279 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston Ap. 10. 1764

    My Lords

    By my letter dated Decr. 241 I informed your Lordships of the seizure of the Brigantine Freemason laden with french Wines &c, & her condemnation under the 15 of Charles the 2d. This Vessel was seized by Capt. Bishop of the Sloop Fortune, who had been but 2 days before qualified before me as a Custom house Officer. Before I was made acquainted with this seizure, The Captain had been with the Advocate general  for advice, who told him there was no choice in the mode of prosecution; for that it could be no otherwise than under the 15 Cha 2. She was accordingly libelled & condemned under that Statute, by which the forfeiture is to be divided one third to the King, one third to the Governor, & one third to the prosecutor.

    Whilst this was pending (for it was as strongly litigated & as solemnly argued as it could be) I was advised that Lord Colville the commanding Admiral thought himself injured in not having an eight[h] of the seizure decreed to him under the late Act & his Majestys Proclamation in pursuance thereof. And I was soon after made acquainted with his claim by a letter of his Lordships to the Judge of the Admiralty.2 I immediately drew up a state of the Case with a defence of the right of the Governors to a third of all seizures given to them by former Acts, notwithstanding the 2d of Geo 3:3 and I transmitted a Copy of this case to Mr. Pownall with a request, that if this Matter should be agitated at his office or at any other office with which he communicates, he would interpose that paper as a defence of the rights of the American Governors, untill a better could be prepared.

    I had also wrote a letter to your Lordships on this Subject:4 but before I could send it away; a correspondence having been opened between his Lordship & me upon this business, I was willing to see what effect It would have, before I gave your Lordships any trouble that could be avoided.5 But having this day received a letter from Lord Colville6 wherein he persists in his claim, & having been long informed that he has applied to the Admiralty upon this occasion,7 I can no longer defer laying before your Lordship this Case in behalf of the American Governors whose rights are more immediately under your Lordship’s Protection.

    It is apprehended, that the Admiral’s purpose cannot be obtained without a New Act of Parliament: And then it will be a question whether the profits of the Admiral in America ought to be encreased by a Substraction8 of those of the American Governors. Many of the North American Governors are very scantily supported, & none more so than the Governor of the Massachusets Bay, who, notwithstanding the great importance & extensiveness of the Government, the multiplicity of business which must arise from it, & the extraordinary expence of supporting such a Character in one of the first Capitals in America, really receives less than 1100 pr. an, excepting his share of seizures: and that adds but a little more to his income & probably very soon will be nothing at all. Such is the disadvantage of a Governors being not immediately paid by the King that the Governor of the antient important & extensive Province of Massachusets Bay, would be glad to exchange his whole income, (all fees & perquisites certain & uncertain included) for the Salary alone of a neighbouring Governor who is paid by the King.

    I should be extremely glad to receive an annual Sum in lieu of my share of forfeitures: for I can assure your Lordships that there is no money more hardly earned that what a Governor receives from forfeitures: His having a share in them makes his doing his duty, tho’ from principle, invidious. All the trouble I have had in this Government has arose from my persisting in supporting the Laws of trade: If I could have dispensed with that duty I might have enjoyed a continual Sunshine of Ease and Popularity. Indeed I have got the better of this by patience perseverance & resolution: but they deserve some reward or other.

    I am, with great respect, My Lords, Your Lordships most obedient and most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Lords Commissioners for Trade & Plantations.

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, ff 230-231.