Letter from Alexander Spotswood to John Carteret, Earl Granville
Spotswood, Alexander, 1676-1740
Volume 02, Pages 324-327
[From the Spotswood Letters. Vol. II. P. 272.]
February ye 14th, 1718 [1719.]
To my Lord Cartwright:
The Neighborhood of your Lordship's Province of Carolina has afforded me divers opportunitys during my Administration here of Testifying my Regard to the Interest of the Hon'ble Proprietors and the Relief of the People, as well during the Civil Commotions in the one as the Indian War, wherein both has been successfully engaged. As I
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cannot be unconcerned when any Dangers Threaten the King's Subjects in that Neighbourhood, I hope the part I have lately acted in Rescueing the Trade of North Carolina from the Insults of Pyrates upon the Earnest Solicitations of the Inhabitants there, will not be unacceptable to Your Lords'p, and it is more necessary I should give Your Lord'p a true Relation of that matter, because I perceive some of your Officers in that Governm't inclinable to misrepresent it as an Invasion of the Rights of the Proprietors. Your Lord'p will, therefore, be pleased to know That about the beginning of last June, one Capt. Thatch, a Notorious Pyrate, refused to accept of his Majesty's pardon offered him by the Governor of South Carolina about eight days before he Lost his Ship at Topsall Inlett, with one of the four Sloops he had in his Company, upon w'ch he and his Crew pretend to Surrender to the Governor of No. Carolina, most of his people dispersed, some going towards Pensilvania and New York, and others betaking themselves to their former Villanies, under the Command of Major Bonnet Thatch, w'th about 20 more, remained in No. Carolina, and kept one of the Sloops, pretending to Employ themselves in Trade, but both their discourses and Actions plainly show'd the wickedness of their Designs. The Inclosed Affidavit of one of the Inhabitants of that province, and M'r of a Vessell there, will best display Thatch's insolent behaviour, and how little sensible that Abandoned Crew were of the Clemency they had received. Upon the repeated Applications of Trading People of that Province, and the Advice that Tach had taken and brought in hither a Ship Laden w'th Sugar and Cocoa without either men or Papers, I thought it necessary to put a Stop to ye further Progress of the Robberys, and for that purpose, having prevailed with our Assembly to give considerable Rewards for the Apprehending and destroying of these and other Pirates I hired two Sloops, furnished them w'th Pilotts from Carolina, concerted w'th the Capt's of his Maj'ty's Ships of this Station the proper Measures for extirpating that Gang of Pyrates. These Sloops, fitted with Men and Officers from the King's Ships, Came up with Tach at Oecceh inlett on ye 22nd Nov'r last, and after an obstinate Resistance, wherein Tach, w'th nine of his men, were killed, and nine more made prisoners, and took his Sloop, w'ch was mounted w'th 8 Guns, and in all other respects fitted rather for piracy than Trade. The prisoners have been brought hither and Tryed, and it plainly appears that the Ship they brought into Carolina was, after the date of his Majesty's pardon, taken from the Subjects of France upon the high Seas, near the Island of Bermuda, and the Men put on Board another ship of the same Nation taken at the same time, and was
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not a Wreck, as Tach persuaded the Governm't of your Lord'p's Province to believe.
Now, my Lord, it seems to be taken very much amiss that this Project of Suppressing the Pyrates should have been concealed and put in Execution without the participation of your Lordship's Gov'r, and, in the next place, that the Goods w'ch Tach had Piratically taken should be brought into this Colony to be condemned. To the first of these I beg leave to Answer That your Gov'r living very remote from hence, in a Place thinly Populated, and where these Pyrates had their chief resort, I considered that should ye Design Miscarry, your Gov'r must have been more exposed to their Revenge for being lett into that Secret; That he was there without force to defend himself, and consequently could contribute nothing to the Success of the Design, and, besides, the business required such Secresy, that I did not so much as communicate to His Maj'ty's Council here, nor to any other Person but those who were necessarily to be employed in the Execution, least among the many favourers of Pyrates we have in these Parts some of them might send Intelligence to Tach. To the second, as I gave no directions for the seizure of any Goods upon your Lo'p's Soil, so I have taken care that the whole Effects brought from thence be duly Inventory'd and secured, and that no Decree shall pass here until your Lord'p's Deputys be heard, for which purpose Notice is sent to Carolina of the time of holding the Court of Admiralty, and I am Confident from the understanding and honesty of the Judge of that Court that your Lord'p and the other Hon'ble Proprietors w'll receive as much Justice as if the Tryal had been in your own Province. As I am also well assured that if you have a Right to any of these Goods you w'll be considerable Gainers by their Importation and Sale here, where there are many more purchasers for such Commoditys than in Carolina, and I may say without Reflection much better Payment, but it is not improbable the True Owners may yet put in their Claim, w'ch w'll put an end to that dispute and to all pretensions, except for the Salvage, and I believe your Lords'p is too Generous to ask from the men who ventured their Lives to Rescue it from the Pirates, considering the Expense of Blood it cost, there being no less than 12 Killed and 22 Wounded of the King's Men that went on this Service.
This, my Lord, is a true Acco't of the late Action in y'r Lords'p's Province, w'ch, however, it may be represented through the mistaken Notions or Passions of some men, I hope your Lords'p w'll find nothing in my Conduct therein derogatory to the Honour of y'r Government, or
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your Lo'p's Interest. If the necessity of preventing the Growth of so dangerous a Nest of Pyrates in the very road of the Trade of Virginia and Maryland, as well as of your Lords'p's Province, and the secresy to w'ch I was obliged for the Effectual Carrying on this Service has forced Me to pass over some forms w'th Your Government, I hope Success may atone for that Omission, and I doubt not your Lords'p w'll prefer the benefit of so many of the King's Subjects, (w'ch must otherwise have been exposed to the Rapine of these Pyrates,) to the present Resentments of a few discontented Men, as I shall always preferr to all the Applause or Obloquy such Men can give, ye Satisfac̄on of being, as I truly am, w'th the greatest respect.