524 | Memorial To the Earl of Shelburne

    To the right honorable, the Earl of Shelburne, his Majesty’s principal Secretary of State, &c ---

    The Memorial of Francis Bernard Esqr Governor of his Majesty’s province of Massachusets Bay, humbly Sheweth,

    That their late Majesties King George the first & King George the second, did by their instructions to the sevral Governors of the said Province, order them to recommend to the Assemblies of the said Province from time to time, that the said Assemblies should establish a fixed & honorable Salary for the support of the dignity of the Governor there, (for which 1000 pounds Sterling was deemed a competent Sum) to be settled by Acts of Assembly upon the Governor or his Successors, or at least upon the Governor during the whole time of his Government. And the said recommendation never having been complied with, Governor Belcher, who entered upon the said Government in the Year 1730, obtained a Relaxation of the said instruction so far as to allow him to accept of the same Salary by annual Acts only : in consequence of which, after many difficulties & delays, the Assembly at length did grant unto the Governor 975 pounds Sterling for one years Salary, which was then accepted for & as 1000 pounds , & has ever since been continued to be granted to the Governor for the time being by annual Acts only.1

    That at the times of the issuing the forementiond instructions, wherein the said Sum of 1000 pounds was declared to be a competent Salary, the Governor of Massachusets Bay was also Governor of New Hampshire, from which province he received a separate Salary besides fees & Perquisites; it was also most probably presumed that the fees & perquisites of the Governor of Massachusets Bay being an extensive, populous, & rich Province, must amount to a very considerable Sum, which, if they bore any proportion to those of other Governments, would have been not less than a Moiety of the Salary. From which considerations it was concluded probably that the Governor’s whole income must amount to little less than double the Salary assigned by the forementioned instructions.

    That Governor Shirley,2 who immediately succeeded Govr. Belcher, & was the first Governor appointed to Massachusets Bay who had not also an appointment to New Hampshire, soon after his appointment, engaged in sevral Businesses of great importance, in consideration of which, the Assembly granted him sevral considerable Sums of Mony over & above the forementioned Salary. He also had the Command of a Regiment of Regulars which he enjoyed for much the greater part of the time of his Government. He was also during part of such time appointed Commissary for settling the boundaries of Acadia, &c. at Paris. He was also during other part of such time Commander in chief of his Majesty’s Forces in America with a very large Establishment. By means of all which grants & appointments over & above the ordinary income of his Government, He never felt the deficiency of his Salary as Governor, nor had any occasion to complain of the Same.

    That Govr Pownall, the immediate Successor of Govr Shirley, well understood how inadequate the establishment of this Government was to the importance & dignity of it. But it being in the time of War, when evry fund was charged with the utmost expence it would bear, He found it so unreasonable to apply for an addition to his Salary, that he chose to wait for relief by a dismission from this post, & an appointment to a more beneficial one, which he soon obtained.3

    By these means It is, that it has fallen to the lot of the Memorialist to represent the present State of the Establishment for the support of the Governor of this province; & to show how inadequate it is to the importance & dignity of the Government. For this Purpose He begs leave to shew that besides the separation of the Government of New Hampshire from that of Massachusets Bay, & the low reduction of the Govrs. fees, by fee bills & other means, to allmost nothing, a contingent profit arising from the Govr’s share of Custom house Seizures, (which tho’ in itself uncertain, has been heretofore reckoned at 200 pounds sterling com. annis)4 has entirely ceased; there having no seizures been made for some time, & none likely to be made. And indeed profits of this kind are of so invidious a nature in this place, that if they had continued or were like to be revived, the Memorst would be obliged to sollicit an equivalent for the same, in order that he might be discharged therefrom, & freed from the Censure occasioned thereby.

    By these Means the Income of the Governor of the Massachusets Bay is reduced to a very narrow compass consisting only of two Articles, Salary 975 pds, Office fees less than £ 1005 pds, tot £1075. The memorialist apprehends than [that] he need not labour much to show that £1075 pr An, is not an honorable or a competent support for a Governor of an extensive, populous, & rich Province, residing in one of the Capital Cities in America.6 He begs leave to assert that his annual Expences have often exceeded that Sum, & cannot be kept within the bounds of it but by an OEconomy which must impair the dignity of his Office. To put the inadequateness of this appointment out of all doubt, It may be sufficient to refer to the neighbouring Province of Nova Scotia, where it has been thought necessary to augment the Salary of the Governor to 1500 pds pr An, notwithstanding that the Business & Difficulty of that Government bear no proportion to that of Massachusets Bay, & the fees & perquisites of the former greatly exceed those of the latter.

    The Memorialist begs leave to submit the premises to your Lordships consideration with this obvious reflexion arising therefrom; that as well the precariousness & dependency, as the Incompetency of the Support of the King’s Government, tend very much to weaken the Authority of Government, & expose it to disregard & Opposition. This has been frequently observed in some of the royal Governments which are founded, as it were, in the plenitude of the King’s Power. But it is much more observable in a Government, the constitution of which has but one royal ingredient in it (the appointment of the Governor) & all the rest of its composition democratical. In such a state, the making the Governor dependent upon the People, & lowering him to the level of them, has effects very hurtful to the Authority & Activity of Government, & such as at the present Time seem to require a speedy redress.

    Wherefore the Memorst humbly prays that your Lordship will be pleased, at such a time as shall be proper, to lay the Contents of this Memorial, or such parts thereof as shall deserve Notice, before his Majesty , in hopes that He may be graciously pleased to take the same into his royal Consideration, & order such further provision for the support of his Governor of the said Province to be made, as in his great Wisdom, the Maintenance of the Dignity & Authority of his said Government shall appear to require.

    Fra Bernart

    AMs, RC      CO 5/756, ff 33-36.