233 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Aug 24. 1763

    My Lords

    By my letter dated July 28868 I informed your Lordship’s that the French Acadians in this Province had signified to me their intention to go to Old France & that they expected transports to be sent to carry them thither. By my letter dated Aug 13869 I informed that they had delivered me a list of those who intended to go to France, which consisted of 1019 persons in all; & also that I communicated ^to them^ some letters from Mr Robins a french Protestant, inviting them to settle in the Bay of Miramichi & promising them the liberty of their religion. Upon the whole I desired your Lordship’s directions in what manner I should act.

    Since I sent away the last of these letters I have had an application from 16 families of these Acadians870 to grant them a passport to go to St Peter’s the Island lately ceded to France. Altho’ I should be loth to part with these people, whilst there was a probability of their settling on British land in good humour & for good purposes, yet I know not how I could refuse them the liberty of going to a french settlement, if they are considered as french prisoners of War or as french subjects of a conquered country and if they are considered as English subjects, the liberty of going out of the Province is absolute, as they stand charged with no crime. For the former distinctions, the sending the Acadians from Liverpool to France in a Cartel is a precedent in point.871 The only Difficulty I had upon the occasion was, that I had submitted this Matter to your Lordships; & therefore I could not properly send them out of the Province, without your Lordships order: on the other hand I know not how to confine them in it against their Will.

    Under these difficulties I this day submitted this Matter to the Council, and in the course of the consideration It was in general agreed that I could not properly open the door nor shut it: and therefore the advice of the Council is conceived in such terms as shall not encourage their departure nor positively prohibit it. In this State it must remain untill I shall receive your Lordships orders.872

    I hereby enclose a Copy of the Act of the Council & am with great respect

    My Lords Your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra. Bernard

    The Right Honble The Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, ff 179-182.

    Variant text in CO 5/755, ff 45-48 (L, Copy) and BP, 2: 87-89 (L, LbC). Enclosed a copy of a minute of the Massachusetts Council of 24 Aug. 1763, CO 5/891, f 181.

    Copies of FB’s letter and the enclosure were referred to the secretary of state (JBT, 11: 392), whose reply is No. 237.