373 | To the Board of Trade

    Castle William Augt 22, 1765.

    My Lords

    I come now to pursue the subject of my letter to your Lordships dated the 15 & 16 inst, which ^being a duplicate of a letter addressed to the Earl of Halifax which^ was sent by the Snow Elizabeth, Wm Bell master, bound for Glascow, which Snow left this Coast on the 18 inst.1

    After Mr Oliver’s Life & House were preserved by the Concessions he made, & the Mob was a little quieted; my next concern was to secure the Stamps when they should arrive: for it was again & again declared in Boston, that they were resolved to destroy the Stamps, & that no Protection whatsoever should save them, &c. Seeing the Temper of the People, I hoped that the Stamps would have been sent over in or under the Guard of a Man of War, untill We had advice by Mr Ingersoll that they were to be sent over in a Particular Merchantman belonging to this Town, & that this was well known to every one.2 It became therefore necessary to secure this Ship upon her first arrival; & then to take care of her Lading. For the first Purpose I wrote to Capt Bishop Commander of the Fortune Man of War lying near the Town, acquainting him with the Danger the Stamps would be in upon their arrival, & desiring that He would bring his Ship below the Castle, & examine all Ships coming in; & if any Should be found to have Stamps on board, that he would order her under the Stern of his Ship, there to remain ’till the Stamps could be unladen & secured. I also gave a written Order to the Captain of the Castle, that in such Case He would take the Stamps from on board the Ship & lodge them in a safe Place in the Castle.3 Having made these Provisions, I went up to Town to hold a Council.

    Yesterday being the usual Council Day, I required the Council to give me advice of what was proper to be done in the present,4 without proposing anything myself. When Mr Oliver acquainted the Board that he should not be able to take the Stamps into his Custody when they should arrive, & he therefore desired that I would make necessary Provision for receiving such stamps upon their arrival. The Council were unanimously of Opinion, that it would be necessary to make Provision for the reception & security of the Stamps upon their arrival. But there was a doubt concerning the Place where they should be secured; some proposing the Castle, others the Man of War: when after debate, it was advised that the Stamps designed for this Government should be lodged in the Castle; & those for any other Government be put on board the Man of War. I then acquainted the Council that I had given orders to the same Purpose allready,5 & that I should return to the Castle to renew and inforce them, & I accordingly returned hither the same afternoon.6

    I found that the Minutes of the Council were not to be kept secret; I urged very much they should; but was answered, that as they had not usually been kept secret, such an order at this time would create unnecessary Jealousy. I submitted to this, not knowing but that it might be best that these Resolutions of the Council should be known; especially as the People had been before apprized that the Stamps would be lodged in the Castle: & their understanding that it was by Advice of Council might give some Authority to it. And yet so Outrageous are they at present, that they Publickly declare that the Castle shall not protect the Stamps: Some say it will be stormed by Thousands of People; others, that the Garrison will give it up at first summons. The Garrison consists of but 60 men; & I have no other means to reinforce them but by Draughts from the Militia, which probably may Produce an Effect the very reverse of defending the Place. There seems to be nothing else to be done, but to strengthen the Fort as well as it may be, & to compleat the Garrison to a Man by filling up the Places of such as are Invalides; which I shall order to be done immediately.

    It is difficult to conceive the fury which at present possesses the People of Boston of all Orders & degrees7 of Men. If a Gentleman in common Conversation signifies his disapprobation of this insurrection, his Person is immediately in Danger; A Gentleman having said that notwithstanding what had passed, he would accept of the Stamp Office, a day was fixed for pulling down his House, & it was prevented not without difficulty; Another Gentleman having mentioned his Expectation that some regular Forces would be sent into the Town, was obliged to make intercession to prevent his being mobbed.8 A Minister of the Church of England, having in his Sermon obliquely condemned these Proceedings has been t[h]reatend with the resentment of the People. On the other Hand a Minister of one of the principal Meeting Houses told Mr Oliver, that, tho’ he was sorry this Mischief had fell upon him, yet it was a very proper & necessary proceeding & he quite approved of it. Another congregational Minister, well known by his late Polemical writings,9 has, as I have been told by sevral Persons, justified this  proceeding in his Sermon & prayed for its success. But there are other congregational Ministers I doubt not, (& I know some) who condemn it, but they dare not speak out: which is the Case of every one who does not approve of it, and this Perhaps may conduce something to the Opinion that the Defection is general: I hope many Gentlemen temporise only, & will appear on the other side when they can do it with safety.

    I would not willingly aggravate Matters; but I really fear much worse is to come than is passed. The Sheriff of this County  a prudent & resolute man; has told me that he was applied to by some friends who would have persuaded him to resign his Office; for it would soon become dangerous for a Civil Officer to appear; & that both his Deputies at Boston had applied to resign.10 The first of November is appointed for a grand Jubilee, when I suppose there will be much mischief done, & Vengeance wreaked upon those who remain friends to Government. I mention all these particulars, that your Lordship may judge yourself from real Circumstances: but it is my Opinion that the worst that——11 can happen should be expected & provided against. It is beleived that great Pains are taken to induce other Colonies to follow the example; with what success cannot now be foreseen. However it is expected by the Bostoners that they shall be followed, otherwise it is owned, it will not do for them to stand out alone. It is said at Boston, that the same Spirit prevails over the Country: but I much doubt it at present, how it may be brought about hereafter I cant say.

    For my own part, I am suffered to remain unmolested as yet, & am allowed to be the Governor in the Council Chamber, provided I dont attempt it anywhere else. But in my present defenceless State, I consider myself only as a Prisoner at large, being wholly in the power of the People. They let me remain as a nominal Governor, that what is done may not appear to be an actual revolt; & I am desirous to keep my Post as long as I can for the same Reason: but I am wholly without Authority. The best I can hope for, is to remain so untill special Orders & Powers arrive from England. I presume that after this Experience, the Authority of an American Government will not be left to the Mercy of the People: It is my belief, that if there had been one Regiment in the Barracks of the Castle, this insurrection had never happened: but I dont know that that force would subdue it how. It is given out among the People, that let the force from England be ever so great, it will be sufficiently opposed, but perhaps they’ll think better of it when the time comes.

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

    Fra Bernard

    The Right Honble The Lords Commrs for Trade & Plantations

    ALS, RC CO 5/891, ff 275-278.