(A) Instructions to the Governor of New York (1692)

Instructions for our trusty and well-beloved Benjamin Fletcher.... With these our instructions you will receive our commission under our great seal of England, constituting you our captain general and governor-in-chief of our province of New York and the territories depending thereon in America. You are hereupon to fit yourself with all convenient speed to repair to our province of New York in America and, being arrived there, you are to take upon you the execution of the place and trust we have reposed in you, and forthwith to call together the ... council for that province.... You are also to administer unto each of the members of the council as well the oaths appointed by act of parliament ...[1] as the oath for the due execution of their places and trust.

You are to communicate unto our said council from time to time each and so many of our instructions as you shall find convenient for our service to be imparted unto them. And you are to permit the members of our council to have and enjoy freedom of debate and vote in all things to be debated of in council.... You are from time to time to send to us and our committee of trade and plantations the names and qualities of any members by you put into our said council by the first conveniency after your so doing. In the choice and nomination of members of our council, as also of the principal officers, judges, assistants, justices, and sheriffs, you are always to take care that they be men of estate and ability, and not necessitous people or much in debt; and that they be persons well affected to our government. You are not to suspend the members of our council without good and sufficient cause; and, in case of suspension of any of them, you are forthwith to transmit unto us and to our said committee your reasons for so doing, together with the charge and proof against the said persons and their answers thereunto.

You are to transmit authentic copies, under the public seal, of all laws, statutes, and ordinances, which at any time shall be made and enacted within our said province, unto us and our committee of trade and plantations, within three months or sooner after their being enacted, together with duplicates thereof ... , upon pain of our highest displeasure and of the forfeiture of that year's salary wherein you shall ... omit to send over the said laws and ordinances.... And we do particularly require and command that no money or value of money whatsoever be given or granted by any act or order of assembly to any governor, lieutenant governor, or commander-in-chief of our said province which shall not, according to the style of acts of parliament in England be mentioned to be given and granted unto us with the humble desire of such assembly that the same be applied to the use and behoof of such governor, lieutenant governor, or commander-in-chief if we shall think fit.... You shall not suffer any public money whatsoever to be issued or disposed of otherwise than by warrant under your hand by and with the advice and consent of the council. You are to cause the accounts of all such money or value of money, attested by you, to be transmitted every half-year to our committee of trade and foreign plantations and to our commissioners of our treasury.... And you are particularly not to pass any law or do any act ... whereby our revenue may be lessened or impaired, without our especial leave or command therein. You are to require the secretary of our said province, or his deputy ... , to provide ... a copy of the journals of the assembly, to the end the same may be [sent] unto us and to our committee of trade and foreign plantations....

You shall not displace any of the judges, justices, sheriffs, or ministers within our said province of New York without good and sufficient cause, to be signified unto us and our committee of trade and plantations.... You shall not erect any court or office of judicature, not before erected or established, without our special order.... Whereas it is necessary that all our rights and dues be received and recovered, and that speedy and effectual justice be administered in all cases concerning our revenue, you are to take care that a court of exchequer be called and do meet at all such times as shall be needful....

You shall take especial care that God Almighty be devoutly and duly served throughout your government, the Book of Common Prayer as it is now established read each Sunday and holy day, and the Blessed Sacrament administered according to the rites of the Church of England.... Our will and pleasure is that no minister be preferred by you to any ecclesiastical benefice ... without a certificate from the right reverend the bishop of London of his being conformable to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England.... You are to take care that drunkenness and debauchery, swearing and blasphemy, be severely punished, and that none be admitted to public trust and employment whose ill fame and conversation may bring scandal thereupon.

You are to take care that no man's life, manor, freehold, or goods be taken away or harmed ... otherwise than by established and known laws, not repugnant to but — as much as may conveniently be — agreeable to the laws of this our kingdom of England.... And you are to permit a liberty of conscience to all persons, except papists, so they be contented with a quiet and peaceable enjoyment of the same, not giving offence or scandal to the government.... And that we may be the better informed of the trade of our said province, you are to take care that due entries be made in all ports of all goods and commodities imported and exported ...; and that a yearly account thereof be transmitted by you unto us.... Forasmuch as great inconveniences may arise by the liberty of printing within our province of New York, you are to provide ... that no person keep any press for printing, nor that any book, pamphlet, or other matters whatsoever be printed without your especial leave and licence first obtained....

Lastly, if anything shall happen that may be of advantage and security of our said province, which is not herein or by our commission provided for ... , we do hereby allow unto you, with the advice and consent of our council, to take order for the present therein, giving speedy notice thereof that so you may receive our ratification, if we shall approve of the same....

O'Callaghan, Documents Relative to New York, III, 818f.

(B) Order in Council on Colonial Appeals (1696)

[It is ordered] that all appeals from any of the plantations be heard as formerly by a committee who are to report the matter so heard by them with their opinion thereupon to his majesty in council. And in order thereunto his majesty did declare his further pleasure that all the lords of the council, or any three or more of them, be appointed a committee for that purpose.

Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, II, 310.

(C) Order on an Appeal from Connecticut (1698)

May it please your majesty: — In obedience to your majesty's several orders of council of the 23rd of February last, we have considered the petition of John and Nicholas Hallam and of Edward Palmer and John Hallam, inhabitants of your majesty's colony of Connecticut, thereunto annexed, relating to two particular cases wherein they complain of the obstructions of justice in the said colony. And we thereunto most humbly represent to your majesty that, though the right of either of the said cases do not appear evident to us by any sufficient proofs, and we cannot therefore offer any opinion thereupon, yet nevertheless we humbly conceive that, upon what has been set forth by the forementioned petitions about the denial or obstruction of the course of justice in your majesty's colony of Connecticut, your majesty may fitly require the governor and company of the said colony to take care that no such obstruction of the course of justice be practised or allowed amongst them; but that the respective cases set forth by both the forementioned petitions, and any other cases whatsoever that may hereafter happen upon differences between man and man about private rights, be fairly heard and judged in the proper methods in the courts established in that colony; and that in case the aforesaid petition[er]s, or any of them, or any other persons do think themselves aggrieved by the sentence or sentences which may be there given, they may thereupon be allowed to appeal unto your majesty in council; and that the copies of records and other proceedings in all such respective cases be transmitted hither, in order to a final hearing and determination thereof by your majesty in council, it being the inherent right of your majesty to receive and determine appeals from all your majesty's subjects in America. Which nevertheless is most humbly submitted. Tankerville, Philip Meadows, William Blathwayt, John Pollexfen, Hilary Hill.

His majesty in council, approving of what is proposed by the council of trade in their said representation, is pleased to order that the governor and company of the colony of Connecticut be required to take care that no obstruction of the course of justice be practised or allowed amongst them; but that the respective cases mentioned in the said representation, and any other whatsoever that may hereafter happen upon differences between man and man about private rights, be fairly heard and judged in the proper methods of the courts established in that colony. And in case the petitioners in the aforesaid causes, or any of them, or any other persons shall think themselves aggrieved by the sentence or sentences, which may be there given, they may thereupon be allowed to appeal to his majesty in council. And that copies of all records and other proceedings in all such respective cases be transmitted hither, in order to a final hearing and determination thereof before his majesty in council. And that in all such cases the governor and company of the colony of Connecticut do take notice that it is the inherent right of his majesty to receive and determine appeals from all his majesty's colonies in America; and that they do govern themselves accordingly. And the right honourable the council of trade are to signify this his majesty's pleasure to the governor and company of the colony of Connecticut accordingly.

Macqueen, Appellate Jurisdiction, pp. 805 f.

(D) Report on Trade and Plantations (1700)[2]

In obedience to an order of this honourable house, dated the 6th instant, requiring from us an account of what advances we have made towards the improvement of the trade of England, we humbly offer that his majesty was pleased, by a commission dated the 15th of May, 1696, to appoint commissioners for promoting the trade of this kingdom and for inspecting and improving his plantations in America and elsewhere, with several directions and instructions, the chief whereof are as follows: to examine into and take an account of the state and condition of the general trade of England, and of the several particular trades into foreign parts; to examine what trades are or may prove hurtful, and what beneficial, to this kingdom, and by what means the advantageous trades may be improved and those that are prejudicial discouraged; to consider by what means profitable manufactures already settled may be further improved, and how other new and profitable manufactures may be introduced; to consider of proper methods for setting on work and employing the poor, and making them useful to the public; to inquire into the condition of the plantations, as well with regard to the administration of government there as in relation to commerce, and how those colonies may be rendered most beneficial to this kingdom; to inquire what naval stores may be furnished from the plantations, and how the same may be best procured; to prepare instructions for governors and to take account of their administration; to examine the journals of the councils and the acts or laws made by the respective general assemblies, in order to his majesty's approbation or disallowance thereof; to require an account of all money given by the assemblies for public uses, and how the same is expended; and to make representations and reports to his majesty, or the privy council, in writing, as there shall be occasion.

In pursuance whereof, we have proceeded in the manner following.... Having ... observed that several of his majesty's plantations in America applied themselves to the improvement of woolen manufactures in those parts for the supplying of themselves and neighbours, to the hindrance of the exportation of our English manufactures, we prepared a clause for the preventing thereof, which was presented to this honourable house and accordingly received and enacted the last session of parliament; and we have since understood, that the said restraint has had a very good effect....

And, for the better preventing other more general inconveniences apprehended from the East India trade, we did also upon another occasion humbly propose that the wearing or consumption of the manufactured goods of India, Persia, or China, made of silk or herba, or mixed with either of those materials, as also of painted or stained calicoes, and of all handicraft-wares imported from those parts, should be discouraged and lessened in these kingdoms and in his majesty's plantations....

Upon occasion of the late treaty of peace at Ryswyck,[3] a particular account having been required from us, for the information of his majesty's plenipotentiaries there, of what had been lost or gained in all his majesty's colonies and plantations since the treaty of Breda until that time, we accordingly prepared many particular accounts, not only of what had been lost or gained, as aforesaid, but also of all pretensions and grounds of differences between the French and us, with relation to each particular plantation, as also to Newfoundland, Hudson's Bay, the Royal African Company, etc., which were accordingly transmitted.

Since the conclusion of the peace, we did also, by his majesty's directions, draw up many memorials for the use of the commissioners appointed by his majesty, to treat here with commissioners from France upon all such of the foresaid matters as by the treaty of Ryswyck required any further settlement.... We have made representations ... to promote the assiento, or contract for supplying the Spanish West Indies with negroes, not to mention many others upon private cases in matters of trade....

We have made divers representations for the security and improvement of the Newfoundland trade and fishery, as well during the war as since the peace, and have constantly every year examined into and taken an account of the course and progress of that trade; and now particularly formed instructions and heads of inquiries to be given to the commander of the convoy appointed for that fishery, for the due execution of the late act to encourage the trade to Newfoundland, for the better preventing irregularities therein.

We have presented to his majesty a general state of the trade of this kingdom, with observations thereupon how we conceive divers advantageous trades may be improved and prejudicial ones discouraged; a copy whereof has been formerly laid before this honourable house.

As to his majesty's plantations in America, we do further offer that, within the allegiance of the crown of England, there are twenty several colonies — besides Hudson's Bay and Newfoundland, in which last place there is no governor — each whereof have their distinct governments, councils, and assemblies, by whom particular laws and rules of government are passed and enacted; some of which colonies are governed by his majesty's immediate commission, and others by proprietors and charters.

The business relating to these plantations is managed by a constant correspondence with all the governors appointed by his majesty's immediate commission and occasionally with all the rest, in the course whereof they send us journals of their councils, assemblies, and other public proceedings, with accounts of all things whatsoever relating to each of their governments; all which are considered by us for the necessary orders to be returned thereupon. And, more particularly, the many acts or laws of the several assemblies transmitted from thence fall under our examination; and, after our consulting his majesty's counsel learned in the law as to the legal part, our reports are made thereupon to his majesty in his privy council for his royal assent or disallowance thereof, with particular regard to the interest and improvement of the trade of England as well as the good of those plantations.

We have, since our constitution, prepared draughts of commissions and instructions for all the governors of his majesty's plantations.

We have, upon several occasions, proposed to his majesty the appointing of convoys for the plantations, and of ships-of-war necessary to attend and protect the trade of those plantations; and, upon the complaints of the inhabitants there, or merchants in England, of hardships in the pressing of men and otherwise by captains of men-of-war in those parts, we have presented to his majesty regulations therein which have had a good effect.

Upon information from the officers of his majesty's customs in the plantations and others of the partiality of the people there, and more particularly in the propriety governments, in all trials upon the acts of trade wherein their private interest is concerned, and of the difficulties in the obtaining any execution of those acts in the former method, we did represent the usefulness of courts of admiralty in the plantations; upon which such courts have been erected and, where they have not been disputed, have proved of great encouragement to legal trade.

Being informed by many instances of the great countenance given to pirates in some of the plantations — and chiefly in the proprieties and charter-governments, by fitting out their ships from thence and furnishing them with all sorts of provision and ammunition, and receiving them with their plunder and booty at their return and acquitting them upon feigned trials — we did make several representations thereupon and proposed the enacting of laws there for the trial and punishment of pirates, in conformity to a law heretofore passed in Jamaica to that effect; which having been refused in the said proprieties and charter-governments, we proposed, as the only remedy for so great an evil, the offering a bill in parliament for that purpose, wherein we consulted Sir Charles Hedges, judge of his majesty's high court of admiralty, by whose great care and assistance such a bill has been prepared and is now lying before this honourable house.

And, being further sensible of the great irregularities in the proprieties and charter-governments, not only in reference to illegal trade and piracy but otherwise, we have upon several occasions represented the same to his majesty; and an act of parliament having passed, whereby the governors of those plantations are obliged to have his majesty's approbation for their acting in that capacity, we required all the said proprietors and governments to present their respective governors to his majesty and, in order to his approbation of them, to give security for their due observing the acts of trade, according to an address presented to his majesty by the right honourable the house of lords for that purpose. But, all the said proprietors here having declined to give any such security, and only two charter-governments (viz., Connecticut and Rhode Island) having lately done it in America, and not any one of those governors being at present qualified by his majesty's approbation of them as required by the said act of parliament, we do not see anything, without some further provision by parliament, capable to reduce them to a more regular conduct and compliance with their duty in reference to the trade of England.

We have also upon occasion represented the misdemeanours and ill conduct of some governors of plantations acting by his majesty's immediate commission.

We have made many representations in defence of his majesty's title to several islands in America claimed by foreign princes — of which one is a claim made by the elector of Brandenburg to the island of New Tertholen, lying amongst his majesty's Leeward Caribbee Islands; one made by the French king to the island of Santa Lucia, lying amongst the Windward Caribbee Islands; one made by the French king to the island of Tobago, one of the Windward Caribbee Islands; and another by the duke of Courland to the same island.

Having been required this session of parliament by the right honourable the house of lords to lay before their lordships our opinion how consistent the colony at Darien may be with the treaties with Spain and the trade of this kingdom, we did accordingly make our humble report therein; which, we presume, was satisfactory, their lordships having made an address to his majesty to the same effect.

We have made several representations relating to the boundaries between his majesty's plantations and those of the French upon the continent, particularly in the northeastern parts of New England, where they have endeavoured to encroach upon us both as to the land and fishery.

Upon controversies that have happened between some of his majesty's colonies and others relating to their boundaries, especially between his majesty's governments and proprieties, and upon different claims that have been set on foot to some whole provinces, we have examined all their respective titles, and the necessary instructions have been given by his majesty thereupon.

We have often represented the necessity of preserving the friendship of the Five Nations of Indians, which are a barrier between his majesty's plantations and Canada, by treating them kindly and showing them a force constantly maintained in New York, ready to protect them upon all occasions.

We have applied ourselves to the promoting the importation of naval stores from New England and other his majesty's plantations; and, for the carrying on so good a design, his majesty has been pleased, upon our applications, to order the navy board to send commissioners to New England, who have been likewise joined with commissioners of that colony, for the viewing and inspecting the woods lying upon that coast, for providing his majesty's navy with masts and other necessary materials for building of ships, as also with pitch, tar, and resin, of which great quantities may be produced in those parts; and some specimens of each, sent by the said commissioners, are lately arrived and now under the examination of the navy board.

These being the chief particulars about which our time has been and is daily taken up, besides the frequent applications of merchants and of the persons concerned in the plantations, with the constant accession of the like business, we thought it our duty to lay as short an account thereof before this honourable house as the nature of each particular would bear.

All which is humbly submitted.

Journals of the Commons, XIII, 298 f.

(E) Council Proceedings on Colonial Trade (1705-18)

[31 May 1705.] In obedience to your majesty's command, signified to us by the right honourable Mr. Secretary Harley, we have examined a petition of several merchants of Virginia and Maryland complaining of undue practices in Muscovy by some of your majesty's subjects in relation to the vending and manufacture of tobacco there. We have heard the petitioners and likewise Nathaniel Gold, William Dawson, Edward Haistwell, Samuel Heathcote, and others, as also Joseph Martin in behalf of his partners, who are alleged to be concerned in the said practices. And upon the whole matter [we] do find that the said Nathaniel Gold and others, who had made a contract with the czar of Muscovy here in England in the year 1698 for importing certain quantities of tobacco into his dominions (which accordingly they did perform), and wanting a vent for the same (whereby great part of the said tobacco became dry and like to be unfit for sale, unless the same methods as in England were used for the preservation thereof), they had thereupon sent over Peter Marshall and his wife, versed in the cutting and rolling of tobacco, together with instruments and materials necessary thereunto, with a design, as they allege, to recall the said persons immediately after their having performed this particular service, without allowing them the liberty to employ their skill in the rolling or cutting any tobacco of the growth of the dominions of the czar. And we do likewise find that the said Mr. Joseph Martin, merchant of London, by his son Samuel Martin and James Spilman, his correspondents at Moscow, have very lately made a contract with some officers of the czar for the importation of other quantities of tobacco into those dominions from England, as likewise for the sending thither as many persons skilled in the spinning and rolling of tobacco as the czar should require, together with the instruments, engines, materials, and liquors commonly used in that work, to be employed not only for the manufacturing of English tobacco thus imported, but even for the tobacco of the growth of Circassia, a large province appertaining to that prince — by which means his subjects would become equally skilled in that mystery with any of your majesty's subjects, dealers in tobacco. Which proceedings being of the most pernicious consequence to the trade of your majesty's subjects and the welfare of your plantations, we are humbly of opinion that the persons mentioned to have been already sent to Moscow by the first contractors may be immediately recalled by letters of privy seal to be sent to your majesty's envoy for that purpose; and that the engines and materials already there be ordered by your majesty to be broken and destroyed in the presence of your majesty's said envoy; as likewise that the said Martin and correspondents and all other persons whatsoever be directed by your majesty's declaration, in such manner as your majesty shall think proper, not to send any persons versed in this mystery, or any instruments and materials for the same, or employing any persons therein, notwithstanding any clause in his said contract obliging them to a matter so injurious to other your majesty's subjects. And whereas the petitioners, merchants and planters of Virginia and Maryland, do suggest that several persons are soliciting for themselves at Moscow the sole trade and entire importation of tobacco exclusive of all others into those parts: we further humbly offer that your majesty would be pleased to direct your envoy at that court that he be equally and impartially assisting to all your majesty's subjects in the free trade of such tobacco of the growth of your majesty's plantations as shall be imported into the dominions of the czar.

[20 February 1707.] ... One convoy a year may suffice to carry on this trade [with Virginia and Maryland] during the war; which convoy, as is generally agreed by all the traders, may be appointed to sail about the middle of August or not later than the beginning of September, so as to arrive in the rivers of Virginia in December, that they may have time to unload and distribute the manufactures and other goods from England to the planters, as also to load the tobacco within the several rivers of Virginia and Maryland and to return from thence in the month of May following. By which means the convoy and fleet will avoid the bad seasons in the country and the worm, which in the hot months is so prejudicial to them, and may arrive in England soon enough to go out again with the next convoy at the same season; which method we humbly conceive may best furnish the planters with those European commodities which they stand in need of, and hinder them from applying their labour to any other product or manufacture than that of tobacco.

[9 January 1718. The governor of Jamaica is] particularly enjoined carefully to observe the several instructions given him by his majesty with relation to the passing of laws in that island, more especially in such cases where his majesty's royal prerogative or the trade of Great Britain may be any ways affected; which precaution will be still more necessary in the passing of money bills than those of any other nature, because generally these have their duration but for one year and frequently have their effect before his majesty's royal pleasure can be known concerning them.

[14 May 1718.] Having received from the commissioners of your majesty's customs the extract of a letter to them from Colonel Rhett, surveyor and comptroller of the customs in Carolina, dated in December last — whereby it appears that an act was then passed in that province of a pernicious consequence to the trade and navigation of this kingdom, laying a duty of ten per cent, upon all goods of British manufactory imported into that province from Great Britain — although we do not yet find the said law has hitherto been transmitted to the lords proprietors for their approbation, yet, considering the ill consequences of such an act and that it is of force till repealed, we thought it necessary to have the opinion of your majesty's solicitor general in relation to the said act ... , who has thereupon reported that, the said law not being consonant to reason nor agreeable to the laws of Britain, he apprehends the power of making laws by the charter to the proprietors is in this instance exceeded.... Considering therefore that this law is in force till it shall be repealed, we most humbly offer that your majesty's pleasure be signified to the lords proprietors of Carolina that they immediately send over to that province their disallowance of the same, with directions to their governor there never to give his assent to any law of the like nature for the future.

Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, II, 487 f., 514 f., 729, 740.

[1] That is to say, the oaths specified by the Bill of Rights (no. 120A).

[2] Presented by the commissioners and ordered laid on the table, to be perused by the members.

[3] Signed with France in 1697. The Peace of Breda was signed with the United Provinces in 1667.