Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Letter from Alexander Spotswood to the Board of Trade of Great Britain [Extract]
Spotswood, Alexander, 1676-1740
May 26, 1719
Volume 02, Pages 338-340

[B. P. R. O. B. T. Virginia. Vol. 15. P. 215.—Extract.]

Virginia May 26th 1719.

My Lords.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Having by my former Letters advised your Lordships that sundry Effects Piratically taken by one Thack and his were seized and brought hither from North Carolina I am now to inform your Lordships that the same have been condemned by the Court of Admiralty and consisting of sugar Cocoa and other perishable Commodityes have been sold at Publick Auction: and because there are like to be some controversy about the Property of those Goods, I have caused an account to be taken of the produce in the Same Species as the Goods were sold for, which amounts to Four hundred forty nine ounces 11 penny weight of Spanish French & Portugal Gold and at £5 per Ounce in the currency of this Country £2247 19 4 out of which is to be deducted the Charges of recovering the said Effects out of the hands of the Pyrates, the transportation

-------------------- page 339 --------------------
from Carolina the storage and expense of the Sale. As to the right to this Effects it appearing that the same were taken piratically by Thach in a french ship which he mett with to the Eastward of Bermuda on the 22nd of August last, and brought in with him to North Carolina, where he burnt the ship, if the Owners make out their Property, the produce must be paid to them according to his Majesties Treatys allowing the usual salvage to those who rescued them from the Pirates. If no Claims appears and that the same comes to the King, no doubt his Majesty will think fitt to reward the Officers of his ships and others concerned in so considerable a service as the destroying that Crew of Pirates But there is an unexpected pretention set up for these Piraticall Effects by the Government of North Carolina as being taken within the Seas and off the soil of the Lords Proprietors by Captain Brand of his Majesties ship the Lyme and the Officers of the sloop sent against Thach; what Title that Government hath to support this claim they have not thought fitt to discover, but when the Goods were under the Tryall of the Court of Vice Admiralty here a plea to the Jurisdiction of that Court was put in by that Governments Attorney here and after that was overruled and the Goods appointed to be sold and the money lodged in my hands pursuant to the Kings Instructions. Captain 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 Pyrates. This has obliged me to cause the produce of these Effects to be remitted to England, that if Captain 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 gentleman who has showed a particular zeal & diligence in extirpating that nest of Pirates 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 Majesties Instructions and will always be ready to be answered to whomsoever it belongs

It is surprizing that the Government of North Carolina should now claim the Property in these Piratical Effects when it hath fully appeared that they admitted Thacke and his Crew to make Oath that the ship and Goods were found by him at a Wreck at Sea, that they suffered the said Goods to remain in the possession of the Piratical Crew for divers months untill Thacke was destroyed and then the Goods were delivered to Captain Brand (out of the storehouse where Thack had lodged them) by the Governor of North Carolina's orders but this conduct of theirs will be

-------------------- page 340 --------------------
easily unriddled when it appears that some in Chief Stations have had to much Correspondence with those Pyrates, particularly one who held the offices of Secretary Chief Justice one of the Councill and Collector of the Customes appears to have been privy to one Piracy of Thache's committed in that very Province & 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 beleive her to be a Wreck as Thach pretended he must know that Thack had no right to give nor he to receive other mens Goods which ought to have been secured as the law directs.

Since the sale of these Goods Mr Grymes the Deputy Auditor has claimed a Right to audit the Accounts and to have 5 per cent for his trouble I told him he might when he pleased have the Inspection of the Accompts to see that no thing was charged therein but what was fit and usual, but as 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 accompts of their proper Estate and if the Proprietors of Carolina should recover it I doubted whether they would allow him that Profit but if it came to the King his Majesty might give him what he thought fitt for his trouble but being uncertain of receiving any profit he has troubled himself no further.

Having now laid before your Lordships all that I judge of consequence in the publick Transactions of the Government 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 Majestyes Dominions enjoys a more perfect Tranquility

I am with all duty and respect
My Lords
Your Lordships
most obedient
Humble servant


Recd July 9th 1719
Read June 15th 1720.