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Memorial from inhabitants of Bertie and Edgecombe precincts
No Author
October 1735
Volume 04, Pages 18-22

[B. P. R. O. B. T. North Carolina. Vol. 9. A. 63.]

To his Excelly Gab Johnston Esqr &c of No Carolina

The Honble Address of the Inhabitants of Bertie & Edgecombe precincts. [Oct. 1735]

Your Excelly in your answer to the Grand Jurys Address seemed to wonder that you should hear any more upon so Uunreasonable a Subject wee hope it will not be thought unreasonable that we should Address yr Excelly to protect our Laws & Liberties & that we may not be disquieted in the possessions of our Estates, (tho poor & mean) which we first paid for honestly & afterwards Settled and Improved with much hard Labour from the Barren Woods exposed to the Violent heat of the Sun most part of the Year and many of us trusting to what providence would lay in our way for food Sometimes a Deer or Bear & sometimes a Racoone

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& many days nothing a rare feast for Industrious Protestants and that many of our Ancestors have fallen by the hands of the Savage Indians we believe will not be worth mentioning The fatigue of Settling an Estate in this Province Your Excellys predecessor might have informed you for no man living could have taken more pains & fatigue then he did to acquaint himself with this Province in General which his many Journeys & travels into the back woods on foot will Justifie Sometimes accompanied by one man Only & often pinched with hunger (nay) in danger of Perishing having but one biscutie for three days to subsist on and sometimes Coming amongst the Inhabitts without a Ragg of Cloaths to his back perhaps 200 miles from the place he set out Often carrying with him Considerable Sums of money & disposeing of it amongst many poor people to Encourage & Enable 'em the better to settle the back Lands and altho it has been alledged that Mr Burrington had taken the Great Quantity of the Kings Lands to his own use we say that most part of that Land lies so far back that it can be of no Service to Mr Burrington or to any other for 100 Years to come & even that he paid ready money for that it might encourage others to Settle the back Lands Notwithstanding these many good Offices which that worthy Gent has done for the province with many thousands more he is now Mangled with the Imputation of Violence Tyranny Perjury with many other Expressions of Indignity & yet Stands Unconvicted of either of them all which tho never so pleasing to a few persons at Most a Dozen which we know to be the whole number of his enemys will never be grateful to the provvince in General Who will for ever (and Deservedly) hold even his memory in Esteem & Veneration the Ministry at home are not Insensible how Easy a Matter it is to get an Assembly in the plantations to Asperse & Collumniate a Gentleman at a Distance as many precincts in this Province were not Advised of their Elections Untill the very day of Electing (Witness Curutuck and Carteret Precincts) the Latter of which petitioned for Redress but had his Mouth soon stopped with an Office tis moreover Evident that the Gentlemen who spoke their Intentions freely & Gave their Sentiments as they thought for the good of their Country did not only Incurr great displeasure but were also hindred the means of Getting their daily bread Instance Mr Samuel Swann & Mr Walter Lane Coll Hanmer is Likewise a Suffering tho Innocent Instance who acted as Chief Justice of this province by a Commission under the Seal of the Collony & by the General Approbation of the Council & to the great Satisfaction of all men with regard to dispatch Justice & Lenity & at a time when Mr Smith now Chief Justice was not in the province Yet this Gentleman has been tossed into Goal & held there a winter's night
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and all manner of Bail refused him tho the best Gentlemen in the Country and most Responsible Tendered themselves and is now obliged to dispose of his Estate here & in Virginia & to part from his Family in hopes to be redressed where Liberty is not trampled under foot which we hope he will meet with Your Excelly is pleased to call our deed of Grant a Temporary letter of Attorney which Subsisted two years only You may call it what you please Sr but we are persuaded the Lords proprietors meant as they wrote (if so) the proprietors as may appear by their deed of Grant directed their Council here to grant Lands to any persons in Albemarle County by reason their Lands would not produce tobbo as well as the Virginia Lands the Quit Rents then became payable in other Commodities at Certain Rates & at which rates these Commodities were Constantly received at every mans House and the said payments never refused by the Lords proprietors but being Content they sent directions in the Year 1712 to their Receiver General here how he should dispose of these Commodities which plainly Shews that not only the Lords proprietors deputies with the Representatives of the people here duly Elected have Settled the Quit rents to be payable in our Commodities here at Certain prizes but there is also the Lords Proprietors Assent thereto in directing their Receiver General how to Dispose of Said Commodities which according to the Charter is Conclusive & makes the payment of the Commodities at Certain prizes Indisputable in our Opinion Your Excelly is pleased to Call our Laws Shamefull Collusions betwixt the Lord proprietors Servants & their Tenants to Cheat their Masters If our Laws be what you are pleased to Call them We may be Counted rather Fools then Cheats for Settling on so Slippery A foundation we are persuaded it would be little worth the Lords Proprietors or their Servants while to make use of any Collusions to Undo the poor Inhabitants of this province which are many degrees poorer than any of his Majesties Subjects under Heaven Your Excellency also Alledges that we make a great matter of paying The King two Shillings per Hundred Acres Sterling and that if we think it a hard bargain that we may leave the Kings Lands for that they are the Kings Lands & not ours & that there to your Excellys Knowledge thousands of Industrious Protestants that would Come into our places Gladly & pay the Crown double the Rents without Clamour or Noise (we thank them kindly) & now answer that if the Lands we possess belong to the King we have no Bargain either hard or Soft but as we know our Lands to be our own paying his Majesties Quit rents which we mean to do honestly we are persuaded his Majesty would not desire us to part from our Lands & Improvements here to any people whatsoever without first satisfying us for our Labour
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which when done we will readily quit the province & seek out Lands in our Neighbouring Collonys where we may Call the fruits of our Labour our own & where Collusions are not Studied & if your Excelly be desirous we will leave the Blood & Carcases of our Ancestors to help manure the Ground for them which will Some what help their Industrye Your Excelly seems acquainted with Thousands of Industrious Protestants who would Gladly come into our places wee will now Venture to Assert that his Majesty in his whole Dominion has not a Set of more Faithfull protestants than the Inhabitants of North Carolina that we have not a Single person amongst us who ever has been accused or found to be of any other perswasion & we will venture to say that your Excelly will not pick out of the many thousands You mention even one thousand who have not a Hankering after some other Religion which we hope Sufficient to prove us as Faithfull protestants as any other Wee are sorry to see your Excellys proclamation Commanding us to pay our Quit Rents in Sterling money or bills equivalent as your Excelly & the Council will please to Assess them which we Apprehend to be Contrary to our Laws & Customs & even to the Condition of the Grand Deeds Wherefore we pray your Excelly will please to withdraw Said proclamation & Command the Officers who are to Collect the same to proceed according to the Laws of this Province which you Assented to by Continueing the Laws of 29 & which otherwise must End in the Utter Ruin of this poor province we further pray that your Excelly will give some further time for the payment of the Arrears of Quit Rent the month of June being appointed for the first payment which is a Season of the Year wherein no Commodity of this province will Sell nor is there any Commodity in the Countrey fit for the Virginia Markett at that time of the year being the only place we have to get anything in return for our Commodities from and especially as the Arrears of Quit rent have not become due thro' any default of the Tenants but by the Officers in Neglecting to receive the same and we make no doubt but a Law will pass in the next assembly very much to his Majestys satisfaction and for the Ease of the poor Tennants There is one thing more which we begg leave to lay before your Excelly (to Wit) The ill Treatment the Grand Jury of this province met with at the Setting of the Last general Court at Edenton from William Smith Esqre Chief Justice Who told the Grand Jury they were perjured and wondered they would not find a bill of Indictment against Mr Tho Shervin of Edenton when the matter was so fully proved to them & Publickly ordered the Attorney General to bring all things before him by Information for that he would trust nothing with such men & moreover told Mr William Mackey a Responsible free holder & then one of
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the Petty Jury that he would perjure himself for a Shilling These are proceedings never before heard of in this Province and altogether Contrary to the Liberty of a British Subject and to the power and priviledges of Grand Jurys This we hope will be worth Yr Excellys while to Redress seeing it Immediately Tramples Liberty Under Foot &c

We are &c

(Endorsed)

Copy of an Address to Gov Johnston in favour of Capt Burrington the late Govr and complaining of Many hardships they have suffered by the present Govr the Chief Justice &c