THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 446.
A Petition from the Council and Assembly of Tobago
to the King of France. 1783.
Source:-Paris. Archives Nationales.
State Papers Colonial. C 10. E 2.
Published by the courtesy of the Minister
of the Colonies. Paris.
Translated from the French.
20th October 1783.
To the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
The Humble Address and Petition of
the Council and Assembly of Tobago.
We, the Members of the Council and the Represent-
atives of the Island of Tobago, met in General Assem-
bly, most humbly beg to throw ourselves at the foot of
your Throne and to approach Your Majesty with dutiful
assurances of the satisfaction we feel at the prospect
of becoming your subjects, since by the fate of war we
must be separated from our parent state.
The paternal care and affection which Your Majes-
ty has ever shown for the happiness and prosperity of
all your subjects in the most distant parts of your ex-
tensive Empire, impress our minds with the most grate-
ful feelings and afford us the pleasing hope that, as
we will endeavour by our dutious conduct to merit, so
we shall receive a full participation of Your Royal Be-
nevolence and Protection.
The attention which Your Majesty has been grac-
iously pleased to show to the Deputies who had the
honour to be presented to you, on the part of the Pro-
prietors and those interested in this Colony resident
in England, and the gracious answer transmitted to us
by them which Your Majesty, by Your Minister the Mar-
shal le Duc de Castries, has condescendingly vouch-
safed to give to their Representations, fill our minds
with the most lively acknowledgments and call upon us
for our most grateful thanks.
By the sixth of these Requisitions, it was humbly
proposed "That the Port of Tobago should be declar-
ed free; that the commerce, both of imports and exp-
orts, should be unlimited and unrestrained and that
the ships and vessels of all nations in amity with Your
Majesty, should be permitted to enjoy such commerce;
to which Requisition Your Majesty was graciously ple-
ased to declare "That the Port of Tobago would be
subjected to the same principles of administration as
those for the other French Colonies but that foreign
ships would be permitted to import negroes for the
term of three years, or longer if found proper by Your
We are highly sensible, Sire, of the advantages
that will arise from so gracious a permission but we
humbly beg to throw ourselves at Your Majesty's feet
and to represent that the present state of the Colony
requires a more extended indulgence without which
its cultivation and improvement must languish and de-
crease and the advantages which would otherwise ac-
crue from it to Your Empire, be greatly diminished.
The many and severe disappointments to which we
have been subjected since our first endeavour to set-
tle the Colony, could only have been surmounted by
the most persevering zeal and industry.
The frequent insurrections of our rebellious ne-
groes, has several times almost annihilated the very
existence of it and cost the lives of some of our most
valuable fellow subjects.
The Ant, a most destructive and pernicious insect,
ruined our most valuable sugar estates and the calam-
ities inseparable from War, have greatly added to our
losses and expenses.
The very large sums of money which have been
laid out to bring the Colony to its present state of cul-
tivation, have not only left the proprietors without
further funds to advance the improvement of their lands
but have likewise involved them in very large debts
which, without further support to carry on and perfect
our establishments, must, if we are called upon press-
ingly by our creditors, end in the ruin of many of the
The favourable situation of Tobago for an exten-
sive commerce with Europe, Africa and America, its
proximity to the Spanish Main where valuable sources
of trade would be opened, point out a Free Port as the
most obvious and surest means to relieve our distress,
restore our credit and induce other settlers to join
their efforts with ours to render the Colony flourish-
ing and successful and make it a valuable acquisition
The liberality of sentiment which characterises
Your Majesty's Government which has so eminently pro-
moted the happiness and prosperity of your people and
the great benefits which resulted to Your Majesty's Is-
land of St Lucia by its being declared a Free Port at
the commencement of its settlement, induces us humbly
to hope that the present peculiar position of Tobago
will be regarded by Your Majesty with equal favour
and protection and that Your Majesty will graciously
condescend to grant our present Requisition, by dec-
laring the Port of Tobago to be Free and that the com-
merce, both of its imports and exports, shall be unlim-
ited and unrestrained for such period as Your Majesty,
in your wisdom, shall judge proper.
Walter Robertson. Thos Fairholme.
Senior Member of Council. Speaker of the Assembly.
Clerk to the Assembly.