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Letter from Josiah Martin to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
September 30, 1771
Volume 09, Pages 33-36

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[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. Vol. 218]
Letter from Governor Martin to Earl of Hillsborough

No. Carolina New Bern,
Sept. 30th 1771.

I have the honor to acquaint your Lordship that I had information about the middle of last month from Mr William Thompson, the Deputy Naval Officer at Beaufort, a small fishing Town, distance from hence between forty and fifty miles, that a Spanish snow called the Sta. Catharina, had put into Cape Look Out Bay in the greatest distress having on board the Crews of two ships, with which she had sailed in Company from the Havannah, that were stranded in their passage to Cadiz, between the Caio Largo, and Cape Florida with a Colonel, a Captain, a Lieutenant & forty odd grenadiers, making in all an addition of above One hundred men to her Company, which having soon consumed her stores, obliged her to seek a Port on this continent and that she had been brought into Cape Look Out Bay by a coasting vessel she had fallen in with at sea. He said she stood in need of provisions and water and being furnished therewith would immediately proceed on her voyage or failing to get the supplies she wanted here intended to go to Norfolk in Virginia. I told Mr Thompson that he should have brought up to me some of the principal Officers, that I might be more particularly informed of their circumstances and that I should expect one or more of them forthwith to repair to this place to give me such satisfaction, but on his representation that the Officers were invalids, that no means could be found where they were, of transporting them hither and that he was of opinion that the vessel could not be provided here with the stores she wanted and must therefore go to Virginia, I consented in that case, to dispense with their coming hither. Mr Thompson at this time informed me, that he had obtained the release of four of His Majesty's subjects, who belonged to a Vessel from Charles Town in South Carolina and had been taken on illicit trade in the Island of Cuba and were going by this Vessel to further imprisonment in Spain and that the Snow, had dismissed four or five of her hands, who had taken their route by land to Virginia. After continuing many days in expectation

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of seeing some of the people from this Vessel, I received intelligence accidentally and with great surprise, that she was sailed for Spain, having secured the supplies she wanted after landing all the people, except the Troops in number about sixty five among which was a Brigadier General, a Lieut. of Horse, four Priests, an Inquisition and a Woman and that except the Brigadier General and a few others, who had been engaged by motives of inconvenience to think of coming hither, for contrary to the usage of foreigners, it appears they thought of no respect to government; they had passed in small boats, by the Inland Navigation that extends all along the coast of this Province, to a place called the North Landing on the confines of Virginia, and about 16 miles from the Town of Norfolk. Soon after I received this account, I had a visit from Brigadier General Douché, who stiles himself also Inspector General of the Military Department in Mexico who but awkwardly apologized for not seeing me sooner. I intimated to him that there was a vessel ready to sail from this Port bound to Cadiz and that I supposed and hoped he would take advantage of that conveyance; he pleaded however so strongly his recent sufferings at sea, the ill state of his health and the misery he must endure if compelled to go among the common people who had engaged their passage in the vessel I recommended that I could not help yielding to the pressing instances he made me to permit him to go to Philadelphia to recover his health before he entered upon another long voyage I took care my Lord, to advise Mr Hamilton, the commander in chief for the time being of Pennsylvania, of this foreign Officer going into his government from whose observation on his passage Hither by water, I do not apprehend any danger and I signified to him also, my opinion that the Brigadier ought not to be permitted to continue longer, than might be absolutely necessary for the recovery of his health, at Philadelphia, from whence he will find frequent opportunities of going to Spain. From the Brigadier I learned and from Mr Michael De Armida, Master and Owner of one of the wrecked vessels, that the people who had taken the route of Virginia carried with them a considerable sum of money which they believe to be in general the property of the Individuals who were in possession of it, but as the Brigadier said there was money on private accounts, although none of the King's, on board the stranded vessels and it
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appears by the testimony of several persons here, that the common mariners had more money than could be supposed to belong to people of that sort it may be presumed that some of it was plunder. I was induced My Lord to suspect that there had been some unfair proceeding in this case, from the conduct of the Deputy naval Officer at Beaufort, who had never notified to me the landing of these people or the departure of those who took the route of Virginia or any other circumstance after his first report of the vessel's arrival in distress and I therefore forbore to take notice of it in my last letter to your Lordship, resolving first to go to Beaufort and get what further information I should be able. I have since visited that place and after the most diligent enquiry in which I have been much assisted by Mr Berry Collector of this Port, I can only discover that the deputy Naval Officer, has been guilty of remissness towards me, as well as of error with respect to the Spanish Vessel and people, his general character, I think defends him from suspicion of fraud or ill design and indeed he is not arraigned by any of his neighbors, who I am informed look upon him invidiously and would not lose an opportunity of doing him injury. The Spanish Brigadier General made honorable mention of him to me. I have however thought it proper to represent his ignorance to his Principal and to require him to examine further his conduct on this late occasion.

The irregularity that appears in this affair has given me infinite concern and mortification, at a time that the universal sickness and the repeated losses of my family have most deeply affected me. The Spaniards who went to Norfolk, are I hear safely arrived there. As far as I am able to learn, they have suffered no injury in this Province and have no just ground of discontent, but at all events I trust your Lordship will see that I am blameless in this matter.

I have very lately advice from the back country, that some violences have been committed on private individuals but that in general the people seem well disposed and sensible of the advantages of peace, order and government, lamenting the fatal influence which lately engaged them in rebellion

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship's letter No. 3, accompanying His Majesty's order in Council for the disallowance of Two Acts of the General Assembly of this Province, passed in 1768 with the Representation of the Board of Trade

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thereupon, a Duplicate of your Lordship's letter No 2, and sundry Acts of Parliament relating to the Colonies, and I have made known His Majesty's Royal disallowance of the Acts of the General Assembly by Proclamation, according to custom.

I have the honor to be &c