THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 292.
Sir Ralph Woodford to Earl Bathurst -Proclamation authorizing
the Governor to impose certain taxes in the Colon.
Source: -Red House, Port-of-Spain. Trinidad Duplicate
Published by the courtesy of His Excellency the Governor.
No. i. PORT-OF-SPAIN,
4.th January, 1814.
I have the honor to transmit for Your Lordship's Appro-
bation and the Confirmation of His Royal Highness The
Prince Regent a copy of The Proclamation which has been
drawn up by His Majesty's Law Officer in Conformity to
the Order in Council of 21st July last, authorising The
Governor to impose certain Taxes in the Colony.
It having been ascertained that the Tax on Slaves would
not afford more than io,ooo and it having been considered
by The Members of His Majesty's Council whose advice
I did not fail to take upon so important an occasion, that it
would be better to declare at once all the Taxes which it was
probable would be required, than to be under the necessity
of adding to them next year or that ensuing, and The Duties
authorized on Wine and Houses, which latter it was judged
expedient to limit to the Town of Port-of-Spain, not affording
the probability of above 5,00ooo more. I have declared those
Duties to be imposed and to take effect accordingly. The Wine
duty payable in One Month from the date of tle Promulgation
and that on Houses and Negroes payable Annually in June,
as being the most convenient time of payment to the Inhabi-
tants, and in Consequence of the Returns of Slaves being made
into the Office of Registrar in the Month of January of 1815
and every succeeding year, it was thought expedient to take
advantage of that in those years to save the Proprietors the
trouble of a second return, and consequently to declare the
Slave Owners liable to the duty after the Ist of January,
altho not payable until June.
What ever may be the sum produced it will be wanted
now to pay off the great arrears of debt, and to supply the
many dificiencies and Wants of a New Colony.
If in future years the Revenue should be found to increase
in a greater proportion than is required, I shall venture to
submit to Your Lordship the propriety of repealing the
Colonial Duty of 3 & per Cent. in favor of English Manufactured
fine Cotton and Muslin Goods.
The Merchants urge a disadvantage in the payment
of this duty, as not being levied in Grenada and therefore
prejudicial to their sales on the Main-but as the intercourse
thro The Gulph affords the resident Merchant here
accommodation in the smallest boat, which with Grenada
can only be Effected by a certain sized vessel; The advantage
is Counterbalanced and I believe turns out in favor of this
Island. Nor do I apprehend that it will be found they have
really paid more than one per Cent. on fine and two per Cent.
on Coarse goods, it having been usual I find to exempt Planta-
tion Stores and Private Importations-so that this Duty which
was first a voluntary Gift by the Colony to the King of Spain,
will now probably be represented as a Grievance.
But this was not the only revenue derived by the King
of Spain, a large Sum being raised from the Stamped Paper
on which it was necessary that all Deeds and Public documents
of every kind should be written-And at the end of ten years
from 1789 a dollar per head of negro was to be imposed;
His Catholic Majesty intending to increase the number of
Slaves as fast as was practicable.
At the Conquest of this Island the 34 per Cent., raised
one quarter per Cent. by General Sir R. Abercrombie, which
had been imposed on Foreign Importations being the only
source of Revenue became payable on our own:-
I am happy to add that the Proclamation of the Order
has been very properly received by the great Majority of the
Inhabitants and I have no reason at present to apprehend
any serious difficulties on the Subject. The Characters who
have been most Prominent for British Laws by personal or
written representation rely I am informed on an espousal
of their Cause by a Member of The House of Commons.
The Expense attending the Printing has been so consider-
able that I have been obliged to affix a Price of two dollars to
Since reduced to one I have the honor to be
R.W. My Lord,
Your Lordship's Obedient
2I Jan. And faithful Servant
Earl Bathurst, RALPH WOODFORD.
&c., &c., &c.