America and West Indies
November 1731, 6-10


Institute of Historical Research



Cecil Headlam (editor) Arthur Percival Newton (introduction)

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'America and West Indies: November 1731, 6-10', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 38: 1731 (1938), pp. 328-335. URL: Date accessed: 21 November 2014.


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November 1731, 1-5

Nov. 9.474. Governor and General Assembly of Rhode Island to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Answers to Queries. The Colony lies in the Southern part of N.E. and is mostly rough and uncultivated but improving. The soil is in most places tolerable good and with labour will produce all sorts of European grain, the climate is mild and temperate both in winter and summer, the only considerable place in it is Newport a town of about 400 houses. Situation and boundaries described, and the part disputed by the Massachusetts Bay. Continue: Agreeable to our Charter on the first Wednesday of May annually we elect a Governor, a Deputy Governour and ten Assistants, as also a Secretary, Attorney Genll. and Genll. Treasurer, by the voices of the free inhabitants; all other officers, saving townofficers, are appointed by the Genll. Assembly. The trade of the Colony consists almost altogether in sloops, some few brigantines and two small ships, and made 4,980 tons or thereabouts, and are navigated with 400 men. Ten years past the trade was in 60 vessells and make 3,500 tons etc. Directly from Great Britain we have but a small quantity of goods, having but two vessells in a year trading thither; but by the way of Boston we receive almost all we use, which consists in duck, cordage, broad cloths, drugget stuffs, serges, shaloons, hollands garlix, thread, laces, scyths, nailes and other iron ware, needles, pins, tape and many other sorts. But cannot give an exact account of their quantity, they being by our merchants and shopkeepers mostly imported by land. We have about ten or twelve sail a year to Surranam, Estatia and St. Thomas's, the commodities we carry thither are houses, lumber, live stock and some provisions and make our returns in sugar, molasses and some cocoa and in a year or two we have a vessell and some times two trades to Genoa or Leghorn or Holland with fish and logwood and in return take bills of exchange for London and load home with salt, if from Holland Dutch goods which they pay a duty for in England. H.M. Collector of this Colony with the Naval Officer, the waiters and other Officers are well supported by the Government which has effectually suppressed all illegall trade. The produce of this Colony is beef, pork, butter, cheese, Indian corn, horses and sheep. Our annuall export is about £10,000 sterling. There is no mines as yet discover'd amongst us but iron and that not one quarter enough to supply the inhabitants. Our whites are 15,302 and blacks 1,668. Our inhabitants are increased about 6000 in these ten years past, part from Great Britain but the greatest part by our own growth. Our Militia are about 1,890. We have but one fort which is of stone regularly built and new and will mount about 60 pieces of cannon in it including the battery and commands the trade of Newport. As yet we have not been able to provide cannon for it, but have petitioned H.M. that of his grace and favour he woud bestow some on us. The Indians in this Colony are 985 and are very peaceable. There is but a few Indians near us and they are in the Massachusets and Connecticut Governments. No French or Spaniards near etc. Continue: We have no duties on any sort of goods imported saving a small revenue arising upon the importation of negroes and appropriated to the building of publick bridges and paving streets. The ordinary expences of the Governmt. is about £2000 pr. annum this currancy, extraordinary £2,500. The civil establishments is by Superior and Inferior Justices and Justices of the Peace chosen by the Assembly and commissionated by the Governour for the time being and military officers are elected and chosen in like manner. Signed, by order and in behalfe of the Genl. Assembly of H.M. Colony of Rhode Island etc., J. Jencks, Govr. Endorsed, Recd. 17th, Read 25th Jan., 1731/2. 3 pp. [C.O. 5, 1268. ff. 38–39v.]
Nov. 9.
475. Council of Trade and Plantations to the Duke of Newcastle. Enclose copy of representation of Assembly of Barbados. Continue: Your Grace will perceive thereby the declining condition that island is reduced to, not only by a hurricane etc., but likewise as they alledge, by the trade carried on between the Northern Colonies and the French islands; This is a matter of so great consequence, that we must desire your Grace would be pleased to propose to H.M., that he would graciously recommend the consideration of the Sugar Trade in general to this Parliament at their next meeting; the several propositions which the Assembly have suggested for their relief, being of such a nature that they can only be attain'd by Act of Parliament. Autograph signatures. 1 p. Enclosed,
475. i. Representation of Assembly of Barbados to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Copy of Aug. 27 supra. [C.O. 28, 40. Nos. 10, 10 i; and (without enclosure) 29, 15. p. 239.]
Nov. 9.
476. Mr. Popple to Governor Worsley. Requests information as to value of Governor's perquisites (as 26th Aug.) Adds: By the Minutes of what passed when several of the petitioners were heard at the Board, it was alledged by some that the perquisites arising to the Govr., who presides in the Court of Chancery, is Ordinary, Vice-Admiral etc. were computed at about £2,000 pr. annum, tho' the precise summ could not be ascertained. I take this opportunity of congratulating you upon your return into Engld., and of desiring you will excuse my giving you so immediate trouble upon your return. [C.O. 29, 15. pp. 240, 241.]
Nov. 10.
477. Lt. Governor Gordon to the Council of Trade and Plantations. This is his first opportunity of answering queries of 10th June etc. Continues: I know not of one law in force in this Province that can in any way affect the trade, navigation, or manufactures of Great Britain, nor do I know of any trade carried on here that can be injurious to that Kingdom; for as the merchants and leading people of this Colony principally depend on the British trade, it is their manifest interest to carry that to the greatest height they are capable. Of manufactures, we have neither woollen nor linens that are exported, but as this countrey chiefly depends on, and subsists by, raising of wheat with some tobacco in the lower counties, all that the husbandmen can spare from the sustenance of their families is commonly sold by them to pay for the British and West India goods they want, and they are so far from laying up anything in store out of their crops that they are too generally in debt, and if they were not industrious in making some cloathing, especially the coarsest sorts for themselves, their families must be left naked: yet I have never heard that so much as one peice of woollen made in the countrey has been sold from the makers, those from the North of Ireland and Germans of both which we have considerable numbers have sometimes sold a peice or two of linen of their own making to their neighbours, or others for the buyers' own use, but none for exportation. The merchants and traders of this Province use their utmost industry in contriving methods to make returns for the British goods imported, and if more of such returns could possibly be made, more of such goods would be purchased, therefore all restraints on the people to prevent their furnishing themselves with necessaries by their own industry as cloathing, iron work for building ships, houses and the utensils of husbandry, as some have inconsiderately proposed, would have no other effect than to render so many of H.M. subjects much more miserable and altogether useless, without bringing any manner of benefit to Britain, for as no man sells goods but in expectation of being paid, and as the country, as the case now stands, purchases as much of British goods as it can possibly pay for, 'tis in vain to oblige the people to buy more, that is, what they cannot pay for. The only method therefore to make these countries more profitable to Britain, I conceive with submission, would be to encourage them to raise some other produce than they have hitherto been accustomed to. The vent for wheat flour and bread depends on the crops of other countries and is therefore uncertain. Returns by tobacco, peltry, pitch and tar (which two last we receive from our neighbours) and by building of ships, is somewhat more sure. It has been thought that iron would be a more certain return, but those concerned in these expensive works have from the loweness of the price in Britain been disappointed in their expectation. An encouragement has been given by our Assemblies for raising of hemp, but no great progress has hitherto been made in that commodity, tho' in time it may be more considerable. But I have earnestly press'd it on our Assemblies to promote the making of raw silk, for which this countrey seems to be as well fitted as most in the world, but persons skilled in winding it from the balls are wanting, and scarce any here can fall into the method, so that very small advances have hitherto been made in this produce, yet as raising of silk is said at first to have gott footing but by very slow steps even in so populous a country as France, by proper encouragements 'tis not improbable but in time it may also obtain in these parts. Signed, P. Gordon. Endorsed, Recd. 24th, Read 25th Jan., 1731/2. 2¾ pp. [C.O. 5, 1268. ff. 35– 36v.]
Nov. 10.
478. Same to Same. Having very lately received, a letter from the President of H.M. Province of New York, with a Minute of a meeting of the Commissioners for Indian Affairs at Albany, and the resolves of the Assembly of that Province, touching the encroachments of the French, encloses Copies etc., not doubting but the whole matter will be fully represented by him etc. Continues:—The French, on some pretence claiming all lands lying on any waters, of the mouths or inletts of which into the sea they are possessed even as high as their first fountains, and some of the branches of Mississippi flowing through the back parts of Pensylvania, they consider the Indians setled therabouts as seated on their lands and as such treat with them, by which means they are incessantly endeavouring to bring over all our Indians to their interest, and its much to be feared their endeavours of late have been but too successfull. About one half of our Indians were of the Shawanese, or as the French write them Chouanois, a people that removed into this province above 30 years since from a river of that name to the southward. These people from an apprehension that the Six Nations were not well affected to them have mostly removed backwards, and this last summer have putt themselves under the protection of the French: Being informed of this I sent a message to the Six Nations proposing to try, if by a treaty and presents, any method can be found to bring those Shawanese back, but the messenger is not yet returned. Those of the Shawanese who removed thither are reputed to be near 300 men, they are bold warriors in their way, and if entirely gained from us, on a rupture may prove dangerous, not only to us, but the rest of the main. The French also have gained over a considerable part of the Six Nations, who have generally been look'd upon as our greatest strength. To confirm this account and to strengthen the information given to the Commissioners for Indian Affairs at Albany, I herewith likewise send a copy of an examination of one of our Indian traders lately taken before me. These encroachments, and the daily acquisition of new strength thereby to the French interest, together with their practices on our Indians, will be found to be of such importance as may deserve the serious attention of your Right Honble. Board etc. Signed, P. Gordon. Endorsed, Recd. 24th, Read 26th Jan., 1731/2. 2 pp. Enclosed,
478. i. President Rip Van Dam to Lt. Governor Gordon. Having lately received an information of the Commissioners for the Indian Affairs at Albany of the encroachments the French are making on the frontiers I caused the same to be laid before the General Assembly at their last sessions who thereupon have addrest me not only to represent the same to the Court of Great Britain, but also to the Governors of Connecticut, the Massachusetts and Pennsilvania etc. Encloses following, "that your Hour. may take proper means for the defence of H.M. subjects, and as well as myself lay this matter before H.M. and beg his royal directions for our behaviour" etc. Signed, Rip Van Dam. Endorsed as preceding. Copy. 1 p. Enclosed,
478. ii. Commissioners for Indian Affairs to [? President Van Dam] Albany. 25th Sept. 1731. By the inclosed Minute your Honour will perceive that the French are still active to make new fortifications and strengthen themselves on a place so near to our Northern Plantations that it puts us in a great consternation considering the defenceless condition wee are in, and God only knows what the designs of these our vigilant ennemys may turn to while they endeavour to encroach upon us on all sides and to interrupt our trade, so that we hope the Legislature will take our naked condition into their consideration and use such means as will bring us to a posture of defence. Signed, Evert Bancker and 7 others. Copy. ¾ p.
478. iii. Minute of Commissioners for Indian Affairs, 25th Sept., 1731. Messrs. Johannis Evertse Wendel and Isaac Kip being yesterday arrived from Canada, etc., say that in their going up thither they found the French employed in erecting a fort at the Crown Point on the South end of Corlaar's Lake near the carrying place above Sorahtogue, in which work was 80 odd men concern'd which at their return they found compleated, and inclosed with stockadoes, and likewise they have finished a house of 40 ft. and were busy to erect two more who design to strengthen the same by inclosing it with a stone wall next spring as the aforesaid gentlemen were credibly informed in Canada etc. They have likewise heard that the French positively design to go up next spring with 200 men to Tiederondequatt which is on the south side of Kaderachque Lake above Oswego near the Sinnekes country in order to stop the English trade at Oswego. They are also informed etc. that Jean Ceur was gone out to bring over to the interest of the French a new settlement of Indians above Niagera who have been in commerce with the inhabitants of the province of Pennsilvania. Endorsed, Recd. 24th, Read 26th Jan. 1731/2. Copy. 1 p.
478. iv. Journal of House of Representatives of New York, 30th Sept. 1731. Upon taking the above information (Nos. ii and iii) into consideration, the House are justly apprehensive that if these encroachments are not prevented, they may prove of the last consequence, not only to this Colony, but also to several others etc., inasmuch as the French can march from the Crown Point in three days to Albany itself, whereby the frontiers would be extreamly exposed, in case a rupture should happen between that Crown and Great Britain; and that in mean while they may at Tiederandequat obstruct the bever and furr trade at Oswego, which has been acquired there at a vast expence, and therefore resolved etc. that the President be addressed to represent etc. as encl. i, and that the Commissioners of Indian Affairs at Albany be directed to employ proper persons, and such as have an interest among the Six Nations, particularly among the Sennekas, to dispose them to prevent the French from annoying them or obstructing our trade with the Indians at Tiederondequat etc. Copy. 2 pp.
478. v. Examination of Jonah Davenport, Indian trader, taken before Lt. Gov. Gordon. Philadelphia. 29th Oct. 1731. Examinant says he is lately come from Allegeney where there are now Indian settlements consisting of about 300 Delawares, 260 Shawanese, 100 Asswekalaes, and some Mingoes. Last spring was four years a French gentleman in appearance, with five or six attendants came down the river to a settlement of the Delaware Indians on Ohio River which the Delaware Indians call Kithanning with an intention as examinant believes to enquire into the numbers of English traders in those parts, and to sound the minds of the Indians. He spoke the Shawanese language, with whom examinant has conversed, but, few of the Shawanese being then there, nothing of moment passed. In the spring of 1730 the said Gentleman returned with about five attendants and had some discourse with the Shawanese touching the English and French interest and endeavouring to perswade them to unite themselves to the French, and took with him 10 or 12 Shawanese to Montreal etc., some of whom at their return told Examinant that they had been civilly treated by the French Governor and that they intended to go and live among the French. Last spring the same person returned with the same number of attendants, one of whom was called his brother who being a gunsmith wrought for the Indians during his stay amongst them. The French made a considerable present to the Shawanese in powder, lead and some woollen goods which they returned by another large present. Several conferences were held between them, the result of which was etc. that the Shawanese should remove themselves amongst the French, which examinant verily beleives they soon intend to doe. The French gentleman again took with him at going 15 or 16 of the Shawanese who were not returned when this examt. left Allegney etc. Examinant in his dealings with the Mingoes now called the Six Nations has frequently heard some of these people mention the extraordinary civility of the French to them and that attempts were making to induce them to break from the English interest. Signed, John Davenport. Endorsed, Recd. 24th, Read 26th Jan., 173J. Copy. Signed, P. Gordon. 1¾ pp. [C.O. 5, 1268. ff. 40–41, 42, 43, 43v., 44v., 45v.–47v., 48v., 49v.]
Nov. 10.
479. Lt. Governor Gordon to the Duke of Newcastle. Encloses following proceedings of a Court of Admiralty, when John McFerson, Paul Green, John Thompson, John Harney and John Cole, mariners, were sentenced to death for seizing and sinking a Portuguese ship etc. Continues: "But it not appearing on the tryal that they had been guilty of any murther, the Commissioners recommended to me to suspend the execution of the said sentence till H.M. pleasure is known" etc. Refers to depositions. The matter was first discovered by Williams, the Master of the ship Joseph, who has since absconded. The goods mentioned are carefully secured and a claim thereto is entred in behalf of some Portuguese merchants etc. Prays for directions. Signed, P. Gordon. Endorsed, Rd. Jan. 3. 3 pp. Enclosed,
479. i. Proceedings at a Court of Admiralty at Philadelphia, 15th Oct., 1731. Trial of above five for piracy "one league from the island of Tercera being one of the islands called the Western Islands or Azores." Copy, Signed, Pat. Baird, Regr. 10 pp.
479. ii. List of goods found in possession of above pirates. Robt. Charles, Navl. Offr. 1 p.
479. iii. Deposition of Emanuel Joslin, of Philadelphia, merchant. On his voyage from St. Christophers for Virginia on the Joseph, Thomas Williams master, they spoke with above pirates on board the Portuguese ship, who asked for provisions etc. Disregarding deponent's protests, Williams took the pirates and their goods on board the Joseph. They sank the Portuguese pink etc. 7 pp. Sign'd, Emanl. Joslin.
479. iv. The examination of John MacFerson. Examinant having been badly treated by the Portuguese in the ship John Pink of Bristol, in which he shipped from Lisbon, connected with several other Englishmen in like case to seize said ship at Tercera etc. Signed, Jno. McFerson. 4½ pp. [C.O. 5, 1234. Nos. 12, 12 i–iv.]