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the 19th of February 1782. Admiral Hood arrived a few days afterwards, and three sail of the line from England joined their combined fleet, which consisted now altogether of thirty-six sail of the line besides frigates and smaller vessels. With this fleet Admiral Rodney cruized to windward of the French islands in the hope of intercepting the French fleet, in which he was successful. An action commenced on the 9th of April and lasted until the 12th, when the hostile fleets met upon opposite tacks. The Ville de Paris, the flagship of the high-spirited De Grasse, after being much battered, was closely engaged by the Canada, Captain Cornwallis, but would not strike until the Barfleur, Sir Samuel Hood, came up: she engaged the latter for about a quarter of an hour, and then at sunset M. de Grasse surrendered to Sir Samuel Hood. When the Ville de Paris struck there were only three men who were not wounded upon her upper deck-the Count de Grasse was one of the three. The rest of the fleet made off to leeward in the greatest confusion: five sail of the line were taken from the French, and one sunk in the action. This complete and glorious victory saved Jamaica and the other islands: the commander of that armament destined against Jamaica and the object of their terror was brought a prisoner into their ports1.
The altercations between the Governor and the Assembly continued. It is true the impending danger had awakened the resolution of defending the island in case of an attack; but this was not done by public measures, it was the result of private enterprise. The inhabitants formed themselves into volunteer associations, and undertook the repair of their fortifications. Bridgetown and the parish of St. Michael took the lead (in June 1782) and raised a liberal subscription, and the other towns in the island followed the example.
Governor Cunninghame dissolved the Assembly by proclamation on the 16th of June, assigning as his reason the stoppage of the supplies for the defence of the country. The volunteer associations, and sums which had been raised for repairing the fortifications, were, he alleged, sufficient proof that the people at large were willing to pay any assessment for this purpose, if the factious spirit of those men who represented them in the Assembly did not oppose it; and in order to give the people an opportunity of choosing men who had a greater regard for their interest, he thought proper to dissolve the present General Assembly. His reasoning proved fallacious; public meetings were held to declare the confidence of the people in the late representatives, and that the subscriptions for the repair of the fortifications was opened among the more opulent on account of the inability of the people at large to pay any tax for that purpose. Moreover his Excellency had the mortification to find that the old members of the Assembly were re-elected unanimously; and so much did the inhabitants approve of their conduct, that patriotic dinners were 1 Annual Register, 1782, p. 202 et seq.
given by the freeholders in honour of their representatives'. Petitions from the merchants in Bridgetown and the parishioners of St. James were presented to the House, with a request that they should be laid at the foot of the throne, in which the petitioners complained of the Governor's arbitrary and tyrannical proceedings. He was charged with fraud and duplicity, in issuing letters of marque and reprisals against the Dutch before he was authorized to do so, and of extortion with respect to the fees which he had established.
The Governor made an overture to the Assembly to commute the fees if they would raise his salary, which was properly rejected; and as the subject had been brought before the Lords' Committee of Trade and Plantations, they now looked forward to their decision.
General Christie had arrived with a battalion of the sixtieth regiment, which by orders of his Excellency was lodged in the forts: the Governor seized this opportunity to recommend that the House should provide for the better accommodation of the troops. The repair of the forts was again proposed, but he could only induce the Assembly to vote an aid of negro-labour to assist General Christie in removing the heavy artillery, ammunition and provisions to Fort George.
The change of ministry in England, in March 1783, produced ultimately what neither petitions nor the ardent solicitations of Mr. Estwick could effect; Major General Cunninghame was recalled from his government. The 13th of April had been appointed by the Lords' Committee of Trade for a final hearing of the charges preferred against the Governor, but ere that day arrived Lord George Germaine, his patron, was out of office. Mr. Estwick therefore did not proceed any further with the complaints against the late Governor, and his arbitrary proceedings escaped the condign punishment they deserved. This strange abandonment of their just complaint for reparation by Mr. Estwick, which he had resolved upon without orders from his constituents, was severely censured by the House of Assembly, although they voted him their thanks for his zeal in promoting the Governor's removal: it led ultimately to his dismissal.
Major General Cunninghame embarked privately on board the packet in the evening of the 18th of June 1783, and remained there until the 20th, unnoticed and unmolested. On that day he left a colony where perhaps not a single individual cherished his remembrance.
1 Poyer's History, pp. 502, 504.
PERIOD FROM THE ADMINISTRATION OF PRESIDENT DOTIN IN 1783 TO THE ARRIVAL OF LORD SEAFORTH IN 1801.
MR. JOHN DOTIN assumed the administration in obedience to his Majesty's commands, signified to him by Lord Shelburne, the Secretary of State: the Legislature settled fifteen hundred pounds on him during his administration. The House of Assembly unanimously resolved that a humble address be presented to the King, returning their grateful thanks for the removal of their late Governor, and that the thanks of the House be given to the Earl of Shelburne for his active zeal and ready execution of his Majesty's orders for the recall of Governor Cunninghame.
A new Assembly met on the 3rd of September, at which, among other measures, it was resolved to abandon Fort George. The President received great praise for his unreserved condemnation of the tables of fees set up by Governor Cunninghame, and this did not fail to ensure to him the affection and confidence of the House.
It was about this time that a descendant of the brave general Sir Timothy Thornhill, who bore his name, raised a respectable company of infantry of seventy-four rank and file at his own expense. They acted under General Vaughan, and served during the remainder of the war in strengthening the garrison in Barbados, St. Lucia and Antigua.
In March 1784, some gentlemen in London interested in the West India islands, which had been occupied during the war by the French, voted an address of thanks and a piece of plate to the Marquis de Bouille, as a public testimony of their veneration and esteem for the humanity, justice, and generosity displayed by him in his several conquests and chief command of the conquered islands. His generous conduct during the awful hurricane, so strongly contrasting with the mercenary conduct of General Cunninghame, has already been alluded to1.
Mr. Joshua Steele, the proprietor of three estates in Barbados, took the power of all arbitrary punishment from his overseers, and created a magistracy from among the negroes themselves, appointing a court of jury of the elder negroes or head-men for trial and punishment of all casual offences: this court very soon became respectable and quiet, and fulfilled the humane proprietor's expectation. He introduced likewise
1 See ante, p. 48.
taskwork among his labourers, and bestowed premiums upon the industrious1.
The preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain and France, and between Great Britain and Spain, were signed at Versailles on the 28th of January 1783; and the definitive treaties between these Powers, and between Great Britain and America, were signed at Paris on the 3rd of September following. A proclamation was issued at St. James's on the 26th of December, permitting the importation of the produce of the United States by British subjects in British-built ships, from any port of the United States of America to any of the British Colonies in the West Indies, the produce of the islands to be exported to the United States in a similar manner.
On the recommendation of the Earl of Shelburne, his Majesty appointed Major David Parry to the government of Barbados: he arrived in Carlisle Bay on the 8th of January 1784. His Excellency had been instructed to direct the Legislature, at their first meeting, to prepare a bill effectually to prevent the possibility of a recurrence of such an evil as the establishment of new fees. This bill was entitled "An Act declaring the right of establishing fees to be only in the three branches of the Legislature in their collective capacity;" combined with it was the act for granting a sum for the support of the dignity of his Excellency, which was fixed at two thousand pounds, and with which he generously expressed himself satisfied. But these two bills, the latter of which was merely temporary, having been combined, this circumstance was assigned as one of the reasons for his Majesty's withholding his sanction to it; the other reason was however of greater importance. The Assembly having preferred grave charges against the late Governor, the King had referred the same to the opinion of the Board of Trade; and when that Board was on the point of investigating these charges, the agent of the Assembly declined to proceed further. To prevent their present Governor from suffering in consequence of the disallowance of that Act, they unanimously voted him two thousand pounds, to commence from the day on which he assumed the government.
Governor Parry had succeeded in allaying the disputes between the two branches of the Legislature, and harmony existed for a time; it was however soon disturbed on the question of a new excise-bill, on the passing of which the Council wished to retain at their command a disposable revenue to render future commanders-in-chief in some degree independent of the people: the Assembly considered this attempt an interference with their privileges. This however was not the only cause of dispute. The Assembly had dismissed Mr. Estwick as their agent, and appointed Mr. Brathwaite. The Council objected to this appoint1 Clarkson's Thoughts on Emancipation.
ment, but the Assembly remained firm, and Mr. Brathwaite was generous enough to fill the office without its emoluments until the consent of the Council was obtained.
The promises of retrenchment and reform in the expenses connected with the public service which the Governor had made, had soon an opportunity of being tested. It appeared that the waste of the public stores in powder had been so great in the division of St. Peter, that during profound peace, in the short term of three months, nearly five thousand pounds weight had been spent in firing salutes, mostly on occasions of private festivities. His Excellency thenceforth limited the disbursement for each parish to ten barrels, with the exception of St. Michael's, which being the seat of government was more frequently under the necessity of firing salutes.
During the session of the Assembly, a motion was made to increase the Governor's salary one thousand pounds. The friends of this measure had availed themselves of a thin attendance to push it with unbecoming haste, and carried it by a majority of one; and although there was a rule that no money-bill should pass without being read and voted three distinct times, at two separate meetings, one Sunday at least intervening, or if necessity should require more speedy despatch, that twelve members consent to it, or the address pass nemine contradicente,-the promoters overruled the objection, by observing that those who made the rules had likewise the authority to annul or repeal them: the rule was therefore rescinded, and the bill went that day through all three stages. At a subsequent meeting of the House the rescinded rule was restored, and it was resolved for the future that if any member moved the repeal of any rule, except on the first meeting of the Assembly, or at some other sitting, when every member should be present, he should be expelled, and the Speaker be at liberty to quit the chair.
A lottery was projected in 1786, which had for its object to raise the sum of fifty thousand pounds for the purpose of repairing the churches destroyed during the hurricane which had not been rebuilt. A similar bill had passed two years previously, which was disallowed in England, as it was only to benefit the church of St. Michael; the present bill stipulated that half the money should be applied to that purpose, and the other half to the use of the other parish-churches which had been destroyed. The scheme did not meet with success, and the drawing of one lottery only was effected, the profits of which were materially lessened by one of the managers, who was entrusted with the sale of the tickets, embezzling the money.
The state of the roads required legislative interference: the great road leading from Bridgetown to St. Philip's church was scarcely passable. A bill for the establishment of turnpikes passed the Legislature, but not