A Narrative of the Proceedings in North Carolina in America relating to the Spanish Wrecks in the year 1750.
On or about the 3rd September 1750. a Spanish Ship called Nuestra Senra de Guadalupe of the Burthen of about 500 Tons whereof Don Juan Manuel de Bonilla was Commander and Supercargoe, was by distress of extreme bad weather in a most shattered and dangerous condition forced into Ocacock River in the said Province Two of her Consorts having been just before drove on the neighbouring Coast, and in spite of all the assistance which could be sent to them by the Civil Magistrate plundered by the Bankers: being a people so called from their inhabiting near the banks of the sea shoar.
The Governour thus experiencing the Weakness of Civil Power, in having vainly endeavoured to enforce the necessary orders and directions for their assistance; and being informed of a Villanious Confederacy which the said Bankers were entring into to plunder the abovementioned ship, was obliged to have recourse to Stratagem and Policy, For having no regular Troops and the Militia being chiefly composed of those very
From the said 3rd September to the beginning of October the Spanish Captain had neither waited on, wrote to, or otherwise applied himself to the Governour concerning his Intentions or the desperate condition of his Ship. and the danger still increasing For the Bankers considering the number of Men on Board the Spanish Ship had used all means to strengthen themselves; and had even drawn into their party great Numbers under a Persuasion that such their Attempt would be even founded on Justice and well warranted by the great losses and injuries which their Country had then lately received from the two Spanish Privateers; which six weeks after the time limited for cessation of Hostilities in America had sailed up Cape Fear River in the said Province, firing upon the Plantations, landing their Men, destroying houses Goods and taking away Negroes to a very great value, an authenticated representation and estimation whereof has been long since transmitted to the Spanish Court and is still depending for Reparation.
This being the state of affairs the Governour dispatched a Member of his Majesty's Honble Council in the said Province to Captain Bonilla to inform him of the danger and to offer him assistance. At the same time giving private Instructions to the said Counsellor in order to counterplot the Bankers. And it being necessary to get the most certain particular Intelligence of their Designs he was instructed by promises bribes or otherwise to bring over some principal person in Confederacy and to take the necessary measures for protracting by false suggestions or by other methods that might occur the Execution of their wicked design Hoping so to amuse and delay them from time to time 'till his Majesty's Ship of War appointed for that Station which had been secretly sent for by various expresses into South Carolina should arrive.
But this was not the only danger that threatened the Spaniards for not having made any Report to, or taken the least Notice of any one Officer in the Province, and the said Spaniards having contrary to all Treaties and Usuages and without any permission whatever broke Bulk and twice unladen and as often reladen the said Ship and occasionally trading with other vessels that passed backward and forward had subjected the said Ship and Cargo to seizure; and this being reported to the Officers of the Customs they resolved to seize her accordingly, and for that purpose applied themselves to the Governour for his countenance and permission, which the said Governour not only refused but endeavoured to dissuade them from Representing, that such an Act might probably prove the means of obstructing a good understanding at that time forming
But these Remonstrances did not satisfy those Officers, For being thus disappointed from the Governour they applied to the Surveyor General of the Customs at that time in Virginia. And having reported to him the proceedings of the Spaniards He readily approved their design and gave them instructions accordingly to seize the ship which the said Governour informing himself of, did, to be beforehand with them, take her into his own Custody and Protection; and the Man of War soon after arriving their design was by these means defeated. Notwithstanding which, they had afterwards the Resolution to go on board and even to take a formal Possession of her in the Name of Seizure, thō to no purpose, as it fortunately proved.
Capt Bonilla being sensible of and probably in gratitude for the good offices of the Governor and of the extraordinary trouble and great expences which he had been put to in the preserving the said Ship and Cargo did by a certain writing dated 23rd Oct: 1750. dictated by himself through his Interpreter and in every legal respect duely executed promise and engage himself to pay to the Governour Commissions on the said Effects so protected and preserved by his Excellency as aforesaid. And being also at that time in great danger from the sedition and mutiny of his Men and his said Ship being in no condition to putt to sea, did, by the said writing petition his Excellency to direct his Majesty's said Ship of War to transport the said Cargo to Europe, for which the said Bonilla did promise to pay to the Captain thereof the usual and accustomed Freight in like Cases. And to which the said Governor in regard of their perilous, unhappy situation and to give them a further and more manifest Proof of his disposition to assist and releive them by all means in his power did consent: and immediately give the necessary orders and directions for that Purpose—
And with respect to the adjustment of the said Commissions so promised by the said Capt Bonilla to be paid to the Governor as aforesaid—The same were settled and adjusted in Concert with the said Bonilla himself, and did by his own calculation amount to 11,444½ pieces of Eight at 4½ per cent exclusive of the said freight And which said sum was so far from being secretly or by force taken as has been unfairly and untruely suggested that it was by Capt Bonilla's consent in the presence of his own Scrivan, sent on board the Man of War for that purpose,
And as to the particular application of the said Commissions The Governor is so far from possessing the full value thereof that he has not retained to himself above 5500 Dollars as a Gratification for those his generous, important, good Offices above mentioned. But the remainder to my Belief was applied first to the payment of all real charges and Expences incurred in the said services and afterwards to the satisfying of such persons as had been instrumental with the Governor in preserving the said Ship and Effects as aforesd. And this was absolutely necessary to be done as the said Governor had made himself liable to the legal demands of such persons for the same having previously engaged himself in writing not only to reimburse them all charges and expences, but to gratify them for their Services in the premises.
It must therefore be owing to misinformation or misapprehension of the true state of this case that a Reclaim of the said Commissions is now made. For it would be immeasurably hard upon the Governor to refund his own trifling Gratification for such considerable important services done. And much more so, if possible, to be obliged to make good, out of his own pocket the remainder actually disbursed in the service and for the benefit of those who reclaim it, and without which no one would have concerned himself in the affair, or have ventured to put himself to much Trouble and some Expence with the prospect only of having his own labour for his Pains. And I will venture to add, that in this matter the unfortunate Spaniards met with that protection and assistance thrō the generous Interposition of the Governor and some few active Gentlemen in North Carolina which they could not reasonably have expected to find in a Country so composed as it chiefly is of a set of indigent desperate Outlaws or Vagabonds And which perhaps are equal to any acts of Humanity and Generosity that in like cases were ever exercised towards Strangers or even Countrymen, in the most orderly and civilized Governments.
The above is a fair, just and true Relation of the Proceedings in North Carolina relating to the said Ship Nuestra Senra de Guadalupe in particular, and can be proved by various Attestations by Gentlemen of unexceptionable Characters.