661 | From the Earl of Hillsborough

    (No. 16.)

    Whitehall 30th July 1768.


    I am commanded by the King to acquaint you that, in consequence of the Advices contained in your Letters to me, of the 11th. 14th. 16th. 17th. and 18th. of June, numbered 5, 6, 7, 8,1 His Maty has thought fit, after taking the Opinion and Advice of His Principal Servants thereupon, to signify His Pleasure, that the Troops intended for the Relief in North America in the next Spring, consisting of Two Regiments from Ireland,2 should be immediately sent over to America and landed at Boston. Transport Vessels are preparing with all possible Dispatch, in order to proceed to Corke to take on board the said Regiments, which are to be augmented by Draughts to 500 Men each; and I am to signify to You His Majesty’s Commands, that you do, in Concert with the Commander in Chief, take every necessary Step for the Reception and Accommodation of these Troops.

    I am further commanded to acquaint you, that the Frigate3 which will convoy the Transports from Ireland to Boston, together with a Ship of the Line now preparing for the Reception and Conveyance of Lord Botetourt, whom His Majesty has thought fit to appoint His Lieutenant and Governor General of Virginia, will have Orders to remain in those Seas, in Case the Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Forces shall be of Opinion that His Majesty’s Service requires it.

    The Disposition which has appeared in the Town of Boston for some Time past to resist the Laws and to deny the Authority of Parliament; and the illegal & unwarrantable Measures, which have been pursued for opposing the Officers of the Revenue in the Execution of their Duty and for intimidating the civil Magistrate, shew the Necessity of strengthening the Hands of Government; and his Majesty finds Himself called upon by every Consideration of Regard to the Safety of His People, and to the Preservation of the Constitution, to interpose His Authority and exert such Powers as that Constitution has placed in His Hands, for the Support of the civil Magistrate and for the Protection of His Officers of Revenue in the Discharge of their Duty; and I have His Majesty’s Directions to acquaint You, that the Commanders of His Forces by Sea and Land in North America will be fully instructed that they do, when properly and legally called upon, give all necessary Aid and Assistance to the civil Magistrates of every Degree.4

    After these Measures which the King has thought fit to pursue for inducing a due Obedience to the Law, it is the civil Magistrate alone who must stand responsible for the Peace of the Town of Boston, and for the Protection of the King’s Subjects and Officers. — No Remissness of Duty will be excusable, upon Pretence of Terror and Danger in the Execution of Office and His Majesty relies upon your Firmness for the Punishment of it, particularly where it shall appear to proceed from Principles of Disaffection or Opposition.5

    The total Want of Spirit, and ^the^ Neglect of Duty, which have appeared in the Magistracy of the Town of Boston, on occasion of the frequent Riots & Disturbances there (but more especially of that of the 10th of June last)6 call for some Reform in the Commission of the Peace for that Town; it is therefore His Majesty’s Pleasure that you should immediately make such Reform; in the doing of which you will consider whether it may not be advisable to remove all such Persons in the Commission as are known to be infected with Principles of Disaffection to the constitutional Authority of Parliament, and by what means others of different Sentiments and of the most considerable Weight and Influence may be induced to accept that Office, which will, under such Circumstances be supported with Dignity and executed with Effect; and if such of the Members of the Council as are Well-wishers to public Peace, and real Friends to the mutual Interests of Great Britain and her colonies, could be prevailed upon to act in this Capacity, it might possibly be a means of restoring the Commission to its proper Authority: But at all Events it will be a most advantageous Circumstance to the Public, and to you in the Execution of the important Commands I signify to you from His Majesty in this Dispatch, that you have the Assistance and Advice of the Lieutenant Governor, who in his Character of Chief Justice has shown so much Ability, Resolution and Integrity, and has already, and His Majesty makes no Doubt will continue to set an Example to every other Magistrate of that firm and dutyfull Regard to Law and the true Principles of our excellent Constitution, which best manifest a true Affection for and Attachment to the real and permanent Interests both of Great Britain and her Colonies.

    The next Part of your Duty will be to set on foot a due Enquiry, both at the Council-Board and by the ordinary civil Magistrate, into the Causes of the Riots & other unlawfull and tumultuous Assemblings which have disturbed the Peace in the Town of Boston; that every legal Method may be taken for discovering and bringing to Justice those who shall appear to have been most active and forward in the Violences which were committed on the 10th. of June; and if in the Course of these Examinations it shall appear that there are any Persons, who shall, in the Prosecution of the unwarrantable Steps, which have been taken for encouraging a Resistance to the Laws, be found to have committed any overt Act that may justify their being brought to England to be tried here in the King’s Bench, under the Authority of the Act of Parliament of the 35th. of Henry the 8th. cap. 2. you will in that Case make a full Report thereof, as well as of all your other Proceedings in the Execution of His Majesty’s Commands, to the End that His Majesty may take such further Measures as shall appear to be requisite.7

    It is evident from what has happened at Boston and from your Representation of the State of the Town, that while it continues in the Possession of a licentious & unrestrained Mob, it is impossible that either the Council or House of Representatives can proceed in their Deliberations with that Freedom which is incident to their Constitution. What has already passed shews plainly the Influence which they have been under, of Terror on the one hand, and Prejudice on the other, and therefore it is the King’s Pleasure, that upon the first Occasion which shall occur of assembling the Council and House of Representatives, you do exert the constitutional Authority vested in you of summoning them to meet at Salem, Cambridge, or such other Place within the Province as you shall think most convenient and advisable, and where the Members of all the Branches of the Legislature may perform their respective Functions, and give their Advice in full Freedom and without Hazard of their Lives, which His Majesty observes is the Plea urged by the Council in particular for declining to apply for Assistance from the Commander in Chief.

    These, Sir, are the Measures which I have in Command from His Majesty to recommend to your Attention, and His Majesty trusts, that in the Execution of them, and of every other Measure which your own Discretion may suggest to you as necessary for restoring Peace & supporting the Officers of the Revenue in the Discharge of their Duties, you will act with equal Temper and Firmness, not suffering any groundless Apprehensions of Want of Support in the Performance of your Duty to discourage you in the Pursuit of the great Object of inducing a due Obedience to the Laws, and Submission to the just and constitutional Authority of the Legislature.

    I shall forbear on this Occasion entering into any Remarks on the unwarrantable Assertions and false Doctrine set up in the Petition of the Town of Boston to you, and in their Instructions to their Representatives,8 or on what is set forth therein in respect to the impressing of Seamen by Captain Corner, the Circumstances of which are no where stated in your Letters.

    How far impressing Men in America is or is not irregular, is a Consideration for other Departments, but it is my Duty to observe that the Plea set up that it is illegal because contrary to the 9th. Section of the Act of the 6th. of Queen Anne, cap. 37. is not to be maintained or admitted, it appearing from Opinions of Law of the greatest Authority, which I now inclose9 and which were given upon similar Pretensions in the other Colonies, that the Act referred to is not in Force, having expired at the Conclusion of the War,10 in which and for the Purpose of which it was enacted.

    I have only to add that it is His Majesty’s Commands, that you should communicate to the Commissioners of the Customs the Particulars of the Directions which have been given in Consequence of your and their Dispatches, relative to the Obstructions they have met with from Time to Time in the Execution of their Duty, & also such further Instructions as may hereafter be thought necessary to be sent to you on that Occasion.

    But I ought not to conclude this Letter without expressing to you His Majesty’s tender and benevolent Wishes, that His mis-led Subjects of the Massachusett’s Bay may be brought back to their Duty by lenient and persuasive Methods, by being made to understand that the erroneous Doctrines and dangerous Principles inculcated with so much Art and Diligence by wicked, designing, and probably self-interested Men, tend only to the Introduction of Anarchy and Confusion, to the Subversion of our Constitution, and to the Destruction of the British Empire; the Defence and Protection of whose Liberties can be no where so safely placed as where the Constitution has placed it, in the Hands of the supreme Legislature.

    It will be most pleasing to His Majesty to hear that the People of Boston have been, by means such as these, led to a proper Sense of their Duty, & that the Commissioners of the Customs have been allowed to resume the Execution of their Office in the Town without Resistance; which at all Events however they must do, for the Crown will support the Laws, and the Subject must submitt to them.

    I am with great truth & esteem Sir Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant


    LS, RC     BP, 11: 235-248.

    Endorsed by FB: Earl of Hillsborough d July 30 r Sep 18 1768. Docket by Thomas Bernard: Informing him of the Troops being ordered to Boston, & giving Direction for his Conduct—Parts of paragraphs 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 are marked by a line (possibly contemporaneous) in the left margin. Enclosed: a copy of the opinions of Sir Edward Northey (attorney general, 1710-18), Dudley Ryder (attorney general, 1737-54) and John Strange (solicitor general, 1737-42), CO 5/757, f 249. Variants of letter in: CO 5/757, ff 241-247 (LS, AC); CO 5/765, ff 24-33 (L, LbC); a triplicate (not found) was sent under cover of Hillsborough’s letter of 13 Aug. 1768 (No. 17 in the secretary of state’s series of out-letters).11 Copies of the letter together with the enclosures were laid before both houses of Parliament on 28 Nov. 1768. HLL: American Colonies Box 3.