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Letter from Josiah Martin to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
September 12, 1775
Volume 10, Pages 244-246

B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. No. 222.]
Letter from Governor Martin to the Earl of Dartmouth.


Cruizer Sloop of War in Cape Fear River, No. Carolina, Septr 12th, 1775.

My Lord,

I do myself the honor of writing to your Lordship by the present opportunity, although I have nothing authentic to add to my late representations of the state of this country, in relation to the disorders that now most unhappily prevail in it, as in all other the Provinces of this Continent, because I would not omit to give your Lordship the latest advices, and that I know not, as my communication with Charles Town is totally cut off, when I may have opportunity to avail myself of the Packet or to communicate with your Lordship by any other channel, if I miss this, that a merchant ship bound to Plymouth now affords me, it being the last vessel that will go from hence to England, until peace is restored here, if the people persist in their present humour of conforming to the decrees of the Philadelphia Congress, and rejecting the favour that Government has shewn them by the exception of this Province in the Act restraining the Trade of many other of the Colonies.

The spirits of the loyal and well affected to Government droop and decline daily; they dispair, my Lord, of succour and support, and for the preservation of their persons from insult, and their property from confiscation, which has been threatened to those who do not join in all the measures of the seditious Committees, they indignantly and reluctantly yield to the overbearing current of revolt rather than side with it, or oppose themselves to it, at the hazard of everything that is dear, without the least prospect of successful resistance, a piteous necessity that, while I lament and deplore it, I know not how to blame; it is the combined influence of self-preservation and interest to which they submit, and which are the most domineering and ascendant principles in human nature. Thus, My Lord, the authority the edicts and ordinances of Congresses, Conventions and

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Committees are established supreme and omnipotent by general acquiescence or forced submission, and lawful Government is completely annihilated. It is rumoured that the Convention now held at Hillsborough hath, after obstinate resistance of the Delegates from the Western Counties, voted the raising a Thousand Men, to be kept in constant training and pay, and the striking a large sum of Paper Money for their support. Mr Johnston, the Deputy Naval Officer, is the Moderator of this Convention, of the proceedings of which I am not able at present to give your Lordship any intelligence from such authority as I can depend upon. It is said and I believe it is true, that the three Delegates from the Congress at Philadelphia attend this Convention, that supreme Council being adjourned to October or November, in order to reconcile the People to the restraints laid upon their Trade by the Resolves of that body. I hear it is given out that unless Britain accedes to their Terms within a few months, they will open their Ports to foreign nations, and utterly exclude her from any participation of their commerce, and strange, My Lord, as it may seem, even this Gasconade is not too preposterous to be received by the ignorant multitude, and it makes impressions accordingly, serving the purpose of cherishing revolt and holding the People together until experience shall evince the futility of their Machinations. If peace, My Lord, be ever restored here (which Heaven grant speedily) there are many objects that will deserve, in my poor judgment, immediate attention and remedy, among them, first, upon the maturest consideration, I am sure it should be a maxim to establish Courts of Justice originally, by the Power of the Prerogative and not to suffer the Assembly to meddle in the first constitution of them. Another will be the abolition of the office of Clerk of the Pleas, and vesting in His Majesty's Governor the power of appointing Clerks of the County Courts as in New York, which would prove a source of useful and necessary influence, exceedingly wanting to the Governor of this Colony. The appointment of Sheriffs ought, for like reason and for the public good, to be in the same hands, as it appears the Lords of Trade have thought heretofore. These officers throughout the Country are generally if not universally Leaders in the present seditions. I sometime ago recommended Mr Strudwick, the present Clerk of the Pleas, to the Lords of the Treasury, as a fit and proper person to supercede Mr Rutherford in the office of Receiver General of His Majesty's Revenues here, for which he is in every respect utterly
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disqualified, and if their Lordships shall be pleased to grant that appointment to Mr Strudwick he could not murmur at the abolition of the much less profitable office of Clerk of the Pleas, which he cannot make conducive to the Service of Government at all, and very little to his own interest, as he has often acknowledged to me.

The infamous Henderson, and his Associates, of whose Vast purchase of lands in the Indian Country on the Frontiers of this Province, I informed your Lordship some time ago, have according to my latest information, obtained from that people a cession of no less than thirty five millions of acres of land, an immense Territory to which they allure Settlers very fast; my intelligence runs that they have already drawn a thousand people there from Virginia and this Province, and that they have sold the lands of which they have got possession at first, at the rate of five Pounds but lately at the advanced price of Twenty five pounds Virginia money per thousand Acres. If this monstrous usurpation of the Crowns Dominion is suffered your Lordship will see, it cannot fail to induce the worst Consequences, and I therefore hope it will have a timely attention, and because it is an invasion of Lord Granville's proprietary rights, that will be exceedingly injurious to the interests of that nobleman and his family, for if this Land once becomes settled the occupants will hold it rather by their own strength, and the false titles derived from the present invaders for which they have paid so roundly, than repurchase it from the lawfull proprietor, but abstracted of private considerations of this nature I conceive it an object of great public importance, to prevent the Establishment of this Colony of freebooters, now without the jurisdiction of any of the Colonies. The adventurers in this scheme already boast that they have reimbursed themselves all their Charges, and have money in bank.

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

P. S.—I have the honor to transmit to your Lordship a material piece of evidence against Mr Dry in the Deposition of Mr John Stephen, Purser of the Cruizer Sloop of War. Your Lordship will also receive herewith two more Depositions of Masters of Ships, with regard to Mr Ashes expedition to Fort Johnston.