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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Letter from Gabriel Johnston to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Johnston, Gabriel, ca. 1698-1752
December 21, 1741
Volume 04, Pages 584-585

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 11. B. 59.]

My Lords [of the Board of Trade]

I think it my duty to inform your Lordships that we have attempted to procure a new Quit Rent Law in an Assembly lately held at Wilmington.

All imaginable precautions were taken to secure the success of this Affair.

The Assembly was called in the most Southern part of the Province on purpose to keep at home the Northern Members who are most numerous and from whom the greatest opposition was expected And some of the most troublesome leading men were prevailed upon to be absent.

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By this management there were present but two Members more than was necessary to make a house, which then consisted of the most moderate and most sensible men of the Colony And yet after all this pains and the Commission His Majesty was pleased to appoint for quit rents His useing all the address he was master of it was impossible to bring them to consent to any Law near so advantageous to the Crown as that lately repealed.

They still wanted to crowd in more commoditys, and at higher prices, so that after trying all methods for four weeks together I was forced to prorogue them without bringing this matter to a conclusion.

It may be easily believed that the Officers of the Crown used their most strenuous endeavors to accomplish this affair because their bread depends upon it, their past experience having sufficiently convinced them how vain an attempt it will prove to pretend to collect the Quit rents without an Act of Assembly.

Every body here despairs of seeing so good a law passed, as that lately repealed. I wish they may ever see so good a one But how the face or appearance of Government can be kept up is what I am at a loss to conceive now the officers are deprived of their salary and Fees, for the latter are abolished as well as the former by the great restrictions laid on the land Office from whence their Perquisites chiefly arose.

I should be glad to know from your Lordships how I am to behave in this case, & likewise to receive your directions how I am to proceed in collecting the Quit Rents.

That the people will be refractory in paying now there is no law, is what I have not the least reason to doubt, and to destrain upon every single person is an infinite labour.

I am, my Lords, &c.,
GAB: JOHNSTON.

Edenton 21. Decr 1741.