124 | From the Board of Trade

    Whitehall June 11th: 1762


    His Majesty’s Counsel at Law appointed for the Service of this Board, having made his Report to Us upon the Acts of the Province of the Massachusets Bay passed in April June & July 1761. We have had them under our Consideration, and as they do for the most part relate to the internal Police and more private œconomical Concerns of the province, nothing material has occurred to Us upon any of them except the Acts which are for incorporating and establishing new Counties & Towns, more particularly those for incorporating the County of Berks and Town of Pitsfield mention’d in your Letter to Us of the 3d. August 1761.504

    We entirely agree with you in Opinion that the great Increase of the House of Representatives, whilst the number of the Council remains fix’d and unalterable, must from the Nature & Form of the Constitution as established by the Charter have very pernicious Consequences and destroy that Ballance which We presume was originally intended to be kept up between the Upper and lower House of Assembly.

    It appears however to Us to be an Evil resulting from the original frame of the Constitution in what regards the Right of the People to choose Representatives laid down in the Charter itself and in the Act of the 4. of Wm. & Mary Cap: 19505 which was founded upon the Charter and has been confirmed by the Crown, and therefore We much doubt the Propriety of any Measures on the part of Government which might have the Effect to restrain the Operation of those fundamental Principles of the Constitution.

    In this View and Consideration of the Question, it seems to Us that the Remedy to the Evil must lye in the Discretion of the constituent Parts of the Government and which We observe with Pleasure have in many Cases where Townships have been divided in the old Settlements given the part set off all the Priviledges of Incorporation, except that of choosing a Representative, all therefore that We can do upon this Occasion is to recommend to you to take Care that in every future Division of a Township by Act of Legislature you do use your best Endeavours, either that the Part set off be so formed as that it will have all the Benefit of Incorporation without being entitled under the Charter or the Act of 1692 to choose a Representative or that if it’s Circumstances be such as that it is absolutely necessary to be incorporated as a Township, that there be the like Clauses of Exception as those We have just mentioned, or that the Inhabitants be directed to join in the Choice of a Representative with those of the Township from which they have been set off.

    As to those Settlements in the Eastern Parts of the Province which from an Increase of Inhabitants506 are become entitled to Incorporation, they have in our Opinion a clear indisputable Right to be represented in Assembly, not only in virtue of the Charter and the Act of 1692 but of those Principles of Reason and Justice which require that they should have some Share in the formation of those Laws by which they are to be bound and governed, and therefore We cannot disapprove of the Act for erecting the Town of Pittsfield, commending however the Caution and Prudence with which you acted in taking Care that the Rights of choosing a Representative should not take Place till His Majesty’s Pleasure might be known upon the Act. We are

    Sir, Your most Obedient humble Servants


    E. Bacon

    Edmond Thomas

    Geo: Rice.

    John Roberts.

    Francis Bernard Esqr Govr: of the Massachusets Bay

    LS, RC BP, 9: 307-314.