360 | To the Earl of Halifax

    Boston July 1. 1765

    My Lord

    In obedience to your Lordships orders1 I inform you of a particular kind of Seizure made by the Commander of a Cutter. About a Week ago Capt Allen commanding the [blank] Cutter cruising of Newbury Port in this province, observed 2 Vessels lying together off Plumb Island in the Mouth of Newbury Harbour; & soon came up with them & took them both. One proved a french Vessel from Hispaniola, the other an English Vessel from some neighbouring Port without papers. The latter was delivering bricks & lumber into the former. The Captn let the Englishman go, but took the frenchman & carried him into Portsmouth.2 Soon after He came to Boston, where He gave this Account to a Gentleman from whom I had it. Being asked why he did not take the English Vessel, who was certainly as good a prize as the french one, He said that last Winter He seized 3 or 4 Vessels at Casco bay, for breaches of the Acts of Trade, as plainly appeared to him; That presently after, the Survr genl sent an order that they should be delivered up to the owners & never acquainted him with the reasons why they should be delivered nor pointed out what his mistake was in seizing them: he therefore supposed that if he had seized this Vessel She would have been restored by order, & he himself perhaps subjected to an Action. For since his Seizures were taken away from him He had been Very Cautious & indeed indifferent about making others.

    Captain Allen has never made me acquainted with this affair, nor ever consulted me about the prosecution, altho’ the seizure was notoriously within my Government. If Capt Allen had given me early Notice of it, I should have given him directions to have pursued the Vessel, which he had let escape & seized her in the Port, & upon proof of her  being the same Vessel she must have been Condemned. I should also have ordered proper Measures to be taken for tracing the Cargo of the frenchman into the hands of the importer. But whilst such Pains are taken to persuade the new Officers that the Governor has nothing to do with trade, I can pursue my instructions & obey your Lordships orders no otherwise than by intention & fruitless endeavours. In my Lord Egremonts circula[r]3 letter I was ordered to cooperate with & assist the Officers of the Navy having Customhouse Commissions.4 I have taken all opportunities to communicate these orders to the Officers; and they no doubt have reciprocal orders to the like purposes. And yet not one Officer of the Navy (except Capt Bishop of the Sloop Fortune) ever consults with me, about seizures made by them.5 The Consequences are accordingly: Capt Bishop acting in concert with me has prosecuted & condemned seizures of 20 times the Value of all the seizures condemned by all the other Officers on the Coast put together. What they take is some how or other Suffered to escape without my being made acquainted with the Circumstances or reason of such seizures or acquittals. And this does not ^entirely^ arise from inadvertence or ignorance, but cheifly from a concerted design. Last Autumn I told Capt Antrobu[s] of the Maidstone frigate & Commanding Of[fi]cer on this Coast of my orders to Cooperate ^with^ & assist with the Officers having Custom house Commissions in executing the Laws of trade, expressed my readiness to assist them, & observed that few of them had applied to me. He answered that the Surveyor general was the Person he should apply to in matters of trade giving me to understand they should not apply to me.

    I thought it my duty to inform your Lordship of this instance of a new kind of smuggling which should not be estimated by what was discovered only, the exportation of bricks & lumber, but by what has not been discovered the importation of the lading of the french Vessel, & the breach of the Essential Laws of British  Navigation At the same time I could not avoid repeating to your Lordship, how weak & ineffectual the Execution of the Laws of trade is rendered by the introduction of this new practice of Officers seizing, restoring, prosecuting & acquitting without consulting the Governor, or giving him any opportunity to interpose his Authority or opinion therein.

    I am, with great respect, My Lord, Your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Earl of Halifax

    ALS, RC CO 5/755, ff 257-260.