Skip to main content

My Lords

By my 128th. Instruction I am commanded to lay before your Lordships the Wants & Defects of the province, the chief Products, what new Improvements are made or may be made by the Industry of the planters, or what Advantages may be made by Trade, & which way His Majesty may contribute thereto.

What I have chiefly observed since I came here, as to the Wants & Defects of the Province, is first the want of a sufficient Number of Clergymen to instil good Principles & Morality into the Inhabitants, and proper Schoolmasters to instruct their Youth, the Want of which occasions an Indolence, and want of Attention to their own good, which with the warmth of the Climate, and plenty they have of Cattle and fruit without Labour, prevents their Industry, by which Means the price of Labour is very high, and the Artificers and Labourers being scarce, in Comparison to the Number of Planters, when they are employ'd, they won't work half, scarce the third part of work in a day, of what they do in Europe, and their wages being from 2 Shillings to 3, 4, and 5 Shillings ⅌ diem, this Currency, the planters are not able to go on with Improvements, in building or clearing their Lands, and unless they are very industrious to lay up as much as can purchase 2 or 3 Negros, they are no ways able to cultivate their Lands as Your Lordships expect, and consequently the Clause of Cultivation must be lessen'd, or relax'd, and only be kept as a Rod over them, to prompt them to be industrious, otherwise young, or new planters, cou'd not venture to take up Lands, and those who are rich can't get hands to assist them to cultivate, until they can buy Slaves, and teach them some handicraft Trades. But as all the chief Planters now are sensible of these Wants and Difficulties, the Assembly is determined to give a proper Encouragement to learned & pious Clergymen, and to encourage Schools; But am of Opinion it wou'd be of great Service to His Majesty and to Britain, and great Satisfaction to the Inhabitants; If a Bishop was appointed, or a Clergyman with Episcopal Power, to confirm the Youth, to visit and keep the Clergy to the Duty, & to concur in putting the Laws in Execution, by removing them if convicted by a Jury of any great Immorality, non Residence or Inattention to their Cure, & to put persons qualified into orders, without the Expence trouble & Delay and of going to be ordain'd licensed by the Bishop of London; without giving them any other Judicial Power by spiritual Courts, as in Britain, which only occasions Rancour & Divisions between the Bishops and Laity in Britain, and that the Power of Excommunication for enormous Immoralities shou'd only extend to their being excluded from the Rights of the Christian Church, without any Civil Incapacities fines and Penalties, as have been inflicted by the Popish Church to raise the Power of the Clergy; another Defect of the Province is the defenceless State of the Sea Coast, and the want of a sufficient Depth of Water for large Ships to carry away Lumber in the Northern part of this Colony, the River of Cape Fear being the only River capable of receiving Ships of considerable Burthen, by having a tide to carry them up a great way into the Country, the Rivers of Chowan, Roannoak, Pamlico & Neuse, being very large, and defended from the Violence of the Sea by a Chain of Islands, which run almost from the Capes of Virginia, to Topsail Inlet, and even as far as New River, through which there are only a few narrow Inlets; Currituc not having above 6 feet water; Roannoak not above 10 or 12 often less by shifting Sands, Hatteras often closed up, and Ocacock only having a Depth of Water upon the Bar of about 16 feet at high Water, sufficient to bring in Ships to a safe road, but having no tides through these narrow Inlets, and great Freshes within, from these great Rivers, a Swath or loose Sand is formed within the Islands, upon which there is not above 8 or 9 foot water, which often shifts, therefore no Vessel of Burthen can pass it until they discharge half their Cargo, and can only return again half loaded and have the remainder sent down in Lighters, Sloops, or Perriaguas; and during last war for want of a fort to defend the Entrance, the Privateers seeing the Masts of Ships within, over the low Sandy Islands; went frequently in and cut out the Ships from the Harbours, or Load within, and carried them to Sea; Topsail Inlet, or Core Sound is a very safe Harbour with deep water, and no Bar, but having no navigable River within, no considerable Trade can be carried on from thence; and as there is an extream fine but small harbour, with a good large safe road, found lately at Cape Lookout; which the French & Spanish privateers found out, and frequented last War, which lyes within a few Hours Sail of Ocacock to Northward, and Cape Fear to Southward, and almost within Sight of Topsail Inlet, there is an absolute necessity of erecting a fort there, as well for a Safety for our Merchants, and small Cruisers, as to prevent our Enemies from lying there in Safety; but as there is a Sum of Money in Bank to erect forts there; and at Ocacock, and one already built at Cape Fear, and the Colony very poor, & in Debt, it is humbly hoped that His Majesty will place an independent Company upon the Establishment, of 100 Men for this Province, not only to garrison these forts and one in our Frontier, but also to assist the Revenue Officers to prevent an illicit trade and to assist, if necessary, the Surveyors to resurvey his Majesty's Lands, in order to prevent Frauds in the Receipt of the Quit Rents.

The chief products at present in this Colony are pitch, Tar, Turpentine, and other naval Stores, Lumber of all kinds, Rice, Indian Corn, Pork, Beef, Hides, Deer Skins & Furs, Bees & Myrtle wax, Cotton, Indigo, which now they are enter'd upon with great Spirit, as finding it, from what has been tried, to be equal to any in America, and all the back Lands and other rich Lands near the Sea, it thrives in to admiration; The Climates very proper for Silk, Mulberry Trees from the Seed become Trees in 3 or 4 Years; Wines may be had higher up in the Country, among the Hills near the Mountains, where there is a great Variety of native grapes, which yield rich Wines, which only want proper Vine Dressers to improve them; Iron Mines also abound in the upper Country, and some of the upper planters intend to erect Bloomeries or forges, hemp and flax, grow surprisingly, and flax Seed has been exported by the way of Pensylvania from hence to Ireland, which has been found to exceed the best Pensylvania and New York Seed, but for want of a direct trade to Ireland from hence being confin'd in our Exports to a very few Articles prevents the raising of flax; Here, except for the Consumption of the Colony, which for want of having Returns to send to Britain & Ireland, all the back Settlers are running into, to serve themselves with their own Linnens; Besides the several Articles, Tobacco wou'd thrive here, and is of a better kind, and yields more than in Virginia, but as that Article is rather over stocked, and wou'd prejudice the Trades of that Colony, we give no Encouragement here, none but the planters upon the Virginia Line, to Roannoack and Chowan being embarked in it as far as 2000 Hogsheads.

There are no Manufacturers set up here but one or two families who make a few ill made coarse hats, and some of the Irish back Settlers are beginning to the Linnen.

I shall now beg leave to lay before Your Lordships the Difficulties we ly under in this province in Relation to our Trade, which is a great Drawback upon our Improvements, and hope to make it appear to be equally so to Britain.

The Prohibition of the Trade of Salt from all parts of Europe, except Britain, to this & the Southern Provinces on the Continent, South of Cape Henlopen or Delaware, is a considerable Drawback upon our trade; the English Salt is not found so good as the French, Spanish, or Portugal Salt in curing our pork and Beef, being too mild, and the Isle of May, Tortuga, & Turks Island Salt, is too corrosive, eating away the Juices; but the Bay & Portugal Salt is a Medium between them, and found here the only proper Salt to cure pork & Beef for the Sugar Islands; And therefore the Enumeration & Limitation of this Trade, obliges us here to take that Salt at great Disadvantage from New York, and Pensylvania, at double freight, & a further advanced Price to the Northern Importer, so that no more Salt is taken from England by the Restriction; But if the Trade was open'd from hence to Portugal and Spain directly, for Salt, & Wine, which we only can have from Madeira, or the Azores Islands, upon which Account the Wines are risen to a great Price in England, as well as here, we shou'd open an immediate trade with Portugal & Spain for their wine & Salt, and should carry to them all kinds of Lumber, Indian Corn, Bees wax, Ships, and naval Stores, which they now take from foreigners, and have some Returns in Bullion, for to make Returns directly to Britain, for the choice Manufactures we must have from thence; when at present they cost the planters here near 100 ⅌. Cent Advance, having no Returns for Britain but at a Loss of above 30 ⅌. Cent discount, giving often 60 per Cent to procure Bills; this must necessarily oblige the planters & back Settlers to go into Manufactures to the great Loss of Britain.

We are also greatly cramped in our Trade to Ireland, having little or nothing we can send from hence there, except a little flax Seed, for Lumber will not answer without an Assortment of other produce from hence, so that Ships coming from Ireland must return empty; upon this account we are prevented from raising Flax, and what Flax Seed has been sent as a Specimen to Ireland, we have been obliged to Ship for Pensylvania or New York, to be carried from thence, which upon Tryal has been found to answer better in Ireland than any Seed from the Baltick, or Northern Colonies. The Trade from Ireland being also limited to Linnens, and Provisions which we don't want, and to Servants and Irish Protestants who choose to come to reside in this Province, the Ships for want of Returns carry them all generally to Pensylvania from whence at a great Expence they come by Land in Waggons to this Province, but their Wealth being expended, they are incapable of improving or cultivating the Lands they take up for some time, which is a great Loss to this Colony. The depriving therefore these Southern Colonies of sending most of the enumerated Commodities directly to Ireland, being obliged to enter every Ship first in England, and to land and reship their Goods, inhances the price so much without Benefit to England, that very little of the Produce from hence can be sold in Ireland, and they are obliged to take what they want with ready Money from Norway or the Baltick. Thus it stands as to naval Stores, Masts, Yards, Bowsprits, Tar, Pitch, Turpentine, Rice Indigo &c.: as to Rice it seems very surprising, that it shou'd be allowed to go to all Countries South of Cape Finisterre, and not allowed to be carried to Ireland, at least for their own Consumption, by which means I don't believe 5 Tons are carried in a Year from Britain to Ireland, if it was only intended to prevent it's being exported again from Ireland to Hamburgh or the Baltick, that might have been easily prevented, by not allowing it to be reexported from Ireland, only by it's not having a Drawback, nor can I find any Benefit to Britain that pitch, Tar, Turpentine, Masts, Yards, and Bowsprits, shou'd not be exported from hence directly to Ireland without a premium, since it occasions also those Articles, as also Timber & Deals to be imported into Ireland from Norway & the Baltick with ready Money from Ireland, whereas if sent from these Colonies the Cash wou'd be saved at home; by our remitting by Irish Bills to England, or Cash from thence, to answer the Payment of the rich Manufactures we have from England, not one of these Articles can now be carried from hence to Ireland, for if a Tun of these enumerated Commodities shou'd be taken on board and landed there, without carrying and entring the Ship in Britain, the Ship and Cargo wou'd be forfeited, and therefore no Ship can go from hence to Ireland with Staves or Lumber, because they can't carry a small Assortment of these enumerated Goods; If these Difficulties were removed, then we shou'd have an immediate Trade with Ireland for our Produce and take Linens in Return, and be able to make Remittances to England for their Manufactures, which wou'd entirely prevent these Colonies from manufacturing Linens, or entring into other Manufactures; It is also the same with Indigo, Ireland is now obliged to take these Commodities from foreigners with ready Money, which then they wou'd get for their Linnens. These are things so obvious when thought of, that I am surprised these confining Laws shou'd not be repealed, or allow'd of under proper Restrictions; as we have no Cacao Nuts of our own Growth in the Islands, I think the Prohibition of importing these Nuts from the Spanish or Dutch Settlements, can be of no Advantage to Britain or our Colonies, since if allowed at a moderate Duty, it might open some trade on the Spanish Coast, or with the Dutch, which might bring us some Return in Bullion, and at present it is run, and brought chiefly from the French, by the neutral Islands, Eustatia, St. Thomas, or St. Cruz; which wou'd be a further Vent to our Lumber and Provisions; These several Articles I lay before Your Lordships for your Consideration, But think until these points can be properly considered, that the Limitation of Portuguese & Spanish Salt & Wines, as also from the Streights, shou'd be immediately laid before the Parliament as also the taking off the Exportation of Naval Stores Rice & Indigo to Ireland; for England can gain nothing at present by the Restriction, as no Rice is imported into Ireland, and what Indigo goes from England to Ireland after receiving the premium in England is a Loss to England and an unnecessary Expence to Ireland, by obliging them to buy French Indigo at a higher Price than from our own Colonies; If Your Lordships approve of these Observations the Agents for these Southern Provinces will chearfully prepare Petitions on the Behalf of these Colonies to be laid before the Parliament a Draught of a Memorial to that Purpose I inclose with this to your Lordships, and a very short Bill wou'd repeal these restraining Laws, as far as may be found proper, with proper Restrictions, and this wou'd not only enable the Colonies to be at a further Expence in securing their frontiers, but add to their Zeal in supporting the Rights and Commerce of Britain.

These Observations I beg leave to lay before Your Lordships as I think they are of great Consequence to the Trade of Britain and the Colonies, and submit them to Your Lordships superior Judgment. I am with the greatest Respect

My Lords

Your Lordship's most obedient

and most humble Servant.

Arthur Dobbs

North Carolina.
(1.) Letter from Arthr. Dobbs, Esqr. Govr. of No. Carolina to the Board, dated at Newbern the 4th of Janry. 1755, relating to the Wants & Defects of the Province.


Recd. July the 2d.
Read —— 1755.

The Duplicate was Recd. before this.

With one Paper.