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Letter from Josiah Martin to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
July 08, 1772
Volume 09, Pages 311-314

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. Vol. 219.]
Governor Martin to Secretary Hillsborough.

North Carolina Hillsborough. July 8th 1772.

My Lord,

I had the honor to receive your Lordships letter No 6. three days ago it having arrived at New Bern soon after my departure thence, which was unavoidably delayed to the 22nd of last month and pursuant to his Majesty's commands which your Lordship hath been pleased to signify to me thereby I am taking the proper measures for promulging and making effectual the several gracious Acts of His Majesty's Royal Clemency it enjoins; and I must inform your Lordship that by some strange irregularity the respited convicts were liberated after the execution of their accomplices before my arrival in this Province which has come to my knowledge only since I have received your Lordships letter declaring the Royal Pleasure concerning them.

I beg leave to assure your Lordship, that I have the most dutiful and grateful sense of my Royal Masters gracious attention to my recommendation of the poor and aged Parents of Robert Matear to his Majesty's Bounty.

The most gracious allowance that the King is pleased to grant to the Legislature of this Colony to pass an Act of pardon and oblivion must be on all hands considered as an illustrious effusion of the Royal Goodness and Mercy and I hope it will excite in his Majesty's subjects

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here the reverence due to such magnanimity and beneficence while the confidence his Majesty is pleased by this indulgence to repose in the Legislature must claim its highest gratitude and ought to engage its strictest attention to the public Tranquility in framing the Law consistently therewith; His Majesty's commands to me in relation to this subject your Lordship may depend will be my invariable Guide.

The Indecency of the Assembly's remonstrance, on the head of the Boundary Line prescribed by his Majesty's Royal Instruction much affected me. I can faithfully assure your Lordship that I did no more doubt at that time than I have done since that the arrangement was made by his Majesty upon the best evidence of its utility, and in consequence of such conviction and that there was no just grounds of remonstrance on the part of this Colony. I have pressed the execution of his Majesty's commands and I have the satisfaction to inform your Lordship that the Boundary Line is run, the Commissioners having yet made no report to me of their Operations I am not now able to give your Lordship any particular account of that transaction but it is with great pleasure I assure your Lordship that every considerate man here agrees with me in opinion that his Majesty's Determination will be advantageous to the Colony. The Assertion of the House of Assembly that a large body of useful Inhabitants would by such a partition be taken from this Province I find upon enquiry to be without foundation; on the contrary it is an acknowledged fact that the Inhabitants of that Border have been hitherto a licentious and lawless Banditti equally useless and troublesome to both the Provinces acknowledging and disclaiming as served their sinister purposes the jurisdiction of each and paying taxes to neither, availing themselves of the doubtful and uncertain limitations of the two Colonies.

The observation with regard to the disadvantage, the Governor of this Colony would sustain by contracting its extent according to the direction of his Majesty's Instruction, that seems justly under your Lordship's construction to have excited your indignation, I do assure you My Lord upon my honor, was made without the remotest design to suggest a wish that it should be a matter of consideration to your Lordship in planning the equitable division of the Colonies now finally ordained. It was by chance I took any notice of it and without intention than to shew my opinion that no disadvantage could accrue thence to the Colony or to any other party but the

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Governor who was the immediate servant of the Crown and whose private interest I do aver to your Lordship I never did conceive to deserve one moments attention of your Lordships mind engaged in the glorious work of promoting the public prosperity and I flatter myself that your Lordship would do me the justice to believe that I am equally incapable of entertaining a sentiment so illiberal as of impeaching the justice of your Lordship's measures, or of forgetting the high obligation I owe to your Lordship for the honor done me by your gracious assurance of regard to my personal concernment when it may be consistent with the public good to which I hope always to have integrity to postpone myself.

This little village honoured by your Lordship's Title is situated in a high and apparently healthful and fertile Country but from the extreme badness of the roads difficult of access and discouraging to exercise to which indeed there is no invitation at present after fulfilling the calls of duty and satisfying that common curiosity to see new places; the settlements in its invirons although numerous beyond belief, being yet in infantine rudeness afford but little delight to the observer. I see with pleasure this Borough recovering of the violences it suffered in the late insurrection marks of which still remain to keep alive a dreadful remembrance of that unaccountable commotion in the minds of its Inhabitants who received me on my arrival here with every demonstration of respect and loyalty. I am not without hopes that my tour through this Country will be attended with good effect. The Outlaws of the County of Guilford among whom is Hunter and other principal Leaders in Sedition have since my arrival at Hillsborough made the first overtures to surrender themselves to Justice. I received a petition from them on the 8th instant conceived in Terms of the utmost submission & penitence declaring their desire to conform to my prescriptions whatever they might be and expressing the strongest desire to expiate their Offences against His Majesty's Government and the Laws of their Country. I replied to them by their Deputies that a surrender of themselves to the Justice of their Country I conceived to be an indispensable preliminary without which recognition of the law's power they could never be deemed in place to receive the grace of their Sovereign if by the intervention of their Country they should be recommended to his Majesty's Mercy. I have since received assurance of their readiness to surrender themselves to my appointment whereupon I have required the attendance of the Judges of this Province on the

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20th of next month to advise with me in relation to these people and to take such measures with them as may be required in form of law and consistant at the same time with the Gracious Intentions of his Majesty by his Royal allowance to the Legislature to pass an Act of Pardon and Oblivion.

It is a strange thing to tell your Lordship that until within this week I have never been able to learn the real predicament of these people in the eye of the Law and the truth I now find to be that they are outlawed on default of appearance to indictments, found against them for the Riot in this Town and that no process hath been had against them for their subsequent rebellion and treason your Lordship may remember that these commotions were antecedent to my arrival in this Province so that I had everything to learn about them and by the strange and contradictory representation of the proceedings at Law in relation to the Insurgents one would be led to believe that the Confusion of those times had suspended the capacity of recollection in the Minds of the people in general. The most important doubts that occur to me upon the surrender of these men are whether their criminality should be established by Tryal before the Legislature takes their case into consideration? and whether his Majesty's allowance to pass an Act of Pardon and Oblivion does preclude or supercede the necessity of further judicial process against them for their crimes of highest dignity and leaves their criminality to be considered and weighed only by the Legislature. I am of opinion myself I confess that if there is no necessity it may be yet highly expedient that these daring criminals should be tried to be made acquainted with and sensible of the atrociousness of their Offences and the power of the Laws but so much of Law enters into these questions that I shall be determined by the Judges opinions.

The Crew of the vessel belonging to this Province that was detained at La Vera Cruz is lately returned here and I am now my Lord preparing to send information thereof to Vice Admiral Rodney together with the proper certificates of the value of the vessel and her cargo that he may be enabled to claim full and just restitution.

I have the honor to be &c