THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 291.
Lord Montague's application to settle Tobago.
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.
March 27th, 1728.
Lord Montague petitioned under date January 23rd, 1728.
Report by the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations.
To THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY.
In obedience to Your Majesty's Commands signified to
us by His Grace the Duke of Newcastle the 23rd of January
last, we have considered the petition of His Grace the Duke
of Montague to Your Majesty setting forth that His late
Majesty having granted to your petitioner the Islands of
Sta. Lucia and St. Vincent, he had in pursuance of the said
grant, taken possession of the said Islands but being obliged
by the French to abandon the same to his very great loss
and damage, he humbly beseeches Your Majesty to grant
him the Island of Tobago in lieu of the said Islands of
Sta. Lucia and St. Vincent which he proposes to resign if
Your Majesty should not think it proper that he may hold
them with the Island of Tobago upon which we beg
leave to represent to Your Majesty
That Tobago is one of Your Majesty's Windward Charibbee
Islands which although it be comprehended in the Commission
of Your Majesty's Governor of Barbados, yet it hath never
been settled and produces no revenue to the Crown nor is of
any advantage to this Kingdom ; but were the Island
effectively settled, the revenue of the Crown would be
increased by the importation of the products thereof to Great
The duty paid upon the importation of sugar from
Barbados amounts to about 25,00ooo per annum of which
io,ooo belongs to Your Majesty's Civil List revenue and this
Island being as large if not larger than Barbados and capable
of the same produce with Barbados, it is not to be doubted
but that in a few years the products of Tobago must yield a
very considerable revenue to Your Majesty. The duty of
4V per cent. when the Island is settled will likewise be a
considerable revenue to Your Majesty.
The French having greater quantities of fresh sugar land
than the English which produce with little or no charge
of manure and giving great encouragement to all their
plantations in America particularly by a late edict allowing
their planters to carry their sugar directly to foreign markets;
they are able to undersell Great Britain in all parts of Europe
for which reason all proper methods should be taken to
put Your Majesty's subjects upon a more equal footing with
the French in this particular and it is not to be doubted but
that the planting of sugar canes on the fresh lands of Tobago
will very much contribute to this desired end.
The French are already very powerful in these sugar
colonies and are daily endeavouring to increase them by
obliging every ship that goes to these Islands to carry thither
a certain number of families which will make it the more
necessary for Your Majesty's service that all possible encourage-
ment should be given for the settling and planting of Tobago
which will be an additional strength to Your Majesty's Colonies
in these parts.
And although the inhabitants of Your Majesty's sugar
Islands may apprehend that it is not for their particular
advantage that Tobago should be planted and have formerly
opposed it lest this new plantation should reduce the price
of sugar, yet when it shall be duly considered how necessary
it is that Your Majesty 's subjects should go to foreign markets
upon equal terms with their neighbours who, as has already
been observed, do greatly undersell us, it will not be thought
reasonable that the interests of the sugar plantations should
stand in competition with those of Great Britain.
The settling of this Island will increase the exportation
of the products and manufactures of Great Britain and the
importation of the products of that Island to Great Britain
as well as the re-exportation of them from hence to foreign
countries, will necessarily increase the number of British
ships and seamen to the great benefit of trade and navigation
of the Kingdom.
The situation of Tobago renders it of very great
consequence because most ships going from Europe or Africa
to the Spanish West Indies, sail in sight of or near this Island
and it is so situate with respect to Barbados, that should it
fall into the hands of any foreign power, they would have
the same advantage in case of a rupture, over Barbados to
make invasion thereon as the French in Martinique had in
the last war against St. Christophers, Nevis and Montserrat,
the windward situation of this Island in respect to Barbados
being pretty near the same as that of Martinique with respect
to Your Majesty's Leeward Islands.
For these reasons we are humbly of opinion that, in
consideration of a surrender of the aforesaid patent for
Sta. Lucia and St. Vincent, Your Majesty may be graciously
pleased to grant the Island of Tobago to the Duke of Montague
upon the same terms as those contained in the patent for
Sta. Lucia and St. Vincent except only in the particulars
upon which we humbly take leave to make the following
As we have found by experience that all proprietory
colonies where the government is not in the Crown, are
highly detrimental to Your Majesty's service and to the
welfare of Great Britain, in case Your Majesty should be
pleased to grant the Island of Tobago to the Duke of
Montague, it will be requisite that particular care be taken to
reserve to Your Majesty, your heirs and successors, the
absolute sovereignty, dominion and government of Tobago
in as full and as ample a manner as Your Majesty does now
or may exercise the same in your Island of Barbados.
By the aforesaid patent not only the office of Captain
General and Governor in Chief is granted to His Grace and
his heirs for ever, with power to appoint a Deputy Governor
subject to the approbation of Your Majesty but likewise the
power of exercising several authorities which have been ever
esteemed part of the Royal Prerogative and which, according
to our humble opinion, ought not to be inserted in the grant
now petitioned for; but we conceive that it may be for
Your Majesty's service that His Grace should be appointed
Captain General and Governor during his life with the usual
powers and authorities granted by the Commission and
Instructions to Your Majesty's Governor of Barbados and
that the Deputy Governor be from time to time named by
His Grace and approved by Your Majesty and that he may
be removed either by Your Majesty or by His Grace at
The Duke of Montague proposes that the planters in
Tobago may be exempted from paying the duty of 41 per cent.
on the exportation of the products of that Island for the space
of ten years from the date of this grant as an encouragement
to all new settlers and in consideration thereof His Grace
is willing that after the expiration of the time limited for
his government, all fortifications made there shall be absolutely
vested in Your Majesty without paying anything for the same ;
and we are humbly of opinion that it may be for Your Majesty's
service to indulge the Duke of Montague in this proposal.
In His Grace's grant of the Islands of Sta. Lucia and
St. Vincent, the laws of England relating to the property in
lands, goods and chattels and estates or relating to criminal
matters are to be and continue in force until they be legally
altered by laws to be made in that Island ; but as so general
a liability may be attended with some inconvenience we
think that it will be advisable that the laws of England
to be put int: force in Tobago should be on the same foundation
and only such as have been heretofore used in Barbados.
By another clause in the same grant, the Duke or his
Deputy are authorised to appoint twelve Councillors with
full power to make Ordinances for the defence, improvement
and good government of the Island till an Assembly can be
settled ; and we have no objection to His Grace appointing
the first twelve Councillors in Tobago but we are humbly
of opinion that all future Councillors of this Island should,
like those in Your Majesty's other plantations, be appointed
by Your Majesty.
By a clause in the grant of Sta. Lucia and St. Vincent
to His Grace, power is given to the General Assembly of the
said Islands to make laws provided they be as near as may
be consonant to the laws and statutes of this Kingdom and
provided that a transcript thereof be, within twelve months
or sooner after the making of such laws, transmitted under the
seal of the Governor or Deputy Goveinor to Your Majesty
for Your Royal Approbation or Disallowance ; but as in
all Your Majesty's other Governments in America, the
Governors are directed by their instructions, to transmit
copies of such laws as shall be there passed, to Your Majesty
within three months or by the first opportunity of conveyance
after their being enacted, it is humbly proposed that His
Grace be under the same restriction in this particular as the
Governor of Barbados.
All of which is humbly submitted
WESTMORELAND. ED. ASHE.
P. DOMINIQUE. W. CARY.
27th March, 1728.