Letter from Alexander Spotswood to the Board of Trade of Great Britain [Extract]
Spotswood, Alexander, 1676-1740
Volume 02, Pages 336-338
[From the Spotswood Letters. Vol. II. P. 323.]
May ye 26th 1719
To the Lords of Trade:
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Having by my former Letter advised Your Lord'ps that Sundry Effects, piratically taken by one Thatch and his Crew, were siezed and brought hither from No. Carolina, I am now to Inform Yo'r Lord'ps that the same has been condemned by the Courts of Vice Admiralty, And, consisting of Sugar, Cocoa and other perishable Commoditys, have been sold at publick Auction, And because there is like to be some Controversy about the Property of those Goods, I have caused an Acco't to be taken of ye produce in the same Species as the Goods were sold for, which amount to four hundred and forty seven Ounces—penny weight of Spanish, French and Portugal Gold, and at £5 per Ounce is, in the Currency of this Country, £2,238—out of w'ch is to be deducted the Charges of recovering ye s'd Effects out of the hands of the Pyrats, the Transportation from Carolina, the Storage and Expence of the Sale. As to the Right of these Effects, it appearing that the same were taken Piratically by Thach in a French Ship w'ch he met to the Eastward of Bermuda on the 22nd of August last, and bro't in w'th him to No. Carolina where he burnt ye Ship, If the Owners make out their property, the produce must be paid to them according to his Maj'ty's Treatys allowing a usual Salvage to those who rescued them from ye Pyrats. If no Claimer appears and that the same comes to the King, no doubt his Majesty w'll
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think fit to rew'd the Officers of his Ships and others Concerned in so considerable a Service as the destroying that Crew of Pirats. But there is an unexpected pretension set up for these Pyratical Effects by the Gov't of No. Carolina as being taken within the Seas of the Soil of the Lords Proprietors, by Capt. Brand, of his Maj'ty's Ship, the Lyme, and the Officers of the Sloop sent against Thach. What tittle that Gov't has to Support the Claim, they have not thought fit to discover, but when the Goods were under the Tryal of the Court of Vice Admiralty here, a Plea to the Jurisdiction of y't Court was put in by that Government's Attorney here, and after that was overruled, and the Goods appointed to be sold, and the Money Lodged in my hands pursuant to the King's Instructions, Capt. Brand is then Threatened to be sued in England for a Trespass on the Lords Proprietors' Lands and made accountable for all he had taken there out of the possession of the Pirats. This has obliged me to Cause the produce of these Effects to be remitted to England; that if Capt. Brand should be troubled there, and the money recovered by the Proprietors of Carolina, he may have it there to pay rather than suffer in his private Estate till he could have the money remitted from hence; And this I could not, in Justice, deny to a Gent. who had show'd a particular Zeal and Diligence in Exterpating that Nest of Pirats, but, at the same time, if no such recovery shall be had by the Proprietors of Carolina, the money will be secured according to his Maj'ty's Instructions, and w'll always be ready to be Answered to whomsoever it belongs.
It is surprizing that the Government of No. Carolina should now Claim the property in these Piratical Effects, when it fully appeared that they submitted Thach and his Crew to make Oath that the Ship and Goods were found by him as a Wreck at Sea; that they suffered the said Goods to remain in the possession of that piratical Crew for divers months, untill Thach was destroyed, And then the Goods were delivered to Capt. Brand, (out of the Store-houses where Thatch had Lodged them,) by the Gov'r of No. Carolina's Orders, but this Conduct of theirs w'll be easily unriddled when it appears that some in Chief Stations there have had too much Correspondence w'th those Pirates, particularly one who held the office of Secretary Chief Justice, one of the Council, and Collector of the Customs, appears to have been privy to one Piracy of Thach's committed in that very Province, and can hardly be supposed ignorant of the Piratical taking of the French Ship, when he received and Concealed a considerable part of her Cargo; and if he did believe her to be a Wreck, as Thach pretended, he must know that Thach had no Right to give, nor he to receive other Men's Goods, w'ch ought to
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have been secured as the Law directs. Since the Sale of these Goods, Mr. Grymes, the Dep'y Auditor, has Claimed a Right to Audit the Acco'ts and to have 5 per C't. for his Trouble. I told him he might, when he pleases, have the inspection of the Accompts, y't nothing might be Charged therein but what was fit and usual, but that the property was not yet determined, it would be but ill Management if the Owners had the money, to allow him a Salary for examining the Acco'ts of their proper Estates, and if the Proprietors of Carolina should recover it, I doubted whether they would allow him that proffit, but if it came to the King, his Maj'ty might give him what he thought fit for his trouble; but being uncertain of receiving any profite, he has troubled himself no farther. Having now laid before Yo'r Lo'ps all that I judge of Consequence in the publick Transactions of the Gov'rnm't, I have only to add that the Colony continues in Peace on its Frontiers and flourishing in its Trade, and except among a few MaleContents, impatient to see the Effect of Disturbances they have been fomenting, I believe none of his Majesty's Dominions enjoy a more perfect Tranquility.
My Lords, &c.