i6/ Io/ 8o2.
THE TRINiDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 163.
The Secretary of State to the three Commissioners.
Source :-Public Record Office. State Papers Colonial.
C.O. 295 3.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
i6/h October, 1802.
The King having been pleased to appoint you to be
His Commissioners for the administration of the Government
of the Island of Trinidad, His Majesty's Commission and
Instructions are herewith transmitted to you.
The consideration which has principally led to the measure
of placing the Government of Trinidad in Commission has
arisen from the expediency of preparing for the consideration
of His Majesty in Council a system of government applicable
to the peculiar circumstances of this Island where the popula-
tion though at present very limited, is composed of several
nations distinct in their languages, customs and prejudices and
where a very extensive tract of country remains to be settled
under a climate supposed not to be unfavourable to European
industry and with the advantages of a soil known to be
It becomes therefore indispensable requisite in the first
place to obtain the most accurate information upon the
various subjects to which your attention is directed by
His Majesty's instructions.
Besides the general and comprehensive report which by
the 25th Article you are instructed to prepare and transmit
with all convenient speed, there are particular objects pointed
out for distinct consideration in the 26th, 27th and 28th
Articles and which will require each a separate report.
In treating of the military situation of the Island you will
in addition to the several points alluded to in the 28th Article,
state your opinion with respect to the force necessary for the
internal and external security of the Island in time of war
and peace; the proportion of European troops, whether of
artillery, cavalry or infantry judged adequate for every
service ; to what extent the employment of black troops may
be advisable; tie aid that may be expected from the
inhabitants in the form of militia comprising white as well as
people of colour; the best mode of providing for the
subsistence of all descriptions of force and every other
circumstance which may be connected with the defence and
safety of the Island.
The naval advantages that may be derived from the
possession of lTrinidad in a very special manner demand a
minute attention and investigation ; among other points the
following are of material importance ; the course of the winds
and currents at the different seasons of the year ; the probable
time in which the communication with Jamaica and the
different British Islands may be effected ; the survey of the
coasts, harbours and bays ; the most eligible place to establish
a naval arsenal combining the security of the port in all winds
with its fitness for careening or refitting ships of war; the
protection it may afford against an enemy with all or other
circumstances which may be essentially advantageous to such
an establishment ; the most secure and convenient place for
loading and unloading of ships and the facilitating the
commercial intercourse with the Island ; how far the rivers
may be navigable and to what extent they may be capable
of being made so for the purposes of internal communications
and commerce ; what timbers the Island may furnish suitable
to the naval service and the most convenient places for cutting
and shipping it ; how far the fortifications for the security of
the Island can be aided by a naval force in case of its being
besieged ; the state of and utility likely to be derived from
the bitumen or pitch to be found in the Island and every
circumstance relative thereto.
The advantages which might be expected to accrue from
the introduction of a European yeomanry at Trinidad are so
great that I cannot too strongly recommend that subject to
your most serious consideration.
The first object with respect to it will be to ascertain from
the information of those \who have been longest resident upon
the Island the local situations which may he deemed most
lfavourable for European constitutions.
It would next be proper to consider in what proportion it
may be advisable that land should be allotted and what
restrictions should be imposed with regard to the future sale
or transfer of such land by the proprietors so as on the one
hand to check speculation in land and thereby to keep the
settlers in the class of yeomen, tradesmen, artificers and
mechanics and on the other hand to leave open to them such
encouragement as may be requisite for giving a stimulus to
As this description of person would for the most part
arrive upon the Island without the means of providing
immediately for their own accommodation or support, you will
communicate to me your opinion whether it would be
advisable to construct small houses in the situations which
may be appropriated for the settlers and also what measures
you may judge it necessary to take for their being supplied
with a wholesome diet until by their own industry they might
be enabled to provide for themselves. You will at the same
time transmit to me a list of implements of husbandry which
it may be proper to Furnish each settler with.
The introduction of any implement that can lighten field
labour or of machinery that may be applied in mills or in
the laborious process of any manufacture would be in the
highest degree desirable. In this respect the superior
advantages of the steam engine wherever it can be used,
appear only to need a trial to recommend its application. I
enclose to you a paper containing some important remarks
upon this head from a very intelligent and experienced planter.
I also transmit herewith some valuable information which
I have received from General Picton and from Mr. President
Ottley in answer to the queries put to them and I have added
a memorandum and paper of suggestions which have been
drawn up with a view of pointing out some of the sources
from which it is thought settlers might be collected and the
conditions under which they might be engaged together with
an outline of the kind of provision it might be proper to make
for the maintenance of the Established Church and also for
the support of Catholic and Dissenting Ministers.
In the hope that it may be found practicable to prevail
on some of the natives of China to remove with their families
to Trinidad, it will be proper that tracts of land should be
reserved for them in situations most favourable for the plough
and calculated for the cultivation of rice as well as the
There is only one subject upon which I have at present
anything further to remark, the introduction of British Laws
into the Colony.
The opinion of Mir. Gloster who has been appointed
Attorney General in the Island and the observations which
he has had the opportunity of making upon the spot coincide
so much with sentiments conveyed in the Memorial of the
Inhabitants as to furnish an additional argument for
continuing in Ifrcc the Laws now in existence. In the
meantime Mr. Gloster's suggestion for establishing some
temporary tribunal for the more speedy settlement of differences
arising in cases of contracts and commercial transactions,
merits early and attentive consideration as its adoption might
tend to lessen the prejudices which will probably be felt
whilst the Spanish Laws continue to exist.
I am to acquaint you that His Majesty has been pleased
to determine that the salary of the First Commissioner should
be three thousand pounds per annum and of the Second and
Third Commissioners, two thousand pounds per annum
each; which sum you are hereby authorised to appropriate
out of the public revenues of the Island.
I am also to inform you that J. M. Woodyear, Esq. has
been appointed to assist you as Secretary in the execution of
your commission and you are to direct that a salary of
one thousand pounds per annum be paid to him out of the
revenue of the Island in lieu of all fees and emoluments
I have etc.,