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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Petition from inhabitants of Orange and Rowan Counties concerning North Carolina laws
No Author
1769
Volume 08, Pages 81-84

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[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]

To his Excellency William Tryon Esq. Cap. Gen. Govr. and Commander in chief in and over the Province of No. Carolina

To the Hon. the Members of his Majestys Council, Mr Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,

The humble Petition of us Inhabitants of Orange and Rowan Countys, true and faithful subjects of his Majesty King George the Third

Sheweth,

That we your poor Petitioners, now do and long have laboured under many and heavy Exactions, Oppressions and Enormity, committed on us by Court Officers, in every Station: the Source of which our said Calamity, we impute to the Countenance and Protection they receive from such of our Lawyers and Clerks, as have obtained seats in the House of Representatives, and who intent on making their own fortune, are blind to, and solely regardless of their Country's Interest: are ever planing such schemes, or projecting such Laws as may best Effect their wicked purposes—witness the Summons and petition Act, calculated purely to enrich themselves, and Creatures, at the expence of the poor Industrious peasant, besides a certain Air of Confidence, a being a Part of the Legislature gives these Gentlemen, to the perpetration of every kind of Enormity within reach of their respective offices; and seeing Numbers either from Interested views, for the sake of Treats, or from other sordid Motive, are still so infatuated, and will be, as to vote for these Gentlemen, whereby to advance them to that important Trust: tho' themselves and familys sink as a consequence, and seeing these inconsiderate Wretches, involve your poor petitioners, together with Thousands of other honest industrious familys, in the Common Destruction. We therefore humbly implore your Excellency, your honours, and your Worthys in the most suplicative manner, to consider of, and pass an Act to prevent and effectually restrain every Lawyer and Clerk whatsoever, from offering themselves as Candidates, at any future Election of Delegates, within this Province; and in case any such should be chose, that choice shall be utterly void,

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in the same manner as the Law now allows in case of Sheriffs being Elected.

And may it please you to consider of, and pass an act, hereby to allow Clerks of Courts, Crowns &c, certain yearly stated salarys, instead of perquisites; making it highly penal for any Clerk to demand, or even to receive, directly or indirectly, any fee, gift, or reward, under Colour of his Office, any other than his certain stated Salary; and in order to rate the said salarys, may it please you, to lay a certain fine of so much in the pound, on every Action brought to Tryal; with half so much on such as are compromised before Issue Joined, as to you in your great wisdom, shall seem meet: which said fines shall be collected at the same Time and in the same manner with all other Taxes. And may it please you to consider of, and pass an Act, effectually to restrain Lawyers from demanding or even receiving, any other, or greater fee or reward, than is now established by the Laws of this province, with only half so much for such Actions as shall be compromised before Tryal. And as we humbly conceive, the fees now allowed by Law are highly sufficient; and that any other or greater fee, were Oppression and cruelty, and can serve no other purpose, than to enrich one part of his Majestys Subjects, and beggar the other: We therefore beseech you to make such severe act, in order to restrain such open Violation of the Laws, as to you in your great Wisdom shall seem meet. And seeing the now Acting Clerks, have, notwithstanding their many Enormitys, so fortifyed themselves against all the Laws now in force as to render themselves invulnerable to prosecutions, partly from their own superior Cunning, and partly from our invincible Ignorance We humbly beseech you, to take the same under your serious Consideration, and for our Relief, to pass an Act to call in all the now acting Clerks, and to fill their places with Gentlemen of probity and Integrity, and may it please you to insert some clause in said Act, prohibiting Judges, Lawyers, or Sheriffs, from fingering any of their fees, directly or indirectly, until the Cause, suit or Action, on the which the said fee is due, be brought to a final Determination; and that all Obligations for more than the Legal fee, to be void in Law; this Measure will we hope, effectually prevent those Odious delays in Justice, so Destructive, yet fatally common among us.

And may it please you to grant us a Repeal of the Act, prohibiting Dissenting Ministers from marrying according to the Decretals, Rites and Ceremonys, of their Respective Churches: a priviledge

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they were debarred of in no other part of his Majesty's Dominions; and as we humbly conceive, a priviledge they stand entitled to, by the Act of Toleration, and in fine, a priviledge granted even to the very Catholics in Ireland, and the Protestants in France. And may it please you to consider of and pass an Act to divide the several Countys within this Province, into proper Districts, appointing a Collector in each, to raise and collect the several Taxes, laid or to be laid, by Law, who shall be accountable, and make all Returns to a County—to be nominated—with the Assembly. This method will (we humbly conceive) effectually prevent the Sheriffs from robbing and plundering the Country spending their ill got gains in Riot, purchasing Estates, or bearing off the same into other provinces, as they frequently do, to our unspeakable prejudice, who are obliged to make good the Defficiencys, And may it please you to consider of and pass an Act, to Tax every one in proportion to his Estates; however equitable the Law as it now stands, may appear to the Inhabitants of the Maritime parts of the province, where estates consist chiefly in Slaves; yet to us in the frontier, where very few are possessed of Slaves, tho' their Estates are in proportion (in many instances) as of one Thousand to one, for all to pay equal, is with Submission, very grievous and oppressive. We Beseech you to consider of a repeal, of the Summons and petition Act: an Act replete with Misery and ruin to the lowest Class of people throughout the province and may it please you, to pass in lieu thereof, an Act to impower a single Magistrate, to try and determine as high as five or six pounds; without appeal: Assisted by a jury of six men, if Demanded by either of the Contending partys. We further humbly beseech you to consider of, and pass an Act, to make Inspection Notes on imperishable Commoditys, of the produce of this province, lawful Tender, at stated prices, in all payments thro'out the province; as such Tenders we humbly conceive, will not in any shape, interfere with his Majesty's Instructions, or with an Act of Parliament, prohibiting any further Impressions of paper Currency; in any of his Majesty's Colonies or Plantations in America.

And may it please you to grant us a Division of the County: Great Inconveniences, as well as expense, attend our Distance from Courts of Justice: And as we humbly conceive such Division, cannot be prejudicial to any number of persons whatsoever, and if obtained thro' your Candor would confer the highest Benefit on your poor petitioners. We beseech you to consider of some proper

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Staple or Staples of the Manufactures, or produce of the Country to answer foreign Demands, would not (with Submission) pot Ash be a fine Article, to answer the British Markets; and in a Country abounding in wood, the very Ashes now thrown away, might with encouragement (if manufactured) be a saving, or rather gain, of some Thousands per annum to the province, and render Voyages to Riga, Narva, and Danzick, from Great Britain, for that useful commodity needless

And seeing the State of the Sinking fund, is a Mystery that exercises the ablest Heads among us, and according to the best Calculations thereto made, twenty seven Thousand pounds (besides what is now afloat) was collected from the Province, at the payment of the Tax for the year 1767, more than has ever been emitted: and as we humbly conceive the said sums, are now in the hands of the Treasurers, Sherriffs, and other Officers; to the great prejudice of the Country, of whom these sums are redemanded We therefore humbly implore you, to make diligent Inquisition into their several Departments and inform yourselves justly of the sums raised, by whom, and to what uses applied: As also enquire strictly, into the sums remitted from England, the Quantity, and Disbursements of the same; in like manner to inform yourselves how Starkeys Notes have been disposed of, and whether the province has been charged therewith in common with other Emissions, which we should not, as his Majesty never assented to the Act for striking said Notes. Lastly we humbly implore you to have your Yeas and Nays, inserted in the Journals of your House, and Copys of such Journals, transmitted along with the Copys of the Acts to every Justice that by this means we may have an opportunity to Distinguish our friends from our foes among you, and to Act accordingly at any future choice. And by granting us these just, and wholesome and necessary Laws, you will heal the bleeding Wounds of the Province, will conciliate the Minds of your poor petitioners, to every just measure of Government, will make the Laws what our Constitution ever designed they should be, our protection, and not our Bane, and will cause Joy, Gladness, Glee, and prosperity, diffusely to spread themselves thro every Quarter of this extensive province, form Virginia to the South, and from the Western Hills, to the great Atlantic Ocean. And your petitioners as in Duty bound shall ever Pray