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Letter from Arthur Dobbs to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
May 28, 1760
Volume 06, Pages 243-251

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 14. E. 11, 22 & 23.]
Letter from Governor Dobbs to the Board of Trade

New Bern, 28th May 1760

My Lords

Having called the Assembly to meet here upon his Majesty's Orders communicated by Mr. Secy Pitt's letter, to pass an Aid Bill with the utmost dispatch upon this important Crisis and also to pass and amend the repealed Bills, they met in pursuance of the Proclamation on the 22nd of April but no sufficient number of the Council being met to constitute a Quorum, there being only seven in the Province, the late President Rowan dying the day he proposed to set out, so that after waiting two days I was obliged to swear in Mr. Maurice Moore a Gentleman of good Fortune and Abilitys into the Council in order to dispatch business, but after a tedious delay with many alterations, addresses and messages, for above thirty days without passing an Aid Bill, I was under a necessity of Proroguing the Assembly

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for a day, to reconsider the Bill for Superior Courts which I had rejected and which they endeavoured to force me to pass before they would grant an aid Bill, as being contrary to his Majesty's Instructions and a violent infringment of his Prerogative.

As I cant yet after so long and extraordinary Session lay the whole proceedings before your Lordships, I must beg leave to give you a Narrative of the proceedings and schemes laid here by Mr. Child Attorney General altho it may seem tedious to you, and shall send you as soon as possible proper papers to justify my proceedings in support of his Majesty's Instructions and just prerogative; and with this shall send what papers, addresses, messages and answers can be ready to send by this conveyance.

Some time after Mr. Child the Attorney General came to this Province he sent me a Message by Mr. Hasell the late Chief Justice that as I had wrote to Lord Granville that Mr. Corbin would have been suspended from the Council for his behaviour and prevarications in the Council, but out of defference to his Lordship, as he was his Agent, I did not do it, he therefore desired him to inform me that my Lord having discharged him from his service I might now suspend him; and when he left him, he again desired him to get me to suspend him, and accordingly upon his non-attendance in the Assembly for two Sessions he was suspended by the unanimous advice of the Council, upon Acct of non attendance tho summoned and his frequent prevarications in Council upon which I swore in Chief Justice Berry of the Council of which I informed your Lordships.

Child's Intention in having him suspended was to get him to join him to stand with others of his Junto as candidates from Chowan County. And accordingly upon the Dissolution he by his publick Declamations, and by his Emissarys, as Agent for Lord Granville said that the Province would be undone if any person who was a friend to the Governor or had joined him in raising Taxes upon the people or supported his Administration should be elected for there was a scheme laid to deprive the Assembly of their Rights and Privileges by the Governor and Council, and nothing could save them but choosing Lawyers to support their Rights and great promises were made by the Attorney [General] and his Junto, when he had gained his end and procured my being recalled; with that view he shewed my letters wrote to him in Friendship to his Junto and others he could influence and his artfull answer and declarations against me and extracts of my letters to your Lordships Board having

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brought over Copies which he had got from one of the Clerks, wherein I complained of the proceedings of the Junto and the Treasurers behaviour by being appointed for Life in order to raise a flame and their resentment against me.

When the Assembly met the first step he took was to secure the late Speaker Mr. Swann who had not then thoroughly embarked with him, that he might gain all the Lawyers who spoke in the House of his side, promising that he should be one of the assistant Judges and upon gaining him joined in making him again Speaker without opposition. Child the Attorney, at the time I went to see him exclaimed against his Majesty's right in making out Charters for Counties that his Majesty was imposed upon and the Instruction I had was illegal for that each district had a right to send members without the King's Writ and without Charters. And as a Precedent the first thing the Assembly did as founded upon the Law that each Town which should have sixty Families should have a Right to send one Member to the Assembly, upon this Law the Town of Halifax lately erected had an Election at Halifax and without any Writt returned a Member to the Assembly and upon the Sheriffs return that there were sixty Families in Halifax the Assembly admitted the Person elected without the Kings Writ; and had him sworn in the House; this was done to secure the person elected who is an eminent Lawyer and hoped thus to engage him, but he knowing it was illegal applyed to me for a Charter which I granted and issued a Writt upon it and he was then duly elected, this I chose to do rather than make any difference upon the Assembly's attack of his Majesty's Prerogative at this important Crisis; they next chose Committees of Elections and Grievances those Committees were chosen by the Juntos Influence and confined to a small number of the Junto and their friends to which a few more were added to save appearance and when the Committee of Grievances met, no days afterwards were appointed, and none were ever summoned to join the Committee; and whatever was done in the Committee of Grievances by the Junto was kept secret; and nobody heard before it so that none were admitted in their own Defense, setting up an inquisition, so that persons were admitted to throw Dirt upon those who were obnoxious to the Junto or Triumvirate without any things transpiring to give the accused an opportunity to defend themselves, and one person was drawn in to sign a Petition againt Mr. Hasell late Chief Justice founded upon Facts which were false which he could not support and upon hearing the same read he dashed out his name

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and withdrew the Petition. They next to show their power expelled a Member who had been expelled in a former Assembly and who was now elected for a different County under pretence that he had sworn rashly in a former Committee (tho this was a new Assembly) the Chairman of which tho no Magistrate having illegally taken upon him to administer an oath; But the true reason was his having brought in a Bill to lessen the Lawyer's exorbitant Fees some of whom were so avaritious as to take a Fee of ten pounds where only thirty shillings was due by Law.

They then framed a Superior Court Bill, and carried appointments for three Associate Judges at £400 p ann: each, in this they in a great measure deprived the Crown of the Nomination by confining it to Attorneys of seven years Practice in this or the adjoining Colonies, who had been one year resident in this Province, excluding all others who were not outer Barristers of five years standing in England whom they presumed would not come over, so that all his Majesty's subjects of Great Britain or Ireland tho never so well qualified could not be nominated by his Majesty to be assistant Judges and this was to be continued to them Quam diu se bene Gesserint tho the present Chief Justice Berry was not a Barrister and holds his place only during pleasure; This Child did with a view to get me to break my Instructions and also to lessen his Majesty's Prerogative; and to oblige me to choose three of his Junto vizt Sam: Swann the Speaker who had taken up the practice of the Law as an Attorney of himself; by getting a Licence to plead, Thos Barker who from a Hackney Clerk got a licence to be an Attorney and has now by his management of himself made a Treasurer for Life and is now made by Child Receiver to Lord Granville and Robt Jones who was bred a Weaver and procured a Licence to plead as an Attorney and these three men I was to be limited to not having above three men of learning and abilities to nominate besides them who have been resident and of that standing here, and this was to be forced upon me by postponing the Aid Bill for above a month and strong addresses made to me to pass the Superior and County Court Bills previous to their proceeding upon the Money Bill which was brought in under great Restrictions without raising a Tax to Sink the Bills of Credit which were to be issued; calculated to give Money to those who were to Sign the Notes and to the Treasurers, and this crude Bill they would not even read a second time but by the Attorney General's management a motion was made and seconded by him that they would proceed to no business until I should pass these

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Bills and Child in his speech cast reflections upon such Members of the Council as supported the Prerogative of the Crown and my Instructions calling them Pimps and Hangers on the Governor but praising the other Councillors who passed the Bill with those exceptionable Clauses; I then in Council demanded the Chief Justice and Attorney Generals Opinion and advice whether I should disobey my Instructions and pass the Bill and thus give up the Prerogative of the Crown and laid three Articles of my Instructions before them and they signed their opinion and advice that I should alledging that I had private Instructions to disobey them upon Emergencys and they and the Assembly set forth that the whole province was filled with Riotts, Conspiracies and even Rebellion by setting Open Prisons, and all for want of this Law tho not one Instance could be given since the repeal of the Laws but breaking open one prison occasioned by a Riot upon Corbins maladministration as Lord Granville's Agent, and tho Robt Jones then Attorney General lived near the place yet he neither had Examinations taken nor did he prosecute them for the Riot nor did any regular complaint come before me in Council but flying Reports and Child obliged Corbin not to prosecute the people, saying that it was by his fault that the Spirit was raised against him.—

Upon my not complying with the Chief Justice and Attorney General's advice, to break thro my Instructions I was obliged to reply to the Assemblys repeated messages as herewith inclosed that I could not pass the Superior Court without expunging those exceptionable Clauses or by making it temporary for two years until his Majesty's pleasure was further known and then proposed to pass what other Bills were ready and close the Session by proroguing the Assembly for one day that they might in a new Session reconsider the Bill and if they expunged the Clauses or made it Temporary as a suspending Clause could not answer the purpose I would then pass the Bill and laid the blame fully upon Mr. Child the Attorney for having misled the Assembly this reply they took two days to consider of not in the House but by the Junto and to prepare an answer and to fix upon resolutions and prepare an Address to be laid before his Majesty against my administration and having delayed meeting until twelve o'clock the third day upon their meeting I sent a message to require their attendance to pass the Bills when they saw the Messenger comming they immediately resolved themselves into a Committee of the whole House and put Mr. Dewey an Eminent Lawyer in the Chair who was not of their Cabal and who

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was the only person who could speak and oppose their resolutions, and then was told the House was in a Committee and that he could not be admitted and they ordered the doors to be locked and put all the Members under a Tye of secrecy not to divulge what was done in the House under the Penalty of being expelled and never to have a seat in that House, during this time Mr. Child was not in the House so as not to appear to be concerned in these Resolutions tho he was privy to all and probably the Contriver of most of them out of the House; and then came into several Resolutions against me and the Secretary which are yet kept secret (tho the Session is over and I have demanded a sight of their Journals) as is their Address to his Majesty which is to be sent over to Attorney Bacon Lord Granville's Agent or Remitter of his Rents with letters to Lord Granville and Hallifax and Mr. Pitt Child informing his Triumvirate that Lord Granville will have it laid before the King and that his Majesty in a heat may order me to be dismissed or recalled without a hearing.

After five hours sitting they sent me a Message that they were ready to receive my Message, they then attended and I passed such Bills as I could properly pass and told them I would prorogue them that night Friday until munday to give them time to reconsider the Bills upon which they returned to their House and sent for Mr. Child and returned him thanks for his supporting these Bills against his Majestys Instructions, I then on Munday morning before the meeting of the Assembly applyed to the Speaker for a Copy or Perusal of the Resolutions and Address of the Assembly but was refused them tho the Sessions was over under pretence they were not fairly copied and could not do it without leave of the House, this was with a view that I should not have the power of replying to them or answering them in England that they might have their letters sent over before I can know the contents of them as they are supported by no enquiry or proper proof, and which if produced to me I could answer each and give full proof now of their falsity or ill grounded insinuations and which may hereafter take time to collect when the Proofs are to be made out by persons scattered thro the Province.

Upon their meeting on Munday the 26th they very gladly (to have the Bill passed) came in to have the Temporary Clause for two years inserted and it was three times read and passed the Two Houses in a few hours; which had been litigated before for a month and they then when too late, brought in the aid Bill crude and undigested,

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and it was read twice in the two Houses but could not be of any use to his Majesty or the Province and was only calculated to oblige me to issue Twelve thousand pounds in Notes without any Tax to sink the Notes and without any Troops to be employed by his Majesty to assist his Measures except on the Continent but only to defend the Province and act against the Cherokees £8000 of which was to go to pay and raise the Troops for that service with only Twenty shillings Bounty money and I was only to give Warrants to raise Men and whoever was to raise the most in forty years [days] I was then to commission and give Rank to accordingly so that no Commissions were to be given til the middle of July before which time the Cherokee's War will be over, nor are we provided with Arms for the 370 Men Granted and if the War was over I was then to disband them, and the money raised was to go to future Contingencies not to be disposed of but by the General Assembly so that probably they would get the disposal of near £10,000 without any Tax upon the Publick to the future discredit of our Currency and this with a View to put money into the Pockets of the Treasurers and Issuers of the Notes Samuel Swann, Thomas Barker and John Starkey I was to break thro my Instructions by issuing Notes because I had informed them if they raised Troops in pursuance of Mr. Secretary Pitt's Letter to assist in the Grand operations designed upon this important Crisis: I would venture to answer so great an end to break so far through my Instructions as to issue Notes: And further to answer their other purposes and lavish away the money they added a foreign Clause to this Aid Bill to give a great reward (Five Hundred Pounds sterling) to a Gentleman of the Law Robert Jones who had been most active in lessening his Majesty's Prerogative to be employed in England over and above an Agent appointed by a separate Bill to oblige the Council to agree to their nomination or put them under the difficulty of rejecting the Bill in case it had been of any service which is the Method they have taken to support those who oppose the Administration The Council some of whom are Timerous of disoblidging the Assembly passed the Bill tho they threw out the Agent's Bill upon account of the Assembly's having appointed an improper person Anthony Bacon who had been recommend[ed] to Lord Granville by Mr. Child to be his Agent in England and who was to have a very beneficial Bargain of £170 this currency for £90 sterl which is above 50 p cent higher than the Parr of 133⅓ and in this great gain against his Lordship I suppose Mr. Child was to
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divide stakes and thus had continued it in the Bill that the Notes paid of by the specie should be at £133⅓ and they were to buy up the paper money at the discount of near 90 p cent so that the Remitters and Treasurers would gain above 50 p cent from the publick besides their Fees charge of Insurance Commissions &c: The labouring Oar therefore was laid upon me by the Council of rejecting the Bill for the reasons mentioned in my Speech to them and herewith sent to your Lordships and in order to force me to pass the Bill in this indigested form which shall be sent by the first opportunity They refused to continue the Militia Bill until next Sessions tho a motion was made to shew the necessity of it useing all their arts and Influence in the Assembly to gain their ends.

This is the treatment Governors are to have if they adhere to his Majesty's Instructions and support his Prorogative and there must be an end of their Dependency on Britain if Governors are not supported when they do their Duty, as to their secret resolutions, petition and letters which tho the Session is over is denyed to be shewn to me under pretence that they are not in form and must be put in another dress by the Junto than they were in when they passed the House; I value them not when produced as upon a fair hearing which I am sure of having notwithstanding all their schemes to prevent it, by Mr. Child's vain opinion that Lord Granville will support him in his measures against his Majesty's Prorogative and Instructions, under the false dress he will put them in I shall fully answer to your Lordships satisfaction but when his scene [scheme] of iniquity is laid open he will appear in a different light to his Lordship the moment before I sent to them to attend with their Bills and put an end to this second Session upon rejecting the Agents Bill by the Council they resolved by their own Right that Anthony Bacon should be appointed their Agent and that £200 per ann: should be granted to him during his Agency so that by their plan the Governor and Council are to be useless and no part of their Constitution. Therefore hope your Lordships will consider the consequence if his Majesty should comply with their request and continue the Bill with the foregoing clauses contrary to my Instructions and limiting his Majesty's Right of appointing the assistant Judges, that it will encourage the Assembly to force the Governor and Council to encroach further on his Majesty's Prorogative and as to the attachment of some of the Council to concur in everything with the Assembly your Lordships will find it necessary to fill up the present vacancies in the Council in case the present suspension is confirmed by his Majesty

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and therefore to strengthen my hands must again beg leave to recommend Mr. Alexander McCulloch and Mr. John Sampson to fill up these vacancies and in case I find these Councellors who yield in everything to the Assembly to continue to act against the Prorogative of the Crown that you would approve of my suspending them, for as the former suspension is not yet confirmed it will be highly improper in me to suspend any more and name others in their place without your Lordships approbation.

I shall send over the Acts Journals &c: as soon as the Clerks can copy them and I can get a conveyance and as I shall always to the utmost of my power preserve his Majesty's Prorogative and obey his Instructions and shall fully answer all objections and false insinuations made against my administration to his Majesty's satisfaction when they come to my knowledge as well also the Secretary my Nephew whom they also strike at to wound me because he steadily adheres in supporting his Majesty's prorogative I dont doubt but your Lordships will recommend it to his Majesty to strengthen my hands and prevent the rising spirit of Independancy stealing into this Colony.

I am with great regard &c

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: This letter enclosed two reports - See Related Documents.