Editorial Introduction

This volume is designed to close part of a gap in the printed records of the government of Massachusetts during the colonial period—specifically, the period from 1689 through 1692. In a sense it is simply continuing a program of printing governmental records that began well over 100 years ago, when Nathaniel Shurtleff published five volumes of Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, which covered the period from 1628 to 1686, when Joseph Dudley became President of the newly created Dominion of New England.

Between 1686 and 1692, the government of Massachusetts went through three phases: (1) the Dominion of New England under Dudley and Sir Edmund Andros; (2) the revolutionary government or “convention” following the arrest of Andros on 18 April 1689; and (3) the return to the charter government under old Governor Simon Bradstreet, which filled the void until Sir William Phips assumed the governorship under the second charter on 14 May 1692.

The records for the Dominion of New England are all “council” records, since the elective assembly that had developed under the old charter had been abolished. These have been published in three sections, as follows:

The Dudley Records, 25 May 1686 to 16 December 1686, are in the Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, 2nd Series, XIII, 226–285. The originals are in Volume II, folios 1–103 of the “Council Records” in the Massachusetts Archives.

The Andros Records, 20 December 1686 to 17 March 1687, are in the American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, N.S., XIII, 239–268. The basic text was a manuscript record owned by the Society, but notes in Volume II, folios 105–116 of the “Council Records” and in the original minutes in the Massachusetts Archives, Volume XXVI, were added to make the text as complete as possible.

The Andros Records, 4 May 1687 to 27 March 1689, are in the American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, N.S., XIII, 463–499. The text used was the same manuscript referred to above. Volume II, folios 117–161 of the “Council Records” covers the same transactions less completely for the period 4 May 1687 to 29 December 1687, but does not contain the latter portion.

For the period after 1692 there are two series of legislative records:

(1) the “Court Records,” Volumes VI–LXVIII (1692–1833), containing legislative actions of both the House of Representatives and the Council; and (2) the “Council Records,” containing the Executive Minutes of the Council, which are continuous to the present day. The House began to print its Journals in 1715, with momentous consequences to its own importance and to its ability to embarrass royal governors. No single library possesses a complete set of the original printed editions. In 1919 the Massachusetts Historical Society began reprinting the House Journals in a series that was completed to April 1777 in 1986. This reprint makes it unnecessary to publish the “Court Records” after 1715, but the history of the years from 1692 to 1715 will continue legislatively obscure as long as Volumes VI–IX in the Massachusetts Archives remain unprinted.

It should be mentioned, however, that for the period 1692–1780 Abner Cheyney Goodell printed much pertinent material from the “Court Records” as part of the editorial apparatus in his Acts and Resolves of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, 1692–1780 (21 volumes, 1869–1922). Volumes I–VI include all the Acts for the entire period, and Volume VIII, the last to be completed before the Massachusetts General Court halted Goodell’s project as too expensive, contains the Resolves through 1707. For the remaining thirteen volumes of Resolves, Goodell’s successor simply gave marginal references to the “Court Records.” As notes to the Acts and Resolves, the excerpts from the “Court Records” included by Goodell, which also contained material from official British sources, are of very great value; it is unfortunate that the Massachusetts General Court did not have enough vision to allow him to complete the work as he had begun it.

Finally, Albert Stillman Batchellor, in Laws of New Hampshire, Volume I (Manchester, N.H., 1904), used the “Court Records” for the period 1689–1692 to make a compilation in the form of legislative acts, giving each item a separate number and tide on the model in the Acts and Resolves of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay. His logic was that during most of that period New Hampshire was under the government of Massachusetts.

As can be seen from the foregoing account, the most important Massachusetts governmental records are in print for the period from 1629 to 1689 and for the period after 1715. There still remains the gap in the printed records for the period 1689–1715. For many years both the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts have been aware of this gap and have sought to develop programs that would fill it. This volume makes a start at developing such a program by closing the gap for the period 1689–1692.

The volume is divided into two major parts: first, the basic governmental records of Massachusetts for the period 1689–1692, supplemented by appropriate documents to fill out the account; and second, selections of British documents focusing on the long struggle to determine what kind of government for Massachusetts should replace that of the now failed Dominion of New England. The basic record for Massachusetts during this period is to be found in Volume VI of the “Court Records” in the Massachusetts Archives. This is not a contemporary manuscript but an attested copy made under the direction of Secretary Josiah Willard in 1746. In addition, there are scattered contemporary entries of proceedings of the “Convention” and of sessions of the subsequent Council and House of Representatives in other volumes of the Massachusetts Archives. Folios 1–88 and 135–139 in Volume LXXXI, entitled “Council Minutes,” contain records of the “Convention” from 3 July 1689 to 11 October 1689 that are more complete than the entries in Volume VI of the “Court Records.” In addition, Folios 89–134 contain “Deputies Records” for the period 16 June 1690 to 6 May 1692, some of which are more complete and more formal than the entries in the official series. Volume CVII, entitled “Revolution,” is a scrapbook volume of letters, documents, and, important for our purposes, separate papers upon which the Clerk of the House or of the Magistrates, as the case may be, indicated the action of the appropriate body. All of the supplementary records have been compared with the basic record, and where they added items of business not previously included, they have been inserted in their proper chronological places. In order to distinguish this supplementary material from the main text, it is printed in italics. All insertions are complete documents. Not to have included these items would have deprived the record of material of importance to students of legislative proceedings.

It would have been ideal to have printed all the related documents, petitions, commissions, reports, and correspondence, but such a procedure would have expanded this work far beyond the capabilities, both editorial and financial, of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. These documents that have been preserved in the Massachusetts Archives can easily be found by reference to either names or dates in the available catalogues. A great many of those that refer to the war with the French and Indians are in print in the Documentary History of Maine (24 volumes, Portland, 1869–1916), especially volumes V, VI, and IX. There is also relevant material in Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York (15 volumes, Albany, 1853–1887). Other important related material in print can be found in W. H. Whitmore, The Andros Tracts (3 volumes, Boston, 1868–1874) and in Robert N. Toppan and Alfred T. S. Goodrick, Edward Randolph, including his letters and official papers (7 volumes, Boston, 1898–1909).

Even though it has not been possible to include all the relevant supplementary material in this volume, there are some items of such significance to the history of Massachusetts during this three-year period that they have been included as a supplement to the basic record. This supplement contains the returns of various Massachusetts towns to the Council of Safety in May, 1689, letters from the Governor and Council to a variety of correspondents in 1689 and 1690, correspondence of leading figures in 1689 and 1690, and petitions to the King from such groups as the town of Charlestown, the Boston Members of the Church of England, the Inhabitants of “Boston and Adjacent Places,” and the inhabitants of Maine—most of those in 1690. These supplementary documents supply, in effect, another dimension to the basic record.

As the Massachusetts documents described above will demonstrate, during the period 1689–1692 the people of the Bay Colony were struggling to determine what kind of government should replace the failed Dominion of New England. Should they return to the form of government that had existed under the old charter, should they establish a modified form of that government, or should they accept much stricter British control? The struggle in Massachusetts, however, was only half the story. While that struggle was going on, an equally important struggle was taking place in England, where the new government of William III was wrestling with the problem of how to govern not only Massachusetts but colonies in general. Indeed the debates in England were, if anything, the more important of the two, for, unless one were to anticipate the American Revolution by almost a century, the decision reached in England would determine the form of government for Massachusetts for years to come. Thus, for a balanced presentation of the Glorious Revolution in Massachusetts, it is essential to give the English side of the story as well. The second part of this volume is, therefore, devoted to selected documents illustrative of the struggle in England.

This part of the volume includes the relevant excerpts from the Journals and Minutes of the Lords of Trade and Plantations, Orders in Council, extracts from the diaries of Increase Mather and Samuel Sewall, both of whom were in England at that time, selections from the correspondence of Mather, Sewall, and Elisha Cooke, who was also in England, acting as an agent of Massachusetts, and material from the papers of William Blathwayt, the English civil servant most opposed to the restoration of the Massachusetts charter so much desired by Mather and company. These include substantial information on the drafting of what became the second charter of 1691, including early drafts, the presentation of arguments for and against the proposed new charter, and progress reports from its agents to the colony of Massachusetts Bay. In the course of the deliberations Samuel Allen presented a number of petitions claiming his rights to the land of New Hampshire—petitions which may have influenced the British government in their final decision to separate New Hampshire from Massachusetts. In like manner petitions were presented by members of the Gorges family seeking to regain their holdings in Maine, a project that eventually proved unsuccessful. This section closes with the final draft of the charter of 1691. And so it was that the problem of the form of government for Massachusetts in the future was determined in England rather than in New England. And the documents detailing the story of how this final decision was reached make the story of these eventful three years complete.

Editorial Procedure

The documents in the first part of this volume—the basic account of the Massachusetts government from 1689 to 1692—were transcribed and edited by the late Robert E. Moody; the supplementary Massachusetts material and the English documents, by Richard C. Simmons. While the two editors were in general agreement on editorial procedures, there are some variations in the way each presented his material. For example, in presenting the English documents, Richard Simmons calendared a number of them, rather than printing the whole item. But generally the two editors have followed the same editorial procedure.

The original capitalization and punctuation have been retained. Periods have been supplied when missing at the ends of sentences, and the first word of a new sentence has been capitalized. Slant lines and double periods have been made into single periods or omitted.

Contractions and abbreviations have been handled differently by the two editors. In general Richard Simmons has expanded these, while Robert Moody left them as written.

Dates have uniformly been placed at the top of the page, usually at the left-hand side. Those supplied by the editors have been enclosed within square brackets.

There is much more variation between the two editors’ use of footnotes. Robert Moody’s notes are sporadic. At one point he said he thought his material needed little footnoting. But the chances are that, had he lived, he might well have added more. We have chosen to leave his footnotes as they stand, with a few exceptions, rather than attempt to footnote the material ourselves.

Richard Simmons’s notes are much fuller, particularly when it comes to identifying people in the text, and his headnotes are also full.

In short, the reader must not expect complete consistency of editorial procedure throughout the volume, but we believe that each of the two parts is consistent in itself.


As with any enterprise of this kind we are grateful to a large number of institutions and individuals who have helped us on our way. The staffs of the following institutions have contributed importantly to our work: The Massachusetts Historical Society, the Massachusetts Archives, the American Antiquarian Society, the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Boston Public Library, Colonial Williamsburg, the Public Record Office in London, Dr. Williams’s Library in London, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the Leicestershire County Record Office. We are grateful to these same institutions for permission to publish documents in their collections.

Individuals to whom we owe much include Professor Michael G. Hall, of the University of Texas at Austin, for helpful advice and especially for permission to utilize his transcripts of the Increase Mather Diaries; Professor Richard R. Johnson of the University of Washington for useful counsel on a number of points; Malcom Freiberg of the Massachusetts Historical Society for countless generous acts of assistance; Ross Urquhart of the Massachusetts Historical Society for yeoman’s service in tracking down illustrations; Robert V. Sparks, formerly of the Massachusetts Historical Society, who worked on the Moody manuscript after Robert Moody’s death; John W. Tyler, Assistant Editor of Publications at the Colonial Society, who proved to be a master proof-reader; and Eleanor W. Moody, Robert Moody’s widow, who has supplied both information and encouragement unstintingly throughout this whole project.