Letter from Alexander Martin to Joseph Leach
Martin, Alexander, 1740-1807
Volume 16, Pages 682-683
GOV. MARTIN TO COLONEL JOSEPH LEACH COM’Y OF PRISONERS,
[From Executive Letter Book]
Hillsborough, May 8th, 1782.
Your favor last night was handed me by Mr. Webbly, respecting the Flag Brig. commanded by Captain Nicks, arriving with seventy-seven American prisoners from Providence, a generosity scarce to be expected from a British enemy; when so different a treatment our flag ships and prisoners have experienced at Charles Town and elsewhere, this I was willing to give them credit for, and should be sorry to be outdone by Bahamian politeness and generosity; and was about immediately to grant the passports you request. But on receiving information that this Vessel arrived with a Cargo of Rum, Broad Cloths, Salt and Limes, a business very foreign from flags to be employed in and which they cannot sanctify, I cannot consent she shall pass without inquiry. It is well known to every mariner
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belonging to the United States, that our trade has been more annoyed by the privateers of that Island than almost all the West Indies together, which leads me to suspect their present Liberality proceeds not from a design to relieve the distressed but a cloak for an illicit trade for our produce, that their privateers may be victualled and enabled to act with more vigor against us and our allies which is totally inadmissible among States at War. You will therefore please to postpone your passports until the Judge of the Court of Vice Admiralty hath inquired into this matter, to whom I have written on the subject, who will judge whether the Vessel and imported Cargo comes under the maritime penalties, if so, they must be condemned, otherwise, if acquitted, You will permit provisions to be taken in for the passengers and Crew only equal to the Voyage, and for a Guard call upon the Colonel or Commanding officer of Craven for the purpose, who on your application, and sight of this Letter will grant the same.
I am &c.,