FROM THE YEAR 1708, TO THE YEAR 1714.
The building of Munden's Point battery. — The present Castle in James's Valley commenced. — Hopes of discovering a gold and copper mine, fallacious. — Lime quarries discovered. — Improvement of the Company's lands. — Sugar, rum, wine, brandy, bricks, and tiles, made on the island. — General improvement in respect to planting and enclosing. — Re-publication of the old laws. — Application from the inhabitants in consequence. — Answer. — Government-House in the country erected. — Plan for fertilizing Prosperous Bay Plain. — Resignation of Governor Roberts, and succession of Governor Boucher. — His government. — Resigns.
AS security to the island was the first object of importance, the Governor's earliest attention was directed to the defences. On the day he landed, the engineer received instructions to give in a plan for a battery, to be erected at Munden's Point; and two days after, a resolution was passed in Council to construct the present square fort in James's Valley, and also a new Government-House. For the better completion of such structures in a permanent and substantial style, it was deemed expedient to obtain a cement superior to the mud-mortar applied in ordinary buildings; and the importation of chalk from England, to be burnt into lime at St. Helena (a measure adopted on a former occasion), being attended with great expense and inconvenience, it was judged essential to obtain that necessary article, if possible, on the spot. A reward of one hundred dollars was accordingly offered for the discovery of this useful article; and, in the course of seven weeks, the researches of Aaron Johnson, a soldier, were in part successful; but the quantity he could procure being inconsiderable, he was not deemed entitled to the whole reward. The offer, therefore, of a remuneration in proportion to the capacity of the quarry, was published, to stimulate further exertions. But in this research avarice soon received another incitement. Appearances of gold and copper ore were discovered, in Breakneck Valley, by Captain Mashborne, a member of Council; who, as well as many others, was prosecuting his search for lime. A proclamation was, in consequence, issued, offering a reward of two hundred and fifty pounds for the discovery of a gold-mine, and one hundred and fifty pounds for a copper-mine. But no signs of either could be found. The supposed gold discovered by Captain Mashborne proving, when assayed in England, to be marcasites, as whatever particles of metal it contained could not be separated, but evaporated in fume. Whilst numbers sought to gain one of the highest prizes, the less lucrative object of lime was not forgotten; and the exertions of the Governor and Captain Mashborne were crowned with success, by their actually finding mountains of extraordinary lime-stone at Sandy Bay. A kiln was immediately ordered to be built there; and it was ascertained by experiment that the process of burning could be performed as well by ebony as by coals. The ebony-tree is an indigenous production of the island, and formerly grew abundantly in many parts; but, its bark being adapted to the purpose of tanning hides, which were exported to England and the West-Indies, quantities of these trees had been unnecessarily destroyed, by stripping the trunks, and not taking the trouble of barking the branches; a practice which caused a shameful destruction of at least three trees, where one would have sufficed. To prevent a total extirpation of this wood, restrictions and limitations were not only laid on tanning but the process of burning lime was, in a few weeks, suspended, and the completion of the battery at Munden's Point postponed, till coals could be procured from England. In the mean time, the blacks were employed in breaking lime-stone, in Rupert's Valley, where it appears a quarry had been discovered. As the engineer of the island had been dismissed from his situation, Government was probably less anxious to forward defensive works, until professional assistance could arrive from England.
Whilst these measures were in train for fortifying the island and port, other points of moment were not disregarded. The state of the colony, in respect to planting and pasturage, demanded attention; particularly the condition of lands belonging to the Company, whose concerns had been much neglected, and even their interests sacrificed to private views, by permitting individuals to exchange unfenced grounds for improved Company's farms. The regulations noticed in the third chapter, obliging landholders to render an acknowledgement to the Company of one shilling annually for every beast pastured on the waste land, appears to have been entirely overlooked; till Governor Roberts, by the confiscation of five head of cattle, put an end to any further violation of this law. The fences upon all the Company's lands were ordered to be completed with the utmost expedition. Groves of gum-wood and lemon trees were planted, and nursed, and much care was bestowed on the cultivation of the shrub from which the castor-oil is extracted.
To carry forward the Company's works and plantations, it was judged requisite to procure two hundred slaves, in addition to the number already employed, which amounted to seventy-six, men, women, and children: and to provide sustenance for such an augmentation of numbers, became a subject of necessary consideration. A committee of three members of Council was ordered to survey all the Company's plantations, and report upon their capability; and to ascertain what contiguous grounds would answer for the cultivation of yams. By the committee's report, it appeared, that, after throwing out the exhausted plantations, no more yams could be raised than would suffice for fifty additional persons. But the hill between Friar's and Breakneck Valley, which had always been regarded as an unproductive waste, attracted the attention of Governor Roberts, and he judged that, with the aid of water, about two hundred acres of it might be turned to very good account. After consulting with several experienced planters, he submitted his ideas to the consideration of the Council, and proposed to convey a stream of water from the springs at the Plantation-House to the head of the ground intended to be enclosed, where he designed to excavate one or more reservoirs, to guard against the effects of drought, or a failure of the springs. It was calculated that fifty acres of the new ground would produce one million five hundred thousand yams; that this quantity, together with the five hundred thousand supplied by the plantations already in cultivation, would be sufficient, with Indian corn and beans, to maintain, besides the garrison, an additional population of two hundred blacks; and that, if the whole two hundred acres were enclosed, they would be adequate to the maintenance of one thousand persons. Such a system would not only put a stop to the expense annually and necessarily incurred by the purchase of those articles, but would also ensure an abundant supply of vines, and a sufficient stock of canes to make sugar, both for home-consumption and exportation. At this period, sanguine hopes were entertained of success in the manufacture of the last article. The Council unanimously concurred in authorizing the Governor to prosecute his plan at his own discretion; and in thirty-four days a plentiful stream of water flowed to the head of the new ground. About sixty acres were immediately ordered to be enclosed; and, by the expense incurred at the commencement of the work, the Governor was of opinion, that the whole could be completed for a less sum than his first estimate of one thousand two hundred and eighty-nine pounds twelve shillings. The remainder was determined to be taken in as soon as leisure would permit.
It is remarkable, that scarcely any further notice is taken of this plantation in any subsequent record; and it is difficult to say why it was suffered to go to ruin. The soil appears excellent; there could be no deficiency in the article of water, as, even so late as the year 1732, it was in contemplation to continue the water-course from thence to James's Valley, for the supply of the ships, the stream in that valley having become rather brackish by a mixture with the salt springs in its progress to the sea.
The failure of Mr. Cox in his attempts to bring sugar and rum to perfection, and the unsuccessful experiments of professed vine-dressers and vintners, did not, as has been already observed, discourage the hopes of Governor Roberts. Sugar-canes were found to flourish in Sandy Bay, and in other situations. In a very short time, the Governor reported his success to the Council, and was enabled to exhibit samples of sugar, rum, wine, and brandy. He also ascertained the practicability of making bricks and tiles.
To the influence of example in the good management of the Company's farms, and as an encouragement to the industrious, was added the force of proclamations to promote improvement; and persons to whom the appellation of drones became applicable, were sent off the island, and their lands allotted to others.
Many of the inhabitants derived a considerable income from letting out their slaves to the Company, as labourers, at the rate of one shilling and six pence per day (in former governments it was two shillings); but the Council now resolved, that no black should be hired by the Company, until his proprietor could certify that his land was fenced, and planted with a due proportion of wood. As a relief to those who, by putting their land in a proper state, were thus deprived of an immediate source of revenue, provisions to the amount of three hundred pounds were ordered to be purchased from all planters who had any to dispose of, although no immediate necessity for this measure appears to have existed on the part of the Company. But the Governor wisely judged, that if the general improvement of the island would be promoted by such an expenditure, the sum could scarcely be laid out to more advantage. By these and similar means, a spirit of industry was roused among the planters, and their attention directed to proper and useful objects. Decayed fences, and ruined plantations, gave place to well-managed farms; sloth and intemperance were succeeded by sober habits; and the face of the country soon wore a new appearance.
So little attention had been paid, under former governments, to the orders transmitted, from time to time, by the Company, as standing regulations, that it was doubtful whether a number of them were obsolete, or yet in force; and many land-holders were ignorant of even the terms upon which they held their possessions. Two members of Council were, therefore, intrusted with the charge of arranging the various orders sent out, and engrossing them in a book to be entitled Laws and Ordinances.
In the course of three months, the gentlemen reported their work finished, and a meeting of thirty-six principal inhabitants was convened at the country church, that the code might be read, and copies delivered to the churchwardens for general distribution. Notice was at the same time given (with the sanction of the Company), that any observations, or proposals, offered on the subject, by the inhabitants, should be delivered in writing, and Government would take them into consideration.
The convention of the thirty-six nominated twelve of their number to act for them; and this committee, on the 14th of June, 1709, presented the following
Propositions and Address to the Governor and Council.
"1stly.—They desire the chief families may have arms in their houses.
"2ndly.—In their friendly meetings and merry-makings, it may not be deemed as riots; and that upon any time, by order of the Governor, they will separate; if ever it should enter into his thoughts such meeting is for any evil intention; which they say God forbid it should.
"3rdly.—They desire they may not be corporally punished, in case any neglect their duty; but to be punished in their purses.
"4thly.—They humbly desire, that when their blacks are run away from them, they may not be obliged to pay fourfold for what they steale, but only to make sattisfaction for the thing stole to the person injured.
"5thly.—They desire, if there be a markett-house built, they mayn't be obliged to bring their goods out of the country to a publick markett.
"6thly.—They desire to have free liberty to sell beefe to shipps.
"7thly.—They desire that themselves may not be obliged to lead their doggs in a string but are willing their servants shall do it.
"8thly.—They desire the toll of cattle maybe taken off that they sell to one another, which is two shillings per head; for that the trouble of giving such accounts is more burdensome, to them than the thing itself.
"9thly.—They desire that the trouble they are put to, when they kill any cattle, in carrying the hide, hornes, and ears, to persons that has bin appointed for that purpose, may be redrest.
"10thly.—They desire they may not be obliged to fence in their land at all, it being a new thing they never heard of before.
"11thly.—They desire all other matters may be tried by jurys, besides life, limb, and land, as the plaintiffe shall think fitt.
"12thly.—They desire, that the liquors, &c. called Wholesale, being three gallons, may be reduced to one gallon arrack, four pound sugar, and one or two pounds of tobacco; and this be deemed a whole sale.
"13thly.—They desire that we would establish a certain rate upon liquors retayled by the punch-houses.
"14thly.—They desire to be tryed by the civill law, and not by martiall law.
"15thly.—They desire the liberty that they always had to go on board of any ship when in the Road, asking the Government first.
"16thly.—They desire to be eased something in the tax of paying ten shillings every year for each black they have.
"17thly.—They desire that each chief of family that has guns allowed them, may, for their diversion, have liberty to go a shooting.
"18thly.—They desire liberty to make use of the Great Wood and Common; otherwise they will be ruined.
"19thly.—They desire lessees may vote for 96 parish officers; and also serve in their turns.
"And all these grievances they humbly begg may be redrest, as by their ADDRESS, in the following manner:—
"ISLAND OF ST. HELENA:
"That whereas your Worship and Councill was pleased, on the 16th day of Aprill last past, to summons thirty-six of the principal inhabitants to the church in the country, and there to hear the laws read over, which was accordingly done: And forasmuch as we were a long time kept in the dark, and knew nothing of it; the inhabitants so summoned did, by a consent, choose twelve of us to inspect into them, and to make our remarks, upon the promise of your Worship and Councill, that in case of any grievance which appeared reasonable, that your Worship and Councill would be pleased to make address to the Lords Proprietors for redress.
"And this day we do with submission present the same to your Worship and Councill, with our remarks thereon, and hope you will find them reasonable. And, in the mean time, we shall be obedient to those laws and orders delivered to the churchwardens on the 26th of April last past.
"And whereas your Worship and Councill having represented to us the necessity we are in, for the good of ourselves and successors, to use means for the preservation of wood, which grows very scarce, and will inevitably be, at last, the undoing of the island and the inhabitants of it, if due care is not taken for the maintaining of wood in planting the same; Wee, making serious reflections on this account, come to this conclusion; viz.
"That every planter possessed of twenty acres of land, shall be obliged to enclose one acre, and plant it with wood, and so proportionably for more or less; and to take that care that no cattle or hoggs shall come to graze on the said land, that the said wood so it growing may not be spoiled. And also, that every planter shall, from the time of this resolution, be obliged to fence the said piece of land in three years time. This is to be understood of those planters that have no wood growing on their land, to take in any more land for the same purpose.
"After having made inspection into all the laws concerning this island which your Worship and Councill have bin pleased to communicate to us, to the end where we saw any thing that was not agreeable to peace, and against the common interest of the island, to make our remarks thereon, and to give our reasons for it, which we have done accordingly: We hope, if your Worship and Councill find any thing in those remarks and reasons that are not consonant with reason, will not attribute it to us, as done on purpose to infringe some of the properties that rightly belong to the Honourable Company and the Government of this place; but are willing to submit ourselves to any thing that reasonably shall be established by your Worship and Councill; and that every one of us will comply with the utmost of our power, for we all know we must submit ourselves to our superiors, not only for wrath, but conscience sake also. And we hope that every one of us and all together, will do our utmost endeavours to do any thing for the preservation of this island, and the good of the Honourable Company; and that we promise, that we will not be remiss in our military dutys; but when occasion shall present, wee will not be frugal of our blood, but ready to spil every drop of it for the preservation of the island, our wives and families, against any enemy that shall come here to invade us. And finally, we give your Worship and Councill our humble thanks for having bin pleased to communicate to us the aforesaid laws and constitutions for our perusal, that we might the better be enabled to know our duty (a thing which was never done before), but have always bin kept in ignorance of the same.
"We have no more to say to your Worship and Councill; but wishing you all the health imaginable in your government, and we quiet and peaceable living under it, which we beseech Almighty God to grant to you and us, we remain
"Your Worship and Councill's
"and obedient servants,
To each of the foregoing articles the Governor and Council annexed their answers: and the committee, on the part of the inhabitants, subjoined a declaration, expressive of their satisfaction to most of the Council's resolutions, as follows: first,
"As to armes, the Governor will give them his warrant in the following manner to such chiefs of families:
"Forasmuch as the principal inhabitants of this island have solicited to have armes in their houses, which they think very necessary to them (which the law prohibits), but the Governor and Councill have dispensed with it;
"Wherefore this does give leave and licence to you, Mr. A. B. for such necessary armes as you think convenient; which armes you it are to deliver up at any time when required by order of the Governor for the time being;
"And you have further power to seize any armes from any person that has not my licence; which armes shall be your's to dispose of as you think fitt, giving me notice of the person; and for so doing this shall be your warrant.
"Given under my hand, this 14th day of May, 1709, at the United Castle, in James's Valley.
And then ordered that the following declaration be issued out:
"These are to give notice to all persons inhabiting the said island, that none do presume to possess, keep, or carry, any armes, without leave and licence first obtained from the Governor, under hand and seale, upon penalty of twenty shillings to the Honourable Company, and having the same seized and taken from them by any person licenced thereunto, for their owne use, and to receive such corporal punishment as the Governor and Councill shall think fitt; and that no licenced person do lend, or permitt any person to make use of their armes, upon the penalty of having their licence and armes forfeited.
"Dated the 31st day of May, 1709. At the United Castle, in James's Valley.
"Signed per order of the Governor and Councill, per me,
"They are sattisfied.
"2ndly.—God forbid that any merry meetings and innocent diversions should be deemed riots: it's not the intent of the law.
"3rdly.—You shall not suffer corporal punishment for not coming to alarms; except it be in time of warr.
"4thly.—We shall dispense with that law of fourfold, and desire the Lords Proprietors to, repeal it.
"5thly.—As this law is not penall, we cannot see how it can be a grievance; and altho' marketts have never bin used, and not beneficial to the inhabitants, it is no rule it ever should, so in your favour we shall write to our Masters about it.
"6thly.—You desire free liberty to sell beefe. We shall write to our Masters in your favour about it.
"7thly.—You desire not to lead your doggs yourselves, but your servants.
"We shall dispense with it.
"8thly.—You desire the toll of cattle may be taken off, for that it creates you a great deal of trouble.
"It is necessary that we should know how you sell your cattle to one another, because of our Common, that it may both prejudice you and us too by not knowing it.
"9thly.—You desire that the trouble you are put to, when you kill any cattle, in carrying the hide, hornes, and ears, to persons appointed, may be redrest.
"We designe to make this trouble easier to you; but the law is of so great use to this island in generall: as for example, a man kills a beast, and sends for his next neighbour, he being a reputed man, and warranted by the Governor to have armes in his house; he shews him the mark of his beast that he has killed: That shall be a testimony sufficient, without going any further. Now the usefullness of it: A man loses a beast, and getts a warrant to search suspected houses, in which houses, if they find any beefe, if he cannot bring his testimony that he killed it at such a time, by such substantial men as aforesaid, or where he had the same, such person ought to be convicted.
"And we believe if it went as far as hoggs, goats, and sheep, it would be much to your benefit, for (if we are rightly informed) that several suspected persons eat more flesh than we think in reason and conscience they are able to do if they come by it honestly.
"And ordered that a new statute be penned accordingly, and sent home by this shipping to the Honourable Lords Proprietors, for their concurrance; and that it take force from the publication.
"10thly.—You desire you may not be obliged to fence in your lands at all; it being a new thing you never heard of before.
"This law has bin made above twenty-seven years ago, and no doubt but it hath bin published, for it is what you hold your lands by. And we must say, by this law, that what land is not fenced in, is, by course, the Lords Proprietors: We have no other way to know which is your land and which is theirs. However, because you say you have bin so long kept in the dark, by not knowing any thing of it, we shall, for this time, neglect our duty in making seizures, and will intercede with the Lords Proprietors that the time appointed for enclosing may begin anew from the 25th of March last. In the mean time friendly advise you to enclose as fast as you can, least we should be checkt for this our neglect of duty, and receive orders from them to make, seizures.
CAUSES BY JURYS.
"11thly.—You desire all other matters may be tryed by jurys besides life, limb, and lands, as the plaintiffe shall think fitt.
"No Governor and Councill will trouble themselves to give sentence upon intricate matters, and that may be of great importance, as you urge by giving a definitive sentence, tho' never so just, seldom pleases both partys, which creates an odium to the Governor and Councill, when the same thing may be judged by yourselves. As the Governor is Judge of that court, he ought to be a judge what shall be tryed by jurys, and what he himself will try in Councill; otherwise, a litigious man that hath wealth, and a cause depending with a poor man, altho' a trifling one, shall come and demand to be tryed by a jury, which will create the poor man such a charge that he will rather sit down in his wrong.
"The Governor would willingly put you in mind, that he hath refused to try severall causes in Councill, as some of you know.
"And, indeed, to take all this matter right, we look upon it as a burden our Masters has laid upon us to ease you.
"Sattisfied that the Governor shall be judge of what shall be tryed in Councill, and what in Court, except life, limb, and land.
"12thly.—You desire that the liquor called wholesale, being three gallons, may be reduced to one gallon arrack, four pounds sugar, and one or two pound of tobacco, be deemed wholesale.
"We cannot see what occasion there is to deem any thing wholesale less than what is expressed in the law, without prejudice and wrong to those who pay for licences. And you all know very well that you may have what small quantity you please out of the stores, even to a pound, or quart, of any thing.
"13thly.—You desire that we would establish certaine rates upon liquor retayled by the punch-houses.
"That the following declaration be issued out:
"These are to give notice to all lycencees, or retaylers of strong liquors, that a bowle of punch, made with one pint of arrack, with sugar and lemon answerable, be, from the day of the date hereof sold at two shillings per bowle, and no more, while arrack is at six shillings per gallon: and if any one presumes to exact more, shall, upon information thereof given to the Governor and Councill, forfeit their license, and double the value. Which pint of arrack aforesaid is to be put into such sizeable bowle as will not be too strong, nor yet too weak, but palatable and pleasant for the buyer. But if any lycensee or retayler of liquor shall think this not a sufficient proffitt, they may deliver up their licences, paying proportionable for the time they have had it, after the rate of four pounds per annum; which all such retaylers are to do within eight days from the date hereof
"14thly.—You desire to be tryed by civill law, and not by martiall law.
"We shall write to our Masters about it; we think it is but reason that the planters should be tryed by the civill law, except it be in time of war and action, or, that we hope never to see, rebellion, cowardice, neglect of duty, which may be the ruine of the island, and severall other misdemeanors, in time of action, which cannot be judged by the civil law; and we likewise design in our court martiall to choose such of the worthy people of this island to be of it.
GOING ON BOARD SHIPS.
"15thly.—You desire the liberty that you always had of going on board any ship or ships, in the Road, asking the Governor's leave.
"It is what our Masters say was never done at the Cape, or, as we know of, done in any other Dutch factory in India; however, if there be any urgent occasion, the Governor, at that time, will not deny them leave.
"16thly.—You desire to be eased something in the tax of ten shillings every year for each black you have.
"There is no nation under the hopes of Heaven, nay, we are apt to believe, if there be any wild people, they contribute to their own safety in some measure. And if any man will look into our mother-country, England, we shall there find the four shillings in the pound tax alone gives the Queen, every fifth year, their whole estate, besides taxes of window lights, parrish dutys, and Parsons tythes, and sundry other taxes, which every English man knows that he that has five hundred pound per annum never gets in above three hundred pound, and very well if that. And now that the Honourable Company has, for six years last past, paid for fortifications, by employing the blacks and artificers of this island, about fifteen hundred pound a year, besides the constant charge of the garrison, &c. for your preservation. We shall only now give you our Masters' reasons; but must tell you we little expected, at this time of day, such an article from you; which, indeed, as we find, by a medium of six years last past, amounts but to fifty-eight pounds per annum: a great mite to such a vast charge.
"The reason of which order is, as the Negroes increase upon the island, it will be necessary for the Honourable Company proportionably to increase the garrison and soldiers, for the security of the inhabitants, as well as the island.
LYSENCE TO SHOOT.
"17thly.—You desire that each chief of a family that have guns allowed you may have liberty to go a shooting for your diversion.
"You must keep within the law of the preservation of game. But if any person should desire any further priviledge, they are not to presume to do it without leave first had of the Governor, which is left to his pleasure to give or let alone.
"18thly.—You desire leave of the Great Wood and Common.
"Provided you will agree to make a law to plant one acre of wood in every ten acres of land you possess; otherwise you shall have no benefit of our Wood or Common, as our published order.
|"Agreed to and Sattisfied.|
"19thly.—You desire lessees may vote for election of parrish officers, and serve in their turns.
"We shall dispense with that, and write to the Lords Proprietors to repeal that law, and hope they will comply.
The land-holders, therefore (by the 19th article), readily acceded to any terms rather than lose the advantage of so valuable a common; and the proposition of the Council on this subject, as well as on the other articles submitted to their consideration, appears to have met with the acquiescence of the Company; but the law which required the hide, ears, and horns, of every beast slaughtered, to be exhibited to certain specified persons, was enforced with greater rigour than before.
Under the vigilant eye of the Governor, rapid progress was made in the work at Munden's Point; and the Company's orders for erecting barracks, which had been very incompletely effected under Governor Blackmore, were carried into execution. As a proper and commodious house was much wanting on the Company's principal farm (the present residence of the Governor), a suitable edifice was constructed there; and on account of its centrical situation, the Governor proposed adopting it as a place of arms.
To fertilize the extensive plain which lies between Long Wood and Prosperous Bay, was another object on which the. zealous mind of the Governor was intent. On examining the soil, he was convinced that, with the aid of water, it might be rendered productive; an opinion which has since been realized by an experiment of Lieutenant-Governor Graham. There is apparently little doubt, that, with some expense, this barren and unprofitable waste might be converted into a forest of cocoa-nut or date trees. Though it be far removed from any spring and too much elevated to derive advantage from neighbouring streamlets, Governor Roberts did not despair of success. He submitted his plan to the consideration of the Council, by whom it was approved, and the undertaking was, in consequence, commenced; but, unfortunately for the island, the short period of Captain Roberts's government prevented the execution of this and other designs. He had intimated to the Company his desire of returning to England, and Captain Boucher, who was appointed to succeed him, arrived at the island in August, 1711.
Captain Roberts's government may very justly be said to form a new era in the history of St. Helena. The preceding chapters sufficiently point out what must have been the state of the colony upon his arrival. The general disorder demanded a reform such as could scarcely be expected to take place within some years; but the accumulated defects which had arisen and multiplied under his predecessors, were at once corrected by his upright, decided, and able conduct.
At a meeting of the inhabitants, shortly after he assumed the government, he made the following declaration:—"Gentlemen, I am very jealous of my Masters' honour, and it is not in my power to receive any affront if I would; for, as I and these gentlemen of the Council represent them, so no affront can be put upon me, but must immediately fall upon the Lords Proprietors. No man shall come to me with a civil question but shall receive a civil answer; and I would have you assure yourselves that sudden affronts shall receive sudden punishment." To this resolution his actions well corresponded; the factions and turbulent were humbled before him, and attention to business, regularity, and economy, were established in every department; whilst strict justice, impartiality, a conscientious regard to the Company's interests, temper, candour, and humanity, distinguished the measures of this excellent Governor. His labours probably derived some aid from the chaplain, Mr. Tomlinson, who is mentioned as a worthy character, and is the first instance of such a clergyman that appears on record for thirty years back. A tranquillity hitherto unknown obtained, at last, a comparatively permanent foundation; and from this period the island assumed a new character.
But a vigorous execution of laws which had long remained disregarded, and the upright principles of Captain Roberts, appear to have rendered him obnoxious to those who were desirous of accommodating their private views at the expense of the Company's interest; and, as truth and justice could form no basis for open remonstrance, secret misrepresentation and detraction were the only weapons that could be employed against him with any probability of success.
George Hoskinson, a wealthy planter, had, by a breach of the laws, incurred a forfeiture of his lands; and is mentioned on record as a person who, with the exception of murder, "it would be no hard matter to prove had broke through all laws both of God and man."
Hoskinson had proceeded to England, and, by a plausible statement, recovered his possessions, and returned to the island, with Governor Boucher, in the capacity of Deputy-Governor. But the Company were soon undeceived with regard to his character; and his death, which happened shortly after, was probably the only circumstance which could have saved him from a disgraceful dismission.
Before Captain Roberts left the island, he offered his aid and advice to promote the improvements in progress, as well as those which had been in contemplation. As he was informed of charges against him for tyranny and oppression, particularly in the case of Hoskinson and his family, he requested that a proclamation might be issued, requiring his accusers to stand forth, and engaging, if it could be proved that he had acted with injustice towards any man, he would make retribution to the uttermost farthing. To this offer he received a most ungracious answer, in which new accusations were brought forward and though the Council expressed their willingness to issue the proclamation desired, yet it does not appear that any such notice was published, and the insertion of his reply to the Council's illiberal reflections seems to have been intentionally omitted in, the records.
But this injurious treatment of a man whose merits had been so conspicuous, together with the circumstance that some of the members of Council had been prevented entering their dissent to a groundless charge against him of tyranny towards Hoskinson, did not escape the just indignation of the Company.
Captain Boucher seems to have assumed the government with the intention of pursuing as opposite a line of conduct as possible to that of his predecessor; and accordingly we hear no more of sugar-works, the manufacture of wine, brandy, bricks, or tiles, or of fertilizing Prosperous Bay Plain. Without much economy in the management of such lands as were already in the Company's possession, he adopted a system of purchasing every plantation that was for sale, until the decreased number of land-holders became a subject of extreme anxiety and alarm. The produce of the Company's farms was wasted by the most wanton extravagance, and a fine herd of deer totally extirpated. The Plantation-House gardens were laid waste, and thrown into pasture for the Governor's asses, of which he kept a numerous stud; and that he might take his favourite exercise of riding them in all weathers, a shed, of four hundred feet in length, was erected, at the Company's expense. The misconduct and bad management of this man were the more pernicious in their effects, as the island was, at the same period, suffering under the calamities of a dry season. Two thousand five hundred head of black cattle perished, for want of food and water; and to such extremities was the island reduced, that a plot was formed among the garrison to seize the persons of the Governor and Council, and to plunder the stores of all articles of provision. This conspiracy was happily detected in time to prevent its execution. A pretext was easily found for taking the flints from the firelocks of the suspected persons; and, on the following morning, private orders were given for firing an alarm; and the militia appearing in arms, gave so decided a superiority on the part of Government, the garrison being only one hundred and twenty in number, that the principal mutineers were secured and imprisoned, and, under the succeeding government, sent to Bencoolen at their own request.
The various fortifications which were in progress when Governor Roberts resigned the situation, were suffered by Captain Boucher to remain as he left them, excepting the Governor's apartments in the Castle, which were well fitted up; but when he left the island, the house was stripped of almost every thing portable, even to the locks on the doors.
That he might lose no advantage in his private commercial projects, and ensure a ready sale for his own commodities, he fixed such exorbitant prices on goods of a similar quality in the public stores, that the inhabitants were unable to purchase them; and he was no less unreasonable in fixing the price of those articles which he bought on the Company's account to serve his own friends.
It may seem extraordinary that these unwarrantable proceedings met with no opposition from the Council. The death of one member, and the sickness of another, afforded him a pretext for calling in two creatures of his own, to assist at the deliberations of the Board; so that he had little difficulty in carrying any of his unjustifiable schemes into execution.
After a government of three years, the Company gladly accepted Captain Boucher's resignation; when they ordered him to refund the money laid out in building his riding-house; and concluded some of their animadversions on his conduct with the words, "Is this the surpassing your predecessors!"
On the 29th of June, 1714, Governor Boucher embarked for England, leaving the government in charge of Captain Matthew Bazett, who was superseded, nine days after, by the arrival of Governor Pyke; and a new Council, in which Captain Bazett, in addition to the office of Store-keeper, was appointed to take his seat as fourth member.
|"Yams planted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||477,340|
|"And all the new ground that is, or can be, taken|
|"in, that is fitt to plant yams in, will contain . . . . . . . . . . .||675,956|
|"Which makes in all . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||1,153,296|
|"Total of the old ground to be thrown out . . . . . . . . . . . . . .||118,000|
|"Total of the planted yams, and yams to be planted . . . . . . .||1,035,296|
|"Cut-stones, for building,|
|"Mineralls of severall sorts.|
|"GENTLEMEN,||Sept. 24, 1711.|
|"SIR,||3 October, 1711.|