Carolina Under the Lords Proprietors' Rule

Lords Proprietors' Letter to Seth Sothel - May 12, 1691


London May ye 12th 1691


Your Letters directed to each of us and all of ye same tenour of the 21 of Octber Wee have recd and are well pleasd to finde you write that you will submitt to our Instructions for the govermt and that you never denyed so to doe.

Wee hope you are to knowing and to wise a man to claime any power In Carolina but by virtue of them for no proprietor single by virtue of our patents hath any right to the Govermt or to exercise any Jurisdiction there unless Impowered by the rest nor hath any seaven of ye Proprietors power to bind any one in his priviledge or property unless by agreemt among ourselves wch agreemt is contained in Our Fundamentall Constitutions bearing date the 12th of January 1681 those being the only constitutions agreed or signed to by all the eight proprietors and If any proprietor shall come into Carolina and take upon him govermt grant comissions and traine and exercise men any otherwise then pursuant to the rules and Instructions for Govermt appointed by the rest of ye Proprietors it is by the Laws of England high treason as wee are well Informed and If any Governor of Carolina shall without Consent of Our Deputys Impowered by us or rules from us take upon him to Impower Judges and other Magistrates It is a very high misdemeanour in the person granting and also in the prson who accepts and executes such Office and all any such Officer shall doe is voyd erroneous and at his perill and any man In Carolina that shall take upon him to act as Deputy that is not duely Impowered by us or by rules from us is answerable for all he shall doe by vertue of any such pretended power of Deputy We are Informed that Mr Joseph Blake haveing a deputation under ye hand and seale of Mr. Archdale you have notwithstanding putt him out from being Deputy and put in Mr Berrisford in his roome of yor owne choice and that Mr. Berrisford acts as Deputy Wee hope this Information is not true for we can never approve your so doeing and shall be obliged to vindicate our owne rights therein for wee will never allow that any Governor upon any pretence whatsoever shall turne out a Deputy that is so appointed to bee under hand and seale of any Proprietor that tending towards a rebellion to ye crowne arbitrary power in himself and the outeing of the rest of the Proprietors of their rights

Wee knowe not what to say to ye protestation of our Deputys untill wee are truly Informed of ye matter of fact, they sayeing you positively refused to governe by our Instructions or rules of Goverment and you affirm the contrary for If you did refuse to governe by our Instructions wee think they did like wise and honest men to act with you and wee have a very good Character of the honesty prudence and truth of severall of them, but we shall suspend our judgement of that matter untill your arrivall in England and that wee have proof of the allegations on both sides We do not approve of any reflections upon you for Actions in Albemarle and shall be very ready to shew our resentment thereof as soon as you have cleared yourself from the misdemeanors and oppressions layd to your charge by the Inhabitants of that County wch misdemeanors are vizt :

1. That you seizd upon two persons that came into Albemarle from Barbadoes pretending they were Pyratts although they produced cockets and clearmts of their goods from the Governors of Barbadoes and Bermudas

2. That you kept these prsons in hard durance without bringing or pretending to bring them to tryall In wch hard durance Richard Humphrey one of them dyed of grief and ill usage.

3. That the sd Richard Humphreys made a Will before his death and left one Thomas Pollock his Executor whom you would never admit to prove the sd Will, though often required by the sd Pollock to permit him to prove it before you nor would not so much as suffer the Court to attest that ye said Pollock had offred the Will to prove but took all ye goods into yr owne hands and converted them to yr owne use

4. That the sd Pollock haveing sett up his name to come for England to complaine of yr Injustice you Imprisoned him without shewing any reason or permitting him to see a copy of his mittimus

5. That you have for bribes withdrawne accusations that were for felony and treason

6. That you did unlawfully Imprison one Robt Cannon

7. That you did arbitrarily and vnlawfully detaine from John Stewart one negro and seven pewter dishes

8. That you did Imprison George Durant upon pretence of his haveing said some reflecting words of yourself and did compell him to give you a bond for a sum of money while he was in durance and did afterwards on pretence of ye bond seize upon all the estate of the said George Durant without any process or collor of law and converted the same to your owne use.

9. That you did unjustly take from one John Tomlin his plantation.

10. That you did unlawfully detaine the Cattle of George Mathews and refused to deliver them although there was an order of court for it

11. That you took the plantation of John Harris upon pretence of a sale of the same to you by the said Harris although you knew the sd Harris was under age

12. That you unlawfully seizd upon ye estate of one Mowberry

13. That you did by yr power as Governor and proprietor seize upon severall mens estates without process of law and did severall other unjust and arbitrary actions for wch misdemeanors and other oppressions, the Inhabitants of Albemarle Imprisoned you with intent to send you prisoner to England and there to accuse you but you Intreated them not to send you to England but that you would submitt all to be determined by the next Generall Assembly who accordingly gave Judgement agt you In all the forementioned particulars and compelled you to adjure the Country for 12 months and the Govermt for ever which proceeding of yourself and the people is in our opinion prejudicial to the prerogative of the Crown and the honor and dignity of us the proprietors Wherefore as in duty bound and for our owne vindication Wee are resolved to have this matter thoroughly inquired into that wee may take such course for the preventing such disorders for the future as shall appeare most fitting for the asserting of their Matys prerogative, the peace of the province the just libertys of ye people and vindication of ourselves But are unwilling to proceed therein untill we have first spoken with you Wherefore desire and require that you come speedily for England that wee may have a full and clear Information of all matters and bee thereby Inabled to know how to proceed and If you shall refuse or delay to come Wee cannot avoid thinking you guilty of all the misdemeanors layd to yor charge and shall be constrained for our own vindications and to shew our abhorrence of the Injustice and opression practiced by any of our number to lay the whole matter before the King and pray his mandamus for your appearance here to answere what shall be objected agt you wch we hope you will not compell us to wee being unwilling to make you a publick shame or to bring you under a prosecution wee ourselves cannot stop when once begun.

Our Deputys had orders from us not to call any Parliament in Carolina without directions from us unless some very extraordinary occasion should require it Wherefore wee cannot blame them for following our Instructions nor can wee approve of yor Incourageing the people to petition for a parliament or calling one because they did petition, tumultuous petitions being prohibited by Act of Parliament here with a severe penalty upon such as shall break that law and we know not how farr such ill example In Carolina may Influence his Majties subjects In his other American plantations, but since you write that the Inhabitants have Intentions to depute 2 persons for our better Information of all matters wee have directed our Deputys to consent to the calling of a Parliament for that purpose, for any Parlament called by you with consent of such deputys as are not duely Impowered by us wee cannot allow to be a Parliament nor can wee tell how to justify our own consenting to any acts made by such Assembly.

Wee here Inclosed send you copie of some Articles under the hands and seales of the proprietors in 1672 to wch my Lord Clarondon sett his hand and seale and to which any that claime under him are bound Wee have no thought nor Intentions to doe you wrong or Injury, but on the other side wee shall not permitt ourselves to be Imposed on nor his Majtys Subjects that live under our Governmt to be oppressd or unjustly dealt with by any persons whatsoever and shall much rather surrender our Government to the King than suffer it If it bee not to be remedyed other ways for wee have no other Interest to keep the Government in our owne hands, but that wee may be able to assure the people they shall not be opprest by ye Government and thereby Incourage them to goe to Carolina to take our Land and pay us the rent, for it is not our Intentions to make profit by the Government ourselves or to suffer any Officers under us to oppress ye people by extravagant fees and grow rich by the rune of ye people Wee rest your affectionate friends

To Seth Sothell Esqre

CRAVEN Palatine


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