197 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Ap. 8. 1763

    My Lords

    I write this to introduce to your Lordships the Grants of six townships laid out on the East side of the River Penobscot, made by the general Court of this Province731 & submitted to his Majesty for his royal confirmation according to the terms of the Charter. And tho’ the soliciting this confirmation is properly the Business of the Grantees only, yet the Event is so intresting, to the Province in supporting their Right to originating grants of lands in this Territory, & to the Nation in encouraging a speedy cultivation of the Wast lands of North America, that I think it my duty to lay before your Lordships my sentiments upon both these points.

    In regard to the Province’s originating these Grants, I shall not enter into any disquisition of their Right to do so: If that is made a Question, the support of it must not depend upon me. I have perhaps allready engaged too far in it, in what I have before wrote upon this Subject. At present I only mean to show in what manner they have exercised this power in these instances which are the first of the kind; and from thence to show that this power is in hands, which are not like to abuse it.

    1 These Grants have been made without any other consideration than a Covenant to settle the lands; not a farthing has been paid or stipulated for on the behalf of the province. 2. The Grants are not only made strictly conformable to the restrictions of the Charter, but there is also a limitation of the time in which the King’s Confirmation is to be obtained; after which the Grants, which are in strictness only recommendations, for want of confirmation cease & determine. 3. The general Court has been so intent upon their main purpose, peopling the Country, that they have not trusted to the forfeiture for not settling, which in other grants has been the only obligation hitherto used, but they have obliged the grantees to give Security to settle their lands within a certain time after the Grants shall be confirmed; which bonds were lodged in the Secretaries Office, before the Grants were made. From this I would infer, That the general Court having had the strictest regard to the public good in making these grants has shown itself worthy to be intrusted with this power & therefore deserves to have its acts approved & confirmed, if weightier reasons not known here should prevail against it.

    I need not urge to your Lordships the expediency of encouraging, by all proper means, the cultivation of the wasts of No America. The Sentiments of your Lordships have been fully shown by your unwearied endeavours to promote such purpose: And now the Motives to it have received much additional strength by the late great enlargement of his Majesty’s N American Dominions. But perhaps It may be of use to endeavour to remove the obstructions which may lie in the Way of your Lordships approving this settlement, & arise from your doubts concerning the Province’s right to originate Grants of land within this Territory: which Question, if it is to be discussed with that deliberation which it’s importance will require, may not be determined within the time necessary to resolve upon allowing or putting a stop to the proposed settlement.

    Undoubtedly This Settlement must be of general advantage to the public, whether it shall appear hereafter to be in this or that province or in neither of them: and the undertakers deserve all possible encouragement to induce them to pursue their Scheme, which is certainly planned with good judgement for the mutual support of one another. The whole 6 Townships are laid upon a Neck of land lying between Penobscot River & a River called Mount desert river the Mouth of it being near the West End of the Island of that name. The whole Plan of the 6 Townships (each of which is intended to contain the Area of 6 miles square) extends not above 15 miles of longitude. The Spot is at present a Wilderness, & lies at a great distance from the settled parts of the Massachusets Province & at a much greater distance from the nearest Settlements of Nova Scotia, & would, if duly promoted, be the means of connecting, in time, one with the other. On the other hand if this settlement should be now prevented, It will cast a great damp upon undertakings of this kind, & may contribute to keep this great length of coast in the desert state in which It has hitherto continued.

    I must therefore submit to your Lordships whether, in case your doubts concerning the right of the Province should still remain, It might not be advisable to disengage this Settlement from the dispute concerning the Right of the Province, & let the settlement go on to wait the determination of the right. To whatever province the Land shall be allotted, it will not be the Worse for having 360 families upon it. I urge this not on behalf of the Province which will gain nothing by such a proceeding but for the sake of the settlers, many of whom are embarked so deep in this Adventure that the disappointment may be their ruin. And with great submission I conceive, that this Method of favouring them is Very practicable, as it seems to require nothing but that in the Kings confirmation there be a recital of the doubts concerning the Provinces Right to these lands and a proviso that this Grant & Confirmation shall not prejudge the same, but that It shall still remain to be considered & decided, this Grant & confirmation notwithstanding.

    I have been the more particular and indeed the more earnest in this representation, as I think it would be a great pity that a Settlement so compact & so well calculated for the public Utility should be prevented. There was an Application made to the general Court for 6 other Townships; but they do not go on: 3 of them are drop’t allready; one of the other 3 proceeds and I beleive the other two will, if they are encouraged. These 3 Townships adjoin to the other six, & will help to strengthen them. The whole, if they are allowed to proceed, will form a settlement of 540 families. The first settling of a wast Country is so hardy a work that a little Discouragement is apt to defeat it: I therefore hope that this undertaking will meet with your Lordships favour.

    I am, with great respect, My Lords Your Lordships most obedient and most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard.

    The Right Honble The Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations.

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, ff 136-138.

    Variant text in BP, 2: 64-68 (L, LbC). Enclosed a copy of the General Court, Grant of six Townships on the East Side of the River Penobscot, 24 Feb. 1763, CO 5/891, ff 140-144 (signed by FB as governor, by Andrew Oliver for the Council, and by Speaker Timothy Ruggles for the House of Representatives).

    This letter was read by the Board of Trade on 4 Aug. 1763. JBT, 11: 377.