THE TRINIDAD HISTORIC AL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 159.
The Secretary of State to the Governor of Trinidad.
Source :-Public Record Office. State Papers Colonial.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
i81h February, 1802.
As one important source of the advantages which Great
Britain may expect to derive from the acquisition of the
Island of Trinidad will arise from the cultivation of the
immense tracts of fertile lands now unleased and unsettled,
it becomes necessary to consider with the attention due to the
importance of the object, the best means to be employed in
the first instance for clearing and afterwards for establishing
settlements in the uncultivated parts of the Colony.
It may be urged that were the lands once disposed of, the
interests of the persons becoming the proprietors would
operate rapidly and effectually to render them most beneficial
to the planter and consequently to the public. But the
peculiar position of the West Indian Colonies at the present
period and the opinions which have already been expressed
in this country against permitting the importation of slaves
from Africa to Trinidad, may make it necessary to have
recourse to other than the common modes for the settlement
and improvement of that valuable acquisition.
I am therefore desirous of learning from you whether it
would not be practicable to induce the Indian inhabitants of
the Continent, either by the mode of payment or in the
proportion of remuneration for their labour, to come to the
Island in very considerable numbers as I understand they do
at present in small gangs, for the purpose of felling the trees.
Few I believe have yet been persuaded to establish
themselves but I am not without hopes that this material
repugnance to settling out of their native country might be
overcome by the good treatment and advantages they would
experience under a British Government and the certainty of
constant employment that might be assured to them by their
gang being called upon to clear, on the account of the
government, whenever unemployed by individuals.
The Revenue of the Island would furnish any advances
that might be necessary for the purpose and the increased
value of the land when once cleared, would reimburse the
advances so made.
With regard to the introduction of settlers for the general
cultivation of the Island, I wish to be informed of your
opinions as to the possibility of establishing a colony of white
inhabitallts of the labouring class for the purpose of bringing
the hilly and most healthy part of the country into early
cultivation. If you should judge this measure practicable to
any extent I desire you will state your ideas as to the most
advisable way of carrying it into effect.
Another mode of assisting towards the population and
improvement of Trinidad may be found in the establishment
upon the plains and low grounds of some of the most desert ing
and trustworthy soldiers of the West Indian Regiments.
The first description oI person stationed in the higher
grounds and formed into Volunteer Corps of Militia would I
conceive constitute a sufficient check on the free Negroes who
might only be called upon to enroll themselves for the general
dcfcnce of the Colony in conjunction with and under the
immediate exe of the whites.
If a system of' colonisation on this or some similar plan
should prove as it seems thi me, possible in execution, the
fairest opportunity\ of carrying it into effect is offered by the
real scale of vacant lands to be disposed of in Trinidad,
and the mode and terms of disposing of the lands in question
would of course be regulated with reference to this object.
I do not advert here to the introduction of the more
gradual use of cattle because when the ready means of
obtaining them is considered, I conceive it to be the necessary
consequence of the above system.
I only wish no\w to throw out the general suggestion of a
ground w\-ork of colonisation which offers to my mind
incalculable advantages to Trinidad in particular and
ultimately to all West Indian settlements.
You will be pleased to cause a statement of the present
revenue of the Island to be drawn out which you will transmit
to me for His Majesty's information with such observations
and suggestions you may judge necessary to elucidate the
1 have, etc.,