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Report by Dudley Ryder and John Strange concerning acts of the North Carolina General Assembly on commodities as means of payment, including the acts and a related memorandum by Henry McCulloh
Ryder, Dudley, Sir, 1691-1756; Strange, John, Sir, 1696-1754; McCulloh, Henry, ca. 1700-1779
March 22, 1738
Volume 04, Pages 291-294

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 10. B. 36.]

Mr Attorney & Solicitor General's Report upon two Acts of North Carolina, relating to Staple Com̄oditys Rated, & certain Queries thereupon.

May it please your Lordships [of the Board of Trade]

In obedience to your Lordships Com̄ands signified to us by Mr Popple, in his letter of the seventeenth Instant, transmitting to us the annexed Copies of two Acts of North Carolina, and the annexed answer to certain Querys. We have considered the same and likewise an Extract from the General Constitution, No 83. Stated to us in a late Case from your Lordships, wherein it is ordered that “No Act or order of Parliament shall be of any force unless it be ratified in Open Parliament during the same session, by the Palatine or his Deputy, and three more of the Lords Proprietors, & their Deputies, & then not to continue longer in force but 'till the next Biennial Parliament unless in the mean time it be ratified under the hands & seals of the Palatine himself and three more of the Lords Proprietors themselves, and by their order published at the next Biennial Parliament.” And upon the whole circumstances of the Case, relating to the Acts, we are of Opinion that they are not binding either on the Crown or People.

All which is humbly submitted to your Lordps

DUDLEY RYDER JOHN STRANGE

Recd March 22d 173⅞

STAPLE COMMODITIES RATED.

Be it Enacted by His Excellency the Palatine and the rest of the true and absolute Lords Proprietors of Carolina by and with Advice and Consent of this Genl Assembly now met at Little River for the No East Part of the said Province and the Authority of the same

And it is hereby Enacted that for Establishing a certainty in Trade and in the Payment of Publick Levies all Debts due or which hereafter

-------------------- page 292 --------------------
may become due on account of the Publick or to any Inhabitant or Foreigner Trading amongst us, or in our Private Dealings amongst ourselves or other wise howsoever the Debt being contracted or Due in money not expressing sterling such Person or Persons to whom such money shall be Due shall take and receive the same in any specie hereafter expressed and at the Rate hereby appointed or in Publick Bills of Credit anything in this Act contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

£
s
d
Tobacco per Hundd wt
0
10
0
Indian Corn per Bushel
1
8
Wheat per Bushel
3
6
Cheese per lb
4
Raw Buck and Doe Skins per pound
9
Drest Buck and Doe Skin per lb
2
6
Tallow tryed per lb
5
Leather tann'd and uncurried per pound
8
Beaver & Otto Skins per pound
2
6
Wild cat Skins per piece
1
Butter per pound
6
Feathers per pound
1
4
Tarr per Barrel Full gauge
10
Pitch per Barrel Full gauge
1
Whale Oil per Barrel
1
10
Beef per Barrel
1
10
Pork per Barrel
2
5

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid that none of the aforementioned Commodities shall be forced upon any Creditor Publick Receiver or other at the Rates aforementioned unless they be good in their kind and merchantable and approved by two substantial Freeholders indifferently chosen and sworn before some Magistrate, Justly and Impartially to give their opinion therein.

And be it further Enacted that in all Contracts made or hereafter to be made for Drest Buck Skins at Two Shillings per skin and Drest Doe Skins at one Shilling and Sixpence per Skin the same shall be adjudged equal to Sterling money of the Kingdom of Great Britain.

This Act was passed or rather revised in 1715/16.

An Act being an Additional Act to an Act Entituled Staple Commodities rated.

Whereas thrō the great industry of divers of the Inhabitants of this Province the making of Hemp, Rice and Turpentine are much improved

-------------------- page 293 --------------------
and would become valuable Species in Trade in this Government if due encouragement were given for making the same by rating them at a certain price and making them equal in their Currency with the Staple Commodity of this Government

Be it enacted by His Excellency the Palatine and the rest of the true and absolute Lords Proprietors of Carolina by and with the advice and consent of the rest of the Members of this present General Biennial Assembly now mett at Edenton for the North East part of the said Province And it is hereby enacted that for the further Establishing the Trade of this Government and in payment of the Publick Levys and all debts due or which hereafter may become due on Account of the Publick or to any Inhabitants or Foreigners trading amongst us or in our private dealing amongst ourselves or otherwise howsoever (the debt being contracted or due in money not expressing sterling) And that Encouragement be given for and improving the above named Commiditys such Person or persons to whom such money shall be due either on the Publick or on private Accounts shall take and receive the same in any of those specie as well as those heretofore rated and as the rates hereafter appointed or in Publick Bills of Credit.

£.
s.
d.
Hemp Water rotted Merchantable & fit for Export per pd
8
Rice per Hundred Cleaned & fit for Exportation
1
5
Turpentine Merchantable per barrl full gauge 31 gallns
1
5
Indian Corn per Bushell
2
Wheat per Bushell
4

Provided the same be good in their kind and merchantable and approved by two substantial Freeholders indifferently chosen and sworn before some Magistrate Justly impartially to give their opinions, and shall be delivered by the persons paying the same at such landing as is most commonly made use of by them in some Convenient time after it is received And a delivery thereof at the time appointed by the Persons so receiving the same and proof thereof made shall be a sufficient payment for any the debts aforesaid passed in 1723.

QUERYS [AND Mr McCULLOH'S ANSWER THERETO].

1st When were those Acts for rating Com̄odities passed?

The two Acts referred to the Attorney & Solicitor General were passed about twenty five Years ago.

2nd What has been the usuage with respect to the Rents due the Lords Proprietors, and also the Contracts between Private Persons?

-------------------- page 294 --------------------

The Quit Rents the Lords Proprietors reserved to themselves on Lands granted by them was payable in sterling money excepting in Albemarle Precinct where lands were granted by the Lords Proprietors officers, conformable to what the People term their Grand Deed, it has been the practice of that Colony in many Cases, to receive the Quit Rents in Commodities, but this appears to be owing to the necessitys of the Lords Proprietors Officers, as they had no other allowance made them, than what arose from the Quit rents.

As to the Contracts between private Persons, till of late there was very little Order observed in that respect, as the People residing in that Province were generally deemed a sett of Out Laws.

3dly Whether any payment of Quit rents has been made to the Lords Proprietors on the footing of this Act, and whether they have ever accepted the same in Account?

It does not appear that any Quit rents have been paid on the foot of this Act and Governor Johnston is of Opinion, that this Law was not intended to regulate the Method of paying the Quit rents, but that from pure necessity, the Lords Proprietors Officers received whatever the People thought proper to tender them; the Lords Proprietors had at sometimes notice of what their Officers were doing, but it does not appear that they ever approved of their Conduct in form, nor does it appear any of their Lordships Officers ever passed their Accounts in a regular manner with their Lordships in London, their Accounts having been for the most part settled with their Governors in the Province.

4th Whether this Act was returned to the Lords Proprietors, & whether they ever declared their sense concerning it?

These two Laws were never confirmed by the Lords Proprietors nor indeed is there any now in the Colony, excepting six that were ever confirmed by them, most of the Laws now in being in that Province, are full of inconsistences, and some of them plainly calculated to serve fraudulent purposes, neither have they any complete Body of Laws amongst them, many of the Copys not agreeing.