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Letter from Josiah Martin to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
March 06, 1772
Volume 09, Pages 260-263

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. Vol. 219.]
Letter from Governor Martin to Secretary Hillsborough.

North Carolina New Bern
March 6th 1772.

My Lord,

Pursuant to his Majesty's Royal Instructions I have applied myself closely to enquiring into the state of the King's Revenue, of Quit Rents in this Province, which I find upon so bad a footing from the report of the Receiver General that the annual collection has not nearly sufficed to pay the Civil List that is charged upon it amounting only to £455 sterling per annum, although the Rents upon his Roll that is very inaccurate and defficient for want of a sufficient compulsory law to oblige Occupants of Lands to declare their possessions under the Crown amount to more than £5000 proclamation money per annum. This as Mr. Rutherford tells me arises in part from the want of a Medium of circulation until the emission of Debenture Notes for £60,000 under the Act of the last session of the Assembly that is already actually compleated paid to the Troops and in circulation much sooner than I expected by the alacrity with which the base and false substitute of specie is manufactured here and to my great consolation with little effect upon exchange far less than I apprehended.

The greater cause however of the Receiver's defficient collection he assures me is the suspence of many of the suits brought against

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the tenants by him in behalf of the Crown for Rents which not only defends the persons immediately sued but has a more extensive influence by encouraging others who are well able to pay the Crown's dues in the same delinquency seeing that prosecution at law is not made a sufficient remedy which has happened from the supineness and delay of persons who have been employed on the part of the Crown before his Majesty's appointment of Mr McGwire to the office of Attorney General in this province to whom upon this information I have written exhorting him forthwith to bring to issue all such suits as are now depending and to cooperate with the Receiver General henceforth more vigorously to enforce the payment of his Majesty's Revenue of Quit Rents. The deputy Auditor General living in a very remote part of the province Mr Rutherford cannot get his accounts audited until next May; as soon as he furnishes me with them I shall not fail to transmit them to your Lordship and to the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's Treasury pursuant to the Royal Instructions.

I most humbly beg leave again to offer my opinion to your Lordship of the expediency of the Crown making purchase of the Proprietary of Earl Granville in this Province that I am assured is now on sale at a price between 60 and £80,000 sterling not as an advantageous bargain in point of profit in which light it may be well considered for I am confident it would yield in two years time ten per cent to the purchasers with the aid of a Quit Rent Law which would then under certain limitations that I shall hereafter humbly suggest, meet with no opposition that now all arises from the tenants of that district under dread of making a precedent of regard for their Landlord to whom they owe great arrears. I am induced My Lord to recommend it upon principles of public good which I am convinced will weigh more with his Majesty and meet with all due attention as a sure means of uniting his People in this Province now held in division by the Proprietary which erects a separate interest in its heart and of giving permanent peace and felicity and new prosperity to the whole Country.

I am credibly informed My Lord by the last Agent for Earl Granville's Proprietary here that in the year 1766 the Quit Rents of that district exceeded £6000 proclamation money per annum since which time Lands have been arbitrarially settled by emigrants that when patented would produce half as much more at least and I can venture to affirm that the emigrants who would be induced by the

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well known fertility of the soil and the delicacy and salubrity of the climate in that part of the Province as soon as it should be known that they could obtain titles to these lands would very shortly take up lands to double the whole amount.

If His Majesty upon these principles of solid advantage to the general happiness and welfare of this Province shall be graciously pleased to purchase Lord Granville's Proprietary I would humbly propose a remission of the arrears of Quit Rents to the last year preceeding the purchase on condition that all Occupants of Lands take out patents under the Crown immediately who have no titles under the Proprietor which is the case of very many, and I am of opinion that the Quantum of Land to be allowed to each of these obtruding arbitrary settlers should be ascertained that is to say that their first patents should not exceed 2, 3, or 400 acres more or less in proportion to their families and slaves in order to prevent monopoly which the excellence of those lands will engage them to attempt. I think it may be for the interest of the Crown to grant the same remission of the arrears-of Quit Rents universally to its present tenants as a means to induce an effectual Law for the collection of the Revenues that shall comprehend the whole Province. The rigorous exaction of the arrears of Quit Rents in Lord Granville's district that have accumulated to great amount, it is to be feared would be productive of great commotion and discontent if it did not create open Rebellion among a people, who, rooted by Interest and affection to their soil have long declared they would rather perish in resistance than quit their lands. The Rents of which grown to large sums, many of them are not able and none willing to pay. The very apprehensions of such a measure in case the proprietary which they have heard is at sale be transferred to private hands has already caused a ferment among them, that will not fail to break forth in violence if it is attempted. The King's purchase of it will banish every dread of oppression combine all parts of the Province in the same Interest, and under one head, and give to it that good order and tranquility which it is universally believed and acknowledged can never otherwise obtain and it is moreover certain that it will be a perpetual source of evil and discord instead of yielding advantage to this Province, while as in the present circumstances of things the swarms of emigrants that continually intrude and seat themselves arbitrarilly upon this proprietary claim exemption from Taxes under pretext that they cannot establish freeholds in the

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lands they occupy Lord Granville having had no Agent here since the year 1766 to manage his affairs and to grant his lands.

Permit me to remind your Lordship that I am not yet furnished with the Instructions you encouraged me to hope for in your Lordships letter No 2. Concerning a Quit Rent Law in my humble opinion that which Governor Tryon rejected the Session before his departure will be effectual with exception of part of the Clause that gives power to the delinquent tenant to establish his right in the lands sued, by paying the Quit Rents and costs after the prosecutor had made proof of the forfeiture and petitioned for the land which would preclude all information and discovery.

I have the honor herewith to transmit to your Lordship a list of the Patents granted at the last Court of Claims held here in November and December being in number 487, of which No 58, 106 and 469, were set aside and cancelled and a Caveat was entered against No 216. Issued Warrants to the Surveyor General at the same time from No 1 to 599, of which No 310 and 359 were withdrawn and a Caveat was entered against No 47.

With the advice of his Majesty's Council I have issued Writs for the Election of a new Assembly returnable on the 11th day of May next but I am hopeful that the state of the Province will enable me to postpone its meeting until a more healthy Season, the elections will come on the 10th of this month.

Don Miguel D Armida and ten more Spaniards whom I have mentioned in former Letters to your Lordship at length sailed from hence in a Brig bound to Gibraltar on the 10th of last month expressing the greatest content and satisfaction and the utmost gratitude for the hospitable Treatment they met with during their sojourn here and the highest encomiums on our mild and happy constitution of Government.

I have the honor to be &c
JO. MARTIN.