361 | To the Board of Trade

    Boston July 8. 1765.

    My Lords

    Of the transactions in the last Session, of the general Court which deserve notice the first which occurs was in the Election of Councellors. I have allready acquainted your Lordships how liable this Priviledge is to be abused; tho’ it is much more so by threats & attempts than by ^effectual^ acts of abuse. What I am now referring to was of the former kind only. Mr Oliver the Secretary has usually in the choice of Councellors had evry Voice but his own; not only as he is a most unexceptionable Man, but as his Office requires that he should have a seat in the Council. Some little time before this Election Advice was received that He was appointed Distributor of Stamps within this Province;1 It was notorious that He had not sollicited this Office, but only accepted it when offer’d to him: but even that was to meet with popular resentment. Some of the factious People of this Town therefore made it their business to tamper with the Members as they came to Town & incense them against Mr Oliver for accepting this Office; in which, misrepresentations & even downright falsehoods, as it appeared afterwards, were not Spared. This was conducted with so much secrecy, that it was not known till within 4 hours before the Election that Mr Oliver was to be opposed; and it was so successful, that Mr Oliver gained his Election but by 3 Voices out of upwards of 120. I mention this as a fresh instance of the abuse of this Priviledge: at the same time Truth & Justice oblige me to say that I have of late observed no ill effects of the manner of their constitution in the conduct of the Council. No Council whatever could act with more prudence & steadiness in the present exigencies than this has: and it is a good deal owing to the discretion & Authority that the House of Representatives has hitherto (except in one instance now of above a year old) been kept within the bounds of decency & moderation, which many other Assemblies have greatly exceeded.

    The next transaction of this kind was concerning the Appointment of my Salary2 I acquainted your Lordships last year that an Opposition was made to the usual grant to the Governor upon this principle, that as the Parliament was about to tax the American Colonies, they ought also to provide for the expence of their Government. This Year the same Gentleman3 made the like objection to the grant to the Governor, but with additional force; that the Parliament had actually taxed the American Colonies; & that private advices from London assured that it was intended to pay the support of the Governments out of the Produce of the Parliamentary Tax. To this It was answered that supposing there was such an intention, the Parliamentary Tax had not yet Commenced; and it would be at least a year from that time before it brought in Any Money to the Kings Treasury: and that therefore it could be no Argument for not supporting the Governor in the Mean time. Upon this the Opponent withdrew his Objection, owned he was too early in making it & declared his intention of enforcing it next year. I expect that before that time the Necessity of the Government at home taking into their hands the appointment of the Civil lists of the American Governments will become more & more apparent.

    Another Transaction of great consequence is this. It was moved in the House early in the Session, that the House should take into consideration the difficulties the Colonies will be reduced to by some late Acts of Parliament; & in consequence of this consideration it was resolved that it was expedient that there should be a meeting of committees from the sevral houses of representatives4 upon on the Continent to consult together on the present circumstances of the Colonies & the difficulties they should be reduced to by the late Acts & to consider of a general Address to his Majesty & the parliament. It was impossible to oppose this Measure to any good purpose: and therefore the friends of Government took the lead in it, & have kept it in their hands; in pursuance of which, of the Committee appointed by this house to meet the other Committees at New York on the first of Octr next, Two of the three are fast friends to Government & prudent & discreet men, such as I am assured will never consent to any undutiful or improper applications to the Government of great Britain.5 It is the general Opinion that nothing will be done in consequence of this intended Congress: but I hope I may promise myself that this province will act no indecent part therein. I must refer your Lordships to the Votes of the House pa 108, from which You will observe the Caution & Secrecy of the house in deferring the publication of their Votes on this subject for near 3 weeks from their Commencement.6 It is not proper for me to appear inquisitive upon this Subject: but I shall communicate what further occurs to me, as there shall be Occasion.

    Another Business I trouble your Lordships with more from extreme Caution than from want of power to determine within myself. I have hitherto considered the general Court as the proprietors of the lands lying in the old Massachusets Colony the Old plymouth Colony & the province of Main; And I have accordingly allways used my own judgement in Consenting to grants of lands within those territories, & have this Session consented to sevral grants of lands which I understood were to be laid out in the Old Massachusets Colony. But there being laid before me at the End of the Sessions on the Very day the Court was prorogued, sevral extensive grants of lands to be laid out in the province of Main on the East Side of Saco river, I thought proper to take time to consider of them; & tho’ I have in some degree satisfied myself concerning their reasonableness & expediency, I am desirous of submitting them to your Lordships. The Consideration of these grants is to make divers persons satisfaction for the losses they sustained by having lands formerly granted to them by the general Court evicted & taken from them by the late running the line between the North parts of Massachusets & New hampshire. This has been a long time depending in the General Court & at last was committed to a large Committee of both houses. They examined the Allegations of the petitions & as I am assured found them fully proved; tho’ as they did not make a Special report in writing the particular circumstances do not appear on record. But from what I have been able to learn, some of these Grantees (not all alike) have suffered greatly; some of them having proceeded in the settling their former Townships so far as to build a meeting house & settle a Minister; which is reckoned the last Act of settling a Town. So all that it appears plain to me that they ought to have a compensation. The obvious Objection to these grants is that they are greater in quantity of land than usual & less in the number of settlers required. The usual quantity is 6 miles square or 36 square miles for a township; the usual conditions are to settle 60 families. Of these grants one is of 6¾ miles square or above 45 square miles,7 four are 7 miles square or 49 square miles and one is 7½ miles square or above 56 square miles. And yet the Conditions of each are to settle 30 families only. When I observed upon this I was told that it was intended as a satisfaction for the losses the grantees had received some of them having performed the whole Conditions of settling & afterwards lost their Township. I replyed that the excusing the settling was a very improper satisfaction: that there was such a connexion between grants of lands & proportional settling them that they ought never to be separated. Upon this the Agents of 3 of the Townships have signed a paper promising that if the Grants pass, they will undertake to settle in proportion to the lands, namely, for the Town 7½ miles square 93 families for those 7 miles square 81 families: and I doubt not but the Grantees of the other 3 Townships will enter into the same Stipulations. When this is done I conceive the Objection to the quantity of lands will be in a great measure answered: for as the settling of lands is the principal consideration of the granting them; if that is sufficiently provided for, It is not Very material in regard to the public, what the quantity included in one grant is. For which reasons I am of opinion that care being taken that there shall be an adequate settlement, It would best8 that these grants should proceed. The present resolutions are little more than Warrants to survey: when the Survey is returned then & not before the Grant is made absolute. This will not be done till the Winter Session, after the beginning of the New year; when, if I receive not your Lordships orders to the contrary, I shall think it proper to pass these grants with the Stipulations for settling as aforesaid. Your Lordships will see these grants in the Votes pa 99—1049

    I am, with great respect, My Lords, Your Lordship’s most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Lords of Trade &c.

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, f 262-265.