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Memorandum from the Board of Trade of Great Britain to George III, King of Great Britain concerning acts of the North Carolina General Assembly
Great Britain. Board of Trade
February 26, 1772
Volume 09, Pages 248-252

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. Vol. 24.]

To the King's most Excellent Majesty.

May it please your Majesty,

We have had under our consideration four Acts passed in your Majesty's Province of North Carolina, in Janry 1771, intituled

1.An Act for preventing Tumults and riotous Assemblies for the more speedy and effectual punishing the Rioters and for restoring and preserving the Public Peace of this Province.

2.An Act for founding establishing and endorsing of Queen's College in the Mecklenburg County.

3.An Act for authorizing Presbyterian Ministers regularly called to any congregation within this Province to solemnize the Rites of Matrimony under the regulations therein mentioned.

4.An Act to encourage the further settlement of this Province.

The first of these Acts was passed for the purpose of preventing Disturbances and insurrections, to which of late the Province of North Carolina has been exposed, and contains many usefull and proper regulations, nevertheless, we cannot pass over a Clause, which enacts that upon Indictment found or presentment made against any person for any of the Crimes described in the Act, the Judges

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or Justices of the Court shall issue their Proclamation to be affixed or put up at the Court House and each Church and Chapel of the County wherein such Crime was committed, commanding such Offender to surrender within sixty days and stand trial; on failure of which he shall be deemed guilty of the Offence charged in the indictment found or presentment made; and it shall be lawfull for any one to kill and destroy such offender and his lands and Chattels shall be confiscated to the King for the use of Government.

Upon this Clause Mr Jackson one of your Majesty's Counsel at Law to whom we referred this Act observes although the circumstances of the Province may excuse the inserting such Clause in this Act, yet that it is altogether unfit for any part of the British Empire and therefore he submits, that the said Act is fit to be repealed, and altho' from late Occurrences in North Carolina, the Legislature of that Province may be warranted in some extension of the penal Laws against riotous and disorderly persons, yet we cannot but think this Clause highly exceptionable as being full of danger in its operation and irreconcileable to the principles of the constitution depriving withal, the crown of its prerogative of extending mercy to Offenders, by committing the execution of the Law into the hands of the subject; nevertheless, as the total Repeal of the Act, might in the present State of Affairs sensibly endanger the Peace and safety of the Province and revive perhaps, that dangerous spirit amongst some of the Inhabitants (as yet not wholly subsided) which has been productive of so much Tumult and confusion more especially as the Act by its own limitation in time, is now upon the point of expiring; We are humbly of opinion that it will be adviseable for your Majesty to instruct and direct your Governor of North Carolina to recommend to the Legislature in case they shall proceed to enact a new Law for the above general purposes, to pass it with an exception as to the Clause in question or with such alteration and Amendment thereof as shall free it from the Objections above stated.

The Second of these Acts is for the Institution and Indowment of a College and Mr Jackson, to whom it was referred has reported no objection thereto in point of Law, Mr Tryon your Majesty's Governor of North Carolina, in his letter of the 12th of March 1771 observes upon this Law, “that it is but the Outline of a foundation for the education of youth that the necessity for such an institution in that Country is obvious and the propriety of the mode therein adopted must be submitted to your Majesty; that although the President is

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to be of the established Church and licensed by the Governor yet the Fellows, Trustees and Tutors he apprehends will be generally Presbyterians, the College being promoted by a respectable Settlement of that persuasion from which a considerable Body marched to Hillsborough in Septr 1768 in support of Government.”

From this Report of your Majesty's Governor and from the Prevalency of the presbyterian persuasion within the County of Mecklenburgh we may venture to conclude, that this College if allowed to be incorporated will, in effect operate as a Seminary for the education and Instruction of youth in the Principles of the Presbyterian Church, sensible as we are of the wisdom of that tolerating Spirit, which generally prevails throughout your Majesty's Dominions and disposed as we particularly are in the Case before us, to recommend to every reasonable Mark of favour and protection a Body of Subjects who by the Governor's Report have behaved with such loyalty and zeal during the late Troubles & disorders still we think it our Duty to submit to your Majesty, whether it may be adviseable for your Majesty to add Incouragement to toleration by giving the Royal Assent to an Establishment, which in its consequences promises with great and permanent Advantages to a sect of Dissenters from the Established Church who have already extended themselves over that Province in very considerable numbers.

By this Act, a Duty of six pence per Gallon is laid on all Rum and other spirituous Liquors brought into and disposed of in Mecklenburgh County, as a Fund for raising a Revenue for support of the Institution; In what manner this clause may operate as a Tax upon the consumption of British Spirits or from the looseness of its wording how far it may be strained to exempt Spirits manufactured within this County from the duty imposed we cannot pretend to forsee; but it should seem that a Foundation professedly for general uses, ought not in regularity to be supported by a Tax partially imposed upon any one County in particular; But when to the above observations we add that this Law is not accompanied by a Clause of suspension, though it clearly comes under the description of those Acts, which by your Majesty's Instructions are directed to be so passed, as being of an unusual and extraordinary nature & importance, and persuaded as we are of what consequence it is on all occasions to enforce this your Majesty's Instructions, We do not hesitate humbly to recommend to your Majesty to signify your Royal disallowance of this Act.

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The third Act which is passed with a clause of suspension, proposes to repeal so much of a former Act for establishing an Orthodox Clergy and also of one explanatory thereof, as relates to the prohibition of Presbyterian Ministers from solemnizing the Rites of Marriage by publication of Banns in their Meetings or by License without paying a Fee of Twenty shillings to the Episcopal Minister or Incumbent of the Parish. This Prohibition, by the Act now submitted is intended to be taken off and the Presbyterian Ministers allowed to celebrate the Rites of Marriage by publication of Banns in their religious Assemblies or by License first had and obtained without payment of any Tax or Fee for such service, to the regular Incumbent of the Parish.

This regulation, may it please your Majesty, appears to us to be exceptionable as being calculated to deprive the Orthodox Clergy of a Fee or Perquisite settled and imposed by Act of Assembly and in effect to operate as a Bounty to the tolerated Religion at the expence of the established, and we do therefore humbly propose to your Majesty to signify your Royal Disallowance of this Act.

By the fourth and last of these laws, persons coming immediately from Europe, in any Vessel, for the purpose of settling in this Province are declared exempt from paying any publick, County or Parish Taxes for the term of four years next after their arrival and your Majesty's Governor reports “that it was enacted in behalf of several Ship loads of Scotch Families, which have been landed in that Province within three years past from the Isles of Arran, Durah, Islay and Sijha but chief of them from Argyleshire and that they are mostly settled in Cumberland County; that the numbers of these new settlers are computed at sixteen hundred Men, Women and Children; that the reason they alleged for coming to America was that the Rents of their Lands were so raised, that they could not live upon them, and those, who were particularly encouraged to settle there by their Countrymen, who have been many years settled in that Province.”

Mr Jackson, in reporting upon this Law submits “whether the encouragement of exemption from Taxes should not have been extended to all persons as well as to those, who shall come immediately from Europe; inasmuch as such exclusive encouragement may have a Tendency to increase the Migration from your Majesty's European Dominions.

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The prejudice to be apprehended to the landed Interests and Manufacturers of Great Britain and Ireland, from the Emigration of the Inhabitants to your Majesty's American Colonies, has been frequently matter of consideration at this Board and was particularly insisted upon in our Report to the Lords of the Committee of your Majesty's Council of the 21st of June last, on the subject of a Petition from sundry persons, Inhabitants of the Isle of Skye, for a grant of forty thousand Acres of Land in the said Province of North Carolina. We agree therefore with Mr Jackson in his Objection to the principle of the above Law and humbly recommend to your Majesty to signify your Royal Disallowance of this Act.

All which is most humbly submitted

Whitehall Febry 26 1772.