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Letter from Arthur Dobbs to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
October 31, 1756
Volume 05, Pages 638-646

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 12. C. 115.]
Letter from Governor Dobbs to the Board of Trade.

Newbern. 31st October 1756.

My Lords,

The Session of Assembly is now over, and all that I have been able to obtain is about £3400. and the appropriation of £1200. more which remained out of the sum of £12000. granted in March 1754 to raise and maintain the men which were first sent to Virginia; this sum is to be raised by 2 shillings upon each taxable for one year which at 27000 Taxables will raise £2350. and by laying 2d per gallon more upon wine and spirits imported, which if well collected may raise about 7. or £800. more. This is to be advanced by Bills issued by the Treasurer which

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bear 6. per cent interest, and are to be repaid & cancelled at the end of the year by the tax. This is to be applied to erect a Fort on our western frontier to protect and secure the Cataubas, and to pay two Companies of 50. men each to garrison this fort and another which is built this year; so that there is no money granted to assist the Northern Colonies, which is occasioned by the alarm upon the loss of Oswego, Lord Loudoun having sent circular letters to the several Southern Governments to prepare for the defense of our Frontiers since the French have now free access by the Lakes to send troops to the Ohio, to attack us by their Indian Allies & we had a further alarm by Major Lewis sent from Virginia to build a Fort upon the Chirokees upon his sending me a Copy of his letter to Governor Lyttleton upon his return, a copy of which I send to your Lordships to which I refer, and as several of our back settlers had been pilfered, and were all preparing to retire from the Frontier into the inner settlements, the Assembly was unwilling to part with any more men out of the Province, when at the same time our sea coast is quite exposed for want of a Company to garrison our Forts and Batteries which are now in a state of defense; & therefore both Council & Assembly have addressed His Majesty for men to garrison them, and for Artillery & Ordnance Stores, and they will provide them with Provisions as the other Colonies do, a copy of which I have sent to your Lordships, having transmitted the Original to Secretary Fox, as I have got the Gunpowder duly continued for 3. years, if Merchant ships are allowed to carry any from England we shall soon have a supply of powder and lead, But as most of them pay money, we shall want some barrils to have some stored before hand for we can't get any for our money There are several Privateers on our Coast from the West Indies, they have taken an English ship coming to Cape Fear with dry goods, & another small vessel, and have turned the sailors ashore, and we have no sloop to cruize upon the Coast, the Baltimore Capt: Hood which should be stationed at Cape Fear was called off in spring to go to Novia Scotia, and hitherto when they return in winter, they look into Cape Fear and stay some days, but finding no balls or entertainments there, they sail away & spend the winter in Charles Town, under pretence that they can't clean at Cape Fear altho' they may have all conveniencies for it I therefore write to Lord Loudoun upon this subject to write for some sloops or a twenty gun ship for the security of our Trade, and if what were ordered to Cape Fear or Charles Town were to be stationed at Cape Lookout they could be always in good weather cruising along the Coast and have that Harbour to retire to in bad weather, but when they are in the rivers they scarcely go to sea during the whole winter and so are of no use, but when they
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go out as Convoy from Charles Town. I therefore hope you will apply to the Admiralty for proper orders to their cruizers here or stationed ships, that they may be of service in time of war; since they will be in the way of all ships coming through the Gulph Stream and soon get to the course of the St Domingo ships. Since our companies at New York will be paid no longer from hence than to the tenth of next month, I have directed them to do what they can to turn over their men to recruit the American regiment, or to have them enlisted among the regulars as they are allowed no money to bring them back. The extraordinary expence in raising and transporting them to New York, their Tents and Camp equipage and loss upon our remittances has occasioned our contracting a considerable debt there, which we must repay, and as your Lordships letter of the 29th July came 2 or 3 days before the Assembly was prorogued, I communicated your letter to the Assembly along with a letter from Lord Loudoun, and made a speech to them at passing the Bills, a copy of which I send to your Lordships, by which I prevailed on them to give a vote of credit to enable me to pay the debt due in New York when liquidated, to be made good next Session, which I can receive out of the two shilling tax borrowed from the Notes they had appropriated to the erecting churches and schools if approved of by His Majesty, as you approved rather to apply it to the publick service without cancelling them, than to issue out more notes.

The Taxes now raised upon this Province for the Publick is about 9s per taxable which amounts to near £12000 per annum, and 6d per gallon upon wine and spirits imported, which would raise if duly collected about £2000 more, but this can't be executed without fixing a proper Officer at Ocacock Inlet, to whom all ships &c should report their Cargoes, for all ships stop there which pass up the three great rivers of Roanoak, Pamlico and Neuse, and there are so many navigable Creeks & Branches in these rivers before they can get to the several Collectors, that they run almost all their cargoes before they get to their posts, which is a great loss to His Majesty's Customs; I wrote a long letter to the Lords of the Treasury and another to the Commissioners of the Customs about a year and half ago giving my reasons for fixing such an Officer, but never had any answer to my letters, altho' the packet got safe, which makes it necessary for me now to mention it to your Lordships, that you may recommend it to their Lordships. The other County and Parish Taxes amount to near Six Shillings more per taxable these they think heavy Taxes, having scarce ever paid any before.

Thus your Lordships may see the difficulties I have to struggle with amongst a number of new Planters who are poor through indolence, and

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have been under no Government, with a low confined way of thinking for want of education, who can't be brought to know their danger until they are actually attacked.

There is a necessity for immediately settling the Boundary line between the two Provinces, Governor Littleton acquainted me his Council had appointed a Committee to enquire what had been formerly done in it, and I have wrote to him to press him to send over their opinion where to fix it, and to avoid delay informed him of the line I had proposed with the approbation of the Council here, and sent him a Copy of what I sent to your Lordships that he might at once object to it, and not occasion alteration or further delay, when our different opinions are laid before your Lordships. I am convinced you will think it reasonable to fix the line at least to the Southward of 35°, since all the North Carolina surveys and grants are made out to that latitude, upon the faith of the former line agreed upon by the joint Commrs, altho' they had not continued the line west of the Pedee, yet they agreed upon the paralell, and you will think it more reasonable now, since this Province is at the expence to build a Fort to secure & protect the Catawbas near their Towns, since the South Province will have expence enough to secure the Cherokees Chickesaws and Creeks, & to recover the friendship of the Choctaws, which Glenn neglected, since the Catawbas Towns are situated within a few miles north & South of 35° I hope your Lordships will think it proper to make the most southern town the boundary, & fix the paralell there by extending the line east from that Town to the Pedee and west to the mountains, so that they may be all in one Government.

Whether you will please to advise the making the eastern bank of the Pedee from thence to the sea the boundary of this Province upon the reasons I laid before you is in your Lordships breasts, but if you should judge it proper to continue a paralell line between South Carolina and Georgia and add to South Carolina the lands beyond Savannah north of the paralell of Charles Town, the South Province will have a much greater Country than will be granted to North Carolina; and as the sea coast and paralell of Georgia extends from 30° 40. the paralell of Charles Town and both the Carolinas contain but 2° 50. to the Virginia paralell of 36° 30. Georgia will still have more betwixt its paralells than both the Carolinas—But this is in your Lordships judgment. However the necessity of fixing the line immediately appears from the proceedings of the south Government who are daily granting warrants of survey upon the several tracts belonging to the associates of Murray and Crymble held by Patents from this Government since 1746 in which they have lately from Glenn obtained Commissions of the peace; who lately took up the

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Sheriff of Anson when levying the taxes, and confined him some hours altho' they had continually paid taxes before for 8 years, since their first settlement, which if they continue to do I shall be obliged to use force also, & consequently throw both provinces into a flame, for by His Majesty's Instructions I am obliged to quiet the Associates of Huey & Crymble in their possessions and Mr. Selwyn has two large Tracts in the same situation with my most Southerly Tract, whose settlers are all in a flame & disown his Title pretending they are encouraged from the South Province, altho' his lands are all to the Northward of 35°, and this is the condition of the Patentees along the line for above 150 miles. When Govr Lyttleton sends for the sentiments of his Council, your Lordships will the better know how to advise His Majesty how to fix the line, most for his service and the convenience of the Colonies.

There was an Act passed in 1723, Chap: 4th, entitled an Act for settling the titles and bounds of Lands, commonly called the processioning act, which upon perusal your Lordships may think it proper to advise its being repealed in Council, as it is likely at present to be made an ill use of, by which if any get their lands twice processioned by Commrs to be chosen annually by their Vestries they are to be quieted in their possessions altho' they hold lands not granted by their Patents or in greater quantity. As the Lands which have long lain as a Common between different Plantations are now thought worth the taking, many resurveys are petitioned for to know the bounds of the adjoining Patentees, and it was formerly the practice of many Surveyors to return Plots upon which Patents have been granted which were never surveyed, having only gone to the Land & marked one Tree, and then have made out courses and distances at home to make up the quantity of Land granted without marking any more Trees, upon which the Patentees have marked Trees as they thought proper without regard to the courses or distances, by which they have enjoyed much more land than granted, and by other courses than are mentioned in the Patent, no enquiry being made into it, for which surplus they have never paid any quit rents, and if this Law stands unrepealed upon getting their Lands twice processioned by their marked Trees, without any regard to the courses and distances in their Patents, their possessions will be confirmed, and other Claimants who make the discovery are prevented of their claim, and the possessor is judged to have the prior right; since therefore great frauds are committed by confirming possessions & Titles by marked Trees, and it is become a practice for several rogues to go about to search for good land, and to mark a number of trees round it, and without applying for a warrant of Survey of Patent, to build a small log house upon it, which may be done

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in a few days, and so lay claim to it as if planted and sell their right to new comers from the Northward without producing any Title to it, and then do the same in another place, this is principally done in the Frontier Counties where they have obtained the name of notched entries, by making a notch or mark in the Threes—If therefore your Lordship shall think proper to advise the repeal of this Act, it will also be advisable for His Majesty to give an instruction that upon all hearings in the Court of Claims all rights shall be determined for the future by the courses and distances expressed in the Patents & Plots annexed to them, without having any regard to the marked Trees, which are so frequently abused, and that none of the Council shall decide in favor of marked Trees contrary to the courses & distances mentioned in the Patents, under the penalty of being suspended for the same, or to be displaced from being a Councellor, for sometimes out of affection or partiality it is divided sometimes one way sometimes another, since no rule can be laid down at one Court of Claims but what may be and has been overruled by another, as they don't consist of the same Members, five perhaps meeting at one Court, and five quite different at the rest, and often the majority at different times think differently.

This I think it my duty to represent to your Lordships.

Your Lordships have approved of my getting the Counties on which His Majesty's lands be properly surveyed & that it is for His Majesty's service to pay for them out of the Quit Rents; but this can't be done without an Order from the Treasury to the Receiver General to pay it out of the Quit Rents, nor can I return a survey or chart of the Province without such survey on the King's part, and some return of the Counties from Lord Granvilles office, althō I am commanded by my Instructions to send over such a Chart or Map to your Lordships.

There is another Act passed by the late Governor Johnston in 1748 Chap. 2d entitled an Act for regulating several Officers fees within this Province, and ascertaining the manner of paying the same, which I think hath greatly incroached upon His Majesty's prerogative, and is inconsistent with the instructions I have from His Majesty Article 65th That I am with the advice of the Council to take especial care to establish & regulate all salaries and fees belonging to places, or paid upon emergencies. This Instruction is nugatory whilst this Act is in force, and your Lordships will observe that all Fees in the Court of Claims which His Majesty ought to have absolutely in his own power to control & regulate is taken from him, and fixed at the pleasure of the Assembly, so that he can neither add to nor diminish them, That also all fees in the Court of Chancery, which is His Majesty's own Court are limited & so much

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lessened, that the clerks fees are not worth the labour & attendance, so that no good clerks can be procured to do the business, which is daily increasing, and when it is considered that the fees are one fourth less than English money, and that the produce here in the markets is very high, Beef 2d per pound, Mutton 4d, Butter 9d and other things in proportion, that common labour is 2. shillings per day and artificers from 3. to 4. shillings, and all English goods sold at 150. per cent above the prime cost, you will then see how triffling the fees are by looking into the schedule of fees in the Act—and no other fee whatsoever can be taken without a penalty for services not mentioned in the Act. I shall therefore humbly submit it to your Lordships whether this Act doth not invade His Majesty's Prerogative in limiting the fees for places which the Assembly have not created, or contribute to pay for out of the Treasury of the Province by provincial taxes, but are immediately in His Majesty's appointment, when the voluntary fees given to Lawyers here are excessively great, & whether these places & Commissions immediately in His Majesty's Grant ought not to have their fees limited and adjusted only by His Majesty so as to be paid in English value and proportioned in some manner to answer to the fees in England, since Inhabitants here pay few or no taxes to the Crown.

I must further observe to your Lordships that I can see no prospect of getting that Instruction answered in getting a fixed salary to the Govr and his Successors, and for other necessary contingencies repairing of Forts &c. There seems to be an established maxim fixed in the several assemblies of the Colonies to keep the Governors and Government as much in their power as they can in order to wrest some laws from them to gain points against England for their private ends; and therefore leave it to your Lordships to consider whether the Governors should not be as independent upon them as possible; as it is very probable that my time here may be short, and I am very easy by His Majesty's goodness to me I chiefly mention what follows for the good of my successors and for His Majesty's service; This can only be done without expence to His Majesty by his establishing reasonable fees for the Governor, the Secretaries, and other Officers of the Crown, when at present are generally very small—The only beneficial perquisite the Governors have is from the fees in the Land Office, and these are lessening every day, and as few Lands will remain to take up will soon be but a trifle.

You'l please to observe that all the Governor's fees are chiefly for signing his name to Grants &c. & some particular Instruments. There is no fee appointed for fixing the Great Seal of the Province to any private seal, no fee due for signing any Commission but for places of

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profit, so that Militia Commissions & Commissions of the peace pay no fees, no fees for signing publick Orders, and many other Instruments which are done gratis. The fees as ordinary for Letters testamentary or administrations or letters of guardianship but Trifles. The Fees in Chancery except for 2 or 3 articles nothing at all—now if this Act be repealed and the fees be regulated by His Majesty in Council, and fixed in whatever proportion may be thought reasonable according to the fees in England, & paid in English value, it wou'd be a handsome addition to the Governor and other Officers and Clerks without any Payment demanded from the Assembly, and there wou'd be a service done for every fee paid and the several Officers wou'd be independent of the Province—I need not mention that the fees paid in Lord Granville's Office are above double almost triple to what are paid in His Majesty's Office, and no payment is admitted there but in gold or silver, when nothing is offered in His Majesty's Office but the Paper Currency which greatly abates the value.

This I thought it my duty to lay before your Lordships that you may have it under your consideration what to advise His Majesty to do in it, but humbly think if you advise the repeal of the Act, that the fees should be regulated and fixed in England and not be left to the Council here who will consider their private interests and attachments with the Assembly more than the independency of the Officers.

I must further inform your Lordships that having passed the 12 laws for Counties and Towns which were repealed, and having repealed and reenacted the other Counties made which were not transmitted to England in April 1754. I have reserved their privilege of sending Members of the Assembly, which I am to grant to them by charter, since no such Charters have been hitherto granted, be pleased to let me know His Majesty's pleasure what fees to take & allow to His Majesty's Officers employed in drawing & making out the Patents, as no fee is due by Law.

I received along with your Lordships letter of July an additional Instruction from His Majesty of the 5th of July which I shall strictly comply with here. Since we passed a Law last year to oblige all Vessels to give bond to land in His Majestie's Colonies all Provisions exported and naval stores are enumerated Commodities & can't be exported but to Britain. But all our endeavours here are to no purpose, as long as such great liberties are taken in the Islands when carried there to reexport them to the Dutch or Danish Islands Eustatia or St Thomas, for I am well assured that when the French were in great distress in Martinico for Provisions last Spring several Vessels from Ireland with many thousand

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Barrils of Beef were landed in St Kits were rowled ashore & Certificates given upon their bonds, and next day were reshipped and carried to Eustatia, and reshipped thence for Martinico. This I think it my duty to inform you of to see if any stop can be put to these practices, for I find there are so many evasions that Trade will force its own way whenever a great gain is to be had by it, and by this Trade the Dutch reap the greatest benefit.

I am, with the greatest respect, My Lords, &c.,
ARTHUR DOBBS.