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Letter from Alexander Spotswood to the Board of Trade of Great Britain [Extract]
Spotswood, Alexander, 1676-1740
May 15, 1712
Volume 01, Pages 847-849

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[B. P. R. O. B. T. Virginia. Vol: 13. O. 127—Extracts.]
COLONEL SPOTSWOOD TO THE BOARD OF TRADE


Virginia May 15th 1712.

My Lords,

Having in my letter of the 8th of this month inform'd your Lordships of my application's to the Governor of North Carolina to appoint Commissioners for setling the Boundarys, and the constant answer he made of his want of directions from the Proprietors, I take this opportunity to acquaint your Lordships that I have since seen his Instructions sent lately with his Commission, but do not find the least mention of the Boundarys, no more than if such a controversy had never been depending.

I cannot ommitt observing to your Lordships one thing in those Instructions, which is like to prove very prejudicial to this Colony, and that is, a power given by the Lords Proprietors for the space of seven years to dispose of their Lands, at the rate of Twenty shillings each thousand acres for the first purchase, and twelve pence Quitt rent yearly for every hundred (which is but one-fifth of what is paid here for obtaining Rights to take up the Queen's land, and one half of the yearly quitt rent payable to her Majesty for the same) and without any obligation on the Patentees there to seat or cultivate. The publication of such a privilege has already wrought so much on the people here, that great numbers are flocking to that Province, to take up land, and there's no doubt many more will follow upon the prospect of having what Tracts they please on such easy terms.

This excursion of the People into North Carolina as well as into the lands of the other neighbouring Proprietors will be very much furthered by a general opinion lately revived, that there are gold and silver Mines in these parts towards the mountains; and because in the Grants to the Proprietors, the share of the Crown in Royal Mines is ascertained, and no such Declaration made for those found in the Lands held immediately of her Majesty, people propose to themselves a greater advantage by seeking after them in the former. For this reason, I'm told, some persons who heretofore had, or fancyed they had made such discoverys here, were discouraged to prosecute them, and dyed with the secret. But now that the same opinion is revived, and the humor of making discoverys become more universal I humbly offer it to your Lordships consideration whether so great a profitt as may redound from the discovering

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and working such Mines ought to be lost for want of a Declaration what share her Majesty expects out of them. I find by the Grant to the Company that first settled this Colony the Crown reserved the fifth part of all silver and gold Mines, and that accordingly the ancient Patents express the same. Since the dissolution of that Company that the soil reverted to the Crown, the Patents conveyed to the Patentees of the land, a due share of all Mines and Minerals; but what that share is has never yet been determined. And in the Act of Assembly concerning the granting of Lands pass'd in the year 1706 (but now repealed) the former of the Patents there established, gave entirely to the Patentee all Mines and Minerals without any Reservation, and tho your Lordships made some alterations in the draught of the Bill before it passed here into a Law, yet I don't find that part of it was questioned or altered, and some Patents granted by my Predecessors while that Law was in force, have the same clause in them. But upon the Repeal of that Act I altered the form of the Patents in this Particular and made them conformable to the former vizt by granting with the Land only (a due share of all Mines &c) believing that share ought most properly to be determined by the Crown. Wherefore I hope your Lordsps will be pleased to move her Majesty for a speedy Declaration what share is expected if any royal mines are found in the Lands already patented under her Majesty's Grant; and whether if any such be discovered on lands not yet patented I ought to grant those Lands to any private person who makes the discovery? The ascertaining this will encourage people to make discoverys on the Queen's Land and if found will keep them where they may bring more profitt to the Crown, than by running on the like projects in the lands of any of the neighboring Proprietors; and since by the Charter to the Proprietors of the Northern neck there is only reserved to the Crown the fifth of all gold and tenth of all silver Oar, Your Lordships will not I hope think it unreasonable to propose to her Majesty, that for the encouragement of her Majesty's more immediate Tenants in the other parts of this Colony, no greater proportion be demanded of them. I am the more desirous of some speedy directions herein, because I have great reason to believe there are Mines lately discovered here, and I would willingly promote as far as I am able any thing that may be for the service of her Majesty and the good of this Country. It is like some of these mountains may bring forth only such imaginary Oar as I find some people heretofore have busyed themselves about, and that others may prove such barren ones as not to countervail the charge of working, Yet tis also possible that the earth in this part
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of the Continent may partake of the same mineral qualities with that of the more southern climates, and that the dillegence of inquisitive or fanciful men may in the end prove of very great consequence both to the sovereign and subject.

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* * * *
with all due respect
My Lords
Your Lordships
Most dutiful and most
Obedient Humble Servant
A. SPOTSWOOD.

(Endorsed)

Recd Septr 15th 171⅔
Read Febry 26th 171⅔