234 | Answer to the Queries of the Board of Trade
The Answer of Francis Bernard Esq Governor of his Majesty’s Province of Massachusets Bay to the Queries Proposed by the Right Honorable The Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations.
873 The Province of Massachusets Bay is situated on the continent of North America towards the Atlantick Ocean between the Degrees of latitude 41 & 45874 ^reckoning by sea coast only.^ The Soil is inferior to that of England in general, but is Very Suitable to Indian Corn Barley Oats & Rye. It has not as yet produced Wheat enough for its own consumption, being not so easy of tillage as the Soil of the Southern Provinces. It is Very natural to English Grass of all sorts. The Heat in Summer & the Cold in Winter are much more intense than in England. I once observed Farenheits Thermometer875 3½ degrees below 0 & the Summer following It was 96½ for a short time: But these were both singular & uncommon instances. Last Winter which was very severe it was several times at 2, & never lower, this Summer which has been temperate it has never been higher than 88. So that I would consider those as the general extremities. Notwithstanding the intenseness of the Cold, The Winter is a Very healthy Season; so is the Summer & the Autumn. But the Spring is a dangerous time to uncareful People, upon account of the frequent cold Easterly Wind interfering with the Warmth of the Opening Summer. The Principal Ports, are Boston, Salem, Newberry & Falmouth, each of which has a seperate Custom house: There are several other good harbours. The Principal Rivers that have any considerable inland Navigation are the Merrimack, the Kennebeck & the Penobscot. Boston the Capital by good observations is found to lie in 42º. 25´ North latitude & 71º. 30´876 west longitude from London. I cant learn that the longitude has been taken anywhere else by observation; & suppose it is laid down in modern Maps by computation.
2877 The Province consists of the Old Colony of Massachusets Bay, the Colony of New Plimouth the Province of Main & the Country between the Province of Main & the River St. Croix called the Territory of Sagadehock. The Old Colonys of the Massachusets & New Plymouth being contiguous are bounded on the South by the Colonies of Rhode Island & Connecticut, on ^the West by New York, on the North by New hampshire, on^ the East by the Atlantick. The Province of Main extends from the River Newichewanick along the Sea Coast North Eastward (the Coast lyes nearest North East & South West) to the River Kennebeck & up the Rivers Newichewanock & Kennebeck into the Lands North westward untill 120 miles are finished & a Line to be drawn from the end of the 120 Miles up Newichewanock to the end of the 120 Miles up Kennebeck. By a decree of his late Majesty in Council878 settling the Boundaries between the Massachusets & New Hampshire the construction of Northwestward was determined to be North two degrees west, which has altered the formerly conceived Bounds of that Province being then a regular tract about 120 miles Square.879 A dispute has subsisted many years between this Province & New York concerning boundaries. The Merits of it having been heard & considered by the Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations, & a report having been made thereon the Province humbly waits his Majesty’s determination.880 A dispute subsisted also between this Province & the Colony of Connecticut untill the year 1713 when the Line was settled & run by Commissioners from both Goverments. Four Towns Woodstock Suffield Enfield & Somers which had been granted & settled by Massachusets fell within Connecticut. By a preliminary agreed between the two Governments,881 if any Towns which had been granted by either Government should fall within the other, the Jurisdiction should remain to the Government which granted and an equivalent should be given for the Property: Accordingly an equivalent in other lands was granted by the Massachusets to Connecticut who received & sold the Same; & the Jurisdiction of the Towns remained with the Massachusets without dispute untill the year 1746; when the Province being excessively burthened with a Debt incurred by the Expedition to Cape Breton & an intended Expedition against Canada the Inhabitants of these four Towns refused to submit any longer to the Massachusets Government & applied to Connecticut for Protection who by an Act extended the County of Windham to the Massachusets Line & have ever since excersised Jurisdiction over them.882 The Massachusets judging it would be of bad consequence in a time of War by Acts of Power to compel Subjection immediately, exhibited their humble Complaint to his Majesty in Council against the Government of Connecticut for this unfair proceeding; which complaint has not yet been considered. I am humbly of Opinion that if his Majesty should be pleased to order those revolted Towns to return to their subjection to the Massachusets, that it would be for the Peace of both Governments & that the Inhabitants in general of those Towns would likewise be well satisfyed, provided they might be exempted from paying Taxes to the Massachusets which the Government every year have continued to lay upon them ever since their revolts. It is but equitable they should be exempted for such years as they have paid to Connecticut in the Mean time. But the Taxes for which they were in Arrears at the time of their revolt & which are still unpaid it is equitable they should still be charged with.883 Some question has lately been made of the Validity of the Title of the Province to the Lands between the Rivers Penobscot & St. Croix: the merits of their Claim has been at large laid before your Lordships.884
3885 It is impracticable to take an exact account of the Shipping belonging to this Province & their tonnage, as Shipping itself is a considerable Article of trade; And when a Ship is built for Sale She is registered freighted & cleared in the same manner as if she was to continue in the trade of the Province, and therefore the Entries of the Naval Office & Custom house afford no certain grounds to estimate the quantity of the permanent Shipping of the Province. A List of the Shipping ^from 10 tons upwards^ belonging to the several Towns in the Province was taken by order of the general Court in 1761, & the returns amounted to 57,000 Tons: but this was undoubtedly imperfect. The Shipping of Boston has decreased of late: This is partly owing to the increase of the Trade of other towns in the Province & partly to the illicit trade which is carried on in Rhode Island Connecticut &c with greater Security than it can be here.886 Ship building is generally a losing trade, but it is a necessary resort to make good the ballance due to Great Britain when other branches fail or prove insufficient. The Whale Fishery has been increased since the reduction of Canada: Many small Vessels have made profitable Voyages in the Gulph of St Lawrence; but I am informed that so little regard has been had to the preserving the Calves or young Whales, & the fishery has been generally pursued with such unremission, that the Want of the regulations to which the french subjected that fishery, will be soon felt by the total destruction thereof. The Produce of this fishery, Oyl & Bone is shipped directly for Great Britain, & has for the last year made a considerable part of the returns. The Trade of the Codfishery is carried on at the Towns of Salem Marblehead Glocester & Plymouth, and at some other Towns of lesser Note. It is not an encreasing Trade, the Scarcity of hands & the high Wages, which are the Natural Consequences of War having much checked it: but I am in hopes that it will be improved by the Settling the Peace. The best of Cod goes to Spain Portugal & Italy, the produce whereof is chiefly remitted to England; The Worst sort is sent to the West Indies. There are also other lesser fisheries which employ a good many small Vessells. Herrings & Shad are taken in the rivers and in the beginning of the Summer & Mackrell from July to October. These are Salted and Barrelled & sent to the West Indies. These several kinds of fish together with boards staves shingles & hoops commonly called lumber, with some provisions & garden stuff of no great value make up the freights to the West Indies: the returns are made partly in remittances to England & partly in rum Sugar & Melasses. The latter Article (besides what is consumed in Specie by the Inhabitants) is distilled into rum, which is used in the trade to Newfoundland, the whole produce of which is remitted to England & is sent to Maryland & Virginia in return for Corn & Pork: a great part of it is used in the prosecution of the fisheries; & some part (perhaps too much) consumed by the inland inhabitants. But upon the Whole I consider the Melasses distilling as very necessary to the chief part of the trade of this province; and if it should be obstructed either by a severe execution of the present laws or by the enacting of new ones for that purpose, I fear that the consequences would soon be felt by the English Merchants trading to this Country. Indeed there is a succedaneum887 that this people might resort to, if the Melasses distillery was obstructed, I mean the distilling Spirits from Grain raised in this Country: but the misfortune would be that all the ill consequences of the interruption of the Melasses distillery would take effect before the New Distillery from grain could be brought about. If It was not for the danger of this interval, It might be made a question, whether it would not be better for the province to distill from their own produce: But Innovations in matters of trade are so precarious, that I cannot help recommending the encouragement of the Melasses distillery in this Province. This Province also sends out considerable quantities of Provisions to Nova Scotia & to Newfoundland, the produce of which is remitted to Great Britain. I know of no ^new^ Trades Works or Manufactures that are or may prove hurtful to Great Britain; I rather think that the Province rather wants Trades & Manufactures than abounds in them; for it is certain that within these late years the imports have been greater than the Province can well bear; and they must be lessened, unless New funds can be found out for Answering them. Upon the whole as Great Britain will always have what this Country can spare (at present, I believe, She takes rather more than it can spare) She need not fear trades & Manufactures set up here; since whatever is saved or gained here will be sent to Great Britain to purchase other things. Superfluities are laid out in luxury; American Luxury is almost wholly supplied from Great Britain; therefore all profit in America must centre in Great Britain. Even illegal trade, where the ballance is in favour of the British Subject, makes its final returns to Great Britain. For want of a more certain account of the Shipping I hereto add an Account of the Ships &c which passed Castle William outward bound from July 1. 1762 to July 1. 1763 vizt Ships 40 Snows 17 Brigs 107 Schooners 178 Sloops 294 total 636. But no conclusion can be formed from hence, as many or most of them are repeated some of them 3 or 4 times.
4888 The Inhabitants of the trading Towns Men Women & Children have their whole supply of Cloathing from Great Britain. Most of the Women in all other Towns have the Principal part of their cloathing of British Manufactures; the Men have more or less. The poor labouring people in the County Towns wear their common Cloathes principally of coarse homespun linnens & Woolens. Shoes are to be excepted, the Mens being generally manufactured here, the Womens partly only. Most of the Furniture of the Houses in the trading Towns is of British Manufacture. Nails, Glass, Lead, Locks, Hinges & many other materials for Houses are wholly imported from Great Britain. Canvas, Cordage & Ship Chandlery Wares for Vessells & in general such Manufactures as are exported to the Plantations are consumed here & by the best Information I can get the Consumption increases rather than decreases.
5889 There is a constant Trade carried on with the Dutch & Danish Plantations: in one of the former, Surrinam Many English have considerable Estates. During the War with France and before that with Spain a considerable Trade was carried on with Monto’ Christo, the returns chiefly French Sugars; & tho’ the exports for this Trade were chiefly Gold & Silver, it was thought to be advantageous to Great Britain. The Trade immediately to the French Settlements called the flag of Truce Trade, this Province was never concerned in. For tho’ I believed it to be in general (when provisions & warlike Stores were not exported) very beneficial to Great Britain, yet as I understood that it was not approved of at home, it was never permitted here. In time of peace, A small trade chiefly for Melasses is permitted at some of the french Plantations: but this is very precarious, as sometimes a pretence is made to confiscate Vessells, that have been encouraged to come there, contrary to good faith. The Exports to & imports from foreign plantations are pretty much the Same as with the British. There is a small trade with the Western Islands in about 8 or 10 small Vessells in a year carrying Fish Lumber & Grain & returning with Wines. The Madeira Trade is greatly decreased by reason of the high price those wines are got at, not above one small cargo coming in in a year. A considerable quantity of fish is sent to Spain Portugal & Italy, the returns are chiefly made by remittances to London. Each Vessell generally brings back a load of Salt & from Lisbon some Wine & Lemmons, which latter coming in small quantities & not being in the least injurious to Great Britain, differing, in no respect of trade, from Wine from the Portuguese Islands, is overlookt. Lately two or three Voyages have been made with Logwood to Hamburgh & from thence to Petersburgh,890 whence they return with Hemp stopping at Scotland to enter & clear. This is a new Experiment; but it is thought that in time of Peace Hemp may be brought cheaper from London. There is very little Trade direct from Holland, as no freights can be made but with Logwood; & that is not imported here in any quantity when it is low in Europe
6891 The methods used to prevent illegal trade are frequent inspections made by the Naval & Custom house Officers, by whose care the Laws of trade are better supported in this Province than in most others of America. About 2 years ago Great endeavours were made to disable the Officers in carrying the laws into execution, & a public opposition was made in open Court against the Superior Court (which is here Vested with the Powers of the Court of Exchequer) granting writs of Assistance except in special cases. But the Judges overruled the exceptions & Writs of Assistance are now granted in as effectual a form as in England. The greatest difficulty which attends the execution of the Laws of trade here arises from the great liberty which is allowed in some other Colonies. The Merchants here complain, with great show of reason, of the hardship they suffer by being Subject to restraints, which their Neighbours in Ports almost under their Eye are quite Strangers to. The only answer to be given to these complaints is that the negligence of other governments will not justify this in the Same: but that it is hoped that the time is near at hand when these Matters will be liquidated & adjusted; And there will be but one common rule of restraint & indulgence through all the ports in America: a Settlement much to be desired.
7892 The Soil of the Country being natural to Grass, Black Cattle are one principal part of the Produce. Nothwithstanding the great Supplies made during the War to the Western Army & the new Settlements which are continually making, there is no sensible decrease, except what has been occasioned by the extraordinary drought of the two last Summers which will soon be retrieved by the plenty of the present. About the Year 1740 after a long Peace, Beef in the Season was sold from a penny to five farthings Sterg ~ the pound. The breed of Horses Suitable for the West Indies hath greatly increased. The Province cannot properly be said to have any Staple. If any commodity prevails as to the Value it seems to be Fish. In some years there has been room to suppose the Oyl near equal to it. Manufactures there are none of any consequence except that of Molosses into Rum & Iron into Bars & hollow Ware. There is not sufficient bar Iron manufactured for the use of the Inhabitants; of cast Metal or hollow Ware as it is sometimes called, there is enough made for the Inhabitants & more or less exported every year to the other Colonies. There are divers provincial Acts to prevent frauds & abuses in Boards, Shingles, Staves, Hoops, Fish, the Assize of Casks & in most other Articles exported liable to frauds, which have a good effect. They have been at different times enacted & from time to time as the defects are discovered there appears a good disposition in the General Court to amend them & render them the more effectual
8893 There are no Mines yet discovered except of Iron. The Iron Oar in general has a mixture of Copper which renders it unfit to work into Bars. some of it has been cast into Cannon shott & Shells. The Bar Iron manufactured here is principally from Piggs imported from New York Philadelphia &c some of an inferior Quality from what is called bogg Oar which lyes in beds in many places of the Province about a foot under the Surface & is found at the bottom of ponds in some parts. From the latter the cast or hollow Ware is commonly manufactured. __ A New Mine of rock Oar has been lately discovered; but it has not been workt as yet.
9894 I was desirous of answering this Article as exactly as possible & for that purpose had postponed my return for some time in order to have the assistance of the general Court in taking an exact account of the people by returns made in a particular manner upon oath. For this I proposed a Scheme to the general Court at the beginning of last Session: but the Consideration of it having been postponed to near the End of the Session, some objections were started in the house of Representatives, which there was no time to obviate: and the Council & House having disagreed upon the Method, it was of course put off till next Session, when it will be again brought in & I doubt not but it will pass.895 In the mean time I must answer this Article as well as I can by conjecture from such Materials as I have in my Hands. In the year 1761 a Return was made to the general Court of the rateable Polls vizt. males above 16 which amounted to about 57,000;896 In this list were excluded not only the Males under 16 but also those who were rendered incapable to pay by poverty. If We reckon these at one third more, the Number will be 76,000 to which adding the Same Number of females the Sum total will be 152,000. Another Method of computing the people will be by the returns of the Militia, which is generally reckoned one fourth part of the Souls. This in 1759 was 41,000 which multiplied by 4 is 164,000. Another method is by the Number of houses which in 1761 was 32,000: this multiplied by 5 makes 160,000 by 5½, 176,000 by 6, 192,000. Upon the whole I cannot help thinking that the Number of the Souls in this Province amounts to near 200,000;897 for as all the returns before-mentioned were taken in order to make a rate of taxes or Personal Duty, they are certainly short of the truth. But I hope to be very exact in this article next Summer. In the Same returns the Slaves, negro & Mulatto, are reckoned at 2,221. The free Negroes & Mulattos are very few; the Indians living within the Settled parts of the Province are not many hundreds: perhaps these latter added to the former may make 3,000 Indians, Negroes & Mulattos. The People here are very much tired of Negro Servants; and It is generally thought that it would be for the Public good to discourage their importation, if it was not at present very inconsiderable, not one Parcell having been imported this year as yet.
10898 I have not been able to get a Copy of any former return made to these Queries & therefore cannot compare the former Account with the present computation. Undoubtedly the Inhabitants are increased within these 10 years, but not in the proportion of the ordinary encrease of the American Colonies. This Province has had few recruits from other Countries; & therefore it’s population must have arisen allmost wholly within itself: And there have been very great drawbacks to that. After the expedition to Louisbourgh in 1745 some thousands of young men were lost by Sickness: this has affected the encrease of the people almost to the present times. In the beginning of the late War Many perished by the Sword, but much more by the diseases incidental to a Campain.
In 1760, and when I came to this Government, I was surprised to see what havock Disease alone made among the Provincial Soldiers in the course of, & especially towards the end of a campain: & yet I remedied this Mischief by three Provisions only; having them well cloathed, keeping them from Rum, & Supplying them plentifully with Spruce beer. If these regulations had been established in the beginning of the War, Many Hundreds (I might say some thousands) of lives would have been Saved. Besides these drawbacks upon natural Population, This Province has suffered much by desertion, if I may so call it: Many families have removed & are continually removing to the neighbouring Provinces, & especially New Hampshire, to take up New Lands. In New hampshire only near 200 Townships have been opened in that Country which was formerly reputed as part of this Province & was allways defended from the common Enemy as such, at the expence of this Province only.
11899 By a return made in 1759 there appeared to be upon the alarm list about 41,000 fencible Men; but when All Persons exempted from training were deducted, the trainband list did not amount to more than about 35,000. These are divided into 32 regiments each having a Colonel Lieut Col & a Major: some of two battalions having 2 Lt. Colonels & 2 Majors. Most of these Regiments have a troop of horse belonging to each, Some of which are in uniform. There belongs to the Boston Regiment a company of Artillery of 60 Men in uniform of blew & red with four field Pieces. There are belonging to the Castle, besides the Garrison, 4 companies of Artillery of about 300 men in the whole, who are excercised at the great guns 6 times every year, & the two companies of Artillery belonging to the batterys at Boston & one at Charlestown. There are also to attend the Governor a Troop of horse guards consisting of about 80 men in an uniform of blue & red, & a company of Cadets of about 60 gentlemen in an uniform of red & buff Colour. The Governor as Captain-General both by the Charter & his Commission has the whole command of the Militia, appoints & removes officers at pleasure, orders musters & marches as he thinks proper, but cannot march them out of the Province without the consent of the general Assembly. By Law every Man is obliged to train four times a year; defaulters forfeit 5s. lawful money each time: Out of these fines the expence of drums & colours is defrayed. There is no other Expence: when they march in Actual Service, the Province pays them.
12900 The Principal Fortress in this Province & perhaps throughout his Majestys American Colonies is Castle William situated on an Island on the side of the only Ship Channell about 3 miles from Boston. The Fort is small but well contrived, is a regular Square with 4 bastions & 2 ravelins on the outside: it mounts 38 Guns chiefly nine pounders & two mortars on the ravelins. There are a very considerable Outworks towards the Ship Channel, which have good Communications with the Fort. The Royal Battery mounts 29 guns from twenty four to Thirty two pounders, at the end thereof is a demi bastion with four forty two pounders. Shirleys battery mounts 19 forty two pounders, at the end is an horseshoe with 6 Twenty four pounders. there are some other lesser batteries partly compleated & partly designed only: there is a large block house mounted [with]901 small Cannon to Scour the flatts; and barracks for 1000 Men with a large parade & a picketted breast-work towards the sea. When all the Works intended are finished there will be about 140 Cannon mounted upon the Island. The whole Expence is borne by the Province & for 7 years past, altho’ there have been no New Works, has amounted to £2250 Sterling one year with another. The Garrison consists of 60 Men besides the 4 companies of Artillery before mentioned, who live in the Neighbouring Towns, and are excersised at the Castle 6 times in the year. There has lately been built an Armoury for small Arms, of which there are at present about 2500. In the late War many Pieces of Artillery & considerable quantities of Warlike Stores were taken away for the Kings Use. Application has been made for the replacing them & will be renewed, we hope with Success.902 There is also a Fort on Penobscot river called Fort Pownall garrisoned with 18 men, in which is an Indian Truckhouse; & another called Fort Halifax on Kennebeck river garrisoned with 13 Men where there is another Truckhouse. Fort Western on Kennebeck river, Fort Pemaquid upon Pemaquid river & Fort George upon Georges river have been lately disarmed & are now private dwelling houses; the Artillery & Stores being removed to the Castle. There are small forts or batteries at several of the Sea Ports town[s], capable of repelling a privateer, but as they have no garrisons & have no fund to support them, they are of Very little consequence.
13903 There is a small number of Indians who were originally of Hudsons River, perhaps 70 or 80 Families, who live upon the Western Frontier of the Province at a place called Stockbridge904 & who have an English Missionary constantly preaching to them supported by the Society for propogating the Gospel in New England & parts adjacent; about 70 Families more at a place called Mashpee in the County of Barnstable who by a late Act of the General Court have had certain privileges granted them with a view of civilising them & bringing them under good Government & order;905 and between one & two hundred Families in the two Islands of Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard. All these have Missionaries or Teachers supported by the Same Society. There are about 20 Families more at Natick & a few scattering Families in several other parts of the Province. The Indians upon the frontiers of the Eastern Parts of the Province are all ranged under the general name, according to the French, of Abenaquis. of these the Arasagunticooks906 & Wewenocks907 living on the banks of St Lawrence properly belong to Canada as the St Johns Indians do to Nova Scotia: & yet all these have occasionally treated with this Province. The Indians that more particularly belong to this Province are the Norridgewalks908 the Penobscots & the Passimaquodies. The two former have been the Subjects of many Wars & many treaties with this Province: In the last War they retired to Canada & joined the Arasagunticooks & Wewenocks. Since the conquest of Canada they have come into these parts again & have renewed the acquaintance with the Provincials. As no formal treaty has been held with them since they were proclaimed Rebels & Traitors, about two months ago to prevent Mischief, I published a proclamation909 declaring a Cessation of hostilities & requiring the people to treat them as friends. Since which three of the Penobscot Chiefs have, with my leave, come to Boston & in the Name of their own tribe & of the Machias Indians a branch of it, & the Passimaquody Indians a part of the St John’s Indians Settled on the west side of St Croix, have desired to be under the Protection of this Government & to have their trade with it regulated in some particulars. Also a Norridgewalk Indian has been here in a private Character & desired to know if they may come to their old Town. I dismissed them all with Satisfactory Answers.910 These People who have for near a century occasioned so much expence of blood & treasure to this Province are now in a manner reduced to Nothing. The Norridgewalks whose town is about 40 miles above fort Halifax are about 10 families; The Penobscots who live about 50 miles above Fort Pownall with the Machiases who live in a bay of that name are about 40 families & Passimquodies who live on the west side of the Bay of St Croix about 30 families: and yet these People complain of the English settling their Country. The Nature of the Subjection of the Indians [to]911 the English Government, notwithstanding the many Treaties they have had with this Government has never been explained nor rightly understood: nor does it Signify much now whether it ever is,
14912 By the Terms of the late happy treaty This Province is freed from the neighbourhood of foreign subjects. The nearest foreign Settlement is that of St Peter & Miquelon. What effect that will have on his Majesty’s Provinces, time must discover.913
15914 Imposts & Excises have been laid by Temporary Acts of Assembly which are renewed from time to time. The Impost is upon Wine, Rum & other Spirits & 2 Þ Cent upon all goods from Great Britain which are not the produce or manufactures thereof. This brings into the Treasury about £2250~ sterg. Þ Annum. The Excise is upon Wine & spirituous Liquors sold by retail & Lemmons & Limes. This brings in about £1300~ sterg. Þ Annum. There is a farther Excise upon Tea, Coffee & China Ware which brings in about £1500~ sterg. Þ annum. The further charges of Government which in times of Peace may amount to near £20,000 Sterg. Þ Ann are raised by a Tax upon Polls & Estates. The Province is in Debt about £220,000 sterg.~ borrowed of the Inhabitants for which the Treasurer gives his notes or Obligations from six pounds to a thousand or upwards upon Interest; which notes are not negotiated or Current as money or Bills of Credit but lye in the proprietors hands as any private Securities would do & upon a transfer they bear a premium. The Revenue is appropriated to such Grants & Services as are or shall be made & ordered by the General Court. The Treasurers Accounts are annually audited by a Committee of the House of Representatives & another of the Council, but he is not discharged without a Vote of the Whole General Court.
The Kennebec River. Drafted by John Small in 1760 before he was accidentally shot and killed by a member of his surveying party, in D/SB MP/25. Courtesy of the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. Photograph by Peter Hoare.
Map of the Coast of New England north of New Hampshire. Francis Miller completed this map after surveying the region in the winter of 1765-66. In D/SB MP/10. Courtesy of the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. Photograph by Peter Hoare.
A Plan of the Penobscot River. Made by Capt. John Small, shortly before his death in 1760, in D/SB MP/12. Courtesy of the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies. Photograph by Peter Hoare.
16915 The principal officers of the Government are the Governor the Lieut. Governor & the Secretary appointed by the King; The Treasurer the Commissary General & the impost officer elected by the joint ballot of the Council & House of Representatives & consented to by the Governor; but the Commissary, as his office is mixt with the Military Service receives also a commission from the Governor; The Chief Justice & 4 other Judges of the Superior Court & the Attorney general appointed by the Governor with the Advice of the Council. The Governor with the Advice of Council appoints all Judges Justices & Officers belonging to the Courts of Justice. Other Officers especially those belonging to the revenue are elected by the two houses & consented to by the Governor. The Governor with the Council has the cognisance of causes of testacy & intestacy by charter & of causes of Marriages & Divorce by a provincial Law. But the former Jurisdiction is executed by inferior judges of Probate or rather Surrogates who are appointed by the Govr. & Council one for each County with a Registrar under him. These inferior Courts of probate are not established by any written Law but by a long usage only; they are in some manner confirmed by being mentioned in several Provincial Acts as legal Courts & the fees being ascertained thereby; & are subject to an appeal to the Govr. in Council. These Judges fees are according to the County from £10 to £60 p Stg~, the registrars about half as much more. There are also in every County 4 judges of Common pleas from which Court there lies an appeal to the Superior Court: their fees amount to according to the County from five to £45~ sterg. each. There is also in every County a Sheriff: his fees in the three principal Counties, Suffolk, Essex, & Middlesex amount to from £150 to £200~ stg. each. In other Counties it is less, decreasing according to the Size or populousness of the County. The Superior Judges hold two terms a year in the three principal Counties & one in each of the other Counties, except Lincolnshire & Berkshire, who upon account of their remoteness join in the business of the superior Court with the Counties next to them; So that they are from home near half the year. Their Salaries which depend upon the Assembly & fees together do not amount to £140~ Sterg. each; half of which is expended in travelling charges. The Attorney General used to have a salary but of late that has been refused by the Assembly upon a pretence of their having a right to join in his appointment: but they sometimes pay him for public business tho’ in a scanty manner. The Principal Officers of the Government are as follows The Governor, Salary £1000, fees under £100~ £1,100 Ster. The Lt. Govr. Thos Hutchinson Esq no salary or fees; when he takes the chair the Assembly makes him a special grant. The Secretary Andrew Oliver Esq Salary & fees £250. the Treasurer Harrison Gray Esq for himself & Clerks salary £375~ the Commissary Thos Hubbard916 Esq Salary £112 10s. the impost Officer James Russell Esq Salary & fees £90~ The chief Justice is Thomas Hutchinson Esq the Lieut. Governor; the other Judges are Benjamin Lynde917 John Cushing918 Chambers Russell919 & Peter Oliver920 Esquires, The Attorney general is Edmund Trowbridge Esq.921 Their Commission & all others under the Seal of the Province were renewed upon the present kings accession. The inadequateness of the Governors Income to the importance of his charge & the care & trouble attending it has been a subject of frequent observation. This has arisen from the Pains that have been taken in former times by acts of ascertaining fees & by other means to reduce the Governor’s perquisites as low as possible, so that they are now under £100~ a year & never like to be more: and yet the Salary is no more than what is allowed by his Majesty to the smallest Government paid by him. The insufficiency of the Judges Salaries affords great cause of complaint. To have Gentlemen of the first rank & ability dedicate their whole time to the Service of the public & not have £80~ a year clear of expences for their trouble is disgraceful & injurious to the whole Province. And for this, they are dependent every year upon the Assembly, where frequent attempts are made & sometimes successfully, to lower even this poor pittance. To do this, the Very Judgements of the Court, where they have been unpopular, have been used as means to lower the Salaries of the judges. Indeed the present Judges are superior to influence of this kind, but then they suffer for it. The Attorney general has had no Salary allowed him for several years, because the Assembly claim a right to elect him insisting that he is not an Officer belonging to the courts of Justice. Great & many are the inconveniences which arise to the public as well from the insufficiency as from the precariousness of the Salaries of the chief officers; which will never be remedied but by the establishment of a Sufficient & independent civil list, out of which his Majesty may assign to the public officers such Salaries as the Dignity & Duty of their Offices should require: a regulation extremely wanted in America, for which it would be very easy to provide a proper fund.
17922 The constitution of the Government will appear best from the Charter, which is duly carried into execution. I know of no Colony where the Compact between the King & the People is better observed. The Royal Rights are never openly invaded: the utmost that is done, is to dispute what are royal rights. Whereas in some other Governments the general Assembly in some cases take upon themselves the executive part of Government appointing special receivers disbursers & expenditors of the public money & making them accountable for the same to them only exclusively of the Governor. This is never done here, no money being ever issued but by the Governor with the advice of Council. The chief difference between this Government & the meer royal ones, is in the appointment of the Council or middle part of the Legislature, in the Governor’s not excercising the power of Chancellor, & by his being obliged to have the Concurrence of the Council in many acts, which the meer royal Governors can do alone. It was, in my opinion, an unfortunate error in the forming this Government to leave the Council to be elected by the Representatives of the People &c & that annually. Being thus constituted & continually renewed, their complexion is much too popular for them to be, as they ought to be, mediators between the Crown & people. The influence which their reelection is supposed to have on them is so well understood that It is a common practise, whenever any popular business is to be carried through, contrary to the Sentiments of the Government, to bring it into the Court as near as possible before the general Election. It is true that the Gentlemen of the Council give frequent proofs of their steadiness & independence: but it is impossible to say that the reelection may not create some bias, tho’ they may not be sensible of it themselves: at least it is highly indecent that they should be publickly threatned to be turned out for what they do in Council, altho they are known to act under the Sanction of an Oath as well as a sense of their duty: This has not been uncommon within my observation. On the other hand it would be objected on the behalf of the People to have a Council appointed & removeable by the Crown: it would be said that such a Council would be no more a proper Mediator between the Crown & People than a Council elected by & removeable by the people. And it has seemed to me that in the meer Royal Governments, the removeability of the Council, altho’ so seldom excersised as to be allmost merely nominal, has a tendency to diminish their weight with the People. I cannot but think that the middle legislative power in a provincial Assembly should be made to resemble as near as possible, the house of Lords. The Dignity should be derived from the King, as the fountain of honour, & granted for life defeasible by notorious misdemeanor. It would not be amiss if some title for Life (for this Country is not ripe enough for hereditary honours)923 such as Baron or Baronet was annexed to it. Such a constitution would add great stability to the Government: These Councellors would naturally support the rights of the Crown, & being independent of it, would not incur the jealousy of the people. It would induce people of consequence to look up to the King for honour & Authority, instead of endeavouring to raise themselves by popular Altercations. I am inclined to think that such an alteration might be made agreable to the people, I am allmost sure it would be for the public good, but I apprehend It would require the Authority of the Parliament to carry it into execution, tho’ the consent of the Province should be first obtained for that purpose. At the same time It would deserve consideration whether it would not be proper to make the second Legislative power & the privy Council two distinct bodies as they are in England: in such Case the latter should be wholly appointed & removable by the King. It might have been made a question whether the Governor of this Province has not the power of the Chancellor delivered to him with the great Seal, as well as other royal Governors: but it is impracticable to Set up such a claim now, after a non usage of 70 Years, & after several Governors have in effect disclaimed it by consenting to bills for establishing a Court of Chancery which have been disallowed at home. A Court of Chancery is very much wanted here, many Causes of consequence frequently happening in which no redress is to be had for want of a Court of Equity.924 I am inclined to think that if a Complainant in a matter of Equity arising within this Province should file his bill in the Court of Chancery in England suggesting that there was no provincial Court in which he could be relieved, that the bill would be retained; in the same manner as I suppose a Libell in the high Court of Admiralty would be admitted, if there was no inferior Court of Admiralty in the province. But this practise would be Very burthensome to the Province, unless it was used only to inforce the Necessity of establishing a Provincial Court of Equity. I have been the more particular upon these Subjects not only to point out what seems to me to be the defects of the Constitution of this Government but also to show how few things are Wanting to make it compleat. If these great Matters were regulated lesser things would mend themselves. In fine, A Civil list, an independent middle legislative power & a Court of Chancery, with a few other regulations which would follow of course, would give this Government as good a constitution as any in his Majesty’s American Dominions: especially as the People in general are as well inclined to his Majesty’s Government & as well satisfyed with their subordination to Great Britain as any Colony in America; the prejudices which have heretofore occasioned their being represented as otherwise disposed being wholly or allmost wholly wore off.
All which is humbly submitted,
Boston Sep 5. 1763
Ms, RC CO 5/891, ff 207-220.
With this report, FB answered a series of questions put to him and other governors by the Board of Trade about the state of their province with particular reference to geography, demography, commerce, industry, agriculture, and government. The queries are summarised in Labaree, Royal Instructions, 2: 741-742 and 746-748. The set of “Queries” that FB received in No. 46 was prepared on 22 Apr. 1761 and approved two days later “with several alterations and additions.” JBT, 11: 190-192. Unfortunately, this set has not survived. In its absence, the questions supplied in the footnotes are taken from a contemporary set issued to the governor of North Carolina in 1761. William Laurence Saunders, et. al., eds., The Colonial Records of North Carolina, 10 vols., (Raleigh, 1886-1990), 6: 605-623.
In the covering letter, FB apologized to John Pownall for the long delay in compiling the document and for the answers being “not as correct as I could wish. They are wrote hastily with a great regard to truth, but with a freedom that in many places will want an Apology, particularly in the last Article.” The report may have been written “hastily” prior to FB leaving for eastern Massachusetts, but it was well-researched nonetheless and provides a useful synopsis of the province within the parameters established by Board. It was copied to the king on 1 Oct. 1765 with a representation from the Board of Trade. FB to Pownall, Boston, 12 Sept. 1763, BP, 3: 98-99; JBT, 12: 318. The Board acknowledged receipt in a letter to FB dated Whitehall, 29 Nov. 1765, CO 5/920, pp. 206-207.