Reported On This Day 280 years ago (April 3 1739): Lords explain why they reject Spain deal

The Belfast News Letter of March 23 1738 (which is April 3 1739 in the modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of March 23 1738 (which is April 3 1739 in the modern calendar)
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From Belfast News Letter of March 23 1738, the ‘last’ News Letter of the year under the old calendar, in which the new year, 1739, began on March 25. The paper is dated April 3 1739 in modern reckoning, in which all March is in 1739 and there is an 11-day lag on old dates:

LONDON March 15.

The following is the Substance of the Lords Protest.

(1.) Because we conceive that this Resolution under the plausible Pretence of a respectful Address to the Throne carries with it an Approbation of the Convention concluded at the Pardo, the 14th of January, which, as we apprehend, may be a most fatal Compliment, if it should induce his Majesty to believe that this Convention is agreeable to the Sense and Expectation of the Nation.

(2dly.) Because this Resolution hath rather weakened than inforced the Address, which declares, that no Goods being carried from one part of his Majesty’s Dominions to another, are to be deemed contraband or prohibited Goods, and that the searching of Ships, under the Pretence of carrying contraband or prohibited Goods, is a Violation and Infraction of the Treaties subsisting between the Two Crowns.

(3dly.) We think the said Resolution does not sufficiently alert our RIGHT, by saying only, That we shall not be liable to be stopp’d, search’d, or visited upon the open Seas; the Merchants having proved at the Bar of the House, that Currents and Winds unavoidably drive Ships out of their Course, and that Observation of Land-Marks, upon the Spanish Coasts, are absolutely necessary for their steering a safe Course thro’ those Seas, we apprehend, that their being oblig’d to keep a direct Course, without coming near the Spanish Coast, as lately insisted on by the Spaniards, would render them sold Judges of our Navigation, and their being permitted to visit, or search our Ships, would render our whole American Trade precarious and impracticable.

(4thly) Because we see no Reason to believe that the future Negociations of the Plenipotentiaries will, in the next eight Months, obtain the Admission of those Rights insisted upon in our former Address, which the Instances made to the Court of Spain last Year, supported by the Resolution of Parliament and a powerful Fleet, have not been able as yet to procure.

(5thly) Because we apprehend the Spaniards do not think themselves bound by this Convention to abstain from their unjust Methods of proceeding, since it was proved at the Bar of this House, that Capt. Vaughan, Commander of a British Ship, having been unjustly taken by a Spanish Man of War, his Ship confiscated, and he imprisoned at Cadiz, was at the Time of the signing of the Convention, detained in Prison there, and not released in several Weeks after, notwithstanding the Representation of the British Plenipotentiaries at the Court of Spain.

(6thly) Because we conceive that the Reparation pretended to be made to our Merchants by this Convention, for the grievous Losses they have sustained during a Course of many Years, is insufficient, the dark Accounts of this Transaction laid before us, have not been fully explained, nor any satisfactory Reasons given us why their Demands stated in an Account, signed June 14th 1738, by Mr. Start one of the Commissaries at 343277l. should be so greatly reduce.

(7thly) Because we apprehend we are to allow 60,000l. to the King of Spain, chiefly an Account of the Ships taken near Sicilly in the Year 1718, tho’ it appeared to the House from the Instructions given to the Commissary after the Treaty of Seville, signed by his Majesty, now lying before us that the Article of the Treaty concluded at Madrid, upon which that Claim of the Spaniards is founded, had been Executed on the part of the Crown of Great Britain.

(8thly) Because the referring to the Limits of Florida and Carolina, to the Plenipotentiaries seems to call in question our right to a Possession which we have so long uninterruptedly enjoyed, seven eight Parts or Shares of which the Nation at a considerable Expence, has not long since purchased of the Proprietors, under the two Original Grants of King Charles the 2d.; A certain district whereof called Georgia, in honour to his present Majesty has been erected into a new Colony, and granted to Trustees for laudable purposes, for the Establishment and Improvement of which considerable Sums have been granted by the publick, and moreover it being stipulated by the present Convention, that no Fortification there shall be Increased during the Term of Eight Months, we apprehend that the Regiment lately raised for the Defence of that Colony, and also the Engineers and Stores which at considerable Increase of the publick Expence have been sent thither, will not only remain useless, but if a Peace should not be procured within that period, will at the end of it be Exposed together with the Colony to the Violence and Irruption of the Spaniards.

(9.) Because we apprehended the British Ministers Acceptance of the Declaration Signed by Monsieur de la Quadra, Han. the 10th 1739, said to be agreed with reciprocal Accord, has allowed his Catholic Majesty to reserve to himself in its full Force the Right of being able to suspend the Assentio of Negroes, in Case the South Sea Company does not Subject her self to pay within a short Time the SUm of 68000l. pretended to be owing on the Duty of Negroes, and profits of the Ship Carolina; though, that Sum was never otherwise acknowledged to be due, than as part of a Plan of Accommodation, wherein a much larger Sum was admitted to be due to the said Company; whereby we Apprehend, the King of Spain may think that Great Company is put out of the Protection of his Majesty, as to this point, and left to his own mercy and equity: Whereas, if the Convention, as it now stands, had been signed without the Acceptance of the said Declaration will be looked on as a Defezancy of the said Treaty, as far as it relates to the South Sea Company, which appears to us a dishonourable Conclusion, hurtful to the public Credit.

(10thly) Because we don’t find any Satisfaction has been obtained by the Convention for the frequent Cruelties and Barbarities exercised on the British Sailors, nor for the many insults offered to the British Flag, which we apprehend may be thought an indefensibility of the Sufferings of a Body of Men highly useful to the Trade, and necessary to the Defence of these Kingdoms, and a great Neglect of the Honour of the Nation.

Graham, Bruce, Glifton, Huntingdon, Beauford, Foley, Chesterfield, Haversham, Montjoy, Cobham, Shaftsbury, Burlington, Abingdon, Litchfield, Macklesfield, Masham, Gower, Stanhope, Strafford, Suffolk, Northampton, Westmoreland, Maynard, Clifton, Coventry, Ker, Rich. Lincoln, Ailsford, Boyle, Bristol, Greenwhich, Carteret, Raymond, Bridgewater, Tolbott, Winchelsea, Oxford, Bathurst, Thanet, Gainsbro.

[This significant report has echoes of the Brexit crisis today. It shows parliamentary unhappiness at the deal Britain agreed with Spain in January to end tensions between them over Spanish searching of British ships trading near its territory. Failure of the Pardo deal would lead to war]