344 | Representation on a Rescue at Taunton, Bristol Co., Mass.

    [c.14 or 15 Apr. 1765]1

    Governor Bernards Account of what passed between him and the Surveyor General (concerning the Rescue in Bristol County) on Fryday & Saturday the 12th & 13th of April 1765 _2

    On Fryday afternoon between 5 & 6 I received a packet from the Surveyor General containing Letters from Mr. Robinson Collector of Newport in Rhode Island and Captain Antrobus of the Maidstone Man of Warr giving an account of a riotous Rescue of a Sloop and Cargo which they had seized at Swansey in this Government, and also a Letter from the Surveyor General desiring that I would give such directions to the Civil Officers at Swansey as I might think proper. (Letters No. 1)3 It is my Rule and the Constitution of the Government requires it, to take the advice of the Council in all matters relating to the Magistrates and the Civil Officers of the Province. I therefore wrote the Surveyor General Word that I must take the advice of Council on this affair, that it would be difficult to get a Council together that night; (it striking 6 whilst I was writing) but that I would attempt it if he thought it necessary: otherwise I should appoint a Council to meet the next Morning at 9 OClock. I assured him nothing would be wanting in me or the Council to resent this insult upon the Laws: I returned him the papers and said they would be wanted at the Meeting of the Council. (Letters No. 2)4 I heard nothing more from him that Evening, and I appointed ye. Council to meet at 9 OClock the next Morning.

    On Saturday Evening5 about 9 o’Clock the Surveyor General came to my House & came directly into the parlor, where I was sitting, accompanied with Mr. Dowse the Surveyor of Salem6 and a Man who came Express from Mr. Robinson Collector of Newport Rhode Island. He put the Letter7 into my hands: I read it and found it to contain an account that Mr. Robinson was arrested by Job Smith the owner of the Molosses which he had Seized. I said that this arrest was a most insolent & audacious Action but as it was a Civil process warranted by Law I did not see how I could interpose. He said that this affair would be transmitted to White Hall, and that I must take care what I did. I said that there would be no default in me: that I had to day done in Council all that was Necessary. He said I had done nothing at all. I asked him if he had seen the proclamation and the order of the Council to 5 Justices in the Neighbourhood, Copies of which I had directed to be sent to him. He said that he had seen those papers: that in his Opinion they signified no more than so much Tobacco paper: for they only ordered what the Laws had directed before. I said that enforcing the execution of the Laws was all that was wanted and it was all that I could do. He said I should not have waited for calling a Council, but have acted by myself I told him that I advised with the Council in all matters of Moment, even where my own authority was sufficient without them; and had found great advantage in it. That the present case was of great importance; and I could not have Acted properly in it without the Council: I could not have issued a proclamation; I could not have promis’t a reward for discovering the Offenders; And an order to the Justices from me alone would not have had near the Effect of one issued from the Council Chamber. I added that if the importance of the business and the insufficiency of my Sole Authority had not required me to act in Council, other reasons would have induced me to have taken that precaution: by which I meant, tho I did not speak out, that I foresaw that whatever I did would be condemned by him; and that if by acting alone and in a hurry I had made a mistake all Advantage would have been taken of it. I said further that there had been no time lost by me: I received his Letter not till near 6 on fryday Evening; The Council met at 9 the next morning and sate till one; the proclamations were immediately printed; and the Orders to the Justices with proclamations were dispatched by express in the afternoon. In the case of the arrest, I told him there was nothing to be done at present but to put in Bail: that the late Surveyor General was arrested by a Custom house Officer in an Action for 10,000 pounds lawfull money, almost before my Eyes; I wanted not resentment of that Act;8 but I could do nothing in it. I asked him what he would have had me done more than I did? He answered that he expected that immediately upon the receipt of his Letter I should have issued my Warrant and ordered the Militia to have been raised and Marched.9 I said that I never employed the Militia to execute the civil Laws: the proper use of them was to support the Civil Magistrate if he should be opposed by lawless Violence: but such a case had never happened under my Government, nor was it expected here: however I had fully provided for it in case such a Necessity should arrise. He then said that I should have sent the Officers a Writ of assistance that they might have been enabled to search suspected places. I answered that the Orders to the Justices directed that they should assist the Officers in recovering the Goods; and they would certainly grant Warrants to search suspected places: That he knew I could not grant a Writ of assistance; it was the business of the Superior Court: and if he had thought such a Writ wanting, why did he not apply to the Chief Justice who was in Council. He said he had nothing to do with the Chief Justice: He had laid the accounts before me, and it was my business to provide every thing that was necessary. And yet in any instance heretofore where Writs of assistance have been granted, The Surveyor General has applied directly to the Chief Justice without ever asking or wanting me to interpose. I then asked him, why when we sent to desire him to come to the Council, he would not attend and let us know what he wanted to be done more than we proposed ourselves. He answered that he was writing Letters10 and had other things to do than to wait on us: and added that it was the first time he had received that Compliment. I replied that it was the ^first^ time that I knew that there was any occasion for it. He said that his Majesty’s Service would Suffer by my Negligence and hinted that he should so represent it. I told him that if he had any complaint to make against me he should give it me in writing; and I doubted not but I should give a good answer to it. That I had done all that was necessary and proper upon the occasion: and if he came hither only to arraign my Conduct and quarrell with me It would answer no good purpose for us to talk any more upon the Subject. Thro’ the whole I considered myself treated with rudeness which is more easily felt than described.

    Fra Bernard

    Ms, Copy T 1/442, ff 300-301.