202 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Ap 25. 1763

    My Lords

    By a letter dated the 8th inst I informed your Lordships that the general Court had passed a Grant for 6 Townships on the East side of the river Penobscot to be submitted to his Majesty for his confirmation: and I humbly offer’d to your Lordships such observations & reasons as have induced me to recommend this settlement to your Lordships favour.748

    About a week after this packet was sent away, I received your Lordships letter of Dec 24,749 which has given me a most sensible mortification: for I had flatterd myself that I stood in such a degree of credit with your Lordships, that I should not easily have been suspected of acting, with intention, in opposition to your Lordships opinion or in prejudice of his Majesty’s right. As I am persuaded that upon a full & true state of this affair, Your Lordships will readily acquit me of this imputation, I was desirous of being discharged from it as soon as possible. I therefore by the return of the Post to New York sent a short defence of my Conduct inclosed in a letter to Mr Pownall,750 desiring him to lay it before your Lordships at such time as he should think it fit and necessary. I should have addressed myself immediately to your Lordships, if the hurry I was in had not made me prefer the form of a memorial. And as upon a revisal I find it contains the cheif substance of my defence, I shall avoid repeating, as well as I can, &, in this, explain such proofs, as I shall think proper to introduce in support of my allegations

    The Proofs I have to submit to your Lordships are these: a Copy of the order of the general Court for the settlement of the line between the Massachusets & Nova Scotia; a Copy of the report of the Committee appointed for that purpose; a Copy of my letter to The Lt Govr of Nova Scotia, in pursuance of the report of the Committee, wrote in Council & recorded there; A Copy of the record of the election of Commissioners to join those of Nova Scotia to repair to St Croix & ascertain the line &c; a Copy of my Letter to the Lieut Governor of Nova Scotia, in pursuance of the last mentioned act of the general Court, wrote in Council

    From these will appear; 1 That I was not a mover of this intended Survey, and that, if I am blameable for any thing, it is only for consenting to the resolutions of the two houses: with what propriety I could refuse my consent thereto will be considered hereafter. 2 That the deliberation of the general Court turned solely upon these questions: which stream was the river St Croix? and from what part of that river the Northern Line was to be run? and that they were not aware of an objection to their title arising from any other consideration. 3 That in my consenting to these resolutions & consequentially communicating them to the Lt Govr of Nova Scotia, I judged for the best, if nothing then appeared to me to invalidate the report of the Committee, which I found to be agreable with the letter of the Charters of Nova Scotia & Massachusets Bay.

    I cannot say whether at that time the boundary of Acadia as ceded by Charles the second to France was in my thoughts or not: but this I am sure of, that I had not the least apprehension that such boundary was applicable to the limitation of King William’s Grant to Massachusets Bay. As a presumptive proof thereof (the only kind of proof which such an Asseveration is capable of) It appears that my immediate predecessor Govr Pownall, altho’ he came to this Government directly from England, was not acquainted with this objection to the Provinces right. If He had, I am sure that He, who was never reckoned inattentive to his Duty would not have taken a formal & monumental possession of the East side of Penobscot on the behalf of the Province of Massachusets Bay;751 as it appears, from the inclosed Copy of the record of that transaction, that he did. This Transaction alone, which I must suppose was communicated to your Lordships board & was never, that I have heard of, excepted to, must justify me in presuming that the East side of Penobscot was allowed to belong to Massachusets Bay.

    In regard to my consenting to the grant of the 6 Townships, I beleive, I might, after what I have allready said, safely trust my justification to the grant itself, in which so much care has been taken to provide for the Kings rights & the public Emolument. But It may be necessary to state to your Lordships the times & manner in which it was made. The first Grant originated in the House of Representatives Feb 20. 1762; (see Votes pa 265) & having been concurred by the Council received my Consent. This Grant amounted to a positive assurance of 6 Townships, of the contents of 6 miles square each, to the 360 Grantees, altho’ it was incomplete, untill, by an actual survey, the boundaries of The Townships could be ascertained. This Survey was not perfected till the end of the Summer following; and it was certified upon Oath to the general Court at the first Session after: when on Feb 24 1763 a positive Grant was order’d to be passed under the Province Seal to be laid before his Majesty for his approbation. (See the Votes pa 277)

    Between the times of the originating the grant & the completing it by an Authentic instrument, I was advised that probably an Objection arising from the bounds of Charles the seconds cession might be urged against the Provinces right; and the general Court received the same intimation from the Province-Agent. But I was so far from thinking that that would authorise me, without an order from your Lordships, to put a stop to this business, that I was rather inclined to forward it as much as might be, thinking it the best & easiest Way of bringing this right into Question. And I still persuade myself, that, when your Lordships have perused this grant, you will think that the general Court has introduced their claim, in as respectful & proper a manner as they could well have done. Nevertheless upon the first notice of these doubts concerning the Provinces right, I resolved to consent to no more grants ’till the present shall be determined upon.

    I am Very unwilling to extend the trouble I now give your Lordships unnecessarily: and therefore for the rest I shall only refer to my former letters upon this subject; from the whole tenor of which I flatter myself your Lordships will perceive that from the first time I had reason to think that this Question was like to be controverted, I have expressed an earnest desire that I might be engaged in it as little as my station would permit: and tho’ I have thought it my duty to lay before your Lordships such arguments as I knew would be urged in favour of the Provinces right, yet your Lordships must have observed that the general Service of his Majesty in extending the population of his Dominions has been my cheif purpose.

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

    Fra. Bernard.

    To The Right Honble The Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations.

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, ff 146-149.

    There is a heavily corrected first draft in BP, 10: 75-82 (ADft, AC) and a fair copy incorporating the revisions in BP, 2: 69-74 (L, LbC). The differences between the RC and the other variants are insubstantial, except where noted.

    Enclosed No. 127; certificate of Gov. Thomas Pownall’s taking possession of the east side of Penobscot for Massachusetts, 23 May 1759, CO 5/891, ff 150-151; an order of the General Court for the settlement of the Massachusetts-Nova Scotia boundary line, 26 Jan. 1762, CO 5/891, f 152; FB to Jonathan Belcher, Boston, 3 Apr. 1762, CO 5/891, f 152; an extract from the report of a committee of the Council and the House of Representatives on the boundary line and the Penobscot land grants, [18 Feb. 1762], CO 5/891, f 153; an extract of the record of the election of Massachusetts’s boundary commissioners, CO 5/891, f 153.

    The letter and enclosures were referred to the secretary of state on 13 Oct. 1763.