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of our patriots have suggested for ef- it may be thought to require and defecting what they have so greatly de- serve. sired, the colonization of Africa, in the Your memorialists further request, manner proposed, presents the fairest that the subscribers to the American prospects of success. But if it be ad- Colonization Society may be incorpomitted to be ever so doubtful whether rated, by an act of Congress, to enable this happy result shall be the reward them to act with more efficiency in care of our exertions, yet, if great and cer- rying on the great and important obtain benefits immediately attend them, jects of the Society, and to enable why may not others, still greater, fol- them, with more economy, to manage low them?
the benevolent contributions intrusted In a work evidently progressive,who to their care. shall assign limits to the good that zeal John MASON, and perseverance shall be permitted to W. JONES,
Committee. accomplish? Your memorialists beg
E. B. CaldweLL) leave to state, that having expended F. S. KEY, considerable funds in prosecuting their inquiries and making preparations, Washington, Feb. 1, 1820. they are now about to send out a colony, and complete the purchase already stipulated for with the native kings and chiefs of Sherbro, of a suitable ter
REPORT ritory for their establishment. The number they are now enabled to trans- On the Constitution of the Royal Burghs port and provide for is but a small
of Scotland. proportion of the people of colour who have expressed their desire to go ; and, The Select Committee, to whom without a larger and more sudden in- the several petitions which have been crease of their funds than can be ex- presented to this House from the pected from the voluntary contribu- Royal Burghs of Scotland, during the tions of individuals, their progress must years 1818, 1819, and 1820, were rebe slow and uncertain. They have al. ferred, to examine the matters thereways flattered themselves with the of, and to report their observations and hope, that when it was seen they had opinions thereupon to the House ; and surmounted the difficulties of prepara- to whom the reports which, upon the tion, and shewn that means applied to 17th day of June, 1793, and the 12th the execution of their design would day of July, 1819, were made from the lead directly and evidently to its ac- Committees appointed to examine the complishment, they would be enabled matters of the several petitions from to obtain for it the national counte- the Royal Burghs of Scotland, were nance and assistance. To this point also referred, have considered the said they have arrived ; and they therefore petitions, and have agreed upon the respectfully request, that this interest- following Report :ing subject may receive the considera- Your Committee, in offering the retion of your honourable body, and sult of its labours, feels it necessary to that the executive department may be bespeak the indulgence of the House, authorized, in soch way as may meet for the limited progress it has made in your approbation, to extend to this the inquiry intrusted to its charge ; object such pecuniary and other aid as and such indulgence will, perhaps, appear but reasonable, when the House pences of their journey, and of their shall advert to the peculiar circum. residence in London, (which is all stances'under which your Committee your Committee have thought them. was appointed, and has continued to selves warranted to allow,) affords but sit, during the present Session. a very inadequate compensation.
Your Committee was appointed on Under this impression, your Comthe 4th of May; since which time the mittee have proceeded chiefly by the press of public business has been al help of documentary evidence ; but most unprecedented in amount, in im- feel it due to the petitioners, whose alportance, and peculiarity of interest. legations they have been appointed to Numerous other committees, of local examine, as well as to the House, as well as of general importance, have which has devolved to them an imoccasionally called its members to other portant trust, to state here the two inquiries, who have, besides, been sub- following material considerations :ject to their full share of the imperious Ist, That the documentary evidence claims upon their time, and attendance obtained is necessarily made up by the on the committees relative to matters very official persons whose conduct the of election.
petitioners arraign ; and, 2dly, That Your Committee being early im. such evidence is made up from records pressed with the impossibility of ex. under the exclusive inspection and cootending its inquiries, by oral testimony, trol of the same official persons. into the minute detail of all the sixty- From these documents, however, it six Royal Burghs of Scotland, in re- will appear, that the allegations of ference to the various matters com- fact, made by the petitioners, are very plained of by the petitioners, with any generally and substantially true; whilst prospect of concluding such inquiry the allegations of inference may excite within a moderate period of time, have considerable diversity of opinion. adopted the classification of the alle. Thus, with reference to the allegagations of the petitioners, detailed un- tion of the mode of forming and con. der eight separate heads of complaint, tinuing the councils of the burghs, the in the Report of last year, as their mere fact, that these councils do geneguide in conducting their present rally possess and exercise the powers course of investigation ; subject, how- vested in them by existing laws, of ever, to such occasional deviation as self-election and self-continuance, (apcircumstances, disclosed in the pro- plying these terms to the bodies corgress of their inquiry, or arising from porate, and not to the individual memsome inherent peculiarity of case, bers) admits of no doubt; but the al. might point out.
legation of inference, that to this cause Your Committee have been confirm. is to be attributed mismanagement and ed in this arrangement, and in their abuse, when they exist, is indeed matadoption of documentary, in preference ter of opinion, and can be best ascerto oral testimony, by observing the ex- tained by patient and minute investigatreme inconvenience to which the wit- tion. nesses summoned to give evidence from The same persons are indeed gene. a distance of from 400 to 600 miles, rally found to compose the council of are necessarily subjected, besides the a burgb for a series of years, with loss of their time, and interruption to merely such partial change of official their professional employments ; for station as the set of the burgh or conwhich, the mere payment of the ex. venience of the ruling party may require ; until the adverse party gains is manifest, from the documents before the ascendancy, when a similar system your Committee ; as also the frequent of self-formation and self-election in expenditure beyond income, and in sethe body of the council continues, veral instances the accumulation of until again displaced by a similar debt. But the inference drawn by the cause ; however the persons or parties petitioners, that these things result may change, the system continues the from the mode of forming and consame. And it is here most essential to tinuing the councils, is a point on remark, that in many burghs it con- which the Committee, not having fulstantly happens, (and in all of them it ly considered it, have forborne to demay happen) that persons not quali- cide. fied to be chosen into the council of a Under these circumstances, your burgh are so chosen ; and yet there Committee have thought it would be seems much reason to doubt, whether most satisfactory to its own Members such unqualified persons, after being as well as to the House, to include in there sixty days, can be displaced by their Report, not only the evidence, any proceedings of law, but such as but also the several distinct resolutions are so tedious and expensive, that they it has come to in reference to these are never likely to be resorted to. matters ; and to express their hope,
Indeed, a recent case of this abuse that if the House shall think proper to has been stated, in a letter addressed appoint the same or another Committo the Chairman of the Committee, tee upon this subject, in the next Seswhich is given in the Appendix rela- sion of Parliament, this and the retive to Kirkcudbright. In that burgh, maining allegations of the petitioners a person avowedly not qualified by the may undergo a full and adequate conset (or constitution of the Burgh) to sideration. sit there, was lately elected into Coun- Your Committee cannot omit to no. cil; an action was brought to displace tice in their Report the evidence subhim in the Court of Session. But the joined relative to the burgh of Cupar. judgment pronounced in that Court An inquiry into the particulars of this was in substance to this effect, that a Burgh" was instituted, and witnesses person who could not legally be elect- summoned, in consequence of a specific ed into council, having obtained ad- allegation of the petition from thence, mission there, and the illegality of his That seats in the council of that etection remaining unchallenged for burgh had frequently been bought and the space of sixty days, such person sold: and that the system of alternate is not removable by the ordinary election and re-election between indicourse of law.
viduals, by bargain, in continual sucAnother case of a different descrip- cession to each other, prevailed there, tion has lately occurred, as appears among the merchant-councillors, as a from the evidence of Mr Kennedy, a constant and uniform practice. member of the Committee, in which Your Committee lament to report, it was held, that an idiot knowingly that the evidence has fully confirmed appointed to the office of town-clerk this allegation ; that these proceedings, by the magistrates of a royal burgh, so gross and iniquitous in their nawas not removable at their suit. ture, and so injurious in their effects,
Again, the fact of large alienations have been fully established ; nay, even of property from most of the burghs admitted to be true by the very persons
themselves who took part in them, and Your Committee cannot conclude who were in fact the principal delin. their notice of the evidence, without quents.
calling to the attention of the House The evidence relative to other mat- the very extraordinary facts disclosed ters in this burgh is indeed somewhat by Colonel Francis William Grant, a contradictory. But your Committee Member of the House. conceive, that some of the ill effects of It appears that Colonel Grant was these bad practices are too apparent Provost of the Burgh of Elgin, dufrom the evidence to admit of any ring the years 1816, 1817, and 1818; doubt.
also Provost of Forres, during two of It appears that Mr Fergusson was these same years, 1816 and 1817; and in the council of Cupar eighteen suc- also in the council of the burgh of cessive years, of which he was, during Nairn, from the year 1812 to the preten, successively Provost ;—that arti sent time, inclusive. fice has been resorted to, successfully, It is required by the sets of three to prevent a fair and just exposition of out of the four burghs, of which Co. the pecuniary accounts of the burgh; lonel Grant was in council at the that persons not resident are frequently same time, that the members of coudchosen into council, who rarely attend cil should be merchants or traffickers council-meetings, except on the day of within the respective burgh. It must the annual election ;-ihat the audit of be superfluous for the Committee to the accounts of the burgh expenditure observe, that these four burghs are so have not been regular, but have been far distant from each other, as to renoccasionally delayed for several years. der the observance of this provision of
Your Committee, however, deem it the sets of three of them wholly inof no great consequence to unravel compatible with the facts detailed in and appreciate the contradictions of evidence. the witnesses in the case of Cupar. Whatever degree of culpable irreThe proof, or rather the admission of gularity these disclosures may exbibit, the sale of seats in the council, and your Committee are inclined to impute bargains between individuals, of alter- its existence rather to the defects of nate election and re-election, exhibit the system, as exhibited within these such a corrupt and improper practice four burghs, and to the disregard to in the formation and maintenance of the strict terms of the sets, so prevathe council, as to make the subse- lent in many of the royal burghs, than quent conduct of that body, in refer- to any particular culpability in the inence to the objects of this inquiry, a dividual here concerned. matter of minor importance. Whether The Resolutions of your Committhe evils which have resulted from such tee, alluded to in the former part of proceedings be more or less, may in. this Report, are as follow :deed admit of some dispute ; but there Resolved,- That the Committee will seems little doubt, that the system un- examine, in the first place, into the alder which such evil practices have legations of the petitioners, as to the grown up and become matured into system of self-election. activity, and under which no adequate Resolved,—That it appears to the remedy is to be found for such evils, Committee, that the mode of election when detected, must be in some ma- of the town-councils in nearly all the terial points either unsound in princi. Scottish burghs, is founded on the ple or defective in operation.
general principle recognized by the
Act 1469, c. 30, viz. That the old burgh, or over the sale of the common council shall choose the new council, good or property of the burgh; nor restricted, however, in its application any power of preventing the magistrates by the set or constitution of each and council from contracting debts for burgh, both in respect to the prepara, which the common good is liable. tion of the old council eligible to re- Resolved, -That it is alleged by elections, and in the latitude allowed most of the petitioners, that the comto the old council in selecting the munity are liable in their property and members of the new.
persons for debts contracted by their Thus, the sets of some burghs, as magistrates ; but the Committee have Renfrew and Lanark, admit of the not been able to ascertain whether annual re-election of all the members such allegations are founded in law or of the old council to seats in the new. not, the Committee not having found Those of the greater number of burghs any decision of any court upon the limit the number of old councillors, subject. who may be re-elected; but at the Řesolved,—That it is the opinion of same time require or admit of a ma- this Committee, that the burgesses jority of the old council being conti- and corporations have no power to nued in the new; while the sets of compel their magistrates and council some others require, that the majority to account for the management of the of the new council shall be different revenues and funds under their charge. persons; and in a few instances, to Resolved,-- That in the opinion of such an extent, as almost entirely to this Committee, it has been clearly destroy the effect of the principle of proved in two instances, about ten or the Act 1469.
fifteen years ago, that seats in the The sets of many burghs leave the council of Cupar have been sold ; and nomination of the new members of from the evidence before the Committhe new council entirely to the old tee, there is reason to believe that secouncil. According to those of others, veral other instances have occurred, the old council must select a portion the last of which took place six years of the new, from lists furnished by ago. the several corporations ; or furnish Resolved,- That, in the opinion of lists from which the corporations this Committee, the practice prevails themselves elect ; or must shorten generally in the burgh of Cupar, for lists furnished by the corporations, each of the thirteen merchants' counwho finally elect from these reduced cillors to have what is called neighbour lists. And, in a few instances, the cor- councillors, who alternately elect and porations have the direct nomination re-elect each other by individual choice, of a certain number of the members of which, as a point of honour, continues the new council.
during the lives of the parties ; and, Resolved,—That the allegation of in many cases, this agreement of alterthe old council choosing the new, urged nate election has extended, in case of by the petitioners to prevail in the death, to the sons or nearest relations town-council, does appear to the Come of the deceased neighbour councillor. mittee to be generally warranted by Resolved,—That it does appear, the law and the practice of the burghs. from the Report of the Committee
Resolved,—That it is the opinion of last year, and the evidence then taken, this Committee, that the burgesses not that a waste and mismanagement of incorporated have no control over the charitable funds, placed in the hands expenditure of the revenues of the of the magistrates as ex-officio trus