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Majesty's order. Although it was acknowledged that the House had a right to expel their members, expulsion does not create a disqualification for re-election.
The success of the British arms produced in 1765 friendly relations between the contending powers, and Martinique and Guadaloupe were restored to France.
The unfortunate measure of the British ministry, imposing the unconstitutional scheme of the Stamp Act on the colonies in America, excited in Barbados the greatest astonishment; nevertheless his Majesty's loyal subjects in this island submitted to it. Not so in the island of St. Christopher, where the inhabitants, instigated by the crews of some vessels from New England, burnt all the stamped papers upon the island, and obliged the officers appointed for their distribution to resign their office. They afterwards went over in a body to Nevis, to assist their neighbours in taking the same rebellious proceedings. The inhabitants of Barbados remonstrated against a measure evidently so pernicious, and the government was compelled to abandon their project. During the few months it was in force, two thousand five hundred pounds were collected at Barbados and remitted to England'.
Governor Pinfold, having obtained leave to return to England, embarked on the 27th of May 1766. He had been Governor nine years and nine months, and his administration gave satisfaction to the community over which he presided. Samuel Rous, the senior member of Council then resident upon the island, administered the government after Mr. Pinfold's departure. The Legislature settled fifteen hundred pounds per annum upon the President during his residence at Pilgrim. His administration is remarkable, as during that period the Speaker of the House of Assembly claimed for the first time in the name of the House similar privileges as those enjoyed by the House of Commons in England. Mr. John Gay Alleyne was elected on the 3rd of June 1766 Speaker of the House of Assembly, and having been approved of by the Commander-inchief, he immediately claimed the privileges to which the House was entitled, namely exemption from arrests for the members and servants, liberty of speech, and access at all times to the King's representative. The President was taken unawares by this demand, and observed that he would give his answer at the next sitting of the Assembly. The House sat again the next day, but receiving no answer from the President, they resolved not to enter upon any business until they had received a satisfactory reply. At the next meeting of Council on the 7th of July ensuing, the President commanded the attendance of the Assembly, and said, “I give and grant, as far as is consistent with the royal prerogative, and the laws and constitution of this island, every privilege and liberty which has been enjoyed by any former Assembly, to be enjoyed by you, as fully 1 See Short History of Barbados, p. 76.
and freely as ever." These privileges are inherent in all legislative bodies, since without them their power must evidently be more nominal than real.
The two great fires which took place in 1766 and 1767 nearly reduced Bridgetown to ashes2. The necessity of rebuilding the town with greater order and regularity was now admitted by those who had before animadverted upon the propriety of legislative interference, and a law was enacted for that purposes. Parliament granted five thousand pounds for the projected improvements, and another grant of five thousand pounds was obtained in 1775 through the exertions of Mr. Walker the colonial agent.
William Spry, LL.D. received his Majesty's commission as Governor of Barbados, and arrived in Carlisle Bay on the 11th of February 1768: he was received with all the honours due to his station. On the 18th of that month the Assembly attended the Governor in Council, and settled three thousand pounds per annum upon his Excellency. In July the Legislature voted a sum of upwards of two thousand pounds for the repairs of the Government House at Pilgrim. These repairs were the more necessary, as the Governor was accompanied by his lady, a niece of the Earl of Chatham and daughter of Thomas Pitt of Bocconic: she died on the 3rd of October 1769. Mr. Spry's administration does not offer many remarkable points. Some discussion took place in the House of Assembly on the question whether a member by leaving the island vacates his seat, which circumstance was variously construed. In this instance the case related to Sir John Alleyne, member for St. Andrew's and Speaker of the House; and in consequence of the doubt which prevailed on the subject, his constituents refused to elect another person in his stead. It was ruled however that the member alluded to had vacated his seat by his departure; and the matter having been referred to the King in council, the act which had been previously passed with a view to grant leave of absence to Sir John was disallowed. Governor Spry died on the 4th of September 1772, and the administration again devolved upon Samuel Rous.
2 See ante, p. 243.
1 See Short History of Barbados, p. 78.
3 See Poyer's History of Barbados, p. 343.
PERIOD FROM THE ADMINISTRATION OF PRESIDENT ROUS IN 1772 TO THE DEPARTURE OF MAJOR-GENERAL CUNNINGHAME IN 1783.
THE administration of President Rous is not distinguished by many events of interest. The Assembly passed two bills,-one for erecting six fire-companies, the funds for which were provided by an increased tax upon the importation of slaves; and the second for laying a duty of two shillings and sixpence a ton upon all vessels entering the harbour; the proceeds of which, after deducting fifteen hundred pounds for gunpowder for the use of the forts, were to be applicable to the deepening, cleansing and improving of the molehead. These two bills met with some resistance in the Council, and were disallowed by the King in their original state. They were remodelled under Mr. Hay's government, and it was enacted that all vessels owned by the inhabitants should be subject to the tonnage duty not more than three times a-year, how frequent soever their voyages might be.
The Honourable Edward Hay, late his Majesty's Consul at Lisbon, had been appointed Governor of Barbados, and arrived in Carlisle Bay on the 6th of June 1773, accompanied by his lady and two daughters. The Legislature settled three thousand pounds on his Excellency during the term of his government. During the administration of Mr. Rous, the Solicitor-General had drawn the attention of the Assembly to the culpable neglect of the persons appointed to preside in the courts of law, in consequence of which justice was suspended in civil cases. The evil was not redressed, and the Governor sent circular letters to the Judges remonstrating at their neglect.
The unfortunate dissensions between the British colonies and the mother country began to attract general attention, and as the West India colonies depended for their supplies upon the continent of North America, the possibility of an interruption of that intercourse caused the liveliest apprehension. Instead of providing for such an emergency by legislative means, the time was allowed to pass until the rupture actually took place, when to their great consternation the Barbadians found that their stock of provisions was estimated at scarcely six weeks' consumption. Captain Payne arrived at that time from Boston, for the purpose of purchasing provisions for the British troops, who were in distress for want of arrivals from Europe. His Excellency gave him the permission to purchase the requisite provisions, which step raised the greatest com
plaints among the populace. Mr. Duke, the Solicitor-General, brought this impolitic measure before the House of Assembly at their next meeting; and upon his motion an address to the Governor was resolved upon, requesting him to prohibit the exportation of the necessaries of life until the island was more amply supplied. The House connected with this motion an address to the King, professing their loyalty and attachment to the throne, and beseeching his Majesty to relieve the prevailing misery and distress by timely assistance and interposition in their favour with Parliament. The Governor used all the influence he possessed to dissuade the Assembly from following up this resolution, which he was apprehensive would be displeasing to the King; but neither entreaties nor threats were of any avail, and the address to the King was forwarded to Mr. Walker the agent of the island, who delivered it with a memorial into the hands of Lord George Germaine. The memorial stated that the island had eighty thousand black and twelve thousand white inhabitants to support, --the internal resources, the ground-provisions, having failed from the unseasonable weather,—and that the means then in the stores of supporting the population could not last many weeks, while they were without any hope of supplies from foreign sources. The negroes, destitute of any allowance for their support, were left to plunder and starve, whilst the poorer class of white people were on the point of perishing with hunger.
Although the Governor, by his own measures to facilitate the importation of supplies, proved that the picture which the Assembly had drawn was not overcharged, he nevertheless could not forget that he had been thwarted by Mr. Duke, and in revenge he suspended him from the bar as his Majesty's Solicitor-General. Governor Hay had an irritable temper, and Mr. Duke's dismissal followed several others.
W. Dotin, the chief-gunner of James Fort near Holetown, having been accused of embezzling gunpowder from the public stores, Colonel T. Alleyne applied to Mr. J. Dotin, the chairman of the commissioners of fortifications, and a brother of the accused, to convene a Board for the purpose of investigating the charge; but this application was not attended to. Colonel Alleyne therefore suspended the chief-gunner until he had cleared himself of the charges brought against him, and desired that the keys of the fort should be delivered up to a person whom he appointed. The chief-gunner, accompanied by his brother, hastened to the Governor and succeeded in influencing him to write a letter to Colonel Alleyne, in which his Excellency denied that Colonel Alleyne possessed any authority to suspend the chief-gunner, and forbidding the Colonel to interfere with the gunners and matrosses of his division further than to inform him of any misconduct. On the receipt of this letter, Colonel Alleyne hastened to the Governor's residence for the purpose of entering into some explanation, when the irritable temper of the Governor rendered matters much worse by his adding insult, which induced Colonel Alleyne to tear
his cockade from his hat; and indignantly surrendering his commission, he observed that he disdained to hold it upon such terms. Mr. Alleyne laid his complaints before the Assembly, who resolved on an address to the Governor, praying that his Excellency would order the chairman of the commissioners of fortifications for St. James to convene a Board for the investigation of the charges brought against the chiefgunner. This produced the necessary investigation, and Captain Dotin was fully convicted and dismissed from the service.
These proceedings had already produced a coolness between the Governor and the Assembly, which was considerably increased when the information arrived from England of the Governor's having informed the Secretary of State that the picture of the distress in the island conveyed in the late address to the throne was greatly exaggerated, and that this measure originated only with the Assembly. It was therefore resolved "that it is the undoubted right of the General Assembly, on all occasions, either separately or jointly with the other branches of the Legislature, to address the Throne, and that whoever opposes or obstructs the exercise of this privilege is an enemy to the country: that it manifestly appears that the Governor has, by an application to his Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, done what lay in his power to intercept his Majesty's relief towards his loyal and distressed subjects of this colony : that a dutiful memorial be immediately transmitted to his Majesty in support of their former petition'."
In 1775, the Parliament granted to Barbados five thousand pounds sterling for cleansing and repairing the molehead2.
The Governor met a new Assembly on the 22nd of August 1776, on which occasion he delivered a conciliatory address to the members, which was not responded to in a similar tone; in their answer they reproached him for his "malign interposition," by which they had been deprived of receiving relief from the King and Parliament. The Governor had soon an occasion to thwart the Assembly, by refusing his assent to a bill which had been unanimously passed by both Houses re-appointing Mr. Walker their agent. The Governor informed the Assembly that he would concur in the appointment of any other person. Mr. Walker had rendered himself obnoxious by his animadversion on the Governor's conduct, and the energy which he employed in presenting the address of the House, whose servant he was, to the throne. The Assembly, who highly approved of the zeal and ability of their agent, refused to appoint another in his stead3.
The numerous American privateers which now infested the seas materially injured the trade; one ventured by night into Speight's Bay, where being discovered he was fired at from Orange Fort and forced to
1 Poyer's History of Barbados, p. 377. 2 Annual Register, vol. xviii. p. 245. * Scarcely more than a year had elapsed when they changed their resolution and appointed Mr. Estwick their agent.