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Report concerning William Lucas' actions as Deputy Auditor of North Carolina
No Author
1762
Volume 06, Pages 600-605

Mr. Lucas's Answer to Govr Dobbs's Allegations by way of Complaint to the Rt Honble the Lords Commissioners of Trade & Plantations, against his Official Conduct as D: Auditor of North Carolina.

Mr. Lucas immediately upon his Arrival at Edenton, North Carolina

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in Septr 1759 recorded in the Provincial Secretarys Office, the Approbation of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, for the Auditor Generals Appointment of Him to be Deputy Auditor of that Province by way of publick Notification, of such his Arrival and Appointments; and wou'd also, at the same Time have recorded the Instrument of Appointment Itself, but that it cou'd not be done til the Execution was proved in a Court of Record; which is necessary, in that Province, previous to the Registry of every written Instrument. He obtained such Probate at the first Court for the County of Chowan, held at Edenton, where the subscribing Witness then resided about a Fortnight after his arrival there and intended to have gone immediately from thence to Newbern, distant 100 miles Southward, where the Secretarys Office was then kept: to have registered his said Appointment; and from thence to have proceeded to Brunswick the Place of Mr. Dobbs's Residence, above 100d miles still further South from Edenton; proposing to have tendered Himself to have taken the Oaths of Office, but upon the very day whereon he obtained such Probate, he was taken sick of a Fever which, for near five Months, rendered Him incapable of transacting any manner of Business confining him to his Bed for many Weeks, and chiefly to his Rooms, for the Rest of that Time; and consequently he was incapable of performing so long a Journey, or even any Journey at all.

In the Month of March 1760; which was as soon as he was able to ride on Horseback, he went to his Predecessor's in Office Mr. McCulloch in Halifax County near 80 miles from Edenton to make a formal Demand of all the Books and Papers relative thereto agreeably to his Instructions from the Auditor Genl who had by Letter informed Mr. McCulloch that he had superseded Him, for neglect of his Duty in Office; and therein directed Him immediately to deliver up all such Books and Papers to Mr. Lucas; but notwithstanding such Demand and the Auditor General's Directions to Mr. McCulloch, Mr. Lucas was not able to obtain a single Paper relative to the Office 'til July 1761; tho he had frequently, subsequent to that Application pressed and importuned Mr. McCulloch for the same but was from Time to Time put off with evasive Answers and Promises; and having no Method to compel such a Delivery, for want of a proper Knowledge of the Papers in his Custody was obliged to submit to his Delays.

Soon after Mr. Lucas's Return from Mr. McCulloch's House, Govr Dobbs having issued a Proclamation for the meeting of the assembly

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at Newbern in April following; he went thither and took the Oaths of Office, before the Governor in Council and immediately applied to Mr. DeRosset the then Receiver General requesting him to exhibit his Accounts in a proper manner, to be audited conformably to the Auditor Generals Instructions; by which Mr. Lucas was required to call for such Accounts once in six months; to audit the same and transmit attested copies to the sd Auditor General and to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury; and with which View he then made such application but Mr. DeRosset declined to comply therewith pretending that he had passed his Accounts, a few days before with Mr. McCulloch the late Deputy Auditor; who had called upon him for them; whereupon Mr. Lucas made a formal Demand in writing of a proper Exhibition of such accounts which produced from Mr. DeRosset some few Days afterwards a certificate, under Mr. McCulloch Hand, upon a slip or small piece of loose Paper of his having audited the said accounts tho' in Fact such accounts were not audited and signed by Mr. McCulloch in any sort 'til the June or July following, as Mr. DeRosset acknowledged in May 1761 to Mr. Lucas who again applied for his accounts as he had done in October preceding—On Mr. Lucas at the same time representing to Mr. DeRosset the Imperfectness of those Accounts as well as the Impropriety and Irregularity of Mr. McCullochs pretended audit who was not only virtually superseded by Mr. Lucas's arrival in the Province with his said Powers and the publick Notification thereof but actually so by Mr. Cholmondeleys Letter to Mr. McCulloch in express Terms to that Purpose; He Mr. DeRosset by way of exculpating himself, produced a Letter written to him by Govr Dobbs, dated in March 1760 a few Days before the accounts appear to be sworn to requesting him to prepare his Accounts, and come down to him the Governor to swear thereto in Order to give Mr. McCulloch the Preference of auditing them; which he alledged might be done as Mr. Lucas had not then taken the Oaths of Office; which Mr. Lucas avers was not owing to any Negligence in Him being prevented therefrom by actual sickness.

It is evident that this transaction, in which Govr Dobbs had a considerable share, was not done with a real View to promote the Interest of the Crown, but only to give Mr. McCulloch the preference of auditing the accots Who himself must have been induced thereto singly for the sake of pocketing the audit fee, as he well knew they ought not to have been admitted to pass under the Auditor General's Instructions.—Mr. DeRossets View in exhibiting his Accounts

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to Mr. McCulloch was it is equally obvious to obtain the sanction of an Audit at any Rate which from the imperfect state of those accounts he cou'd not have done from a regular officer; who deemed Himself bound by his Instructions; for Mr. DeRosset by his own Indorsement upon the Back of the said account transmitted by Him to the Auditor General, states himself unable to have rendered a proper and compact account, at the time he made out the same.—An indisputable evidence of Mr. McCullochs consciousness likewise that those accounts would meet the Disapprobation of the Auditor General, he did not presume, in the space of above two years, to transmit him a copy thereof; which the Deputy Auditor by his Instructions, is enjoined to do by the first opportunity after they are audited.—It is observable that the copy of Mr. DeRossetts accounts, sent by Him to the Auditor General, 16 months after the same are pretended to be audited by Mr. McCulloch, was then transmitted upon the Representations, and at the particular Request of Mr. Lucas, who was desirous that the fact might appear in its true light to the Auditor General; and which Mr. Lucas believes, was not otherwise intended to have been transmitted at all, Mr. DeRossett thinking Himself secure by the Countenance Govr Dobbs had given to the transaction.

Mr. Lucas apprehends that the Irregularity of Mr. DeRossets Accounts is so very conspicuous that it cou'd not escape even Governor Dobbs's Observation at the Time he administered the Oath to Mr. DeRossett; which he humbly conceives is alone the most pregnant circumstantial Evidence that Mr. Dobbs had not in View the Service of the Crown, in calling upon the Receiver for his Accounts, for had that alone been his Motive, as imperfect Accounts can Answer no good purpose, he wou'd have allowed the Receiver general Time to have compleated them; But the Danger of Mr. Lucas's being able to qualify Himself who was then recovering from his long Sickness and had been with Mr. McCulloch, to demand the official papers from Him was too pressing to have admitted of so much Delay as that wou'd have necessarily occasioned: In which case Mr. McCulloch wou'd not only have lost the audit Fee but DeRossetts accounts wou'd have met with real Objections from Mr. Lucas, as Deputy Auditor several payments being therein charged which Mr. Lucas had no power to allow under his Instructions: Nor wou'd it in that Case have answered any End to have made Mr. Lucas accidental and unavoidable Incapacity to take the Oaths of Office the foundation of a Complaint for not doing his Duty.

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Mr. Lucas's Residence at Edenton, tho' it is generally deemed the Capital Town in the Province and is situate in the first and best settled and in the most populous Part of the Country; was owing solely to the Seat of Government not being fixed in any particular part of the Province for had that been the case, he wou'd certainly resided at the seat of Government for the Advantage and convenience of his Business But as the Meetings of the Assembly and other public Conventions were held alternately at Edenton, Newbern & Wilmington, Edenton was equally Commodious for executing the Duty of his Office, with any other Part of the Province 'til lately that the Governor has caused the Assembly to meet at Wilmington five or six Times successively being in the Neighbourhood of Brunswick his own Residence which is near the Sea Coast in the Southern Extremity of the Province; A Matter which has caused great murmurings and Complaints among the people.

The Governor having called and held an Assembly for the transacting of Publick Business at the Times wherein the superior Courts of Justice sat in different Parts of the Province Mr. Lucas whose attendance at those Courts as he then prosecuted for the Crown was of indispensable necessity; procured one Mr. Duncan a Gentleman of credit equal to that of any Person in the Country and who as Deputy Secretary, was entrusted with the Custody of the publick Records of the Province to countersign and take Minutes of the Patents passed at the Court of Claims; the only Business that requires the Deputy Auditors Attendance there and may without Prejudice to his Majesty or any other Person, be transacted by a Substitute in his Absence; And the same having been constantly done by the Permission of Governor Dobbs, when Mr. McCulloch was Deputy Auditor, Mr. Lucas did not know that he was irregular therein 'til he heard that Mr. Dobbs had refused to permit Mr. Duncan to take the minutes & countersign the Patents as usual and had Himself appointed Mr. Duncan's Clerk to do that Duty ordering him to retain a Moiety of the Fees for doing it; But Mr. Lucas for no other purpose took upon him to appoint even a Substitute who on that Occasion did not Act under any written Instrument but was only verbally or by Letter requested to do the Business as he had theretofore done in Mr. McCulloch's time; And, which by Reason the same had been then permitted Mr. Lucas cou'd not devine that it wou'd be looked upon as an illegal Appointment in Him; which he apprehends was no more than if he had sent his own Clerk to have transacted that Business.

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Mr. Lucas admits that the minutes of the several patents as they were passed at each respective Court of Claims, were not regularly entered in the Auditors Book; the true Reason whereof is, because he cou'd never Obtain such Book from his Predecessor Mr. McCulloch 'til a few days before he left the Province; but he kept in his Custody the Minutes themselves, which respecting those Patents were equal to the Book, and might be entered therein at any Time, and which he has since delivered, together with the said Book to his Successor in Office Mr. Heron to be entered by Him therein.

That having been obstructed in the most material Part of his Duty, the auditing the Receiver Generals Accounts, Whereby his Endeavours to promote the Interest of the Crown were rendered ineffectual; as well as having been debarred the accustomed Privilege of his Attendance at the Courts of Claims being dispensed with, when particular Business might happen to require it elsewhere: And the Fees of Office which at any Time are but little more than adequate to the Expence of Attending those Courts, being considerably diminished; he did for these Reasons and for the Sake of his Health, in July or August 1761 leave the Province and return to England, without asking the Govrs leave; which in this case particularly, seemed the rather unnecessary as Mr. Dobbs had before Mr. Lucas's Intention of leaving the Province was known appointed a Person to transact the Business of his Office. And Lastly with Respect to the Allegation of his Absence being made a pretence for the Assembly's not having the publick Accounts audited it seems an Objection founded solely in Mr. Dobbs's Imagination for the Assembly of North Carolina never submitted the public Accounts to be audited by the Deputy Auditors but the same are constantly audited by a special Committee of the two Houses of Assembly.