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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Memorandum by Richard Spaight to the Board of Trade of Great Britain concerning charges against him by the North Carolina General Assembly, including supporting depositions
Spaight, Richard, 1730-1763
June 1760
Volume 06, Pages 272-276

The Answer and Defence of the Honble Richard Spaight Esqre Secretary to the Province of North Carolina to the Charges contained in the following resolutions in the House of Assembly of said Province.

Resolved that his Excellency without any colour of law appointed his nephew Mr. Spaight Paymaster of the Forces raised in this Province by means whereof he hath drawn Commissions on the several Aids granted to His Majesty for raising & paying the said forces, the same has been a cause of rendering the said aids insufficient for the intended purposes, and an obstruction to His Majesty's service.

In Answer to which this respondent saith that in the year of our Lord 1755 when troops were raised in this Province in order to join the army under General Braddock on the Ohio, this respondent was appointed by his Excellency the Governor Paymaster of said forces, in like manner as had been done before; the honble James Innes having been appointed Paymaster of the Forces by Mr. President Rowan during the time of his being Commander in Chief; and that this respondent continued in said Office of Paymaster of the Forces until the Session of Assembly at Wilmington in November last; Saith that from time to time since his said appointment, he regularly passed his accounts with the Assembly who always and without any dispute or objection allowed this respondent's charge of one per cent. having been in the same manner charged by and allowed to the said James Innes; and further sayth that in November last this respondent fully accounted with the said Assembly for all his receipts and payments in which Charge was allowed and the Balance then remaining in his hands ordered to be paid to Colonel Hugh Waddell which has been accordingly done.

This Respondent further saith that he never charged or received or had any perquisite fee or reward except the said sum of one percent.

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which in near five years amounted to the sum of £177.14.2¾ Proclamation money and no more the whole sum received by this Respondent during that time being but £17,771.3.7 which being so very inconsiderable for each year could not possibly be a cause of rendering the said Aids insufficient for the intended purposes or an obstruction to His Majesty's service; and therefore conceives that as the like charge has been made and allowed to a former Paymaster, and has been allowed without hesitation by the Assembly to this Respondent and must by every imparcial judge be deemed a very scanty recompence, and very barely adequate to the trouble & attendance required in the execution of said Office, that the said resolution will be considered as the effects of pique and malice.

Resolved that it appears to this Committee that many irregularities and palpable frauds have happened in the Secretary's Office since the appointment of Mr. Spaight to that important trust, a flagrant instance of which is an entry in the books of said Office regularly made and the accustomed fees paid thereon, being by his express order transposed so as to give himself the preference and right to the said Land so entered.

In Answer thereto this respondent saith that sometime in the beginning of the year 1757 this Respondent then residing about three miles from the Town of New Bern on the other side of the river Trent in the evening when he was about to cross the Ferry over said River, he met the Reverend James Reed who informed him that a piece of land joining a Plantation belonging to this Respondent on Batchelors Creek in Craven County was vacant and not included within the Patent lines of said Plantation as was imagined, and advised this Respondent as it was a Conveniency to him to take it up immediately or as it was discovered to be vacant, it would be taken up by some one else and that he would have taken it up himself, but being a clergyman did not chuse to have any wrangles with any of his Parishioners or words to that effect. Whereupon this Respondent immediately returned to the Secretary's Office in order to enter the said land, but the Clerks being gone and William Powell his Deputy in said Office being absent this Respondent left a message with Jane Hoy one of the Governors servants to desire William Robinson one of his clerks as soon as he came to the Office, to leave a blank for an entry which this Respondent wanted to make, in case any person should apply to make an entry before this Respondent

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returned on the morrow and then went home, but was by some means or other prevented from returning to Town for two or three days when going to the Office he found one Joseph Leech had just made an entry for said Land, whereupon this Respondent imagining that he had a prior right to said Leech and finding a vacant space at the bottom of a page before said Leech's entry did not transpose the same but made an entry for said land in his own name in said vacant space & immediately after informed said Powell his deputy with what he had done who advised this Respondent that as the Office belonged to him to strike out his said Entry and make one after said Leech's but enter a Caveat against his obtaining a Warrant until the right of property under the circumstances afsd should be determined by the Governor and Councill which this Respondent accordingly immediately did and saith that his Entry so made in said book (which is but a memorandum book and not a record) to stand before said Leech's was not long entered in said book before it was crossed out by this Respondent; and further saith that soon after he withdrew his said Caveat for no other reason than to avoid any imputation of partiality in favor of himself, in consequence of which the said Leech obtained a warrant at the then next Court of Claims and had said Lands surveyed and a Patent granted to him for the same and has ever since been in the quiet and undisturbed possession thereof And therefore conceives that as the said Leech did not in any sort suffer by the Transaction aforesaid but on the contrary had the full benefit of said Entry, and as this Respondent, singly to avoid the imputation of partiality withdrew his said Caveat which he then conceived, and was advised he had a right to expect would be adjudged in his favour, the same cannot at any time with any justice be charged against him as a crime or mal execution of his office.

That as to the other charges in said resolution contained, of many irregularities and palpable frauds having happened in said Office the same being couched in general terms without any Compt exhibited or proof having been made or particulars set forth this Respondent cannot otherwise answer them than by expressly denying the same & saith that he always took care to the best of his Knowledge & understanding to prevent any irregularities having always cautioned the Deputies and clerks employed under him in said Office to be careful that none were committed or suffered to be done.

Resolved that it appears to this Committee that the Secretary during the time the Supreem Court Law was in force was a Judge of the Supreem Court of the New Bern District and by his own

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authority without legal Tryal by any Jury, for a supposed libel; ordered one Thomas Core to be stripped naked tyed and whipt, which was accordingly done with great inhumanity and in Violation of the Laws of this Province & contrary to the great Charter of Liberties.

This respondent in Answer to this resolution saith that he was one of the Associate Justices of the Supreem Court at New Bern, having been appointed at a time when the late Chief Justice Henly was ill and no other of the then Justices attended to prevent the Courts being lost for want of Adjournment but that he seldom after went upon the bench or acted as such.

Saith that on or about the 24th day of August last, several of the inhabitants of the Town of New Bern where this respondent lived having been for some time before vilified by scurilous libels full of ribaldry almost daily published; Capt Andrew Bailie came to this respondent's House and informed him that there was the devil to do in town, that James Parkinson merchant had sevearly beat one Thomas Core whom he had found writing or copying a libel against him & that Mrs. Spaight meaning this respondent's wife was scandalously mentioned therein or words to that effect upon which this respondent after he had read it believes he might say he wished he, meaning the said Core, was here, & almost immediately after & while this respondent was in a violent passion the said Thos Core being brought to this respondents house by the said Baile & Parkinson and having denied he was the author of said scandalous libel & refusing to discover pretending not to know who was the author thereof, this respondent being greatly irritated by the scandalous reflections therein cast upon his wife, and in hopes of discovering and bringing the author to justice, caused the said Core to be stripped, tyed up and did not order but did himself with a horsewhip give him seven or eight strokes on the back & no more, but did not with inhumanity as set forth in said resolution; and expressly denies that the same [was] done by this respondent, in his judicial capacity as an Associate of said Court, as artfully maliciously & falsely charged; the same being done in the heat of passion for the affront & indignity with which his wife was treated; without this respondent's ever reflecting or considering that he was a magistrate or Associate Justice, and for proof thereof begs leave to refer to the annexed affidavits—

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North Carolina
Craven County ss.

The honble Richard Spaight Esqre Secretary of the Province of North Carolina came this day before me and made oath on the Holy Evangelists that the foregoing answer is true in every particular to the best of his recollection, Knowledge & Belief.

Sworn before me John Clitheral one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Craven in the Province of North Carolina at New Bern the twenty third day of June 1760.

John Clitherall

North Carolina
Craven County ss.

Mary Moore of Craven County in the Province of North Carolina, widow, came this day before me and made oath on the Holy Evangelist that on or about the twenty fifth day of August last past having heard that the honble Richard Spaight Esqre who was married to this Deponents daughter had whipt one Thomas Core for writing a scandalous libell reflecting upon the Character of the said Richard Spaight's wife, She went to the house of Mary Core mother of the said Thomas Core and with whom he lived & having inquired how he did told him that she herd he had got a whiping for writing a libel and sayd she was sorry he should meddle with the character of Mrs. Spaight whose father had been soe kind to him, or words to that effect, whereupon the said Thomas Core told this Deponent that he did not know nor ever heard that the words in said libell applied to Mrs. Spaight had been meant or intended for her, but on the contrary for the wife of one Harbin, or he would not have copied it—& was sorry that he had, but had been desired so to do by Thomas Sitgraves—This Deponent further saith that the said Thomas Core then told this Deponent that the sd Spaight did not give him but a few strokes for which he was not angry with him, & he was highly provoked by those about him telling him it was his wife was mentioned in sd libell or words to that effect.


Sworn before me June 23d 1760.
Andw Scott, J. P.