THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 70.
Letter from Thomas Picton, Governor of Trinidad to
Judge Bridgewater of the Admiralty Court in Trinidad.
Source: Additional MSS. 36870. British Museum. Published
by the courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
14th September, 1799.
I am under the necessity of troubling Your Honour
respecting a cause which I understand will be prosecuted in
the Admiralty Courts over which you preside.
Two Spanish Launches, regular traders to this Island have
latterly been captured by the boats of His Majesty's Ship
Victorieux. The one San Jose y las Animas, (Patron Regis), was
taken possession of in the act of entering the Port, the other
was taken to Leeward of the Bocases in a direct course for this
Gulph and loaded with articles for this Market, so that there
cannot exist any doubt of her destination. The S. Launches,
etc. which trade with this Island either clear out for the
neutral Islands, or steal out privately without any clearance.
I have to guard against English, Spanish, and French
Corsaires. The English protection being found on board any
of them, not only condemns the vessel and cargo, but subjects
the Patron, Owner and Equipaje to confiscation of all property
they may possess in Countries under the Dominion of Spain ;
and imprisonment in a Presidio for life. The consequence is
that when they discover a vessel which they apprehend to be
a French or Spanish Corsair, they immediately destroy the
English papers. This has been the case with the two Launches
in question ; they each of them within the last two months
discharged their cargoes here, and took out fresh protections
engaging at the same time to deliver the Cargoes they have
now on board.
Having it in charge from His Majesty's Ministers to give
every protection and encouragement to this trade, which
wholly depends upon the faith these people have in our
Nation and Government, I have thought it my Duty to
trouble Your Honour with this explanation and to claim
your protection as a condemnation in this instance will have
the effect of wholly anihilating a profitable trade which has
already severely suffered from unfortunate circumstances.
I have the honour to be
(signed) TH: PICTON