Letter from Josiah Martin to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
Volume 09, Pages 41-44
[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. Vol. 219.]
Letter from Governor Martin to Secretary Hillsborough.
North Carolina New Bern
October 25th 1771
In the letter I had the honor to write your Lordship on the 30th September No 3, I mentioned that some of the Spaniards who
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had been so irregularly landed in this Province had engaged their passage on board a Brigantine bound from this Port to Cadiz, they embarked here accordingly fourteen in number and were put on board the vessel then taking in her lading at Ocacock Bar. I thought them gone and congratulated myself that they had left the province without murmur or complaint; the other day after three weeks had passed, I was astonished by Information that eleven of the number were returned here. Business, my own illness and that of my Family prevented my seeing any of them for a day or two. At length I spoke with Don Migiel de Armida who calls himself the principal man among them and indeed appears to be so although his companions do not allow him the consequence he assumes, by means of a very bad Interpreter of the Spanish language I learned that he had complaint to make against the Master of the vessel in which he had engaged passage. The substance of which was, My Lord, that being detained eighteen days on board the Brigantine after he expected to sail, and having consumed the greatest part of the Stores provided for the voyage, and discovered that the vessel was leaky, and ill found, he with three other of the Cabin passengers formed the resolution of quitting her and returning hither to wait for another conveyance, and that they did so after paying the Master of the vessel one hundred dollars in consideration of his releasing them from their contract, by which the seven passengers had engaged to pay seven hundred and fifty pieces of eight That after receiving this money and appearing content with it, he had threatened to follow them up here, and to arrest them for Breach of their contract, that he thought hard treatment and appealed to me for Justice. I told him I would interpose as far as I could by speaking to the Gentlemen to whom the vessel was consigned to try if the matter could not be amicably adjusted but if that could not be, the Law must take its course and I desired my Secretary who had a little smattering of the Spanish Tongue to recommend a Counsel to them if they should choose to stand a suit at Law. Don Migiel seemed much disappointed to find that I had not absolute power to decide his case and left me with a shrug of discontent.
I had very soon after an opportunity of talking over the matter with Mr Haslen a Gentleman of character in this place, to whom the vessel was addressed. I related to him the Spaniards Story expressed to him my great concern that they should suffer any injurious Treatment and requested that he would interpose his good
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offices, representing the difficulties these foreigners labored under in having no knowledge of our Laws nor any Interpreter of their Language, by which they were precluded the assistance of Counsel. Mr
Haslen said he wished the affair to be settled amicably with all his heart but that the Master of the vessel who was a man of excellent Character and had delayed his vessel many weeks at great disadvantage partly to accomodate these people thought himself so very ill used by them, that he had arrested them by advice of Counsel for the performance of their contract and was resolved since he could not otherwise deal with them that their difference should be decided at Law and at the same time to show his inclination to an amicable determination was willing to refer it to the decision of the other three of their Countrymen, who were going with him, that the Master finding these people troublesome would gladly have got rid of them at loss to himself and would have been satisfied with the hundred Dollars paid him rather than had further trouble about them if they had not inveigled away some of their Countrymen whom he had engaged as Mariners for the voyage and thereby exposed his vessel lying in a dangerous road, to great peril, here the matter rested, after some few days I was informed by Mr
Haslen that at the instance of the other three passengers, Don Migiel and his Companions had satisfied the Master of the vessel and paid his demand amounting in the whole (including one hundred dollars paid at their quitting the vessel) to one hundred and fifty two dollars, and six shillings together with costs of suit amounting to twenty five dollars and one shilling and four pence.
I have since heard my Lord, that the people who remain here express great discontent at this transaction and threaten to complain to their Court, lest they should do so, with or without reason, I have thought it my duty to be thus particular in my relation to your Lordship of the Facts which have come to my knowledge concerning them.
The Master of the vessel bears a very good character, I therefore hope he will be able to acquit himself if he shall be called upon. I can assure your Lordship that I felt extreme concern at seeing Foreigners in such a predicament without power to interpose otherwise than I did, they settled their difference among themselves at last without my knowledge, or participation. Whether the settlement is equitable or not is impossible for me to determine as they are disagreed about it. It appears that there is great animosity
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and division among them so that it would be at any rate exceedingly difficult to come at truth and impossible here where there is nobody who understands their language sufficiently to compare their various relations
I have the honor to be &c
P. S. The Brigantine mentioned in the preceeding letter is called the Hope she is owned by Mr John Haslen of the Island of Barbadoes and is commanded by Mr Stephen Williams.