Skip to main content

<Letter to Arthur Dobbs Esqr. Govr. of No. Carolina, in answer to one from him dated Decr. last.>

To Arthur Dobbs Esqr. Governor of North Carolina.


Bund. E.52 & 53. We have received your Letter to Us dated in December last; inclosing your Answer to several of Our general heads of Enquiry concerning the present State of the Province under your Government, and We hope that when the proper Officers shall have furnished you with the Information you have required of them, you will send Us a full and complete return to those Questions which remain unanswered.
vide supra 49. The inclosed Copy of Our Letter to you of the 14th. of April 1761 (the Original of which We fear may have miscarried,) will fully inform you of Our Sentiments upon the Claim of the lower House of Assembly, that the Quorum should consist of a Majority of the whole House and upon the irregular Method of passing and auditing the Publick Accounts; But as We find by your last Letter that the Assembly still persist in their unreasonable pretensions, and have also unjustly and unconstitutionally admitted persons to sit amongst them who have been chosen Representatives for Towns and Counties, without the King's Writs issued for that purpose, and have refused to pass Acts for incorporating Townships upon Petitions from the Inhabitants setting forth their Qualifications; We have thought it Our Duty to communicate Our Sentiments & Resolutions upon those points to their Agent and Representative here, hoping that they will, by this gentle & moderate Method of proceeding, be led to a proper consideration of their Errors and of the ill Consequences that must result from their undutifull Conduct and from such indecent and unreasonable Opposition to the just Authority of the Crown.
Vide May 28th. June 2d. 3d. The inclosed Extract of the Minutes of Our proceedings upon this Business will shew you what has passed upon the Occasion, and therefore it only remains for us to take notice of those parts of your Letter, which regard the Mode of remitting and applying the Money receiv'd from the Treasury by the Agent as the Share of your Province, in the Sums granted by Parliament, for making a Compensation to the Colonies for the Expences they have been at in the general Service, and the hardships which you say are suffered by yourself, and the rest of the Publick Officers from the Act passed in 1748, for establishing Fees of Office.

Before We enter however into any observations upon these points, it is necessary for Us to mention the great Difficulty and Embarrassment which has attended the consideration of every point, to which all your Letters to Us have reference, from the very incorrect, vague and incoherent manner in which they are expressed, in so much, that in many cases it is almost impossible, for Us to discover your meaning, or to apply any consistent Construction to what you propose; We likewise find upon having recourse to your Correspondence with the late Lords Commissioners of Trade, that your Letters to Us contain little more than Repetitions of Propositions made to them, upon which you had received their Sentiments and Opinion very fully and clearly expressed in their Letters to you.

This is more particularly the case with respect to the two points We have just stated, and therefore We should have contented Ourselves with referring you to their Lordships Letters upon these Subjects had not what you now say upon them been intermixed with new matter that seems to require some remarks.

We entirely agree with you in Opinion, that the Parliamentary Grant cannot be applyed to a more reasonable and necessary Service than the sinking that paper Currency, which was created for the Services that the Grant is intended to compensate for; But We cannot be of Opinion, that the doing this by buying up the paper currency with Bills drawn upon the Agent here, will be a more beneficial Method than the remitting the Money in Specie, which being substituted in the place of paper Notes, will occasion a Circulation of Cash, the want whereof has ever been the plea for a paper Currency, that having no intrinsick Value in itself has constantly depreciated to the great prejudice and loss of the British Merchants nor does it appear to Us, that the Method you propose will be less liable to fraud than the other, since the Treasurer in the buying up the Paper Currency by Bills upon the Agent, may undoubtedly, if such Fraud is connived at, make the same unjust Advantage of the difference between the nominal and depreciated Value of the paper Currency as you state then would do in the exchanging Cash for them, and in this Case the fraud will not be confined to them alone, but others will be Sharers in it, who cannot be so easily checked or punished as persons in Office who by the Laws of the Province and the Nature of their Appointments are liable to account.

We do not however state this Opinion to you as meaning to convey any direction or Authority to you, in what way to act in a matter which is entirely within the Province and Department of the Lords of the Treasury, and in which, if their Lordships do not think proper to give any directions, it must be left to your own discretion to act as you shall think best, for the Publick Interest & Advantage, upon full Consideration of such Facts as it is impossible for Us at this distance to be apprized of.

We must not however omit taking some notice of what you say concerning that part of this Money appropriated for building a City upon Neuse River, upon which point you have expressed your Sentiments so confusedly, that We are totally at a loss to guess what you mean by supposing, that unless this Act is repealed or confirmed, the Money will be locked up in the Treasurer's hands; had this Act been passed, as it certainly ought to have been, with a Clause suspending it's Execution until the King's Pleasure had been known, your meaning wou'd have been obvious, but as there is no such Clause, and as the Share of your Province of the £50,000 allowed to the Southern Colonies has, We suppose, been long since received by the Agent, We know of nothing that can prevent the Act from being carried into execution, unless His Majesty should repeal it which We shall not take upon Us to advise, so long as the Reasons that induced the passing it and which appear from your Letters to the late Board to be so well founded in reason and good Policy, stand unimpeached.

If any new Circumstances had occurred to alter your former Sentiments upon this Measure, it would have been your Duty to have stated them to Us, but as you have not mentioned any such, We cannot conceive upon what ground it is, that you suggest the necessity of repealing it.

It was matter of great Surprize to Us that after the late Commissioners of Trade had so clearly expressed their Opinion of the propriety of settling the Fees of Office by Provincial Laws, you should still continue to state the Law passed for that purpose in North Carolina as an Encroachment upon the Prerogative of the Crown, We do entirely agree with them, that it does in no case come within such a description, but on the contrary is not only justified by the Example of like Laws in every other Colony, but is also in itself the most reasonable, effectual and Constitutional Method of settling Fees, that can be followed.

It is true indeed that some Laws of this kind have been repealed, but not upon any Objection to the Principles of them, but only when it has appeared, that the Fees settled have not been in proportion to the Service to which they were applyed, or were considerable less than what reason allowed and usage had established.

This Objection however does not materially apply itself to the Provisions of the Act in Question; no Complaints of it in this respect, have ever been made, during the long Continuance of its Operation, by any publick Officer whatever except yourself.

Had your Predecessors in the Administration of the Government apprehended themselves to be aggrieved, or their Interests affected by this Law, either with respect to the Fees established for Grants of Land (the only case in which you represent it to be injurious to you) or in any other respect; they would doubtless have complained, and their Complaint would have had the greater Weight, from their being in that disadvantageous Situation which you are happily freed from, of having no Allowance whatever from the Crown for their Support.

As to the disadvantage which you say attends the Officers entitled to Fees under the Authority of this Act, from the depreciated Value of the Paper Currency, it is certainly a general Inconvenience resulting from the present State and Circumstances of the Province, in reference to it’s Credit and Currency, operating equally upon all persons in all Cases of Payments whatever, and is in no degree a partial prejudice arising from the Provisions of a particular Law, and therefore it does not appear to Us that it can be reasonably urged as an Objection to the Fee Bill, the Repeal of which would not only in Our Opinion be unreasonable and unjust, but highly prejudicial to the Officers concerned in it, who would in such case find it extremely difficult in cases of Refusal of Payment to recover Fees established by any other Authority which, considering the propriety of the thing in general and what has ever been the practice might reasonably be disputed.

But were the reasons urged for the Repeal of this Law as cogent, as they are weak and futile, We should have just ground to doubt the propriety of such a measure when We consider that it will expire by it’s own limitation in the next Year, and therefore if there had been any reasonable Cause of Complaint, the proper way to seek redress would have been to have stated the Objections when the making a new Law came under consideration; and, in case the Legislature refused a Redress, to have appealed to His Majesty's Justice and solicited the Repeal of the Law.

vide supra fol. 200. We are sorry to find, that you apprehend you have reason to complain of the Conduct of the Deputy Auditor, but as he is an Officer appointed by and entirely subordinate to the Auditor General, it is impossible for Us to interfere in this matter, and all we could do was to communicate your Complaint to him who will We doubt not take proper Measures to check and prevent any Abuse or neglect of his Officer.

Mr. Berry the Chief Justice of North Carolina, having applyed to Us by his Agent here to be reinstated in the Council upon the first Vacancy, We have thought it adviseable upon a Consideration of the peculiar hardships of his Case, in being set aside after he had sat and acted in the Council under your Appointment to propose that he should be appointed in the place of Mr Swan, but shall nevertheless have a due regard to your recommendation of Colonel Dry upon the next Vacancy.

These were transmitted with the Packet An Order of this Majesty in Council repealing this Act and an Act for establishing Vestries.

Vide E. Fol. 51.

The Death of the late Bishop of London happening before We had received any Report from him upon the Laws for establishing Vestries and making provision for an Orthodox Clergy, We thought it Our Duty to refer them to the present Bishop, who having favored Us with his Opinion and Sentiments upon them, We have made Our Representation to His Majesty, and shall not fail to transmit to you such Orders as His Majesty shall think proper to give in consequence thereof.

We are

Sir &c.