THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 389.
The Secretary of State to the Governor of Trinidad.
Source :-Public Record Office. State Papers Colonial. C.O. 2:)6/5.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Recnrds.
DOWNING STREET, LONDON.
5th August, 1815.
SIR RALPH WOODFORD,
I have under my consideration your dispatch No. 55 and
its accompanying documents. It has been impossible to
peruse them without deducing the conclusion that howccvr
great may be the resources of Trinidad (and that they are
great, no one appears to deny) it will be impossible to call
them forth without a very great increase of its labouring
population and it appears equally clear that the practicability
of such an increase is a matter of considerable doubt.
It is agreed on all hands that the experiments hitherto
made or suggested of importing inhabitants from China
or free settlers from the Spanish Main, cither have actually
failed or must necessarily prove abortive from the character
of the persons proposed to be imported and though tlese
reports suggest the conveying to Trinidad of free settlers
from the coast of Africa or Hindustan, there appears
but little reason to believe that those experiments
would prove more successful. But as in every case settlers
of this description would require to be furnished with habita-
tions and subsistence at tlie public expense, the I.a;vy c(liiges
to which such an experiment on an extended scale must
of necessity lead, forbids me at present to give it any
I am not however without a confident expectation that
as the fertility and other advantages peculiar to Trinidad
become more generally known, persons possessing capital
may be induced to employ it in the cultivation of the soil
and the introduction of slaves from other British Colonies
or of free persons allured by a prospect of participating
in those advantages.
In the present dispatch I shall confine myself to conveying
to you the instructions of His Majesty's Government with
respect to the confirmation of the grants of land made by
your predecessors and with respect to the restrictions and
limitations under which it appears to me most advisable
that future grants should be made.
I perfectly concur with you in opinion as to the advantage
of immediately relieving the apprehensions of those persons
who having violated the conditions under which grants were
originally made to them and having thereby vitiated the
titles to their land, have nevertheless made progress in its
cultivation and I am to authorise you in these cases in which
any occupier or possessor of land either under Spanish or
British authority shall have commenced its cultivation, to
confirm to him without any restrictions as to the future
cultivation of the land, all that part of the original grant
which may be in actual cultivation at the time together
with a further proportion of land not exceeding a quantity
that which has been cultivated.
The only case in which you will consider yourself at
liberty to withold the confirmation is that in which the land
in question may be required for the public service. Should the
land so cultivated be required, it will be necessary that you
should make to the occupier a grant elsewhere corresponding
in value to that of which he has been deprived.
It appears also expedient to impose as the price of this
confirmation a small quit rent on the land regranted and in
the case of mere occupancy under British authority it is
desirable that the amount of the quit rent should be regulated
by the degree in which the occupier has adhered to or departed
from the provisions of the original grant.
The amount of the quit rent in other cases must vary
according to the value of the land on which it is to be levied
but you will be careful in no case to impose one so heavy
as to check in any degree the general progress of cultivation.
In making new grants olf land to persons desirous of
establishing tlcimselves in the Colony you will adhere to the
following regulations viz.
Firsl. -You will in no case make any grant above 200 acres
without specific authority from home.
Second.-You will proportion the grants made by you
to the means for cultivation which the person applying for it,
may give satisfactory evidence of possessing.
Third.-You will in all cases reserve a moderate quit
rent proportionate to both the value of the land and the
produce which may be raised upon it. By this means the
rate of quit rent to be paid by an acre of land when in canes
or provisions will bear proportion to the value of the respective
Fourth.-You will insert in all grants, a special permission
that the land shall revert to the Crown unless a portion of
it be cultivated within a limited period.
Fifth.-You will reserve to the Crown the right to metals
Sixth.-You will insert such other stipulations with respect
to the making of roads, canals and other means of
communications as the peculiar circumstances of the Colony
may appear to require.
Seventh.-You will annually report to me a detailed account
of the grants made by you in the preceding year.
I have, etc.