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Letter from Gabriel Johnston to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Johnston, Gabriel, ca. 1698-1752
May 17, 1748
Volume 04, Pages 868-870

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 11. B. 80.]


Edenton May 17th 1748.

My Lords [of the Board of Trade]

Your Lordships letter of the 11th of August 1747 together with a copy of the Complaint of the Palatines Inhabiting this province came to my hands about ten days agoe, and in the same pacquit another letter dated May 26th 1747.

I am glad the case of the poor Palatines is laid before his Majesty and wish it was in my power to point out a proper method for their relief they are a very sober Industrious people and certainly had a great many of their near relations murder'd in the Indian war and yet are in a worse condition then any of his Majestys Subjects in this Province for besides the common Quit rents they want to oblidge them to pay two pence Proclamation for every Acre which Amounts to sixteen Shillings & eight pence proclamation money or Twelve Shillings and sixpence Sterling money per one hundred Acres which is a most intollerable load Especially if they insist on the Arrears. I have had the heirs of Thomas Pollock and these people before me several years ago And made a Perticular Enquiry into the circumstances of this Affair And found by papers and other Proofs then brought before me the Allegations which they have now laid before his Majesty to be true. The only answer I could get from the heirs of the said Pollock was what follows. They allowed that the Baron de Graffenreed settled some of the Palatines upon the land they now live upon but had no Patent for it, that the said Baron was at Considerable more charge in furnishing the Palatines with provisions then the amount of what money he had in his hands on their Account which run the Baron in debt to their Father between Six and Seven hundred pounds Sterling for which sum the Baron gave bills of Exchange which Bills were returned protested: That upon this, the Baron Mortgaged all his Estate in this Province both real and personal

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for the payment of said debt and promised to give some other bills Indorsed by some able man in Virginia but returned into Germany without doing it that their Father Old Pollock after that obtained a Decree in Chancery for said Estate giving the Baron two years from that time to redeem it which we [he] failing to do these lands were surveyed and patented in Pollock name that as they Pollocks heirs apprehended they had a legal right to the lands they would not depart from any of their Pretentions unless compelled by Law and as the Palatines had lived on their Lands for so many years they should pay to them the same rent as they had agreed to do to the Baron at that time I advised the Palatines to apply to Chancery for relief but as they are not well acquainted with our language and ignorant of our Laws they were afraid to commence a suit and I never heard more of it since I cant pretend to offer anything to your Lordships for the relief of these poor people who certainly Deserve pity; If his Majesty thought proper to send orders to his Governor here, to grant them Lands Equivalent for the Acknowledgement of A pepper corn when demanded Instead of Quit rents, it might make them some amends for the loss of their Improvements. As for Pollocks demands of Arrears their Agent wou'd do well to consult his Majesty's Attorney General in England on that subject, whose Advice would have the great Weight, If their case shall ever come before any of the Courts of this Province; I am sorry I can say no more to your Lordships on this head. In answer to the letter of the 26th of May 1747. I do assure your Lordships, that I never write without sending Duplicates, at least, some times more copies, to convince your Lordships how unfortunate I am in my correspondence with your Board I shall only mention this Instance there's nothing I have more at heart then to know his Majesty's pleasure concerning the Laws passed at Wilmington in November 1746, because the peace and Settlement of the Province depends very much upon it; I tooke particular care to have them sent to your Lordships with my Observations at length on one of the laws Entituled An Act for an equal representation in the house of Burgesses I am Informed these Pacquets got safe home in the Month of May 1747. And yet I am now told by a Gentleman lately Arrived from London that they were never sent to your Lordship but lay at Mr. Samuel Wragg's house last Christmass: I have wrote to that Gentleman and desired him to send them to your Lordship whether he will do it or not I cant tell perhaps he may deliver them to Mr. McCulloch, whom the members of the six Countys have sent home as their Agent, if so they will never more be heard of (I am told the main Objection he brings Against the validity of these Laws is the smallness of the number present in the house of Burgesses
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when these Laws were passed its true indeed, there was not much above a fourth part of the Members of that House present at that time but the true reason of that was because the Members which these six Countys claim a right to send amounting in all to twenty nine, which is a Majority of Fifty four the number of the whole had entered into a Solemn Agreement among themselves to Disobey the prorogative. And consequently to make a meeting of Assembly Impossible; for A proof of this fact I enclose two Affidavits among many which I would have sent, & hope they will have due weight with your Lordships, when this Affair shall come under your consideration) If Mr. McCulloch lays his case before the Attorney General for his Opinion (as I am informed he intends) I am afraid he will sink this last fact.

I am, your Lordships, &c.,
GAB JOHNSTON

P. S. I have sent your Lordships another copy of the minutes of Assembly which met at Wilmington 1746. In the minutes of the House of Burgesses, your Lordships will observe that there was two prorogations after the first to give the northern Burgesses time to come up; so that it could be no surprise upon them & their Absence was entirely oweing to a previous Agreement they had made to disobey the prorogation, Ten members were Absent some by reason of sickness, others on their Lawfull reasons who heartily approve of these Laws.



Additional Notes for Electronic Version: This letter enclosed several other documents - See Related Documents.