[London. 1780]. Five documents, totaling pp. Large folio sheets, folded into four panels, with docketing information on verso of final leaf. Minor soiling. Near fine. In a blue half morocco and cloth box. Item #WRCAM44929
Court documents relating to the appeal case of the Massachusetts ship Nicholas, captained by Nathaniel Atkins, which was seized by the British while in port in Halifax in January 1776. Following the opening shots of the Revolutionary War, in April 1775, King George III passed an act prohibiting "all manner of trade and commerce" with the American colonies while they were in a state of open rebellion. The act further stated that any ship belonging to the colonies, with their cargoes, "which shall be found trading in any port or place in the said colonies, or going to trade or coming from trading in any such port or place," shall be subject to seizure.
The Nicholas set sail in December 1774, prior to open rebellion, sailing to England and Europe, and finally back to Halifax a year later. She left England with all the proper paperwork in place in October 1775, arriving in Halifax in January 1776. The Nova Scotia authorities adjudged in May 1776 that the ship was subject to confiscation, and these documents comprise the appeal made before the Lords Commissioners of Appeals for Prize Cases. The defendant's case argues that since the ship did not sail from an American port, or to an American port, on the final leg of her journey, she should not be subject to seizure by the government. The documents arguing both sides of the case are present here, as is a document detailing the instructions under which the British captain, Samuel Graves, acted.
Such documents are relatively scarce, with only four locations noted by ESTC for any of these five items: British Library, British National Archives, Harvard Law, and the John Carter Brown Library. An interesting piece of Revolutionary Americana. ESTC T6759-T6763.