Feb. 22, 1753.—Some very heavy showers of Rain which fell Tuesday last upon the Hills near Banks' brought such great and impetuous Torrents of water down that valley as did much damage to the lower Platform there.
Sept. 3.—By a very heavy Sea such as never was known in the memory of any man upon the Island some damage was lately done to the old Battery at Sandy Bay. It likewise washed away the Crane and had begun to penetrate the Magazine having spoilt a few cartridges.
Oct. 22.—The Guard House at Lemon Valley washed away by an unusual torrent of Water occasioned by some heavy Rains—likewise a Breast-work at Break Neck Valley.
Jan. 20, 1755.—Damages by very high Surfs done in several places to Fortifications.
July 17.—Burial Ground.—The Governor reports he is informed that the Burial Ground in Jamestown was so filled with Bodies that it is almost impossible to lay a Corpse in it at a proper depth and proposed to have another piece enclosed.
July 21.—The Inhabitants having a Burial Place in the Country where most of their Families are interred and the Burial Place in this valley being mostly filled with the dead bodies of Soldiers and Sailors, are willing to be at half expense for a New Burial Place.
Sept. 8.—Some very High Surfs have lately washed away the Earth and undermined parts of the Works at Ruperts and done damage to those at the Main Fort.
Dec. 8.—Partridges.—Whereas it being found that it is too early in the Season to begin to shoot Partridges on 1st January they being then in general very young, forbid all persons to kill until 1st February.
June 29, 1756.—Our not meeting yesterday was caused by a large Torrent of water coming down this valley which ran with such rapidity out of its common course that it was not possible to turn it until the Runs abated and therefore it has done great damage to the Fortifications and Plantations as well as to many of the possessions of the Inhabitants. It made two large breaches in the wall of the Maldivie Gardens, covered up several thousands of Yams with large stones and rubbish—broke down part of the Fence of the New Burial Ground, overflowing that which was prepared for erecting Barracks upon, making its way towards the Bridge with several large Rocks which not having width to vent them fast enough, part of the torrent run over one side of it which came down the public street which nearly destroyed several people carrying with it everything that was in its way gullying the street, rushing into houses, tearing one of the gates that leads to the line off the hinges and damaged the other very much forcing a vast deal of mudd and rubbish along with it filled the work up to the ambrasures and run over into the Ditch which was almost two-thirds full. That part of the torrent that went behind the houses next to Ladder Hill has almost destroyed every person's yard walls on that side and has thrown down some buildings and carried many things out of the people's houses greatly hurting one and destroying another of the Portcullies through which it was to pass. The torrents which were in some other parts of the Island have almost ruined many Yam Plantations, the damage done to some being irreparable.
Letter to England, August 21, 1756.—Your servants at Bencoolen have transported to this place a Mallay man named Noqueda Pokallum whom they say is of some distinction. They thought it necessary as they inform us to remove him from the Coast as he was a troublesome man and likely to be prejudicial to your interests.
Nov 3.—There was a Black man lost out of a fishing boat and we have reason to believe that he was murdered by those that were with him. We desire you will be pleased to give us some directions under this head that we may know how they are to be tryed and if found guilty whether they are to suffer Death or not. Your Military here seem to think it hard that slaves should receive only corporal punishment, when they by the Articles of War are liable to be put to Death for crimes that are not so heinous
June 27, 1757—Mr. Scott your Honrs. resident at Anjengo transported to this Island in the Clinton and Hector ten Malabar men who it seems were officers to the King of Travancore to serve you as slaves here, one of which died on the passage. The other nine were landed and clothed. A few days after they were sent into the Country five of them hanged themselves, and one of the remaining four has since died; the other three threaten to destroy themselves if they were put to any kind of work.
Letter from England, Dec. 23, 1757.—The suspicion intimated in your letter 3rd Nov. 1756, on the loss of a Black man out of a fishing boat that he was murdered by those that were with him and the directions requested on that head make our injunctions requisite that you diligently examine the Records of the Island for precedents in the like cases, with the usual methods of proceeding that we may give more particular orders for the effectual punishment of such malefactors. In the mean time order the most severe punishment of malefactors convicted of so heinous a crime.
Dec. 12, 1757.—Inconveniences attending so many sheep and horses being kept Planters agree and resolve the sheep to be limited to no more than one for every 3 acres of land owned by, proprietors whether kept on their own or on the Waste lands which will reduce the present number by about 400.
Horses one for 10 to 70 acres—2 to 140 acres and above that 3 and no more let them possess ever so large a quantity of land which will reduce the present number by about 22.
No horses at any time to graze on waste lands as they eat up and destroy the Herbage from the Black Cattle.
Horses are of infinite value and contribute much to the ease of the Inhabitants in this hilly place as well as for the convenience of the gentlemen that call here in shipping.
No person to turn out any manner of Cattle at Man and Horse, Manatee Bay, Horse Pasture. From Red Hill to Southens Water, and the Woody Ridge that is from Prosperous Bay to Stone Top after the 1st of January in every year until public notice be given by Governor.
March 7, 1758—On Monday 6th a double alarm was made for three ships which continued to the Windward of the Island until about noon and then lost sight of them—but on Tuesday they appeared again and stood away to Windward as before.
March 16—The ships still cruizing to windward propose to deck the long boat and send her a few leagues to windward of the ships to give notice to any approaching ship.
Instructions to Mr. Bendy midshipman in charge of Long Boat to cruize 25 leagues to Windward of the Island keeping the latitude of it.
Letter from England, Dec. 7, 1759.—The French ships which cruized to the Windward of the Island from 5th March to 23rd May following were the Achilles 64, Syren 32, Zephhyr 30. They arrived from Brest at the Cape of Good Hope 17th January and sailed for their station 19th February. Our four early China ships Prince Henry, Hawke, Osterly and Tavistock were chased by them from the 4th to 6th May when by bearing away in the night they happily escaped. The Boscawen and Fox on the 15th of the same month also fell in with them and the next day as fortunately got clear. These ships put in for the Bay of All Saints where the former arrived 24th May and the two latter 6th June and on the 9th following to our misfortune came in there also the Enemy's above three ships who seem intent in not quitting their views on our six ships in the Bay. Under this unfavourable situation Mr. G. Best 4th Mate of the Prince Henry with five hands was dispatched in that ship's Long Boat on 5th July to give us an account.
The Long Boat under Mr. Richard Bendy fell into the Enemy's hands 10th April. The French Commodore had exchanged the Prisoners except Mr. Bendy and a private man against others received on board the Fox at Bengal. The French ships at the time of leaving the station were very sickly in great want of salt provisions and reduced to an allowance of one quart of water daily. These difficulties with the miscarriage of their Enterprize will we hope discourage the repetition of it. They visited all ships Dutch, Danes and Swedes and obliged them on their word of honour under pretence of the Island being blocked up not to touch at it, or give you any information or assistance. H.M.S. Falkland, Capt. Drake, who made the Island 13th May last, fell in with the three French cruisers about 15 leagues distant from it and was chased by them from thence after exchanging some shot with the largest. And Capt. Drake apprehensive for the safety of the King's ship against such superior force, as well as doubtful whether the Island might not be in the Enemy's possession, bore away from thence the 16th May and arrived at Portsmouth 2nd August last. The French ships continued to blockade All Saints Bay till 4th Sept. and then abandoned it.
Letters to England, Dec 18, 1760.—Two of your slaves Grewer and Joe and a slave belonging to Torbett the cooper got away in the last ships. Grewer is a stonelayer and a very useful man but an artful notorious villain. He was the person who broke open a chest in the Castle and stole from thence near £50. As in Consultations 24th March,—this with many instances of Burglarys, Felonys committed by the Blacks so frequently noticed in our Consultations makes it necessary to represent that unless we have a power to execute some of them it will be impossible to stop the growth of the mischief perpetrated by them in all parts of the Island which daily increase and from experience we are convinced that severe corporal punishments are quite in. effectual. Your former Governors have been invested with the power as will appear from the following taken from the old Laws and Constitutions as follows—For the first offence to be whipped at three different times and to be branded with the letter R on the forehead. For a second to wear a chain and a clog for a year—and for the third to suffer death at the discretion of the Government, &c.
[Note.—It appears by the Records here that many have formerly been put to death. Giving them three chances for their lives amidst the excessive enormities which are now so often committed by them would be too much lenity. They should at least suffer on being convicted the second time.]
Letters from England, Dec. 31, 1760.—His Majesty having been graciously pleased to encourage the making observations on the transit of the planet Venus over the Sun's disk on the 6th June next and proper persons being engaged by the Royal Society for the purpose two of them, Mr. Charles Mason and Mr. Jeremiah Dixon proceed to Fort Marlborough on H. M. Ship Seahorse and the other two Revd. Mr. Nevil Maskelyne and Mr. Robert Waddington take passage on the Prince Henry to St. Helena. As this is done to make some improvements in Astronomy which will be of general utility the two last named gentlemen are upon their arrival and during their stay to be accommodated by you in a suitable manner with diet and apartments at the Company's expense and you are to give them all the assistance as to materials, workmen, and whatsoever else the service they are employed upon may require.
Slaves Essex and Grewer returned—the latter not to be punished. A soldier of the Garrison and another Coffree who had secreted themselves on board H.M.S. Yarmouth were sent on board H.M.S Princess Royal and were detained as we suppose for the King's service, our claim for them being ineffectual.
Letter to England, May 26, 1761.—We are obliged to you for returning Grewer to us. Although he is a serviceable man he is very artful and designing and as you thought proper to forgive him he has not been punished, we were in great hopes he would have been sent hither in irons and to be punished in order to deter others from the like villanys. This fellow boasts of the indulgence he received from you and industriously spreads among his brethren a notion of the great liberty allowed in England. Says it was in his option whether to have returned to the Island or not, withal having the assurance to appear upon his first landing in a dress very unbecoming to a slave and which no gentleman would have thought beneath him to wear. All precautions are adopted. Port liberty is stopped. Centinels placed at the waterside—Guard boats row about the Bay to suffer neither soldier or Black to pass—Rolls are called thrice a day—Yet many, both Soldiers and Blacks do get away. Rev. Nevil Maskelyne and Mr. Robt. Waddington shall be accommodated in a suitable manner with diet and appartments at the Company's expense. We have already erected an observatory for them in the country and shall furnish whatever else the service may require.
King George III proclaimed at St. Helena 7th April.
Letter from England, Feb. 3, 1762.—We have considered the representations you have from time to time made to be satisfied whether you are invested with ample powers to punish Criminals. We have consulted our Council and transmit our directions in a separate letter for the greater conveniency in case it may as probable be necessary to be produced before the Courts that shall be held on criminal cases. The lenity extended here to Grewer a deserting slave returned last season appears from your representations to have been misapplied and may be productive of bad consequences. No future reliance will be had on the gratitude of these people. They shall be returned if they come within our power to receive the punishment due to their offence. You prescribe the sending them on ship board in irons, we do not know there is such a power to be exercised here, or to imprison them.
Lieut.-General Lally's draught for £100 advanced at St. Helena—refused by the French East India Company. No more advances to be made to French prisoners returning.
President and Council of the Royal Society have thanked us for the civilities and services that Messrs. Maskelyne and Waddington received at St. Helena. The former still remaining there you are to continue to fulfil the directions given by malting their residence with you as agreeable to them as may be.
Many of our Blacks being quite worn out, your intentions of employing the Mercury and Fly on an adventure to Madagascar on our account for recruitments meets with our entire approbation. You will receive the articles wanting to compleat the proper assortment of a cargo for that Island.
The friends of our Governor having intimated that his health and constitution are much impaired we on due considerations of the great merit and the long and faithful services of Mr. Hutchinson having resolved that whenever he shall quit his Government which he is hereby at full liberty to do when he himself shall think most proper and convenient, to settle upon him £300 a year for his life as a particular mark of that favour which such a valuable and distinguished servant is so perfectly entitled to.
Approve of the scheme for establishing the Civil and Military Fund—[i.e. the present Widows' and Orphans' Fund.]
Letters to England, January 25, 1762.—The distemper among the Black Cattle still continues. 50 have died since January 1761 of the breeding Cattle among which it has chiefly prevailed. The milk upon opening is quite decayed. The Body and Bladder full of Blood and they stale Blood immediately upon being disordered. Some are carried off in a few hours. Threatens fatal consequences to the Island.
June 17.—We have received your orders investing us with power to hold Courts Civil and Criminal and that of Oyer and Terminer. In the mean time we are searching your Records and will transmit you a copy of the Laws and Constitutions of the Island as you direct. The Lt-Gov. requests the "Black Thorn" may be sent as he thinks it will suit both climate and soil,
June 23, 1763.—On the 21st last month about 5 o'clock in the morning was felt a violent shock of an earthquake. The agitation was so strong in the South part of the Island as to shake the china, &c. off the shelves in the houses, but thank God no damage ensued.
We have lately had some very strong Floods which have done considerable damage to the Fortifications at Lemon Valley, the Garden wall at Plantation and several of your Plantations—Some of those belonging to the Inhabitants have been almost destroyed by them.
Council proceedings May 14, 1764.—Charles Hutchinson left for England on 13th May in ship Egmont, John Skottowe Lt-Gov. succeeds.
June 5.—Commission from Gov. in Council for the Snow Mercury, 140 tons, 8 guns, 32 men, and Fly cutter to proceed to Madagascar and obtain Slaves, Rice and Paddy for the use of the Island, Slaves to be men able bodied under 25 and boys well grown. To keep a diary of all information which may tend to the better carrying on the slaving trade in future.
Invoice of cargo—chiefly cutlery, gunpowder and small arms.
July 23—Shopkeeping prohibited except by licensed persons. Six allowed and they to sell no more than 30 per cent on perishable things and 20 per cent on all other goods.
Jan. 25, 1765.—Mercury and Fly returned from Madagascar with 16 men slaves and 2 boys, 107 cwt. rice, 32 cwt. paddy. An insurrection occurred among the slaves 29th Nov. 1764 8 days after leaving Madagascar on board the Mercury at two in the morning—Captain mortally wounded with five stabs and mate's scull fractured. The slaves were fired upon killing two and wounding three. Cupidore a slave sent from St. Helena as interpreter speaking the language of the natives of Madagascar alleged to have excited the revolt "by filling their heads with shocking notions of their wretched fate as slaves." Cupidore and Winchester one of the slaves were tried after arrival at St. Helena for the above, and executed for murder.
Sept. 1, 1766—Governor's Fishing Boat overset off Barn Point—one man drowned and one recovered after two days on the Rocks.
Nov. 30, 1767.—Capt. Mitchell reports he had planned Mundens for a higher position than he first intended to avoid having perpendicular rocks at the back of the Battery.
Mundens is now 80 feet above the sea, the proposed change will make 150.
April 18, 1768.—Four Madagascar slaves attempt to run off in Sam Alexander's Fishing Boat in Sandy Bay—not knowing how to manage a boat the sea drove them on shore on the beach. Their excuse they did not like to be under a Black overseer.
May 30.—Patna a slave of Mrs. Mary Doveton who had deserted three years before in H.M.S. Medway is recognized on board the Earl of Elgin under the name of Francis Neptune and is ordered to be restored.
Governor Skottowe married Mary Greentree on 30th Sept. 1766.
Nov. 28.—Rats and mice increase considerably. Reward for destruction a halfpenny each Rat, a farthing each Mouse.
May 29, 1769.—A monoply of Spirituous Liquors granted to 3rd of Council, the four senior Civil Servants and the eldest Military Captain under Regulations as "Society for vending Arrack and other Spirituous Liquors."
June 19.—Mr. William Webber Doveton appointed as Writer.
1769.—The Country Church shut up full seven months in the year and in the other five only service on alternate Sundays.
Oct.—Munden's Magazine.—Daniel Armin killed by fall of ledge of Rocks caused by excavating the Rocks for the Magazine.
July 30, 1770.—Serjeant of Artillery and six soldiers and a man slave deserted in the Long Boat with 7 muskets and provision (supposed to steer for Brazils).
[Note.—These men arrived safely in England, and one of the deserters returned to St. Helena in 1778.]
Oct. 7, 1771.—On 30th Sept. Serjt. Moon from Lemon Valley with four others intended to seize Long Boat and desert. Information reaching the Govr. the Long Boat was secured but the deserters went off in a small jolly boat.
Road to Ladder Hill to be altered, Inhabitants paying half. Ladder Hill Road is the only Road kept in repair by the Company.
Oct. 5 1772.—The landing place upper steps being very dangerous and many accidents happening to Boats and people, gave orders to lay a flight of steps with Purbeck stone into the Rock, to erect a strong wall of ten feet thick laid with Lime Mortar to the North-ward to protect the steps from being injured by the violence of the surf.
Letters to England, Aug. 9, 1770.—We have had a very dry Summer Season and have already lost upwards of 500 head of Black Cattle and continuing to die.
Jan. 6, 1771.—Our Winter rains have again failed and the country is at present in a terrible situation. You have lost in the course of last year 150 and the Planters 560 Cattle. If the Summer rain do not speedily set in a great many more must inevitably perish from want of food.
Nov. 10, 1771.—Six men of the Garrison deserted on 30th Sept. in a small boat. The wind and sea very high that night and men supposed to have perished. The desertions ascribed to the influence of a report made by a black woman who returned from London and who said she saw and conversed in London with some of the men who deserted the 28th July 1770.
[Note.—This report was well founded—one of the deserters having been recovered afterwards on 24th Aug. 1778. Note also the recovery of John Fortune as per letter 3rd May 1772.]
March 19, 1772.—Sheep desired from the Cape in preference to Cattle. Cattle are a great expence from the numbers dying in the passage as well as after their landing and even what does live are in such bad condition that they cannot be slaughtered for 18 months or 2 years afterwards. Further we have reason to suppose that the disorder on the Island has been introduced by the Cattle from the Cape as that disorder was not known here before.
Letters from England, Nov. 23, 1770.—After the, desertion of two soldiers in one of our Long Boats in April last we are astonished you should not have thought it necessary to inform us in your general letter of a like desertion of seven others the 28th July. Until we shall be fully satisfied there has been no neglect in Garrison duty we shall impute the blame to our Governor and Lt.-Gov. as they are more immediately entrusted with the Military affairs of our settlement.
Jan. 4, 1772.—John Fortune a slave voluntarily surrendered himself representing to us that as he was in a fishing boat off St. Helena some soldiers and others who had absconded with one of our Long Boats forcibly carried him with them to Brazil.
Jan. 6, 1773.—We are building a vessel of about 200 tons which we intend to send you to be employed as an Advice vessel.
Judgements of death against Tetherick and Swartsing not warranted by law. Not Burglary to break into a Warehouse except as part of a Dwelling House.
[Note.—Tetherick a soldier had already been hung for breaking into the Stores.]
Feb. 2, 1774.—On 31st Jan. six soldiers deserted in the night taking two Boats a yawl of Mr. Britt Wright, and jolly boat of John Wright, were seen at daylight next morning but at too great a distance to pursue and soon after were out of sight. The deserters were illiterate men of bad character and only a few days provisions and must inevitably perish at sea.
Minute by Lt-Governor on licentious riotous conduct of the Garrison, particularly the Artillery company—attributes it to misconduct of Lieut. Leech in charge, for the nine years he has been here the Garrison were never under arms for a field day or exercised together. The Governor thinks the Irregularities are not of so serious a nature and attributable only to Liquor. The men are compleated in the now Prussian exercise and better disciplined than ever.
Three Houses built upon the ground where the Old Church stood for the use of the Comp. Servants (i.e. the three Govt. Houses next above St. James and which therefore mark the site of the Old Church.)
June 24, 1776.—Captain of the Mercury authorized to purchase at the Cape for St. Helena various fruit trees, animals and birds including canaries.
May 18, 1778.—A Corporal and three privates took a cutter the property of Capt. Harper and deserted the Island and we judge they must have perished.
June 29.—A Cruizer seen off Prosperous Bay 9 leagues off for several days in succession. A Long Boat under a Serjeant prepared to be sent to wind ward to alarm approaching vessels but no quadrant could be procured which renders the scheme impracticable.
Oct. 5.—Capt. Pierie suggests a road from Banks' to Buttermilk Point and a battery at the point.
Nov. 6.—Very high wind. Pinnace broke adrift from her moorings and was lost on 8th November.
March 22, 1779.—Four suspicious ships cruizing to Southward.
May 2.—Mr. Robertson 3rd officer of the Valentine shoots a pheasant, and refuses to come when sent for by the Govr. on the ground that it was a Military order by a Sergeant with a halberd. This said to be the immemorial usage of the Governor's of this Island never before called in question by any person.
July 5.—Coroner to be chosen by the inhabitants.
Oct. 4.—Planters complain of the late excessive Drought, numbers of Cattle have died and some have lost their whole breed.
Oct. 25.—A Corporal and another soldier desert from Lemon Valley in a fishing boat. Ship Glatton sent in pursuit of a boat two leagues from Lemon Valley found to contain two men slaves attempting to make their escape but no tidings of the deserters.
Oct. 25.—Winter Benis tried by a general Court Martial for writing a letter to Court of Directors tending to promote Mutiny, and for accusing the Garrison of Mutinous intentions: ordered to receive corporal punishment and to be drummed out of the Garrison with a halter about his neck. [The result proved that the warning was not without foundation. A serious mutiny did break out in 1783.]
Dec. 13.—Woodberry a slave complains of inhuman punishment from his master who ran fish hooks through his ears and burnt his hands by putting greased wick between his fingers so as to destroy the nerves of one of the hands. The Council consider that the oath of a slave cannot be taken against his master and that therefore a statement of the case should be referred to the Company.
Jan. 24, 1780.—Slaves have no form of worship among them, their numbers amount to 1161 exclusive of free Blacks 80 or 90; Whites to 930, Garrison included. Those Blacks live chiefly in the country where there are very few white men not above 40 in number.
July 24.—On Saturday last at night six soldiers took the cutter and deserted, one of them being sentry on the line.
Sept. 18.—Major Henry Bazett having objected to the heavy expence for making so wide a road from Banks' to Butter-milk Point, Major Pierie urges the necesity of a road twelve feet wide for traversing cannon for annoyance of passing Shipping to cost £300.
March 5. 1781.—Sandy Bay Fortifications much damaged by a large torrent of water which happened last week.
Sept. 6—Commodore Johnstone brings in six Dutch ships prizes and prays a Commission be granted for their adjudication. After examining Charter the Commission is granted.
Nov 12.—French Frigate La Necker and a French Merchant vessel brought in as prizes and a Commission issued for adjudication; captured by H.M.S. Hannibal off Cape of Good Hope.
Jan 7, 1782.—A French prize to H.M.S. Diana arrived and adjudicated.
Jan 28.—Earthquake.—On Saturday 26th inst. at forty minutes after one o'clock in the afternoon a shock of an Earthquake was felt throughout the Island attended with a rumbling noise which lasted about four seconds.
July 25.—Appointment of Mr. Corneille as Governor, Major Henry Grame Lieut-Gov. Governor Skottowe allowed to retire on same pension as his predecessor.
May 19, 1783.—French prize Anna Maria captured near the Island by Company's ship Locke brought in for adjudication, captured under a neutral Flag. A commission had been issued by Gov. Skottowe for adjudication of three prizes captured by Commodore Johnstone and the opinion of Court of Directors had been specially requested as to the legality of their condemnation, to which no answer had been given. Being doubtful of their jurisdiction the Council decline to issue any Commission in this case.
Dec. 29.—Mutinous outbreak in the Garrison. The ill-humour of the men was shown first on Christmas day arising from some alterations in the regulations for Punch Houses. On Friday 26 a riotous body assembled who were for a time appeased by the Governor's promises. On 27th they again became clamorous and finding they could obtain no more supplies of spirits from the Captain of the week they armed themselves and marched out of barracks with drums beating and fixed bayonets about 200 in number commanded by Sergeant Tooley. The Governor went among them and remonstrated and succeeded in inducing them to return. On Monday 29th the Council removed the grievance about the Canteen and directed the Punch Houses to be open as before. In the afternoon the men again became riotous and the Governor secured Sergeant Tooley and marched towards the barracks with the Main Guard. Before he could reach the Barracks a party of the Mutineers marched off to the Alarm House firing at Major Grame, who went in pursuit of them. After 10 p.m. Major Bazett with three officers and 70 men attacked the Mutineers at the Alarm House. They were under command of Sergeant Burney and fired on Major Bazett's party with field pieces but without effect. Musketry was used on both sides for 10 or 12 minutes when the Mutineers gave way three being wounded and 103 taken prisoners. Major Bazett losing two killed. The Mutineers were all sentenced death but were decimated, Sergt. Burley and nine others being shot on 2nd Jany. Sergt. Tooley was sent prisoner to England but perished with all on board by the wreck of the vessel off the Scilly Islands.
June 15.—Ship Fox coming into the road struck upon the Rocks off Mundens Point and received considerable damage—leaked so considerably that ship was in danger of sinking. Her cargo landed and stowed in the Church.
May 2nd 1785.—On 26th April the laboratory leading to the Stores and near the Castle was blown up by a Rocket taking firing whilst driving—which ignited several pounds of powder and a cask of musket cartridges. Two men killed, three badly wounded and the house entirely destroyed.
Feb. 27, 1787.—Violent Surf destroyed the Houghton's Long Boat at the Crane, four lives lost, Officer and three Seamen.
March 4.—Gov. reports that the very high surf of the last ten or twelve days had made a large gap in the counterscarf of the Ditch of the East Bastion and undermined the wall between the Draw Bridge and Exterior Gate,
March 31.—Heavy floods on the 28th March, Rupert's lines a wreck—the flood flowing over the platforms to the whole extent of the line. At Banks' a new Beach formed by the wash of rubbish from the Flagstaff bill gullies.
May 28.—Mr. Corneille resigns the Govt. and returns to England in the Carnatic. New Commission opened appointing Robert Brook Esqre. Governor, Major Francis Robson Lieut.-Governor. M. Bazett, William Wrangham and Henry Bazett of Council.
June 11.—Mr. Worrall claims his slave Yon who had been condemned to death and received a free pardon. Decided that he receive £15 the sum payable when a slave is executed and that Yon be ordered to the Company's works. In this case both Yon and his master William Worrall were detected in sheep stealing, the only witnesses being slaves whose evidence could not be taken against a white man. Yon alone was convicted.
This event led to an alteration in the law and thereafter slaves who understood the nature of an oath were admitted as competent witnesses in all cases.
Extension of Wharf from the upper stairs to the present landing place resolved upon.
Ships to be stopped at Butter-milk Point. A Board to be provided—"Send your Boat."
[Note.—This old Board is still visible at Butter-milk Point.]
July 9.—On Tuesday 5th instant Isaac Hicksled private while swimming near the landing place was unfortunately killed by a Shark.
Letters to England, March 22, 1787.—A most heavy fall of rain happened yesterday. Considerable damage done to Fortifications at Ruperts, Bankses and Butter-milk Point. Individuals have greatly suffered in this Valley where the rain seems to have fallen with most violence. Many of the houses are much damaged by the torrents which came down the sides of the hill and one house near the Water Course was entirely thrown down and all the materials carried away by the Flood Plantations have suffered greatly in the country, Longwood Tank entirely washed away with great part of the new Fence enclosing the said Wood.
March 31.—From the late flood Ruperts and Banks' have suffered most. The former is in a state of rain, the repairs will be equal to building a new fortification.
At a moderate computation the damages to your property alone must amount to some thousands of pounds exclusive of the injury done individuals in many parts of the Island. Several Yam plantations are washed away from the ground slipping. We mentioned that the rain seemed to have fallen with most violence in this valley, but on a more particular examination find that before the works gave way the whole of Ruperts Valley was one entire sheet of water. We have all the reason to suppose that it was occasioned by a Water Spout that begun to the Eastward near great Stone Top and took its direction across to the Westward, but had very little effect in the South and West parts of the Island.
Sept. 16th 1790.—Rev. Mr. Wilson's turbulent conduct—his Brother in law Lieut. Thomas Greentree his coadjutor. The following details may serve to give you a just idea of the language and proceedings of two or three people here of late. If ships were despatched with expedition the Island suffered. If the Government tried experiments for night signals, there was an attempt to burn the town. If the system of Fortifications was altered remonstrances were supposed necessary. If the uninterested Magistrate ruled in serious cases instead of the passions of individuals the Inhabitants were divested of their right and property.
If the Governor enforced discipline he was cruel in the extreme. If soldiers were allowed to work instead of being flogged for trifling offences there was no safety in the place. If the Governor attempted the improvement of the Waste Lands the poorer inhabitants were going to be deprived of their best dependence.
If Divine Service was wished for in the Country as well as Town the Assistant was interdicted from doing duty. If a Sunday School was established a Special Vestry was got together for its destruction. If the recruits intended for India were sent into the Country it was to disturb and endanger the lonely and unprotected Farmers. At length the Inhabitants were accused in the face of the Main Guard for wanting a similar spirit of dangerous opposition with which Mr. Wilson himself was inflamed.
We observed lately that several abusive and threatening papers against the Governor were scattered about the street—but as the Officers, Inhabitant Militia, and Non-Commissioned Officers of the Garrison offered large rewards for finding out the Author of these Nonsensical Epistles the Governor requested no further notice might be taken of them particularly as he supposed the papers were circulated merely for the purpose of enabling the fabricators to write home that we were in great trouble here on account of regulations the effect of which they had already perhaps misrepresented. The probability of this conjecture was quickly rendered evident for a few nights after a person it was said was heard on the side of the Hill call to another "There they are fire" and a shot was directed as it were towards the Castle—and the next morning a letter was found stating that the Ball had missed the Governor. Now the shot was fired at a time that he and everyone else almost were going safely and quietly to bed.
However in this as in the former part of the scheme the Incendiaries only rendered themselves ridiculous and the excellent intention of the Inhabitants were rendered more conspicuous, for several of them patrolled the streets for nights after merely from their own good will.
June 2, 1791.—Cutter Yawl and Jolly Boat cut from their Moorings. Yawl recovered. Two soldiers missing supposed to have deserted in the Yawl.
June 13.—An uncommon Gale of Wind sprung up in the night of the 23rd of last month and all of the ships were blown out from their moorings. They were seen the next day endeavouring to get to Windward but as we understood one of the Dutch ships had her Rudder alongside it being damaged and the wind continuing all that day and the next with much violence and no prospect of getting into the Harbour again being at a great distance off the Bay they have not since been seen.
Feb. 25, 1792.—Mr. Richard Mason's son found some stones on a part of the Island near Turk's Cap which he showed to a Mr. Thompson who went to the place and brought some specimens to the Governor on which a further search was directed to be made. An Englishman who was bred to the Lapidary business and attended says the deeper the workmen sink the better and larger the stones grow. Major Robson observes that they are a species of Calcidonis.
June 25.—Unhealthy Season—Acute Dysenteries—Fever and Catarrhal affections—120 patients in the last ten weeks ill with dysentery, six have died. We cannot tell precisely what may have been the cause of so much general disorder on the Island but think it may have probably been occasioned by a particular constitution of the Air arising from the long continuance of Dry Weather.
Dec. 24.—Captain Bligh at St. Helena in H.M.S. Providence with Bread fruit trees, Mango and various other plants enumerated.
Dec. 29.—Capt. Bligh sent on shore to us a variety of Trees and Plants the productions of the South Seas and the Island of Timor.
Feby. 6, 1792.—A Soldier going to Turk's Cap having been missing after two days search he was found unhurt in a Ledge into which he had fallen.
March 31. 1795.—A French officer walking the streets here wearing a Cockade the present insignia of Rebellion—ordered that no French men (prisoners) be allowed to come on shore for the present.
July 7.—Henry Powell publican unfortunately killed in bed by the falling of a rock from the height of Ladder Hill yesterday morning at 4 o'clock.
April 27, 1795.—An Arabian Horse bought for £400 by Gov. Brooke to improve the breed on the Island.
May 28.—Detail of proceedings relative to an Expedition to the Cape of Good Hope. Mr, Pringle the Agent from the Secret Committee lately come down from the Cape gives information that the Garrison of the Cape consisted of about 1000 regular troops, that Colonel Gordon the Commr. in Chief was well disposed. That if the Dutch at the Cape had received information of the French having overrun Holland they would turn out Gordon and put in Democrats in command. But if Col. Gordon was supported in time the Garrison might be got to join us and so save the place and get possession of the Dutch Indianmen at the Cape (14 in number). Arranged that H.M.S. Sceptre and some of the Indiamen here with a reinforcement from the Garrison should proceed at once to the Cape, viz. 300 men from Garrison, 2 field pieces and 2 chests of Treasure about £10000. On 1st June the expedition embarked and ready to sail for the Cape when the Swallow arrived from the Cape and gave information of the despatch of a fleet of Dutch Indiamen from the Cape for Europe. Capt Essington H.M.S Sceptre proposed to delay the departure for the Cape and to cruize to windward for a few days for the Dutch fleet, which was agreed to. At the close of the Consultation a signal was made for the arrival of the storeship and the Govr. by her received intelligence from Admiral Elphinstone who with Commodore Blankelt were gone on an expedition to the Cape.
Orders were then given for disembarking the Treasure, the two Field pieces and the Regimental band of Music. On 10th June the Dutch ship Hughley was brought in as a prize by the Swallow. On 16th and 17th June the Sceptre and the other ships returned, viz. General, Goddard, Asia, Busbridge and Swallow with seven large Dutch ships seized to windward which were all that had yet been seen of the Dutch fleet.
July 6.—Arrived H.M.S. Sphynx from Cape with letters from Admiral Elphinstone requesting as many men and artillery as Gov. Brooke could spare with a supply of silver also one from General Craig to same effect, observing that as I have no more Troops with me that could be brought on board H.M. Ships in addition to their complement the number is so small that no augmentation of it can be so inconsiderable as not to be acceptable. I have not a single gun or Artilleryman with me, I shall be very much obliged if you can spare me a couple six pounders and a howitzer with the necessary ammunition and artillerymen.
July 11.—Troops sent to Cape in the Armiston 11 officers, 400 men, two 12 prs., two 6 prs., four 3 prs., one howitzer and two chests of Treasure £10000. Captain Francis Seale senior.
July 13th.—Orpheus returned to the Cape with a further sum £5006.
July 20th.—The Malays taken in the Dutch prizes formed into two companies of Artillery to do duty on the Line.
Sept. 12th.—Admiral Elphinstone to Gov. Brooks.—Had received the reinforcements by Orpheus 5th Aug. and Armiston 9th Aug. On the 7th we attacked the Dutch Camp at Mysemberg, the Enemy fled immediately. General Craig will proceed to Cape Town as soon as may be prudent.
Oct. 12th.—From Admiral Elphinstone.—Cape had surrendered on 16th Sept. Thanks to Gov. Brooke, Capt. Seale and officers and men of the St. Helena corps.
From General Craig.—Your St. Helena friends have had their share of our fatigues and hardships and have acquitted themselves as you would have wished. Capt. Den Taafe has been wounded.
Nov. 2—Cape detachment returned in the Earl Rowe on 29th Oct., Capt. Greentree in command.
March 28.—Java Sparrows.—Prohibition against catching any for one year. Penalty—If a child to be whipped, if a grown person, fined.
July 31, 1797.—Planters appeal "In consequence of the very heavy and uncommon fall of rain which happened on 25th April last which occasioned the most dreadful Floods ever remembered."
Aug. 7.—Mr. Porteau's report on the damages to the Planters.
Reports destruction of Fences, washing away of plantations, mentions that in Mr. Seale's plantations in Sandy Bay the Flood had torn up a Gully 10 feet deep, 25 feet broad, had removed a large rock from the red stone quarry in length 16 feet and 10 feet deep from the depth of the Water Course.
In Peak Gutt (Mary Bagley's) 57 landslips, two had buried part of the Plantation—one measuring 40 feet deep, 32 yards wide, the other 30 yards wide 25 feet wide.
Aug. 4, 1798.—A Danish Frigate 64 guns from Copenhagen to convey Danish ships to Denmark.
Governor's explanation to the Danish Captain for the detention of three ships under Danish flag. The Dutch commerce to the East being so overthrown by their alliance with France had resorted to expedients. One of them being to obtain Danish papers for ships carrying their property and navigated chiefly by Englishmen and Americans
Oct. 22, 1798.—An attack on the place being expected ordered that in such an event all the Sheep and Cattle are to be driven between High Knoll and Ladder Hill.
Nov. 4, 1799.—The Governor was this day publickly presented. with a Sword from the hands of the Hon'ble Mr. Wellesley sent by Earl Mornington the Gov. General as a favourable testimony of approbation of his conduct as a Company's servant.
Varieties of Spices from the Moluccas tried in every soil and situation but have not succeeded.
Letters from England, Feb. 29, 1792.—Instead of the hats for the Infantry and Artillery being cocked as usual and distinguished by being bound and looped with different colours we had ordered them all to be round hats. This alteration we have been induced to make from a conviction that they must be much cooler and more convenient to the men. These are precisely the same as the hats worn by H.M. Regts. in India.
Ships not to be allowed to leave Port after Sunset. Surprised to find that the Slaves belonging to the Inhabitants had increased while those belonging to the Company had decreased. We commence in 1765 because there has been no importation since that period for the Company and as to the Planters, we understand there has not been above 3 or 4 a year left as domestic servants.
|In 1765 the Compy. had||161||men.||In 1791||94||men.|
|In 1765 Inhabitants had||248||men.||In 1791||439||men.|
There also appears in 1791 190 Free Blacks which may be added to those of the Inhabitants and considered as part of the increase since 1765 as the practice of emancipating has prevailed since that period.
Jan. 5, 1796—Commendations of Gov. Brooke for his zealous efforts for the intended expedition to the Cape. Your Records do not furnish to our recollection since the Island has been in the Company's possession an instance where this little Island has been so eminently useful.
May 17, 1797.—Direct Ladder Hill should be fortified on the land side by a line capable of sustaining a seige (in case of an enemy carrying of any of the Sea Defences) so as to form an Inland post.
Letters to England, May 23, 1797.—A most uncommon and extraordinary fall of Rain happened in the early part of the morning of 25th last month which occasioned the largest and most awful Flood ever remembered. Many Farms seriously damaged particularly in Sandy Bay. Several of the Fortifications injured.
August 21.—A great quantity of Lime Stone has been discovered near Banks' battery of a better quality than at Sandy Bay.
June 1, 1798.—Thanks to the Company for remitting the Rents for one year of the Sufferers by the Flood which happened last season. We are sorry to observe that we were again on the 22nd and 23rd of last month visited with similar inundations to that of the preceding season particularly in James and Sandy Bay Vallies.
The damages done we have not yet ascertained, but are concerned to inform you that an unfortunate soldier on the 22nd foolishly thinking he could pass the main water course in James Valley was washed by the rapid torrent amidst immense Rocks the distance of 300 yards into the Sea from whence he was miraculously taken up alive but died the day following.
Subscription £982 17s. from Civil, Military and Planters anxious to show the ardent zeal of faithful determined and loyal subjects of the English East India Company their King and Country on hearing of France threatening an Invasion.