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Letter from William Tryon to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Tryon, William, 1729-1788
December 24, 1768
Volume 07, Pages 884-886

[From Tryon's Letter Book.]
Letter from Governor Tryon to the Earl of Hillsborough.

Brunswick 24th Decr 1768.

That his Majesty may be intimately acquainted with the causes of the disorders, as well as the steps that have been taken to quiet the minds of the people and to reestablish the tranquility of this government, herewith transmit your Lordship agreeable to the purport of your letter 17 for his Majesty's information the address and papers, the inhabitants on Haw river in Orange county, delivered to me in Council the 20th of June last with the answer I sent then thereto, as also the correspondence that was subsequent to both: These with the rough journal of my proceedings form the time of the above address coming to me till the insurgents dispersed themselves the 24th of September, and the daily orders, also transmitted, given to the troops assembled at Hillsborough to preserve the public peace, will be the truest vouchers of the state of public discontents in this colony.

To say that these insurgents had not a colour for their shewing a dissatisfaction at the conduct of their public officers would be doing them an injustice for on a prosecution at the Superior Court carried on by the attorney general in the virtue of my directions both the Register and Clerk of the county were found guilty of taking too high fees. It manifestly appearing that Colonel Fanning, the Register, had acted with the utmost candor to the people and that his conduct proceeded from a misconstruction of the fee bill, he was in court honorably acquitted of the least intentional abuse in office Colonel Fanning however immediately after the above verdict

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resigned up to me his commission of Register. At the same court three of the insurgents (all that were tried) were found guilty of a riot and rescue and sentenced to a fine and imprisonment as follows:

William Butler to a fine of £50— and six months imprisonment.

Sam'l Devinney to do £25— and three months do

Jno Philip Hartzo to do £25— and three months do

The Superior Court being ended and the insurgent all dispersed, I discharged the troops and thought it advisable to release the three prisoners and suspend the payment of their fines for six months, as by the advice of the Council a proclamation of pardon was issued, with some persons excepted, These I imagine will take their trials next March. This lenity had a good tendency, the insurgents finding their ardor opposed and checked and that they were not the masters of government began to reflect that they were misled and in error, and as a proof of their change of disposition they have since permitted the sheriff to perform the duties of his office. Those in Orange County have declared they will pay their taxes as soon as they can get the money. Other parts of the province have been quiet since excepting an attempt made by thirty men from Edgecomb county (while the Assembly was siting) to rescue one Oneal an insurgent out of Halifax gaol: This body however by the spirit and activity of the townsmen and neighborhood were drove out of town after having many heads broke one horse shot and one of their party taken and put into prison. I will mention another affair which happened in August last, a body of about eighty men came to the court of Johnston County with an intention to turn the Justices off the bench, as had been done in the spring at Anson County court. The Justices thought it prudent, tho' the first day of the court, to adjourn the court for that term, upon the notice of the insurgents approach, they immediately collected some gentlemen and others, who were the friends of government and attacked with clubs the insurgents, and after a smart skirmish drove them out of the field. I am persuaded if I had not had the fortune to stop the mischief that was intended against the town of Hillsborough, and insult to the Superior Court, the civil government of most of the counties in the province would have been overruled; if not overturned, and the door opened for the completion of their intentions, an abolition of taxes and debts, for the insurgents throughout the country only waited to see the event at Hillsborough, Orange county being considered by them as the heart of the strength of their friends, and if they had then tryumphed,

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thousands would have declared for them and stood up in defiance of the laws of this country.

If your Lordship should require any further satisfaction as to the late disturbances than what is transmitted with this letter, Captain Collet who was present at Hillsborough in quality of my Aid de Camp can give your Lordship information of every particular of that service. It is with pleasure I can assure his Majesty not a person of the character of a gentleman appeared among these insurgents. Harmon Husbands appears to have planned their operations. He is of a factious temper and has long since been expelled from the society of the Quakers for the immorality of his life. I beg leave to submit to his Majesty whether his extending the proclamation of pardon and making it general, (Harmon Husbands their principal only excepted) both with respect to persons and fines, as I have only a power of suspension in the latter case, may not be admissible in the present circumstances of the country. The gaols through the whole province (Halifax excepted) are so miserably weak it is a prisoner's own choice if he stays to take his tryal, unless there is a special guard to prevent his escape.

I have only to add that the troops employed on this occasion were extremely steady in the cause of government, orderly and regular in the discharge of their duty. His Majestys presbyterian subjects, as well as those of the church of England, showed themselves very loyal on this service, and I have a pleasure in acknowledging the utility that the presbyterian ministers' letters to their brethren had upon the then face of public affairs, when every man's affections seemed to be tainted with the poison of the insurgents. The Revd Mr Micklejohn's sermon inclosed will testify his assiduity in this cause.

I can with great integrity declare that I never experienced the same anxiety and fatigue of spirits as I did last summer in raising and conducting the troops. If the motive and issue meets with his Majesty's gracious approbation it will be a great consolation to

My Lord, your Lordships, &c.