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Commercial Relations of England and Scotland 1603 - 1707
1660-1707


e. Settlement in America

Scottish trade with America was facilitated and encouraged by the immigration of settlers from Scotland, who were doubtless anxious to keep up a connection with the mother country. Large numbers were sent over during the Commonwealth period, especially after the battles of Dunbar and Worcester. In New England at any rate they seem to have been well treated. A letter to Cromwell from that colony says that "we have been anxious, as far as we could, to make their yoke easy.... They have not been sold for slaves to perpetual servitude, but for 6 or 7 or 8 years...and he that bought most of them buildeth houses for them...and promiseth that as soon as they can repay him the money laid out for them he will set them at liberty." Many of these, having served their time as servants, settled down, and became prosperous planters or merchants. The settlers in New Jersey found many of them when they went over in 1683, having "purchased notable plantations for themselves, both in Barbadoes Maryland and else-where and live very plentifully accounting themselves happy in that providence that brought them there, and extremely regrating the Condition of many of their friends at home, and wishing them Sharers of their prosperities After the Restoration, and all through the latter part of the century many others went of their own free will to seek their fortunes in America and in the Indies. As colonists, and as servants, they were highly appreciated. In Barbadoes they formed an important element of the population. When the settlement of St Lucia was under consideration, it was suggested that Scots should be allowed to come, as they would " strengthen the place well, besides they are hardy people to endure labour and have been the cheif instruments of bringing Barbadoes to it's perfection." It was thought desirable, too, in Jamaica, that "all prudentiall means bee used to encourage ye Scotts to come hither as being very good Seruants." In Virginia, also, the Governor found them useful settlers. He wrote in 1666 to Lord Arlington at the "solicitation of some Scotch Gents." Pegging leave for them to settle there, as "in this dangerous time they have been very useful to us."

A number also were transported because their presence was unwelcome at home. His Majesty's Plantations were a dumping ground for " strong and idle beggars vagabonds Egiptians common and notorious theives and other dissolut and lous persones banished or stigmatised for grosse crymes." Although persons thus designated would not seem to be very desirable members of a community, there was a great demand for their services in America, and merchants and ship masters found them a very profitable commodity to export. In fact people were often kidnapped and taken off to the Plantations. The Privy Council frequently gave orders to search ships "bounding" for America, " and if they find any persons yr who are not of their owne consent and freewill content to be caryed to the said plantations or are not condemned yrto by ye sentence of a judge That they bring them a shore and dismiss them." Of the "vagabonds" it was said that "severall persones so sent away within these 9 or 10 years have become very active and virtuous persones Their idleness and poverty having formerly corrupted them." Another class of persons transported were "obstinat phanaticks" and "absenters from the church." The Council was anxious to "empty the prisons and be ride of thos vermine," and numbers were sent to America, generally to Virginia, Maryland, Barbadoes or the Carib-bee Islands. A number of Presbyterians also emigrated on their own account. As early as 1680 there were Scottish Presbyterian meeting houses and congregations in Virginia, Maryland and also in New Jersey, even before part of the colony came under the Scottish proprietors. Some of the members of these congregations were from Ulster, descendants of the Scottish colonists there. In Maryland about seven hundred of these Scottish-Irishmen settled between 1685 and 1695. They began linen and woollen manufactures, which were strongly objected to by the authorities, as they feared that they would in time supply the colonies, and thus destroy the market for English manufactures. There were also Scots settlers scattered about in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and New York.

The Scots, besides settling amongst the English in different parts of the country, made two attempts to found settlements of their own, in New Jersey and in Carolina. New Jersey was granted by Charles to the Duke of York in 1665, and he granted the country to Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. The eastern part, Carteret's share, was later (1682) vested in twenty-four proprietors, who possessed all powers of government and jurisdiction. Twelve of these were Scotsmen, the Earl of Perth, Drummond, Treasurer Depute, Mackenzie, Lord Register, and others, lairds, merchants and advocates. One of their number, Gavin Lawrie, was made governor, and instructions were given that all land surveyed should be divided into two parts, one to be for the Scots proprietors4. Plans were made for laying out a town at Amboy Point, to be called Perth, and to be the capital of the province. The country was not unoccupied at this time, the population amounting to about 5000, some in townships and villages, and others scattered about the country. These settlers were principally English, but there were also some Scots and Irish, chiefly Presbyterians in search of religious freedom.

The proprietors in Scotland at once began to try and raise an interest in the project, and to induce settlers to emigrate. They published in 1683 A Brief Account of the Province of East New Jersey in America, "for the. information of such as may have a Desire to Transport themselves or their families thither." In this pamphlet the country was described, and the advantages of colonies to Scotland were pointed out. Settlement in America was a better means of ridding the country of its superfluous population than allowing them to wander to the Continent, and to serve in foreign armies. Younger sons especially were "forced to go abroad upon their Shifts or hange upon the Laird in a most slavish and sordide manner." The advantage which the colony would afford Scotland as a market for her woollen and linen cloths was pointed out, even though the Navigation Acts were in force there. The plantation products were to be brought to England, and the money got for them there was to be spent in buying Scottish commodities to be exported, which would make "a Circulation of Trade as Advantagious for us, yea more than if returns came straight home." Special licence was given in the charter for transporting settlers and everything necessary for their use from any of his Majesty's dominions. Information was also given about the terms on which land could be acquired. Large estates could be purchased at 100 per 500 acres. Also, the town of Perth was to be divided into lots of 10 acres at 20 each. Husbandmen providing themselves with stock could get from 100 to 500 acres at 2. 6d. per acre. Servants after four years' service were to receive 25 acres, with "as much Corne as will sow an acre and a sute of new Cloaths." Quite a number availed themselves of this opportunity of settling in a new country. The prospect of religious freedom doubtless was an inducement to many. Those who, "upon account of their not going that length in conformity required of them by the Law, do live very uneasie," found that "besides the other agreable accomodations of that place many there freely enjoy their own principles, without hazard or the least trouble." Ships sailed from Leith, Aberdeen and Montrose, with persons of all classes, proprietors, those who had purchased large estates, ministers, husbandmen, tradesmen, servants. The voyage generally took from six to eight weeks. It was said to be less dangerous than crossing to Holland, but in any case the long confinement in close quarters must have been most tedious and unpleasant. Several would-be settlers indeed died on the voyage. The discomforts of the journey over, they seemed to find the new country all that had been promised. Extracts from letters of settlers are given in a pamphlet published in 1685, "The Model of the Government of the Province of East-New-Jersey in America And Encouragements of such as Designs to be Concerned there." "I have great reason to thank God that I am in a place which abundantly answers anything I expected." "This country is beyond not only all our Expectations but all that ever you have heard spoken of it." The Indians were found to be "a harmless people and very kind to us; they are not a hairie people as was said to us in Scotland." One writer enumerates the occupations which may be followed. "In the first place Planting.. .in the second place there may be Fishing...in the third place for one to have a Malthouse, a brew house and a bake house, to make malt, brew bear and bake bisket for Barbadoes and the Neighbouring Colonies;...Lastly for one to buy up the product of the countrey...and export them to Barbadoes, and import Rumme and Molasses would certainly be a good trade in Amboy, for the highest designe of the old Buckskin Planters (I am just now drinking to one of them, our Countryman, who was sent away by Cromwell to New England, a slave from Dunbar, Living now in Woodbridge Like a Scots Laird, wishes his Countrymen and Native Soyle very well, tho' he never intends to see it. Pardon this Parenthesis) is to acquire a piece of money to drink in the change house." Unlike the " Buckskin Planters," the new settlers felt most the "need of good and Faithful Ministers." One gay youth, however, brother of the Laird of Kinnaber, hoped that "in a little time I shall want nothing but the company of the prettie .Girls, to all whom who retain any remembrance of me, Let my services be remembered."

The infant colony received all encouragement from Charles and James, but its neighbours soon began to trouble the settlers. The Governor of New York was anxious to bring New Jersey under his control1. The Proprietors in 1684 asserted their rights of "Government, Ports, and Harbours, free Trade and Navigation," and laid the matter before the Duke, whom they found "verie just." Dongan, the New York Governor, however, still continued to trouble them, especially by asserting that Perth Amboy was not a port of entry, and that all vessels trading in that part of the country must enter at New York. He also seized some ships, and forced them to discharge there. The Proprietors declared that they had "adventured great Stocks upon that Bottom," and had sent "several hundred persons out of Scotland," and should therefore be encouraged. They got their way and New Perth was erected into a port of entry in 1687. Naturally it was a favourite resort of Scots ships and merchants.

The population seems to have been divided into two factions, English and Scottish. The latter were encouraged by the appointment of a Scottish Governor, Andrew Hamilton, in 1692, "a great favourer of the Scotch traders his countrymen." But in 1697, as a result of the Act of 1696 which was held to prevent all Scots from holding positions of public trust, Hamilton was dismissed, although the Proprietors were most anxious to retain his services. The Attorney-General declared, however, that "a Scotchman borne is by Law capable of being appointed Governor of any one of the Plantacons he being a natural born subject of England in Judgement and Construccon of Law4," and Hamilton was restored in 16995. Jeremiah Basse, who had been Governor in the interval, had had great difficulties with the Scots, partly because of his "discountenancinge the Scoch and pirates in their illegall trades." Another reason was his issue of a Proclamation forbidding intercourse with the settlers of the Darien expedition. "The Scotch gentlemen amongst us," he says, "are growne to a very great hight from the prospect of a Gentleman of their own Nation filleinge the seat of Government in these provinces...and the Success that. their Countreymen meet withall in their settlement of... Golden Island...I cannot see but that the English interest and trade must of necessity fall if some Spedy course be not taken for their Stopeinge of their Groath. The principal traders in East and West Jersey and Pennsil-vania are Scotch who some of them have publiquely asserted that his Majesty dare not interrupt them in their settlement of Golden Island lest It should make a breach betwixt the two Nations publiquely." Basse complained later about Hamilton's reinstalment, declaring that the "whole designe and end of the Act of 1696" was to "Keepe the trade of the Plantations intirely in a dependance on England and the great cause of making itt being the Continued Complaints of an Illegal trade Carried on by Scotchmen to Scotland Holland Curasoe etc and connived att by such as are in Authority." Quary, the Customs Commissioner, reported that in the eastern division of New Jersey the Scots "by means of the Scotch Governor Carry things here with a high hand and irritate the People against them8." The population increased considerably after the Scots settlement, colonists coming both from England and from Scotland. The English gradually outnumbered the Scots and were therefore discontented with the proprietary government, under which the Scots "had the sole rule." This form of government was not considered in any of the colonies to be conducive to the best results, either for the settlers or for the sovereign, and New Jersey was no exception to the rule. Indeed the Scots influence there made the system still more unpopular with the English authorities. From 1699 to 1702 negotiations were being carried on with a view to the surrender of the government to the crown, and in 1702 it was finally given up. In the next year Hamilton died, and Lord Cornbury was appointed governor.

The Carolina settlement did not meet with as much success as the New Jersey colony. Sir John Cochrane and Sir George Campbell were the promoters of this effort, and bought some land from the proprietors of Carolina in 1682. They intended the settlement to be a refuge for those who suffered under the Stewarts' ecclesiastical policy. They were therefore anxious to secure liberty when they emigrated, and insisted on some alterations being made in the constitution. These, however, were soon repealed, because they were "injudicious and inapplicable." The land granted to them was to be some distance inland, to prevent surprises from an enemy, some distance from the nearest English settlement, and also to be in a healthy situation, and well provided with water. Lord Cardross and several Scots families went across in 1683, and the settlement was made at Port Royal. Next year they were joined by other settlers.

Unfortunately the colony got into difficulties, both with the English settlers and government, and with the Indians and Spaniards. The English seem to have been jealous of the Scots having anything to do with the administration of justice, and the Scots resented any encroachments on what they considered were their undoubted rights. A quarrel began over the arrest of a Scotsman, on " Scotch precints," by English officials. Some reprisal was made by the Scots and then Lord Cardross was ordered to appear before the Council. On his neglect of the summons, a warrant was issued against him for contempt. The English Proprietors disapproved of this conduct towards Lord Cardross, and wrote apologising to him. Cardross, however, returned to Scotland. Before he left it was said that the Scots had incited a neighbouring tribe of Indians to fall upon another tribe who were under Spanish protection. The Spaniards thereupon attacked the Scots settlement and destroyed it, in 1686, when the colony had only been in existence for four years. Those who escaped settled elsewhere amongst the English settlers, and no more attempts were made to form an exclusively Scottish settlement.

A question of some importance throughout this period, was that of the naturalisation and denisation of the Scots. The English Navigation Acts declared that ships must be sailed by crews which were two-thirds English. Although Scotsmen had been naturalised in England since James VI's reign, yet it was now asserted that for the purposes of the Acts Scotsmen could not be considered Englishmen. The Acts also declared that only Englishmen could be merchants or factors in the Plantations, and on this point too the Scots were sometimes challenged. There was much difference of opinion on the subject, and the distinction was not always insisted on. The Scots resented very much any attempts to enforce the Acts in this strict sense* One instance is given in 1669 of a ship which was confiscated at Barbadoes, because some of the necessary English proportion of the crew were Scotsmen. They had paid customs and got coquets in England and "'tis said that diuers of these Scottsmen dwell in England, and did engadge with the hazard of their Lives in the last warres against the Dutch in His Majesty's service who take it wondrous unkindly to be thus debarred the Liberty of subjects." The Barbadoes people considered it "a thing of much rigour" that the Scots should be thus excluded. After a few years, however, it was decided that Scots might navigate English ships. Also, although no legal opinion seems to have been given on the subject, Scots were allowed to be merchants and factors in the colonies. The Act of 1696, which ratified and made more severe the former Acts dealing with navigation, again gave rise to much discussion on these points. One clause declared that places of trust in Courts of Law or Treasury were to be held only by natives of England, Ireland, or the Plantations; also that in cases concerning the infringement of the Acts the jurors should be natives of England, Ireland, or the Plantations only. Under this Act Hamilton, Governor of New Jersey, was dismissed, but was reinstated again in 1699. The Attorney-General and Solicitor-General decided that all Scotsmen "are qualified to be owners, Masters and Mariners of ships in these parts."

They declared also that the words Englishman or native-born subjects of England included Scotsmen. Nevertheless in many cases the colonial authorities disregarded these decisions. A pamphlet published in 1703 declares that "of late years Scotsmen have been very ill-treated in some of the Plantations, such of them as were Justices of the Peace, Members of the Council, or in any other publick office, were turn'd out: Scotsmen residing there have had their Goods and Ships, seized and confiscated, and in many cases they have been proceeded against as Aliens, and forc'd to sell their ships to avoid these Vexations." The interpretation of the Acts probably varied in different colonies, but the position of Scots merchants, planters and seamen alike, was both uncertain and unsatisfactory, and they were all doubtless anxious for union, to obtain equal rights with the English as traders and as settlers.


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