powered by google
Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Letter from Josiah Martin to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
March 08, 1772
Volume 09, Pages 268-270

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

North Carolina New Bern March 8th 1772.

It is with the utmost concern that I have the honor to inform your Lordship that my indignation is exceedingly moved by an account I have just received from the County of Guilford importing that Hunter the outlawed Ringleader of the Insurgeants had with an audacity that provokes my resentment made his appearance publicly at the Inferior Court lately held there and that the Magistrates sitting in their Judicial Capacity and armed with all the power of the Laws being repeatedly moved to order him to be apprehended, had shamefully suffered him to brave the offended Justice of his Country with impunity and to depart at his leisure and without notice, a conduct of such terpitude in those ministers of the Laws as seems to me at present to deserve the severest censure and reprehension, whether proceeding from timidity or disaffection. I suspend however my opinion of their conduct until I receive more full Information and forbear to exercise the rigour with them that is due to their apparent demerit, and I am the rather inclined to do so as I have formed the resolution to visit that Region of Malcontents early in the summer and to make myself more intimately acquainted with Characters that I may be able to reform the Magistracy of such as are obnoxious to Government and promoters or favorers of that spirit of sedition that has so fatally heretofore prevailed in this Country as a

-------------------- page 269 --------------------
first step essentially necessary to give due vigour to the Laws, stability to Government and Permanent Peace and Tranquility to the People.

I confess My Lord I could never reconcile to good policy the illtimed lenity towards this Rebel Hunter implied in the Assembly's request of Pardon to the Judgments where he was not excepted and my opinion that it was an ill judged Mercy is fully verified by his late open defiance of the laws by which he stands proscribed, other instances are not wanting of the insolent spirit of these outlaws and of the supineness timidity and guilty connivance of the Magistrates.

Hunter is a most egregious offender he was the leader of the Insurgents in arms and was called their General and has appeared from the beginning a Ringleader in Sedition, he is said to have a better capacity than his associates who pay him implicit obedience and treat him with a respect savouring of enthusiastic reverence, he received among others of these graceless wretches, The King's pardon for Treasons and Violences committed in the year 1768, and yet seems like them hardened rather than reclaimed by his Majesty's most gracious indulgence meditating even now at the time that their lives are forfeited, to the law and depending upon the mercy of their Sovereign to wound anew the peace of their Country which their recent outrages has so fatally disturbed, and which yet green was recovering slowly from the convulsion. I am very anxious to know his Majesty's determination concerning these Rebel Traitors and in expectation of the Royal Pleasure your Lordship may rest assured that I will unweariedly watch over and study to preserve this Country from further ill effects of their seditious machinations.

I beg to remind your Lordship that I am not yet furnished with the Commission and Instructions to enable me to grant commissions of marque and reprisal or that the trial of Pirates referred to in the 95th and 98th Articles of his Majesty's general Instructions.

The most considerable and valuable export of this Colony except Tobacco is salted Pork which is made in vast quantities but does not keep so well as that saved in the Northern Colonies owing it is apprehended to the better quality of the salt of Spain and Portugal which they use and which is prohibited here by Act of Parliament. Pursuant therefore to my assurance of the legislature in answer to the Assembly's message of the twenty third day December I most humbly recommend that the same indulgence may be extended with respect to that Article to this as to those provinces which will contribute to

-------------------- page 270 --------------------
raise the reputation of that Commodity as well as of the Fishery on Roanoke River that is under like disadvantage and which promises to make a considerable article of exportation to the West India Colonies.

There is now My Lord establishing in this town of New Bern a manufactory of pot and pearl ashes under the direction of a Mr Richard Graham of New York which province has derived the most important advantages from that manufacture, that I hope will in time yield no less to this.

I see with the greatest satisfaction a spirit of industry and improvement dawning in this Province exemplified by the beginnings that are making by several planters on Cape Fear River to raise rice and indigo after the example of South Carolina and in emulation of its prosperity principally derived from those valuable productions.

Your Lordship will receive herewith a copy of my letter to Lord Rochford in answer to a letter I received from him during your Lordships absence in Ireland commanding me to signify his Majesty's thanks to the Troops that served under Governor Tryon in the action with the Insurgents last Summer. I have accordingly done so and can assure your Lordship that this gracious mark of the Royal approbation has been received with the utmost satisfaction and acknowledgment by the people to whom it was directed.

I now transmit to your Lordship an account of the Ordnance Stores in this Province which are all lodged in Fort Johnston except the Arms taken from the Insurgents and a small quantity of powder and Ball left here by the Militia Troops last Summer. As the Arms are of an hundred different kinds and not worth repair and the ammunition will not defray the charge of its transportation to Fort Johnston, I have thought it for the advantage of the public to order them to be sold, as there is no deposit for such things here.

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