Monday 19 August 2013

The Royal Cedula of 1783 translated into English by Governor Chacon

Whereas by our royal instructions given the 3rd of September 1776 to captain of foot, Don Manuel Falquez, at that time governor of our island of Trinity to windward, and by our commission afterwards granted to Don Joseph de Abalos, when we conferred on him the general superintendency of the province of Caracas, we thought proper to form rules and grant various privileges for the population and trade of the island aforesaid; we have now resolved, in consequence of the representation our said intendant, as well as at the desire of some inhabitants already established there, and others who are anxious to become inhabitants thereof, to form a system of colonization and trade, by the following articles:-

Art. I. All foreigners, natives of nations and states, in friendship with us, who would wish to establish themselves, or are already settled in our said island of Trinity, must make it appear, by the means prescribed by our government of the island aforesaid, that they profess the Roman Catholic religion; for without this indispensable condition, they cannot be admitted to settle there. But this justification shall not be required from the subjects of our own dominions, as no doubt can be harboured with respect to them on this head. 

Art. II. Of foreigners who are admitted agreeable to the foregoing article the governor will receive the oaths of allegiance and fidelity by which they will bind themselves to observe and abide by those laws and ordinances of the Indies to which the Spaniards are subject: in virtue of which oaths, we will in our royal name grant unto them gratis and in perpetuity, the lands they many be entitled to claim by virtue of the following regulations.

Art. III. To each white person, either sex, shall be granted four fanegas and two sevenths of land (equal to ten quarrees French measure, or thirty-two acres English measure) and half the above quantity for every negro or mulatto slave that such white person or persons shall import with them, making such a division of the land, that each shall partake of the good, bad and indifferent. And these distributions shall be recorded in a vellum book of population, specifying the name of each inhabitant, the date of his admission, the number of individuals of his family, his quality and rank; and every such inhabitant shall have an authentic copy from said book for the parcel of land alloted to him, which shall serve as a title to his property in the same.

Art. IV. The free negroes and mulattoes who shall come to settle in the said island, in quality of inhabitants and chief of families, shall have half the quantity of land granted to the whites, and if they bring with them slaves, being their own property, the quantity of land granted to them shall be increased in proportion to the number of said slaves, and to the land granted to said negroes and mulattoes, this is, one half of the quantity granted to the slaves of whites; and their titles shall be equally legal and granted in the same manner as to whites.

Art. V. After the first five years establishment of foreign settlers in the said island, they shall, by obliging themselves to continue therein perpetually have all the rights and privileges of naturalization granted to them, and to the children they may have brought with them, as well as those that may have been born in the island, in order to be admitted in consequence to the honorary employ- ments of the public, and of the militia, agreeable to the quality and talents of each.

Art. VI. No capitation or personal tribute shall at any time be laid on the white inhabitants; they shall only be liable to pay one piece of eight yearly for each of their slaves, of whatever cast, and that only to commence ten years after their establishment in the island, and this tax shall never be increased.

Art. VII. During the first five years the Spanish and foreign inhabitants shall be at liberty to return to their native country or former place of abode; in which case they will be permitted to carry with them such property as they brought to the island free from any duty of exportation, but on the increase during such time they will be liable to the payment of ten per centum: and it is to be understood that the lands which have been granted to such inhabitants as voluntarily quit the island shall devolve to out royal patrimony, to be disposed of for the benefit of others, or as shall be found most convenient.

Art. VIII. We grant to the old and new inhabitants that shall die on the island, without having apparent heirs there, the power of bequeathing their fortunes to their relations or friends, wherever they may be; and if their successors should choose to settle in the island they shall enjoy the privileges granted to their constituents: but should they prefer carrying away the inheritance, they may do so by paying upon the whole amount fifteen per centum duties of exportation, where the testator has been five years established, but if he died before that period, only ten per centum, as provided in the foregoing article, and as to those who die intestate, their parents, brothers, or relations shall inherit, even should they reside in foreign nations, provided they are Roman Catholics and settle in the island; but in case they cannot or will not become inhabitants, they shall be permitted to dispose of their inheritance by sale or gift, agreeable to the rules prescribed in the two foregoing articles.

Art. IX. We also grant to all the inhabitants of landed property in the said island power, agreeable to the Spanish laws, of bequeathing or otherwise disposing of their said landed property, without making any division thereof, to one or more of their children, provided that no injustice is done to the rights of the other children, or to the widow of the testator.

Art. X. Any inhabitant who, on account of a law-suit or any other pressing or just motive, may have occasion to go to Spain, or any province of our Indies, or to foreign countries, shall ask leave of the governor, and he will be entitled thereto, provided he is not going to an enemy's country or carrying away his property.

Art. XI. The Spanish as well as the foreign inhabitants shall be exempt for the space of ten years from the pay- ment of tithes upon the products of their lands; after which period, which is to be reckoned from the first day of January 1785, they will only pay five per centum, which is half tithes.

Art. XII. They will be also exempt for the first ten years from the royal duties of alcabala upon the sale of their products and merchandizes and afterwards they will only pay an equivalent of. five per centum; but when they ship in Spanish bottoms for our kingdoms of Spain they will be always exempt from any duties of exportation.

Art. XIII. Whereas all the inhabitants ought to be armed, even in times of peace, to keep their slaves in
awe, and oppose any invasion or depredation of pirates,we hereby declare, that this obligation does not comprehend them in the class of a regular militia, and thatthey will acquit themselves of this duty by presenting their arms every two months at a review, to be taken by the governor, or by the officer he may appoint for that purpose; but in time of war or disturbance of slaves they ought to assist in defence of the island, agreeable to the disposition that may be taken by the commander-in- chief.
Art. XIV. The ships and vessels belonging to the old and new subjects, of whatever tonnage or build, must be brought to the island and registered there, with a proof of the property, and they will be made Spanish as well as those obtained from foreign nations, by purchase or any other lawful title, till the end of the year 1786, and they will be all exempt from the alien and qualifying duties; and those who may choose to construct vessels in the said island, government will permit them to cut the timbers necessary for that purpose, excepting only such timbers as may be necessary for the use of the royal navy.

Art. XV. The trade and importation of negroes into the island will be entirely free of duties for the space of ten years from the beginning of 1785, after which time the inhabitants and dealers in slaves will only pay five per centum on their current value on importation; but it shall not be lawful for them to transport said negroes from said island to any part of our dominions in the Indies without our royal permission, and a considera- tion of six per centum when thus imported into any ofthem.

Art. XVI. The inhabitants themselves can go (having the governors leave) with their own vessels, or freighted ones, being Spanish, to the islands in friendship with us, or to the neutral ones, to look for slaves, and take with them produce, effects, or any other property sufficient to pay for them, it being registered in the custom-house, and paying five per centum for exportation, which duty shall likewise be paid by the traders who with our permission shall bring slaves to the island, besides that which they will pay on importation of said slaves, from which we exempt the inhabitants, in order to encourage
their cultivation and commerce.

Art. XVII. The course of trade between Spain and the inhabitants of Trinity, and that which they may carry on with such of their produce as is admissible in our islands and American dominions, will be totally free of all duties from the 1st January 1785, for the space of ten years and even at the expiration  of said time they will be likewise exempt of all duties of importation into our kingdom of Spain, agreeable to the rules laid down in our last regulation of free trade; so that they can never be encumbered with any taxes other than such as will be fixed on the products of our other West Indian dominions.

Art. XVIII. In like manner Spanish and foreign goods and merchandize and also the fruits and liquors of this our kingdom, which shall be entered in our custom- house and transported to said island shall go free of all duties for the said term of ten years, and shall be in like manner introduced and expended therein; nor can they be reshipped for any other part of my dominions in the Indies; but in case it should be permitted on any urgent or just occasion, it shall be only such articles as are real Spanish, and on paying such duties as are provided by the regulation of free trade.

Art. XIX. In order to facilitate by every means the trade and population of the island, I permit for the said space of ten years, from the commencement of 1785, that the vessels belonging to the inhabitants of the said island, and likewise to my subjects of Spain, may make voyage to the said island, sailing directly with their cargoes from the ports of France, where my consuls reside, and returning directly to them again with the fruits and productions of the island, excepting cash, which I absolutely prohibit the exportation of through that channel; but with the indispensable obligation that my consul shall take an exact inventory of every thing that is shipped, which he shall deliver signed and sealed to the captain or master of the vessel, to be by him delivered at the custom-house in Trinity, and also with the condition of paying five per centum on the entry of the goods and merchandize, and the like quota on the exportation of the produce they shall ship in return to France, or to any other foreign port; but they must not touch at any Spanish port qualified to trade to the Indies.

Art. XX. Upon any urgent necessity, which may appear to the governor of the island, we grant to all its inhabitants, permission similar to that contained in the fore- going article, to enable them to have recourse to the French islands in the West Indies, under the indispen- sable obligation, that the captains or masters of vessels take exact invoices of their cargoes and deliver them to
the officers of the royal administration, in order to compare them individually with the effects they bring, and exact the same contribution of five per centum on their current value in Trinity.

Art. XXI. In order to furnish my old and new inhabitants amply with what may be necessary for subsistence, industry, and agriculture, we have given effectual orders to the commanders of the province of Caracas, for the purpose of conveying to the island such quan- tities of horned cattle, mules and horses, as may be deemed necessary, at the charge of my royal revenues; and they shall be given to the inhabitants at the first cost and charges, till they can form a breed of them sufficient for their purposes.

Art. XXII. We have made the like provision for a sufficient quantity of flour for the space of ten years, and if through any accident there should happen to be a scarcity of this article on the island, the governor will permit the inhabitants to go to the foreign islands with their own vessel or vessels belonging to my subjects, to purchase as much as may be wanted, carrying for that purpose produce equivalent, and paying five per centum on the exportation thereof, and the same on the importation of the flour.

Art. XXIII. We have likewise ordered to be sent to said island from the manufactories of Biscay, and other parts of Spain, for the said space of ten years, all the instruments and utensils necessary for cultivation, that they may be given to the old and new inhabitants at the first cost; but after the expiration of said ten years, it will be their business to supply themselves; and if during said time, through any cause, there should happen to be a scarcity of said articles and expressing want of them, they shall be permitted to be sent for to the foreign islands in friendship with us, subject to the same regulations provided for flour.

Art. XXIV. We have also directed that two secular andregular priests, of approved learning and exemplary virtue, and well acquainted and versed in the foreign languages, shall go to Trinity to serve as pastors to the new inhabitants that may be there, and we will appoint a competent living for them, to the end that they may support themselves with the decency due to their character, and be no incumbrance to their parishioners.

Art. XXV. We permit the old and new inhabitants to lay before us, through the hands of the governor of the island, the regulations they may think most convenient and proper for the management of their slaves, and to prevent their running away; in the meantime, we have instructed our said governor as to the regulations he is to observe on that head, as well as with respect to a reciprocal restitution of runaway slaves from the foreign islands.

Art. XXVI. We have likewise instructed our said gover- nor to use the utmost diligence that the plague of ants be not introduced into the island; to prevent which all the goods and effects coming from such of the Antilles as have been infested with this vermin, must be  individually inspected; and whereas the inhabitants are the most interested in this point, they shall propose to government two persons of the greatest confidence and activity to examine the vessels, etc., and carefully attend to the performance of this point.

Art. XXVII. When the sugar crops shall become con- siderable or abundant in Trinity, we will grant to the inhabitants the liberty of erecting refining houses in Spain, with all the privileges and exemption of duties which we may have granted to any of our natural born subjects or foreigners who have erected such; and we will likewise permit, at a proper time, the erection of a council board in said island for the advancement and protection of its agriculture, navigation and commerce; with immediate direction to the governor in his particular instructions, and to the other judges, to use humanity, good treatment, and impartial and speedy administration of justice to all the Spanish and foreign inhabitants, and not to trouble or injure them in anyway whatever, which would be very much to my royaldispleasure.

Art. XXVIII. Lastly we grant to the old and new inhabitants of said island when they have motives deserving our royal consideration, liberty to send us their remonstrances through the means of the governor and minister for the universal dispatch of India affairs; and in case the business should be of such a nature as to require a person to solicit it, they shall ask our leave for it, and we will grant it, if their demand is just. And in order that all the articles contained in this regulation-should have their full force, we dispense with all the laws and customs which may be contradictory to them; and we command our council of the Indies, the chancellors and courts of justice thereof, vice-kings, captains and commanders-in-chief, governors and intendants, common justices, the officers of our royal revenues, and our consuls in the ports of France, to keep, comply with, and execute, and cause to be kept, complied with, and executed the regulation inserted in this our royal Schedule.

Done at St. Lorenzo, November 24th 1783, Sealed with our private seal, and subscribed by our under-
written Secretary of State, and also Secretary for the
universal dispatch of India affairs.

We the King. Joseph de Galvez.

Source: P.P. House of Commons, 1826-1827 (428) XXIII,
Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the
subject of Titles to Lands in the Island of Trinidad,
pp. 191-194.

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