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Petition from inhabitants of the northern counties of North Carolina concerning the election of General Assembly representatives
Payne, Peter; Scarborough, Macrora, 1693-1752; Hill, Benjamin; Lee, Stevens; Wilson, Caleb; Bryan, Simon
1747
Volume 04, Pages 1158-1160

To the Kings most Excellent Majesty in Council

The humble Petition of Peter Payne Maca Scarborough Simon Bryan Caleb Wilson Benjamin Hill and Stevens Lee in behalf of themselves and the several Inhabitants of the Precincts or Counties of Chowan Perquimons Pasquotank Currituck Bertie and Tyrrel, most humbly sheweth

That His Majesty King Charles the second by his letters Patent did grant unto the late Lords Proprietors of Carolina full power and Authority to Grant Letters or Charters of Incorporation with full and absolute power to make and publish Laws either appertaining to the Publick State of the Provinces or to the Private Utility of particular Persons with the Assent of the Freemen of the said Provinces or of a Majority of their delegates.

That agreeable to the Powers granted to the late Lords Proprietors to grant Letters or Charters of Incorporation with all requisite and usual Liberties the late Lords Proprietors by orders to their Deputies directed that the several Precincts in Albemarle County shall be intituled to choose five Burgesses to represent them in General Assembly and the Writs for electing five Burgesses for each Precinct have without intermission continued so ever since the Establishment of this Government not only under the late Lords Proprietors but also under your Majestys Governors until November 1746.

That Your Majestys Governor having Design to ensnare and entrapp the several Representatives of the Northern Countys did contrary to the known Usuage of this Colony Summon an Assembly to meet at Wilmington the twentieth of November 1746 which place is at least two hundred miles distant from where the Courts of Justice are held and the Season of the Year being at that time extremely intemperate with many broad Ferries to Pass from Seven to ten miles over that are very ill provided with Boats: the several Representations of the Northern Countys were laid under a disability of attending. Upon which the Governour by the Advice of four of the Council who live in the Southern

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extreem of this Province Ordered and Directed that eight of the Southern Members with the Speaker should make a House and that afterwards they should swear in Six new Members, and then Proceed to business althō by the Priviledges granted by the late Lords Proprietors, and from the constant and uninterrupted Practice of this Colony from the very first Establishment of the Government there ought to have been present a Majority of the Representatives of the Freemen of this Province which at this time would have amounted to twenty eight in Number, the whole of the Province or Countys and Boroughs being intituled to have four Members to represent them in General Assembly.

That after His Excellency the Govr had thus broke in upon the Constitution of this Government he with the Advice of four or five of the Council and fourteen Members and the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, passed An Act intituled An Act for the better ascertaining the Number of Members to be chosen for the several Countys within this Province to sit in General Assembly and for establishing a more equal Representation of all His Majestys Subjects in the House of Burgesses. And in the Preamble to the said Act it is said, that whereas the Inhabitants of several of the Northern Countys within this Province have assumed to themselves the Priviledge of chōsing five Persons respectively to represent them in the General Assembly without any Law or pretence of Law to support such a Claim Yet it appears by the very Act that the Governor and that part of the Council that were present and the fifteen Burgesses that composed this Assembly were apprized not only of the Ancient Rights and Priviledges of the Northern Countys but that there were Laws now in Force intitling some of the Northern Counties to have five Burgesses to represent them in the General Assembly

By the first Constitution and Establishment of the Government of this Colony the Precincts of Chowan, Perquimons, Pasquotank and Currituck formed the Government of North Carolina that was then called Albemarle County and agreeable to the Powers vested in the late Lords Proprietors to grant Letters and Charters of Incorporation with all requisite and usual Liberties the late Lords Proprietors intitled the Inhabitants of those Precincts to have each of them five Burgesses to represent them in General Assembly; But some of those Precincts being very extensive and becoming extremely Numerous there were two other Precincts erected out of them, namely those that are at Present known by the Name of Bertie and Tyrrel Counties by Acts of Assembly those two Precincts or Countys were each of them intitled to have five Burgesses

The late Lords Proprietors having thus established the form of Government in the Ancient Colony of Albemarle, and considering that

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Colony as a Nursery to Plant the more Southern Districts between that and South Carolina, Ordered and Directed their Governor John Archdale Esqr in 1696 that all Writs that were issued to the several Precincts of the County of Albemarle shall intitle them to Elect five Burgesses for each Precinct, but that for the County of Bath they should only be allowed two Burgesses in each Precinct to represent them in General Assembly [See page 472, Vol. 1.—Editor.]

That Your Majestys Dutiful and Loyal Subjects within the several Precincts or Countys of Albemarle are by the said Law represented to your Majesty as factious, Turbulent and Enemies to the well Ordering and Government of Your Majestys Colony of North Carolina althoō Your Petrs have at all times and upon all Occasions acted with the greatest Duty and Submission to your Majesty's Orders and Instructions and never have in any One Instance opposed any Act of Government that was consistent with Your Majesty's Royal Instructions And although we have suffered many grievances and hardships from the undue exercise of Power by His Excellency the Governor, yet We have rather chose to suffer than to trouble your Royal ear with frequent Complaints.

That your Petrs most humbly apprehend that Your Majesty's Governor hath not any delegated Power to New Model and alter the form of the Constitution of Your Majestys Colony; That the Security of Your Majestys Subjects wholly depend on a just observance of Your Majestys Instructions and that the passing of a Law of so extraordinary and unusual Nature without first inserting a Suspending Clause until Your Majestys pleasure was known thereupon can only tend to enflame and disturb the Quiet and Happyness of Your Majesty's Subjects.

That it is with the greatest concern We beg leave to represent to Your Majesty that as the Records are in a great Measure in the Govrs Power, and that from some fatal Mistake in the manner of usually transmitting the Records to the Boards at Home, We shall be under the greatest difficulty in making good the Allegations of our Complaint without Your Majesty will be graciously pleased to interpose in Our behalf.

Whereupon Your Petitioners most humbly Pray that Your Majesty will be Pleased to take the premises into Your Royal Consideration and that Your Majesty will be graciously pleased to reinstate Us in Our former Rights and Priviledges, and grant Us such other relief as Your Majesty in Your great Wisdom shall think meet

And your Petrs as in Duty bound shall ever Pray &c

PETER PAYNE
CALEB WILSON
MAc SCARBOROUGH
BENJa HILL
SIMON BRYAN
STEVENS LEE.