GOVERNOR PALLISER TO MR. POWNALL.
COLONIAL OFFICE RECORDS 194/16. T. 87.
31 March, 1766.
Please to acquaint the Right Honble. the Lords for Trade & Plantations, that in Order to put a Stop to the many Murthers, Robbery's and other disorders comitted on the Indian Inhabitants on the coast of Labradore within my Government, by a Bandetti Lawless People resorting thither, from the Plantations, particularly those from New England and the Winter Inhabitants from Newfoundland, I Judged it became my Duty, was Absolutely necessary and strictly Justifiable and Lawfull, to lay some Restrictions on them by the Regulations I made for that Coast the last year, till His Majesty's Pleasure should be known; this I understand hath been represented to His Majesty's Ministers, by one Mr. Milner and others, as Arbitrary, op[p]ressive and Injurious to the rights and Liberties of British Subjects.
In the year 1764 a Vessel belonging to Boston or Marble Head, after Robbing, Plundering and otherwayes Ill treating the Indians on the Coast of Labradore, took away five of them, who they either Murther'd or carry'd home to make Slaves of; the Name of the Vessel or of the Master I have not been Able to Learn, but the Mate of her was Named Coffen and is now Master of a Vessel from Nantucket.
The last year a Schooner from Boston at Mingan and other Places on the said Coast, strip'd and Plunder'd all the Indians they met with, of their Furs, etc. I have not yet been able to get either the Name of the vessel or the Master, but my informer one Mr. Limeburner, who is a Man of Credit, informs me, that the Master produced a Licence from Governor Bernard to go to that Coast to Trade with the Indians, under Sanction of which, they comfit these violences.
The last year I went to Pitts Harbour on the said Coast, and met with a Tribe of about 500 Indians, whilst I was treating and making Peace with them, and in Pursuance of His Majesty's Instructions, endeavouring to Conciliate their affections towards His Subjects, for Introducing an Intercourse and Comerce with them, by kind treatment and fair dealing, and sent them away well pleas'd therewith, some new England vessels and Inhabitants Boats from Newfoundland, one of which belong'd to Mr. Milner went contrary to my Orders, along the Coast from whence those People came, and from what
I have heard since I left that Coast, I have too good reasons for thinking, those Indians at their return would find their Old People, Wives and Children, who they left at home, Robbed, Murther'd and some carry'd away.
In the year 1763, a Brig named the Decoy, William Knight Master, belonging to New York, the first Mate named Fenny, the Second Mate named John Pringle, the Owners named Farmer and Phinzance, went to the Coast of Labradore, met with a large tribe of Indians, after three days friendly comunication and Traffick with them, they contrived to haul their Ship close to the Shore where those Poor Creatures were Encamp'd, who intending no harm and suspecting none, assembled together to look at the Ship, and several of them mix'd with the English on board of her, when, on an apointed Signal being given, they made a General discharge of Guns, Swivels and small arms amongst the Indians, and of those on board, they stabb'd and killed about Eleven, and took Seven alive, then put to Sea, afterwards reflecting on what they had done, and dreading a discovery, they made the Seven who they had kept alive Jump overboard with weights about them, this account with many more horred Particulars, I have from a Man who was one of the Crew of that Vessel at the time, was with me the last year belonging to the ship I then comanded and he shew'd me the Spot where this Bloody transaction hapen'd, he is now in London, and will attest the truth of it.
They (the People from New England) set fire to the woods along that Coast, in Order to discourage and disapoint Adventurers Ships from Britain undertaking the Fishery there, I saw a tract of above Ten Miles of Wood that was Burnt by them the last year a little before my Arrival.
Another time a Winters Crew surpriz'd a party of Indians, and Surrounded them so that there was only one way for them to escape up a steep cliff, three of them who could not get up after several attempts and tumbling down, surrendered themselves, one of the Gang cry'd out to their leader, Master, don't let us kill them, they can't escape, the other answered No, what spare an Indian, and fir'd upon them, as the rest did, and kill'd them all three. Such are all our settlers and Inhabitants in Newfoundland, these and the others aforemention'd from the Colony's, are the People who I have banish'd from Labradore, till His Majesty's Pleasure is known, and these are the People in behalf of whom, a Petition is to be brought into Parliament by way of Complaint against me, for what is call'd by Mr. Milner, Partial, Arbitrary, Opressive Orders, suspending and controling Acts of Parliament, interdicting the Lawfull Comerce of the Subjects of this Kingdom, and denying them the Rights and Priviledges belonging to British Subjects, but they are unworthy of that Name, they are a disgrace to human Nature, they are a Scandal to the Country to which they belong.
I am, Sir,
Your most obedient Servant,
London, 31 March, 1766.
To. J. Pownall, Esq., etc., etc.