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Letter from the Board of Trade of Great Britain to John Russell, Duke of Bedford
Great Britain. Board of Trade
February 29, 1749
Volume 04, Pages 930-935

My Lord [Duke of Bedford]

Pursuant to your Grace's letter to us dated the 23rd of January last acquainting us that complaints had been laid before you by Messrs. Corbyn Morris Danbus and Child Gentlemen interested in His Maj. Province of North Carolina relating to the conduct of Mr Johnston Governor of that Province and that it was His Maj. pleasure that we should immediately require the said Gentlemen as likewise Mr Abercrombie Agent for the said Province to attend us and that we should report to your Grace a state of the case with our opinion thereupon, We take leave to acquaint Your Grace That we have been attended upon this occasion by Mr Morris Principal agent in this affair together with Messrs Danbus & Child and by Mr Abercromby in support of the Govr and also by Messrs. Townshend, Corbyn and Arthand other Gentlemen trading to and interested in the said Province whom Mr Morris thought proper to bring before us in order to support his Complaint which was reduced by him under the three following heads Vizt

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1st. That the said Governor had shown a contempt for his Maj. Orders and Instructions by not having transmitted any account of the affairs of that Government nor altho' many depredations were made by the enemy upon that coast during the War had he sent any account thereof nor any Acts passed there or any public papers which by His Majesty's Instructions he is directed to transmit.

2nd. That he had passed an Act in April last for issuing Bills of Credit without a clause suspending the execution of it until His Majesty's pleasure might be known thereupon contrary to his Instructions by which means all credit in the said Province was destroyed and Merchants trading thither greatly prejudiced.

3rd. That he had appointed suspected persons to offices of trust particularly that he had appointed one William McGregor who had been in the Rebellion in the year 1715 a Justice of the Peace during the late Rebellion and was not himself without suspicion of disaffection to His Maj. Government.

We shall now submit to Your Grace's consideration the information which has been laid before us relative to each article and to the present confused state of that Province which Mr. Morris took notice of as a collateral circumstance together with such observations as have occurred to us thereupon.

As the first Article of Complaint against Mr Johnstone is for a breach of His Maj. Instructions in not corresponding with the respective offices no other information relative thereto than what may appear from the records of such Offices and as he is paricularly directed by his said Instructions to correspond with one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State and with this Board We think it incumbent upon us to lay before Your Grace a state of his Correspondence with this Office from his arrival in that Province about the latter end of the year 1734 to the present time.

It appears from our Books that the said Governor from the year 1734 to the year 1741 held a regular Correspondence with this Board informing them from time to time of the situation of affairs in his Government and transmitting the Records and other public papers pursuant to his Instructions but from Dec. 1741 to June 1746 no letters or public papers of any kind were received by this Board from the said Governor notwithstanding he was from time to time reminded of this neglect and altho' we have since received four letters from him relating chiefly to the confused state of Affairs in that Government yet as he has not sent us any of the records of that Province except the Journals of the Assembly for the years 1744, 1745 and 1746 nor any other public papers by means

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whereof we might be enabled to judge of the true situation of affairs in that Province or what methods would be proper to be pursued.

How far Mr. Johnstone may have complied with his Instructions with regard to Your Grace's Office will best appear from the Records thereof however we must acquaint Your Grace that Mr. Danbus who had for several years the command of a ship trading to that Province informed us that he had frequently carried letters from the Offices here in England to the said Governor yet he never brought any back from him when he returned tho' it was usual for him to call upon the Governr a week or a fortnight before his ship sailed to give him notice thereof.

The second Article against the said Governor is his having passed an Act for issuing Bills of Credit without a suspending clause and as a proof thereof Mr. Corbyn produced to us a letter which he had received from Mr. Moseley Baron of the Exchequer in North Carolina dated the 13th of Sept. 1748 acquainting him that a Bill had passed in that Province in April last for a new emission of Bills of Credit Proclamation Money to exchange old Bills that were worn out and granting £6000 for erecting Forts in different parts of the Province Mr. McCulloh also produced to us a letter which he had received from Mr. Anderson Judge of the Admiralty in the said Province dated the 30th of June 1748 acquainting him that a law had been passed in that Province for emitting £21,250 in Bills of Credit Proclamation money without a suspending clause for exchanging the old Bills erecting Forts and Contingencies of Government and as a further proof thereof Mr. Morris informed us that a Speech made by the said Governor to his Assembly upon the passing the said Bill had been printed in the South Carolina Paper transmitted to the Carolina Coffee House and seen by many Gentlemen but had since been taken away & secreted by some person He likewise observed to us that the said Bill could not be passed with a suspending clause for being to exchange old Bills it was not likely that the possessors of such old Bills would give them up for Bills under a suspension & that as to the pretence of building Forts it was made a job and that two or three persons who were in the Governors interest took the bills & employing a few Negroes to throw up a little ground which they called a Fort charged the Province to the amount thereof.

We must however take leave to acquaint Your Grace that no Act of this sort has been transmitted to us neither has the Governor acquainted us therewith

With respect to the charge against the said Governor of having appointed suspected persons to Offices of trust and to the suspicion of his being disaffected to his Maj. Government We must take leave to

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acquaint Your Grace that Mr Child Attorney General of the said Province informed us that upon his going to the said Province in the time of the late Rebellion he observed that a Capt. McGregor whom he heard and believed was a Captain of the Militia and in the Commission of the Peace but could not say that of his own knowledge not having seen him act in either of those capacities or any Commissions appointing him to either of those Offices, behaved in an extraordinary manner & appeared much elated when any little success attended the Rebels and therefore he thought proper by virtue of his Office to tender him the Oaths which he twice refused to take but at length did take them and that he had heard the said McGregor was often with the Governor and in his confidence.

As to the latter part of the charge Mr Danbuz acquainted us that being at Cork when the news of the Rebels defeat at Culloden was brought thither he soon after sailed for North Carolina and upon his arrival there he went ashore and acquainted the Governor with the news who received it very coldly and upon his showing him a list of the Rebel Chiefs killed & taken prisoners the Governor exprest a concern for them saying many of them were his acquaintances and schoolfellows that he had several times been with the Governor before and was always kindly received till this time and that altho' this was the first news of this event there was no rejoicings made which occasioned much surprise.

We must now beg leave to submit to your Grace's consideration such information as has been laid before us relative to the confused state of His Maj. said Province of North Carolina as a collateral circumstance of the aforementd Heads of Complaint.

We have upon this occasion been informed by Mr Townshend who some few [years] ago carried on a trade with the said Province that the said Province was in great distress and confusion and scarce better than an Asylum for fugitives that he could not take upon him to say from what this distress & confusion arose but apprehended from the want of a regular Government That the trade which he had with the Province was carried on through Boston or South Carolina there being no direct trade thither. That the debts of Merchants in the said Province were generally desperate and no redress could be obtained but that he believed if the Province was in a state of regularity a direct trade would be carried on thither.

We have also been informed by Mr. Child that when he arrived in that Province he found affairs in so confused a state and such disagreement amongst the people that he determined not to stay there and accordingly left it in less than a twelve month that while he was there he heard great complaints of injunctions being issued out of the Court of

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Chancery to stop the execution of judgments by the inferior Courts and that Courts of Chancery were seldom held for that as the Members of his Maj. Council who with the Governor composed the Court of Chancery lived in distant parts of the Province it was usual for such injunctions to be granted by the Governor upon a petition to him as a Court could not be readily got together and that no Court of Chancery was held while he was there.

That he likewise heard complaints of the Governor's not living at the seat of Government his house being near 100 miles distant and the public offices were likewise at a great distance and upon his being asked by Mr. Abercromby whether he had ever heard that the confusion in the affairs of the Governt was owing to any misconduct in the Governor or whether it was not owing to the discontent of the inhabitants of the Northern Countrys he said that he had heard that the Northern Countrys had shown great discontent by being abridged by a late Act of Assembly of their privilege of sending five Members to the Assembly.

The practise of issuing injunctions from the Court of Chancery was likewise confirmed to us by Mr. Arthand who acquainted us that he went to North Carolina in the year 1739 and resided there till the year 1742 where he acted as an Attorney and had many causes in the Courts there in most of which as well as all other causes injunctions were granted by the Governor as Chancellor upon an application to him and no Courts of Chancery held for determining thereupon that there were great irregularities in entering up judgments by the Clerk of the General Court and none or very imperfect records kept. The issuing these injunctions were likewise confirmed to us by Mr. Corbyn & Mr. McCulloh who said that he remembered but three Courts of Chancery held in seven years he likewise acquainted us that one Mr. Lithgow a gentleman of credit in that Country have purchased a Plantation from one Mr. Grey on which plantation Mr. Roger Moore one of the Council was at the time of such sale cutting down timber & burning lightwood to make tar Mr. Lithgow would not suffer Mr. Moore after he had made the purchase to carry off the tar upon which Mr. Moore did it by force and threatened to sue Mr. Lithgow for Barretry, afterward Mr. Lithgow having determined to leave the province in order to reside in New England for his health & having accordingly disposed his affairs for that purpose was embarked for his departure when Roger Moore applyed to Mr. Rice Secretary of the Province and made oath that he intended to take out an action of £2000 Sterlg against Lithgow & desired a Warrant to seize him which was granted to him & Mr. Lithgow was accordingly forcibly taken from on board the ship he was embarked in

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whereupon he gave in Bail the next Court of Assize & brought in a Bill of indictment against Moore & Rice who thereupon applyed to the Governor to stop the proceedings which he accordingly did & would not suffer the affair to be tryed. To these complaints Mr Abercrombie acquainted us he had no answer to make they being irregular informal and null of themselves

Upon the whole We are of opinion that if the information which has been laid before us be true the Province is certainly in great disorder & confusion and We submit it to Your Grace to take such measures as Your Grace shall think proper for remedying the same.

We are My Lords, Your Grace's most, &c.,

Whitehall February 20th 1748/9.