THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 289.
The Governor of Barbados to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and
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.
November i6th, 1724.
On Friday the 30th past, Jean Garraud, Master of a
French schooner came to me and made his complaint that
one Charnock (an inhabitant of this Island and owner of a
sloop in which he had cleared out hence to go to fish at Tobago)
had taken out of a crawl of the said Garraud at Tobago,
one and twenty turtle and some nets he had ashore in a
hut and that, some days after some of his crew went on board
of Charnock's vessel at Tobago and that the next day Charnock
set sail with his sloop for this Island and that he had followed
him hither to demand satisfaction.
The said Garraud further said that he had leave from
the Governor of Martinique to fish there. As I had heard
that the French made pretensions to that Island, to know
the truth of it as also if the Government of Martinique had
given this Master licence to fish there, I ordered him to go
with an interpreter to the Attorney-General and make
affitdavit of what had happened. Instead of this, the said
Garraud went to town to Captain Cooper, Commander of
H.M. S. Sloop the Lynn, who sent him in his boat on board
of Charnock's sloop from whence they took some nets and
other things. Captain Cooper immediately after seized
Charnock's sloop, sent some of his men aboard her, carried
the Negroes he found in the sloop on board the Lynn,
When the Master and Owner of the said sloop would
have gone on board their sloop, the Officer and seamen
belonging to the said man-of-war, kept them off by force
On Saturday night the 3oth October, both Charnock's
sloop and the French schooner were driven ashore by stress
of weather. On Tuesday the 3rd instant, the French Master
came with a petition to me whereof I have enclosed a copy
by which Your Lordships will see he owns that he went to
Tobago to turtle whence by the fifth article of the Treaty
of Peace, good correspondence and neutrality in America
made in 1686, his vesscl with his lading is forfeit.
However I told him that he should make affitdavits of
the facts with the same intention I had done before, to know,
for certain the French pretensions in that Island. I have
enclosed a copy of his depositions as also of Francis Chevalier
John Pitolet and James Grenades, three of his crew, together
with a copy of the permission he had from the Government
of Martinique to fish at Tobago.
I have likewise joined to them, copies of the depositions
of Stephen Charnock, John Ransford, Joseph Charnock and
Richard Jackman, which I ordered to be taken upon Charnock's
applying to me for satisfaction from Captain Cooper for
seizing his ships and for the loss of her. Charnock would
have sued Captain Cooper here for damages which I have
not allowed of in that I am at a loss how to direct him the
method to take if he has been injured ; for though by a proviso
in an article of His Majesty's Patent to me, it is said there
that neither I, nor any by my authority, shall hold plea
or have any jurisdiction of any offence, cause or matter or
thing committed or done upon the high sea or within any
of the havens, rivers or creeks of His Majesty's respective
Islands or Plantations under my Government by any Captain,
Commander, Lieutenant, Officer, Seaman, Soldier or other
person whatsoever who shall be in actual service or pay or
on board any of His Majesty's ships of war; except by
commission appointed by the Crown; I doubt my powers
to deal with this and therefore await His Majesty's commands.
I don't know whether the Captains of His Majesty's ships
of war have any jurisdiction to seize vessels at anchor in
His Majesty's ports and under the cannon of the forts but
the present case is even yet stronger for it is occasioned by a
difference and dispute between the subjects of Great Britain
and France which by the seventeenth article of the aforesaid
Treaty, is stipulated shall be judged and determined by the
Governors of each jurisdiction respectively where it shall
have arisen or by them they shall depute.
But the method Captain Cooper took was I think in
every respect irregular, he had no regard to the cognisance
I had already taken and upon the Frenchman's complaint
to him, sends them on board the sloop in his own boat, takes
out of her what they said was theirs which he orders to be
brought ashore and the Negroes aboard His Majesty's ship.
Whilst I am asserting His Majesty's right to the Island
of Tobago, he seems to support the French in their pretensions.
I have heard that he has returned the Negroes to Charnock
but what is become of the nets, etc. I know not. I suppose that
he will give an account of these to the Lords of the Admiralty.
In my humble opinion they ought to be confiscated as
I did design the French schooner (upon the confession of
the Frenchman) should have been if she had not been wrecked
or otherwise I must have given up His Majesty's right to the
Island of Tobago. Therefore all the satisfaction I can give
the Master of the French schooner is to let him know he ought
not to have fished upon the coast of Tobago in that the property
of that Island belongs to the King my Master ; upon which
I suppose the Governoi of Martinique will assert His Master's
right to it for I know, though that Island be not yet settled,
that he has appointed a Deputy Governor there and expects
to have it confirmed in a little time from France.
As to Charnock I cannot think that he has been guilty of
any act of piracy by taking the turtle for, not only because
the French have no liberty of fishing on the coast of Tobago,
but even if they had, the turtle belonged to anybody who
had the right to fish and should take possession of and secure
them on board his vessel ; for in what place the liberty of
fishing is in common, no particular person has a right to
enclose any part of it for a repository for his own use but
who alone has a right to fish may hinder others from doing
the like and challenge the fish they find in their hands.
As to the nets they might be considered almost a derelict
yet Charnock's slaves had no right to take them nor the
French to build a hut to deposit them in.
I have the honour to be Your Lordships
Most obedient and most humble servant,