Council of Trade and Plantations to Committee of Privy Council, Representation upon petition of Mrs. Campbell; considerations relating to the security of the British Colonies in America

367. Council of Trade and Plantations to Committee of Privy Council.

Representation upon petition of Mrs. Campbell. Continue:

We have discoursed hereupon with Coll. Philips, H.M. Governour of Nova Scotia, and likewise with Mrs. Campbell the petitioner, who hath laid before us several papers and affidavits relating to her title to the aforesaid lands and quit rents in Nova Scotia, from whence it appears, That in 1631 the Most Christian King Lewis XIII gave the Government of Nova Scotia or Accadie to Monsieur Charles de St. Estienne, Sieur de la Tour, grandfather to the petitioner, who had Letters Patents granted to him thereupon. What the particulars contained in the said Letters Patent were, does not appear, because no copies of them have been produced to us, but upon the death of Lewis XIII, his son Lewis XIV etc. having been informed of the progress and improvements made in Accadie by the said Sieur de la Tour was pleased by new Letters Patents bearing date February 25th, 1651, to confirm him in the post of Governour and Lieutenant General of Accadie or New France and likewise in the full and free possession of all the lands which had been before granted to him in that Province with full power to dispose of them to whom and in such proportions as he should think proper ; as appears by a printed copy of the said Patent which refers to the former of 1631, and for want of that former Patent it cannot be ascertained whether the whole Province or what part thereof was granted to the said de la Tour. It would seem that the second Patent of 1651 was issued by way of confirmation of La Tour’s title just after he had been acquitted of certain charges alledged against him ; for the petitioner hath produced to us a decree made for that purpose by the Masters of Requests in the French King’s Court and Chancery bearing date the ninth day of February of the same year 1651, and in this decree mention is likewise made of a former Commission granted to the Sieur de la Tour dated Feb. 8th, 1631, constituting him Lieutenant General for the French King in the said Province of Accadie, Fort St. John, Port de la Tour, and the places dependant upon them. This decree was confirmed by the French King’s Order in Council dated the 26th of the same month, and the said Sieur de Tour was thereby absolved from all accusations which had been preferred against him for treason or maladministration in his government of Accadie and reinstated and maintained in the full possession and enjoyment of all the lands which had been acquired by him or in his name in the said territory of Accadie or New France. Under the authority of these Letters Patents and of the decree of the Masters of Requests and Chancery confirmed by the French King’s Order in Council Mrs. Campbell alledges that the said De la Tour, her grandfather, for the good of the State and for the encouragement of those who desired to settle in this new colony, as well as in conformity to the intention of the King his master, distributed part of the lands he had acquired in the Province under his government at a very low rate to the new inhabitants, upon certain conditions or Articles made with them in his own name or in the names of his attornies or agents, which contracts were either plundered and taken away from the Petitioner, or burned in the last descent and invasion of the Indians in Nova Scotia, in which the Petitioner’s first husband was killed. She supposes however that copies of these contracts might be found in some of the publick offices in Nova Scotia, and that altho’ they should be entirely lost, yet her long possession with the successive and uncontested payments of rents to her, down to the years 1729 and 1730, would be sufficient proofs for the support of her present claim. The aforesaid Charles de St. Estienne de la Tour being dead, the petitioner alledges, that his only son the petitioner’s father succeeded him in all his estates, titles, possessions, honours and privileges, which he continued to enjoy peaceably to the time of his death in the year 1704, leaving several children his heirs who enjoyed his inheritance under the guardianship of their mother until the year 1713, when the Province of Nova Scotia was yielded to Great Britain by the 12th Article of the Treaty of Utrecht. By the 14th Article of that Treaty, it was expressly provided that the subjects of the King of France in Nova Scotia should have liberty to remove themselves within the term of one year to any other place if they should think fit, with all their moveable effects, but that such as should be willing to remain there and be subject to the Kingdom of Great Britain, should enjoy the free exercise of their religion, according to the usage of the Church of Rome, as far as the laws of Great Britain do allow the same. But her late Majesty Queen Anne was pleased by her letter to General Nicholson bearing date the 23rd day of June, 1713, in consideration of the French King’s having at her request released some of his Protestant subjects from the galleys to allow the French inhabitants in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to hold their lands or dispose of them if they thought fit etc. Letter from Queen to Governor Nicholson quoted. (v. C.S.P. 23rd June, 1713).

Continues :Hereupon soon after the publication of the foregoing letter in Nova Scotia, the several brothers and sisters of the Petitioner’s coheirs of the land and premises in question retired into the neighbouring Provinces under the domination of France, and left the Petitioner who would not abandon her country, sole proprietor in possession of all their lands and rents, under certain conditions agreed upon amongst themselves. The conveyances which were made to the Petitioner upon this occasion have been produced to us and bear date November 9th, 1714. The Petitioner sets forth that notwithstanding the refusal made by the inhabitants of Minis to pay her the rents to which they were engaged by their articles because she durst not go thither to compel them for fear of the Indian savages, by whom she was seized about seven years ago, and run a very great hazard of being massacred, the revenue ariseing to her from thence amounted to 80 or 90 pounds sterling p. annum which she offers to confirm by oath, not being able at present to give better evidence of the value of the income arising from the said rents ; and she likewise further avers that her lands are now set for a 20th part of their real value. To prove her possession and enjoyment of the lands and premises in question, the petitioner produces two orders under the hand of the aforesaid Governor Philipps dated July 5th, 1721, and Sept. 19th, 1722, by which all the inhabitants and landholders are ordered to pay her the rents stipulated in their contracts. She likewise produces a certificate subscribed and sworn to by the Reverend Mr. Robert Cuthbert, sometime minister of Annapolis Royal where the Petitioner resided, as Chaplain to Colonel Philipp’s regiment, who deposes that during his residence at Annapolis he was well acquainted with the Petitioner etc. who was seized and possessed of a large estate of inheritance lying in and about Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia and was reputed and esteemed both by English and French and other the inhabitants thereabouts to be Lady of the Mannor lands and premises situated as aforesaid and to be legally intitled thereto, and as such received the rents and profits thereof during this deponent’s stay there ; and this deponent saith that he hath been present and several times seen the rents and profits of the premises aforesaid paid to her from the French, and believes that in her own name she gave proper and legal receipts and discharges for the same, and that the said Agatha Campbell held and enjoyed the aforesaid lands and premises without any interruption or molestation and free from any claim or demand whatsoever during this deponent’s residence there. The Petitioner hath likewise produced to us three affidavits of Mary Barton, John Welch and William Tipton, who severally depose that they have lived many years at Annapolis Royal during which time they were well acquainted with the Petitioner etc. and that during their abode in Nova Scotia she was acknowledged sole Lady of the Manour, lands and premises of all the inhabited parts of that Province and that in her own right she received the rents and acknowledgements thereof from the inhabitants enjoying the same without molestation, and that she was a Protestant of the Church of England and greatly beloved by the inhabitants her tenants, as will appear more largely by the said affidavits etc. annexed. Having heard what the petitioner had to alledge in support of her claim, we thought it proper upon this occasion to discourse with Governor Philipps etc., by whom most of the facts alledged by the Petitioner in support of her right have been confirmed, particularly as to the value of the quit rents, and her receipt of them, as the rightful proprietor thereof, and that she would have continued to do so to this day but that a stop was put thereto in 1730 in consequence of H.M. orders upon a representation from the said Colonel Philipps till Mrs. Campbell’s title should be further enquired into and H.M. pleasure be known thereupon.

We have also examined the Histories of this Country and searched the books of our office with respect to the facts alledged by the Petitioner, from whence it appears amongst other things, that in the year 1621 the country of Nova Scotia was granted by King James 1st to Sir William Alexander, afterwards Earl of Sterling, who took possession thereof, drove out the French who had encroached upon it, and planted a colony there. That in the year 1630 the said Sir William Alexander sold his right to Nova Scotia to Monsieur Claude de la Tour, a French Protestant, to be held by him and his successors under the Crown of Scotland. That about the year 1631 King Charles 1st made some sort of concession of the said country to the Crown of France, reserving nevertheless the right of the Proprietor who had before enjoyed it. That in 1633 notwithstanding this lastmentioned concession the said King Charles 1st by Letters Patents bearing date the 11th of May in the same year granted to Sir Lewis Kirk and others full privilege not only of trade and commerce even in the River of Canada, which is to the northward of Nova Scotia, and places on either side adjacent, but also of planting colonies and building forts and bulwarks where they should think fit, but the said Sir Lewis Kirk and partners were molested by the French in the enjoyment and exercise of their privileges. That several years afterwards in the year 1654 Cromwel having then a fleet at New England caused the country of Nova Scotia to be seized, as being antiently a part of the English Dominions to which the French had no just title, and the proprietor of the said country Sir Charles de St. Estienne, son and heir to the fore-mentioned Monsieur de la Tour, coming thereupon into England and making out his title under the aforesaid Earl of Sterling and the Crown of Scotland, his right was allowed of by Cromwell ; whereupon the said St. Estienne, by his deed bearing date the 20th of November 1656 made over all his right and title to Nova Scotia to Sir Thomas Temple and Mr. William Crown ; one or both of them who did accordingly continue to possess and enjoy the same with the profits thence arising until the year 1667 when Nova Scotia was yielded to the French by the Treaty of Breda, and was accordingly delivered to them in 1670 by virtue of an order from King Charles the Second to Sir Thomas Temple, who then resided as Governor upon the place. From this time to the Treaty of Utrecht, when N. Scotia was again surrendered by France to the Crown of Great Britain, our books make no mention of the descendants of the abovementioned Monsieur de la Tour ; but as the Petitioner with her brothers and sisters were found in possession of the lands and quit rents abovementioned, we think it highly reasonable to believe that after the surrender of Nova Scotia to France in 1670, the French King did thereupon restore Monsieur de la Tour, the Petitioner’s father, to the enjoyment of his estate, and it appears to us upon the whole that the Petitioner Mrs. Agatha Campbell is daughter to the last mentioned Monsieur de la Tour and grand-daughter to Monsieur Charles Saint Estienne, Sieur de la Tour, whose right to Nova Scotia was allowed by Cromwell, and that partly by right of inheritance and partly by cession from her relations, she is justly entitled to all the possessions and rents belonging to her said father and grandfather not disposed of by them during their respective lives ; but what those rents and possessions were does not appear to us for want of the first Letters Patent to the Sieur de la Tour in 1631, excepting the quit rents abovementioned of eighty or ninety pounds pr. annum. Whereupon we would take leave to propose that H.M. should be graciously pleased to order a valuable consideration to be paid to the Petitioner for her said quit rents, and also for the extinguishment of her claim to any other part of Nova Scotia ; and in the meantime to issue his Royal Orders to Coll. Philipps, the present Governor of Nova Scotia or to the Commander in Chief there for the time being to give the necessary directions in that Province, that all arrears of rents or quit rents due to the Petitioner from the inhabitants of Nimos or others since the year 1730 or from the time of her receiving the last payments be paid to her the said Agatha Campbell without delay ; and that she be re-instated in the possession of such lands and quit rents as she was possessed of before the late orders for stopping the payment of her rents, and to enjoy them without any let or molestation, until the aforesaid consideration shall be paid. [C.O. 218, 2. pp. 273-292]

370. Some considerations relating to the security of the British Colonies in America. If a war should break out between England and France, it is natural to expect they will attack us where we are weakest, and that is in America. The Leeward Islands may be overrun in a very few days from Guardaloupe or Martinique, etc. Barbados would make but a very poor resistance, having no forces but their own militia, and their fortifications in a very bad condition. Jamaica might possibly be defended by a powerfull sea force against a descent from Hispaniola, but ye French have near 20,000 people in their part of that island, settl’d within ye space of a few years, whereas Jamaica tho’ planted in Oliver Cromwell’s time, and capable of maintaining 200,000 inhabitants by ye last returns from thence had no more than 7,648 white people, including men, women, and children. And is under daily alarms from her runaway negroes. Gives details of numbers of inhabitants : 74,525 slaves etc. Argues that the Leeward Islands being so small are not capable of supporting a sufficient number of inhabitants to defend them against the superior forces of the French in their neighbouring Colonies. There may be between 3 or 4000 in the four islands, but they are dispers’d, and can never be brought together for their common defence : and therefore the Crown has constantly been at the expence of maintaining a regiment of foot there, which has been an expence thrown away to no manner of purpose etc. This Regiment has been so manag’d that ye inhabitants could have expected but very little protection from it, being always vastly deficient in its numbers, and ye few soldiers that were effective, except tradesmen who could earn their own bread, have been almost starv’d for want of subsistance, consequently much fitter for hospital than for service. Proposes that the Colonel should be immediately ordered to his post and to make, in conjunction with the Governor, a return of the strength of the Regiment : that it be forthwith recruited ; and as it is impossible for the common soldiers to subsist there upon their own pay, that the Governor be instructed to recommend to the people to make the same additional provision for them at least, which the Assembly of Jamaica give to their 2 Independent Companies. But this Regiment compleated to its full establishment will be but of little use without a Naval force etc. The loss of these islands, or even the destruction of their sugar works, would be a great detriment to England, and an irreparable damage to the inhabitants, who have not to this day recovered the losses of the last war etc. The Admiralty have a very good harbour at Antegoa, and we should upon the first apprehension of danger, have two ships of war at the least upon this station. The property of the King’s subjects in these islands, including their slaves, stock, coffers and buildings is computed at near three millions sterl. Barbados has of late years given so much money to their Governors that they have not been able to lay out any upon their fortifications, but their charge upon that head is at present considerably diminished and therefore their Governor should be instructed to recommend to them to take care of the necessary repairs for their fortifications and supply of their magazine. For I fear the number of their inhabitants is much lessen’d of late. Upon the least umbrage of a war they should have the same number of ships for their defence which were employ’d on that station during the last war. This will be the more necessary at present, because of the French encroachments at Santa Lucia which lies within sight of Barbados, and of the encrease of the French inhabitants in their neighbourhood. Jamaica has always been deservedly our chief concern, as well upon acct. of its scituation, as of its real value, and if the inhabitants had understood their own interest or had half so much concern for themselves as we have had for them, they would not have been in so bad a condition as they now are. Instead of being a great burthen to us, they might, with good conduct, by this time have been able to stand alone, and have been the terror of the West Indies. But it is too late to look backwards, and some way must be found out effectualy to people this island, or we shall certainly lose it. Our Fleets indeed may do a great deal for the defence of Jamaica ; but it is to be consider’d that the same winds which may bring a force from Hispaniola, may confine our ships in port ; and an Iland upon which we have long valu’d ourselves, be lost, notwithstanding our naval force, in a very few days. It will therefore be highly necessary to send some person of spirit, integrity, and capacity to command this Iland. He should be instructed to send home a full and true state of their condition. How it comes to pass that they are not better peopled? What impediments there are to the settling of the country? and how they may be removed, either by the Legislature of the Iland, or that of Great Britain? for this is too valuable a jewel in the Crown of England, to be lost by the petulance of the inhabitants, or the exorbitant avarice of a few leading men, who have eat up all their poor neighbours and expelled them the Iland. Something in the nature of an Agrarian law must be made for Jamaica if we intend to keep it. No man should be allow’d to hold more land than he can cultivate, and great encouragment should be given to draw inhabitants thither, for England could not lay out money to a better purpose. In the mean while we should allow them as many ships for their defence in case of danger, as they had any time the last war. And we must not wait till we hear the French are going to send ships into the West Indies ; for we may be undone by the land force they have there already etc. Suggests sending, upon the first apprehension of a rupture a strong land force also into the iland, under the command of some experienced officer. The Bahama Ilands in case of a war would lye greatly expos’d to an invasion from the Spanish Colonies at Porto Rico, Hispaniola or Cuba, but especially from the last. The temptation of attacking them will not arise from the plunder, the inhabitants being hitherto very poor, but their scituation is of very great importance, and therefore they will merit a farther land force for their defence, having only one Company there at present. And as they have a good harbour at Providence for 20 gun cruisers, two ships of that size may be station’d here to good purpose, to watch the Spanish plate fleets, and be a cheque upon the navigation of the Gulph of Florida. It were to be wished that these were the only British Dominions in America expos’d to danger ; but it is certain that the French may make themselves masters of Nova Scotia whenever they please. It is easie to perceive from one cast of the eyes upon the map, that this Province is surrounded almost on every side by the French settlements of Cape Briton, L’isle Madam, Anticosta, the river of St. Laurence, and Canada, in all which places, the French are very strong and numerous, especialy at Cape Briton and L’isle Madam etc., but we have hardly one civil inhabitant in the whole province of Nova Scotia, and what is still worse, we have upwards of 3000 French Papists settled in the heart of the countrey, who have remained there ever since the Peace ; and tho’ they have with great difficulty been prevail’d on not long since to take the oaths of allegiance to the King ; there is no doubt that they would readily joyn with their countreymen to recover this Province for the Crown of France etc. Something should be done without loss of time. It may not perhaps be adviseable to ask the assistance of Parlt. yet nothing can be done without expence. Palatines or Saltburgers might certainly be had in Holland, and in my humble opinion they ought to be had. But there is one other way which has formerly been recommended as advantageous to the publick in every respect, and that is to engage the straglers, now settled in Newfoundland, where they do a great deal of harm, to transport themselves to Nova Scotia, where they may be of some use to their Mother Countrey. And as these people are already inur’d to the hardships of these cold climates they would be of more service there than a much larger number from any other place. All reasonable encouragements should therefore be given to them, and indeed to any other people that are dispos’d to settle in Nova Scotia, till that Province shall have acquir’d a reasonable defence. It may likewise be for the King’s service, that Col. Philips should be order’d forthwith to recruit his Regt. to the full establishment, and if the men were allow’d to carry wives with them they might in time do something towards peopling the countrey. But this is only one of those gradual expedients to which many more might be added, but which would not save the present emergency etc. The preservation of this Province, and of the Fishery upon its coast, which is preferable to that of Newfoundland, would always deserve a station ship, and more in time of war, with another regiment. Without date or signature. Endorsed, Oct. 28th, 1733. 5 pp. [C.O. 5, 5. No. 2.]

“America and West Indies: October 1733, 16-31.” Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 40, 1733. Eds. Cecil Headlam, and Arthur Percival Newton. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1939. 216-232. British History Online. Web. 2 April 2020.