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Letter from Gabriel Johnston to Alured Popple, including a proclamation to dissolve the General Assembly
Johnston, Gabriel, ca. 1698-1752
March 11, 1737
Volume 04, Pages 242-244

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 10. B. 31.]

Sir [Secretary of Board of Trade]

Having by several paquets to the Board of Trades acquainted their Lordships with the state of this Province I take this opportunity (which I have met with beyond Expectation) to beg the favour of you to solicite their Lordships for a speedy answer under cover to some of the Governors of the Northern Provinces and by him to be forwarded by express to Edenton.

It is a peculiar hardship to the Gentlemen who serve the Crown in this Colony that it never was before brought under any order nor subject

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to the regulation of the Laws. That there is not a place of the whole Government fit to keep any one Office in nor any fitt nor effectual Law for raising the Militia, so that if we have not the Countenance of his Majesties Ministers and Boards at home it is really impossible to carry on business and Mr Burrington has had the Address to persuade the people that his Majesty neither wants Quit Rents to be paid nor any of his instructions to be observed so that if I do not soon receive orders from my Lords of Trade in consequence of my last letter I must sitt still and suffer matters to go in the same confused irregular manner as formerly.

It is now almost two years since the Lords of Trade referred the case of the Blank Patents to the Attorney General I immediately ordered all Proceedings to be suspended until we should have so good an Authority to direct us. It is a great misfortune that we have never yet been favoured with Mr Attorneys opinion for the proprietors of these Patents have really endeavoured to excite the people to a Rebellion because we distract upon a few of them who refused to pay their Quit Rents which is an unheard of practice in this part of the world. I have now fairly and without prejudice sent my opinion which of these Patents ought to be vacated (by the prosecution of the Attorney General of this Province) and which of them ought to be allowed of and if I don't hear speedily from their Lordships I hope if any bad consequences should happen they will not be laid to my charge.

I was obliged to prorogue last Assembly at Edenton which at first promised very fair to settle this Country by enacting some good Laws. But an Emissary from the late Governour who arrived here during their sitting did amuse them with so many representations that it was impossible to do business with them, according to the last prorogation I met them here on the first current and recommended to their consideration the present miserable case of the Province. But instead of mending that the first thing they attempted was to take the Officers who distrained for his Majesty's Quit Rents during the time of Collection into Custody upon which I dissolved them by the enclosed proclamation. I hope Sir you will be so good as to say before their Lordships what I have now wrote to you in a very great hurry, But as the affair is pressing I hope you will excuse any oversight. I am Sir, yours, &c.,


Newbern March 11th 1736/7.

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North Carolina.

By his Excellency Gabriel Johnston Esqre Capt Genl & Governr in Chief of the said Province.

A Proclamation.

Whereas the Lower House of Assembly instead of redressing the many Grievances the Country labour under for want of a sufficient maintenance being provided for the Clergy & proper additions to and amendments of the Laws in force which are at present so defective both which have been so often and so earnestly recommended to them, Have taken upon them in a very disorderly and undutiful manner to intimidate his Majesties officers in the execution of their duty by order of them into Custody, thereby to prevent the Collection of the Quit Rents so long due to his Majesty I do therefore by and with the advice and consent of his Majesty's Council, dissolve this Assembly, & this present Assembly is accordingly dissolved.

March 4th 1736/7.