THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 313.
The Governor of Barbados to the Lords Commissioners of Trade
Source :-Public Record Office. State Papers Colonial C.O. 285/2.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
December 12th, 1748.
I have the honour of transmitting to Your Lordships by
this opportunity a duplicate of my last of October i7th
wherein I enclosed authentic copies of two depositions which
I had caused to be taken concerning the French designs upon
His Majesty's Island of Tobago and the steps they were then
supposed to be taking for possessing themselves thereof. I
further informed Your Lordships that I would use my best
endeavours to gain more sufficient knowledge of the circum-
stances of this affair and would enforce the instructions I
have received from His Majesty with respect to this Island
as far as it was possible for me to enforce them.
I am now further to acquaint Your Lordships that at my
next sitting in Council I laid the depositions before this
Board, produced my instructions and requested consideration
of the best measures to be taken for putting them into force ;
it was unanimously resolved that it would be most expedient
to recommend to Captain Sayer of H.M. Ship Richmond to
proceed forthwith to Tobago and there to publish with all
proper solemnity His Majesty's commission to me together
with a proclamation for asserting His Majesty's sole right of
Sovreignty over that Island and requiring all subjects of any
foreign prince, to depart thence within thirty days after the
In consequence of this resolution I invested Captain Sayer
with proper powers for the purposes above mentioned and he
set sail for Tobago and there published His Majesty's
Commission to me together with my Proclamation and is
since returned and has given me an account by letter of all
his proceedings there which for Your Lordships more ample
information, herewith send you enclosed.
By this Your Lordships will perceive how groundless were
the former representations to me as it is very certain that this
Island is not yet settled in any part nor has Mons de Caylus,
the French Governor, as yet taken any steps for that purpose.
As the seas surrounding it abound extremely with fish and
particularly with turtle, the poorer French go thither at
proper seasons in small sloops to catch them and some build
poor huts and continue upon the Island all the year around;
but the number of these is inconsiderable.
The Island is entirely defenceless not a battery nor a gun
upon its shores.
It is much to be lamented that it was not properly settled
by some of His Majesty's subjects for the land is fresh and
prodigiously fertile abounding with varieties of very useful
timber and as far as I can possibly learn, wants nothing but
I have the honour to be with great respect, My Lords,
Most humble and most obedient servant,
Captain Sayer to the Governor of Barbados.
From H.M.S. Richmond,
SIR, November 2oth, 1748.
Pursuant to the service recommended to me by Your
Excellency and Council by letter of your Deputy Secretary of
October 31st, I have been to the Island of Tobago and have
there set up the King's Colours and read and published in
two different parts thereof, His Majesty's Commission to
Your Excellency and Your Excellency's Proclamation.
The first place I anchored at was in a bay at the southwest
part near Sandy Point. I stayed there two days waiting for
inhabitants or Indians to come down but seeing none but
one set of French turtles and some other French men (who
were that very morning arrived there of the day I came in and
who had had their vessel taken from them by the Spaniards
when they were employed in fishing at the Testigos) I, before
them and the master of the turtlers, at the habitation of
Mr. Augustine to the north east of Sandy Point about a mile
and a half, read the Commission and the Proclamation on
the third day and left the latter nailed up to a tree under
shelter from the weather, translated into French with a
certificate annexed (specifying the power given me by Your
Excellency) that the Commission to Your Excellency was read
there and that the above was a true copy and translation of
the original proclamation read at the same time and place
and which I intended to leave in some other part of the
Accordingly there being nothing further to be done there,
I proceeded to Man of War Bay at the north east part of the
Island, stayed there a day and a half but seeing nobody
(though there were visible signs of Indians who had lately
been there and I believe left it upon my coming in) I went to
Great Courland Bay bearing south west from Man of War
Bay and distant about four leagues where I had not been
anchored above an hour before a French schooner arrived
from Martinique which I examined.
I went there on purpose to publish the Commission and
Proclamation in the presence of one Mr. La Rochelle, a
fisherman known by the name of Governor and the oldest
inhabitant on the Island. This I have done and left the
original Proclamation nailed before his house as before.
During my stay here I kept the King's Colours flying
ashore with a guard of Marines and everything has been done
with all the solemnity I have been capable of and I make no
doubt they will very soon hear of it at Martinique.
As to the Island of Tobago, I have been entirely around
it within a mile of the shore in every part but have not seen
the least appearance of any settlement which agrees with the
accounts I have had there and I am well assured there are
none as yet and I do not find above 20 or 25 sets of turtlers
in the Island and not all of them French, there being some
English on the south side and the negro huts in Barbados are
palaces when compared with these habitations which are
nothing but miserable sheds without sides to them.
Though I am a little suspicious there may be two or
three people come in the aforesaid schooner to settle there as
I think she had more people than were necessary for the
catching of turtle as it is not the season for turtling and I
observed some joiners tools which are not necessary for
building such houses as they already have, an axe being
sufficient ; there were above a dozen hoes but as the most
trivial circumstances add to suspicions, I think it is most likely
that they are come as they themselves say, to be in readiness
against the season comes in, as I have only seen one woman,
one Negroe and one Mulatto boy amongst them and there
are no Negroes upon the Island.
They can employ themselves in making and getting their
nets ready, as to the tools, they possibly may belong to some
workman vwho has brought them for the sake of working up
some particular kind of wood to carry back and the hoes may
belong to somebody who intends residing there to fish or
perhaps among several in order to plant a few potatoes, &c.,
but you will readily see all these are only my conjectures.
It is true that I have seen French Colours hoisted upon a
house in the Island which were deployed upon my running
down on the south side the first day but by their not being
hoisted till I was too great a distance, I had no opportunity
of firing at them which I would have done. At that place
there was not the least appearance of ground cleared away
and I have since been informed that they are fishermen.
Upon the whole the Island is as yet settled in no part nor
has there been anyone sent there from Mons de Caylus to do
it or to assert the French King's right though the people there
look upon it as a French Island as indeed they are mostly
French inhabitants and it is very probable that in process of
time if we neglect it, there may be many French settlements.
I have been particular in acquainting Your Excellency
with everything I could see or be informed of concerning the
Island and I am with great respect
Most obedient and most humble servant,