May 5th June and 8th and 11th of July have been received and laid before the King.

As the three first of these dispatches contain little more than a detail of the Measures you had taken for carrying into execution the Instructions you had received from the Earl of Hillsborough upon various matters relative to the state of your Government I have only to say that the attention you appear to have given to the several Objects pointed out to you manifested a Zeal for the Kings service that cannot fail of recommending you to His Majesty's Favor.

The charges exhibited against the Collector of Customs for the Port of Currituck are of a nature that certainly seemed to require that he should be suspended from the Execution of his Office; but from what I have learned of the nature of that Officer's appointment and from a comparison of it with the powers of suspension vested in you by your Instructions I very much doubt of the validity of the step you have taken and therefore cannot signify to you my commands from the King on that head until I have talked with Lord North on the subject.

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The step you propose to take of consulting the Judges on the Case of the Outlaws in Guilford County and upon the measures it may be proper to pursue with regard to those Delinquents is certainly a very prudent one for however well founded your own opinion may be yet it seems to be a case in which it would be improper for you to take any steps that had not the Sanction of the Law servants of the Crown.

I have not yet failed to consider with great attention the alteration you propose should be made in the Court Acts in the ensuing Session of Assembly and the only one of the Propriety of which I have any doubt is the Extension of the Jurisdiction of the Inferior Courts of Common Pleas in matters of Property, for although I am sensible that by the other reforms you suggest those Courts will be rendered more respectable yet as the Judges of them are not likely to have much knowledge of the Common Law they will I think under any Restriction be unfit to decide in matters of Property to so great an extent as £20.

With regard to the other regulations they appear to me reasonable constitutional and proper and I shall be glad to hear that you have been able to induce the other Branches of the Legislature to concur therein; thinking at the same time that, in the discussion of whatever Propositions you think fit to recommend to them on this subject they should be left entirely to their own free choice and that any positive Instructions from the King of the nature you suggest would not only be questionable in point of Propriety but would be the most likely means to defeat the Object.

I entirely concur with you in thinking that the appointment of the Clerks of the Courts ought to have been in the Governor. I find however upon enquiry that the practice is different in other Colonies, and as the King has thought fit to vest that power in another person by his Royal Commission I cannot take upon me on ground of expediency to advise an Act of Injustice but at the same time I do not hesitate to approve every provision that can be made in the new Court Act that may without prejudice to the Rights of the Patentee establish that Check and Controul which may be necessary to prevent the enormity you have complained of in the sale of the Offices of Clerks of the Courts.

I am &c: