706 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    No 30

    Boston Nov. 1 1768

    My Lord

    I now proceed to conclude my narrative of my endeavours to get quarters for the Kings Troops untill I found myself at the end of my String & could do nothing more.

    On Saturday Oct 15 Genl Gage arrived here with his Officers to look to the quartering the troops himself. On Monday I called a Council in the Morning & introduced the General.1 He told them that He was resolved to quarter the two regiments now here in the Town & demanded quarters; and that he should reserve the barracks at the Castle for the Irish Regiments or such part of them as they would contain; which has ^since^ been determined to be only one Regiment.2 After the General left the board I sat at it untill 8 o’clock at night, 2 hours at dinner time excepted. The whole was a Scene of perversion, to avoid their doing any thing towards quartering the troops, unworthy of such a body. In the Course of the questions I put to them, they denied that they knew of any building belonging to the province in the Town of Boston that was proper to be fitted up for Barracks; and they denied that the Manufactory-House was such a building. This was so notoriously contrary to truth, that some Gentlemen expressed their concern that it should remain upon the minutes. And to induce me to consent to its being expunged, a Motion was made in writing3 that the Governor be desired to order the Manufactory-house to be cleared of its present inhabitants that it might be fitted up for the reception of such part of the two Irish Regiments as could not be accommodated in the Castle Barracks. This was Violently Opposed but was carried in the affirmative by 6 to 5: upon ^this^ I allowed4 the former Answers to be expunged. otherwise they would have made a ridiculous figure upon the Council ^books^. This Resolution amounting to an Assignment of the Castle Barracks for the Irish Regiments effectually put an End to the Objection before made that no Quarters were due in Town untill the Castle Barracks were filled.

    The next thing to be done was to clear the Manufactory-House, the preventing of which was a great Object of the Sons of liberty. For this purpose about 6 or 7 weeks before, when the Report of Troops coming here was first Confirmed, All kinds of people were thrust into this building; and the Workhouse itself was opened & the people confined there were permitted to go into the Manufactory-House. This was admitted to be true in Council by one of the board who is an Overseer of the poor and a principal therein.5 And after the Order of the Council was known Sevral of the cheifs of the Faction went into the Manufactory-house, advised the people there to keep possession against the Governors order & promised them support. And when some of them signified their intention to quit the House, they were told that if they did so they must leave6 the Town; for they would be killed if they staid in it.

    I had the Advice of the best Lawyers7 that according to the Law & Usage of this Country the Owners of an House occupied by Tenants at sufferance or wrongfull possessors might enter by any Means they could & turn them out of possession without bringing an Action. It was also certain that the Governor & Council when the Assembly was not sitting were perfect Owners of the Estates belonging to the Government8 except for alienation. Upon these two principles I appointed the Sheriff & two of his Deputies, Bailiffs of the Governor & Council for the purpose of removing the People out of the Manufactory house. The Sheriff was refused Admittance; upon which the Cheif Justice went with him & advised them to give up the House; he was answered that they had the Opinion of the best Lawyer in the province to keep possession.9 Upon a third attempt The Sheriff finding a Window open entered: upon which the people gather’d about him & shut him up; he then made a signal to an Officer without, who brought a party of soldiers who took possession of the yard of the building & releived the Sheriff from his Confinement. This occasioned a great Mob to assemble with some of the Cheifs of the Faction. They were Very abusive against the Soldiers, but no Mischeif was done. They kept the House blockaded all that day & best part of the next day. When some of the Council declaring that it was not intended to use ^Force^, altho’ they knew that it could not ^be done^ without, & the building not being immediately wanted, The Soldiers were withdrawn on the Evning of the Second day. Thus this building belonging to the Government & assigned by the Governor & Council for his Majesty’s Use, is kept filled with the Outcast10 of the Workhouse & the Scum of Town to prevent it’s being used for the Accommodation of the Kings Troops[.]11

    After this was over, there was nothing more to be done with the Council untill the Soldiers were billeted in the publick houses as far as they would go. This we knew would Never be done; but it must be attempted; & the Council left this business to me alone without offering me their Assistance; which in other cases has been usual. Indeed I did not ask them, as I did not think the business would be forwarded by my associating them. I therefore summoned all the acting justices to meet me in the Council chamber: Twelve of them appeared; I acquainted them that the General demanded quarters for two regiments, according to the Act of parliament;12 they desired to take it into Consideration Among themselves; I consented, & We parted. Two justices, 2 days after this, attended me with an Answer in writing, whereby the whole body refused to billet the Souldiers.13 But these Gentlemen informing me that the Justices had been much influenced by the Argument that the barracks at the Castle ought to be first filled &c, I showed them the Minutes of the Council whereby the barracks at the Castle were assigned for the Irish Regiments; and they must be considered as full. This was quite new to them, the Council themselves having overlook’t this effect of their Vote.14 I gave them a Copy of this Vote & returned the Answer desiring them to reconsider it. Three days after the same Gentlemen informed me that they ^had^ resolved against billeting the Souldiers but could not agree upon the reasons to be assigned for the refusing it: but the next day they gave me an Answer in writing ^(a Copy of^ which is here inclosed) signed by 8 of the Justices;15 2 others were against billeting & gave other reasons for their refusal; 2 others argued for billeting, but declined acting by themselves after so large a Majority of the whole body had declared for the contrary Opinion.

    To show the futility of these pretences I must observe that the Act directs the billeting to be by Constables tything men Magistrates & other Civil Officers & in their default or absence by any one Justice of peace. The usual Construction of this Act has been that Magistrates ^should^ grant the billets & Constables deliver them; and the latter being ministerial16 cannot grant billets without a Magistrate or Justice ^ordering them^; By Magistrates have been allways understood the Magistrates of Corporations, & where A Town is not a corporation The justices are the only Magistrates who are applied to in England & they deliver the billets to the Constables who serve them upon the public houses. Now in this Town of Boston there are no persons who come under these denominations but Justices and Constables. As to the Select men to whom the Justices are Supposed to refer, they have been declared by themselves, by the Council & by the Governor to be neither Magistrates nor Civil Officers; and they Certainly are not, for they can ^neither^ grant nor execute a Warrant. This I explained fully to the Justices before they gave their final Answer; but to no purpose, they being determined to refute at all events. Thus we have an Act of parliament which is become a great favourite; for with the Comments it has received here it is become in fact “An Act to prevent his Majesty’s troops being quartered in the Town of Boston.”

    Immediately after, I held a Council17 & informed the Board of the refusal of the Justices to billet the Soldiers I said that I was now at the End of my tether: for as they had declared before, that they would adhere to the Act of parliament, and had refused to act in that liberal Way which I thought was their duty when the King’s Necessary Service was obstructed, I could propose nothing farther to them. For I foresaw that if I proposed to hire & fit up houses &c for the troops, they would answer that did not become their business till the public houses were full. But if any Gentleman thought it was to Any purpose to put such a question I was ready to do it: this was declined by Silence. I then informed them that by reason of this general refusal of quarters the General found himself obliged to hire & fit up houses at the expence of the Crown for the reception of the troops, who now ^(Oct 26)^ especially they who were encamped, began to feel the Want of Warm quarters; and as he thought the Expence would ultimately fall upon the province; He desired that I would appoint a Commissary to join with & assist his officers in providing such houses, especially with regard to the Œconomy of the Expences. I therefore desired their Advice & Assistance in making such appointment. This after a long debate was refused, they saying that if they should join in such appointment, it would be admitting that the province ought to be charged with the Expence; and I could appoint Auditors to examine the Accounts without them. I thereupon put an End to this Business, having been employed in it from Sep 19 to Oct 26 in all 38 days, without any prospect of doing Any thing to purpose, but under an Obligation of trying evry Effort, before I gave it up.

    During this time the General, who foresaw how this Negotiation would end, had employed his Officers to hire & fit up houses for the Troops: so that by the time I had received the definitive refusal, Compleat Quarters were provided for all the troops. But now another Difficulty arose: If the Soldiers should he put into barracks, tho’ provided by the Crown, without the intervention18 of a Magistrate, The Military Officer who placed them there would be chargeable with taking upon them to quarter Soldiers otherwise than by this Act, & being Convicted of it by 2 justices of peace would be cashiered ipso facto. This Clause was much depended upon to oblige the Soldiers to quit the Town after they had found it impracticable to get quarters according to the Act of parliament; & was part of the Original plan which I mentioned to your Lordship Very early. And It could not be expected that the Justices who had refused to billet the Soldiers would place them in other quarters: for that would be to contradict themselves.19 I therefore took upon myself to remove that difficulty, and by a Commission, wherein I recited his ^Majesty’s^ Commands to me to take evry Necessary step for the Accommodation of the said troops,20 & the sevral Means by which the Execution of the Act for providing quarters for the troops was defeated, & the obligation I was thereby put under to provide quarters for the troops in the best Manner I could, I authorized a person therein named, to place the said two regiments in such buildings & houses as could be procured at the expence of the Crown with the Consent of the Owners. Thus has ended the Business of quartering the two regiments. As for provision for them at Boston; according to the Act of parliament, I have already shown how the order of Council for that purpose was annulled & avoided in the origination of it. Provision has been made at Castle William by an order of Council being made that the provincial Commissary should take care of it. But they have refused to make such an order for the troops at Boston; & therefore it is not done, nor like to be done.

    I am, with great respect, my Lord, your Lordship’s most obedient, and most humble Servant

    Fra. Bernard.

    the right honble the Earl of Hillsborough

    ALS, RC     CO 5/757, ff 497-502.

    FB numbered the pages from 1 to 9. Endorsed: Boston Novr. 1st: 1768. Govr. Bernard (No. 30) R 23d December. A.64. Encld. Enclosures: minutes of the Massachusetts Council of 12 Oct.1768, CO 5/757, ff 503-508; orders to Joseph Goldthwait, 27 Oct. 1768, ibid., ff 509-510; the justices of the Peace of Boston to FB, 24 Oct. 1768, CO5/757 ff 511-512. Variants of letter in: CO 5/767, ff 152-162 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 83-93 (L, LbC); Bowdoin and Temple Papers, Loose MSS (L, Copy); BL: Add 35912, ff 132-137 (L, Copy); Boston Gazette, 23 Jan. 1769;21 Copies of Letters from Governor Bernard to Hillsborough; Letters to Hillsborough (1st ed.), 3-7; Letters to Hillsborough (repr.), 3-11. The RC was finished and sealed ready for dispatch c.7 Nov.22 Copies of the letter together with the enclosures were presented to Parliament on 20 Jan. 1769.23