« PreviousContinue »
There ought to go no expresses to the Governor but such as are well attested.
The expenses we put the Government to last year, is the cause of constant murmurings against us. And it appears to me, that what with our precipitate motions on the one hand, and the tardy and frugal steps of the Government on the other, we shall be forced at the last, and very soon, too, I fear, to yield up all our large and fine back country to the enemy, and then where will be our barrier ?
God Almighty, who hath in his hands the disposition of kings and kingdoms, &c., only knows what will be the issue of all these things: I, for my own part, with resignation to the Divine will, patienily wait the event.
I wou'd have you, sir, move the flower at Toshes, and the biscuit at Jno. Mills’s, to some safe place, that it may be ready for this detachment from the Virg'a Regiment when they do arrive. And when they do arrive, be so kind as to inform me of their numbers, the names of the commanding officers, and the place where they take up their head quarters, that I may know where to send them the arms, amunition, provisions, &c., that I have here, as the Governor hath commanded me.
I long much to hear news from your parts, and I pray God it may be good, and when you can find time for it, be so good as to give me a particular history of the present situation of your country, and how they stand it about your Court-House, &c. The account would be thankfully accepted of you.
And when you have secured your family, I should be glad to see you to settle this account, as I cannot make up my accounts completely till it is done. And I shall set off for that purpose to the Commissioners the beginning of September, if I can see you before that time.
I shall issue the writ ag't Luney as you direct me, and have the cause taken care of as you desire.
I pray God to protect us from the barbarities of a cruel and blood-thirsty enemy; and I remain with respect and regard,
Your most obd't hum. serv't,
Fountain heads and pathless groves,
A midnight bell, a parting groan,
These are the sounds we feed upon:
BURNABY'S TRAVELS IN VIRGINIA, IN 1759.
Continued from our last number. Virginia is divided into fifty-two counties, and seventyseven parishes, and by act of assembly there ought to be forty-four towns; but one half of these have not more than five houses; and the other half are little better than inconsiderable villages. This is owing to the cheapness of land, and the commodiousness of navigation; for every person may with ease procure a small plantation, can ship his tobacco at his own door, and live independent. When the colony shall come to be more thickly seated, and land grow dear, people will be obliged to follow trades and manufactures, which will necessarily make towns and large cities; but this seems remote, and not likely to happen for some centuries.
The inhabitants are supposed to be in number between two and three hundred thousand. There are a hundred and five thousand tytheables, under which denomination are included all white males from sixteen to sixty; and all negroes whatsoever within the same age. The former are obliged to serve in the militia, and amount to forty thousand.
The trade of this colony is large and extensive. Tobacco is the principle article of it. Of this they export annually between fifty and sixty thousand hogsheads, each hogshead weighing eight hundred or a thousand weight: some years they export much more. They ship also for the Madeiras, the Streights, and the West-Indies, several articles, such as grain, pork, lumber, and cyder: to Great Britain, bar-iron, indigo, and a small quantity of ginseng, tho' of an inferior quality, and they clear out one year with another about
ton of shipping.
Their manufactures are very inconsiderable. They make a kind of cotton-cloth, which they clothe themselves with in common, and call after the name of their country; and some inconsiderable quantities of linen, hose, and other trifling articles : but nothing to deserve attention.
The government is a royal one: the legislature consisting of a governor appointed by the king; a council of twelve persons, under the same nomination; and a house of burgesses, or representatives, of a hundred and eight or ten members, elected by the people; two for each county, and one for each of the following places, viz. the College of William and Mary, James-town, Norfolk-borough, and Williamsburg. Each branch has a negative. All laws, in order to be permanent, must have the king's approbation; nor may any be enacted, which are repugnant to the laws of Great Britain.
The courts of judicature are either county, or general courts. The county courts are held monthly in each county, at a place assigned for that purpose, by the justices thereof; four of them making a quorum. They are appointed by the governor, and take cognizance of all causes, at common law, or in chancery, within their respective counties, except criminal ones, punishable with loss of life, or member. This power they are not permitted to exercise except over negroes and slaves, and then not without a special commission from the governor for each particular purpose.* The general court is held twice a year at Williams
* How necessary it may be that they should have such a power, even in this case, I will not pretend to say; but the law which transfers it to them seems so inconsistent with the natural rights of mankind, that I cannot but in pity to humanity recite it.
“ Every slave committing any offence, by law punishable by death, or loss of member, shall be committed to the county goal, and the sheriff of the county shall forthwith certify such commitment, with the cause thereof, to the governor, or commander in chief, who may issue a commission of oyer and terminer to such persons as he shall think fit, which persons, forthwith after the receipt of such commission, shall cause the offender to be publicly arraigned and tried at the court-house of the said county, and take for evidence the confession of the offender, the oath of one or more credible witnesses, or such testimony of negroes, mulattoes, or Indians, bond or free, with pregnant circumstances as to them shall seem convincing, without the solemnity of a jury, and the offender being found guilty, shall pass such judgment upon him or her as the law directs for the like crimes, and on such judgment award execution.”
burg. It consists of the governor and council, any five of which make a court. They hear and determine all causes whatsoever, ecclesiastical, or civil, and sit four and twenty days: the first five of these are for hearing and determining suits in chancery appeals from the decrees of the county or inferior courts in chancery; and writs of supersedeas to such decrees. The other days are for trying suits or prosecutions in behalf of the king; and all other matters depending in the said court: appeals are allowed to the king in ceuncil, in cases of 500 1. sterling value. The governor has a power of pardoning criminals in all cases, except of treason or murder: and then he can only reprieve till he knows the king's pleasure.
The established religion is that of the church of Eng. land; and there are very few Dissenters of any
denomination in this province. There are at present between sixty and seventy clergymen; men in general of sober and exemplary lives. They have each a glebe of two or three hundred acres of land, a house, and a salary established by law of 16,000 weight of tobacco, with an allowance of 1700 more for shrinkage. This is delivered to them in hogsheads ready packed for exportation, at the most convenient warehouse. The presentation of livings is in the hands of the vestry; which is a standing body of twelve
Mercer's Abridgment of the Virginia Laws, p: 342.