CHAPTER IV.

FROM THE YEAR 1687 TO THE YEAR 1708.

Various plans for improving the island suggested. All fail. Price of provisions, in the year 1707. Jealousies with which the Company's prerogatives were guarded. Shoals and banks in the neighbourhood of the island. Design of forming a settlement at Tristan d' Acunha. Design abandoned. Death of Governor Blackmore. Captain Johnson succeeds as Governor. Is assassinated by part of his garrison, who plunder the treasury, and make their escape. Captain Kelinge's government. An insurrection of the Blacks. Governor Kelinge's death, and succession of Governor Poirier. Distilleries suppressed. Two Company's ships cut out of the Roads. Death of Governor Poirier, and succession of Mr. Goodwin. Arrival of Governor Roberts.

WHEN the persecution of the reformed religion, in France, under Lewis the Fourteenth, forced many valuable subjects of that country to seek refuge in distant climes, the little island of St. Helena, notwithstanding the late disturbances there, was deemed a desirable asylum by Captain Poirier, who, with a large family, arrived on the 6th of January, 1689. This gentleman was recommended to the attention of the Governor and Council as a good and worthy character, and was appointed to succeed to a seat in Council. Captain Poirier, being accompanied by several French Protestants, who understood the management of vineyards, lands in the neighbourhood of the district called Horsepasture were appropriated for the cultivation of the vine, in the view of making wine, and brandy. The experiment, however, at that time, does not seem to have succeeded.

The state and condition of St. Helena, and the manners of its inhabitants, about this period, are described by Captain Dampier, who visited the island in 1691, in, the following words:

"The common landing-place is a small bay, like a half-moon, scarce five hundred paces wide between the two points. Close by the sea side are good guns, planted at equal distance, lying along from one end of the bay to the other, besides a small fort a little further in from the sea, near the midst of the bay. All which makes the bay so strong, that it is impossible to force it. The small cove, where Captain Munden landed his men when he took the island from the Dutch, is scarce fit for a boat to land, and yet that is now fortified.

"There is a small English town within the great bay, standing in a little valley between two high steep mountains. There may be about twenty or thirty small houses, whose walls are built with rough stones; the inside furniture very mean. The Governor has a pretty tolerable handsome low house by the fort. But the houses in the town before mentioned stand empty, save only when ships arrive here; for their owners have all plantations farther in the island, where they constantly employ themselves. But when ships arrive, they all flock to the town, where they live all the time that the ships be here; for then is their fair, or market, to buy such necessaries as they want, and to sell off the produce of their plantations.

"Their plantations afford potatoes, yams, and some plantains and bananoes. Their stock consists chiefly of hogs, bullocks, cocks and hens, ducks, geese, and turkeys, of which they have great plenty, and sell them at a low rate to the sailors, taking in exchange shirts, drawers, or any light clothes, pieces of calico, silk, or muslin; arrack, sugar, and lime-juice, is also much esteemed, and coveted by them. But now they are in hopes to produce wine and brandy in a short time, for they do already begin to plant vines for that end, there being a few Frenchmen that are to manage that affair. This I was told, but I saw nothing of it, for it rained so hard when I was ashore, that I had not the opportunity of seeing their plantations.

"Had we all come directly hither, and not touched at the Cape, even the poorest people among them would have gotten something by entertaining sick- men. For commonly the seamen coming home are troubled, more or less, with scorbutick distempers, and their only hopes are to get refreshment and health at this island, and these hopes seldom or never fail them, if once they get footing here. For the island affords abundance of delicate herbs, wherewith the sick are first bathed, to supple their joints, and then the fruits, and herbs, and fresh food, soon after cure them of their scorbutick humour. So that in a week's time, men that have been carried ashore in hammocks, and they who were wholly unable to go, have soon been able to leap and dance. Doubtless the serenity and wholesomeness of the air contributes much to the carrying off these distempers; for here is constantly a fresh breeze. While we stayed here, many of the seamen got sweethearts. One young man, belonging to the James and Mary, was married, and brought his wife to England with him; another brought his sweetheart to England, they being both engaged by bonds to marry at their arrival in England; and several other of our men were over head and ears in love with the Santa Helena maids; who, though they were born there, yet very earnestly desired to be released from that prison, which they have no other way to compass but by marrying seamen or passengers that touch here. The young women born here are but one remove from English, being the daughters of such. They are well shaped, proper, and comely, were they in it address to set them off."

The abundance of fresh provisions and vegetables which the island produced was much more than adequate to supply the demands of the few ships employed, at that period, in the India trade. Several tracts of valuable land remained, at the same time, waste and unoccupied. A knowledge of this circumstance led the Company to entertain hopes of deriving further advantages from St. Helena, than solely as a port of refreshment and rendezvous. A design was formed to establish plantations of sugar-canes, cotton, indigo, and tobacco; and encouragement was held out to the inhabitants for the cultivation of the three last mentioned productions; but the first was intended to be reserved exclusively in the Company's hands. It was recommended, as a preparatory measure, to fence in the great wood at the eastern side of the island, now called Long Wood; and the Company's governments in India were instructed to send the necessary plants and seeds for promoting the undertaking. Mr. Cox, who had formerly resided in the West Indies, was sent out to superintend the sugar-works and plantations at St. Helena. The saltpetre, with which the earth was supposed to abound in many situations, induced the experiment also of collecting it, if possible, in sufficient quantities to render it an article of exportation. Similar hopes were formed in respect to sea salt, produced by the effect of the sun, in the hollows of rocks by the sea side. Ample instructions were forwarded for the formation of salt pans, and Rupert's Valley was considered as the place best calculated for the experiment. At the distance of about half a mile, or a little more, from the sea, this valley branches off into several others of less breadth, but increasing in width as they rise towards the interior of the country. One of them terminates in a form somewhat resembling a bowl, above a mile across, which, probably, might once have been the crater of a volcano. In heavy rains, the streams of water from the different gullies and ravines collect in united force, and, accompanied with mud and stones, rush in a torrent, which suddenly accumulates by supplies from the hills on either side, until its impetuosity so increases, that, unless large sums of money were laid out to protect the salt pans, they must have been overwhelmed and destroyed by the inundation. As the same objection would apply, though perhaps in a less degree, to almost every other valley on the island, the prosecution of the idea was soon laid aside.

From the numerous brackish springs to be met with, in many places, at so great an elevation as to set aside all conjecture of their connexion with the sea, the probability may be inferred that a search might produce the discovery of rock-salt; but this question must be left to the consideration of those skilled in natural history, or to the more certain test of experiment.

The attempt to collect saltpetre, as well as sea salt, was also abandoned as impracticable. The Company had also expended considerable sums in the purchase of sugar-mills, and other apparatus, but their expense and trouble proved abortive, through negligence, mismanagement, or ignorance; and Mr. Cox was dismissed from their service, in which he had enjoyed the rank and salary of a member of Council. The defective state of the records prevents us from ascertaining why the plantations of cotton and indigo failed; but the spontaneous growth of tobacco, for many years, and even in the present time, evinces the soil and climate to be congenial to that plant. About the same time, a number of other plants, shrubs, and timber and fruit trees, were introduced. Among these were the cocoa-nut, cypress, and chesnut; pears, plums, apples, cherries, peaches, apricots, mulberries, gooseberries, currants, barberries, quinces, raspberries, medlars, nectarines, filberts, and walnuts. Of these fruits only the apple, peach, mulberry, and quince, have come to perfection. The thriving state of the few cypress trees and cocoa-nuts that still remain, as well as of those that have been recently planted, renders it a matter of surprise, that, considering the anxiety of the Company to effect their propagation, they were not more generally cultivated.

A further supply of yams was imported from Madagascar, for the sustenance of the additional number of Negroes that were procured to forward the plantations, and other works in contemplation; but, in consequence of the disappointments already mentioned, this extraordinary accession of labour was necessarily appropriated to the purposes for which the island was principally maintained. Fresh provision became so abundant, that, to ensure a regular and constant demand, a clause was inserted in the charter-parties of ships in the Company's service, obliging their owners to purchase a certain quantity of beef, the price of which, in the year 1683, was sixteen shillings per cwt. alive. But, as the demands upon the island increased with the prosperity and trade of the Company, so the value of provisions became enhanced in the same ratio; and the price of beef, in the year 1707, was twenty-five shillings per cwt. The market rates of other articles, in the same year, will appear by the following list:
    l. s. d.
  Veal, per lb. 0 0 6
  Pork, ditto 0 0 4
  Bacon, ditto 0 0 10
  Running hogs, ditto 0 0 2
  A sheep 1 0 0
  A goat 0 8 0
  A fowl 0 1 0
  A turkey 0 5 0
  A goose 0 5 0
  Potatoes, per bushel 0 4 0
  Yams, per cwt. 0 6 0
  Milk, per gallon 0 0 6
  Butter, per lb. 0 0 10
  New milk cheese 0 0 4

Another article of sustenance, or rather of luxury, was derived from the numerous eggs laid by the sea-birds on the detached rocks round the coast. The property in the eggs was considered as one of the Company's royalties; and certain days in the week were specified on which the inhabitants were permitted to collect them. This indulgence having been abused, notice was given, by proclamation, that any person taking eggs, except upon the appointed days, should forfeit their privilege for the remainder of the season[1]; and with so much jealousy were such prerogatives guarded, that in Captain Johnson's government, a man who had taken a sea-cow, and had appropriated to himself all the oil obtained from it, was fined five pounds for not having presented a share of it to the Company[2].

The abundance and variety of fish caught with facility all round the coast, suggested an idea that banks might be discovered in the neighbourhood of the island, sufficiently productive for the establishment of an extensive fishery. Orders were, in consequence, transmitted, by the Court of Directors, for ascertaining this point; but with whatever alacrity these views might have been seconded by Government, it is pretty certain that the quantity of fish taken, at any time, has in no very great degree exceeded the daily consumption of the island. The small open boats in which the St. Helena fishery has hitherto been carried on, are not calculated to venture any considerable distance from the shore, or to take the full advantage even of such banks as have already been discovered. The most productive of these banks is New Ledge, situated about six miles to the S. S. W. of the island. It is composed of rocks and sand, and its soundings are from twenty-five to forty-five fathom; but its limits are by no means ascertained. A boat has been known to strike soundings at forty-five fathoms on this ledge, when five leagues distant from the land. It is only in the finest weather that boats can lay there; and they are obliged, on the least appearance of wind, to cut from their moorings, and run in with the utmost expedition. About four miles nearer to the shore is Speric Ledge, on which there are four fathoms and a half of water; and here the sea, at times, breaks with such violence, that destruction would inevitably be the fate of any description of vessel that should attempt to lie on it in rough weather. Barn Ledge lies two miles off Prosperous Bay. Its soundings run from four to sixteen fathoms, and there is good fishing on it while boats can remain there. Though it is not liable to the disadvantage that attends Speric Ledge, with regard to the violence of the sea, yet a fresh breeze would render it very hazardous to fishermen in a small boat. The principal bank known to leeward is called Goodwin's Ledge, from its having been discovered by Governor Goodwin. It is about three miles distant from the land, with soundings from fifty to eighty fathoms. Less risk is to be apprehended from heavy seas on this ledge than upon those to windward; but dreadful accidents have, notwithstanding, frequently happened by boats being blown out to sea, and the unfortunate fishermen have perished miserably. It is hard to say what degree of success might result from the employment of fishing vessels of a proper description, capable of remaining out several days with safety and comfort to their crews. Banks, as yet unknown, might be explored, and fished on with great advantage, and an important addition acquired to the natural resources of the island: but, in time of war, there might certainly be objections against adopting this system.

The late discoveries and improvements in the science of navigation have demonstrated the practicability of performing, in eight weeks, a passage which formerly required double that period of time. It had been a long-established opinion, that ships bound from Europe to St. Helena must necessarily proceed into nearly as high a latitude as the Cape of Good Hope before they bore up for the island. This, of course, precluded any idea of adopting it as a port for the outward-bound trade; and the want of so desirable a convenience induced the Company to send out three ships successively, to ascertain whether such an accommodation could be discovered at the islands of Tristan d'Acunha. The commanders employed in this expedition were ordered to communicate the result of their observations to Governor Blackmore; who, in, the event of receiving a favourable report, was instructed to send a Governor and garrison to the proposed settlement, with all necessary tools and implements for erecting a small fort. Encouragement was also held out for a certain number of families to remove thither from St. Helena, with whatever breeding-stock they might think proper, passage free. These islands are three in number, the largest of which is properly called Tristan d'Acunha, and lies in the thirty-seventh degree of south latitude, and in the twelfth degree west longitude from Greenwich. On the north side there is anchorage from twenty to thirty fathoms, opposite to a safe landing-place, and an abundant cascade, from whence good water can easily be procured. In addition to these advantages, it is situated not more than fifty leagues out of the track of ships bound from Europe to India and China. But the reason for relinquishing the design is not mentioned in the St. Helena records. By the account given in Sir George Stanton's narrative of Earl Macartney's embassy to China, it appears that the islands of Tristan d'Acunha were more than once regarded as an eligible situation for a settlement. One set of adventurers "had the project of rendering it a mart for the change of the light manufactures of Hindostan, suited to hot climates, for the silver of the Spanish settlements in South America, in the route between which places it is conveniently situated. The other plan meant, was only as a suitable spot for drying and preparing the furs of sea-lion and seals, and for extracting the spermaceti of the white, or long-nosed whale, and the whalebone and oil of the black species."

On the 1st of October, 1690, Major Blackmore closed a troublesome government, and a long life, by a fall from the path-way on Putty-hill. He was succeeded by Captain Joshua Johnson, the Deputy-Governor, who, in three years after, fell a victim to the mutinous spirit by which the early annals of St. Helena are characterized. Four instances of mutiny had already occurred. The last was quelled with infinite trouble and much bloodshed; but a fifth was unfortunately, attended with too much success to the conspirators.

Henry Jackson, a serjeant in the garrison, formed, with several soldiers, a plot to plunder the Company's treasure, and effect their escape in a ship called the Francis and Mary, then lying in the Roads, bound for Angola. The difficulties which they must necessarily have bad to surmount in the execution of their scheme, had little weight with villains determined to carry their point through blood and massacre. The period fixed for striking the blow was Friday, the 21st of April, 1693, when, in the tour of duty, Jackson became the serjeant of the fort guard, His accomplices, amounting to thirteen in number, were introduced within the gates before he delivered the keys to the Governor, who retired to rest without the slightest suspicion of what was to follow. In the middle of the night, the apartments of the Surgeon, and other Company's servants who resided in the fort, were visited by the conspirators, who disclosed their intentions separately to each person, and offered proposals to receive them into the confederacy. A rejection of these terms was followed by immediate confinement in a close and miserable dungeon. Four persons were intimidated by threats to assist the party. Having secured all within the walls, except the Governor and his family, further operations were suspended until daylight. At reveillé beat, the Governor, in total ignorance of his danger, came out, in his dressing-gown and slippers, to deliver the keys to Jackson, by whom he was instantly seized, and a scuffle ensued between them. At this moment some of the villains fired three shots at the Governor, one of which passed through Jackson's arm; but the Governor being wounded in the head, dropped immediately. After this every access into the country was guarded, to prevent the escape of those who might desire to spread the alarm, as well as to secure such as should approach the town; and messages were sent to several persons in the valley, in the Governor's name, requiring their attendance at the fort. As they entered, they were secured by the mutineers, and imprisoned in the dungeon, which was soon crowded with about fifty persons, whites and blacks, in a state nearly approaching to suffocation. One of the mutineers proposed blowing up the prison with gunpowder; but this atrocious design was prevented by Jackson. The horrors of the unfortunate Mrs. Johnson's situation were aggravated by the brutal indecorum of the ruffians, who dragged her out of bed, and forced her into a closet, whilst they rifled the house, and secured the treasure. Nor was she suffered to visit her dying husband till nearly two hours had elapsed; when, at the Surgeon's earnest entreaty, he was permitted to attend him, and inspect his wounds, which were found to be mortal. The guns were then spiked, and the two small pieces of ordnance placed by Sir Richard Munden on the eastern eminence over the town, were dismounted, and their carriages tumbled town the precipice. Captain Kelinge, the Deputy-Governor, and Captain Pitts, commander of the Francis and Mary, had also been seized. These gentlemen, with Messrs. Lufkin and Goodwin, and R. Gurling, who had been taken from the dungeon, were compelled to accompany the mutineers on board the ship, where they conveyed the treasure, and all the valuable articles they could collect. Being thus in possession of hostages, Jackson was determined not to leave the island without the requisite supplies for the voyage. In this view Mr. Goodwin was allowed to go on shore about eight o'clock that night; and he was desired to inform the people in the town, that if a shot was fired at the ship, the hostages should immediately be put to death. In the mean time, the persons in the dungeon, to their infinite joy, were liberated. On the following morning, the supplies for the ship were procured; and Captain Poirier, on whom the command had now devolved, came into the town, with a number of the inhabitants from the country. Several proposals were made to fire. into the ship, as many of the guns had been unspiked; but, fortunately for the hostages, this measure was prevented by Captain Poirier. A boat was dispatched from the ship, with one of the mutineers, for the articles demanded by them; but he was informed that they should be delivered half way between the ship and the shore, if the hostages were sent in a boat to meet them. This was positively refused; and the mutineers declared, that until their wants were supplied, Captain Kelinge should not leave the ship. Necessity forced a compliance with these terms; and, after the ship was beyond the reach of gun-shot, the hostages were put into a boat, with the four men that had been compelled to join Jackson's party, and were suffered to return on shore. By that time the Governor had died of his wounds. As an act of justice to Captain Pitts, Mr. Kelinge gave him a paper, under his hand, certifying that the Captain was innocent of any wilful part in this horrid transaction. From the conversation, on board, it was imagined they would sail for America; but it was afterwards deemed more probable that their destination was Ireland[3].

In this manner was the death of the Governor effected, in the heart of his own garrison, by fourteen men, in open day; the fort plundered, and every necessary supply obtained by the villains, upon their own terms, even while under the guns of the fortifications.

Nor had a calm of a few months succeeded before the island was nearly consigned to the miseries of new insurrections. A general spirit of insubordination continued to threaten the public safety. It pervaded almost all ranks and classes. Planters, soldiers, and blacks, were alike infected. The militia were preparing to insist on being commanded by no other officers than those of their own election. Nor could this conspiracy be counteracted by any expedient but that of reducing the strength of the disaffected by enlisting several of their numbers into the garrison. There was also a continual apprehension of the blacks rising against the whites; a circumstance which sufficiently proves the laws respecting blacks were far from ensuring that subordination and rigid subjection which the severity of the code was intended to establish. Governor Kelinge very narrowly escaped the fate of his predecessor. A conspiracy of the blacks was formed to massacre the European inhabitants, to seize a ship, and convey themselves to their native countries. Jackson's success gave encouragement to such an enterprise. Fortunately this plot was discovered in time to prevent its consequences; and the ringleaders were secured, and many of them punished by repeated and severe flogging, and then sent off the island. A more dreadful sentence awaited the three principals. One was "to be hanged in chains, alive, on Ladder Hill, and starved to death; two hanged and cut down alive, their bowels taken out, and their quarters and heads to be put in some publique crossway, for the publique view of all Negros."

In truth, notwithstanding all that has been alleged in vindication of slavery, yet, to the unprejudiced and disinterested eye, it must, at best, appear as a flaw in the jurisprudence of a civilized nation. But if in any case its existence be deemed requisite, it surely becomes policy, as well as a moral duty, to suppress the temptation to revolt by ameliorating the condition of the slaves, and reconciling them to it by every humane method consistent with prudence; instead of having recourse to laws so execrable as to drive to desperation minds previously agitated by injury and misfortune. As this, however, is a subject that has been so fully discussed by much abler pens, it will be sufficient here to remark, that since the slaves have been placed on a footing more suitable to men than to brutes, no insurrection, or even serious riot, has either taken place or been apprehended; nor, if we can judge from the experience of the last twenty years, is any such event likely to occur.

On the 30th of November, 1697, Mr. Kelinge died of a dropsy, and was succeeded by Captain Poirier. The late Council having consisted only of the Governor and Deputy-Governor, the new Governor, on his accession, was left without a colleague; he therefore called in an assistant, Mr. Thomas Goodwin, who had some time been employed in the Store-keeper's department, and was afterwards confirmed third in Council.

The futile efforts of weakness to maintain a tottering authority, constitute the characteristic features of this Government. To recount the numerous and gross insults offered to the Governor would be as unpleasant as uninteresting to the reader. Though proclamations for the observance of morality were issued, they could be to very little purpose, when an example was exhibited, even in the Chaplain, of debauchery and faction; and the conduct of the Deputy-Governor was marked by a turbulent and mutinous disposition[4]. The tax upon spirituous liquors, mentioned in the preceding chapter, was intended to operate as a prohibition of the distilleries; but it was by no means adequate to prevent intemperance. The number of stills upon the island became, at last, such a nuisance, that they were all suppressed, in the year 1700, by orders from England. Another attempt at insurrection by the blacks was punished by the execution of the principal ringleaders. The disorder of the times is further evinced by the numerous civil and criminal prosecutions, actions of assault and defamation, that encumber the records. The punishment usually inflicted was termed "riding the wooden horse," because the delinquents were placed astride upon a horizontal beam, and remained in this situation a certain time, with one or more muskets tied to each leg.

The Governor had directed, that all ships should send a boat into Banks's Battery before they attempted to enter the Roads. His want of resolution to enforce this order, and to oblige the Company's ships to lie close in shore, occasioned the loss of two of them, namely, the, Queen and Dover, both of which were taken on the 1st of June, 1706, by a French force, under the command of Monsieur Desduguieres, on his return from India. At seven o'clock in the morning a signal was made for two sail in sight, and report described them as large ships, under Dutch colours, approaching the island: at ten they were opposite Banks's; and a gun being fired from thence (according to custom), they lowered their topsails, and saluted with five guns. One of them immediately stood towards the Queen, and running along side, poured in a volley of small-arms from the tops, which the Queen returned by a broadside, but was soon boarded, and taken. The enemy then hauled down their Dutch flag, and displayed French colours; and, both proving two-deckers, the Dover was also obliged to strike. As soon as this breach of the law of nations was perceived, orders were given, by the Governor, to fire upon the enemy from the batteries; but a sufficiency neither of powder nor match was at hand, and many of the spunges did not fit the guns. This occasioned such confusion and delay, that the French, with very little molestation, cut the cables of their prizes; and, after firing a few broadsides at the batteries, were soon out of the reach of gun-shot. Monsieur Desduguieres had, some years before, visited the island, in time of peace, when he had been suffered by Governor Poirier to sound about the coast wherever he pleased, and to send his officers into the country, on pretence of shooting; but it is said they were very differently employed, and made what ever surveys they thought proper; so that the French commander was well aware of every circumstance that could oppose the execution of his plan. From several large ships passing the island immediately after the capture of the Queen and Dover, it may be inferred, that Monsieur Desduguieres might have brought a larger force to accomplish his design, had he thought the difficulty of the object would have required it. To guard against a second misfortune of this nature, the Company positively directed that all their ships, whilst they remained at St. Helena, should moor close in under Ladder Hill; and ordered, that no ship whatever should be suffered to pass Banks's Battery, without previously sending in a boat to request the Governor's permission for anchoring. The utmost endeavours were likewise exerted to carry forward the defensive works at Rupert's Valley, which had been commenced some time before, but had received much damage from floods.

The establishment of a new East-India Company, in prejudice to that already existing, is an occurrence so far connected with the present History, that it cannot with propriety be passed unnoticed. The jealousies and party spirit which resulted from the clashing of different concerns and rival interests, could not fail to create trouble, and even some degree of animosity in the settlements abroad, as well as in England; nor was St. Helena totally exempt from these disturbances. The orders for exacting a duty of twenty shillings a ton from every East-India trader, not in the Company's service, that required refreshment at the island, were repeated during Captain Poirier's government; and, in consequence of the refusal of supplies to one of the new Company's ships, except in terms of the old Company's orders (who were the sovereigns of the island), the commander endeavoured to obtain by force what lie might have procured in a legal manner; and sent a boat, manned and armed, towards one of the leeward valleys for water. The Governor, however, frustrated the attempt by detaching a part of the garrison, with orders to roll down stones on the watering party, but not to proceed to further hostilities, unless the boat's crew commenced a fire. Shortly after this, the new Company sent an agent to reside at St. Helena, for the purpose of communicating instructions to the commanders of their ships. But as this was a measure for which the Governor and Council had received no sanction from their employers, the agent was informed, that whatever letters he was intrusted with should be delivered to the persons to whom they were directed; but that he himself must embark for England by the first opportunity. A termination to these, and similar differences, was shortly after effected by the incorporation of the old and the new Companies, into one, under the title of the United Company of Merchants of England, trading, to the East-Indies. On this occasion St. Helena was transferred from the old to the united East-India Company, in whose possession, as Lords Proprietors, it has ever since remained.

On the 8th of September, 1707, Captain Poirier died of a lingering disease, and was succeeded by Captain Goodwin, who governed about eleven months. During this period, the Alarm-House[5], on the ridge dividing a branch of Rupert's Valley from that of James's, was built, and the works at Lemon Valley repaired. On the 24th of August, in the following year, Captain Roberts arrived from England as Governor, and Captain Goodwin in consequence returned to his former situation of Deputy-Governor, and soon after died.

As we now approach a juncture when the island was rescued from a state of disorder and degradation by the able and energetic measures of Governor Roberts; and, as his wise administration forms a most striking contrast to that of his predecessors, it will be proper to reserve the account of his government for a new chapter.


  1. Extract from consultation of the 8th of October, 1707:
         "Whereas there was usually granted by the Governor, from time to time, as he thought fit, liberty to gather eggs upon the Right Honourable Company lords proprietors' egg islands, which, for some years past, have been appointed, by the late Governor, to be Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, which days are still allowed by the present Governor. But finding, that there has been (notwithstanding they have thereby granted them as much as the said Lords Proprietors) eggs gathered upon those days when they should not.
         "It is therefore hereby declared, that if any person or persons shall presume any more to gather eggs upon any other but their granted days, that then such boat, and people therein offending, shall lose their said privilege the whole season."
     
  2. Proclamation, dated the 28th of August, 1682:
         "It is ordered,
         "That, from the first of September next, whatsoever free planter, or other inhabitants, shall find any of the sayd fish, called sea-cows, or others of the like nature and quality, on the shore of any part of the sayd island, he may boyle the same, and convert it into oyle, and take it to his owne proper vse and behoofe; provided always that hee forthwith send, or cause to be sent, the eighth part, or gallon, of all the sayd oyle so made, vnto Fort James, and deliver it to the Governor, or such as he shall appoint, as an acknowledgment of the said Honourable Company's royalty and property, and for their use and service.
         "Further it is ordered,
         "That, from the same time, if any officer or souldier in the sayd Honourable Company's pay shall find any such fish above mentioned, he may convert it into oyle, and send one third part, or share, thereof vnto Fort James, as aforesayd; the other two thirds he may dispose of as he it pleaseth, provided, and it must always be remembered, that all persons concerned in this matter be just and right in the division and distribution of this commodity betwixt the Company and themselves."
     
  3. For the information of such readers as may wish for a more particular account of this conspiracy, the following copies of some depositions, which were taken a few days after, are here inserted:
         "Richard Gurling, being sworn, saith, that on the 22d day of April, 1693, he went down to the fort, in the morning very early, with Captain Pitts, Thomas Goodwin, Andrew Rooker, and Hugh Bodley; so soon as they were all entered in the fort, Serjeant Jackson stepped before them, with a fuzee in his hand ready, and said, 'Gentlemen, stand, and yield yourselves prisoners, or else you are all dead men.' Jackson came to him, whom he asked what was the matter; who answered, 'Damn you, I'll kill you as soon as another man, for all you are my father' (for Jackson had married the said Gurling's daughter-in-law); so was immediately put into prison till the evening, and then was called up to go on board with them; which at first denying, but considering that if he was forced to remain in prison all night, thought he should have died before morning (having been almost stifled already), being so many together in such a small room, so was carried on board, with Captain Kelinge, Captain Pitts, Thomas Goodwin, and John Lufkin. Further saith, he remembers Jackson asked him his counsel privately on board, and he answered him he could not tell him what counsel to give him; and then the said Jackson said he would go any where where Captain Pitts would have him. Jackson further told him, that himself, John Wensley, and Robert Lightfoot, would hold together, and put Thomas Gartry and his family on shore at Ascension. Also saith, Captain Pitts wept bitterly, and desired he might have liberty to go on shore, but Jackson told him no harm should come to him, for he would stick by him as long as he had a drop of blood; and that be heard Captain Pitts say, that they had best go to the Cape of Virginia, and as they met with ships coming out, to distribute their company.
    (Signed) "RICHARD GURLING."
    The deposition of Thomas Goodwin,
         "Saith, on Saturday, the 22d day of April, 1693, very early in the morning, being in his house in Chapel Valley Town, Captain Thomas Pitts, commander of ship Francis and Mary, then in the Roads, came to call me to go on board with him, as was agreed on the night before, who went, together with Andrew Rooker; so going towards the fort, met with Hugh Bodley and Richard Gurling, who were together towards the water side, to call the boat on shore, and thought to have gone through the fort as usual; as soon as all were within the fort, Serjeant Jackson stept out of his room before us, with a fuzee in his hand, cocked and guarded, said (or swore) 'Stand, and yield yourselves prisoners, or, before God! you are all dead men.' I was going to lay hands on the Serjeant, thinking he had been a drinking, but before I could do so, I saw several other soldiers behind us, who said to same purpose as did the Serjeant, and further added, that their design was to do us no harm, but take the ship, and go away; so conveyed us all but Captain Pitts to the dungeon. At the mouth of the dungeon was much blood; which made Andrew Rooker to say, 'Lord have mercy upon us, there is blood spilt already.' Going into the dungeon, we found several people there, who told us the Governor was killed, or desperately wounded. Afterwards, as people came to the fort, our number was increased in the dungeon till we were almost stifled with heat. About sun-set in the evening, I was commanded out of the bole, with Mr. Lufkin and Richard Gurling, where we found Captain Kelinge and Captain Pitts; then we were all five conveyed on board the ship, where it was said Captain Pitts should be their navigator, that Captain Kelinge, Mr. Lufkin, Richard Gurling, and myself, as hostages, that the people might not fire upon them, and that they might have what necessaries they yet wanted. As soon as we were on board, we went into the great cabin, where was a great parcel of fire-arms, without ammunition, which lay in our way, which I took hold of to put under the table; then came Wensley, swearing desperately he would secure you too: this fellow coming on rashly, stumbled, and fell down, but before he recovered, we made him understand we were only putting them out of the way. We that were on board as hostages, were much afraid of the people's firing on the ship which were on shore, and then at liberty, knowing that if they fired we should presently suffer, therefore entreated that one of us might be permitted to go on shore, to dissuade the people therefrom, and to tell the great danger he was now in that should be their Governor; which was granted, and that I should be the man; and they demanded some dry beans, lemons, &c. Then I desired Captain Kelinge to give me some small note, which might empower me to seize those that would be refractory, and to take those beans, &c. where they could be found; which, upon consideration, was granted, viz.
         'Mr. Goodwin,
         'Whereas I am confined,' &c. &c.
    "Which note the rogues liked very well, and sent me off, about eight or nine of the clock, with two Negroes to row the boat, and ordered that their necessaries might be got ready by the next morning; which, with the assistance of Captain Price, did get ready.
         "Before the next morning much people came out of the country; and, as there were many men, so they were many minds; some for firing on the vessel, and sink her, so in a great hurly-burly; but we were like men of war without guns, for I searched the line round, and found them all spiked up. About the break of day we cleared, primed, and shotted several of our guns; tho' not to be fired so long as Captain Kelinge, &c. were on board, knowing that the life of one honest man was better than the death of so many rogues. In the morning there came one of their crew, viz. Stephen Lancaster, to the rocks, with Negroes to row the boat, and demanded some of their necessaries; but was answered, that they should send a boat half way betwixt the ship and the shore, with their prisoners, and then they should have them, for they were ready; who went off immediately, saying, 'I smell a rat;' for he saw Andrew Rooker, the armourer, clearing some of the vents of the great guns. Not long after they sent another of their rogues, viz. John Wensley, demanding those goods again, saying, that they would not be brought to compound upon any terms, but would carry their prisoners out of gun-shot before they would release them, and further added, that they had liked to cut the throats of their hostages on Stephen Lancaster's words (who was before on shore), but that they knew him to be a lying rogue; therefore he came to know the truth; and further said, that an axe was laid to the cable, to cut if he fired his fuzee, tho' they sunk presently; and that the prisoners should not have the honour to sink with them, for they would presently be killed. I desired him to put his boat to, and he should have his necessaries, which he did, and by the time one hogshead of beans was in the boat, there (by chance) fired in the fort in firelock, which made this fellow sware desperately he would fire; but I, with much persuasion of him, and telling him I would go on board with him as his prisoner, caused him to forbear; so I went off with him, which put our people on board in a less fear. I was commanded on shore again to fetch other necessaries, viz. a frying-pan, &c. they had formerly forgot, and was commanded to come on board with them, which I did; and when they weighed anchor, set sail, and run two leagues off, then they put George Lock, Isaac Slaughter, Joseph Davis, and Richard Evans, into our boat, saying, that what Lock, Slaughter, Divis, and Evans, did, they were forced to it by them; so release Captain Kelinge, John Lufkin, Richard Gurling, and myself, with two Negroes they had on board. Further sayeth not.
    (Signed) "J. GOODWIN."
     
  4. The Deputy-Governor, who had, in the most unprovoked manner, insulted the Governor, Poirier, and challenged him to fight, died on the 25th of May, 1702, and was succeeded by a Captain Toddington; but little advantage resulted from this change. Toddington, from the first day of his landing, showed a disposition to quarrel with the Governor; and, in a short time, his language might justly be termed mutiny. The violence of his conduct, at last, obliged the Council to suspend him; but submission, and protestations of future good behaviour, induced his restoration in a few days. He did not, however, long hold his situation; for the records exhibit a subsequent instance of his being brought before Council, as a private individual, to answer a charge for a breach of the peace against his former friend and associate, the Chaplain, with whom he was now at enmity.
     
  5. Extract from consultation, the 24th of September, 1707:
         "Whereas it hath been, for some time past, intended and thought on to have a house built on the Alarm Ridge, for the lodging of arms and ammunition, and posting of two soldiers, in order to guard the ammunition and to fire the alarm guns there as soon as they descryed any ship or ships, or upon the hearing of Prosperous Bay guns fire; it is an hour before those guns are fired after the Bay guns; and also for the conveniency of lodging the whole party posted there in the night time, to prevent their going home to their several houses, as usually did; and we thought it very necessary and convenient to go and take a view of the said Alarm Ridge, to see which was the most convenient place to build a house on. Upon the viewing of Lemon Valley, to consider what was needful to be done there, with the approbation of John George Newman, Engineer, have laid out a platform of three guns, to be erected on the east side of the valley, with a house of thirty feet long and ten broad, with a chimney; and that a powder-room be built at the backside thereof; and that a platform of two guns, with a small powder-room, to hold only cartridges of powder, on the west side of the valley; both of which are upon two little hills, clear from any floods, and will certainly make the place impregnable."
         N.B. The force at that time allotted for the defence of Lemon Valley, consisted of an officer and two soldiers.

Chapter V