103. To [Richard Jackson], 16 August 1765

    104. From Francis Bernard, 19 August 1765

    105. To William Bollan, 20 August 1765

    106. To [John Cushing], 20 August [1765]

    Some of the most dramatic events of Thomas Hutchinson’s life took place in the summer of 1765. On 14 August, the effigy of his brother-in-law, Andrew Oliver, the stamp distributor for Massachusetts, was hanged from the Liberty Tree, and later that night, after the effigy was burned, Oliver’s house was attacked and its windows broken. The next evening, the crowd appeared before Hutchinson’s house in Garden Court Street, demanding to know if Hutchinson had written to England in favor of the Stamp Act. His neighbors, including “a noted speaker in town meetings” who has not been identified, persuaded the crowd that the lieutenant governor was not at home, and the gathering dispersed. Afterwards, Hutchinson wrote to his two primary correspondents in England, Richard Jackson and William Bollan, anxious to provide a full account of this popular unrest. Though the content of the two letters to these men is similar, they are both presented due to the importance of the events they describe.

    Boston’s Crown officials were alarmed not only by the outbreak of violence among the populace but also the arrival of the stamped paper, expected imminently from England. In the days after the 14–15 August riots, Governor Francis Bernard arranged to store the stamped paper at Castle William, whose captain was none other than Hutchinson himself.

    103. To [Richard Jackson]

    Milton 16. Aug 1765

    Dear Sir, I intended to let you have a long respite but an affair has happened in the town of B which I think it proper you should know in all its circumstances. On the 14. in the morning a stuffed & dressed image of a man was found hanging on a tree the limbs of which hang over the main street near the entrance into the town with the letters A O on the right hand & a label on the breast with lines wrote signifying it was intended for the stamp officer &c.1 Not only passengers in & out of the town passed under it but great numbers of people from every quarter went to view it. I sent for the Sheriff & let him know that it was his duty to take some of his officers & go & cut it down & bring it away & directed him if any person opposed him to bring me their names & I would issue a warrant to apprehend them.2 He sent his officers and they returned that they did not think it safe to attempt cutting down, the people had determined to take it down in the evening & bury it in form. The council upon the governor’s calling them together supposed if this was suffered the people after that would be quiet.3 I thought very differently. Just at dark an amazing mob brought the image thro the court house the council then sitting above & carried it to a small building which Mr. O had just erected & which was suppozed to be designed for the stamp office.4 In a few minutes the building was level with the ground. The heads of the mob then gave directions to carry the image to forth. being near Mr O. & then burn it but to do no damage to his dwelling house.5 I supposed the house in danger but my relation to Mr O would alone have obliged me not to desert him. I went up & found his family in terror and advised them immediately to quit the house which they did he himself intending to tarry. As soon as the bonfire was made the attack upon the house began by breaking the windows. I sent for the Sheriff & Mr Paxton who lives near came in & we determined to keep possession of the house but obliged the owner to quit it supposing he would be in danger if they entred. The breaking the windows continued ½ an hour or more until the glass & frames of the lower story were entirely gone on one side the house. At length some of the stones made their way thro the pannels of the shutters & a breach being made they were soon broke to pieces & we obliged to retire into another room. After a little deliberation they entred the house & we tho’t it time to withdraw. I went immediately down to the Col of the Regiment & told him I thought it necessary to make an alarm the town being in the hands of the mob & while he was preparing I would procure the gov order for that purpose. The gov. readily gave me the order to make use of at my discretion.6 I returned to a house near the scene of action where I found several gentlemen who had been at Mr O.’s & spoke to some of the villains & supposed they had spent their rage & did not doubt if I would take the Sheriff & go to the house I should have [wei]ght7 enough to disperse them. I was in doubt but how ever went, but upon my entring the cry was [G—d]—n their blood heres the Sheriff with the gov. stand by my boys let no man give way. The cry was suc[ceed]ed by a volley of stones & bricks. I turned into a little room where a young gentleman cried out for gods sake [Sir pu]t out the lights or youll be dead in a moment & then ran & blew out the candles & fled. I considered [a momen]t whether to take my chance there or run thro the mob & chose the latter & escaped with [a sligh]t stroke in my arm & another in my leg & soon after it appeared by the hallooing they were [dispers]ing. I imagine the damage done to the house & furniture was at least an 100£ sterl. The next day the [governo]r issued a proclamation promising a Reward of 100 to any who should discover any offender &c but I imagine it will have no effect & if discovery was made I think at present, it would not be possible to commit them.8 Towards the evening ^of the same day^ it was rumord about my turn would be next. Several of my friends were in pain & advised me to quit my house. I sent my daughters & young son to lodge abroad & secured my doors & windows in the best manner I could.9 About 9 sevral 100 came to the back part of my house & finding all fast the leader asked whether they should begin with the coach house or stables, but first attempting the gates they soon forced them & came up to the doors which finding well secured they moved round the body of them to the front of the house in another street & with furious knocks at the door demand entrance promising to do no damage they only wanted to speak to me or if I would come & declare to them I had never wrote to Engd. in favor of the stamp act they would not hurt a hair of my head.10 They could obtain no answer & some began to break the windows. My neighbours were in distress for me one of them called out of his window & declared he knew I was not in town, at length one grave elderly tradesman went into the midst of them & seeing one of the mob lay hold of the pales asked what he was going to do he replied to pull down the fence he asked whether I had ever injured him & then begged them to be silent & being a noted speaker in town meetings he soon engaged their attention; he challenged every one of them to say I had ever done them the least wrong charged them with ingratitude in insulting a gentleman who had been serving his country all his days. Their speaker acknowledgd they had a regard for me in my private character but it was said I was in favor of the stamp act they knew I would not lye & if they could know from my own mouth that I was not they would be easy. He replied he would answer for me. I was in favor of no act that would hurt the country but yet it was unreasonable in them to expect, if I was at home that I should be accountable to them & went on with his harangue until he brought them to give the word to move. I was not a little pleased at the raising the siege which lasted near an hour for if I had been obliged to answer their questions I must either have enraged them or else given them a handle to justify their extravagant behaviour. For the sake of a more easy mind having had little sleep two nights past as well as to shew some resentment I brought my children to day to a house I have in the country where I intend to remain a few days.11 I hope all will be quiet this evening in town.

    I made a poor judgment when I wrote you before & find I promised my self what I wished Rather than what I had reason to expect.12 I am now convinced that the people thro’ the continent are impressed with an opinion that they are no longer considered by the people of England as their fellow subjects & intitled to english liberties & I expect some tragical events in some or other of the colonies for we are not only in a deplorable situation at present but have a dismal prospect before us as the commencement of the act approaches. If there be no execution of it all business must cease and yet the general voice is it cannot be carried into execution. I dare not attempt to think how these accounts will be received in England or what resolutions will be taken there. I pray God to give me a greater share of fortitude & discretion here than I have ever yet been master of. I have hurried this letter over being informed there is a vessel to sail from Boston to morrow & was loth to omit writing. I am Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:145a–b); lower left corner of 145a torn away; this letter was tipped into the letterbook; unaddressed.

    104. From Francis Bernard

    Castle William Aug. 19, 1765

    Sir, Having received information that sev’ral Persons at Boston have declared that as soon as any Ship from England shall bring any Stampt Paper &c, She will be boarded & the Stampt Paper seized & destroyed I’ve desired that Capt. Bishop Commander of the Fortune Man of War will bring such Ship under his Stern there to remain untill the Stampt Paper can be unladen & carried to a place of Security.1 I must now desire of you, that when such Ship shall ^so^ arrive & come to Anchor as aforesaid, you will Order a party of your Garrison to take the Said Stampt paper from on board the said Ship & lodge ^them^ in a Safe place in Castle William, there to remain untill demanded for the Kings Use. I am &c.

    AC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 4:60–61); at foot of letter, “The Honble Thos Hutchinson Esqr Captain of Castle William.”

    105. To William Bollan

    Boston 20 Aug. 1765

    Dear Sir, I cannot let this ship go without giving you a short account of an insurrection in this town the 16 at night.1 All the day preceding an image stuffed & well dressed had hung on the great trees at the South end with labels to signify it was the stamp distributor. No Officer durst take it down. At night much such a set of people as pulled down the market took it down in form to bury it, but they were to stop by the way at a little building at Olivers dock which they called the Stamp office & which they soon demolished & from thence went to fort hill to burn the image having first cut off the head & thrown it into Mr Oliver’s yard. My concern for him & his family carried me to his house. I persuaded first his wife & children & afterwards himself to quit the house but kept possession my self with the Sheriff & Charles Paxton for about an hour until all the windows & shutters on the back of the house were gone & the doors burst & the mob entred & then found it necessary to withdraw to the house where his son lived at the bottom of the lane.2 About 11 o Clock a gentle man came & informed me that great part of the mob were dispersed & he did not doubt if I would go up with the sheriff & speak to those which Remained they would do no further mischief. I have no notion of reasoning with such sort of people but was loth to refuse. Upon entring the house we were attacked with such violence that I look upon it as a miracle that I escaped with one or two light blows of stones or bricks.

    The next night my house was besieged. I had a hint of the design & sent my children to lodge abroad, barred & secured my self as well as I could & kept in a back room. After near an hour, no notice being taken of their furious knocking & insisting to speak with me they withdrew. I live in the midst of neighbours who are friendly & some of them ventured into the midst of the mob & expostulated with them so that I escaped with the loss of a little glass. They had a notion that I had wrote to England in favor of the Stamp act; if I would declare I had not they would believe me but I did not like to be accountable to them. The Secretary was told by some people he would never be safe unless he resigned which caused him to publish that he had wrote that he would resign.3 This resolution he took without my knowing any thing of it & yet I was charged with advising him against it. In short no body is safe that does not countenance the spirit of opposition which runs through the colonies, & but very few think of consequences & papers are continually publishing to inflame still further. I am Dear Sir Your affectionate humble servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (Sheffield Archives, Wentworth Woodhouse Muniments, Papers of the Marquis of Rockingham, R24/9); addressed, “To William Bollan Esqr Lisle street London”; markings for postage.

    106. To [John Cushing]

    Milton 20. August [1765]

    Dear Sir, I did not intend any more than to let you know that if a majority of the Court determined to adjourn I Should submit without murmuring but I cannot give my voice for adjourning until I hear Stronger reasons than have been yet given.1 No news yet. Yours sincerely,

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (Massachusetts Historical Society, William Cushing Papers); unaddressed; partially dated.