201 | Apology to the Board of Trade

    [16-17 Apr. 1763]

    The Heads of an Apology for the Conduct of Governor Bernard in regard to the lands Eastward of Penobscot.

    I was not a prime mover in any of the proceedings of the General Court of the Province of Massachusets Bay in regard to the lands Eastward of Penobscot, not even in the grant made to me. I was only the Executor of the general Court’s resolutions, in which I have acted with a conscientious regard to my duty, as far as my judgement could point it out. It was in pursuance of such resolutions that Application was made to the Governt: of Nova Scotia to join in a Survey of the River St Croix, which was supposed to be the undoubted boundary of the two Provinces: altho it might be doubted which was the River St Croix.

    The Distinction of the River Penobscot bounding French Acadia & from thence being applicable to the limiting the Territory of Sagadehock was not then known to any of the members of the general Court, as far as I can learn. For my own part I can say that it was quite new to me, when I was first advised of it long after that time.

    The apprehension that it might be a question which was the river St Croix was founded upon an observation, that there were at least two rivers that fall into the Bay of that name. As the determining this Question must depend upon comparing the apparance of the Country with the description of it as given by former Navigators, it became a Matter of surveying only; & therefore there was no doubt but that the two Provinces might ^take upon them to^ join in ascertaining such facts as should be necessary for the determination of the boundary.745

    It was never in the least presumed that these observations should prejudge his. Majesty: they were expressly designed to be submitted to him as informations subject to his judgement. And as soon as it was known that the Question of the boundary would not depend upon the identity of the River St Croix, but upon Arguments distinct from those of local Observation, the Purpose of the Survey of St Croix was laid aside.

    The Grants of the 12 Townships Eastward of Penobscot were not resolved upon till after repeated sollicitations of the intended Settlers & at a time when there was no apprehension on either side that the right of the Province to these Lands would be disputed. It was above 6 months after the resolution of the general Court, which empowred the Grantees to survey the Lands, that I recieved an intimation from London that the Right of the Province to lands eastward of Penobscot was doubted. I had before that, wrote to the Lieutent Govr of Nova Scotia to let him know that I would consent to ^no^ others Grants on that side [of] Penobscot, till his Majesty’s pleasure concerning these should be known.746

    But I did not think, I coud with Propriety, stop the completion of these grants: for that 1 The Grantees upon the credit of a resolution of the General Court having put themselves to considerable expence in surveying etc it would ^scarce^ have been equitable to have refused them an opportunity of applying to his Majesty for a confirmation of their Grants: 2 the Province being desirous to settle these lands as soon as possible & earnest to support their right thereto, the question whereof could be brought on, by no means so proper as submitting a grant to his Majesty for his confirmation, I could not consistently with the good understanding which I have hitherto preserved in the Genel: Court, have obstructed their proceedings, without having any instruction, or order for so doing. 3 I had a third reason for letting these Grants proceed; which was, that the settling this country must be advantageous to the King at all events, whether it should be adjudged to one Province or the other. And on this I have cheifly relied in my recommendation of these grants to their Lordships.

    Nevertheless I took care that in the draught of the grants all proper Reservations & Provisos should be inserted; & that the whole tenor of them should be significant of the humility with which they are submitted to his Majesty. Not only the Terms of the Charter are observed, but there is a proviso for avoiding the Grants, if his Majesty’s confirmation shall not be obtained in 18 Months time: a caution which exceeds that of a suspending clause; which last is generally allowed to be a sufficient Apology for a Governors consenting to an Act the expediency of which he doubts of.

    In regard to the Grant made to me, It was meerly accidental that it was in this country.747 It took its rise from an opinion, which prevailed in the general assembly, that the Province ought to make me a Compensation for the expences of my second Commission & for some Charges I had been at in making some additions & improvements at the Province-House & at of both these the Governor’s apartment at the Castle: the whole of both these amounting to 600 pounds sterling. This Compensation wd have been made in money if the expences of the War had not discouraged Pecuniary Grants. It was then proposed to do it by Grant of lands to the Westward; & one or two Spots were mentioned for that Purpose. Afterwards the Application of Settlers at Penobscot being agitated, the Assembly turned their Eyes to the Eastward for a grant for me: & ^it was^ not many days before the Grant was made, that I first heard of the Island of Mt. Desart: I had all along left it to the Assembly to make this Compensation in what manner they Pleased: & to the last I was no otherwise active in it than barely signifying my acceptance of this proposal.

    This affords a plain Proof, that I did not at that time Apprehend that the Right of the Province to these lands was like to be disputed. If I had, I should have certainly chose, as I might have done, a grant of lands to the Westrd, where the right was undoubted, preferable to these where it is controverted.

    Ms, LbC BP, vol. 3: 51-56.