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Letter from Gabriel Johnston to James Abercromby, including report concerning Spanish ships wrecked in North Carolina [Extract]
Johnston, Gabriel, ca. 1698-1752
September 18, 1750
Volume 04, Pages 1304-1305

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Paragraph of Governour Johnstons letter of Sepbr 18th to Mr. Abercromby Agent for North Carolina relating to the Spanish Flota cast away on the Coast of North Carolina. (1750)

I send you by this Conveyance a Duplicate of the Account I have sent to the Duke of Bedford of the loss of the Spanish ships on this Coast last August you may further inform his Grace that the Captain of the Ship at Ocacock has purchased a new ship built in this Province of 150 Tons Burthen of one Captain Darling for 1000 Pistoles But whether he intends to put his Cargo on Board this new ship or to reship it on the old one which has only lost her masts and rudder or whether he will divide his Cargo between them I have not yet learned. The old ship is at anchor within the Bar and the Cargo safely housed on the Island of Ocacock under a guard of their own People. I have had some of our Custom House Officers with me who desired leave to seize the ship and cargo because she had most openly infringed the Laws of Trade because she has not only brought ashore her Cargo without a permit from any Officer but has likewise trafficked with a good deal of it and for Things that are not necessarys. All this I knew to be certainly true as well as they but as I knew the cargo of the Spanish Flota belongs in a great part to his Majesty's Trading subjects and the French and Dutch I told them not to presume to meddle with it but to suffer them to take their own Way to save and carry home their Cargo. That if they (the Spaniards) applyed to me either for Protection or assistance I should be ready to grant it to them, but until they did I should take no manner of Notice of them. They have been now on shore a whole month without making any application I dont know how my Behaviour may be judged of at home But I believe I may safely affirm that every Governor who is £12000 in arrear in his Salary would not have behaved so abstemiously when the Laws of Trade would have justified his seizure

Sepbr 20. P. S. I have just now received advice that your old friend Tom Wright of Charlestown is among the Spaniards at Ocacock incognito That he is their great Oracle and that it is he who advises them not to take any notice of this Government But has advised them to carry their cargo on different Bottoms to Charlestown where I dont doubt you will hear of a fine scene.


An Account of five Ships of the Spanish Flota put on Shore on the Coast of North Carolina by the great storm August 18th 1750.

One at Currituck Inlett stove to pieces the Crew and passengers saved, went to Norfolk in Virginia without stopping in Carolina.

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One at Cape Hatteras sunk in 14 foot water the name of the Ship its Dimensions and Loading unknown.

A Dutch built Ship at Ocacock lost its Rudder and had its Mast broke short, all its Crew safe, her Cargo 400:000 pieces of Eight, besides a great Quantity of Cochineal and Hides.

At Drum Inlett a Ship which lost its Riggin and Masts, Neustra Signora Desoledad, the Cargo reckoned worth 32.000 pieces of Eight besides the Ship. The Officers and Men who came ashore, have taken a passage for themselves and cargo to New England from whence they design to proceed to Cadiz.

Near Topsail Inlet a Vessel named El Salvador or El Henrico was stove to pieces and is now covered with 7 or 8 feet sand, four of her Crew only saved her Loading 240:000 pieces of Eight Registered besides what is on private Account, besides a large Quantity of Cocoa Cochineal and some Balsom.

This is the Account given to the Governor of North Carolina by Don Joseph De Respral Deza, part owner and Super Cargoe of the Neustra Signiora de Solidad who at the same time complained to the Governor of the Master and Crew of a Bermudas Sloop who had taken possession of the sails and part of the rigging which had come on shore from the Wreck of the El Salvador and the said Super Cargo verily believes has got possession of some Chests of Money, upon which the Governor Immediately Issued his Order for the apprehending the said Master & Crew and Securing their Sloop.

The Ship at Ocacock has unloaded her Treasure & Cargo on Ocacock Island, several little Vessels have gone down to Barter with them for provisions. They have not as yet met with any Molestation, nor made any application to the Governor.


Septr 18 1750.