Governour Burrington's Paper in Relation to Grant of Lands.
Gentlemen of the Council
Mr Rice and Mr Ashe sometime after the breaking up of the last Council signed a Paper and put the same into the Secretary's Office, Endorsed upon the outside, Filed in the Secretary's Office November the 11th 1732, which Paper was shewn to me the 13th of this Month. In this Paper I am taxed with not observing my Instructions in granting Lands, which is ridiculous, for there has not one patent passed the Seal since I came into this Province, neither will I sign a Patent for Land before I receive further orders from England.
Great numbers of People had been imposed upon by Mr Ashe and others who were Deputy Surveyors before my coming with the King's Commission in the followg manner. The said Mr Ashe surveyed without Warrants and took Exorbitant Fees from People for so doing and upon their inquiring whither that was sufficient, he told them it was the same thing if he surveyed with or without Warrants, nay that was not all, for Mr Ashe laid out and surveyed great Quantitys of Land for himself on Cape Fear river and parts adjacent, & then sold them to new comers. I have also been inform'd by sundry Persons that Mr Ashe did not regularly make the Surveys, but marked a Couple of Trees in front, and imagined the other bounds, and then drew a plot upon a piece of Paper, these Plots of Mr Ashe's making have been frequently sold and transferred from one man to another, by the craft and knaving of Edward Moseley Mr Ashe and some others in Confederacy.
People that came from the adjacent Governments to settle on Cape Fear River were obliged to purchase Lands of them (for they could not obtain them without) by which they acquired great substance. Mr Roger Moore told me they had of him for Land twenty two Negroes, and Bill of Exchange for some Hundred Pound Sterling. When I was last at Cape Fear several men desired my opinion on the following Occasion, they bought Lands about the time and after His Majesty completed the purchase of Carolina of Edward Moseley and Confederates and paid money and Negroes for it, and afterwards had Patents made out in their own Names for the Lands, altho' the same were pretended to belong to Edward Maseley or some other in the Confederacy before their Purchase and as such sold by them, these men desired me to tell them wither their Titles were good, to which I answered nothing could be said befored be ruined if the Lands they had purchased in the manner related were taken from them. But to return to the Paper a great many People who had no other titles to Lands they had settled and lived some years upon than plotts from Deputy surveyors, thought proper to make Entrys in a regular manner, and obtained Warrants which are constantly entered in three Books, one is kept in my house, another in the Secretary's Office, and one in the Surveyors which are always shewn to such Persons as desire to inspect them without Fee or Reward. Mr Rice and Mr Ashe say that I have taken two shillings & sixpence is silver Virginia Currency for every fifty Acres which I say is false and will prove to be false in three Particulars.
In the first place I have freely given my Fees for taking up Lands to a great many Persons. 2ndly, I have taken in lieu of money Provisions of all kinds and Grain without once refusing any offered me. Thirdly, when Money was paid it was Proclamation And not Virginia currency the Money I have received has scarcely paid the Expenses of Journeys I have taken for the King's service and promoting the good of the Country, And the Provision received for them Fees were but a small part of what have been expended in my House.
Mr Rice & Mr Ashe sent the Deputy secretary to me one day in last Court with a parcel of warrants drawn without my knowledge to be signed for them which I refused, and gave Mr Rice my reasons for it at the Council Table, that refusal brought on their paper, tho' they say it is out of a sense of their Duty etc. But I am sure they will gain no man's belief that knows them in this particular, when the Patents are to be signed, that will be done in Council, and then objections may be made, and if any Person have warrants for more land than they have a right to take up, any man may enter Caveats against them in the mean time I have wrote very fully upon this subject to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle and the Lords of Trade, am in daily Expectations of Answers upon this Subject, one thing I will say which is that I have acted for the King in this Respect, as I would have done for myself.
As it is known to every man in this Province how Mr Ashe acquired his Estate, I have no occasion to enlarge upon that matter, but as he has shewn in the latter part of his paper a great concern that People should not be injured by paying me the accustomary Fees for taking up Land. I take the Liberty to advise and desire Mr Ashe to return to the defrauded men the money he has received for surveying Lands without Warrants, and for sales of Land he had no Right to, which I believe
Whether I have Exceeded my Instructions or acted contrary to them, I will advise upon with the Council, and conclude there must be some design in writing this Paper by the strange manner it was left in the Secretary's Office, by the secretary himself without speaking one word to me about it, nor proposing any part of what it Contains to the Council.