Group Title: The Trinidad Historical Society publication.
Title: Publication
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 Material Information
Title: Publication
Physical Description: no. : ; 26 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Historical Society of Trinidad and Tobago
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Port-of-Spain
Publication Date: 1932?-52?
Frequency: irregular
completely irregular
Subject: History -- Periodicals -- Trinidad   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Trinidad and Tobago -- Trinidad
Dates or Sequential Designation: no. 1-1042.
Numbering Peculiarities: Ceased publication.
Issuing Body: Issued 1932-35 by the society under its earlier name: Trinidad Historical Society.
General Note: Reprints of documents relating to the history of Trinidad.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00080962
Volume ID: VID00365
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 45882505

Full Text




Publication No. 377.

The Case of the Island of Tobago by the Envoy from Courland.

Source:-Public Record Office. State Papers Colonial. C.O. 1/62.

Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.

An impartial account of the true state of the case concerning the Island
of Tobago, submitted by the Envoy of the Duke of Courland.
March I3th, 1687.
The Envoy of His Highness the Duke of Courland, having
a paper sent to him by the Right Honourable the Earl of
Middleton, supposed it to be His Majesty's gracious answer to
his late memorial but perusing the same he was surprised to
see it was no answer to his humble request contained in his
said memorial but in effect a decision of a question (never
before made to the Princely House of Courland and much
less thought of) whether they had not forfeited their right to
the Island of Tobago.
But it appearing to the Envoy by the argumentation
whence the conclusion is deducted that the matters of fact
have not been very sincerely represented unto the Right
Honourable Lords to whose consideration this affair was
committed, he humbly conceives that His Majesty himself
knows the circumstances much better and not long since, was
pleased graciously to declare that with his consent nothing
shall be done to His Highness' prejudice in reference to
that Island.
But in case the multiplicity of affairs with which His
Majesty is continually overwhelmed, put the true state or
circumstances of these things out of his remembrance, the
said Envoy most humbly begs His Majesty's favour and
patience graciously to take into his consideration the following
account of the same.

When His late Highness, Duke Jacobus (whose Godfather
was King James), bought that Island of the Earl of Warwick,
done with the consent of King Charles I, and took possession
of it, it stood quite empty and deserted, having not been
inhabited at least in 30 years if at all : h," buildcd a fort upon
it calling it alter his name Jacobus, look a world of pains in
clearing it from stubs and stocks and for many years together,
enjoyed and planted it without ami contradiction or interrup-
tion till one L,:mbson, a Zealander, being a wealthy man and
one of the States' Councillors who had got into a corner of
the Island and after much dispute, was suffered there to plant,
paying some yearly tribute to the said Duke, took advantage
of the war that happened between the Swedes and the Poles
and of the Duke's imprisonment, perfidiously to dispossess
His Highness of the said Island, for he appeared with some
forces before the said Fort Jacobus and persuading the
garrison that the Duke was carried away prisoner by the
Swedes and so no hope for the garrison to be relieved from
Courland but must and shall perish unless they surrender the
place to him the said Zealander; the soldiers mutinied,
chained the Governor and forced him to capitulate and the
said Zealander engaged himself to restore the Island with all
that was left -in the fort according to the inventory made for
that purpose, as soon as the Duke was set at liberty again.
Thus the Hollanders being gou p).osession of that
Island, the Duke after his restoration sent to Holland and
after long and fruitless endeavours with the Lambsons first
and then with the States themselves, for the restoration of
his Island and finding that the usurpers were not inclined to
suffer His Highness ever to re-enter into his old right and
possession, His Highness took advice to send an Envoy hither
to try if he could prevail with His late Majesty to grant him
his gracious assistance for the recovery of the Island ; His
Majesty being at first unwilling to concern himself in their
dispute although after some months spent in that affair, the
Envoy proposed for an expedient that it might be done under
a concession or grant from His Majesty, the business came to
an end and His Majesty resolved to get the Island from the
Dutch either by fair or by foul means.
The principal considerations and conditions that the
treaty was grounded upon were that tilhe Duke shall yield unto
the Crown, tle Island of Gambia in Guinea for ever and
himself and his heirs to have free traffic thither, &c., and that
he shall hold and enjoy the Island of Tobago under His
Majesty's Royal protection and in recognition of this, shall
send if demanded, a ship of forty guns to such a place as shall
be named whenever the Crown be engaged in a war ; by
which condition the Duke did not actually find himself

engaged in His Majesty's wars too, thinking himself too weak
an ally for it and therefore (according to the tenour of the
Treaty) neither to man nor to victual the ship.
The other conditions set down in the Treaty do little or
nothing import to the Crown for though but English and
Courlanders were to plant on the Island and to enjoy equal
privileges yet both were to swear fidelity to the Duke ; and
as for carrying the product to no other place than England,
Courland and Dantzick, it was in favour of the Duke for we
may be sure that the Dutch and other nations would be glad
of this privilege to bring the product of this Island hither
His Majesty afterwards was pleased at the instance of the
Duke's Minister to send a letter to the States General to let
them know of this grant and to recommend to their justice
the just pretensions of the Duke of Courland ; but the States
favouring the Lambsons, who had the impudence to call it a
sham grant, saying that His Majesty could not give that
which is not his own to another or to him whose it was, the
said Royal letter took no effect.
Some time after a war breaking out between His said
Majesty and the States, his forces landed on that Island
(as they did in other places of the Dutch) and demolished the
fort Jacobus ; upon the news of this, the Duke of Courland
ordered a ship of his to hasten thither but soon after other
news arrived, vizt, that the English had done there no more
than what is usually done by land, to fall upon their enemies
in their quarters, to kill, plunder and destroy and then retreat,
which was the cause why the Dutch soon after hastened thither
again to repair and fortify the fort anew.
The like happened in the war after so that the Hollanders
being in a more ready posture always prevented the Duke of
Courland from getting into possession of the Island.
Thus the Duke finding himself disappointed in his design ;
when the treaties of peace between this Crovwn and the States
were to be entered upon, Hi; Highness by hi:- Minisiter here,
solicited that the said Island might be secured to him by one
of the Articles since it could not be done the other way, but
received answer that if the Duke of Courland's concerns
should be inserted, the other princes who had desired the like
and were denied it, would be disgusted threat.
It happened at last that the (Cunt D'Estrces, the French
Admiral, did set upon the Dutch in that Island and made a
total extirpation of them but quitted the Island again and
some of the French Gentry and merchants soliciting the
King of France to grant the Island to them, His Most Chi istian
Majesty graciously declared that it belonged to a neutral
Prince who did nobody harm.

Thus the just judgement of God having cleared the Island
of usurpers, the Duke fearing that the Dutch would still be
obstinate in effecting the re-possession of the same, His
Highness only desired His late Majesty would be graciously
pleased in his favour to mind the States by another letter not
to suffer their subjects to make a further attempt upon the
Island that mo His Highness might quietly and undisturbed
possess and hold the same under His Majesty's royal protection.
But His Majesty was pleased to give this final answer that
the said Island of Tobago having been in the hands of several
masters, he thought the Treaty between him and the Duke
of Courland concerning the same was expired; and he
advised him to use the best ways and means he could to
retake the Island and keep it in peaceful possession; His
Majesty would be very glad to hear it but would not be
concerned in that affair any longer. However His Majesty
was pleased to add that he should be very willing to do
His Highness all good offices in settling the Island.
His Highness without further loss of time then prepared to
send some ships thither to re-enter into possession of the said
Island and at his humble request, His Majesty was graciously
pleased to send his royal letter to the Governor of Barbados
directed to Sir Jonathan Atkins (dated i9th January, 168o)
not only to permit and to suffer the commanders and officers
of the Duke's ships to provide and furnish themselves with
what they may stand in need of, paying a reasonable price
for the same but that he should be likewise aiding and assisting
them with lis authority as there might be occasion. The like
a letter of His late Majesty was, some years before dispatched
for the said Government with one of the Duke's ships called
The Flower Pot but one Nagel, the Commander (a mere
stranger to His Highness) betrayed it to those of Algiers.
Upon the letter aforesaid, His Highness sent a Governor
to the said Island and soon after another but as the first, so
the second returned without his people, they being for the
most part destroyed by the Indians.
In the meantime Captain Poyntz offered his services to
the Duke and entered into a contract with his Minister
mentioned in the paper aforesaid but the Duke was displeased
with it and soon after departed this life and Prince Casimir,
his son succeeding him, quite rejected the said contract and
sent a third Governor thither with about 400 men who are
still there but fearing the ill success of the Governors to be
the effects of their ignorance and unskillfulness well to order
and settle an Island, he dispatched the present Envoy thither,
to entreat His Majesty's gracious permission for to get him a
small number of his subjects to be assisting him in settling
that Island.

His Highness confiding in the long experience his ancestors
had of the constant benevolence and favo\ur of the Royal
Family, did not at all question but that lie should be lionoured
with his most gracious compliance and as a matter of itself
cannot in any likelihood pro v to the dis;ta mltage oF His
Majesty's Islands in those parts so His Hi)lniucss thought that
his request might be looked upon the more favxourably in
regard to the Princely House of Courland has so long a time
been deprived of the said Island and been at so vast charges
on that account when on the other hand this Nation has
reaped and still reaps the benefit of that Treaty in reference
to Gambia in Guinea and likewise that the said H1ouse never
were backward when occasion served to showl thlir zeal for
the service of the Royal Family which most apparently
was done in 1645, 46, 47, 18, 49 and 5o when the late Duke
very readily supplied them with shil s, gns, ammunition,
provisions, &c., without having tlh least einlbursement madc
him though he ha. been paying interest for these things to
the merchants of Dantzick a long time as it has been made
to appear formerly and the Envoy is able to do it likewise if
so required.

As for the grant itself, there is a difference between grants;
what a Prince grants to his subjects is not like that which is a
Treaty consisting in conditions mutually agreed upon for the
interest and advantage of both parties; if it cannot be
satisfied it returns ad status quo prius and the Treaty becomes
void and pro non facto habetur.
And thereby from the premises it doth sufficiently appear
(1) That this Treaty or Grant cannot well be said to be
(2) That in case it was forfeitable if the non performances
be balanced or examined, not anything will be found to accuse
the Duke with for (i) he has yielded his right to the Isle of
Gambia in Guinea to the Crown accordingly which the
African Company keep and enjoy being of no small importance
to them but the Duke's have hitherto been denied traffic
thither contrary to that Treaty and (2) neither has His
Highness been put into possession of the isle of Tobago either
during the wars against the Dutch nor by any article of the
Treaties of peace with them as aforesaid.
(3) Nor was ever a man of war demanded of His Highness
nor could be demanded for the reasons here alleged but it can
be made to appear that when a war was sometime since like
to break out, the late Duke of Courland offered two very
considerable ships to the service of the Crown, for which
there is a witness, the bast in Europe.

More could be said to show the impertinency of the
information made to the Most Honourable Committee but
this may suffice to satisfy those that were ignorant of the true
state of the case and matters of lict so enormously misrepre-
sented and as the Envoy humbly conceives that His Majesty
knows all the premises to be true and His Highness ought not
for that reason to be so undeservedly deprived of his right even
by His Majesty who has been formerly so zealous in preserving
the same for the Princely House of Courland so the Envoy
assures himself that the Duke, his Master, doth not in the
least apprehend so great and unexpected an alteration in so
just, so pious and so obliging a Prince as His Majesty.
That the Earl of Warwick above mentioned was so willing
and the King, his Master, consenting to part with the Island,
was beside the goodwill and gracious inclination of His
MIaji t% to Duke Jacobus because that Island has so many
avenues for any enemy to enter and ruin the possessors thereof
and tlrerefore it was not inhabited, much less incorporated
into the Crown by any Act of Parliament as is alleged in the
paper but is an Island fit for none but a neutral Prince that
concerns himself in no wars but lives peaceably and in amity
with all the world.

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