Petition from inhabitants of Anson County concerning taxes and fees for public officials
Crofts, Solomon; Et Al.
Volume 07, Pages 806-809
[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. I. N. C. No. 216.]
Address from the Inhabitants in Anson County.
To His Excellency Governor Tryon.
We make no doubt but that you will soon hear the disagreeable news of the disorders of the unfortunate County of Anson We therefore take this opportunity to inform you the cause and manner of it, in which we blame ourselves, for not having first addressed your Excellency on the Occasion of our complaints, who could, and no doubt would have removed our Grievances and have prevented the rumour of Faction and Disorder. But being long under the growing weight of oppression became precipitate, and rash, and thought to change the state of the County in a different manner to have suppressed the Offenders, and made them wary of their employment—For which purpose formed ourselves into which the opposite Party
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called a mob of about five hundred men, resolving should no happier event interfere to our succor to have defended our cause in the disagreeable manner of a force, and to have persisted unto blood, We looking on it at that time much out of our Powers to have kindness from your Excellency as our leading men were best acquainted, whose assertions we feared would have greatest weight with your Excellency. But whenever considered that neither Prince nor Governor who has the good of his People at heart would see them oppressed to gratify the errors and ambition of any particular Persons, who are Anthony Hutchins, Colonel Samuel Spencer, Charles Medlock and their Assistants the Justices and Sheriffs &c. Persons chiefly recommended to your Excellency by Hutchins and Spencer to answer their partial views and Purposes, under whose influence they act the Magistrate part through fear as fearing to offend the Persons who conferred the Honors on them, and part ignorance as not knowing what to do, they being a number of very poor ignorant and almost illiterate men Under such their inability they proceed to the Administration, of what they call public Justice which Property and character are extremely doubtful & precarious, as innocent Persons are committed to Gaol by the Gaoler himself being a magistrate and then put to considerable expence, and then discharged without form of Tryal to conceal their Injustice. Amongst other things they tax the People in an unusual manner which are as follows.
First Persons who commit capital offences are committed to the County Gaol and there retained five or six months, a County Tax is laid to defray the expence when it is notoriously known it is a Province Expence, But Medlock the late Sheriff stop't not there, but proceeded by Mr Spencer the Clerk and Member for the County to have the same claim allowed by the Assembly, and were only prevented as we are informed by its being proved to the Committee of Claims that the Prisoners had made satisfaction themselves—These things were not unknown to Mr Spencer when he laid Medlock's claim before the Assembly. In the next place where the Justices are in possession of Public Ferries they establish them free at times pretending for the free passage of Courtiers a considerable Tax is laid for that Purpose. In the next place they tax considerable sums of money for particular Persons, who not having a right thereto, the Magistrates after receive back part, if not all to their own use. All these things can be made to appear, and we conceive that no People have a right to be taxed, but by the consent of themselves or their Delegates. But
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here the Magistrates assume it, then the Sheriffs who receive the Tax particularly Medlock and his Associates have made a constant practice to exact 2.8. for distress money, when no distress is made nor necessary to be made, and also have taxed different sums from the People according to their non acquaintance with the right Tax so that several different sums were received from the People in the same year surmounting the right Tax. As to the Clerk his extortions are burthensome to all that fall in his power as he takes double and some times treble his due—And tho' it is true he purchased his Office from Colonel Frohock and gave to the amount of one hundred and fifty pounds for it yet it's unreasonable we should bear the expence by way of extortion. Please Sir, to enquire of Mr
Edwards, touching the connection of Hutchins Spencer and Medlock, and their unreasonable method of proceeding by means of their influence over the ignorant Magistrates as he has doubtless made some observation on their behaviour. This and much more are the causes of the present disturbances which we humbly pray your Excellency will please to reconcile by discharging the most of the Magistrates from their seats, & appointing better men, more capable and willing to discharge that Office, and also the Clerk if it seems right to you. Sir, if you in your wisdom think meet so to do we beg leave as we have no Person to represent us to inform your Excellency of the Magistrates which are unqualified for that Office and ought to be discharged, and also to recommend by the voice of the County such Persons as will judiciously discharge their several Offices & immediately upon such alterations the minds of the People will be at ease, and each one to his former obedience, and ready to discharge according to their abilities every expence necessary for the support of Government, and we as Petitioners in Duty bound shall ever pray—
Thos Fanning junr
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Wm Barindine junr
Wm Barindine sr
Jno Swor senr
J. Swor junr
Thos Harper junr
Dennis Nolsen senr