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Letter from Josiah Martin to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
July 18, 1773
Volume 09, Pages 671-672

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

North Carolina New Bern, July 18th 1773.

My Lord,

I have the honor to transmit herewith for your Lordship's consideration the Draft of a Bill for the more effectual collection of His Majesty's Revenue of Quit Rents, which ought to be very considerable, but in the present circumstances of things yield next to nothing as your Lordship will have perceived by the Receiver Generals Accounts that I have had the honor to lay before you. This arises My Lord, from the difficulty of discovering the present Tenants of the Crown, of ascertaining exactly the Quit Rents that are due from such as are known; which precision is requisite in law, but most of all for want of a legal mode of recovering the Crown Rents, in which the present Laws of this Country are altogether deficient, in the opinion of the ablest Lawyers.

The Principles of the Bill I have now the honor to submit to your Lordship are by a remission of the arrears of Quit Rents (which it is certain the people in general are not able to pay) to engage the Tenants in consideration of such a concession to deposit immediately the Rents that have accrued since 1771, or for two years, to compel them by motives of self interest to register their Title and Conveyances of all sorts, whence an exact Rent Roll will be easily formed and preserved, and to ascertain the regular payment of the growing Quit Rents by establishing a Summary and easy mode to recover them. The first stipulation will raise a sum of money greater than will be necessary to discharge the heavy debt with which the Revenue is charged, and under the other head I am of opinion every regulation is made that may be necessary to secure the regular payment of Quit Rents hereafter, as I am convinced it is no less the Proprietors Interest to adopt the plan for the improvement of his Revenue that I have proposed for the Crown, I have extended the reciprocal benefits of this Bill to Earl Granville and his Tenants.

Although I flatter myself the plan I have now the honor to submit to your Lordship will be effectual, I have no doubt it may be improved. I thought at first My Lord of introducing into it some

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regulations concerning Surplus Lands held under erroneous Surveys, as also of appointing particular times and places for the Receipt of the Rents, but on reflection I think the powers of the officers of the Crown, and the Agent of Earl Granville will be competent to order all those matters properly as they shall see occasion from time to time.

As it is for the Interest of the Crown that some measures should be taken as soon as possible to realize its Revenues here that are at this time merely nominal, I shall hope to be honored with your Lordship's sentiments and commands on the subject of the Bill now transmitted, when it shall have been duly considered and moulded into such form as your Lordship shall approve, that it may be proposed to the General Assembly without delay. The concurrence of Lord Granville in this, or any other plan that shall be received by the Crown, and making the acceptance of it by the Legislature the indispensable condition of granting or selling more of the Crown's or his Lordships lands, will exceedingly facilitate its passage, for the Inhabitants of this country, my Lord, look with the greatest avidity towards the territory of Earl Granville, which comprehends almost if not all the valuable lands in this Province at this day ungranted, and the prospect of obtaining them upon any reasonable terms, together with the proposed concession of the vast arrearage of Rents, I must believe will be temptation sufficient to induce the Legislature to pass a Law for the future due collection of the Crown's, as well as the Proprietor's Revenues of Quit Rents.

If, my Lord, the opinions of the Lawyers be well founded, that there is not here any legal mode of recovering His Majesty's Quit Rents, there seems to be only two ways to improve, and put in right train that Revenue, the one to adopt a plan that may be wove into a Provincial Law, the other to establish a constant Court of Exchequer, of which there is at present the shadow in the office of Chief Baron, now a sinecure of £40 sterling per annum, and held by Mr Hasell, President of the Council, who has repeatedly acted on vacancies in the character of Chief Justice, with great reputation, and who will I am persuaded do honor to that appointment, if His Majesty shall be graciously pleased to confirm him in it, and well deserves any addition of salary that shall be annexed to it, when that officer shall be drawn into action, in which case the present allowance will be very incompetent.

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