507 | To the Earl of Shelburne

    Boston Oct 15. 1766.

    My Lord

    I beg leave to recommend to your Lordship the enclosed Copy of a petition prepared to be presented to the Lords of the Treasury by Robert Achmuty Esq at present the Kings Advocate general for this Province, as a Matter well worth your Consideration. I have in my letter of the 12th inst endeavoured to show that It was necessary to the King’s Service to support the Court of Admiralty in an ampler Manner than it is at present. If this is so, The Questions upon this petition will be, Whether the Office of Advocate general wants any other Support than his occasional fees; and whether this particular Gentleman deserves an extraordinary Encouragement.

    I suppose that the Expediency of making the Office of Advocate general so Valuable as to engage the Service of the Very best Lawyers will be undoubted. For where the Kings Service labours so hard as it does here, The best Men & the Most able to support the Kings Intrest should be employed. Now My Lord upon a thorough observation of the business of the Court of Admiralty, which my Office hath necessarily obliged me to make, I am convinced that the Emoluments of the Office are not such as would induce a first rate practiser (such Mr Achmuty is) to desire the Office. It has its disadvantages attending it as well as its advantages: and it may be well supposed that the former may ever balance the latter. In Crown Causes sometimes much larger fees are given for the Defts1 than for the King. I have been credibly informed (not by Mr Achmuty himself) in some particular Cases that He has been ^offered^ fees of ten times the Amount of what He usually received from the King. In one intresting Case no Money would have been spared to have bought him off. I have myself been long convinced that the Advocate general ought to have a certain Salary, besides occasional fees.

    As for the Gentleman himself, I have given so full a testimony of his Merit in the Kings Service in former letters to your Lordships Office, and to the Lords of Trade, that if I should enlarge upon it ^now^ I should be obliged to repeat. I shall only say Now, that I engaged him in that Service when It was dangerous & difficult, as it is at all times unpopular. That He has exerted himself in it with resolution steadiness & Uniformity not to be too much commended; & He has shown himself equally superior to the threats of the people in times of danger & to their attempts to seduce him from his Duty in times of Quiet. In the professional business of his Office, where he has generally been Opposed by the first Lawyers of this Country, He has manifested such distinguishing Skill & Ability, that I must declare that if He should be discouraged from continuing in his Office, I know not from whence to replace him to Any degree of public Utility.

    I must therefore humbly recommend to your Lordship that as well upon account of the Exigencies of the Office itself as of the Merit of the present Officer a Salary may be appointed to the Office of Advocate general of this province.

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

    Fra Bernard

    The Right honble The Earl of Shelburne

    ALS, RC      CO 5/755, ff 833-836.