98 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Ap. 12. 1762.

    My Lords

    I have before me the Acts of the general Court of this Province which passed the last Session432 & shall trouble your Lordships with my observations on such as seem to require particular Notice.

    Act to incorporate the Society for propagating Christian Knowledge among the Indians of North America.433

    The Profest Design of this Act would have made it Very difficult for me to have refused my consent to it if it had been more exceptionable than it really is. But I had no other exception than that it afforded a Caution that if all Incorporations were done by Acts of Assembly, it would tend, in time, to a prescription against the Kings right to Grant Charters of incorporation. The Danger is not at hand at present; as this is the second Act of the kind ever known; An Act for incorporating the Marine Society being the first.434 I don’t reckon within this Rule of the Acts for enabling parishes to put out Trust Money for their Church &c (which are frequent) because they are private, for a particular purpose, & contain no greater powers than parishes have by general Law. But It seems to me that before another Act of this kind is tender’d, It would be proper to provide for the support of the Kings right to incorporate by Charter: especially as this right has been denied, by some people both in the agitation of this business & upon another occasion: which was as follows.

    Some Gentlemen at the Western Extremity of this Province projected a scheme for founding a College; and brought in a Bill for that purpose which passed the House & was rejected by the Council.435 The reasons given by the Council for rejecting it were that the College was to be vested with University powers: that the province could not support two Universities; they would interfere with one another. The Gentlemen then applied to me for a Charter under the Province Seal: & they agreing to drop the powers excepted to, I ordered a Charter to be made out; which giving no other powers but to hold lands & Money & sue & be sued, I thought must be unexceptionable. Nevertheless this would not do: a great Cry was made against this Charter upon two points; that it would be detrimental to the old College; that it would be injurious to the rights of the people. I had given so many proofs of my regard for the old College, that there was no pretence to suspect me of the design to hurt it; and there was as little room to presume an injury to the rights of the people: for As the granting Charters is a right belonging to the Kings Seal, & the Charter of the province is entirely silent about it, it is certainly belongs to the Kings Seal within this province in the Same Manner as it does in other royal Provinces.

    Nevertheless as the prosecution of this affair was no ways an intrest of my office & it might have impeded affairs of greater consequence, I put a stop to the Charter, still insisting on the Kings right of granting Charters, tho’ I did not think proper to persist in perfecting this particular one: Upon which the whole Dispute immediately subsided. It however persuaded me, that it would be necessary to guard against the Kings right being impeached by an usage of granting incorporations by Act only: which I humbly submit to your Lordships consideration.

    An Act in addition to an Act &c for ascertaining the rates of coined gold & silver &c.436

    This Act may seem unnecessary, as the former Act by ascertaining the rates of particular pieces of gold & silver Coin must be supposed by implication to make them a tender. But this was very necessary to quiet the disputes in the Province arising from the carrying away dollars to be transmitted to England, being the best specie for that purpose. If, as some contended, Dollars only was the standard of lawful money, gold would have depreciated: but if the standard of lawful Money was founded only on a proportion to sterling as 4:3, as seems evident to me both from Queen Ann’s Act437 & the above recited Act, then the demand for silver would not depreciate gold. This Act has had all the good effects expected from it. It has quieted all the disputes about particular coins, & has fixed the standard of lawfull money by a proportion with sterling, & is, in my opinion not a New Law but only declaratory of an old one, whose meaning seemed to be plain enough before, tho’ it might not be free from the doubts of legal interpreters.

    An Act for securing the possessions of the Province treasurers Notes &c.438

    This Act was occasioned by a discovery of divers forgeries of the Treasurers Notes, which were indeed too little guarded against such frauds. By this Act there are so many Checks contrived for the New Notes, as render the counterfeiting them almost impracticable. Another Advantage from this Act will be that the outstanding Notes of the treasury will be quite ascertained & the whole of the forgeries discovered within a certain time. But this is not all: the former treasurers Notes were payable only in dollars or silver at 6s. 8d. an ounce (near 3d. less than dollar silver). As Dollars were leaving the province & silver, allready undervalued ^in comparison with dollars^, advancing in real Value greatly above the rate of dollars, the province would have suffered Very much if it had been obliged to make its payments in the tenor of its bills. It was therefore a Very timely prudence to change the tenor of the bills & make them payable in gold & silver indiscriminately. The Credit of the Treasurers Notes (which is above par) made this Very practicable; and now there is no distinction between Silver notes & Gold & silver Notes; no more than there is between gold & silver money.

    The following Acts439 for supplying the Treasury differ only from others preceding them in the regulations before-mentioned. But I must not omitt observing to your Lordship the extraordinary Credit & good State of the Finances of this province. Besides the advantage of a gold & silver currency, in which it is allmost singular on this Continent & in which the treasurers Notes, the only government Securities, bear little or no part, All the Debts of the province are provided to be sunk in June 1765: tho’ indeed it will be necessary, to alleviate the burthens of the years ^immediately^ ensuing, by postpone ^providing for^ some part of the payments by allocations at a year or two further distant: even supposing that the extraordinary expences of the war should end with this Year.

    As the next Session will be Very short, The Acts of it will probably accompany this;440 as no proper Vessel for the conveyance of this at present offers.

    I am, with great respect,

    My Lords, Your Lordships Most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    To the Right Honble The Lords of Trade &c

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, ff 70-72.

    The forgeries to which FB refers may concern the activities of Joshua Howe and “Dr.” Seth Hudson, who were jailed in Oct. 1761 having counterfeited £800 worth of Treasurer’s notes. Their trial before the Superior Court on 1 Mar. attracted a large crowd and much public interest; sentenced for a number of offences, their punishments were the pillory, whipping, fines, and a year’s imprisonment. Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial America (New York, 1957), 222-223. A counterfeiter of Connecticut bills—“one of a Confederacy”—was jailed in Boston in Jun. 1762. FB to Thomas Fitch, Boston, 23 Jun. 1762, BP, 2: 161.