My Lord, [the Duke of Bedford]
I am infinitely indebted to your Grace's goodness in informing Me of His Majesty's approbation of my conduct with regard to the Spaniards stranded on this Coast.
These unhappy men continued near forty Days in the Harbour of Ocacock before they made any Report to me, or any other Officer in this Province, during which time they traded with the Vessels which went backward and forward for several thousand pieces of Eight, and unladed the Galleon twice, and reloaded Her as often; By thus breaking Bulk and disposing of the Cargo without the Permission of any Officer They had incurr'd the Penalty of the Laws of Trade and both Ship and Cargo ought to have been condemned by a Court of Admiralty, of this the inferiour Officers of the Customs were so sensible, that they made several attempts to sieze Her, One of them in particular went to Mr. Randolph the Surveyor General of the Customs in North America, to Virginia where he resides, and brought an Order to seize Her immediately; but I had taken my measures so surely, by sending for His Majesty's Sloop the Scorpion, that I put it out of their Power to carry their designs into Execution, If I had been but passive in this affair neither the ship nor Effects could have escaped being forfeited, and without being at all seen in this Matter, or stirring one step in it, I had been lawfully possessed of one third of Both, which I hope your Grace will consider as no small Sacrifice for a Person in my unhappy situation.
The sending Expresses by Land to the North and South, and fitting out, Manning, and Victualling two Ships to go in quest of the Pirate, and a great many other steps we were obliged to take, occasioned a very considerable Expence, the Account of which was settled by Captain Bonilla on one side and Mr. Child our Attorney General, and Colonel Innes on the other, at Cape Fear about 225 Miles from my residence.
The Captain complains that they exacted too much from Him; But as they were chiefly Instrumental in saving the remaining part of the Cargo, and shipping it on Board of the Sloop of War, they think their Demands very moderate, but I shall not trouble your Grace with a particular detail of this affair, as Mr. Child is now on His way to London, and will fully inform your Grace of the whole transaction.