260 | To The Earl of Halifax

    Boston Jan 9. 1764

    My Lord

    I am honoured with your Lordship’s letters of Septr 20 & Oct 15,1 & beg your Lordship will excuse my not having considered the subject of my letters upon the removal of the Acadians, so as to address them to the proper office. I must also bespeak your Lordship’s favor, if I should again commit a like mistake, which your Lordship may be assured, will never be intentional: however in Cases where I am doubtful, I shall address myself to both offices, as I have done in dispatches now made up in expectation of their being called for by the Master of a Brigantine now ready to sail.

    Before I resume the consideration of the disposal of the Acadians, It may be proper to acquaint your Lordship with what was done after the date of my last letter.2 The 16 families (which by their alliances were as one) containing above 90 souls procured two sloops & embarked therein but were stopt at the Castle. They thereupon applied to me, desiring I would order the Captain of the Castle to let them pass: I told them I should give no such order nor do any Act, which should imply my Consent to their departure. However I found soon  that they were gone, I suppose thro’ another Channel than that of the Castle. I have not learnt that there has been any Considerable emigration except this; tho I suppose many others have gone off in small numbers without any notice being taken.3

    It will be impossible for me to recommend to your Lordship any plan for the disposal of these people, so as to make them real British subjects, without learning from them what terms would be agreable to them. They decline going to Quebec: and when I mentioned the Eastern parts of this province I consider’d it as the only land which this Government has now to give away. I should not have presumed to have settled these people as a Colony with a priest at their head without positive orders. I know Very well the great authority the Priest has over them: When they lived in Nova Scotia, under the Name of Neutrals, they had no other Legislator or a Magistrate but their priest, who exercised a Dominion over them as absolute as it could have been, if he had derivd it from Any King whatsoever. The best way, if it was practicable, would be to keep them where they are: & possibly many might be induced to stay in the old Towns, if they could be allowed an itinerant priest to go about now & then & discipline them. Others would require lands in lieu of those they have lost in Nova Scotia. But there are no lands to be given away in the ^old^ Country: they must go to the Eastward for such purchases. And there I could dispose of them in small parcells so as to be no ways dangerous. But there again they would want an itinerant priest. And sure a English British Subject of that character might be found, who may be trusted with such a Commission.

    I have given your Lordship my thoughts upon this Subject just as they arise but after all, this Matter must rest till they themselves can be consulted.4 As soon as the Recess of Winter will permit it I will take an Account of these people remaining still with us, & will make myself acquainted with their thoughts upon the subject of their becoming British: Which I should be glad to effectuate upon account of the Value I set upon sober & industrious people in this Country. They have for some time past lived upon their own labour in the sevral towns in which they were stationed; the people in general are very kind to them and would be glad to have them continued among them: the only objection I have heard to them is that they lower the price of labour. There is no legal toleration of their religion in this province as in Quebec: but a connivance at the private exercise of it would, I beleive, meet with no exception, tho’ a public Law for that purpose would probably be strongly objected to. So that after all I beleive their continuance in this Country must cheifly depend upon themselves.

    I am, with the highest respect, My Lord, Your Lordships most obedient and most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Earl of Halifax5

    ALS, RC CO 5/755, ff 77-81.