Colonial Records – Response to Penn’s Letter

10th Febry, 1697-8.

Att a Councill Held at philad die Jovis, 10th February, 1697-8.  WM. MARKHAM, Esqr., Governor et ysdem ut antea.

Joseph Growdon, Chairman on the Comittee appointed further to peruse the sd Letter & strictlie to inquire into ye Complaints yrin mentioned, & to report the same to the Gor & Council by way of ansr to the said Letter, this day Exhibited to the Gor & Council their report in writing, viz: The Comittee having perused & thoroughly Considered the proprietor’s Letter, Charging the Governor & Council to suppress forbidden trade & piracie; & also the growth of vice & Loossness, & within this governmt, doe Humblie make this Report unto the Governor and Council.

First.  As to the Scotch & dutch trade, wee are not privie yrto nor any of us Concerned therein, but if any such trade has been & escap’t unpuneshet, It may rather be attributed to the Connivance or neglect of those officers appointed by Edward Randolph to inspect those things, or others particularly appointed in that behalf; for wee can say, that the magistrats & Courts of Justice have been ready & diligent upon all occasions to punish, suppress, & Discourage all illegal trade that came to their knowledge.

Second.  As to Imbracing of pirats, &c. Wee know of none that has been entertained here, unless Chinton & Lassell, with some others of Avery’s Crew, that happened for a smal time to sojourn in this place, as they did in some of the neighbouring governments; but as soon as the magistrats in Philadelphia had received but a Copie of the Lords Justice’s proclamation, gott all that were here apprehended, & would have taken the Care & Charge of securing ym, untill a Legall Court had been erected for their trial, or an opportunity had presented to send ym to England; but before that Could be effected, they broke goale & made their escape to New york, where Hues & Crys wer sent after ym,  And as to pirats’ shipps wee know of none Harboured or ever came in here, much Less encouraged by the Gor or people, who as it is well known, are generally sober & industrious, & never advanced yr estates by forbidden trade, piracie, or other ill ways, notwtstanding what is suggested by or enemies to the contrary.

As to the growth of vice, Wee cannot but owne as this place hath growne more populous, & the people increased, Loossnes & vice Hath also Creept in, which wee lament, altho’ endeavours have been used to suppress it by the care & industry of the magistrats from time to time, offenders Having received deserved & exemplary punishments, according to Law.

As to Ordinaries, Wee are of opinion that there are too many in this governmt, especiallie in philadelphia, wch is one great cause of the growth of vice, & makes the same more difficult to be supprest & keept under.

On the whole, Wee being at all times Heartily inclined to show or Loyalty to the King, & readie ovedience unto His Laws, do think it necessarie, & do yrfore make or request to the Gor & Council, that an Ordinance be made, & a proclamaon do forthwith Issue from the Governor & Council, strictly to suppress forbidden trade & pirats, if any shall Happen; and also the growth of vice & Loossnes within this governmt, until some wholsome & severer Laws be made for more effectuall remedy, and the ordinaries or Houses of entertainment be reduced to a Less number, & and that all such as have not alreadie given good securitie for keeping good orders, and discharging the plave according to Law, be speedilie required so to do or otherwise to be suppressed, & for the future that the Justices in the Quarter Sessions in each Countie may have the approbaon, if not the Licensing Ordinarie keepers throughout the government.

The which report being read in Councill, It was put to the vote by the Gor, Whether they approved yrof, & whether they esteemed it to be a proper ansr to the sd Lettr.  It was Caried in the affirmative, N. C.

Then the Gor did Resolve the whole members of Council Into a grand Comittee, to draw up a proclamaon to suppress forbidden trade & unlawll piracie, the growth of vice & Loossnes; & to regulate & reduce the ordinaries, untill severer Laws can be made agt such enormities, & to bring in their report & a draught of a proclamaon to the Gor & Council the 12th instant.

Adjourned to the 12th February, 1698

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