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Letter from Josiah Martin to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
October 06, 1773
Volume 09, Pages 685-688

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

No. Carolina, New Bern, Octr 6th 1773.

My Lord,

I have had the honor to receive your Lordship's Letter No. 5, and as I have most sincerely at heart the welfare and happiness of this Province, it would give me the highest satisfaction to be able to inform your Lordship according to your liberal wishes, that the General Assembly had met, and restored Order and Regularity to the Public Affairs of this Country.

My belief formed upon the Resolves of the House of Assembly at the late Session, and the general turn and disposition of this People that the new House would adhere to the same principles relative to the law of Attachments as the former held, & that meeting the Legislature, while I was not authorized to propose anything new on that head, was the first and principal cause of my prorogation of the General Assembly in April last. Since that time my Lord, I have had

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reason to be satisfied with the propriety of my conduct in that matter, having found that the former Members are almost universally elected, and that they maintain their old principles relative to the point on which the embarrassments of the last session arose. This assurance My Lord, my confidence that another meeting will be unavailing until I receive Instructions on that head, the little probability that I can have them in the course of this month, and my apprehensions of the unfitness and indecency of entering again upon the discussion of a matter that now is under the Royal consideration, in the Bill for constituting Courts of Justice, passed at the last Session, under a suspending clause taken altogether have induced me further to prorogue the General Assembly to the 29th day of November, by which time I hope to receive your Lordship's Commands, that will enable me to meet the Legislature on proper ground, and I trust to put the public Affairs in a train of prosperity.

Such My Lord are the reasons which have governed my conduct in this case, the expediency of which I might further support on the general reluctance of the Country people to resort to this Town, on account of its usual unhealthiness in the autumnal season, and until the weather becomes cold, the insufficiency of the Markets here in the month of October to supply even the ordinary consumption that is augmented exceedingly by the concourse of people which is brought together at the meetings of the General Assembly, and the great incovenience that the Members of that Body (who are for the most part Planters) would suffer by being obliged to leave their Farms at the time of gathering the Indian Corn that is their principal Harvest, and when other parts of domestique economy require a particular attention.

The Courts of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery which have been held in the several Counties where there were Prisoners pursuant to my intentions that I had the honor to communicate to your Lordship are universally acknowledged to have had the best effect in preserving the Public Peace, which the licentious very early after the General Assembly broke up without Establishing any Plan for the present Administration of Justice, considered themselves at liberty to violate with impunity, in consequence whereof a great number of Criminals were soon found in the several Gaols of the Country. Ten persons My Lord have suffered under the sentences of these Courts for capital offences, and I have granted His Majesty's pardon to one offender convicted of horse stealing in the County of Granville

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at the recommendation of the Judge and the sollicitation of the People, in tenderness to his youth, and in consideration of some extenuating circumstances that appeared on his Trial.

I have also My Lord been induced to reprieve until His Majesty's Royal pleasure shall be known a youth of the name of Reynold McDugal, lately convicted of murder in the County of Bladen and I transmit herewith to your Lordship the copy of a letter from Mr Moore one of the Judges before whom the boy was tried, and of a Petition of the Magistrates and Freeholders of the County, that His Majesty may be fully informed of the reasons which have moved me thereto. However well My Lord these Courts of Oyer and Terminer have been received in general, and notwithstanding the order and tranquility that they have confessedly maintained throughout the Country, some of our restless Politicians have not failed to comment on the measure, and to draw into question the legality of those Courts intituled by virtue of the powers granted to me by His Majesty's Royal Commission and not authorized by any Act of the Colony Legislature now actually in force, some objecting that this part of the Prerogative Royal is incommunicable and cannot be delegated, but must be exercised by Majesty itself under certain restrictions prescribed by ancient statutes, that seem to me clearly to apply only to the Realm of England, while others maintain that such Courts can only be erected under the sanction of an Act of the Legislature of the Province. The Law servants of the Crown here with whom I have consulted entertain not a shadow of doubt of the legality of such as have been held, it is certain My Lord, and I can confidently assure your Lordship, they have been conducted in the usual manner, under Commissions of common Established form, and with the strictest regard to the Laws and usages of England and this Colony, and I flatter myself the measure will be found on the closest examination to be as legal as it is universally allowed to have been expedient and beneficial.

The experiments of Rice and Indigo, that I had the honor some time ago to inform your Lordship were making in the Southern parts of this Colony have failed this year, almost totally, owing to the extreme drought of the summer. I hope however that this discouragement will not occasion the Planters there to forsake the culture of those valuable commodities.

I have now the honor to transmit to your Lordship a List of the Patents granted at the last Court of Claims in May, at which time

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Five hundred and sixty three Warrants of Survey were issued, and I beg leave to submit to your Lordships consideration, whether it may not be proper whenever His Majesty shall be pleased to authorize further Grants of the Crown Lands to declare whether the lands surveyed in pursuance of those, and former Warrants issued before the receipt of His Majesty's late Order of Council restraining the Governors of the Colonies from passing any more Grants of Land, and not then out of date, shall be grantable in the old conditions, or only on such as His Majesty shall hereafter think fit to ordain.

Your Lordship will receive herewith a Draft of the Line of Boundary between this Province and South Carolina, it is done upon a smaller scale than the Original which I transmitted some time ago and calculated only better from its neatness to be laid before His Majesty. I have an exact Copy of the Original in hand, which I hope soon to be able to transmit properly authenticated.

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