790 | To the Earl of Hillsborough

    [No. 12]1

    Boston June 25 1769

    My Lord

    On the 10th of June I received a letter from Genl Gage acquainting me that He had ordered the 64th & 65th regiments and the train of Artillery to Halifax & had directed Genl Mackay to confer with me about the disposition of the rest of the troops.2 I had a letter the next day from Genl Mackay informing3 that Genl Gage had desired him to consult with me concerning the Necessity of continuing any of the troops any longer at Boston, and to have my opinion in writing whether his Majesty’s Service does require that Troops should remain there any longer & what Number of troops, whether one or two regiments.

    It is impossible to express my surprise at this proposition or my embarrasment upon account of the requisition of an Answer in writing; which was greatly encreased by the report of it being spread all over the Town immediately, with the addition of its being to be4 referred to the Council. However I saw Genl Mackay & for the present declined giving any Answer to the question except that I would write to Genl Gage upon the Subject. I wrote accordingly5 & having Mentioned to him the difficulties of my connection with the Council & the importance of the question I desired time to consider of it & to know the Opinion of those who would be affected by it.

    In the Mean time there arose a general Consternation among the civil Officers of Government, the friends of it & the importers of goods contrary to the combination, who are Many; And there was a proportional triumph among the Sons of liberty, which in some of the lowest of them produced threats of what would be done when the troops were gone. After a Weeks observation I wrote ^again^ to Genl Gage6 & having given him the reasons why I did not think it proper to put this Question to the Council, I told him that I had enquired into the Sentiments of others & found it to be the Opinion of All the principal Officers of the Crown & Government that the removal of the troops at this time would probably have very dangerous Consequences. I added that the Report of it had caused a great alarm among those who were obnoxious to the popular party, & had given great encouragement to that party so as to produce threats. I therefore could not think it proper to concern myself in the removal of any of the troops.

    Soon after I sent away this Letter I received Another from Genl Gage,7 wherein after expressing a concern for having thrown me into difficulties by his former letter He adds that He desired my Opinion & not that of the Council; and that it might be free & open, He assured that He should not publish it or make it known on this side of the Atlantick. I immediately returned for answer8 that in confidence of that assurance, I had no Hesitation to declare my Opinion that it would be detrimental to his Majesty’s Service to remove any of the two regiments remaining; and that it would be quite ruinous to the Cause of the Crown to draw all the troops out of Boston. Nevertheless I was enclined to think that a Regiment in Town ^& another at the Castle^ might be sufficient.

    Thus, I hope, is ended this Business, which has given much trouble to me & has caused great uneasiness among many people, who declared they must quit the Town if the troops were removed.

    I have the honour to be with great respect, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The right honble the Earl of Hillsborough.

    ALS, RC     CO 5/758, ff 152-153.

    Endorsed: Boston June 25th. 1769 Sir Fras. Bernard (No. 11) R 3d: August. B.33. Enld. May have enclosed copies of FB’s correspondence with generals Gage and Mackay (which he also sent John Pownall) but these particular items have not been found.9 Variants of letter in: CO 5/893, ff 142-143 (dupLS, RC); CO 5/767, ff 353-356 (L, RLbC); BP, 7: 175-177 (L, LbC). The letter and enclosures were considered by the Board of Trade on 1 Dec. 1769. JBT, 13: 126.