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Letter from Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire to Josiah Martin
Downshire, Wills Hill, Marquis of, 1718-1793
July 01, 1772
Volume 09, Pages 307-310

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

Whitehall July 1st 1772.


I have received your dispatches No 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 and have laid them before the King.

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The acts and proceedings of the legislature referred to in your letter No 10 have been communicated to the Bd of Trade together with your observations upon them and I am commanded to signify to you His Majesty's approbation of the attention you have shown to a very important part of your duty in the early and regular Transmission of these Papers.

The state of the Office of Clerk of the Pleas and the Mode of appointing the Clerks of the County Courts certainly deserves attention and although it matters not by what artifices the Commission of the Clerk of the Pleas was obtained or how it came to be separated from the Secretary's Office yet I entirely agree with you in Opinion that the power vested in that Officer by the Law of 1762 of appointing a Clerk for each County Court during good behaviour whilst himself holds his office during Pleasure only is improper and combined with the iniquitous practice of the sale of these Offices to the best Bidder gives him an Influence inconsistent with the Public Welfare.

Whether his Majesty will think fit to discontinue the Office of Clerk of the Pleas and to revoke the Commission given to Mr Strudwick I cannot take upon me to say but I am clearly of opinion that the Act for erecting inferior Courts of common Pleas which you say expires next year, ought not to be revived in its present shaped an it will be your duty to refuse your assent to any Law whatever that shall give the Clerk of the Pleas a power of appointing County Clerks otherwise than during pleasure and that shall not make them removeable by his Majesty's Governor.

The Observations upon the Revenue of Quit Rents contained in your letter No 12 and your opinion of the Expediency of purchasing Lord Granville's Property have been communicated to the Lords of the Treasury and I shall be very glad if those Observations may furnish any Hints to their Lordships for the improvement of so important a part of his Majesty's Interests.

I am sorry to find by your letter No 13, that the Lenity which you say has been shewn to Hunter and his Associates had no other consequence than to harden them in their Guilt and that they are encouraged by the timidity and connivance of the Magistrates to meditate further Mischief but I hope they will be disappointed in their views, and that you will be able to make such a reform in the Magistracy as will have the effect to give vigour to the Laws Stability to Government and Peace and Tranquility to the People.

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The form of Commissions of Mark and Reprisal referred to in the 95th article of your Instructions tho' said to be delivered therewith is I find upon enquiry never transmitted to the Governors until after War is declared and with regard to the Commission for Tryal of Pyrates as the Colonies of Virginia Maryland & No Carolina are included in one patent which is recorded in Virginia, I apprehend that all persons arrested in No Carolina upon a charge of Piracy must be sent thither to take their Trials.

I am sensible that a Liberty to import foreign Salt into No Carolina would be of some advantage to the Colony in the case you mention but I cannot take upon me to recommend it as the Board of Trade did some time ago advise that a proposition of the like nature made by the Colony of Virginia should be rejected as tending to discourage the Manufacture of Salt in this Kingdom and to open a door to solicit Trade.

The giving sanction by Law to the issue of a paper currency is a very serious consideration and you was certainly right in thinking that you was not at liberty to give your assent to such a Law without a suspending clause or until you had first transmitted a Copy of the Bill proposed to be enacted and had received His Majestys Commands in consequence thereof. Had the latter of these methods been persued at the time you wrote to me for directions upon the subject I might have been enabled by putting such Bill into a regular train of consideration to have sent you those Instructions which without such consideration it was not fit for me to give nor can I now say more on the subject of the Law you have passed than that I hope it will upon examination be found liable to no objection either upon the ground of its general policy or from the Restrictions contained in the Act of Parliament or in your general Instructions.

In your letter No 14, you continue to express apprehensions of discontents still remaining in the frontier Counties. Your visiting however that part of your Government seems to be a very proper step and I hope that when His Majesty's gracious Pardon to the Merril Family is made known and published in the solemn manner you proposed it will have a good effect.

I am very sorry you have so much reason to complain of the neglect and delays of the public Officers in furnishing you with those papers which you are required by your Instructions to transmit home but I trust that the Example which you set them of regularity

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and punctuality in matters of this sort will induce a more proper Obedience for the future.

It will be a great satisfaction to me to find that your proceedings in the case of the new Charter granted to Campbeltown have been regular and proper but I think that in every case of this nature more especially if new powers and priviledges are to be granted it would be most advisable to have the sense of Government here upon the measure before it is carried into execution.

I am very glad you are of opinion that the Boundary line with So Carolina will be beneficial to both Colonies and I shall hope soon to hear that it is finally compleated.

There are certainly many and very forceable objections to the present constitution of the Court of Chancery in No Carolina but I cannot take upon me to advise an Alteration in an establishment which tho' it be as you say not warranted by Law have yet the Plea of long useage and ancient practice.

It is however a proposition that will deserve attention when the Province is in a more perfect state of Tranquility and when a proper Reform may be made without a hazard of those Inconveniences that would follow from the opposition that the Members of the Council would naturally give to a Measure that must so essentially affect their Influence and Authority.

The flourishing state of Newbern under all the disadvantages attending its situation is one among many examples of the rapid progress of improvement in America & I shall hope to hear that the same laudable spirit of Industry which distinguishes the Neighborhood of that place has extended itself thro' every part of the Province.

I will not fail to recommend to the Lords of Trade a consideration of a Law for establishing a school at Newbern but however improper the powers thereby given to the Trustees may be yet I cannot but think that it would be more advisable to endeavor to obtain an amendment of the Law than by proposing the disallowance of it to risk the loss of the whole Establishment.

I am &c: