THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 250.
Sir Ralph Wf'oodford, Governor of Trinidad to Farl Bathurst.
Duplicate Despatches No. 30 oj 1814 (with I enclosure). Published
by the courtesy of His Excellency the Governor of Trinidad.
No. 30 PORT-OF-SPAIN,
26th May, 1814.
On many former occasions I have had the honour to
report to Your Lordship the insults to which His Majesty's
Territory in this Island has been exposed from the warfare
in this Gulph between the Spanish Royalist and Insurgent
parties-I have also taken the liberty to solicit Your Lordship's
attention to the declaration of the blockade made by General
Monteverde in March 1813 and notified by General Monro
in the Colonial Gazet/c in the ensuing month.
Altho' I understand that this blockade is not recognized
by His Majesty's Naval Commander on this station it has
been necessarily admitted in this Gulph from the general
absence of any continued na\ al protection and for that reason
I have as I reported in No. 23 declined clearing vessels for
ports in possession of tile lid<( cpndeits altho' the produce
from those ports has been always flcely admitted provided
no flag was shown or other acknowledged compromise of
His Majesty's alliance with the Spanish Government.
Certain vessels however belonging to this port and having
British Registries have been engaged in this trade by clearing
out for ports still held by the Royalists and in September
last one of this description was taken.
I informed the sufferer I could not interfere and he was
aware that he did it at his own risk-but several instances
have latcly occurred in which these British vessels in returning
from these ports laden with produce have been taken with
British Colors within gun shot of this shore and carried to
Considering such a capture to be an insult to His Majesty's
Territory and an infringement of the Law of Nations
I represented it in a forcible manner to the Governor of Guiana
from whence these armed Privateers are fitted out for cluizes in
the Gulpl, and renewed my remonstrance and demand of
restitution upon the occasion of a free colored lad and a
Dutchman of this town being both seized in a plantation
boat coming up to this port from one of the Islands dependent
on this Government-these remonstrances have remained
On the 4th Ulto. a similar case occurred at Point Gourde
with the agravation of the oars of the English vessel touching
the land at the moment of seizure and capture.
The owner, the son of an old established and respectable
French resident, was the bearer of the warm remonstrance
I thought it my duty to address the Spanish Government
upon this occasion, but instead of delivering up to the vessel,
the owner was put under arrest upon an apprehension of the
people murdering him as a Frenchman, and a friend to the
On his return he informed me that the five persons taken
in the plantation boat were in Prison and at Angostura and
that the Governor refused to return either the cargo or his
vessel, altL,' I sent His Excellency's Depositions and evidence
of the fact of the capture being made so near the shore of
I have since repeated my remonstrance and expressed
to him that however ready I might be to concede every
right to the local Government to take precautionary
measures for the security of The King of Spain's Interests,
I doubted the legality of the continuance of the blockade
which has not as I am informed been communicated as an
approved and avowed act by the Government of Spain to
the powers in Alliance with it-
The day before yesterday however these hostilities were
renewed on a boat of an Independent at anchor before a
plantation on the Coast. The crew escaped ashore but they
were pursued and the patron or Captain of the launch seized
and carried off with the prize. On my receiving the Report
I directed the Harbour Master to prepare a vessel and applied
to the Major General Commanding the Troops for a Serjeant
and six meant to be sent on board, but after a considerable
delay the Major General declined complying with my request,
and as some further time elapsed before I could embark
a party of the Militia, the Pirates had escaped with their prize.
As I conceive the purposes of all garrisons must be the
protection of the territory in which they are placed, I hope
I have not acted wrong in making to the Major General
the representation of which I have the honor to inclose a
copy-and I have to repeat to Your Lordship that I conceived
my own responsibility would have warranted the compliance
of so trifling a request.
I beg to be honored with Your Lordship's Instructions
as to the recognition I am to make of the blockade above
alluded to and that so long as the warfare continues on the
neighboring coast Your Lordship will be pleased to order
that two small vessels or gun boats should be employed in
protection of the territory and flag of His Majesty's Government.
I have the honor to be,
Your Lordship's obedient and faithful Servant,
(Sgd.) RALPH WOODFORD,
&c., &c., &c.
25th May, 1814.
With reference to the note I had the honor to receive
from you yesterday in reply to the application I addressed
to you upon a sudden emergency, I beg leave to observe
that it will be impossible for me to carry on the duties of my
Government without a ready assistance at all times from the
Garrison, and that on preferring a request for a Sergeant
and six men for a temporary service of a few hours in which
the more extensive command which an officer's presence
would be supposed to involve was unnecessary I of course
considered myself responsible for the propriety of the applica-
tion and the necessity of the Service.
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient Servant,
(Sgd.) RALPH WOODFORD,
Major General Clay.