203 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Ap. 29. 1763

    My Lords

    The Secretary having prepared Copies of the Acts passed last Session to be transmitted to your Lordships, I have looked them over & do not find Any thing in them but what is in usual Course of business or what I have before observed upon.752 The Act for continuing expiring Laws753 is the same with many others which have been before approved: this Legislature deals so much in temporary Laws that it is become necessary to include many of them in one act of Continuation to avoid the immense multiplication of Paper & Parchment, which would otherwise follow. And as all these Acts have separately received his Majesty’s approbation I apprehend that there can be no inconvenience arise [arising] from their being continued by one act. There’s a Bill to continue a former lottery bill to raise the additional Sum of 225 pounds sterling for building a bridge:754 The Commissioners advanced the Money out of their own pocket & the Sum is so trifling, that I presume it needs no Apology.

    I am much concerned that your Lordships have wanted my Answer to your general heads of Enquiry transmitted to me in 1761:755 The whole Reason of my delaying it has arose from my desire of making it as complete as possible. Many of the Queries, especially those, which are like to Vary from former reports of this kind, could not be answered so precisely, in time of War as upon the conclusion of peace. And, as from the time I received your Lordships commands, We have been continually led on from day to day with the hopes of that happy Event, I have in like manner been insensibly drawn in to postpone this business to a greater length of time that I was aware of. I think it was much above a year that I acquainted Mr Pownall of my intention to make this my first business after the conclusion of peace; and I shall immediately, with as little loss of time as possible, bring this Matter to a speedy conclusion.756 The cheif Article that will take up much time will be the Numbring the People under Proper heads of Age sex Town &c. This will take up great part of the Summer & cannot be set about till after the Assembly meets, as I shall want their assistance in it. I shall however finish my Answer to the other Articles & leave this to be sent after it.

    As soon as I received your Lordships letter concerning the return from the impost office757 I communicated it to that officer758 & desired him to give your Lordships all the further information that is in his power, which he promised to do. I expect to receive this time enough to Send by this packet; when I shall acquaint your Lordships with the difficulties he is under in distinguishing between British & Foreign Sugar & Molasses, that your Lordships may judge how far the best account he can give is to be depended upon.

    Since I have wrote the last paragraph I have received the Account of the Impost officer which I hereby inclose. From the Conversation I have had with him I write what follows, as from his own mouth.

    When I first acquainted the impost Officer with your Lordships first order, He said He could not take upon him to distinguish between British & Foreign Sugars & Molasses; for the duties He was to receive being the same on both, it was no concern of his office whether they were the one or the other: and therefore he never intrested himself in an inquiry from what port the goods came.

    Upon my communicating to him your Lordship’s last letter759 & requiring him to give all the information upon these Articles which he could, He has given me an Account of these goods with all the distinctions which are enter’d upon his books: but at the Same time he is obliged to give his reasons why the Authority of such distinctions is not to be depended upon 1: His Office not being intrested in the distinction of the port; whence the goods come & the Act not requiring any such distinction he has taken the Word of the Master for the entry of the Port from which, without any enquiry into the truth of such report. 2. As the Duty of Sugar & Molasses is the same, he has taken the report of the Master for the quality of those goods, without enquiry into the truth of it: and he has been occasionally informed some times, that Sugar has been enter’d as Molasses

    Nevertheless He beleives that in general the Entries made from the West Indies are of foreign Sugars &c; as he knows of no reason that can induce those Masters who came from British Ports not to enter as from such; and that the entring sugars as Molasses is not Very frequent, & probably onely in the coasting trade. Upon the whole, He thinks that in regard to the West Indies, his Entries may afford a probable calculation of the proportion of the import of British & Foreign Sugar & Molasses. But then He conceives it is not Very applicable to times of peace, especially in regard to Sugars; which last will not be to be had in any quantity from French Settlements, tho’ Molasses may possibly be procured from thence.

    He observes that the Entries from Salem760 in the Years 1755-6-7 & 8 must be supposed to be mostly included in the Entries from the West Indies, the greater part of which in those years were made at the Port of Salem. The Molasses enter’d from Barbados & Antigua are generally supposed not to be the Produce of those Islands but foreign Molasses brought into them in prizes or otherwise. The other British Islands, but most cheifly Jamaica, have of late sent Molasses of their own growth in some quantity to North America.

    This Gentleman, who is of the Council, is a Very fair & candid Officer: but as his appointment is by an annual election, He is obliged, in point of prudence, not to carry the execution of his office any further than the Duties of it necessarily require.

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

    Fra Bernard

    To The Right Honble The Lords Commrs of Trade & Plantations

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, ff 154-157.

    Variant text in BP, 2: 78-82 (L, LbC). Enclosed copies of [James Russell], an account of West Indies goods imported into the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1755 to 1762, Apr. 1763, CO 5/891, ff 158-173; a survey for six townships on the east side of the River Penobscot, Feb. 1763, for which see BP, 10: 97-100. This letter was read by the Board of Trade on 4 Aug. 1763. JBT, 11: 377.