177 | Memorial To The Board Of Trade

    To The Right Honorable The Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations

    The humble Memorial of Francis Bernard Esq: Governor of the Province of Massachusets Bay showeth

    That the Memorialist was in the year 1760 appointed Governor of the Province aforesaid & entered upon the Government on the 2d day of August in the same year.

    That on the 25 day of Octr: following his late Majesty died, & his present Majesty having been graciously pleased to reappoint the Memorialist to the said Government he sued out new Commissions for the same at the same expence as the former, but without the usual allowances of Chappel furniture plate &c

    That the Memorialist’s family being, by means of the Number of his children, considerably larger than that of his predecessor, upon his accession to the Government, He found himself obliged, (besides the assistance he had from the Province which was very liberal) to expend considerable sums of his own Money in improvements & additions to the Governor’s house at Boston & his apartment at Castle William.

    That the extraordinary expences the Memst: had been at as well in the charges of his second commission as in the improvements & additions to the Governor’s House & apartments as aforesaid being taken into consideration by the House of Representatives, They of their own accord proposed to make the Memst: a compensation for the expences aforesaid by a Grant of lands, being more suitable to the state of the Provincial Finances during an expensive War & to the particular Circumstances of the Memsts family, than a pecuniary Retribution would be.

    The Governor of Massachusets Bay, considering the importance of the Province & the variety & extensiveness of its publick business, is allowed to be the worst supported of all the Royal Governors, the whole income consisting of 1000 pounds a year salary, (according to the Royal instructions) & casual fees of less than 100 pounds a year more. The House of Representatives have been so sensible of this, that, tho they would not increase the state salary beyond what has been required of them, yet they frequently have been known to make the extraordinary Services of the Governors motives for occasional additions to the Salary & by that means have in some degree made up the general deficiency of the appointment.

    For these considerations the General Court of the said Province in their Session in febry 1762 did grant unto the Memorst: & his heirs the Island of Mount desart lying North Eastward of Penobscot Bay, subject to his Majesty’s Approbation. And tho in the said Grant the only Consideration mention’d is of the extraordinary Services of the Memst:, (in regard to which He only pretends to a close attention & steady application to the public business in arduous & interesting times) yet he begs leave to assure Your Lordships that a Compensation for the Expences aforemention’d, then estimated at above 600 pounds, was intended by the said Grant as well as a consideration for extraordinary services.

    Under these Circumstances the Memst: received this grant, at the same time flattering himself, that if the value of it should hereafter appear to be greater than the Considerations for which it was made, He might, in some part, make up the difference, by encouraging a speedy settlement there & rendring it subservient to the general purposes of extending & improving his Majesty’s dominions. For this Reason He immediately declared his intention, that (as soon as the grant had recieved his Majestys Approbation) he would settle a Township there by grants of land to the settlers thereof wholly gratuitous & free from any charge whatsoever. And he according recieved proposals from upwards of 60 families to settle there upon free grants of lands a certain quantity ^of land^ being made to each family, which have been accepted by him & are ready to be carried into Execution.

    Soon after this, the Memst: was informed that there were several persons settled upon the Island without pretending to any right thereto & were making great Havock among the Timber & particularly such part thereof as is by law reserved for the use of his Majesty. The Memst:, thereupon, found it necessary to visit the Island in person; which he did in Oct: 1762. When, having call’d the persons settled there before him, he prevailed upon them to engage to stop their wast of the timber, by assuring them that he would grant unto them sufficient lots of land for their families in the New intended Township, which he promis’d them should be mark’d out without delay.

    The Memst: begs leave to assure your Lordships, that He should not, under his present grant unconfirmed by his Majesty, have thought of entring into possession of the Island or acting as the proprietor thereof, if the Circumstances of the times & the urgency of the people he has had to deal with, had not made it necessary. It would not, in point of prudence, have been advisable for him, with so imperfect a title, to have entered into the Expence he has already incurred in making a Voyage thither & employing Surveyors to lay out a Plan for a Township there, if it could have been well avoided. But He was fully convinced that, if he did not interfere immediately, irregular settlements not hereafter to be easily reduced into order, & a general devastation of the Timber there would have presently ensued. He thought it therefore better for him to enter upon the Island under an imperfect Title than to suffer it to be possessed & wasted by Persons who can pretend to no title at all.

    Whilst in this state of uncertainty and diffidence, The Memst: has been inform’d, that upon a reference to Your Lordships, it is to be apprehended that Your Lordships may not recommend the confirmation of this Grant, upon a doubt concerning the legal effect of the Charter of K William & Qu Mary,662 under which this Grant is made; which arises from this Objection; “that in regard to the Lands between the Rivers Penobscot & St Croix (among which this Island may be accounted) King William was not in possession of them at the time of making the Charter, & therefore could not legally grant the same.” The Memst. begs leave to assure Your Lordships that at the time of the Genl Court’s making the Grant to him It was not apprehended by him, nor, as he believes, by any ^one^ of the Genl Court that this Objection or Any other of Consequence lay against the Right of the Province to originate a Grant of this Island under the Charter of King William & subject to the restrictions thereof; The Records of the Province seeming to afford full Proof that King William, at the time of making the Charter, was in possession of the Country in question.

    But the Memst: desires to be understood that he does not mean to enter upon a controversial examination of this question: it is sufficient for him, that he is satisfied that Your Lordships will give it a full Consideration, before you form your judgement of it. In his present situation it would ill become him to make himself a principal in a dispute concerning the rights of the Crown; nor could he think it prudent to take upon himself the defence of the province in so important a Claim as the present. All He can do is to wait untill the Province shall have an opportunity to interpose on their own behalf; a full Consideration of their Claim to the benefit of the letter of their Charter, if it should be thought necessary, can be had; & a determination thereof shall be made.

    But as a disquisition of this importance must necessarily take up a good deal of time; as the Circumstances of the Memst’s case both in regard to the Considerations of the Original Grant & the necessity he is under to enter upon & defend the lands at further expence will but ill suit with much delay; as the avowed purport of the Memst: is to establish a new Town in a Wilderness, before he begins to percieve any profit to himself; as it is his firm intention, as soon after the confirmation of his Grant as may be, by examination of the Lands, & by experiments thereon to elucidate the best means to make them most beneficial to the Mother Country; & as he has reason from the testimonies he has recieved, to flatter himself that his publick Services have hitherto been favourably accepted by your Lordships: He is bold to hope that if upon account of the Objection before mentioned or any other which shall bring the Province’s right to make this grant in question, your Lordships should not think it proper at present to advise the confirmation of this Grant, under the Title of the Province of Massachusets Bay, You will be so favorable to him as to recommend him to his Majesty’s Grace, for a grant of the Island in such a form & Manner as shall neither confirm nor conclude against the Right of the Province of Massachusets Bay; but be equally available whether the Question concerning the same shall be determined on the one side or the other.

    And your Lordships may be assured, that the Memst. will use his best endeavours so to improve the said lands, as not only to perform the Condition of a speedy population, which is inherent to grants of this kind; but also by all other means to make them as conducive to the general utility as the Nature & Extent of the Island will admit of

    Fra. Bernard

    Boston Dec 1. 1762

    MsS, RC CO 5/891, ff 106-109.

    The manuscript printed here is a fair version of draft in BP, 10: 49-56 (ADft, AC), on which the only previously published version (a clear text transcript) was based. Sawtelle, “Sir Francis Bernard and His Grant of Mount Desert,” 212-215. The fair copy incorporates most of the additions and corrections that FB made to the draft, and does not differ in substance.

    The memorial was read by the Board of Trade on 2 Mar. 1763, for which proceedings see source note to No. 193.