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Letter from Arthur Dobbs to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
December 27, 1757
Volume 05, Pages 945-950

Letter from Governor Dobbs to the Board of Trade.

New Bern, 27th Decbr, 1757.

My Lords

Your letter of the 10th of March did not come to my hands until the 15th of September when I got the duplicate and some days after the original I cant account for the delay of letters coming here it gave me great pleasure that your Lordships approved of my Conduct hitherto I have had no orders or instructions since from your Lordships.

I herewith inclose to you a Copy of a letter I have wrote to the Lords of the Treasury they having required me to report upon Mr. Rutherford's letter and representation to your Lordships in June 1756 which you had referred to the Treasury Board and along with it I send your Lordships a copy of the Abstract of the Minutes of Council relative to it, and a Duplicate of all the other papers sent to the Treasury Board, which will prevent me from recapitulating them all in another letter. I have also sent you a short abstract of the number of acres granted in the several Counties in the King's part of the Province as they were taken out of the Secretary's Books sent to me by the Deputy Auditor in a Rental 2 years ago and a computation of what may have been granted since which being all at 4 shillings currency per 100 acres amounts to at least £3082 currency per annum, so that this sum is short of Mr. Rutherford's present Rental as the Quit Rents granted upon Lands before 1730 are not included in it, and as he got Mr. Eleazr allen late Receiver General's Books and Rental he ought also to have these in his Rental—so that his present Rental bad as it [is] must amount to above £2300 sterling English Money and I believe his receipt for 6 years since the date of his Commission is not at a medium of £600 sterling per annum but as he never produced any of his accounts to me nor left any with me he having only sworn to 2 Abstracts of Receipts and payments on a sheet of paper without charging himself with any Rental or returning any Arrear to be a charge upon him which he carried away again I cant ascertain what he has received though I apprehend it will appear to be short of that sum, as to his manner of proceeding and behaviour in his office and Mr. Murray and his scheme in giving leave and a sanction to Mr. Murray's

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issuing a private unlimited paper currency, I refer your Lordships to the Copy of my letter to the Treasury Board and to the several papers sent to you.

These facts being fully proved in Council and having heard him and Mr. Murray in their defence and Mr. Rutherford being voted guilty of a misdemeanour in the execution of his Office by a full Council except his friend Murray who refused to vote I pursuant to the 67th Article of my Instructions suspended him from his office of Receiver General until his Majesty's Pleasure is known.

And as by the same Article I am ordered to report to your Lordships the capacities and behaviour of all patentees or their deputies I cant in Justice to his Majesty say that he was a person qualified to execute so great a Trust and as the issuing a paper currency in printed notes under Mr. Murray's hand and seal several of which were endorsed and accepted by Mr. Rutherford with interest a Specimen and attested Copies of which I send to your Lordships which he ordered the Sheriffs to take in payment of Quit Rents by which sanction Mr. Murray issued many more without endorsement to be allowed in Quit Rents which he refused to take again and exchange in provincial Bills as the Bills he issued were unlimited and only to be exchanged for Debts or Goods bought from him was not only a fraud upon private persons who took them and owed no Quit Rents but a depreciating the Provincial paper currency upon the Councils publishing a proclamation against them and passing a vote that it tended to depreciate the paper currency of the province in proportion to the notes issued which were under no limitation I thought it my duty to suspend both Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Murray from the Council till his Majesty's pleasure be known. In the first instance I had power and orders upon misdemeanour to suspend Mr. Rutherford from his office without Consent of Council but in my 10th Instruction I am directed to have the Majority of the Councils consent in suspending any Member from the Council but if I have reasons to suspend any not fit to be communicated to the Council I might suspend such persons without Consent of Council sending over my reasons for so doing immediately so that in this case I thought it more prudent to make use of that power and without laying more matters in charge against Mr. Murray in Council after they had censured Mr. Rutherford and him for issuing the notes I suspended them from the Council Board until his Majesty's pleasure is known as I had further reasons not fit to be mentioned in Council. first it appeared plain to me that they and 2 others had agreed always to vote together in Council and others being disunited that they might carry or reject what Bills they thought proper and thus

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by a party to make it necessary to the Governour to confide in them and govern by a party. But I had also further reasons against Mr. Murray who piqued himself in leading and advising the Junto that he as one of the Council endeavoured to lessen his Majesty's prerogative and add to the power of the Assembly; That he had endeavoured to form a party in the Assembly to make himself popular against the Government raised and encouraged a republican party drew clauses in the former Sessions which he gave in his own hand writing to them, to obstruct and clog the Aid Bill by encroaching upon his Majesty's prerogative and taxing the fees of his officers and so make a division between the Council and assembly in case they would not carry the clause in Council. However his clauses were thrown out by management in the Lower House. This I had from several of the Members of the Assembly yet did not think it prudent to mention it in Council as a charge against him but delayed it until by his schemes something further should appear against him.

This uniting their Interest together appeared in their carrying a Bill thrō the Council by one vote to distress the Government by secluding several of his Majesty's friends from sitting in future assemblies by a Bill to regulate Elections which I rejected a Copy of which I send to your Lordships that you may see what they and the Assembly are driving at to raise their own power and lessen their dependence upon the Crown; this Murray and his Junto did that they might make me unpopular with the Assembly in rejecting their favourite Bill. I told the Assembly upon my rejecting it I would not pass it by my Instructions it being of an unusual nature without a suspending Clause or transmitting a Copy of the Bill to England to know his Majesty's pleasure upon it which if they desired I would do but as this did not answer their purpose they made me no answer. I therefore leave it to your Lordships whether I have done my Duty in suspending Mr. Murray and Mr. Rutherford from the Council or whether such a designing man acting in conjunction with others against the prerogatives is a fit person to be restored and made a member of the Council.

As I am ordered upon any vacancy in Council to lay before your Lordships the names of three persons with their qualifications proper to be recommended as Members of the Council in case the suspension is confirmed by his Majesty, I recommend Chief Justice Peter Henley Esquire in case his health is restored and he continues to reside in this Province Thomas Barker Esquire a Lawyer at present a necessary member of the Assembly who has promoted his Majesty's Interest He lives at Edenton and Maurice Moore Esquire a young gentleman of distinguished character and very good fortune at Cape Fear who is a Member

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of the Assembly and has hitherto a good disposition to support his Majesty's Interest.

I find by Mr. Rutherford's letter to your Lordships that in case he got leave to go to England he had prevailed on Mr. John Starkey a Member of the Assembly and Treasurer of the Sourthern half of this Province to act for him in his absence a man of good fortune and integrity I therefore think it proper to give your Lordships a character of the Man. I own Mr. Starkey is a man of good behaviour in the Province and of a tolerable fortune as I know nothing to the contrary by his being made Executor to most people residing in the Country near him, this good opinion they had of him from his capacity and diligence and in some measure from his garb and seeming humility by wearing shoe strings a plain coat and having a bald head by this he seems self denied but is the most designing Man in the Province he takes 10 per cent to himself upon all the Testators effects and upon publick sale of their Effects buys up all the slaves going at and under value, by which he has great profit. He is a professed violent Republican in every instance taking from his Majesty's prerogative and encroaching upon the Rights of the Council, and adding to the Power of the Assembly to make himself popular and of late has been in close conjunction with Mr. Murray being got into the Assembly he has made himself popular by opposing all taxes that do not turn out to his profit and by attempting to gain power to the Assembly by encroaching upon his Majesty's Rights by these means before my arrival he got himself appointed Treasurer of the Southward District by Act of Assembly for three years for which he is allowed 5 per cent for all the Money he receives and was one of those who struck all the £40,000 Bills of Currency. He and Mr. Barker got themselves appointed Treasurers for the Southern and Northern Districts without any Limitation of time in the aid act which passed in the year 1754 just upon my arrival as I found the Treasurers appointed by Act of Assembly before and was unwilling to obstruct the Aid Bill and did not know Starkey's Schemes and Character I passed the aid Bill with that Clause. This I find has greatly increased the Treasurer's power particularly Mr. Starkeys who makes use of it against the Crown, and having taken upon himself the payment of the allowance to the Members for their attendance which he can advance or delay as he pleases so that all the low Members who want a supply follow him like Chickens so that he sways the House against the most sensible Members in it.

I leave it therefore to your Lordships Judgment whether you will advise his Majesty to repeal that Aid Act passed in 1754 and to send me an Instruction for the future not to pass any Law for appointing provincial

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Treasurers without excluding them from being Members of either House the Inconveniency in Virginia is evident where the Speaker as Treasurer rules the Assembly and they pass his Accounts without ever examining them, the only thing material in the Bill besides the Treasurer's Clause in the aid of 9d per Taxable for 7 years from the 1st of July 1755 of which three years of the 7 years Tax will be received by July 1758 so that 4 years Tax would be lost. The Tax raises about £900 so that the whole Sum not raised would be £3600 the 4 years Tax. But when it is considered it is only to repay the Bills that were issued for erecting publick Schools £6000 which were not to be issued until his Majesty gave leave, it will be only continuing £3600 of these Bills in Circulation which when others are paying off will be no inconvenience to the Province and may be remedied by a future Bill. Now your Lordships may consider whether the circulating £3600 in Bills will be a loss equivalent to the Obstruction given to the Kings service here by that Republican Treasurer Starkey who must then quit his seat in the Assembly or place of Treasurer, In case his Majesty consents that the Assembly shall name the Provincial Treasurers which has been an Encroachment upon the Crown in other Provinces. It was chiefly by his Influence this Session that instead of keeping up 4 Companies which were kept up last year 300 Men, we have reduced them this year to three Companies of 50 Men each 150 Men in all.

I must further add that it was by his Influence in the Assembly that they refused to give a proper Salary to a Storekeeper at Johnston Fort though recommended to them by his Majesty in Council because they had not the Nomination saying they would get it done for a Trifle, I told him his Majesty would not quit his Right of Nomination and that he expected a reasonable Salary to his Officer who must give great security and be careful and diligent in his Trust they have allowed him the value of his Storehouse Room and charges in carrying them up and landing them in Wilmington where they will be safe until the Fort is finished to the Land side and a Magazine and Storehouse be built for them, and Barracks for a Company to remain in the Fort to secure the Channel this Treatment discourages me from applying for Artillery and Stores for Fort Granville and Topsail Inlet.

As to the fixing a Court of Exchequer as Mr. Rutherford recommends to your Lordships I am afraid by all I can hear it might throw the Province into a flame as there is none fixed in the neighbouring Colonies so dare not venture to do it without express Orders from his Majesty. I have had no Warrant yet from the Treasury to pay out of the Quit Rents the Surveyors who survey the several Counties

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The Collectors of Port Roanoke Port Bath and Port Beaufort have sent their Petition under their and my hands what kind of an Officer should be appointed at Portsmouth Ocacoke Bar to Mr. Randolph Surveyor General of the Customs who resides in Virginia to send over to the Commissioners of the Customs in London; But I dont find that any Salary will be got for an Officer from this Province as they are desirous of running Goods and to enjoy an illicit Trade.

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


Additional Notes for Electronic Version: This letter enclosed an account of land granted in North Carolina - See Related Documents.