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Letter from Josiah Martin to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
November 28, 1772
Volume 09, Pages 357-360

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. No. 220.]
Governor Martin to Lord Dartmouth.

No Carolina New Bern, Novr 28th 1772.

My Lord,

I have had the honor to receive your Lordship's letter of the 14th of August last, signifying the King's gracious appointment of your Lordship to be one of His Majesties Principal Secretaries of State, and that the Department of the Colonies was committed to your Lordship's care, and I embrace this first opportunity to offer my humble congratulations to your Lordship on the occasion.

In obedience to His Majesty's command that my dispatches be addressed to your Lordship, I herewith transmit a duplicate to my letter No. 23 to the Earl of Hillsborough, which concludes my official intercourse with that Nobleman, and as I have now the honor to open a correspondence with your Lordship, I mark my Dispatches with a new series of numbers.

The endless complaints my Lord that the people of the interior part of this Country brought before me while I resided among them last summer afforded me full conviction of their having been greviously oppressed by the Sheriffs, Clerks and other Subordinate

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officers of Government, and exceedingly moved my compassion, but on the other hand I can assure your Lordship there was not wanting evidence of most extravagant licenciousness and criminal violences on the part of that wretched people which heaven provoked by the abuses I discovered or by other causes that might be inscrutable to me, seem at length to have urged matters to a crisis that necessarily terminated in bloodshed. Upon the whole I am not without hopes my Lord, that the vigerous measures taken by my predecessor under those circumstances may have a tendency to keep under the disorderly spirit which it is to be apprehended will never be extinguished in that Region while the great Proprietary of Earl Granville shall continue, to the astonishment of people here, and to the inestimable loss of his Lordship in the present neglected state, for being abandoned and left without any superintending care, it is become my Lord not only profitless to the Proprietor, but a nuisance to this Colony by affording an inviting asylum to the outcasts and fugitives of the other Provinces who retire to it and sit down where they like the land unquestioned, communicating their vices and corruption to the other Inhabitants, whose barbarous ignorance makes them but too obnoxious to the banefull contagion. From this source my Lord I apprehend may be derived in part the late commotions in this Country, and it is an evil growing every day more alarming, for which I see no remedy but between the two alternatives of Earl Granville taking proper care of his interest here, to which it is wonderfull he should need any prompting, or the Crowns making purchase of it, which is most ardently wished, and the expediency whereof both with respect to His Majesty's Interest in point of Revenue and the happiness of his people in this Country, I had the honor some time ago most humbly to submit to the consideration of my Royal Master in my correspondence with the Earl of Hillsborough.

If the King My Lord shall graciously condescend to adopt that measure, so much the object of the wishes of His Majesty's people here, the Revenue of Quit rents, under the operation of an effectual Law, that might be readily obtained as the condition of His Majesty's remission of the arrears due to within one or two years of its taking effect, would immediately become an object of consequence that is now from the difficulty of collecting it inadequate to the support of the little Provincial Civil list with which it is chargeable, and it would grow in a short time to great amount, for the heathfull climate

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and fertile soil of the Proprietary District whenever it shall be known that titles may be obtained in those lands, will induce multitudes of settlers of the best kind, to the expulsion of the present intruders, who must then of necessity, (at least the worst of them,) if they did not by choice seek another retreat, and His Majesty by becoming Lord of the Proprietary Soil will unite all parts of this Country, abolish that distinction of Interest that has been the offspring of its division however unaccountable it may seem, and combine all His Majesty's Subjects under the Sovereign, from whom the Tenants of the Proprietor now really appear to think themselves alienated in some sort, although he is merely the Landlord. This change of circumstances My Lord together with the Provisions which I flatter myself the Legislature will make at the next Session for the security of the Publick peace will I think give lasting prosperity and happiness to this Colony, and they are universally held to be the only means of making those blessings permanent

The representation which I had the honor to make to the Earl of Hillsborough in my letter No—on the state of the office of Clerk of the Pleas here, at the time Mr Strudwick succeeded to it, was framed upon information I had received of former mal practises in that office, which I believe my Lord to have been generally very just, but since I have had opportunity to examine things more thoroughly myself I am of opinion the corruption of the Magistracy (which I do yet think very great) is not so universal as I was then taught to believe, and the uniformly upright conduct of Mr Strudwick, his inflexible integrity, and nice principles of honor give me confidence to assure your Lordship that he will redeem the credit of that office, and that under his direction the power derived from it which by the strictness of the present Laws is very narrowly limited, will be employed as much to the advantage of Government as it can be in any other hands than those of His Majesty's Governor, where I think, with all submission, it would operate most beneficially furnishing him with means of which he is now destitute, to create an interest in the legislature that might support the measures of Government against the opposition made to them so constantly and without distinction in the Assembly of this Province, whose numbers and strength give it preponderating weight, if however His Majesty shall be pleased to continue the office of Clerk of the Pleas, I shall not for my own part lament it, while it is held by Mr Strudwick of whose virtue I have the highest opinion.

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I promise myself and I believe I may venture to assure your Lordship that no difference in opinion will hereafter occur between Mr Chief Justice Howard and myself to the disadvantage of the Publick interests, such as hath arisen, and which I thought it my duty to lay before His Majesty. I am inclined on reflection to impute rather to a little impatience of temper in Mr Howard, superinduced by a nervous affection and weakly habit of body than by any unwillingness to assist me in my duty to His Majesty, for his good sense, and amiable qualities, obviate any suspicion of that sort.

In my last Dispatch to the Earl of Hillsborough your Lordship will observe I mentioned that I had reasons to suspect the integrity of the Master and Crew of Mr Simpson's Vessel, from the quantity of money brought here with them, and my conjectures were much confirmed when I was informed that the master had hastily left this Province after his arrival without accounting with his Owner, or even seeing him, hearing lately however that the Mate a brother of Mr Simpson was in this Country, and thinking it of importance to get the fullest information with regard to a transaction in which a foreign state was concerned I sent for him and obtained his relation of the detention of the Vessel properly authenticated, which I have now the honor to transmit to your Lordship, and as he accounts for the circumstances that created my suspicion, by showing how the money might be acquired otherwise than by the plunder of the Vessel, and for the Masters flight from hence by assurance that it was in dread of his Creditors, I shall think it my Duty to send a duplicate of the Mates deposition to Vice Admiral Rodney, lest my apprehensions which I thought it right to communicate to him should operate in abatement of the restitution to be claimed of the Spanish Governor at La Vera Cruz.

Mr Palmer and Mr Jones members of His Majesty's Council in this Province are absent in England with leave, in case of the resignation of either of those Gentlemen, or of a vacancy by any other means, I beg leave to propose to your Lordship for His Majesty's approbation Mr Wyley Jones, Mr Thomas McGwire, His Majesty's Attorney General of this Province and Mr Hugh Waddel, who are gentlemen of character & fortune and qualified to make usefull members of that Board.

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