British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

crisis presented itself wherein their repeated returns of a disaffected alien as a member for the Court of Policy must either be directly approved of--or a measure resorted to that appeared to be the anxious desire of the respectable inhabitants (this alternative I earnestly hope your Lordship will approve) by my directing a new election and permitting an alteration in the qualification of votes for Keizers until His Royal Highness's pleasure should be known.

The general sense of the proprietors and inhabitants has been fully ascertained by the suffrages of persons possessed of the value of twenty-five negroes and upwards, the ballots being one thousand and nine--of which six hundred and sixty-five were for the members now returned and only one of the former college re-elected.

I beg leave to submit to your Lordship my address to the respective Courts wherein I have referred them to the General Instructions received by me from my predecessor.

From these documents I could not form any guide or precedent and Mr. Vanberckel the Fiscal and only Crown lawyer was averse to any change of the ancient system.

I therefore acted with diffidence, unacquainted with the Dutch laws and constitution, pursuing those measures that appeared to me to make the most direct approach to the object in view and beneficial to the colony.

Your Lordship will I trust perceive that I have studiously avoided every appearance of partiality or improper national prejudice. I am however very apprehensive that there has been a jealousy too prevalent for some time to be suddenly removed.

Whilst I have the honour to remain in this important trust I shall anxiously look for your Lordship's instructions, which shall be implicitly obeyed. . . .


15
BRITISH GUIANA: MINUTE BY JAMES STEPHEN FOR ROBERT WILMOT HORTON, 5 December 18261

. . . In the year 1812, General Carmichael thought proper to issue a Proclamation by which he entirely changed the Constitution of the College of Keysers.2This revolution seems to have been no less in

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1
C.O. 111/58. James Stephen the younger was permanent law officer to the Colonial Office at the time. In 1834 he became Assistant Under-Secretary and in 1836 Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and, as 'Mr. Mother-country', continued Bathurst's reforms of the Colonial Office. Robert Wilmot Horton became Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies in place of Henry Goulburn. He resigned with Huskisson in 1827 and became Governor of Ceylon in 1831.
1

Carmichael had been instructed to correct abuses, but to make no material change in the system of government. In his efforts to 'assimilate' it to the British pattern he, in effect,produced a new constitution. Under the old Dutch system there had been a College of Electors or Kiezers, for each province, consisting of seven persons, chosen (for life) by the larger landowners. The Kiezers nominated

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