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Extract from a Report of the Lords of Trade


Extract from a Report of the Lords of Trade to the Committee of His Majesty' s Most Honourable Privy Council, for Plantation Affairs, dated DECEMBER 3, 1772.

Upon the fullest examination into all the circumstances, which, at present, constitutethe state of that district between the rivers Hudson and Connecticut, out of which, the greatest disorders and confusion have arisen,it seemeth to us, that the principal objects of attention in the consideration of any measures that can be suggested for restoring publick tranquillity, and quieting possessions, are,

First, Those townships, which, having been originally settled and established under grants from the Government ot the Massachusetts-Bay, fell within this district, by the determination of the northern boundary of that Province, in the year 1740.

Secondly, Those grants of land, made within this district, by the Government of New-York, previous to the establishment of the townships bid put by the Governour of New-Hampshire, after the conclusion of the peace; and which land now lies within the limits of some one of other of those townships.

Thirdly, Those townships, which, having been originally laid out by the Governour of New-Hampshire, either continue in the same state, or have been confirmed by grants from New-York; and, also, those which have since originated under grants from the latter of those Colonies.

With regard to those townships which fall under the first of the above-mentioned descriptions; when we consider their nature and origin, and the numberless difficulties to which the original proprietors of them must have been subjected in the settlement of lands, exposed to the incursions of the Savages, and to every distress, which the neighborhood of the French, in time of war, could bring upon them; and, when we add to these considerations, the great reason there is to believe that the grants were made upon the ground of military services against the enemy; we do not hesitate to submit to your Lordships, our opinion, that the present Proprietors of these townships, ought, both in justice and equity, to be quieted in their possessions; and, that all grants whatsoever, made by the Government of New-York, of any lands, within the limits of those townships, whether the degree of improvement, under the original grant, had been more or less, are, in every light which they can be viewed, oppressive and unjust. But, as we are sensible that such subsequent grants made by the government of New-York, however unwarrantable, cannot be set aside by any authority from. His Majesty, in case the grantees shall insist on their title; we submit to your Lordships, whether it might not be expedient, in order to quiet the original Proprietors in their possessions, to propose that all such persons who may claim possession of lands within the limits of such townships, under New-York grants, should, upon condition of their quitting such claim, receive a grant under the seal of New-York upon the like terms, and free of all expenses, of an equal number of acres, in some other part of the district lying between the rivers Hudson and Connecticut; and in case where any actual settlement or improvement has been made by such claimants, that they should, in such case, receive fifty acres of waste land for every three acres they may have improved.

With regard to those grants made by the Government of New-York, which fall within the second description, and upon which any actual improvement has been made; they do appear to us to deserve the same consideration; and that the Proprietors thereof ought not to be disturbed in their possessions, whether that improvement be to a greater or lesser extent. But we beg leave to observe to your Lordships, that, in both these cases, no consideration ought to be had to any claim, where it shall appear that no regular possession has ever been taken, and no actual settlement ever been made.

With regard to those townships, which fall within the last mentioned description, we submit to your Lordships our opinion; that, provided such townships do not include land within the limits of some antecedent grant, upon which actual improvement has, at anytime, been made, it would be advisable they should be confirmed as townships, according to tho limits expressed in the grants thereof; and that all persons having possession of any shares in the said townships, either as original grantees, or by purchase, or conveyance, and upon which shares any actual improvement or settlement has been made, ought not, in justice, to have been, or to be, in future, disturbed in the possession of such shares; nor ought they to be bound to any other conditions, whether of quit-rent, or otherwise, than what is contained in the grant.