728 | To the American Board of Customs

    Province house, Janr 6th. 1769.


    In answer to your Letter of the 3d instant,1 I shall endeavour to recollect the particulars of what Mr Sewall informed me concerning the advices he had received of the Commissioners of the Customs having sent home Complaints against him for neglect of the Duties of his Office.2

    About the beginning of July last, he came to me & desired to resign his place of Advocate General, and gave for Reason that he could not please the Commissioners of the Customs, for thô he had always done his best for the King’s Service yet they had sent home Complaints against him for neglect of his Duty, in such a manner as must bring the censure of his Majesty’s Ministers upon him.3 I endeavoured to persuade him that he must have been misinformed; for that as his Office was in my Department I did not think that the Commissioners would send home a formal complaint against him without acquainting me with it, especially as some of them knew that I had recommended him to the Office; also that I was frequently in company with four of the Commissioners and should have heard of some of the particulars of the Charge against him, ^if any such had been made^; but I never heard of any articles sufficient to ground a formal Complaint upon, and therefore did not believe that there had been any such Complaint; I therefore cautioned him against giving Credit to this Information, He said that he should soon know whether it was true or not, from a Gentleman who could not be mistaken.

    Some time after, about the End of July, Mr Sewall came to me again, and told me that Mr Lisle the Sollicitor of the Customs had according to his Promise introduced Mr Venner Secretary of the Customs4 to him to confirm this Information; that they both dined with him at his house in Cambridge on the 20th. of July; and that Mr Venner in the presence of Mr Lisle had assured him that the Commissioners had sent to the Lords of the Treasury two Memorials against him, with one letter to the Secretary;5 that the memorials had represented him as too much attached to the people and unfaithful in his Office and prayed to be relieved;6 from whence he (Mr Sewall) concluded, that if these Memorials were attended to, he must expect to be dismissed from His Office with disgrace; that he was also mentioned to his disadvantage in other Memorials or public Letters, and he believed that there were private Letters sent home against him; and Mr Sewall added, that he heard from other persons, that upon this occasion Mr Paxton was most violent against him, and had proposed or made alterations in some of the Expressions of the memorials to make them more severe. I thereupon told him that I was convinced from the last circumstance that the Information was false: for I knew myself that Mr Paxton when at London had done him many friendly Offices; particularly by solliciting in person with the Lords of the Admiralty his appointment to the Office of Advocate General, and by communicating a Letter which I had wrote to Mr Paxton in favour of Mr Sewall to a Minister of State in another Department; and, at Desire, leaving it with him.7 It was therefore inconceivable that Mr Paxton should be so firm a Friend to him in London, & in a few months after be so inimical to him at Boston, without any Cause appearing to account for so extraordinary a Change. Upon the whole I asked Mr Sewall if I might communicate this Information to some of the Gentlemen who were charged by it; He answered that Mr Venner had laid him under no obligation of Secrecy and that he required none of me. It may be proper to add in this place, what I have two or three Times heard Mr Sewall say, thô I am not sure that the Time now meant was one of them, thô I believe it was, that Mr Venner told him that he had often put his name to public Letters and afterwards been obliged to contradict them by private.

    Some time after having satisfied myself of the Falsity of the Information, & procured some sort of proof that it was so,8 I saw Mr Sewall again, and communicated to him what I had been made acquainted with concerning it, he seemed surprized & expressed some Resentment against those that had misinformed him, saying, that if the Commrs. would show him the Memorials in Question & thereby convince him that they were not to the purpose which had been reported, he should think himself at Liberty to discover from whence he had his Information, not meaning thereby the Gentlemen who first gave him the Hint of this as his Friends, who most probably were deceived themselves, but that Gentleman (Mr Venner) who must have known the Falsity of what he related, & must have intended to deceive. Soon after which there passed some Letters between the Commissioners and Mr Sewall,9 as I was informed, in one of which he gave the same Expectation of his making a Discovery of the misinformer, as he had verbally made to me. And I doubted not but he would have given the Commissioners the Satisfaction they had a right to expect from him. But having delayed it for some time, he at length acquainted me that he could not consent to make a formal Discovery of his informer; he has given me no Reasons for this Change of Sentiment, but has hinted that they were of a private nature, and not to be made public. At the same Time he has made no objection to my revealing what passed between us, nor has been under any Reserve in repeating such particulars as I have from Time to Time enquired about. Some of the conversations I had with Mr Sewall were in company with the Lieut. Governor, some between us alone:10 I cannot ascertain the particular Times, nor do I pretend to repeat the exact Modes of Expression: for having for some months together Expected that Mr Sewall would give an account of this business, and not imagining that I should be called upon for that purpose, I did not charge my Memory with it, as I should otherwise have done: but I believe that I am right in the Substance of what I have now recollected

    I am with great Regard Gentlemen Your most obedient humble Servant

    (signed) Fra: Bernard.

    To the honble The Commissioners of His Majesty’s Customs.

    L Copy     T 1/471, ff 83-85.

    Endorsed: Copy of a Letter from Governor Bernard to the Commrs dated Province house 6th Janr 1769. No. 28 Read 2d. June 1769. The RC has not been found. This letter was the twenty-eighth enclosure in the memorial of the American Board of Customs to the lords commissioners of the Treasury, Boston, 16 Feb. 1769, pertaining to the suspension of Samuel Venner and David Lisle, T 1/471, ff 435-436.