176 | To John Pownall


    Boston Dec: 1 1762


    Since I wrote to you in March657 last desiring you would introduce to their Lordships the subject of a grant of the General Court of this Province to me of the Island of Mount desart, I have been informed658 that659 there is like to be difficulties occur as to the recommending it for his Majesty’s approbation. The Objection apprehended is that the Charter of King William is not valid as to the lands between the Rivers Penobscot & St Croix because He was not possessed of those lands at the time of making the Grant.

    It is unlucky for me that this Objection has not been started before: if it had, I am inclined to think that this Difficulty would not now have stood in my way. As it is, If their Lordships should think there is Weight enough in it to require a public Disquisition, I must be content to wait till it can be brought on in other instances than my own. I can neither dispute with the Crown nor take upon me the defence of the Province for which reasons I could wish that some means could be devised to extricate my business from this difficulty.

    For this purpose I enclose a Memorial, with a desire, that you would lay it before their Lordships at such time & in such manner as you shall think most proper. I also send with it short reasons to obviate the Objection before mentioned, by application of historical facts to it, together with the proofs of such facts, as are therein alleged. If these reasons should be sufficient to induce their Lordships to waive this objection, at least in my instance, I shall have no further request to make. But if their Lordships shall not think these reasons conclusive, I must then intreat their further favor to recommend me for a grant of this Island in such other manner as they shall think proper.

    In the memorial I suggest no other pretensions previous to the grant, than what were the considerations upon which the Assembly acted: but if I could with propriety enter into other particulars of Œconomy, their Lordships would be convinced that without some such beneficialty as this, there is little more to be expected from this Government than a bare subsistance.

    I mention in the memorial my intention by examining the lands & making experiments thereon to make them most beneficial to the Mother Country. Least these should be taken for words of course, I will mention two things, both greatly wanted in this Country, which I propose to set forward: the one is raising hemp; the other making pot ash. For the first there are lands upon this Island very similar to the hemp lands in Lincolnshire which I have had opportunities to make particular observation of: and it will be no difficult matter by proper encouragement to induce some Lincolnshire hemp raisers to settle here. For the other, the lands affording all the materials, Iron excepted, necessary to make Potash according to a plain & practicable Method lately publish’d by the Society of Arts,660 I make no doubt but that I can engage proper people to undertake it. And in both Cases, when the Novelty is over & the Advantage apparent, It will soon be followed.

    I mention this to show that my own interest is not the only Motive that makes me desire a confirmation of this Island; & that your personal regard for me may not be your only inducement to promote my sollicitation: I know well that your private freindship never is more active than when it Cooperates with your public Spirit.

    I am Sr Your most faithful & most obedient Servant

    Fra Bernard

    John Pownall Esqr661

    dupLS, RC CO 5/891, ff 104-105.

    Enclosed No. 177; “Consideration of an Objection to the right of the Province of Massachusetts Bay to certain Lands between Penobscot and St. Croix,” with marginal annotations by FB, c.December 1762, CO 5/891, ff 111-114; and “Extracts from the General Court’s books of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, relating to the Lands between Penobscot and St. Croix,” c.December, CO 5/891, ff 115-119. This letter and its enclosures were subsequently enclosed in No. 180. On 2 Mar. 1763 the Board of Trade ordered that the letter and enclosures lie for further consideration when the grant of the island of Mount Desert should come before the Board, and replied to FB with No. 193. JBT, 11: 338.

    FB’s hope that potash production could make the settlement of Mount Desert viable was probably not misplaced. One contemporary estimated that by 1775 New England was exporting £35,000 worth of potash annually, over seventy percent of the total value of colonial exports of this staple. John Mitchell or Arthur Young, American Husbandry (New York, 1939), ed. Harry James Carman, 493-494.