Consultations 17th Jan. 1716.—Dr. Price summoned Lenden the Drummer for debt for a piece of cloth. It appearing on the examination that Price used to dispose of goods for Gabriel Powell who keeps an Under or Private Store House in opposition to the Hon. Company. The Govr. says he came here to serve the Hon. Company and would not concern himself on Powell's behalf to his Hon. Masters prejudice and that as the goods and abundance more had privately been sold Powell might privately get his money.
John Batavia a Slave of the Company aged 30 works in the Plantation in irons for thieving and pretending he is acquainted with ye Devil and that he can bewitch any body—which terrifies all the Blacks so that two of them formerly have died by being affrighted with him. His method is to go amongst any Slaves but especially the Company's in the night time and with hard words screamed out aloud when he had put them in a consternation he stole away their victuals. The two that died he only layd his hand on their faces and repeated his hocus pocus words but they never recovered their fright. He is otherwise a good slave.
Jan. 31.—List of Debts due to the Comp. Stores by the Inhabitants and Soldiers amounting to £4725.
Jan. 31.—The Govr. reports that on Sunday morning last one Joseph Bayley a soldier hanged himself but one Knight going to get a light to light his fire saw him hanging and did acquaint the Serjeant who broke open the door and saved his life, but brought him to the Govr. before he had well recovered his speech. He ordered him to be carried to the Flagstaff and whipt with fifty lashes which seemed to bring him to himself, but afterwards he had the impudence to say (laughing)—It should not serve turn for he had promised his soul to the Devil and if he did not go to him by the head he would go to him by the heels by wch wee guess he meant he would leap from some precipice and break his neck if he could not hang himself.
Council proceedings 13th March 1716.—The Governor on Wednesday 7th inst. went up into the country to show General Aislabey some of the best parts of the Island. Mr. Tovey for reasons to himself best known being in a violent rage drew out his Sword and stabbed Mr. Francis Wrangham, one of the planters. Tovey begs forgiveness on score of his drunkenness at the time and says he intended the sword for John French. Mr. Tovey suspended from Council and imprisoned.
27th March.—Ordered that Arrack may be sold at the Stores at 1¼ dollar per gallon when beef is sold by the inhabitants at 25s. per 100 lbs and not before.
On an examination of Debts due the Stores "the Governor says I have just heard that Thomas Leach his wife is brought to bed with two Boys, therefore though he deserves his Black to be seized on for his debt, it will be too rigorous to do so now."
William Beale Punchman owes £115 he said he had enough in Bills but could not get them entered in the Store House because he could not afford to let them gain so much by his bills as they did by others who sold Arrack, but he told me (the Governor) he would give me £10 in silver if I would order his Bills to be transferred to his credit. Ordered—that for proffering a bribe to the Governor he be arrested for his debt—and all transfers in future to be made in Council.
[Note.—Coin being scarce in the Island it was for many years the custom to allow the accounts at the Stores to be settled by transfers of credit. An Inhabitant who owed a Bill at the Stores would settle it by having it transferred by consent to some other Inhabitant who owed him money. But the result was that frequently a good debt was transferred into a bad one either through negligence or dishonest collusion on the part of the Storekeeper.]
Employment of Slaves on the Company's works. Mr. Bazett is of opinion that nobody can afford to send a Black to work for less than 18d a day and that Governor Roberts repented many times that he had lowered them to 18d. The Governor says he will buy what Blacks he can and as soon as he has ten will begin the precedent himself and let them to the Company at 1s. a day each. But he is answered that if he does so he will find nobody else to do so too.
5th April 1716.—It has pleased the Providence of Almighty God to lay a very great affliction on the Governor which has disabled him from holding a Sessions at the intended time, [i.e. the death of his wife Mrs. Ann Pyke, whose mausoleum is in the Lower Churchyard].
Account of Families for 1716—Whites—55 men, 70 women, 23 youths, 23 maidens, 140 officers and soldiers, 234 children under 12, total 545. Blacks—136 men, 54 women, 117 children, total 310—exclusive of about 70 Company's Blacks. Cattle 1368 exclusive of Company's stock, The principal inhabitants were Matthew Bazett, Lieut. Cason, John Alexander, Orlando Bagley, John Coales, Mrs. Carne, Jonathan Doveton, Henry Francis, Gurling, James Greentree, Joshua Johnson, Gabriel Powell, Margaret Sich.
May 5th.—Mr. Tovey complains that being under Bond of £300 to keep the peace John French had provoked him &c. The Governor thinks tis best to rid the country of both of them unless they behave themselves better. If I cant protect Tovey from French insulting him I am not fitt to be Governor here any longer. I think Bencoolen is the properest place for them and hope when they come there they'll provide for their latter end which is a meditation very necessary for John French.
May 11th.—A ship with Ostend colours coming in was summoned from Munden's Battery to bring to by firing a gun and then a second, but she pursued her course and came directly into the road wherefore the Governor ordered to fire from the Line, she still standing in the Governor fired from the Castle. There was several shott placed in her (as they informed us) at last she seeing the Fort firing so hott at her she struck her collours and let goe anchor. Then the chief and 2nd Captain came on shore, she was of 260 tons, 20 guns and 60 men and had a pass from Ostend signed by the Count de Claremont Governor of Brussels.
The Governor is of opinion that this trade tends directly to the ruine of the English East India Company and to the dishonour of our Government at home when any little Governor such as the Count de Claremont shall give licence to English subjects to carry on trade to India in contempt and defiance of the English nation. He thinks therefore the ship ought to be seized. The Council think that as the ship is lying at some distance she will endeavour to escape and will not surrender without hazard of shedding blood which may draw our Masters and others concerned into a premunire. So—They were told they must thank themselves for all the damage they had sustained by our shott and to goe on board immediately and make the best of their way without more to doe.
The No. of guns fired at the above Ostender were 1 Demi-Cannon, 5 whole culverin, 5 demi-culverin, 6 sacers.
May 15th.—The Governor demanded Capt. Haswell why he had suffered the Ostend ship to come into the road when be had given him strict orders to the contrary, viz. "Capt. Haswell. Be sure to bring her too for old Negus lies so far out that if it be a rogue they may do him damage."
"Signed ISSAC PYKE"
Also I expected that after I had fired into her that they would have seconded me and was amazed that they did not and tho if they had not struck their collours I could have sunk them with the Fort Guns yet I think that no reason at all for them to be so remiss.
Capt. Haswell replies—That after he had fired the first gun she lowered her Topsailes &c. I then fired a second gun and he sent his boat on shore the ship driving off being then at least a mile and by reason of such an offing they saw her from the line, but after I had fired the second shott they were confused and did not tend their sailes otherwise I had fired into her, but still driving off he was well assured that she could not fetch into the road.
The Gov. says he finds Capt. Haswell to be a very weak man or else he would never have made such an answer. As for lowering her Topsailes 'tis a trick that all rogues do use. The two French ships that took the Queen and Dover did the same. I must do some justice to Mr. Cason to whom I had given the charge of half the guns upon the line—be behaved himself with a great deal of prudence and courage and placed several shott in the ship.
May 18th.—Mr. Tovey indicted for fellony for stabbing Mr. Wrangham. Tovey sayed I answer to the name of Antipas Tovey gentleman but not as a Felon and therefore shall not hold up my hand. I have committed a rash unworthy action and deserve no favour but justice is my due. The Governor says he is assured the case is not fellony and wonders who put Mr. Wrangham upon this indictment. He ought to have been sued for an affray. Tovey owning himself guilty of assaulting and wounding is fined £40 to the Company and on Wrangham's suit for damages the Jury awarded £25.
May 29.—Mr. Tovey prays to be restored to office and calls Wrangham's prosecution malicious. He was a man who was ringleader of the malecontents in Gov. Roberts his time as appears by his false and scandalous petition against that Governor and is become a tool to others who who keep under Storehouses. Mr. Tovey is answered that if he behaved himself well to 8th June next he should be readmitted.
June 12th.—One of the Bullocks killed for Capt. Tolson's vessel was refused by the Captain who said it was Carrion—on enquiry Jessy says "It was a little bloody being obliged to dress it without hanging it up being no trees within half mile of the place." Being askt why they killed the beast at such a place where there was no trees says—They shott the beast in the body but not falling with that shott it ran some miles from the place and then they were obliged to run after him and sett dogs on him.
On Friday 6th July there being very little wind we had a vaste great surfe so high that it filled the Trench or Ditch before the Line with Salt water which is a thing very unusual. A ship which left on Thursday was seen on Sunday by several persons on the hills, but when a gale sprung up the High Surfe abated.
July 17.—The Charles a galley of Ostend arrived. The Captain desired to stay three days which we would not allow. He gave the following account—We at Ostend cant live at home now tis peace but I hear there is likely to be warr between the Emperor of Germany and the Turks and if the Emperor will grant commissions for Privateers we had rather go up the streights than these long voyages. We left Europe Sept. 1714 and were well received at Mozambique and went in behind the Island where we found a good harbour and lay there three months. We bought Gold, Ivory, and Ambergreese—paid for gold 350 pardoes a mark weight which is 8 oz Troy at near £3 6s. 0d. per ounce—bought Ivory of which there is plenty at 35 crusadoes a maund 28lb English the teeth weighing between 55 and 70lb. Those above 70lb were from 40 to 50 crusadoes a maund and sold it at good profit at Goa by turning every Pardoe into rupees, There's plenty of Slaves to be bought from 10 to 25 crusadoes a piece. Near this Island St. Helena met with great calmes.
Aug. 28th.—Capt. Martin of the ship Queen sailed running away with Mrs. Snow wife of R. Snow. The Governor wishes four other women those are Jeptha Fowler's wife Thomas Swallow's wife and his two daughters had gone too and then we should be all very honest. Capt. Martin is son of Sir Joseph Martin who is often one of the Court of Directors but he left without saluting or paying his bill.
August 28th.—Parson Thomlinson having sold Arrack to a soldier the Governor says the Parson has engaged himself to him never to sell any more Arrack and the Governor is resolved he never will look upon him nor his wife neither if ever he does.
Aug. 28th.—400lb weight of Ambergrise found in Mannattee Bay.
Sept. 17th.—Parson Thomlinson demands that a petition sent in against him should be torn. The Governor answers that his own petition ought rather to be torn because he hauls in all his sacred Function to the Scrape and to help out with his clamour; but so it has been too much of late, when a churchman cant justify his actions then he cryes out and makes his church in danger, and for lugging in his Church into the brawl or contest it ought to be disregarded.
Aug. 28th.—Martin Norman being cast in a groundless action against Mr. Tovey we think it proper to set down why we suffered Mr. Tovey one of the Council to be sued for such an unreasonable matter which was that the old man being a little enthusiasticall had gave out about the Island that the Governor and Council were all rogues and had cheated him of near £400 by getting credit for his bills and not placing it to his account and that he had complained to the Governor of it but he would not do him justice because he came in with Tovey and Bazett and the rest for a Snack, and therefore tho we knew nobody in the country believed the old fellow yet because he told it sometimes amongst the strangers that came ashore we gave him liberty to make the suit before the country for almost every body was downe at this Tryal. The man deserved punishment but being near 70 we thought that whipping would not mend him and so let him go tree. The old man seeing himself cast sayed he would pay nothing and he being a troublesome old fellow we were glad to be rid of him so.
Letter to Court of Directors 20th Jany. 1716.—200 or 300 Blacks more are wanted by the Government. The planters knowing we have not hands sufficient and must come to them they'll not let them under 18d. per day which makes all your work come out very dear. This is not the worst for by letting their Blacks many of their own Plantations are neglected. A small vessel from Madagascar would effectually do our business and they are the best blacks for our purpose. The next best to them are the Gold Coast Slaves of Guinea and the Slaves that are sometimes in great plenty in Bengal. The expense for hiring Blacks is about £2250 per annum. Then we would fence in the Great Wood which unless it be fenced in will not have a tree upon it in 20 years more, because the old Trees are now of long standing and some always falling down and dying and the small trees which arise are all destroyed by the Cattle which goe there as if a common.
We propose also to carry the water over the saddle of the mountain that parts this place from Rupert's Valley which will improve that whole valley and make it fit for garden ground. The place only wants water to make it the fruitfullest place on the Island being two miles long and very near a plain.
We would not trouble your Honours with any of these notions, which perhaps to your greater judgements may seem like projects, but that we seeing the Island in a declining state and in some parts constantly decaying being every year in a worser state, in some gutts or narrow valleys the grounds worn out so as to be no longer fit for Plantation land and wants a general recruit being too properly to be compared to an old ship that must have a thorough repair to hold out long, or else will never be in order tho a continual charge.
But with a good number of useful hands the whole country would have a new face. The wayes made good and easy. The water duly dispersed so that little or none would run to waste. The grounds duly fenced would increase the growth of wood, and the valleys occupied and improved.
Some of our Bank Bills begin to wear out—we pray you send us over another parcell and about twelve months hence we should be glad of a little money if you permit a dollar to goe here again at six shillings—for if they goe for no more than five twill do us no good because we shant be able to keep it on the Island being now worth more by 20 per cent at Madras. We propose to have a small mark to punch upon it and then pay all money so punched at that price and if you will send us copper farthings we will do the same which will prevent their being brought in by any body else in quantities. The St. Helena Bank Bills we hope will be more useful to us than money especially those of the largest sort and some also of 10s. each.
Feb. 24.—When we first arrived here there was a great mortality among the Garrison imputed to drinking bad water which comedown very fowl in the rainy season. Wherefore the Governor ordered Tea to be made for the ordinary drink of the Garrison in the same manner as the Dutch Soldiers at Batavia have, and since then they have much better health, which perhaps may be owing to the boiling of the water, or correcting it by Tea.
March 14th.—We hear the Dutch are now in a fair way to overrun the remaining part of the Indian Sea Coast and that the present year they have a design on Calicut.
There has been a great sickness about two years agoe at the Cape of Good Hope and since then such a dearth of Cattle that their vast plenty is very much decreased, which has caused those wild natives to rise and they have seized on great quantities of Cattle from the Dutch who live in remote Plantations and there has been so great mortality among their black people that they cannot recover, tho they keep two ships trading to Madagascar for slaves who are still so scarce that at this time one Black Slave that used to be sold for 60 Rix dollars is worth at present 200.
20th March 1716.—Letter to Directors.—In the case of the men landed from the Eagle galley the Governor had information of a conspiracy. They confessed they intended to attempt a ship on any day when most of the people were on shoar. That four of them should ask leave to go a fishing and should go to Lemon Valley and take four or five more and goe on board to sell their fish. The rest to repair immediately to Lemon Valley and there take Mr. Gurling or Mr. Cason's boat and also catch fish and carry on board just after dark to sell and when all were on board to seize on the people and cut the cables. We having this account punished all the chief Ringleaders.
Two French ships have been provisioned with 24 Bullocks about 12,000 lbs. at 4½ per lb., 26 hogs alive at 4d. per lb., 150 Turkeys 6s each, 300 Fowls 1s. 6d. each. The ships were desirous to ride at Ruperts Valley and anchored there out of reach of all our guns but we refused any water or refreshment till they came into this Bay. This shows how necessary it would be to have a good platform to command that place.
Doctor Du Nay is well qualified, is a sober man and has we think a good judgment in his business yet he will not live long with us on account of some indisposition. He takes at least a gallon of blood a week from himself so that he is brought so low we cant expect he can continue long in this world.
The Governor has employed most of his time since the arrival of the Heathcote with Mons: Olivero a Spaniard who has dwelt a considerable time in Mexico and Peru amongst Spanish mines and has set some of the Slaves to work on the N.E. part of the Island near a place called Turks Cap where we have found a sort of mineral earth that the same, Spaniard tells us is a sure sign of a mine of metal.
On 22nd May last a parcell of Rocks which we esteem about 150 or 200 Tons fell down near the Draw Bridge and has demolisht that end of the Fortifications and covered three guns.
July 4th.—A request made for Margossa Trees and Banyan Trees from Fort St George.
August 12.—Dr. Da May has been a long time sick. We allow him dyett money because he cant eat at the Fort where the half part of the provisions is usually Pork, and if he sees any pork he faints away let it be where it will, and is very ill with it, so that we are forced when he comes down to the Fort to have every thing of that nature taken out of sight. He is in other respects an honest and we think a skilful man. This Dr. Du May is the man we mentioned to be lett blood so often so that in five weeks we computed he took from himself between five and six gallons of Blood, a thing so strange that we did not expect his life, but now he is well recovered and we think it did him good.
As to the people of the Eagle galley tho we perceive they have been very bold and clamorous at home, yet we think they had no hardship here, for it has been the constant custom in this place for the Governor to punish all men who should mutiny and desert their ships in the same mariner and to keep them in prison for three months. Governor Harrison the voyage before did cause one of these very men (Hannay) to be whipt at the Sea Gate and out of Madras for only proposing to go upon the account. The word account being understood among sailors to goe a pyrating. We think we know the formenting of this complaint comes from Bartholemew Swartze a German who is none of the best nor wisest of men tho he had once the honor to be appointed your Supra Cargoe on board the Borneo. He is a vain man who pretends to be intimately acquainted with King George, and was used when here to carry a bundle of papers in his pocket wherein he told were 20 letters from the Princess Sophia and some from her son (our present King whom God preserve) that they had sent to the Cape and left some of these letters for him there. But the misfortune was that the Princess Sophia dyed about six months before she sent him the last letters. A man who would tell us such gross absurdities without any colour ground or reason will never stick to frame a storey for your Honours.
If the people complain now what will they doe when we fall the labour of Blacks wages to 12d. a day. Then your Honours will be sure to hear of all our faults and a great deal more than ever we did or said, and we have been told ourselves that if Governor Roberts had not fallen the Blacks work from 2s. to 1s. 6d. he had never had the general complaint signed against him.
The people tell us that since the time of Governor Poirier they have not known such rainy seasons to bold so long so that we have a great prospect of a good year.
Consultations 16th Oct. 1716.—The Great Wood in a flourishing condition and full of young trees. But miserably lessened and destroyed within our memories and is not near the circuit and length it was, but we believe it does not contain less now than 1500 acres of Fine Wood land and good ground. But no springs of water but what is brackish which is the reason why that part was not inhabited when the people first chose out settlements. But if wells could be sunk we should think it the most pleasant and healthiest part of the Island. The "Wood's End" was formerly at the Hutts but the Wood is so destroyed that the beginning of the Great Wood is now a whole mile beyond that place.
Alarm House.—It was formerly built lower and nearer to the Fort but when that house decayed Capt. Goodwin while he was provisional Governor built it here which is a better place. The Governor proposes to plant it and is of opinion 'twould tend greatly to make the Valley as healthy and fruitful as formerly—we are confirmed in this opinion by a sort of experience. Those who best remember this place say that the fine Lymon and other fruit Trees that used to grow in such abundance in this valley throve till after the cutting away the wood on this ridge and it is a sort of demonstration that Mr. Powell whose house stood on a ridge exposed to bleak winds and rain, people used by way of derision to call it the stark naked house, yet Mr. Powell being obliged by a most useful law made in Governor Roberts his time to plant part of that land with wood since that wood has grown up every things under the shelter of that wood has flourished and he has now plenty of Lymons.
Consultations, Nov. 6th.—Sentence against Huff a soldier for having a child by one of the Company's slave women That he be sett this Evening as soon as the heat of the day is over, publicly on the Wooden horse with his face blacked over and that henceforth he be looked upon as no other than as a Black.
Nov. 15th.—Peter and Moll two runaway slaves belonging to Sergt. Slaughter accused by Capt. Haswell of robbing him, sentenced "That they have forty lashes a piece which is less by seventeen than the law made by the inhabitants—and the reason of that punishment is because that no witness appeared against them."
Letter to Directors 12th Jan. 1717.—The people here are peevish and vexatious and some of them turbulent and to satisfie every body is in some cases impossible, but the Governor goes by a few short rules as he would be done by and persuading peace among the contending parties. They are all Lawyers here, Mr. Powell and Parson Thomlinson and Richard Swallow senr. are usually the Directors of the people on one side or other of every contention.
As to the Bills you were pleased to send, we have circulated about one half. The people begin to like them, though we have had some difficulty to establish them in their good opinion. We have computed all our stock which is £400 in Bills, £100 in Bits, £100 Fanams, and £100 in Copper pice, in the whole £700. But the pay of the Garrison in one year is about £2400. The usual expense of labouring hards and workmen is about the same sum.
The number of the families are indeed too much diminished we wish we had 20 or 30 families more—10 or 12 husbandmen, 10 or 12 Tradesmen—the residue we wish to be gardeners and we could give to each of them in the valleys near the Fort four acres of good land fitt to be employed in gardening.
The miserable devastation formerly made by distilling Arrack from Potatoes is too sencibly felt now by every one in the place. Their waste and destruction of wood was so great that if they had not been hindered from distilling, the Island would have been entirely barren before this time for the mountainey parts of this Island being subject to hard gusts and squalls of Wind and Rain wherever wood is cut off the weather breaks and washes away the soil till the naked Rocks appear and all those things that used to flourish under the lee of such a shade are blasted and destroyed by the high winds so that not the mountains only but the plains and valleys too have been destroyed by cutting up the wood from the upper ground. For instance when the mountains at the Upper end of this valley were the Fort stands were covered with Trees the valley itself abounded with most kinds of fruit usual in such latitudes so that your garden in the valley which for six years past has been entirely barren was then lookt upon by most people to be as fruitful a spot of ground as any in the whole world. Large groves of orange Lemon Trees &c, grew so close and thick as to yield a shade from the Sun on the hottest days and all the branches bending down with fruit, but since the wood was suffered to be cut down and that Fogs have not been defended from the gardens and the winds which rage impetuously from the hollows of breakings of the mountain topps have not been restrained from those trees which used to be a shelter to this valley all the Fruits have blighted and destroyed, or if any few have grown they have been encrusted over with a black and unwholesome Scurfe as if covered with soot which is occasioned by the foggs that fall down the valley but which used to be kept off by the shade of Trees above the Hills.
As to the healthiness of the place we believe the same thing we have alledged for the decay of the Trees has in a great measure attributed [sic] towards diseasing the body too. For we have sometimes a pestilent sulphurious air comes down the valleys by which divers have got sudden sicknesses and particularly one Ripon Wills and Mrs. Coles have each lost an eye by such a sudden Blast.
Mr. Powell is at present the most wealthy of all the planters and reputed to be worth £5000. He possesses about 300 acres in his own and other names and has a great stock of cattle all of his own getting or by marrying several wives as he has lately done Hoskison's widow, but so miserable is his living that few even of the poorest here live meaner. Whenever he sees on your waste land a patch of good grass he immediately turns in so many cattle as he thinks can live a week upon it and so keeps always a large drove from place to place,—for instance he went to a place called Tomstone Wood and seeing that to be green and fresh he immediately put in 50 head of cattle. But though he'll complain of the least injury from others he has no regard to the wrong he does other people in thus engrossing the Commonage to himself he being a man of a large but not a good conscience: as for his blacks though seven are young yett all are usefull. He has no fortifications to make nor no repairs, and but little fencing work in comparison to what your Honours have. He has no Lyme Kiln nor store works and noe officers and people to maintain as your Honours have and consequently in proportion must get more.
He always of late years goes out in fair weather to gett salt or fish in such dangerous places that most other people decline going to, and where he is so much exposed that about a mouth ago being in great danger he was forced to comply with one Wrangham to give him a boat load of Rock salt computed to be 2200 lb. weight to help him off.
In short for labour and industry, for enduring hardships and living meanly, and for cruelty in exacting hard labour both Sundays and working days from all his slaves under penalty of the severest kinds of punishment there is none like Gabriel Powell on this Island.
The Line at Ruperts is so much decayed and out of repair a ship may go into Ruperts Bay and lye out of reach of every one of our guns and land her men and send to any part of the Island at pleasure without interruption. The cast French ships that were here named the Two Crowns and Brilliard lay there and would scarce be prevailed with to come into the Road to lye under the power of the Fort guns. When the Governor sent them word he would fire at them if they did not come into the Road they did weigh and came in, but sayd they came in more for respect than fear for they knew that in that place there was but one gun that would reach them—and indeed if they had warped a little farther in they would have been out of the reach of that gun too.
The Fort at Lemon Valley is now decayed and ruinated the Platform broke clown these six years and that being a common watering place for ships all the sailors know our weakness in that ruined fort.
The small platform at Sandy Bay must also be finished which is just to windward of the Island. It was begun by one of the Men of Warr, Capt. Tollat commander of the Kingfisher who planted two guns there. It ought to have two more and to be made a breast work.
Munden's Point is a very good fort but there is no house for the men to live in nor to dress their victuals.
The Plantation House new built by Governor Roberts is so greatly out of repair that we fear the roof will fall in.
Capt. William Mackett ship Drake 40 days from Madagascar delivered 12 slaves for the Company and sold 55 at an outcry to the Planters who averaged £21 6 0.
The Yams we have here were all produced from some brought by accident from the Coast of Guinea. A slave wench named Maria when she was sent on board put up some yams amongst her clothes to eat by the way and some she brought on shore to this place with her and planted them here in that part of the Island which in the Mapp is called John Proud's Lemon Garden and they grew well and there being a spring that rises out of the ground in the same place by way of memorial it has ever since been called Maria's Spring.—[i.e. at Plantation House].
Letter from the Directors 22nd May 1717.—The Governor is to be commended for his zeal in firing upon the Victoria. Mr. Haswell and Mr. Bazett did not do their duty at Munden's point.
The answer about the trading of the Antigua sloop is evasive. It is strongly reported that some of you are in great expectation of her.
Leave could not be obtained to send out English half-pence and farthings and we will not do anything clandestinely.
Your Indent by the St. George was so great that the Committee were shockt at the very sight of it.
We find that Mr. Bazett is against the Governor's proposal to charge the Store Debtors interest. This is a very ill return for our kindness to him for so many years when a Refugee helpless and unable to provide for himself. To tell Mr. Matthew Bazett our minds plainly, if we don't find him serve us much better he should eat no more of our bread.
We are willing on his good behaviour to forgive Mr. Tovey, stabbing Mr. Wrangham. French Mr. Bazetts son in law deserves to be cashiered for insulting him.
At first sight it would appear you were too arbitrary in the case of Flurcus and the other three men who ran away with the Long Boat, because nothing but death was likely to be the reward of that attempt. They all got to Nevis and Antigua from whence Flurcus and Spooles came to England and were here last July to justify themselves and to complain of the severities which forced them upon that desperate adventure. By the journal they gave in which contained a voyage of 1428 leagues run, it appears Flurcus who kept it is an able mariner.
Dont let a parcel of our Blacks be applied as we have heard to carry persons only up and down the hills for visits and diversions. We cant afford to pay 18d. a day at least not often for that. We are told the neglect of our plantations is occasioned by taking the Blacks from them to make Paths up the Hills the better to carry the Ladies in their Sedans.
The forfeiture of Riders money for his usury was a rigorous proceeding. We are sorry to see this plain instance of what many people too often charge our Governor with of following his own positive temper.
Mr. Free complains our Governor gave him very scurrilous and abusive language in Consultation because he had wrote us of him—calling him Rogue, Villain. Such behaviour renders any man's authority contemptible.
We had received a letter from Mr. Bazett and Capt Haswell accusing the Governor Pyke of his new projects mending paths for the sake of carrying Sedans: some write us the Governor drives a great private trade and that he was principally concerned in the Antigua sloop. That a banquetting house is to be built and a place for nine pins. That he employed Stone cutters and Blacks for eight months past to build a tomb of ten feet high and seven foot broad of cut stone first designed for his son but now for his wife and charges the whole as spent on Fortifications. As to the Tomb we will not be at any charge therein, and so far as it hath been at our cost we expect it to be made us good. We cant like the two accusers management as well as we should if we had found their complaints in Consultation yet not redrest.
Jan. 12th 1717—Mr. Byfield goes off on leave to England.
The Governor sayes that he sent to Mr. Byfield when he wept off six turkies and two geese which if His Honourable Masters think not fitt to allow it he will himself pay for them.
Nicholas Shreeve did last week in one of his drunken fitts call after the Governor as he was walking with the Captain of the Katherine and sayed You Governor Pyke, old Pyke, you are an honest old fellow with other foolish expressions—fined 40s.
Feb 19th—A very great Surfe—a boat with Cargo staved to pieces. March 7—There has been for this four or five days the greatest surfe that has been known here in our time which has broke the Crane and entirely ruined the new Wharf.
April 3rd—The Governor says there is a Report run about the Island like wild fire that there is a new Governor coming and says he has taken a great deal of pains full as much as any of his predecessors. If this be his reward the Company are unworthy of his service. He thinks twill be very hard when another Governor comes to lye in the streets, for he has not been so diligent as some that were here before him and therefore has no place of his own to live in—ordered that Mr. Francis' back rooms be fitted up, whitewashed and glazed for the Governor's use.
April 9th—John Long expecting a new Governor and Council and rejoicing at the news walks immediately seven miles to Town to defy Capt Haswell and to tell him a little while agoe you threatened to cane me, now strike me if you dare. I dont care a turd for you. On which he was committed, to prison and begged pardon—it is added, Tis very strange the Directors for the Company should have such mistaken notions of these people who never did nor could live peaceable there being too many of them of John Long's temper. Tis pitty we have not some of the Committee to live among them for that would certainly make them judge of these peoples tempers better.
April 17th—There is a ship the Stringer galley from China Come in from whom the Governor has received the following letter which he is very much surprised at viz. Sr. "According to the Hon. Company's instructions have sent her boat to know how things are and hope shall find you in health and all things in peace and quietness" The Governor says that surely they must have some strange notions at the Cape concerning this Island for this letter looks as if they took every thing here to be in the utmost confusion, We had indeed a parcell of Rogues about two years since out of the Eagle which gave us a great deal of trouble. The Island is now in a flourishing condition, vastly different from what we found it. To which if the People's stories here be true of a new Governor coming out we are very ill rewarded and we must say it they give to their other Governors hereafter no more encouragement than we have it will never be worth their while to study the good of the place.
April 30th.—John Knipe and Isaac Leach appointed overseers of Highways for the East side of the Island, the ways and roads all that way being very bad—and another reason why we appoint two persons to act is because the last Parish officers made choice of two persons for t'other side that are not much better than beggars whereas they ought to have chosen good and substantial men to have some respect to their credit and reputation.
May 7th.—The Company's Yawl staved by a great Surf at the Crane. The Parson recommends the employment of Thomas Hopkins physitian from the Borneo. The Governor replies he may stay if he likes. We dont think it proper to entertayne any body to trye practices on people.
Divers Blacks do frequently run away about the outparts of the Island for several months and do steal and destroy provisions of all sorts. Any who are willing to undertake the charge of catching Renegado Blacks to make their proposals to the Governor.
Returns for 1716—whites 58 men, 140 officers and soldiers, 71 women, 287 children, Total 556 Whites—Blacks 143 men, 58 women, 126 children, Total 327 Blacks. Cattle 1689 exclusive of Company's stock.
[Note.—The large proportion of white children exceeding an average of 4 for each woman.]
May 21st.—Ripon Wills summoned for wilfully destroying 40 Lemon Trees: about 15 days since two of his neighbours walking by his upper grove of Lemon trees plucked off some of the fruit and eat them which the old man seeing fell into a passion and sayed they robbed him and would be damned for it and in his rage fetched an axe and cut those trees down 40 in number and very large with fruit on them and then sayed he did it to save the peoples souls that would be damned for stealing. Wills in defence says the Trees grew in a very windy cold place ¼ of a mile from his house and produced no profit to him. He was in terrorem fined 20s. each tree £40 but if he plant double the number in some other place his fine to be lessened.
May 28th.—Path between Ruperts valley and this valley very dangerous and fearful of Blacks breaking their necks when loaded with wood that being the way that all fire wood is brought for the Castle use—[i.e. from Deadwood through Ruperts.]
June 18th.—Small pox has broken out amongst the last Slaves from Madagascar and they are sent to Lemon Valley for Quarantine.
July 2nd.—The Letter to Bencoolen is addressed to the Governor and not to the Council because our last letter from them was so very uncivil or rather rude.
July 9th.—The Governor proposes to consider the necessity of making a good path of an Easy ascent to the East side of all the Country—[i.e. Sidepath road.]
July 23rd.—The Company in their last letter have taken notice of the people that runaway with the Longboat their running so great a risque to obtain their liberty from this place—to which the best answer we can make is that we are sorry we should be obliged to detain any body longer than they are willing to stay, we are forct to do it for want of hands. There came but 8 men over with the Governor of whom six are dead and gone—and since we came here there has been 21 died of the Garrison in all.
Sept. 10th.—The birds called Egg birds beginning now to come to the Island to lay Eggs "at Shepherds hole notice is given to all persons not to go to the Egg Islands untill the end of this present month. After October they may go on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as usual."
The Governor sayes for as much as it has been reported of him as if he was a revengeful person and would never forgive an injury he appeals to Capt. Haswell and Capt. Bazett if they of themselves think so. They say they have not found the Governor to be so in his three years time that he has been here and do not think he is so—[i.e. they were probably the secret authors of the report to the Directors and the Governor knew it].
Oct. 8th.—The Governor sayes that for as much as there happens great controversies and disputes where many people eat together we think in case of the Governors absence that for every four of the under officers they shall have one good dish of meat, and for every two in Council (besides sallating) one. That likewise in the Governors absence there shall stand a salt upon the Table which shall be placed below the Council and Chaplain. Those who sett above that salt shall always drink as they think proper, either Wine or Punch, but those who setts below the salt shall have to two persons one common bowle of Punch (which contains about three pints) or in case of wine instead thereof one bottle for each bowl of Punch. We shall for the future kill every month one Beef for the table. The last we killed we had very ill success with—some body in the night time having untilled [i.e. untyled] the Shed in the garden where we kept the meat and stole it all away so that on Sunday for the losses thereof we had likely to have kept fast day.
Oct. 15th.—The Governor mentions what may serve for a memorandm though it dont so much relate to the Hon. Company's affaires that Mr. Vesey one of the Churchwardens brought the following account viz. That coming with their boat into Sandy Bay from fishing there was a prodigious Seoul of Fish gott into the cove and though at that Cove tis always deep water the Fish filled it check up in so much that they tyed fish hooks to Sticks and Poles in the nature of Forks and gaffs and hauled out a very great number of them immediately more than they could well tell what to do with. We guess the occasion of it to be upon account of their being pursued by some Fish of prey.
Oct. 8th.—"Of late our parson has been more troublesome than usual and has several new notions. Last Sunday there was a great omission of several parts of the Liturgy, the Nicene Creed, prayer for the Company and Shipping and there was only a Collect and the Lord's prayer before sermon." Mr. Thomlinson being sent for and questioned is told "The Governor and Council are resolved to have no more of these Fopperies nor alterations in the established forms of the Church prayers and if you go on in these whimsical methods of altering the established prayers of halving them you will render yourself incapable of acting as a minister of the Church of England here and must expect to be sent home."
Letter to England 28th April 1717.—The people of this Place are not the easiest under Government as their continual complaints under all former Governors will shew, but I have made shift to keep them in some tollerable order and now I think they are all very quiett and as well contented as they ever will be.
May 8th 1717.—We have received thirty Blacks out of the Mercury: If your Honors think fitt to lycence any more ships from Madagascar we pray that one article of the agreement may be that we may have liberty to choose out the best. We know the voyage is very profitable and even better termes than those we desire may be very well afforded.
We recommend that Tyles be sent for the roofs. Thatched houses are so much exposed to such accidents (fire) that we think it a great mercy the Town which is all thatched has stood so long as it has.
We believe your Honours sometimes have been tired with the too great length of our letters which we would remedy if we knew how, but find it requires more ingenuity than we are master of. Your Honrs are at London where all your directions are penned by men of the brightest parts. We have nobody but ourselves and though we take your Honrs letters to us for Copys to write ours by yet when we have answered them the best we can we have, judgment eno to find we are vastly short.
As an alteration of weather often happens here in less, than an hour's space from sultry heat to very cold, and the mountainy parts of the country is not only windy but always exposed to great damps and fogs even in the times we call the dry seasons we are apt to think it easier to drink water for a constancy in England than in this place. The, physical people we sometimes converse with (that is the ship Surgeons) tell us that strong liquor is necessary to all people who have no other bread but these watery roots [for a yam is called the water parsnip] and we also find it so—wherefore though we shall encourage temperance and sobriety as well by our example as precept yet it is in vain to dissuade the use of arrack among these people, who prefer it before the choicest wines."
We have no carriage but by blacks. We use indeed two carts in the Fort valley to bring stones, but up in the mountains every thing though never so heavy is carried by the negroes. The ground is full of rocks in most places and where 'tis not stoney we have a clay within few inches of the surface which sort of ground requires a great deal of labour. We are told by all the planters, and partly know it ourselves that formerly the country before the Wood was destroyed was much fruitfuller than it is now. Not a stick of wood is burnt at the Plantation House but is fetched above four miles from it. We have begun and planted wood about your Plantation house to prevent that loss of time and labor for futurity.
Sometimes (about once a week) the Blacks carry a chair and sometimes in shipping two or three chairs into the country and can be no great loss of time. The chairs were never carried here till Governor Roberts time, yet before then there were on such occasions as many Blacks employed to carry Hammocks as now to carry a chair.
There are but 12 out of 42 Guinea Blacks now living yet more dyed from want of care or victuals. They eat carryon and any kind of nastiness. All who by ill keeping on board have been reduced to a low state of health for want of necessary provisions do when they come on shore devour any carryon or unwholesome thing they find, and their appetites are a long time before they can be regulated to use a moderate way of eating.
Some Blacks we have taught to lay stones, but joynery or carpentery we cannot have them taught, the Europeans will not show them, they talk among themselves that teaching a Black is a hindrance to their trades and that they shall be less depended on if they show the Blacks their art.
As to the men that stole away the long boat we can say but little. When they were here we thought them honest though they have not proved so. Fleurcus the chief manager when he came here was a tailor but he became acquainted with the stone cutters who could not write, and being expert with his pen and Ingenious drew out and marked their work and learned their trade; after that he became acquainted with one Welch who had made some proficiency in numbers and practised some parts of the mathematics and so to navigation which when he had gained some knowledge in he put in practise with your Honour's Long Boat. None of them were concerned so much as with the management of a boat before unless Bates who was your Coxwain.
We are sensible it is a hardship when a man has served his contracted time that he is not permitted to goe off but your Honr. since we have been here have not been pleased to send out men to supply the mortality of the place. We take leave to represent bow many men are necessary at each Fort or place of easy access for landing and shall begin with Sandy Bay where there is two guns and for that guard there should be one officer and two men constantly. The next is Prosperous Bay where there ought to be four men and one officer constantly and below at Kegwins landing place one man—at Matts mount or Flagstaff one man always—at King Williams Fort and Bankses platform and the Sugar Loaf two officers and five men. At Ruperts there ought to be always one officer and three men. At Mundens point one officer and four men. At the Main Fort one officer and thirty men, at Lemon Valley two men. At South West point one man and at the Peak one man which makes sixty men alwayes on duty and three guards or reliefs trebles that number which makes 180 men in all.
Beale arrogantly assumed or pretented to great skill in Physick but is indeed very ignorant. He was a taylor but when he could not live on that trade he had Lycence to keep a Punch House. One Dr. Porteous who was Surgeon here, among other Medicines gave one particular Pill with good success. Beale learnt the method of making that Pill. About a year agoe his success obtained him a great deal of creditt here but his vanity lost it again, for he bought three sick Blacks for £27 which he vaunted he could cure but they all three dyed and he lost his fame and his money together.
Jan. 1718.—The Island has recovered itself into a flourishing condition greatly beyond what we found it, unless it be beans. Mr. Powell tells the Governor that about the beginning of this season he thought he should have had 300 bushels but the coldness of this last season, a thing scarcely to be believed in London has killed them all.
St. Helena has usually been noted to produce the best sort of kidney beans or callavances, but the last year the earth did not produce seed enough to plant the same ground again and this year is too likely to be the same.
We have in the garden began to improve that ground with Sea Sand which we find suceeds very well being mingled with the clayey soil. Now nobody doubts of improving any sort of ground that is sheltered from the winds and can be supplied with water.
It being the custom for every one when they kill a beast to tann the hide, such a great quantity of bark was wasted that it was shameful it should be suffered any longer—but now we think there is no need of our order, it will be at an end of itself for there are very few cedar trees [or Redwood] so few that the last rainy season the Governor could not get seeds or seedlings of that sort of wood to plant.
As to the Governor driving a great private Trade we assure your Honours we know of none and the Governor sayes he never sold any thing to the Garrison at all unless when three of his servants dyed their goods and cloaths were put up and sold by public outcry. As to the Path, the banqueting House upon it, and the Nine Pin place there is no such thing. Nine Pinns is what the Governor never plays at, so tis not so likely he should bestow charge on that. The vallue of the Tomb has been referred to Capt. Haswell and Bazett who have not yett brought in their report, but as soon as it is done the Governor shall be made debtor for it.
Jan, 14th, 1718—Mr. Tovey complains to Governor of Capt. Haswell for abstracting fourteen sheets of the Consultations and biding them to prevent their being forwarded to England—these very Consultations containing the proofs of his negligence in not making up the accounts. He the said Haswell amuseth and terrifies a great many of his companions with his arrogant and treasonable expressions by pretending he has and will have more power here than King George has in England. When a false obsceen or Filthy tale is reported the people ask if it did not come from Capt. Haswell, but if it be what they call a stretcher, i.e. a great lye, they did not enquire who it came from but presently reply this is one of Haswell's lyes. I never knew a greater reprobate or common swearer for a Bailiff or Boatswain are but fools to him. * * * He had a little black boy and girl of the Hon. Company whom he cruelly punished on every occasion. The girl one time he in his mad drunken humours swore he would crucify her and stript her stark naked hung her up by her leggs on the doorcase and then also stretching out her hands in the form of S. Andrews Cross whipt her most cruelly and burnt her with hot irons insomuch it was feared the girl would die and for that and many such like cruel actions your worship took the girl from him. * * * I hope you'll not take it amiss if I use a fitt occasion to make George Haswell eat some of his foolish papers that shall do him no more hurt than to show the world that lyes wont choak him.
I only say if Mr. Haswell is willing to proceed I shall be more particular with an account of his Freeks and Vagaries that were they all written would look as romantic as Don Quixot's history and be as voluminous.
June 10th—Four blacks missing and widow Carne's boat which was a small yawl—one of them said for some time before he knew how to find his countrey out for it was a great way off upon the waters where the Sun rose for he had often observed the Sun to rise over a great mountain which is on Madagascar.
June 17th—The Governor says that the weather being so different from what is usual here that we think it proper to mention it in this Consultation. The usual winds of this place is the South-East Trade inclining a point or sometimes two more Southerly or Easterly according as the Sun is to the Northward or Southward of our zenith. But for about three weeks past we have had great calms and on Saturday last we had a Northerly wind which inclined to the Westward all Sunday; and yesterday it blew hard at N. West with small rain. Such a wind has not been known here these sixteen years and then not so strong as now. We have a very sickly time of it. At no season in our memory has there been so many people sick and dyed as in this. The last three ships sailed on Tuesday night 27th May 1718 yet we saw them the Saturday following at Sunset,
June 22nd 1718—Capt. George Haswell depy Governor died of apoplexy.
July 35th—Fidler William Huff having run away "We are very sorry Capt. Glegg should be so ungrateful to us to carry away any of our men but especially that fellow who was our Fidler, and he has thereby put us to a great disappointment for want of a Fidler, though otherwise that fellow can be of no other use to him for he is fitt for nothing else but fidling and making mischief. Besides we think by this means Capt. Glegg will have William Huffs life to answer for, because in England he cannot be long unhanged for one Villainey or other, he having been a Foot Padd about London before he came away, and did not come thence until there was strict search made after him so that by coming here he saved his neck as he used to say himself. Had it not been that he was our Fidler we had got lid of him ourselves by sending him away long agoe.
Aug. 5th.—The back yards in James Town were formerly unenclosed but the Governor having to enlarge the Hon. Company's Garden built a high wall at the foot of the mountain which high wall is an enclosure to every one of them and also carryed a Run of water through all their yards. They seeing as good Lemons grow in the Company's Garden as ever grow there formerly the trees being in some measure protected from the blasts and blites by the building of that high wall and they have been induced to make gardens for themselves at the back of their houses and have dugg up the ground and taken out the Rocks and Stones in the same manner as is done in the Hon. Company's ground. With these stones so dugg out they make their party fences and are planting fruit trees behind every one of those houses.
November 18th.—On Sunday morning last 16th Nov. four Black men run away with a fishing yawl from Prosperous Bay Beach and though the Governor upon notice hereof sent two boats after them could not recover the Boat with the Runaway Blacks again.
April 7th.—Capt. Bazett dyed 5th April 1719.—The Governor sick—Mr. Tovey hopes to be Governor soon and will goe no more to the Fort till he went to take possession of it.
The Governor desires Mr. Jno Alexander the Secretary to lay his hand on his brest and to speak his conscience whether he thinks Mr. Tovey to be so fitt a man for Storekeeper as Mr. Goodwin. The Governor says that Capt. Bazett's sudden death, for he lay but a week sick and his own sickness happening at the same time had been so great a clamp upon the spirits of the people—one of them spoke Sr. for God's sake you take care and leave a honest man to govern us for if Mr. Tovey be the man, and you do not make some rules to bind his hands we shall all rise together and serve him worse than Govr. Kegwin was served formerly. The Governor says he did not enquire what it was they had done to Govr. Kegwin and therefore desires the books may be examined to see what that difference between him and the people was. Governor issues a Public notice "that he will appoint such a Governor and Councill to succeed him at his death as shall be both acceptable to them and agreeable to the Company."
May 5th, 1719.—Tuesday. On Saturday last there was such vast floods of water descended from the middle of the Island as did abundance of damage and we think it was a Water Spout that broke about the Main Ridge because the Waters did not fall in shores [showers] after the usual manner but descended from the top of that Hill with mighty goods and torrents. It carried away the soile in an incredible manner with both grass, trees, yams, and stone walls before it. It brought down Rocks of a mighty bulk and covered abundance of Fruitful land with stones, the fine earth being washed away in such great quantity that the sea for a great way round about the Island lookt like Black mudd.
May 12th.—A large piece of Alabaster stone the same sort as that at Turks Cap Hill supposed to be brought down by the late great flood found in the Water Course above the houses in the valley—a reward of £5 offered for discovery of the quarry.
May 26th.—The Governor orders that—no gratuity be paid without his particular order because he thinks where persons 'have done less than their duty instead of more, the salary itself is scarce due. For instance the Parson who never of late goes up to bury any of the garrison but leaves the Dead to bury the Dead. And whereas before it used by all chaplains that has been here to insert immediately after the petition for those in the Company's service abroad these words "more especially the Governor and Council of this place" and since he constantly omits that sentence and has given out by his brother that he don't think them worth praying for, the Governor says there is an old proverb "No Penny, no Pater Noster" so we say no Pater Noster no Penny and are very well contented because we think the prayers of such a fellow can do us but little good.
Mortality—We usually decrease here among the white people five in a hundred per annum—but in each of the two last years not lesser than 10 per 100!!
[Note.—The mortality in modern years seldom exceeds 1½ cent and there seems to be no other explanation of the difference than the enormous quantity of Rum Punch consumed in former days.]
June 3rd—Doctor Hicks for being drunk and breaking the peace in the Street with his sword drawn fined and his sword ordered to be sold to the use of the soldiers of the guard.
From England March 21st. 1718—We are sorry to find there is no unanimity among you. Mr. Haswell and Mr. Bazett on one side seem to thwart the Governor who is joined by Mr. Tovey.
Bye Laws of the Island.—All the Rules given by the then Company on the re-delivery of the Island to them should be entered as you have in the very words—but as to some of them such as making treble or fourfold restitution for anything stole and other matters, we dont confirm them though we believe they might be intended in terrorem.
Wherein we have not given particular directions touching punishments of body or purse keep yourselves as near as may be to the Laws of England, for whatsoever exceeds will be accounted arbitrary and give a handle to designing people to raise clamour or to tyrannical people in the Island to vent their spleen.
List of ships for the Company's East India Trade for this season sent (viz. 13 ships from 330 to 460 tons). We find you are resolved to justify yourelves in your severity to the Eagle's men—however dont give no occasion to censure such unjustifiable management. Let the Captains punish their own men.
We cannot get liberty to send out Copper farthings and half-pence and we will not allow dollars going in our stores at six shillings a piece yet you write these would be best.
Can you think we ought to like this. We order that the Bank notes shall be currant and equal to the Fannams and Spanish Bits and Pice.
Such as want to send their money to England shall have bills payable here. Surely if the People were acquainted with this they would not any longer grumble except perhaps Powel and two or three more who keep private Storehouses, and these if reason will not convince them authority must control them.
We are pleased to find the Island so well recovered from drought that great token of Divine displeasure. The planting of trees is to be enforced, sheltering the very ground as well as the fruit trees from the hurtful winds and blasts. Endeavor to persuade the people to it by argument for Englishmen are to be led, not forced.
We have repeated complaints that you the Governor threaten the inhabitants to ruin them if they complain. The planters pray that two of them may have leave to come to England to present their grievances. They assert that the Governor is a very great trader.
We are sensible they are a quarrelsome litigious dissatisfied kind of people and some few spirit up the rest. That they are never long pleased with any Governor unless they can ride him.
Give any one or two of them leave to come to England. If we can judge by the nature of their complaints when they are publicly told that you allow any of them to come to us they will think twice before they accept the leave once.
Mr. Powell appears to be an industrious painstaking man—you would load him with reproach. It is very plain from your own showing that he with his seventeen blacks and 300 acres of land raises more stock of Cattle and has a greater produce from his dairy than you do from all ours and that you are forced to buy of him—doth not this show the difference of management.
Letter to England, July 10th, 1718.—We are very sorry to give you so ill an account for in this place we have not had a good season this last year and too little rain and whether that or whatever else Almighty God has been pleased to ordain be the cause we cannot tell but we sadly feel the effects of his displeasure by his taking away so many of us since Christmas last. There has dyed here the several persons undernamed (30 whites) besides whom we have several others now sick and the Blacks have not fared much better. The present sickness rages among us.
The Council have always the benefit of the General Table. In the case of smoking Tobacco which the Governor finds great incommodity to himself and therefore does expect the Council not to smoak at Table when he is present nor no man to come there when he is drunk. Formerly the Serjeants and the Marshal and Smith used to dine with the Governor, but by being complained of by many of the Commanders Governor Poirier did alter it. And this Governor is of opinion that nobody ought to sit at Table with him that is not cleanly drest or that has an infectious distemper on him or that is drunk and, never did forbid anybodies coming but for one of these above mentioned reasons, unless Capt. Haswell once.
On all Public occasions, General Musters, or Sessions usually 30 sometimes 35 of the Inhabitants dine with the Governor.
Slaves diet.—All have milk, fish, eggs every other day for one quarter of the year from the Egg Islands.
There has been two of your Honours Blacks being strongmutinous fellows had by some means gott some weapons and tryed to get some more blacks to join them and betook themselves to a kind of fastness which was at the foot of a spirall rock called Lott and on the top of a high mountain almost inaccessible and there in a large cave they took up their residence and withstood every body they could see who come towards them from a great distance and by rowling down stones kept every body off so that they were besieged for three or four days. The souldiers sent after them desired leave to fire at them. The Governor said in case, they could not be otherwise taken in one day more they should be fired at. The next day one William Worrall a brisk young man with two or three more did get up behind them and above them and then they hove down Rocks in their turn and beat down the chief of them so much bruised that he dyed—at which the people in Sandy Bay had great satisfaction for they suffered much by them.
As to the "Castle Path" as we now call it which formerly went by the name of Ladder Hill Path we have mentioned the usefulness thereof. The origin of it was as folows—In building the Barracks [i.e. some small Hutts, which, until 1800, stood near the present Main Guard House,] several stones fell from the hill and some of the people at the work were wounded, upon which the Governor caused all the people to leave the work and clear the Hill of all loose stones that were likely to fall by the Goats above it. In doing this and finding that the old Ladder Hill Path might be improved and made good and finding that the Blacks from the Plantation used an improper traffic among the Punch Houses from up the valley we concluded to cause all to come down the path in sight of the Castle. As to weakening the Fort if an enemy must come down the bill upon us we should rather choose to have them come all the way in sight of the Castle were every sould in the hill must be in our power, for that path is a perfect traverse consisting of three Zds and all the lower parts within musket shott of the grand fort.
We had hard gales of unusual winds June 1718. We had a mortality of 30 dead besides Blacks, since then we have lost divers others which has tended to make our people melancholy and apprehensive so that we have had but one wedding these fourteen months.
We have gathered several Lemons from Trees planted but three years since that are 12, 13, and 14 Inches each lemon about and question not that your Fort yards will be as remarkable here for fine fruit as ever.
As to Doctor Thomlinson the Governor knows too well the trouble that attends disputing with any that have the privelege of wearing a Parson's gowne and therefore he always endeavours to avoid it for if any of them think they meet with the least slight or disappointment they cry out presently for the help of their tribe and their Church must be in danger from every thing which crosses their covetous or ambitious humours and for that reason the Governor sayes he never cares to have too much to do with the Parsons. Some of them are good men while in a Pulpit who are but indifferent out of it.
June 9th.—Coales a free planter petitions to goe to Bencoolen. Resolved—that no person shall be permitted to goe hence but those who shall be rather a credit than a discredit to St. Helena and therefore his petition rejected.
The Governor says the Butler fetching some paper out of one of the offices to sett out the candles with, he found half a sheet of paper with his name counterfeited in several places wherefore desires enquiry may be made who did it because such practises may happen to prove of ill consequence and by such means he may be hereafter made to signe such papers as he never saw.
The Governor notes the improvements in the plantations, &c., and for what other works I have done they are visible to all who knew St. Helena six years agoe and I hope to find it much altered yet for the better if it should please God to let me live to return.
List of Families exclusive of Garrison—390 Whites, 411 Blacks, Cattle 1765 exclusive of the Company's.
Letter from England, 13th March, 1719.—Mr. Edward Johnson appointed Governor, Matthew Bazett 2nd, Antipas Tovey 3rd, John Alexander 4th.
We have appointed Mr. Pyke to be our 2nd of Council at Fort Marlborough—our new Governor hath acted many years here as a justice of the Peace and must well under stand what is proper to be done.
Govern yourself by our English Laws and especially remember and practise English lenity and not to mingle your passions and resentments with the sentence.
We inclose the declaration of War against Spain. The French have also proclaimed war against them in pursuance of the quadruple alliance and the Dutch will do in like manner speedily.
You tell us Governor Pyke's slaves were the best in the Island. How they should come to be better than ours is very strange. The Consultation Entry seems to pave the way for putting them upon us in case he should have leave to go to the West Coast. We observe the plausible pretext used by Mr. Pyke for his getting so many blacks was to reduce the wages of slaves from 18d. to 12d. a day. If the people here are to be credited they were to be fed with our yams and had larger allowances of flesh and fish than our own, which seems to us a reason why they might be the best on the Island, if indeed they were so.
Council Proceedings 13th June, 1719.—On Saturday 13th June 1719, about 7 o'clock this evening arrived the good ship Craggs Frigot, on board whom came Edward Johnson, Esq. whose commission as Governor was read and ordered to be published on Sunday morning next as usual by beat of Drums.
Rev. Mr. Jones came over as Chaplain and Joseph Ormston to assist the Accomptant.
June 15th.—Proclamation of Warr against Spain published.
June 26th.—Mr. Tovey informed the Governor that Governor Pyke has had for three years past a great many Blacks maintained at the Company's cost. Whether Governor Pyke ought not to pay for their dyett he having had the usual prices paid for their work which in one year has come to £740. Upon examination we find that Govr Pyke charged us no more than what every planter hath for the hire of his blacks and his victuals and that Mr. Tovey's information is malicious frivolous and groundless. Mr. Tovey is ordered to withdraw and to come no more into the Consultation of this day.
June 29th Letter to Bencoolen.—Governor Pyke at his desire is removed hence to Bencoolen where we doubt not he will soon make great improvements as he has done on St. Helena.
June 30th.—Mr. Tovey complains of Parson Jones who pulled off his gown and struck him the said Tovey with his fist in one of his eyes which is now swollen. Mr. Jones answers that Tovey told him he was a scoundrell with other abusive words and he told Tovey "flesh and blood was not able to bear it" and does now own he did strike Mr. Tovey for which he is very sorry, upon which they shook hands.
Nov. 24th.—Parson Jones refuses to attend Council when summoned and is brought up by a warrant for neglecting to use the prayer for the Company on 22nd November. He behaved very insolently and his gratuity was ordered to be stopped.
Letter to England 21st December 1719.—A true state of the case of Mr. John Jones Chaplain, To draw him off from associating himself wth those of too mean a rank for him now as a Clergyman tho his equals when he was in the Island before a private soldier the Gov. attributed his too familiar phrases and expressions he used to let fall at the Table before Him in some measure from his not conversing with a better sort therefore invited him to be his companion and allotted him an apartment at the Plantation House to be there when the Gov. was there. On the 22nd. of Sept. at the Plantation House, a wedding happened, one of the gentlemen of the Council to a young gentlewoman. The acct of what fish the fishing boat had taken was brought to the Gov. as usual. The account was 12 fishes called Jacks and 12 fishes called Old Wives which occasioned the Gov. to jocke with Mr. Jones by saying Parson you nor I need not despair for the old English proverb a Jack for every Gill is verified even by the fish you see here 12 Jacks to 12 Old Wives—which expression put Mr. Jones in mind of the old woman he married when he went off from hence to England before and raised his Passion which the Gov. took no notice of at first, but endeavoured to overlook it. But when he grew noisy the Gov. asked him what was the matter who had angered him. He in a surly loud way replied why you have, if I had the misfortune to marry an old woman must I always be twitted in the teeth of it. When the Gov. told him he did not design any reflection on him it was the Proverb agreeing with the Fish was the occasion, but that answer not assuaging his fury, the Gov. told him since he could not be easy he should quit the house to-morrow, to which he replied Aye that I'll do now I wont be beholden to you and so went his way. The pulpit he hath several times made the stage to reflect on the Gov. administration and arrangue the People, which might have proved of ill consequence had not the whole Island been better satisfied. On the 27th Nov. the Gov. sent by Ensigne Slaughter to Mr. Jones to let him know and not be surprised if his neglect of attending on the curtain as belonging to the Garrison should be punished when the Gov. from the country entered the Garrison as the rest of the gentlemen of the Garrison did. He sent word he know no obligation neither would he. The 28th an alarm being made he took his post on the mount when the Gov. told him that by his answer to Mr. Slaughter he refused to doe the duty belonging to the Garrison in paying the respect to the Gov. thereof and therefore he ordered him out of the Garrison. On the Sunday following in his reading Divine Service he mistook the Collect for the day, when the Gov. said to Mr. Jones you are wrong this is the 2nd Sunday in Advent, which he soon recollected. Before the Litany he read the forme appointed for the Hon. Company and then the Collect for the first Sunday which never was done in that place before, nor enjoined by our Church. When he came to the Communion service he began to read the wrong Collect notwithstanding the Gov. again reminded him and persisted and read the Epistle and Gospel in open defiance of the Gov. Whereupon for his insolent behaviour as well before the Gov. and Council as before, he was confined to his chamber until the departure of the King George or the Addison then in the Road and to be put on board for England. The scandalous Libel fixt up in the valley reflecting on the Gov. the same night, ye concource of the people to visit the Parson, the false reports of what the Govr. should say. Another Libel two nights after mentioning the Govr. name both writ in a hand unknown began to make some people so uneasy that the Gov. was forced to send for several people to trace the Authour and which was found to be the Sacheveralties of this Island, The thoughts of the unhappy state this Island may be reduced to by this unstable ill deigning ignorant but haughty Priest, by his insinuating himelf into the tender minds of a weak and undiscerning people by that fallacious mistaken pretence of the Church is in danger. His Holy order is affronted, when indeed the vile practises of the man is punished will justify our proceeding herein to your Honours.
Jan. 5th. 1720.—Mrs. Southen, Doctors Leigh and Civil and three others taken into custody for writing and sending home the following paper—"Whereas on the 29th Nov. 1719 that the Rev. Mr. Jones the Rt. Hon. Company's Chaplain on the said Island was celebrating of Divine Service according to his office the Collect of the day was interrupted by Governor Johnson saying very outrageously 'You are out to-day as you was last Sunday, for this is the 2nd Sunday in Advent'; the which the Rev. Mr. Jones read to prevent any further indeacency, but informing himself while a Psalm was sung and finding he had committed no error proceeded on his duty till he came a 2nd time to read the Collect for the first Sunday in Advent was instantly interrupted by Governor Johnson saying why do you make these mistakes. To which the Rev. Mr. Jones made no reply but went on scarcely to the end of the Communion Service and published the holy day viz. St. Andrews being the next day adding that prayers will be at Church,—then the Rev. Mr. Jones had no sooner exprest himself thus but Gov. Johnson said not by you Sr calling out very furiously officer take him prisoner, bring him before me. I'll see who is Governor Mr. Jones or I. The order was immediately executed.'
Six other persons summoned viz. Messrs. Gurling, Johnson, Rider, Powell, Greentree and Long for taking upon themselves the usurpt authority to contradict the public administration of the Government relating to Mr. Jones and signing the following paper—"These are to certifie whom it may concern that the Rev. Mr. Jones did formerly reside here for some years and behaved himself soberly and civilly and did much good in his station as Schoolmaster and being since sent as the Hon. Company's Chaplain has in that function carried himself to the satisfaction of us the inhabitants." They were then all bound to appear at Sessions under bonds of £100 each.
Jan. 28th.—Trial of Mrs. Southen and others. Mr. John Alexander Secretary as evidence for the prosecution states the facts (which agree exactly with those contained in Mrs. Southens paper) except only that the Governor called out to Mr. Jones in a very mild manner and that Mr. Jones persisted to read in open defyance of the Governor which gave him cause to order Mr. Jones to be seized by the officer of the Guard and to bring him to the Castle where he appeared with an haughty countenance and vindicated himself in a very rude manner. Who for his disobedient and insolent behaviour then as well as several other times before the Governor and Council he was confined.
Dr. Civil and Sarah Southen found guilty.
John Worrall indicted for saying the Governor was a Papist. Mr. Free indicted for asserting the Governor had said: "That he would seize any planters estate, without giving any reason for his so doing, that did continue with the parson Mr Jones. Mr. Johnson one of the evidence says that he being at the Parsons not thinking it would be ill taken and the Governor being then coming by he called to him and told him he did not take it well of any person of the Garrison to visset the parson then under confinement and sayde you may remember Dr, Secheverell's time and they that did so could expect to find no favour from him. But did not hear the Governor say anything as seizing any man's Estate.
Mrs. Southen and Civil sentenced to be set in the Pillory for one hour, the Pillory to be set in the middle of the valley over against the Store House, they to stand with their faces up the valley. Worrall and Free fined £5 each.
March 15th.—Mercury arrived from Madagascar with Slaves. The Captain reported that while at the Cape 11th Feb. 1719 came in a Dutch ship who did inform us she had been engaged by a Pyrate who had killed her nine men and wounded her 49 (some of which our Capt. see come ashore). She did suppose her to be Bristoll built having 40 guns 8 Patteroes and full of men. But the Pyrate being a weak ship not able to carry sail the Dutchman got clear of her.
March 22nd.—A Petition from 19 Planters that Swanley Valley the Head of Old Woman's Valley, Tomstones Hill and Manatee Bay be not let but remain waste for the benefit of the Public.
A "Europe Portuguese man" sent to the Island as a Prisoner from Bombay for betraying his trust in an action against Cannojee Angria an Enemy to the English at Bombay. Govr refuses to receive him and sent him back. He is called "the one legged Portuguese villain."
Gunners returns of Stores—shows the firing of 141 Guns for King George's Birthday—121 Guns for King Charles 2nd restored—84 Guns for King George proclaimed.
1721.—Return of Company's Cattle shows 349 head of which 18 are wild and cannot be pounded.
17th Jan.—Governor Johnson and Council resolve to go to Thomas Swallows house on Monday next in order to the examining of Margaret Swallow single woman on the complaint of the Churchwardens of her supposed pregnancy.
4th Feb.—Great Surfs which have lasted a fortnight. Fishing boats have not been able to go out fishing.
April.—John Coles of Sandy Bay [owner of the estate now called Fairy Land] murdered on 9th April 1721 between 6 and 7 in the evening in a hollow place under the side of one part of the Main Ridge near to a place called or known by the name of Feather Bed Hill by his slave Saltaun by throatling him with pieces of Rope yarn several times doubled and tying him by the throat to the root of a Tree—[i.e. near the spot now called "Coales' Rock."] Sultaun hung and afterwards hung in chains on a Gibbet on the Top of Fort Hill—[i.e. Ladder Hill].
Census Returns 1720.—Whites 58 men, 77 women, 6 youths, 41 maidens, 92 boys, 117 girls; Total 391 exclusive of Garrison.
Blacks.—Free 8, Slaves men 194, women 65, boys 110, girls 58; Total 443.
June 13th.—Notification. Many inconveniences occasioned by Runaway Blacks the number of them daily increasing. Hereafter the Master to punish their own Blacks at their own discretion for that offence. To pay for damages done by such Blacks and a fee of 40s. to any person retaking them. On Sunday night next about 6 o'clock the Planters and their Blacks to meet the Overseers of Highways in order to make diligent search for runaway Blacks.
Aug. 8th.—Joseph Bedloe a soldier and Widow Mary Swallow were married by Dr. Middleton of the ship Hartfort Francis. Bedloe and Widow Swallow being sent for by the Marshal Bedloe led her down the valley and introduced her into the Hall of the Castle by the hand as his wife. They both owned the fact before the Governor and Bedloe offered to show his certificate. The Governor ordered Bedloe to be whipt and to receive fifty lashes on his bare back at the flagg staff and to be confined in prison till the departure of' the next storeship and the said Widow Swallow was ordered to receive twenty lashes on her naked back, but when she was affixed to the flaggstaff the Governor ordered the whipping to be remitted hoping the shame of being so publicly exposed would have the same effect on her as the smart had on some.
Doctor Middleton having returned on board the ship Hartford Francis was again brought on shore by order of the Governor and whipt at the Flaggstaff with twenty lashes for disorderly behaviour.
Aug 8th.—The Governor reported that on the 6th Augt. Peter the Negro man slave of the Widow Shreve a notorious runaway villainous fellow who has this last time been runaway about eight months was brought to him who he ordered to be put into the Dungeon and chained to Ring bolts. But on Sunday night last made his escape by working the Ring bolt out of the Wall and making a hole big enough for him to creep out at. Ordered that an advertisment be this day issued with the promise of £5 for the retaking of Him Dead or Alive.
Aug 22nd.—Peter retaken by four of the Company's Blacks.
Aug 29th.—Peter made his escape on Saturday night last out of the Dungeon notwithstanding he was chained to a Ring Bolt fast in the Wall with a half hundred weight to his shackles, his hands fastened between his legs with handcuffs. He was retaken on Sunday Evening by John Bagley junior in Powells valley and is again confined and loaded with Iron, viz. with an Iron collar about his neck with a chain from it to his handcuffs, from thence the chain was fastened to a ring bolt in the wall and his shackles rivetted with an Iron band and swivells fastened to an Andvill of about two hundred weight.
Sept. 5th.—Peter brought to trial and pleaded guilty to three charges for Burglary on which the Jury presented a petition to have him hung. Sentenced to be hung—that you be from hence retaken to the Dungeon from whence you was brought and from thence to-morrow morning to be put on a Cart to be drawn by all those Blacks who though in a less degree have been formerly guilty thereby to strike an immediate horror and terror into them by the part they are to act at your execution.
Sept 19th.—Sarah Southen for reporting that there was a new Governor and several new faces coming and that for those two doggs Cason and Slaughter she had rather see the Devil than see either of them. But their reign was not long neither—ordered to be whipt.
Oct. 3rd.—Mr. Van Oosten and Mercy (wife of Jacob one of the Company's slaves) ordered to be whipt at the Flaggstaff with twenty-one lashes each to be given alternately. The Governor had several times before admonished and severely reproved the said Van Oosten for keeping her company, warning him of Smitherman's fate whose throat Jacob is suspected to have cutt for his being too familiar with his wife the said Mercy.
Oct. 3rd.—Mr. Free whose estate had been seized for debt to the Company was ordered to be whipt with 21 lashes on his bare back at the Flaggstaff for alleging that he had been robbed of his Estate.
Oct. 8th.—Arrived the ship Drake from England. Mr. Ormston restored to his office and to Council. Mr. Benjamin Hawkes appointed Clerk of the Council. Advertisement issued that Mr, Free having made divers complaints to the Directors against the Governor they have ordered in their general letter received by the Drake para : 44 that the said Free should be allowed to make good his allegations if he can. Wherefore on Tuesday next we intend to set publicly in the Hall within Union Castle where and when all persons whatsoever are at free liberty to come and be witnesses of the whole affaire.
Oct. 27th.—Mr. Ormston applied for and is granted leave to proceed to India.
Nov. 4th.—Mr. Ormston being absent on the day appointed for the shipps sailing a warrant is issued to apprehend him and all who concealed him. The frequent caballing of the refractory people early and late at his own house and other places more than usual since his being restored by the Company give us just reason to suspect the consequences that might attend his stay here.
Martin applies for two acres waste land lying between Chubbs Spring and the foot of Cow path part of it being called Robert's plantation. Refused he being an idle fellow.
Proceedings in Mr. Free's case put for perusal in the public room of Mr. Carne and Mr. Powell those being the chief houses of entertainment, that everybody may judge how far the Governor or Mr. Free are culpable.
Governor notes that he had respect for Mr. James Greentree on his first arrival but after Mr. Greentree was concerned about the parsons affairs he had shunned the Governor on all occasions and when invited on Public days.
Letter from England 31st May 1721.—H.M.S. Lion, Salisbury, Exeter and Shoreham are to proceed for India to suppress the Pyrates. Whenever they arrive with you show the Commanders the best respects and civility during their stay as well by first salutes as otherwise. This we direct be also a standing order for the future to any His Majesty's shipps at St. Helena.
It is not the getting any pedling profit by the sale of a little Beef that we mind, but the preserving mariners lives and in consequence the shipp and cargo. This was the only inducement of adding and continuing that clause in the Charter party. Mr. Powell did not dare sell any beef because the Governor had a pique against him for signing Parson Jones certificate. We were very sorry to hear the Governor's resentment against the Planters on account of Mr. Jones should arise so high, and at first were ready to doubt it till we found it confirmed in the Consultation Book account of the Sessions, and by other living Testimonies now here. Pray let us hear no more of this, or anything of the like nature if you value our service.
Mr. Ormston hath been very badly treated. Every, one here cries out of the Governor keeping his wife at the Fort against his will, and notwithstanding the Governor's apology in his private letter to us we cant help saying he hath at best acted very imprudently. Caser made this argument for repudiating his wife that she ought not so much as to be suspected, and it holds stronger upon the Governor. Wherefore we say dont let her stay a day in the Fort from the receipt hereof.
The affair of Mr. Jones the Chaplain taking him out of the desk in the time of Divine Service in that outrageous and unprecedented manner shockt us at the first hearing of it, and more so when it was further explained and the causes of it particularised. We are surprised that Mr Johnson who knows so much better could be capable of doing it. We tell you we will never endure it. It seems he did while officiating in his office act unbecomingly and the language thereof might be interpreted "Thou art the Man." If there had been no secret guilt why such outrageous anger. We have reason to believe Mr. Jones is not a man of the best morals, but that ought not to warrant unlawful revenge. Be angry and sin not—and avoid all appearance of evil are two Rules as necessary to persons in authority as any their inferiors, if not more so. Can any of you think that bearing all down before you whether right or wrong will ever make an Englishman easy. The people's judgement of things may make them sometimes argue wrong, but they always feel right when hardly dealt with.
February 23rd 1722.—You were in the right to deny Bedloe the soldier marrying the Widow Swallow and censuring Mr. Middleton for presuming to marry them contrary to the settled custom of the island. But the manner of the punishing Mr. Middleton is what can be no wayes justified by any law of England or St. Helena nor can we imagine what should induce the Governor to take so largo a step but an apprehension of his own despotick power as if he were above all law. As to the present case we are sorry for the occasion—let him take the consequence when he returns to England and find that our mild laws will suffer no man to stretch his authority at this rate.
The Governor's carriage towards Mr. Jones mentioned in our last letter has made such a general ill impression upon people's minds here that we cannot hitherto get a Chaplain to be sent you.
March 20th, 1722.—The Long Boat lost from the moorings in a very great storm.
May 29th—Henry Johnson having sent a memorial to the Company the Governor sent a warrant to search his house and seize his papers. The marshall brought his desk locked to the Governor at Plantation on Sunday after Church. The Governor called Johnson and bid him unlock the desk. Johnson behaved himself insolently before him and was committed to prison and the following day ordered to be whipt at the Flaggstaff.
[Note.—He was restored to office 23rd July, 1723. The case is an instance of the caprice of justice in those days. In his memorial to the Company, Johnson accused J. Bates of attempting to bribe Johnson to make fraudulent transfers in the accounts and also of his assisting two deserters to escape. His accusations were adjudged by Governor Johnson to be groundless and he was ordered to be whipt. Nevertheless in August 1724 when Bates was under the displeasure of Governor Smith for insolence these same charges were revived against Bates, Johnson being the sole evidence, and at that date Bates got the whipping for it]
July 14th.—The Inhabitants cautioned against receiving the Red Coats of the Garrison on any exchanges.
Sept. 18th.—Mrs. Southen refuses to receive any papers from the Marshal and told him if he left them there she would make Bumpapers of them.
Oct.—Capt. Goodwin acquainted us that he had discovered a small island called Spheree on which he believed there was a considerable quantity of salt now much wanted.
Feby. 16th, 1723.—After three weeks illness, Govr. Johnson died on 16th Feby. of Bloody Flux—and was succeeded by Mr. Edward Byfield.
Feb. 16th.—Mr. Edward Byfield succeeds as acting Governor on the death of Mr. Johnson. The two members of Council being Mr. John Alexander and Mr. John Goodwin.
March 5th.—We have no kindly seasons for these four years past nor any at this time tho expected above two months since. Wood at this time very scarce on the Island and the Inhabitants enjoined to plant.
April 6th.—The late Governor Pyke on his return passage from Bencoolen to England calls at the Island and is cousulted on several points, particularly as to the fencing of the Great Wood. In his reply he remarks Though the encloseing of the Great Wood be extremely necessary yet I doubt whoever does it will occasion a great deal of clamour from the people who live near it and used to put their cattle there, because they look on that as their own as appears by the use they make of it and the wood that is daily destroyed there. You will find also in the Consultations of my time that I bought a small piece of land above Luffkins of Messrs. Johnson and Powell, and the reason was to convey a large spring and run of water from a place called Blisses to the Church Ground which being above all the gardens will fully furnish them with water.
April 17th.—Indent for Stores includes 200 lbs. Hair Powder.
Census Returns.—Whites—50 men, 79 women, 251 children, 120 officers and soldiers—total 500 Whites.
Blacks—18 free men—186 men slaves, 67 women, 153 children, Company's slaves 137 males, 49 women—total Blacks 610.
May 28th.—This day arrived the ship Essex from England on whom came the Worshipful John Smith Esq. Governor. His commission published by beat of Drum as usual.
June 10th.—Letter to India.—If you have any Bomb Shells the Governor desires you would please to send us three or four for the blowing up a large Rock that is near the surface of the water at our Crane [i.e. the Upper Crane] and very often damages and stoves our Boat. We are informed by Governor Feake who was here in April last that the Banyan tree, Burr tree, and Pipple tree are procurable in Bengal and would grow well here.
August 19th.—Mingo a man slave belonging to Jessey and overseer of his master's plantation beat a Woman Slave named Abigail for running away with such severity that she dyed, and then buried her by his masters orders. On trial the Jury find him not guilty of murder but of unmerciful beating and bruising her. Sentenced to be branded in the left cheek with a hot Iron and his master Jessy for ordering her burial without examination fined 40s.
Sept 13th—Petition from the Major part of the Inhabitants for themselves and rest of the Inhabitants complaining of the inconveniences of having free blacks, there being now about 20 Free Blacks. They pray that noe person may be allowed to give freedom to their blacks, and that noe person soe inhabiting the island be permitted or allowed to send off the island any of their blacks young or old under pretence of being free. And as John Coulson had lately, sold a black wench of his named Abigail to one Town Collier a free black they pray that the sale should be made void.
[The inhuman cruelty in the above petition will be more apparent when it is considered that in the preceeding month a fine of 40s. was judged to be a sufficient punishment for a master who had allowed a woman slave to be flogged to death, and further that it not only was to debar a slave from freedom in the island, but was to prevent kindly disposed masters from giving freedom under any circumstances even when the emancipated slave was to be sent off the Island, and yet this petition was granted, and Abigail whose freedom had already been purchased by Collier was put up to auction again as a slave and was bought by John Long.]
Nov. 28th.—Parson Giles brought up for numerous cases of drunken and disorderly conduct drinking daily two or three-quarts of arrack. The Council "willing to shew our lenity towards him and the cloth he wears will try him one month longer."
Jan. 7th, 1724.—The Island being now in a very miserable starving condition through the want of the rainy seasons for four or five years past the Captain of H.M.S. Salisbury is begged to spare a supply of Rice or any other such sorts of Provisions for the speedy relief of the poor Inhabitants without which we fear some of them will inevitably starve.
Feb. 11th.—Several small fishing boats lately built hero of which one belonging to Richard Mason being at her fishing moorings on Monday night the 4th instant some large Fish supposed to be what is called the Sun Fish got foul of the boats moorings and pulled her under water and two of our Garrison out of three that were in her were drowned—ordered that no boat be hereafter built less than 14 feet long and 4 ft. 9 in. broad.
July 16th.—The Governor writes to India for timber to make Cattamarans being informed they would be of great service here for fishery and also for four fishermen experts and used to the said Cattamarans.
Complains that several Blacks guilty of notorious crimes had been sent here from India and requests the President at Fort George that no more should be sent. We send some of them in this ship to Bencoolen according to our Honourable Masters orders.
Aug. 31st.—The Governor congratulates the Inhabitants assembled at Sessions upon the happy change of weather at a time when this place was at the brink of ruin—for in a year or two more the Island would have been little better than a desert.
Totty a slave tried for repeatedly running away and leading a free booters life. The Gentlemen of the Jury several of whom have already been great sufferers by the said Totty petition to have him executed—[i.e. constituting themselves plaintiff, jury and judge]. Totty sentenced to be drawn on a cart by other runaway Slaves and hung. Afterwards to be carried to the top of the hill above Castle path and hanged upon a Gibbet.
Sept. 8th.—A Powder Magazine to be built on the East side of the square where the ware house is—[i.e. in the Commissariat store where it now stands].