THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 449,
A Report on the Debts of Planters in Tobago
by Monsieur Roume de St Laurent.
Source:-Paris. Archives Nationales.
State Papers Colonial. C 10. E 3.
Published by the courtesy of the Minister
of the Colonies. Paris.
Translated from the French.
(This is a long, verbose and closely written
document extending to twenty pages.)
5th May 1786.
Monsieur Roume de St Laurent, recently appointed
the Ordonnateur of Tobago, while still in Paris before
taking up his appointment, wrote this Report on the ur-
gent necessity of freeing the Colonists of Tobago from
their heavy debts and making the following proposals
to accomplish this.
From the documents and papers available in Paris,
it is evident that the debts owed by the Colonists of
Tobago to people in Europe,amount to over twenty mil-
lion livres Tournois. In order to pay these debts, it
will be necessary for many years to send the produce
of the Island to England and France will lose, to the
capitalists of England, all the advantages which the
conquest might reasonably have been expected to pro-
Monsieur Roume de St Laurent urges upon the King
of France the following remedies for such an unsatis-
factory state of affairs. He recommends that the int-
erest on capital sums lent, which by private contracts
reaches as much as 11 or 12 per cent, be reduced to
5% only as is fixed by English legislation.
To make such a remedy effective, it will be nec-
essary to require the Colonists to produce and regis-
ter their titles, their contracts and to report the am-
ounts already paid and still due to creditors. A Court
of Chancery should be established in the Island of To-
bago to examine such documents and to decide the am-
ounts properly due and the interest payable. An appeal
should be allowed to His Majesty's Council in Paris.
Those appointed to this Court should be experts
sent from France for this special purpose. They should
examine each contract, reduce the amounts to those
valid under the English laws and ascertain past over-
payments so as to credit them to reduction of the cap-
He recommends that a suitable Royal Edict, ef-
fecting the above proposals, should be prepared and
Roume de St Laurent.