My Lords [of the Board of Trade]
In Pursuance of your Lordships Commands signified to me by Mr Pownalls Letter wherein you are pleased to desire my Opinion in Point of Law upon the following Act passed in North Carolina in January 1755 I have perused and considered the same vizt
An Act for Securing the Payment of Quitt Rents due to his Majesty and Earl Granville, for Quieting the Freeholders in the Possession of their Lands and for other Purposes.
An Act for this Purpose passed in the year 1748 which was sent over here and was disallowed by his Majesty and fresh Instructions were given to Mr Dobbs when he went Governour of this Province to Endeavour the obtaining an Act to answer the Ends proposed. How far this Act is agreable to the Instructions given to Mr Dobbs I must submit to your Lordships. Since this Act has been referred to me I have been attended by Mr Child an Agent on Behalf of the Earl of Granville with several Objections on his Lordships Behalf to this Act, which regards his Property and Interest in his Part of this Province, And it appears to me that the same Objections are to be made on Behalf of his Majesty to this Act which lessens and restrains the Rights and Powers he now has, in Regard to the Lands and Quitt Rents in this Province, And that the End proposed will not be obtained by this Act for
1st The Penalty for not Registering any Patent Grant or Mesne Conveyance is only Ten Pounds Proclamation Money which will not be sufficient to inforce the same for Persons willing to conceal their Grants and Deeds will probably subject themselves to so small a Penalty as the Proofs of their Grants and Deeds must lie upon the Prosecutor which will be very difficult to be made out (By the Act in 1748 I apprehend the Lands were to be forfeited if not duely Registred.)
2d That by the Clause relating to the Survey of Lands, the Grantee has a Power if there appears to be any Surplus Lands in his Possession not contained in his Grant, to take them to himself, or if he shall be willing to give them up, he may set them of [f] in any Part of the Land he shall direct This Disposition of the Surplus Lands so much in favour of the Grantees, which are the Property of his Majesty and the Earl
3d The Quitt Rents are by the Grants reserved and made payable in Sterling or Proclamation Money only and at certain times mentioned in the Grants which Reservations should not be varied by any Act of the Legislature there, which this Act does by giving Liberty to pay the same in Inspectors Notes for Tobacco, or in Indigo at certain Prices, and at different Times which are Commodities which fluctuate in Value, and may alter the amount of the Quitt Rents.
4th As the Law is in this Province Slaves are Distrainable for Quitt Rents. By this Act they are made so, which is unnecessary, and it is also Improper, as there is a Restraint that they are not to be taken if any other sufficient Distress can be found under the Penalty of an Action of the Party with full Costs, which will make Sheriffs and other Persons concerned in getting in the Quitt Rents, liable to Suits and charges they are not now liable to
There are other Parts of this Act relating to the Twenty years Possession which shall be held good against his Majesty his Heirs and Successors and the Seven years Possession under Purchases and the making Copies of all Patents Deeds and Wills Evidence, which are liable to objections But I have before mentioned the Principal Objections to which this Act is most liable on Behalf of his Majesty and also on the Behalf of The Earl Granville And this Act which has in it a Suspending Clause I am of Opinion for those Reasons should not be Confirmed And am