I have the honor herewith to transmit to your Lordship twenty seven Acts passed the last session of the General Assembly held at Newbern the 5th December, one thousand seven hundred and sixty seven and prorogued the 16th of January last.
An Act entitled “An Act for dividing this Province into six several Districts, and regulating the proceedings therein, and for providing adequate salaries for the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the said Superior Courts,”
Being of the greatest dignity requires to be first taken notice of. In the general frame and constitution of this bill it varies from the last superior court law in the following particulars, By the addition of the District of Hillsborough, by the increase of salary to the Chief Justice, by the appointment of associate Justices with salaries, by additional taxes on suits at law and duty on carriage wheels and by the duration given this Act of five years and to the end of the then next session of Assembly. On these particulars I beg leave to observe that the district of Hillsborough is constituted for the ease of a large body of inhabitants settled between the districts of Halifax and Salisbury, distant from each other two hundred miles, while Hillsborough is centrical to those towns. That the additional salary of twenty six pounds is given to the Chief Justice for every court he shall attend at Hillsborough, that the appointment of Associate Justices with salaries during pleasure is at length obtained, whichper annum. That the taxes on suits at law and duty on carriage wheels are to create a fund to answer the Chief Justice's and Associate Justices' salaries, and lastly that the duration of five years is a term three years longer, I believe, than any court law in this province has hitherto been made to exist. If therefore its other constituent parts and rules of proceeding shall be found to coincide with the institutions of the mother country, I shall with a sensible satisfaction consider this country advancing a step nearer stability in this essential branch of its institutions. The regulation too of the fees to be taken by the superior court clerks will I imagine in a great measure put a stop to abuses formerly practised in these offices.
An Act entitled “An Act to amend and continue the several Acts for establishing inferior Courts of Pleas and quarter sessions in the several counties in this province”
Will regulate the fees of inferior court clerks and correct former impositions in their offices. It also compels them to return to the Governor the lists of taxables and the settlements between the Treasurers and Sheriffs of their respective counties annually. The second breach of any of these duties is declared a sufficient cause for the suspending a clerk from his office, which omissions and neglects were the foundation of my complaint against the clerks in a former letter to your Lordship. Therefore as they are now partly provided against by the provisions of this bill, and partly on account of the difficulty I found would attend the attempt to make any alteration in their appointment they still continue under the clerk of the pleas.
An Act entitled “An Act for appointing of Sheriffs and directing their duty in office,”
Will, I am in expectation, be productive of great public benefit by stopping up the avenues that led many former sheriffs to fraud and embezzlement of the public money, as the excluding the members of Assembly from being returned among the three persons recommended to the Governor for his choice of one of them, will have a salutary effect, for while those sheriffs who were representatives were attending the public service in General Assembly, their duties in their counties was too frequently neglected or abused by their deputies.
An Act entitled “An Act to appoint a public Treasurer for the northern district and other purposes,”
Appears to answer the representations in my speech of the necessity of a stricter enquiring into the public funds and an acknowledged power of the Governor to inspect into and be informed of the receipts and disbursements of the public money. This and the Sheriffs Act will probably be of considerable advantage in the revenue branch of this government, the present state of which your Lordship may form an idea by the public estimates I shall transmit in another dispatch.
An Act entitled “An Act for defraying the contingent charges of government,”
I presume will be adequate for the purposes recited, tho' its duration I was desirous to have obtained for a longer term than two years.
An Act entitled, “An additional Act to an Act for erecting a convenient building within the town of Newbern for the residence of the governor or commander in chief for the time being, Testifys the liberality of the grant for furnishing the governor's house for the time being. I flatter myself this aid with five thousand before voted will be sufficient to enable me if no unforeseen disappointments Intervene, to carry this work into execution to the satisfaction of the country. The first brick was laid the twenty sixth of August last and the body of the house is already carried up to the plates, in six weeks I expect to have the roof on it, Several persons who have passed through here from the other colonies, esteem this house the capital building on the continent of North America. Should a currency not be obtained in virtue of the Council and Assembly's address, by their committees, to his Majesty I am apprehensive it will not be possible to levy the tax to raise the ten thousand pounds granted, yet by the provision in the Act I am empowered to take upon receipt as much of the above sum as may be nesessary to carry on the work.
An Act entitled “An Act for laying out a public road from the frontiers of this province through the counties of Mecklenburg, Rowan, Anson, and Bladen to Wilmington and Brunswick,” Is to open a necessary and much wanted communication between the western frontier counties and Brunswick port. By this means we may bring down a considerable quantity of the produce of the back country to our own port which at present are diverted to South Carolina;
An Act entitled “An Act for vacating the title of certain persons to three hundred acres of land situate on the lower part of Cape Fear, and adjoining Fort Johnston, and for re-vesting the same in the crown for his Majesty's service and the benefit of the said fort and garrison,” Is in conformity to the seventy first article of his Majesty's instructions to me.
An Act entitled “An Act for regulating ordinaries and restraint of Tipling Houses,” Provides not only regulations for the establishment of houses of better entertainment for travellers, but will also have a considerable tendency towards the governors receiving with more certainty the fee due to him for the license he grants to the keepers of the ordinaries: they being by this Act obliged to renew their license at a certain court annually, and likewise being under the penalty to put up a sign, they cannot with so much facility, retail liquors undetected (without licence) as they could in the former Act. The obligation of ferry men keeping a house of entertainment will also be a conveniency to travellers as well as to
An Act entitled, “An Act to amend the several Acts for regulating the town of Newbern.” Though containing many useful regulations I thought myself under the necessity of rejecting it, on account of the exceptionable clauses noticed in the margin of the said Act herewith transmitted. These clauses I considered as injurious to private property, as well with regard to those proprietors of lotts, who were out of the province, as to guardians and their orphans, on which considerations I rejected this bill.
Thus my Lord I have gone through as many of the Acts as appeared to me to require further notice than what is evidently set forth either in the preamble or body of the several Acts, most of which I hope will be found upon a careful examination manifestly to tend to establish and strengthen the credit and polity of this country: As appearances strike me on this side the water I am of opinion the establishment of good civil institutions in the interior government of the colonies, will be productive of solid advantages to the mother country; as well as secure felicity to those who live under the immediate influence of them for in proportion as the heart of the political constitution is sound, the members will flourish, and the branches of its revenue.