It is the editors’ hope that this edition of Thomas Hutchinson’s correspondence will provide both specialists and the general audience with an easily handled, highly readable resource of Hutchinson’s life and times before his departure for England in June 1774.

    The edition begins with Governor Belcher’s instructions to Hutchinson prior to his voyage to England in 1740, just as he was making a name for himself in Massachusetts politics. It ends with a letter written more than thirty years later, as he once again left America for England, having achieved the highest provincial office.1 For the years in between, over 2,200 letters written by or to Hutchinson were identified by the editors.

    The bulk of these letters reside in two main collections. The larger of the two is held by the Massachusetts Archives, which houses not just the commonwealth’s official papers but also Hutchinson’s private papers, both his copies of outgoing correspondence and many of the letters he received as incoming correspondence. Hutchinson left his papers, along with material associated with his history of Massachusetts, at his home in Milton, fearing that they might fall into the hands of his enemies if left in Boston after he departed for England. Ironically, in November 1774, his son Thomas Jr. and his family fled the Milton house and moved into Boston for their personal safety, leaving many of their possessions behind. Shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, the house was partially looted. The Milton Committee of Safety removed the balance of the contents, and the house became a barracks for patriot troops during the siege of Boston. Among the items they overlooked, however, was a trunk in the attic that contained exactly what they most wanted: Hutchinson’s papers. Later that month, in April 1775, a neighbor, Samuel Henshaw, while rummaging through the house, discovered the trunk and its contents. Henshaw alerted a local militia colonel to what he had found, and on 29 April 1775, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety ordered General John Thomas to seize the papers and turn them over to Samuel Dexter, a representative from Dedham and former member of the Council.2

    In May 1775, the Provincial Congress appointed a committee to review the documents and publish extracts of the letters that would prove damaging to the loyalist cause. The Reverend William Gordon of Roxbury took a leading editorial role, and some letters still bear marks of his exclamatory notes and emendations. A highly selective publication began in the 5 June Boston Gazette but was soon picked up by the Massachusetts Spy, the New England Chronicle, several other American and British newspapers, and John Almon’s Remembrancer (published in London). Within a few short years, all or part of nearly 150 letters had appeared in print. The presentation of such sensitive material, quoted out of context and surrounded by Gordon’s inflammatory rhetoric, was sufficient to cause even some of Hutchinson’s most loyal supporters to desert him.

    The trunk full of papers remained in Gordon and Dexter’s care throughout the Revolution until 1783 when they surrendered it to the secretary of the commonwealth at the request of the legislature. The collection remained in the care of the commonwealth until 1819 when the papers were divided into three groups. Secretary of the Commonwealth Alden Bradford elected to turn over to the Massachusetts Historical Society the historical documents that Hutchinson had assembled while writing his history of Massachusetts. They were subsequently reclaimed by the commonwealth in 1873 after a protracted ownership dispute and deposited in the Massachusetts Archives as volumes 240, 241, and 242.3 The original manuscript of the second volume of Hutchinson’s History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay apparently remained in control of the commonwealth throughout this period and was housed in the Massachusetts Archives as volume 28. Hutchinson’s voluminous correspondence in all likelihood also remained in control of the state and was designated volumes 25, 26, and 27 in the Massachusetts Archives.

    Over the years, these three volumes of correspondence have become known as the Hutchinson letterbooks, although in truth only volumes 26 and 27 were true bound letterbooks when they were in Hutchinson’s possession; they contained his copies or drafts of the letters he wrote from late 1761 through the end of 1773. Volume 25 comprised a collection of loose papers of various sizes, which included Hutchinson’s incoming correspondence as well as some drafts and copies of his outgoing correspondence. These items were later bound together into a single volume after the material left Hutchinson’s control. At some point after 1775, an unknown editor or curator created indices for all three volumes that were incorporated into each at subsequent rebindings.

    Despite the fact that Hutchinson the historian was a noted collector of ancient manuscripts, there was an unfortunate imbalance between the amount of surviving incoming and outgoing correspondence. Perhaps many of the letters written to him before 1765 were destroyed during the sacking of his house, or perhaps he himself destroyed many of the letters before his departure for England in 1774. Nevertheless, the same imbalance between incoming and outgoing correspondence also appeared to be true of his years in England.

    Collectively, the three volumes comprised a rich resource for scholars of this period, and by the early twentieth century, they were clearly showing signs of heavy use and advanced age. During the 1930s, employees of the Works Projects Administration made a haphazard attempt at conservation of volumes 25, 26, and 27. More recently, however, the Massachusetts Archives disbound its volumes of Hutchinson correspondence and divided them into small groupings of pages residing in acid-free folders in a climate-controlled vault. The traditional Massachusetts Archives reference numbers remained the same, however, reflecting the original organization into three bound volumes.

    The Massachusetts Archives material would be extremely difficult to use had it not been transcribed by Catherine Barton Mayo in the early 1950s. Malcolm Freiberg carefully reviewed Mayo’s transcripts with possible publication in mind, and they were presented to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1957, where most scholars have read them either in typescript or on microfilm ever since. Because they were in most cases letterbook copies, the Massachusetts Archives version of a letter did not always provide the most authoritative text. Hence, readers comparing the Freiberg-Mayo transcripts with this edition may find significant differences.

    The Massachusetts Archives volumes also included important supplemental information not available elsewhere, such as Hutchinson’s memoranda of letters not fully recorded, which were incorporated into the calendar here, and occasional non-epistolary material that added to a greater understanding of Hutchinson’s thoughts and actions.

    The three volumes of correspondence in the Massachusetts Archives were the starting point for this edition, and the editors broadened their search from there.

    The second large collection of Hutchinson correspondence resides in the National Archives of the United Kingdom (formerly the Public Record Office) in Kew, England, mostly in the Colonial Office 5 series. For his outgoing correspondence—the bulk of which Hutchinson wrote to his superiors in England—both his original letters and usually his duplicate letters were preserved in separate volumes, bound at some later date along with any enclosures he sent.4 Government clerks also transcribed Hutchinson’s letters into entry books at their respective offices. The letters British officials wrote to him were usually recorded by clerks before being sent to North America, both in official entry books and in letterbooks. Those copies were also preserved at the National Archives UK.

    Smaller but highly significant collections of Hutchinson letters reside at the Massachusetts Historical Society, the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and the British Library, which holds Hutchinson’s authorial copies made during his last six months in America and continuing through the end of his life. Over thirty other repositories in Scotland, England, Canada, and the United States also hold collections of varying extent of Hutchinson material dating from 1740 through 1774.

    With such a large volume of correspondence, particularly as his prominence in provincial affairs rose, it is hardly surprising that approximately one-fifth of Hutchinson’s surviving letters—both his authorial copies and his outgoing correspondence—were written in hands other than his own. His formal handwriting was easily identifiable, but when rushed his handwriting became a cramped scrawl that bore little resemblance to his more graceful, deliberate script. The identification of Hutchinson’s handwriting was also made difficult by his occasional use of a small, tight script that used a great many abbreviations and very few vowels. This abbreviated hand was not to be confused with the cipher he rarely employed to keep portions of his letters private (discussed below). Roughly 1,800 of the more than 2,200 letters identified by the editors were written in his hand.

    In the remaining 400 letters, at least ten different hands were detected. By comparing handwriting samples, the editors identified which hand transcribed which letter for the majority of letters. If a letter appeared in a hand other than Hutchinson’s own, it was likely that of one of his children. The handwriting of two of his sons, Elisha and William Sanford, accounted for nearly three-fourths of all letters not written by Hutchinson himself. Elisha made file copies of roughly 100 letters and William Sanford 175. His eldest son, Thomas Jr., also copied about 60 letters. The hand of Hutchinson’s youngest daughter, Margaret (Peggy), appeared in only a small number of letters—perhaps 13—although she was traditionally assumed to have served as her father’s chief amanuensis. Hutchinson also used the copying services of a number of secretaries, possibly as many as a dozen during the 1760s and 1770s. Most copied only one or two letters for him, usually enclosures or duplicate copies for his superiors in England. Hutchinson did, however, seem to rely on one secretary more than others, who copied about 20 letters for him.

    Hutchinson apparently maintained careful control over his letterbooks, since only his children wrote in them when he didn’t do so himself. In only a very few instances did secretaries write in one of the letterbooks. Nevertheless, the children’s clerical duties were not confined to the letterbooks alone; he also employed them in copying duplicates and enclosures for his superiors in England.

    A draft of one of Hutchinson’s letters in his letterbook, Mass. Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:301. Courtesy of Massachusetts Archives. A receiver’s copy of one of Hutchinson’s letters, Thomas Hutchinson to Israel Williams, 1 February 1748, Israel Williams Papers. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


    This edition encompasses the 2,200 letters the editors found of Hutchinson’s private and public correspondence dated before 1 June 1774. All of this correspondence was calendared in the appropriate volume covering the years of his American career, and each calendared entry included a brief summary of the contents of the letters if the letters themselves were not published in these volumes. From the 2,200 letters identified from this period, the editors selected approximately 600 to be printed in a projected four-volume chronological series: volume 1 (1740–1766), volume 2 (1767–1769), volume 3 (1770–1771), and volume 4 (1772–1774). The editors hope that in time all these volumes will appear in a fully searchable online digital edition.

    Hutchinson’s letters reflected his varied interests as politician, judge, merchant, landowner, historian, horticulturalist, and consumer. Nevertheless, hard choices had to be made about what to print, and the selection generally turned on the relevance of each letter to the pre-Revolutionary political struggle in Massachusetts. Consequently, that story emerged naturally from this edition. Readers should keep in mind, however, that such principles of selection suppressed other stories that might have emerged from reading the entire corpus of his letters: for instance, his early career as a merchant, his judicial decision-making not relevant to the imperial struggle, the administration of his Rhode Island landholdings, the planting of his country estate at Milton, or perhaps even his instructions to his tailor, which offered insights into what a well- if conservatively, dressed provincial gentleman might wear. Even certain overtly political topics like the conduct of the French and Indian War or boundary disputes between Massachusetts and adjoining colonies appeared only fleetingly in the selected letters. The story of the writing and publication of the first two volumes of Hutchinson’s monumental History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay appeared episodically in the selected letters but was not a principal focus of the edition. Readers seeking to mine his correspondence for these and other worthy stories should consult the calendar for assistance.

    Although readers should keep in mind that this was a collection of “letters” and not “writings” or “papers,” the editors included, on occasion, a limited number of non-epistolary documents, which fell into one of three categories: an essay, petition, or speech that Hutchinson wrote for the consideration of his correspondents or one that bore directly on the events portrayed in the letters, unless reliable edited versions already appeared in print elsewhere; an enclosure necessary for a complete understanding of the letters; or in some rare instances, the only record of Hutchinson’s participation in an important historic event, such as the Albany Conference. Preference was given to any non-epistolary document included in volumes 25, 26, or 27 from the Massachusetts Archives.

    All of Hutchinson’s three sons occasionally acted as clerks for their father. The samples of their handwriting are from top to bottom: Thomas Hutchinson Jr. (Mass. Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:5), Elisha Hutchinson (Mass. Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:120), and William Sanford Hutchinson (Mass. Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:229). Courtesy of Massachusetts Archives.


    As no set of procedures can anticipate every textual problem, the plan described in this textual introduction was confined to a general statement of principles. Exceptions to these policies were noted in the annotations or source notes where appropriate.

    The wealth of surviving correspondence written by Hutchinson often led to the discovery of more than one version of letters. In order to establish the most authoritative version, the editors gave precedence to receiver’s copies (RC) or duplicate receiver’s copies (DupRC), if available, since those were the most carefully considered versions of the letters and the ones upon which his correspondents acted. In the event that letters went astray or duplicates arrived before the intended receiver’s copies, the editors used endorsements to determine which ones arrived first. It should be noted that Hutchinson always wrote in his own hand the version he intended to send, except in the few rare instances when he wrote what were essentially circular letters or identical letters to several recipients. To his superiors in England, he nearly always sent duplicate copies as well, which were often in his own hand. When they were not, he typically signed them himself before sending them. Enclosures to these letters, which were often quite numerous and lengthy, were usually in the hand of a secretary.

    Next in rank would come Hutchinson’s authorial copies, which could be in the form of author’s copies (AC) or drafts (Dft). Although he retained copies of most of his letters, he did not do so for all of them, or if he did, not all of those author’s copies were found. If he did retain copies, they were either on loose sheets that were later bound into Massachusetts Archives volume 25 or, more likely, they were contained in one of his letterbooks (Massachusetts Archives volumes 26 and 27) or, if written after 1773, in the collection of his papers now housed in the British Library. In several instances, he retained more than one copy of a letter, sometimes with significant variations between them.

    Multiple versions of letters sometimes appeared in the letterbooks because Hutchinson used these volumes both to record his outgoing correspondence and, at times, to compose it. The majority of letters in his letterbooks were fair copies, with little or no revisions. A small proportion of the letters, though, were heavily reworked, indicating that Hutchinson either drafted letters in his letterbook or changed his mind about what he meant to convey to his recipients. If he wrote earlier drafts of his letters on loose sheets before recording them in his letterbooks, the editors were able to locate very few of them—only five of his letters survived as both loose sheet drafts and author’s copies bound in one of his letterbooks. Slightly more common was Hutchinson’s practice of writing out entirely new versions of letters, with the two versions usually appearing within a page or two of each other in his letterbooks. Typically neither version showed signs of substantial revision, but on occasion Hutchinson wrote “not sent” across the top of one version or the other. This “not sent” designation was not, however, an infallible indication of drafts; some of the most heavily reworked letters were missing this phrase, even when cleaner versions of the same letter appeared in the letterbooks. To complicate matters further, unsent letters were not always superseded by new versions; in some instances, Hutchinson appeared to have changed his mind about writing at all. The editors relied on the amount of revision, the existence of subsequent letters that bore a marked similarity to the earlier letters, and the presence of the words “not sent” when determining which letters were drafts.

    It should also be noted that in some cases where both receiver’s copies of letters and author’s copies survived, the receiver’s copies may show substantial differences from the author’s copies, showing that Hutchinson often made some revisions even as he wrote out the receiver’s copies. Apparently, though, he did not always record those revisions in the fair copies he retained.

    A final category of documents described copies made without authorial control (SC), usually by receivers or their scribes. This practice occurred most frequently with official correspondence and represented a substantial portion of the Hutchinson letters from this period held at repositories in Great Britain, including several volumes of entry books at the National Archives UK. The existence of copies made by unofficial agents suggested the frequency with which Hutchinson’s correspondence was circulated in England.

    In rare instances, and only as a last resort, was it necessary to use a printed version of letters that did not otherwise survive. Unfortunately, Hutchinson’s political enemies were wont to circulate in print highly selective versions of what he had originally written. This practice occurred even before the discovery in April 1775 of his correspondence hidden at Milton, most famously with the publication of A Copy of Letters Sent to Great-Britain, by his Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, the Hon. Andrew Oliver, and Several Other Persons, Born and Educated Among Us, which appeared without his consent in 1773.

    The same order of precedence was accorded to Hutchinson’s incoming correspondence, although only in a few cases did the editors find multiple texts of letters.

    The first text listed in the source note was the one published here. All letters selected for publication were included in their entirety. In instances where multiple copies of letters survived, they were listed in the source note at the end of each selected letter and significant textual variations noted in the footnotes for each. Multiple texts of unselected letters were noted in the calendar. In a few instances, announced by headnotes, the editors chose to print two or more versions of letters in their entirety, especially if they indicated significant evolution of thought.

    The transcriptions of letters drawn from Massachusetts Archives volumes 25, 26, and 27 began with those created by Freiberg and Mayo, and each was subsequently checked at least three times: once against the original, once against microfilm or photocopies, and finally by two editors working side-by-side checking the text presented here against the microfilm or photocopies. Since the Massachusetts Archives volumes have been disbound since Freiberg and Mayo worked with them, it was possible to read some illegible words that were not fully visible to them or readers of the bound volumes on microfilm. Letters from sources other than the Massachusetts Archives were transcribed by the editors and then received the same treatment.


    The letters printed here were not intended as facsimiles in print of the manuscripts themselves. The editors made a number of changes, described below, for the convenience of readers.

    The letters were arranged chronologically, and letters with imprecise dates were placed at the end of the relevant month or year. In some instances, especially in this first volume where the flow of Hutchinson’s correspondence was so discontinuous, related letters were gathered together in “file folders” whenever they covered a common theme or surrounded a particular episode in his life. Headnotes describing the incident or set of circumstances always preceded such file folders.

    Each document began with a title specifying the author or recipient. The editors used the following evidence to identify Hutchinson’s correspondents: envelope addresses; internal addresses written by the authors or their secretaries; distinctive salutations or closings (e.g., “My dear son” or “Your affectionate uncle”); and endorsements made by the receivers. Information that appeared in the indices of Massachusetts Archives volumes 25, 26, and 27 was included in the source notes when it was necessary to identify correspondents, although it should be reiterated that these indices were created by later editors and not Hutchinson. In instances where the correspondents’ names were conjectural, they were supplied in square brackets. These conjectures were almost always made on the basis of internal evidence in the letters themselves or other previous or subsequent letters. If the editors used other sources to identify correspondents, that information was supplied in footnotes following the conjectured names.

    The datelines for the documents were moved to the top of the letters and placed flush right regardless of their location in the manuscripts, although if they were placed elsewhere in the manuscripts that was indicated in the source notes. If no date appeared in the manuscripts, conjectural dates were supplied in square brackets, with explanatory footnotes if additional information were available. If the authors included the locations from which they wrote, that information was included in the datelines. Abbreviations of months and days of the week were retained as were the order of words and numbers and all punctuation.

    If salutations were included in the documents, they appeared flush left at the beginning of the first paragraph. Each salutation was separated from the following text by a comma. Abbreviations in the salutations were silently expanded, with the exceptions noted below.

    In order to retain idiosyncrasies in speech patterns and writing habits, the editors followed the spelling and grammar of the original manuscripts. In cases that might prove confusing for readers, the editors supplied alternate spellings in footnotes.

    The authors’ practices regarding capitalization were also followed as closely as possible; however, since capitalization was sometimes ambiguous, the editors tried to establish each author’s normal practice as a way to resolve difficult cases. Each sentence began with a capital letter regardless of the authors’ standard practices. Fortunately, Hutchinson and most of his correspondents were generally consistent about capitalizing the first word of each sentence.

    Original punctuation was also followed as closely as possible with two exceptions, since some eighteenth-century writers employed dashes and commas in ways not in common use today. Dashes occurring within sentences were retained, but those used to end sentences were changed to periods. Hutchinson’s correspondents and his secretaries sometimes used commas at the end of sentences, rendering the end of some sentences unclear for modern readers. When a comma was followed by a capital letter and the end of a sentence seemed obvious, the comma was changed to a period. In ambiguous cases, the editors followed each author’s normal practice as much as possible; when that proved unavailing, they retained the punctuation as it appeared in the manuscripts. In addition, Hutchinson occasionally failed to indent the first line of new paragraphs. The editors silently made this correction to conform to modern usage.

    As in salutations, abbreviations in the text were silently expanded except for the following instances: proper names of people, places, and organizations, titles, honorifics, days of the week, months of the year, titles of books, and monetary denominations. In a few cases, when the abbreviations for proper names were too obscure or unclear for most readers, the editors supplied full names in footnotes.

    Superscripts were retained where legible but brought down on line, with punctuation that followed the manuscripts. Ampersands were retained. The tailed “p,” an eighteenth-century symbol for “per,” was rendered in its modern form.

    In a very few instances, Hutchinson used a private cipher or code in his letterbooks to conceal his meaning from unauthorized readers. No coded passages were found in any of the receivers’ copies of his letters or in any of his authorial copies other than those in his letterbooks, so the editors surmised that he employed this cipher to protect his letterbooks from prying eyes. Such passages were decoded by Freiberg, using the key Hutchinson supplied in volume 27,5 and were marked by footnotes. The key appears in this volume as an illustration (p. xxx). This material was different from his abbreviated script mentioned above. Hutchinson’s use of this highly abbreviated script did not signify an intent to cloak letters’ content but rather his haste to create copies of letters, and the material can be deciphered without the use of a key. Therefore, following the policy for abbreviations described above, this abbreviated script was silently expanded.

    Hutchinson occasionally used a cipher to conceal information in his letterbook. The key to Hutchinson’s cipher appears above (Mass. Archives, SC1/series 45X, 27:79) followed by an example of the cipher in use in Hutchinson’s letter to Benjamin Franklin, 18 November 1765 (Mass. Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:174.) A sample of Hutchinson’s abbreviated script, which he used for speed rather than to conceal information, appears at the bottom (Mass. Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:387). Courtesy of Massachusetts Archives.

    Regardless of their position in the manuscripts, the complimentary close of the letters were included as part of the last paragraph. All abbreviations in the closing were silently expanded. Closures were followed by commas, and if the letters were signed, the authors’ signatures appeared flush right following those commas.

    Conjectural Readings, Illegible Text, and Editorial Directives

    Material meant to supply text missing or uncertain from the manuscripts (due to such factors as tears, blots, tape, or difficult handwriting) appeared within square brackets in roman type. When conjectured material comprised two letters or less in a single word, and the editors were confident of making a conjectural reading, that material was supplied silently, without brackets or footnotes. When three or more letters were conjectured in a single word, that material was placed within brackets but without footnotes unless the editors could supply possible alternative readings. Conjectural readings may include question marks if the suggested text was especially uncertain. All other material supplied in square brackets and roman type, such as tears, blots, or words obscured by tape, was followed by footnotes describing the reasons for the conjectural material.

    Editorial directives or descriptions of the manuscripts for which the editors cannot supply conjectured readings (such as blank space in MS, MS torn, or illegible) appeared within square brackets in italic type. In those instances where illegible material was estimated to be more than two words, they were followed by footnotes estimating the amount of text that was illegible. This material was not intended to be read as part of the text.

    Revisions in the Text (Interlineations, Marginalia, and Cancellations)

    All interlineations were incorporated into the text. When authors interlined to correct spelling or grammar, these interlineations were added silently. When interlineations indicated a refinement of thought or added information, carets were placed on-line surrounding interlineations. If authors did not mark positions of intended interlineations, the editors placed interlined material where they seemed most likely the authors intended them and used footnotes to alert readers. Marginalia intended to be incorporated into the text were treated in the same way as interlineations.

    Cancellations were treated in much the same manner. Canceled words, meaning text that was struck-through, were not included unless they seemed significant according to the above guidelines, in which case the words appeared in canceled type. Illegible canceled material was not indicated unless the words were part of legible passages or comprised passages of substantial length, in which case the editors used footnotes to indicate their presence.

    Variant Readings

    When other versions of documents contained significant differences, they were described in footnotes. In some instances, however, when letters were substantially rewritten, that fact was discussed in headnotes, and both versions were printed in their entirety in order to reflect the evolution of the authors’ thoughts.

    Similarly, some letters marked “not sent” were included in the collection because they offered a significant insight into the author’s state of mind at the time at which they were written. As noted in the discussion above, most of these “not sent” letters were drafts of later letters, but in a few cases, Hutchinson seemed to have changed his mind about writing at all and apparently never sent final versions. In all cases, the words “not sent” were included in the source notes to alert readers.

    This edition did not attempt to note textual variations between the most authoritative versions of letters and copies that may have been made by the receivers without the authors’ knowledge. The only exceptions to this rule were those letters famously obtained by Hutchinson’s political opponents in 1773 in England and published in America in edited form as Letters Sent to Great-Britain with the intent of embarrassing Hutchinson or calling him into disrepute. In those instances, such variants can prove very significant indeed, and they were noted where appropriate.

    Enclosures and Contemporary Printings

    Enclosures were listed at the end of the source notes when they could be located, and in some few instances, reproduced. When enclosures could not be found, sources of alternate versions were indicated in footnotes whenever possible.

    A list of contemporary printings also appeared at the end of the source notes when applicable. The search for contemporary printings was limited to those items that appeared during Hutchinson’s own lifetime. Furthermore, the editors confined their search to books, journals, and newspapers in New England, with the addition of J. Almon’s London Remembrancer.

    As noted elsewhere in this volume, some of Hutchinson’s letters were reprinted many times during his lifetime, almost always without his consent. Some contemporary editors took extensive liberties with the text in an effort to discredit both Hutchinson personally and Crown officials in general. The editors of this edition provided some indication of this selective editing by noting if only portions of letters were reprinted, although readers should consult the books, journals, or newspapers themselves for a more thorough comparison. Variations between these contemporary printings and the manuscript versions were not noted, other than the one exception discussed above, Letters Sent to Great-Britain.

    As noted above, William Gordon was among the first to see Hutchinson’s papers, and he marked passages he wished to quote by drawing large brackets around them or placing giant Xs over the material. Such markings were not noted in this edition.


    Each document was followed by a source note, and semicolons separated the sections of each source note. Periods separated the information provided for multiple versions of the same document.

    1. 1. Document Versions. The editors employed the following symbols:




      Author’s copy, most likely made with authorial control, either on a loose sheet of paper or in a letterbook


      Receiver’s copy, the original letter as sent by the author


      Duplicate of the receiver’s copy, sent as a backup in case the original was lost in transit


      Scribal copy, created without authorial control, either on a loose sheet of paper or in a letterbook

    2. 2. Repositories and Manuscript Citations. The following abbreviations will be used throughout the volume to represent each archive with relevant manuscript holdings.

      American Philosophical Society

      American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Beinecke Library

      Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

      Boston Athenaeum

      Boston, Massachusetts

      Boston Public Library

      Special Collections, Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts

      Boston University

      Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

      British Library

      London, England

      Clements Library

      William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

      Columbia University

      Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, New York

      Connecticut Historical Society

      Hartford, Connecticut

      Dartmouth College

      Rauner Special Collections, Dartmouth College Library, Hanover, New Hampshire

      Haverford College

      Special Collections, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania

      Historical Society of Pennsylvania

      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Houghton Library

      Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

      Huntington Library

      San Marino, California

      Maine Historical Society

      Portland, Maine

      Maryland Historical Society

      Baltimore, Maryland

      Massachusetts Archives

      Office of the Secretary of State, State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts

      Massachusetts Historical Society

      Boston, Massachusetts

      Morristown National Historic Park

      Morristown, New Jersey

      National Archives UK

      National Archives of the United Kingdom (formerly the Public Record Office), Kew, England

      National Library of Scotland

      Manuscript and Archive Collections, Department of Collections and Interpretation, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland

      New-York Historical Society

      Manuscript Department, Library, New-York Historical Society, New York

      New York Public Library

      Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations, New York

      New York State Library

      Manuscripts and Special Collections, New York State Library, Albany, New York

      Northumberland Archives

      Northumberland, England

      Nova Scotia Archives

      Halifax, Canada

      Parliamentary Archives

      Houses of Parliament, London, England

      Rhode Island Historical Society

      Providence, Rhode Island

      Rhode Island State Archives

      Office of the Secretary of State, State Archives Division, Providence, Rhode Island

      Royal Society

      6–9 Carlton House Terrace, London, England

      Sheffield Archives

      Sheffield City Council, Libraries Archives and Information, Sheffield, England

      South Carolina Historical Society

      Charleston, South Carolina

      Staffordshire Record Office

      Staffordshire City Council, Stafford, England

    3. 3. Notes on handwriting when written in a hand other than the author’s, either partially or entirely. Each of the Hutchinson children when acting as his secretary was cited by name, and the editors designated the others as clerks, none of whom have been more specifically identified. If letters were written in another hand but signed by Hutchinson, that information was included here as well. All letters written by Hutchinson in this edition should be assumed to be in Hutchinson’s own hand unless the editors noted otherwise.
    4. 4. Any notations on the letters indicating their status (such as “not sent” or “Duplicate”).
    5. 5. Any physical features of the manuscripts that require additional explanation or description.
    6. 6. Additional information regarding markings indicating the addressees, either on envelopes or attribution lines written by the same hand as the rest of the letter.
    7. 7. Brief notes to clarify the date the letters were written. More extensive notes regarding conjectural dates were placed in footnotes.
    8. 8. Endorsements, written in the hand of the recipients, or docketings, written in the hand of someone other than the recipients.
    9. 9. Markings for postage or information regarding how the letters were conveyed to the recipients.


    As noted in the foreword, this edition of Hutchinson’s letters evolved over a period of fifty years, during which fashions in documentary editions changed considerably. The more expansive style of the early editors of the Jefferson and Adams papers, and indeed of Freiberg’s work on this project in the 1950s, gave way during the intervening years to a sparer, less intrusive approach.

    Before his retirement, Freiberg completed footnotes for only 200 of the 1,600 letters in volumes 25, 26, and 27 of the Massachusetts Archives. The editors initially considered letting Freiberg’s notes stand as written, but as new letters were added to the collection and as the work of annotation went forward, the disjunction between the late 1950s footnotes and the more recently added ones proved too jarring. Consequently, John Tyler pared down Freiberg’s original notes and composed his own notes for new material or for letters Freiberg never assayed. Any errors or infelicities of style in annotation were Tyler’s and not Freiberg’s.

    The following list suggests how certain common issues of annotation were handled:

    1. 1. Biographical Notes and Biographical Dictionary. Most of Hutchinson’s correspondents among the letters selected for printing were noted in the biographical dictionary, as well as the names of those individuals who were mentioned frequently in the letters themselves. For individuals whose names appeared less frequently in the letters selected for publication, the editors supplied full names and other information in a footnote at their first appearance in each volume whenever they were identified. The biographical dictionary was intended only as a brief reminder of the birth and death dates of individuals, a short overview of their role in colonial affairs, and their principal reason for interaction with Hutchinson. It was not intended to replace other readily available, more extensive biographical aids, such as Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Dictionary of American Biography, American National Biography, Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, or John A. Schutz’s Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court. The editors did not regard it as necessary to identify British monarchs and the most well-known figures of classical antiquity and English literature. No effort was made to identify individual ship captains who were mentioned merely as carriers of letters.

      The editors adopted a few conventions when referring to some individuals in the letters. Most notably, Hutchinson himself was referred to simply as TH in the footnotes. His children’s names were abbreviated as follows:

      TH Jr.

      Thomas Hutchinson Jr.


      Elisha Hutchinson


      Sarah (Sally) Hutchinson Oliver


      Margaret (Peggy) Hutchinson


      William Sanford (Billy) Hutchinson

    2. 2. Document and Book Citations: The editors made an effort to identify all documents cited within the letters and provide publication information for all contemporary books and pamphlets mentioned by the correspondents as far as possible.
    3. 3. Translation of Foreign Phrases: Translations of the mostly Latin phrases and quotations included in the letters were supplied by the editors, with attributions of the original source where possible.
    4. 4. Definitions of Obscure Terminology: The editors attempted to identify and explain eighteenth-century colloquialisms and any other contemporary expressions or phrases no longer in common use.
    5. 5. Clarification of Unclear, Ambiguous Passages, and Correction of Misstatements: Whenever possible, the editors attempted to elucidate unclear references contained within the letters. Likewise, whenever possible, the editors corrected any misstatements made by the correspondents, although this type of note was used sparingly.
    6. 6. Historic Events: Few aspects of American history have received more intensive study than the events in Boston during the years preceding the American Revolution. The editors assumed that most readers need only brief reminders of familiar historic events or the various pieces of parliamentary legislation that prompted the debate over the colonists’ understanding of the traditional liberties of British subjects. The editors’ goal was to provide readers with just enough background to understand the letters as written without attempting to interject the editors’ own analysis or interpretation. References to more thorough discussions of these events were provided in a limited fashion. The editors’ intent was to direct readers to scholarship that discusses a historical event in more detail, not to present a definitive list of historical references.


    This list includes references for commonly cited sources within the volumes.

    AAS Procs American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1843–).

    American Manuscripts American Manuscripts, 1763–1815: An Index to Documents Described in Auction Records and Dealers’ Catalogues, ed. Helen Cripe and Diane Campbell (Wilmington, DL: Scholarly Resources, 1977).

    Anderson, Crucible of War Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766 (New York: Knopf, 2000).

    Archer, Enemy’s Country Richard Archer, As If an Enemy’s Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

    Bailyn, Ordeal Bernard Bailyn, The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1974).

    Barrington-Bernard Correspondence The Barrington-Bernard Correspondence and Illustrative Matter, 1760–1770, ed. Edward Channing and Archibald Cary Coolidge, Harvard Historical Series, vol. 14 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1912).

    Belknap, New Hampshire Jeremy Belknap, Belknap’s New Hampshire: An Account of the State in 1792; A Facsimile Edition of Volume III of the History of New Hampshire (Hampton, NH: P. E. Randall, 1812).

    Blackstone, Commentaries Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1st ed. (Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1765).

    Boston Massacre Documents The Boston Massacre: A History with Documents, ed. Neil L. York (New York: Routledge, 2010).

    Briefs Am. Rev. Briefs of the American Revolution, ed. John P. Reid (New York: New York University Press, 1981).

    BTR Records Commissioners of the City of Boston, Boston Town Records, 1631–1822, 38 vols. (Boston, MA: Rockwell and Churchill, 1876–1909).

    Burgesses Journals Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1619–1776, ed. John Pendleton Kennedy, 13 vols. (Richmond, VA: Colonial Press, E. Waddey, 1905–1915).

    Carp, Defiance Benjamin L. Carp, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010).

    Chartrand, Forts of New France René Chartrand, The Forts of New France in Northeast America, 1600–1763 (Oxford, England: Osprey, 2008).

    Conn. Colony Records The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, 1636–1776, ed. J. Hammond Trumbull and Charles J. Hoadly, 15 vols. (Hartford, CT: Lockwood and Brainard, 1850–1890).

    CSM Pubs. Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Publications (Boston, MA: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1895–).

    Docs. Am. Rev. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783, 21 vols., ed. K. G. Davies (Dublin, Ireland: Irish University Press, 1972–1981).

    Early Mass. Broadsides Some Early Massachusetts Broadsides (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1964).

    Essex Hist. Colls. Essex Institute, Historical Collections (1859–1993).

    Franklin Papers The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard Larabee, et al. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1959–).

    Freiberg, “First Fifty Years” Malcolm Freiberg, “Thomas Hutchinson: The First Fifty Years (1711–1761),” William & Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 15 (1958): 35–55.

    Freiberg, “Footnote to a Riot” Malcolm Freiberg, “Footnote to a Riot: or, How Not to Preserve a House,” Old-Time New England 48 (Spring 1958): 104–06.

    Freiberg, Prelude to Purgatory Malcolm Freiberg, Prelude to Purgatory: Thomas Hutchinson in Provincial Massachusetts Politics, 1760–1770 (New York: Garland, 1990; orig. pub. Ph.D. diss., Brown University, 1950).

    Gipson, British Empire Lawrence Henry Gipson, The British Empire before the American Revolution, 15 vols. (New York: Knopf, 1936–1970).

    Harvard Graduates Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College, ed. John Langdon Sibley, Clifford Kenyon Shipton, et al. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1873–).

    Henry Hulton The Writings of Henry Hulton: An Outsider’s Inside View of the American Revolution, ed. Neil York (Boston, MA: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 2011).

    Hoerder, Crowd Action Dirk Hoerder, Crowd Action in Revolutionary Massachusetts, 1765–1780 (New York: Academic Press, 1977).

    Hosmer, Life of TH James Kendall Hosmer, The Life of Thomas Hutchinson, Royal Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1896).

    House of Commons The House of Commons, 1754–1790, ed. Lewis Namier and John Brooke, 3 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964).

    Instructions to Mass. Governors Instructions to Massachusetts Governors, 1631–1775, arranged by Albert Matthews, Massachusetts Archives (Boston, MA).

    JA Diary and Autobiography Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield, et al. (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1961).

    JA Legal Papers Legal Papers of John Adams, ed. L. Kinvin Wroth and Hiller B. Zobel (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1965).

    Jasper Mauduit Jasper Mauduit: Agent in London for the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, 1762–1765: The Charles Grenfill Washburn Collection of Letters and Papers, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. 74 (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1918).

    JHL Journals of the House of Lords (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1509–).

    JHR Journal of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, 52 vols. (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1919–1986).

    Johnson Papers Papers of Sir William Johnson, 14 vols. (Albany, NY: University of the State of New York, 1921).

    Jones, Loyalists of Mass. E. Alfred Jones, The Loyalists of Massachusetts: Their Memorials, Petitions, and Claims (London, England: St. Catherine’s Press, 1930).

    Journal of Trade Journal of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, 14 vols. (London, England: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1920–1938).

    Kammen, A Rope of Sand Michael G. Kammen, A Rope of Sand: The Colonial Agents, British Politics, and the American Revolution (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1968).

    Labaree, Boston Tea Party Benjamin Woods Labaree, The Boston Tea Party (Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, 1979; orig. pub. 1964).

    Letters Sent to Great-Britain A Copy of Letters Sent to Great-Britain, by his Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, the Hon. Andrew Oliver, and Several Other Persons, Born and Educated Among Us (Boston, MA, 1773).

    Maier, From Resistance to Revolution Pauline Maier, From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765–1776 (New York: Norton, 1991; orig. pub. 1972).

    Maine Documentary History Documentary History of the State of Maine, ed. James Phinney Baxter, 19 vols. (Portland, ME: Maine Historical Society, 1897).

    Mass. Acts and Resolves Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court of Massachusetts (Boston, MA: Secretary of the Commonwealth, 1663–).

    Mass. Council Records Legislative and Executive Records of the Governor’s Council, Massachusetts Archives (Boston, MA).

    MHS Colls. Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1798–).

    MHS Procs. Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1835–).

    Montgomery, Textiles in America Florence M. Montgomery, Textiles in America, 1650–1870: A Dictionary Based on Original Documents, Prints and Paintings, Commercial Records, American Merchants Papers, Shopkeepers’ Advertisements, and Pattern Books with Original Swatches of Cloth (New York: Norton, 1984).

    Morgan and Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis Edmund S. and Helen Morgan, The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution, 3rd. ed. (Williamsburg, VA: Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1995; orig. pub. 1953).

    N.H. Papers New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers, 40 vols. (Concord, NH: New Hampshire State Printer, 1867–).

    NEHGR New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1847–).

    NEQ New England Quarterly (1928–).

    New York Journals Journals and Proceedings for the General Assembly of the Colony of New York, 1691–1776 (Albany, NY: State Printer of New York, 1764–1820).

    Newbold, Albany Congress Robert C. Newbold, The Albany Congress and Plan of Union of 1754 (New York: Vantage Press, 1955).

    Nicolson, ‘Infamas Govener’ Colin Nicolson, The ‘Infamas Govener’: Francis Bernard and the Origins of the American Revolution (Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, 2001).

    OED Oxford English Dictionary.

    Pamphlets Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750–1776: Volume 1, 1750–1765, ed. Bernard Bailyn (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1965).

    Papers of Francis Bernard The Papers of Francis Bernard: Governor of Colonial Massachusetts, 1760–1769, ed. Colin Nicolson, 5 vols. (Boston, MA: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 2007–).

    Parliamentary History The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803 (London, England: Hansard, 1813).

    Pencak, America’s Burke William Pencak, America’s Burke: The Mind of Thomas Hutchinson (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982).

    Portrait of a Patriot Portrait of a Patriot: The Major Political and Legal Papers of Josiah Quincy Jr., 6 vols., eds. Daniel Coquillette and Neil York (Boston, MA: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 2005–2009).

    Pringle Letterbook Letterbook of Robert Pringle, ed. Walter B. Edgar, 2 vols. (Columbia, SC: South Carolina Historical Society, 1972).

    Privy Council Acts Acts of the Privy Council of England, Colonial Series, 1720–1745, ed. William Lawson Grant and James Munro, 6 vols. (Hereford, England: Printed for His Majesty’s Stationery Office by Anthony Brothers, 1908–1912).

    Prologue Prologue to Revolution: Sources and Documents on the Stamp Act Crisis, 1764–1766, ed. Edmund S. Morgan (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1959).

    Quincy, Reports of Cases Josiah Quincy Jr., Reports of Cases Argued before the Superior Court of Judicature in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, between 1761 and 1772, ed. Samuel M. Quincy (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1865).

    Remembrancer The Remembrancer, or, Impartial Repository of Public Events, for the Year 1775–1784, ed. John Almon, 17 vols. (London, England: Printed for J. Almon, 1775–1784).

    Saltonstall Papers Saltonstall Papers, 1607–1815, ed. Robert E. Moody (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1972).

    Smith, Writs Case M. H. Smith, The Writs of Assistance Case (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978).

    Speeches Speeches of the Governors of Massachusetts, from 1765 to 1775, ed. Alden Bradford (Boston, MA: Russell and Gardner, 1818).

    Statutes at Large The Statutes at Large from the Magna Charta to the End of the Eleventh Parliament of Great Britain, Anno 1761 [Continued to 1806], ed. Danby Pickering, 46 vols. (Cambridge, England: J. Bentham, 1762–1807).

    TH Ancestors The American Ancestors of Thomas Hutchinson, 1711–1780: The Last Civil Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and Six Generations of His Descendants, comp. and ed. W. H. P. Oliver (Morristown, NJ: n.p., 1946).

    TH Diary and Letters The Diary and Letters of His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, ed. Peter Orlando Hutchinson, 2 vols. (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1884–1886; orig. pub. London, England: S. Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1883–1886).

    TH History Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, ed. Lawrence Shaw Mayo, 3 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1936): orig. pub. Volume 1 (1764), Volume 2 (1767), and Volume 3 (1828).

    TH Original Papers A Collection of Original Papers Relative to the History of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, ed. Thomas Hutchinson (1769).

    Tyler, Smugglers & Patriots John W. Tyler, Smugglers & Patriots: Boston Merchants and the Advent of the American Revolution (Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, 1986).

    Unger, American Tempest Harlow Giles Unger, American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution (Cambridge, MA: DeCapo Press, 2011).

    Walett, “The Massachusetts Council” Francis G. Walett, “The Massachusetts Council, 1766–1774: The Transformation of a Conservative Institution,” William & Mary Quarterly 6 [October 1949]: 605–27.

    Waters, Otis Family Waters, John J., The Otis Family in Provincial and Revolutionary Massachusetts (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1968).

    Whitmore, Mass. Civil List William Henry Whitmore, The Massachusetts Civil List for the Colonial and Provincial Periods, 1630–1774 (Albany, NY: J. Munsell, 1870).

    WMQ William & Mary Quarterly, Third Series (1944–).

    Yale Graduates Biographical Notices of the Graduates of Yale College, ed. Franklin Bowditch Dexter (New York: Holt, 1885–1912).

    Zobel, Boston Massacre Hiller B. Zobel, The Boston Massacre (New York: Norton, 1970).



    conjectural reading or material otherwise obscured


    uncertain conjectural reading or material otherwise obscured


    material supplied by the editors because of a tear, blot, or cut in the MS; specifics are provided in the footnote. Note that several bracketed insertions may be addressed in a single footnote.


    editorial direction or description


    substantive interlineation or marginalia


    substantive cancellation