291 | To John Pownall

    Boston, July 11 1764.


    I find myself obliged to state to you a complaint against Mr. Waldo & partners proprietors of the lands on the West Side of Penobscot river & bay under an old grant purchased by their father Brigadier Waldo;1 desiring you to lay it before their Lordships at such a time & in such a manner as you shall think most proper: as I would not at this time of hurry trouble their Lordships with business that does not require their immediate consideration.

    You know that Fort Pownall upon Penobscot was built at the expence of the Crown, the Province of Massachusets Bay undertaking to protect the Work & afterwords to garrison the Fort. It was built on a Neck of Land on the West side being Brigr. Waldo’s property, he himself assisting at the reconnoitring the place & dying there of an Apoplexy. The neck of land on which it stands contains in the whole 1800 acres: but there was no stipulation made on behalf of the Crown (as far as I can learn) that the said Neck of Land or any part of it, should belong to the Fort. And yet the Advantages of building a Fort on that Spot were so great to the Proprietors, that if they had granted to the King the quantity of a Township that is 24,000 acres, they would have had a good bargain. But nothing of this kind was done & so the matter rested.

    About 2 years ago I learned that Col Prebble who commanded the Fort had purchased this neck of land: & upon enquiry I found that he declared that he had purchased evry foot of land about the fort, & that the fort itself stood upon his ground.2 I took the first opportunity of going there & found such Acts of separate ownership, that the Garrison had not a foot of land to raise vegetables for their necessary subsistence. I remonstrated so strongly upon this that he agreed to giv[e] so much land as should be wanted for the Garrison if the Proprietors would make him a compensation elsewhere. I thereupon reconnoitred the Place & fixed upon a part of the neck next the Fort containing about 130 acres, to be annexed to the fort; & upon my return to Boston I proposed this to some of the Proprietors with a plan of the land: & they seemingly agreed to it. But upon my proposing to them to execute a conveyance to the King, they fell off & said that they only intended to let the Garrison have the use of it whilst the fort was kept up in garrison. When it was not, they should expect to have the fort themselves. I told them that this was so ill a return to the King & the Province for having defended & improved their Estate at so great an expence that I should represent the matter to his Majesty’s Ministers, & in the mean time should order the Garrison to keep possession of that tract, it being greatly within point blank & necessary for the defence of the Fort. Upon which the two proprietors said that they would consent to the conveyance of this tract to the King, if the elder Brother Mr. Waldo would; & they would recommend it to him so to do. I acquiesced in this & have waited half a year for his coming & compleating this Agreement: And now upon my seeing him for the first time since & calling upon him to join in a conveyance of the 130 acres to the King, He sayes he is willing that the Garrison should enjoy this piece of land; but he will make no conveyance to the King in the manner which I require. Upon which I told him, The Business was now quite open, & I should represent it accordingly. which I do in the following manner.3

    When the Fort was built, undoubtedly the whole Neck of 1800 acres ought to have been conveyed to the King & probably such a requisition, if it had been then made, would have been readily complied with.

    The whole Neck should be now conveyed to the King, as it would be of great public Utility to apply it to the purposes hereafter mentioned, & it is equitably due to the King; as the advantages arising from the building the Fort to the proprietors Estate are of more than ten times the Value (I might say an 100 times the Value) of the land in question.

    This conveyance is very practicable now, as the former bargain is not completed by the payment of the purchase Mony & an Actual Conveyance of the land. And the Proprietors might easily make the purchaser a Compensation by a grant of other lands lying near to the Neck.

    The use I would propose for this land would be to lay it out (after setting apart a sufficient part for the Garrison) in lots of 20 or 25 acres each & give them away on condition of settling & maintaining for a certain time, a family on each lot.

    By these means a close Town very easy to be fortified might be soon formed by 64 or 80 families, which would be a good ground Work for defending the passage of the River from foreign Enemies in future times, as it would immediately become a support to the Fort & a Barrier against the Indians for the present.

    Such a Support & Barrier are very much wanted as there is no Town now within 40 miles of the Fort on that side of the river nor is there like to be any, whilst the Proprietors hold their lands up at such a price as must necessarily keep that part of the Country fully unpopulated.

    Such a settlement would be of great Advantage to the proprietors, infinitely beyond the value of the lands in question, altho’ most probably their narrow & contracted Views of their property there, will in this Case as in others make them blind to their own intres[t.]

    For these reasons I must recommend that, if it may be, a Conveyance of this whole Neck to the King may be procured, that it may be settled in the manner aforesaid or some such like way. But if this cannot be obtained, It will be quite necessary to insist upon a Conveyance of the 130 acres to the King for the use of the Fort.

    It must be observed that if ever it should be thought proper to fortify this Point against foreign Enemies, the whole Neck will be wanted: and therefore in Case of settling It will be proper to make a reserve of the liberty of fortifying at pleasure. The River is Navigable for near 30 miles above the fort for large Ships.

    I am with great truth & regard Sr, Your most faithful & obedient Servant

    Fra Bernard

    John Pownall Esqr. Secretary of the board of Trade & Plantation

    I shall send another Copy of this by the next Ship as it may be proper to submit it to My Lord Halifax.

    ALS, RC CO 5/892, ff 29-31.