Charles Steuart letter to Francis Fauquier, 1762 December 2 : manuscript copy

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Charles Steuart letter to Francis Fauquier, 1762 December 2 : manuscript copy



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[Page 1]

Portsmouth December 2d. 1762


I have received your Honour's Letters of the
23d & 26th. of last Month and am happy in knowing that
what I proposed and have done with respect to the
Spaniards met with your Approbation and that of
the Council

I have informed Don Pedro that at his Request
you have granted a Warrant for a survey of provisions
belonging to the Transport, & have desired the Master
of the Arundel to let me know when he can come for
that purpose, that I may have two other Gentlemen
ready at the same tie. I have also acquainted the
Officers of the Miitia and others who have given Assistance
& shewed Civilities to these distressed people that I have
your Honours Commands to thank them in your name.

I presume you have received my Letter of the 25th.
November with one from Don Pedro, I then acquainted
your Honour that another of his Men was dying, he is
since dead but the other two are recovering. Don Pedro
himself is much better, but has now an Inflammation
in one

Lieut. Govr. Fauquier

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in one of his Eyes owing to the wounds he received on his
head, he says that when he gets well he will write to you
himself - I was undesignedly led to talk with him on
a delicate Subject to which I found myself very unequal,
but shall trouble your Honour with Some Account of the
Conversation & submit my part of it to your Correction -

I told him last Saturday that on the Monday following
there would be a Court of Enquiry concerning the Riot & for
hearing the Evidence against the Criminals, that those against
whom there is any proof may be sent to Williamsburg for
Trials, & I apprehended it would be necessary that they
(the Spanish Gentlemen) should go to Court to declare what
they knew against any of the Prisoners. He desired his
Son, with whom only I can converse in bad Latin, to ask
me if that Court was for punishing the Rioters for profaning
his house, or for the Robberies & Murders they had committed?
I told him the whole would be Strictly enquired into, but
that the King only could make Satisfaction for Injuries
done to Ambassadors or others in a publick Character who
are protected by the Laws of Nations, for that our Laws
make -

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make no Distinction between Foreigners & Subjects. He
said he did not think it consistent with his Dignity that
he or the other Gentlemen should go into an inferior Court
to give Evidence, & asked if a Kings Officer, for instance
Capt. Manwaring, could be called into that Court, & if
there are not different Courts for Trial of Offences commit=
ted by or against Kings Offers & those committed by or
against other persons. I told him there are Courts Martial,
but under the immediate Sanction of the Laws, for
preserving Discipline and punishing Offences committed
in the King's Armies & Navy, but that all other Crimes
are tried in the Civil Courts, & that not only Capt. Manwa=
ring but the first Officers in the Kingdom are amenable
to these Courts; for it is a principle in our Constitution -
that the Laws are above all Men; He said it was dark
whenthe riot happened; that the Lights were put out
& that neither he nor his Officers knew any of the Mob.

I told him that as Some of their things were found,
particularly a Sword & hat, it would be necessary to
prove the property of them, for without such proof, the
persons with whom they were found would not be

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punished. He said that if they could give any Testimony
against the persons who broke into his house & beat him=
self & those of his family, they would do it, but would not
descend to give Evidence concerning the Robbery; & signifyd
that he would not accept of any of the things that were
carried away. He had before told me that he would know
ther person who searched his Pockets, which I reminded
him of, & he said he believe he should know him, but
would not appear against him. I told him I was sorry
their punctilio was such, for that by our Laws no person
can be punished without proof of his Crime; & that as
your honour is much inclined that the most exemplary
Justice be done on the Offenders, they might in part de=
feat that Intention by withholding their Testimony, but
that I hoped he would permit his inferior Officers to give
what Evidence they could, to which he agreed: However
I have been told since that Aliens cannot be admitted
as Evidence against natural born Subjects & therefore
they were only examined concerning two Foreigners -

I have found his Punctilio as great in another

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Instance, for I have frequently before & since that fatal
Night made an offer of procuring for him everything
this Country affords that would render his Stay among us
more agreeable & told himI had your Honours Commands
to do so, & should have the greatest pleasure in executing
them; he always very politely acknowledged the Civility
but never gave the least Intimation of a want of any
thing for himself or family. As a general & direct Appli=
cation of that Sort would not Succeed, I have endeavoured
to get the better of his Delicacy by sending him from
hence furniture & other necessaries which I knew he
must want, his own having suffered much in the riot;
but this only brought an Expence on him, for he has
since made me a present of some fine Wine. Hearing
him complain of the Butter the other day, I sent him
some of the best that could be got, & as they are Water=
drinkers & that of Norfolk very bad, I have been looking
out for a Hamper of Bristol Water for him which I
believe would be an acceptable present but cannot
meet with any. I shall endeavour to get him to ac=
cept of the Live Stock &c as a present from your Honour

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They all consider me in a particular manner as their
friend - call me their Comforter - wish me to be
always with them & load me with the most Sincere Ex=
pressions of regard & Esteem; so that from a principle
of Gratitude & friendship, abstracted from the Consideration
of doing your honour a pleasure, which will ever be
a verty strong Motive with me, I dedicate much of my
Time to their Company & Service -

The Examination of the Rioters is now over & only
four of them are ordered up for further trials: Some of the
Magistrates came readily into your Honour's Sentiments,
and at first all the Prisoners against whom there was
any proof, were ordered to be sent to Williamsburg; but
the last day, some other Justices being on the Bench, all
that were brought before them were cleared; though in
my opinion & that of many others, some of them were more
guilty than Some of those who are to go up: One Instance
is so Strong that I cannot help acquainting your Honour
with it; indeed I am desired by one of the Bench to do so.

Francis Miller, a person of good Credit, swore positive=
ly -

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postively against one of the Rioters, named Thomas Boon,
that he heard him swear that he would blow up the
house in which the Spaniards were, & would go to the
Vessel to which he belonged, or to the Warehouse in
in which her Stores were lodged, & bring a Barrel or half
a Barrel of Gunpowder for that purpose; & that he
accordingly went off with that Design, and persuaded
others to go with him to help him to bring it: but because
hat horrid Intention was not carried into execution,
the Majority of their Worships thought proper to clear
him. The Kings Attorney acquitted himself very well,
& read the Law which was clear & express against the
Prisoner, as intending, counselling & advising a felonious
Act, which makes him accessary to the felony that
was committed. The Vessell he blongs to is at Norfolk
& I am told that notwithstanding his Discharge, he is
still within the reach of the Law, if you think him a
proper Object of its Justice -

It may also be proper to acquaint your Honour

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that in giving this Information, & everything else I
have done for discovering the Rioters, I have not acted
by desire of the Spanish Gentlemen, nor with any other
View than as a friend to Justice. They indeed seem
to err on the other Extream, & are desirous that none
may suffer capitally on their Accounts, sayting that
the principles of their Religion oblige them to forgive
those that injure them, as they expect forgiveness
from God. I told them that is a very amiable prin=
ciple in them as Individuals, but that it did not pro=
perly take place in the present Case, as the Laws of
God & Nations were violated in a high Degree: and
the Honour of our Nation particularly concern'd to
do severe Justice on the Offenders: Notwithstanding
what has been done, the greatest Criminals are not
yet discovered, but if your Honour should thinkg proper
to issue a Proclamation with a proise of pardon &
a reward to them who will discover their Accomplices (if that
is agreeable to the Rules of Government) I beleive it would

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have a very good Effect, however I hope you will please
to pardon the Liberty I take in mentioning this.

I told Capt Longbottom before the Receipt of your
Honour's Letter, that he should not carry these Men with
him that were concern'd in the riot, & have since given it
to him as your Orders, & also at the Desire of Don Pedro who
objected to three of them; hte Capt is to dishcarge these three
and agreed to every other proposal he made, & all Diffe=
rences are seemingly made up : Two of these Men were
cleared among the last, which surprized Don Pedro a good
Deal, for his petty Officers were the witnesses against
them, & indeed the proof was stronger than against some
who are sent up, however he expressed no resentment,
and only said that as they are Italians & can speak
some Spanish, they may get among his people & make
some furhter disturbance, therefore he wished they had
not been discharged from Jail till he was gone; on this
I applied to Capt. Maximilian Calvert, a Magistrate
who has been very active & diligent in this matter and
he immediately recommitted them. Don Pedro said that

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he had wrote to your Honour about the Behaviour of
some of the Transports men to their Captain at Sea
but had no Answer to that patt of his Letter. I told
him that if they had behaved ill to him or his people,
you would have given orders concerning it, but that
you could not properly interfere in any Dispute
between the Master & his own Crew, as the navigating
the Ship is solely intrusted to him; & with this answer
he seemed satisfied: he has ordered all the Arms belong=
ing to his Men, which by the Robbery are reduced to
a small Number, to be lodged with me till he embarks

As he and the other Gentlemen are sensible Men,
& not unacquainted with the manners of our people,
they distinguish properly, & ascribe the ill usage they
have met with entirley to the rage & fury of our druncken
Seamen (the most licentious of all human Beings:) indeed
they do not say much upon the Subject, but enlarge on
the Civilities they have met with; which however are
no greater than they are entitled to as polite well-bred
Strangers. I took the Liberty to tell them that the

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General Assembly of the Colony was sitting & you
could not be absent from the Capital, otherwise you
would have made them a Visit in their Distress, & by
your presence have animated the prosecution of the
Criminals; but as they cannot have the Happiness
of a personal Interview with your Honour, I think it
my duty to inform you of everything that can throw Light
on this unhappy Event and give you a proper Idea
of these Gentlemen; & you will therefore have the Goodness
to excuse the Length of this Letter, even if it should seem
to you impertinent.

I am &c
Cha Steuart

Norfolk Decr. 3d

If your Honour should think proper to send a Warrant
for apprehending Boon & bringing him to Trial this
Court, I am told it will be necessary to send also a blank
Summons for his Evidences, lest he should pretend that
he has some; & be pleased to give Orders at the same time
that blank Summonses be sent for Witnesses against all
the other rioters, for I believe some stronger proof may be

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got than was given in Court, particularly against
Edward Fitzpatrick & William McEver: I have the
pleasure to inform you that Don Pedro is almost well
& will write to you by the next Opportunity

4 /Copy/ December 2d. 1762


Original Format

Ink on paper


Steuart, Charles, 1725-1797, “Charles Steuart letter to Francis Fauquier, 1762 December 2 : manuscript copy,” Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed January 27, 2022,

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