Extract from a letter from Nelson to Lord Sydney, Secretary of State, dated 20 March 1785
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Catalogue reference: CO 152/64
has so much hurt the feelings of the people in general from the highest to the lowest, that they have not only neglected paying me that Attention my Rank might have made me expect - but reprobated my Character by saying that I am the injurer of this Colony, and that the Minister never intended to hinder the Americans from coming into our ports with any trifling excuse, only that the Trade was not be laid free from all restraint, this did not appear to Me, to be the Meaning of His Majestys proclamation, or any thing tending that way – consequently I have ever excluded all Vessels belonging to the United States, from a free intercourse with our Colonies, where the Ship under my command has been stationed. But although these Foreigners have been order’d away not being in any distress. Yet My Lord astonishing to tell these Vessels have almost always gone into some port in this Island or Nevis and unladed their Cargoes, what reasons they give to the Officers of the Revenue I know not, but almost uniformly are their reasons admitted to be good – at Times the Kings Ship is oblig’d to sail to the Neighbouring Islands to procure wood water and provisions constantly when I return’d, have I been inform’d from good authority that the Americans have had free egress and regress to our ports. (and one circumstance I must relate as a proof - Once I left three Vessels from Nova Scotia in Basseterre Road. I was absent three Weeks. and when I return’d I found those vessel with their Cargoes on board although 10 Sail of Americans had in that time deliver’d Cargoes and sail’d, upon enquiring the reason of this extraordinary circumstance was told - that the people said to the English You may lay as long as you please but if the Man of War comes she will turn away the Foreigner.) The Custom House do not admit them to entry-only the Master makes protest (and what they say they are ready to swear too) that the vessel Leakes.have Sprung a Mast.or some excuse of that sort. Then the Customs grants them a permit to land a part or whole of their Cargoes to pay Expenses under which permit are innumerable Cargoes landed could the Number of the permits be found out which I fear cannot your Lordship would be astonish’d.
The Customs have refus’d to give answers to the King’s Officers if I send for information - they Answer me they do not know any right I have to ask, and that they are not amenable to Me for their Conduct; - Yesterday an American Brig came into Port said by the Master to be in distress. I told him he could not have any communication with the Shore until I had order’d a survey upon his Vessel - people from the Shore had Spoke to him from boats and he had told them his distress - Now My Lord let my heart Speak for Me, it was disperced all over the Island, for my information came from Sandy Point the extremity of it-that as soon as it was dark I intended’d to turn him out of Port, and that he would certainly Sink before Morning, there only wanted this report.to represent Me both Cruel and unjust - and extraordinary to tell the Account was believ’d by great part of the Island. This as the Honor of My Gracious King and of my Country was a Stake has made me take the liberty of addressing myself to Your Lordship – for so far from treating the Man Cruelly - I sent an officer a Carpenter and Men to take care of his Vessel, which they did by pumping her all Night, and in the Morning carried her into a Safe harbour- My Name most probably is unknown to Your Lordship but My character as a Man will I trust bear the strictest investigation - therefore I take the liberty of finding inclos’d a letter, though written some few Years ago which I hope will impress Your Lordship with a favourable opinion. I stand for Myself - no great Connections to support Me if inclin’d to fall - therefore My good Name as a Man an Officer and an EnglishMan I must be careful of. My greatest Pride is to discharge my duty faithfully and My greatest Ambition to receive approbation for my conduct. I have the Honor to Remain my Lord. Your Lordships Most Faithful Obedient Humble Servant