JOHN TEMPLE’S COMPLAINTS, 1764-65
JOHN TEMPLE TO THE BOARD OF CUSTOMS COMMISSIONERS
Boston N E. 3d October 1764
The following is a state of the facts relative to the Importations at the Port of Salem under the false Clearances from Anguilla, with Mr Cockles and Governor Bernards proceedings in that affair.
Since the beginning of March last upwards of two thousand hogsheads of Molosses, & several other Effects, the produce of Foreign Plantations, were Imported from the West Indies under Clearances (then supposed to be legally obtained from the Custom house at Anguilla) as British Produce, and as such were duly Entered with all the requisite forms, by Mr Cockle Collector of the Port of Salem within my district, and were regularly Landed by Warrant from the Custom house.
On Monday the 20th of last August Mr Cockle received a Letter from the Officers of the Customs at Anguilla1 informing him, that those Clearances from that Island were Counterfeit and instead of giving Me immediate advice of the Affair he without my knowledge or Consent came to Boston himself the 22d. & Communicated the Letter to Governor Bernard and returned the next day to Salem, on the 25th. he came again to Boston and with the advice & Concurrence of Governor Bernard in Order to obtain their Shares of the forfeiture, instead of Prosecuting for the Kings Dutys, Caused an Information to be Exhibited in the Court of Vice Admiralty here for the Value of said Goods, as Illegally Imported and Landed without Warrant and contrary to Law, Mr Cockle continued in Boston with Governor Bernard concerting the matter till Monday the 27th. when he communicated the Affair to Me, which was the first Intimation I had of it, Governor Bernard and he had kept the affair a profound Secret from Me during all this time, this prevented my taking the Steps necessary to put a Stop to these fraudulent proceedings so detrimental to his Majesty’s Revenue, so Early as I might have done and two Vessells actually went out of the Port of Boston during that time, which had come in under those false Clearances, and one of them had one hundred & forty hogsheads of Molosses on board, and as this took place before the other affair was communicated to Me or made publick, I have great reason to suspect it was in consequence of a hint from those who were in the Secret.2
As soon as Mr Cockle informed me of the above affair, I desired him and the Advocate General to take care that the Kings Duty’s were secured,3 and mentioned it as my Opinion that this might be easily done, as the Molosses and other Effects, tho’ dispersed and consumed, were all regularly Entered in the Kings Books, and the Importers known, and by the discovery of the Fraud in the pretended Clearances from Anguilla it appeared they were subject to the Dutys as being of foreign produce, and as they could not now be seized, I apprehended the dutys only ought to be recovered, and not the Penalty of forfeiture, But notwithstanding this, Mr Cockle pursued the Affair in the Court of Vice Admiralty for the forfeiture, as concerted between him and Governor Bernard, and soon after with Governor Bernards Consent & Concurrence, without my privity, Compounded in Court with the Importers of the Goods, for one third part of their Estimated Value, which amounted to less than one half of the Kings Duties.
Upon receiving Information of this I_immediately wrote to the Judge of Admiralty, and desired that the whole Sum so compounded for might be decreed to his Majesty’s Use: In answer to which the Judge Informed Me4 that nothing could be done in the affair without a proper application to the Court, and even in that case seemed to be doubtfull whether my desire could be complied with.
By this proceedure of Mr Cockles the whole Sum Compounded for (amounting to twenty five hundred pounds Sterling) will be shared between him Governor Bernard and this Province, and his Majesty, if the Composition is allowed, will lose upwards of five thousand pounds Sterling of his Revenue, besides the Losses which might probably be occasioned by their keeping an Affair of so extraordinary a Nature so long a Secret from Me, and then divulging it in such a manner as to give the alarm publickly and thereby afford an Opportunity for any Vessels under like Circumstances (of which there were many) in the several ports of my district to Escape before I could give Intelligence to the Cruizers appointed to protect the Trade, to be on their Guard, and take the other necessary measures to prevent it.
This method of compounding appears to me, a perversion of the Laws designed for the Security of his Majesty’s Revenue, to a direct contrary purpose, and if it is allowed, or can be supported, opens a door for the greatest frauds, by corrupt Officers conniving at Irregular Entrys, then Libelling for the forfeitures & entering into a Composition, by which they may avail themselves of large Sums, and the Importer at the same time, as the case may be managed between them pay much less upon the whole, than the amount of the dutys, and His Majesty be defrauded of his Revenue, under the Sanction of those very Laws, which were designed to secure it, of this the present case affords a striking Instance, where an Officer of the Revenue (whose Conduct in other Instances appears to have been grossly corrupt) with the advice and Concurrence of an Officer of the Crown, of the first Rank here, whose duty to his Majesty obliged him to give all the assistance in his Power to secure the Revenue, is found Conducting an Affair of this Importance in such a manner as to avail themselves of Considerable Sums under the Colour of Law, so greatly to the prejudice of the Kings Revenue as their are many Vessels Entered in the Several Ports of my district, under the same Circumstances with those before mentioned, tho’ none have been proceeded with in the same manner, and the Collectors of those Ports are waiting for Instructions how to proceed in a case so unusual, I take the Liberty to beg the favour of an Answer to the following Questions, with such directions as you may think proper to give in the Case for my Conduct and that of the Officers of the District.
In the Cases of Importations in the manner and under the Circumstances before mentioned where the Goods are of Foreign Produce, but Entered from the British Plantations, with all the requisite Forms, & Landed by Warrant from the Custom house, & the Importers known, are such Goods if found liable to a forfeiture, or if not found are the Owners or Importers liable to forfeit the Value of them or are they liable to pay the Kings Duty’s: and in what manner, and of whom are the said Dutys to be recovered?
Is the before mentioned Composition so Binding that no Steps can now be taken in that case to recover the Duties upon those Goods so Imported, either of the Importers, or Prosecutors who Compounded the affair: and if it is not so Binding, in what manner, and of whom are said Duties to be recovered?
I have taken the Liberty in the course of the foregoing Narration to suggest such thoughts as Occurred to me on the Affair, and which I imagined might deserve Consideration: If I am wrong in my Opinion, I shall have the Pleasure of being corrected and set right by your directions.
Annexed are Copys of Mr Cockles Declaration, and of my Letters to Governor Bernard, and the Judge of Admiralty, with the Judge’s Answer5: together with Mr Tooveys, Mr Abrahams, & my depositions and Mr Cockles Suspension, which shew the whole proceedings in this Affair.
I am with the Greatest respect, Gentlemen, Your most Obedient and most humble Servant
L, Copy T 1/429, ff 202-204.
JAMES COCKLE’S ANSWER TO THE SURVEYOR GENERAL
[c.24 Nov. 1764]1
The Answer of James Cockle Esqr. Collector of the Customs at Salem to the Charge Exhibited against him2 by the Honble John Temple Esqr Surveyor General of His Majestys Customs for the North District of North America, humbly addressed to the Honorable the Commissioners of His Majestys Customs.
The Charge Consists of 4 Articles, 3 of which relate to my prosecution of the Molosses and Sugar imported Under pretended Clearances from Anguilla which I understand to be the Chief occasion of my Suspension; I shall therefore treat of them first, and Reserve the Article which I consider to be Supplimental for the last. The Charge will then stand thus,
1st. For my Keeping the Surveyor General a Week Unacquainted with the Contents of a Letter that I received from the Custom House Officer at Anguilla of the greatest Importance to His Majestys Revenue in America.
2d: For my Entering; into a Composition for the Duties of near Two thousand Hogsheads of Molosses enter’d at, my Port from Anguilla.
3d: For the Insult offered the Surveyor General by me in the tender of a Bribe to pass over such my proceedings without Punishment.
4th That I took of David Glover Master of the Sloop Glocester a Bribe of Fifty pounds sterling instead of the Penalty due to his Majesty for the said Sloop’s breaking Bulk before Entry in May last.
To the First Article I shall first give the plain Narrative of the Affair and then make such Observations thereupon as may be thought Necessary: for my Defence.
On Monday Augst: 20th: 1764 I Received a Letter from the Collector & Naval Officer at Anguilla3 in which they take Notice of a Certificate being come to their hands which mentioned a Particular Clearance of a Parsell of Molosses from Anguilla and deny that they ever Issued such Clearance, or any Clearance for Molosses, untill some time after, they Cleared a very small quantity. At First I thought that this Letter was a trap laid for me to engage me in an Unwarrantable prosecution[.] I determined however to go to Boston to advise about it which I could not do till Wednesday, being engaged in Watching the Motions of a Sloop that was hovering off Salem, Which I Suspected of Illicit Trade. I went to Boston on Wednesday and showed the Letter to the Governor expressing my Suspision of its being, an Imposition, he said that it might be easily known wither it was so or no; for if the Letter was true, there must be in the Office both true and false Clearances, And that Certainly some difference would be found between one and the other, whereas if there was no difference between the Clearances, the truth of the Letter would be Suspisious, He therefore directed me to return and fetch all the Clearances from Anguilla in my Office[.] He said also that great Secrecy should be Observed in this Affair so that the discovery and the prosecution might commence together because as the prosecution for the Goods must be on the 6 of Geo: II that Act allow’d any person whatever to Informe and prosecute; and if the Delinquents were Apprized of my intending to prosecute them, they might be before hand with me, And by setting up a prosecutor of their own might not only defeat me of the share due to me as discoverer but Also evade the prosecution itself by Collusive management[.] I therefore Returned the next day to Salem, but did not before I left Boston acquaint the Surveyor General with the Letter, as he had appointed me to meet him at Marblehead the Fryday following (A) from whence he was to come to my House at Salem and Lodge there.
I went to Marblehead on Fryday: the Surveyor General did not come there, I set out for Boston the next morning and came to the Governors house before dinner he sent for the Advocate General;4 he came, and they look’d over the Letter, and examined all the Clearances, and found Manifest distinctions between the true and the false Clearances, It was the Opinion of the Advocate General that the prosecution should be upon the 6 of Geo: II and it was agreed that it would be necessary that the Libells should be filed immediately least the Delinquents should set up a prosecutor of their Own which there was a probability of, as there was then a talk of such a Letter’s being received both at Salem & Marblehead. The difficulty of proving the Falsity of the Clearance was next considered It was almost Certain that no Letters directed to the Collector of Anguilla would come to his hands; as they must be sent by Trading ships, and the Subject of them must be known. The Governor upon that consideration offered to Inclose my Letters to the Collector of Anguilla in Covers to Governor Thomas of Antigua: and to write to Governor Thomas to desire that he would assist the Collector of Anguilla to disprove the false Clearances and Certifie the proofs under the Great Seal and Inclose them in Covers to him:5 The Governor Added that if this was to be done there was no time to be lost, for that he was to Sail on Monday morning: for the Eastern parts of the Province: therefore if I Proposed to accept of this Offer I must go with him to Castle William that Evening and get the Letters done the next day. I accepted the Governors offer with thanks; And as I understood that the Surveyor General was gon out of Town (B) and would not be home till evening I found myself obliged to Suspend my Waiting upon him ’till Monday morning: which I thought I might be well Justified in doing when the exigencies of the present Case, the advantages of the method proposed by the Governor (C) And the particular Confinement of his time were duly Considered. I accordingly went to the Castle with the Governor and was Employ’d that Evening and all the next day, except the time of Divine service at the Chapell in preparing the Papers and Letters Necessary for the purpose; of which three parts were finished, each enclosed in a Cover of the Governors accompanied with a Letter of his to Governor Thomas. On Monday morning I waited on the Surveyor General and informed him of what I had done: at first he seem’d to take it in good part and sent me for the Advocate General; but upon my return he Express’d great resentment against me for not informing him before: but did not then as I remember Express any disapprobation of the manner of prosecution. Soon after he ordered me immediately to Salem, and told me if I departed two miles without his written order he would Instantly Suspend me, (D) Having carried my Narrative as far as is Necessary for the first, article, I will proceed to make some Observations upon it. I fear the Chief part of the Offence I have given in regard to this, my informing the Governor of this discovery and taking his direction concerning the prosecution of it before I informed the Surveyor General. __ If I am wrong in my Opinion that that was my Duty it will be some appology to show how I adopted it. When I came first to my Office, I soon made a Seizure, and Advising with Mr. Pratt, the then Advocate General (E) (a Gentleman eminent in his profession, and afterwards Chief Justice of New York) he told me that it was my Duty in such Case immediately to Inform the Governor of it and take his directions concerning the prosecution from that time[.] I have always thought it my Duty so to do; ’tho of late it has given Umbrage (F) But still it may be said that I might have Informed the Surveyor General sooner then I did: I own I might have done it on Wednesday but I considered I might as well Suspend it till I got the other papers and I did not foresee any inconvenience in so doing[.] (G) After I returned to Boston on Saturday I was engag’d every hour in preparing to Ascertain the Fraud and prosecute it; And I could not have avail’d myselfe of the Governors Assistance therein, if I had not taken hold of that particular time. As the prosecution was upon an Act which gave the Kings third to the Use of the Province, the Governor was doubly concerned in it, both for his own share and for the Right of the Province: The Kings Custom House revenues were not interestd in it: so that the Surveyor General had no Authority over the Forfeiture or any Part of it: I did my Duty to the best of my Knowledge and with the Advice of the Kings Advocate, whom it is my business to consult upon such occasions, If I have failed in any thing it is rather in Ceremonials than in real business: for I am not Charged with prosecuting upon a Wrong Act, unless such Charge is insinuated in the second Article which I will next consider.
The second Article Charges me with entering into a Composition for the Duties of near 2000 hogsheads of Molasses. __ I suppose this must mean the Molosses prosecuted: and if so, it must presume that it was in my Power by some other prosecution or proceeding to have recovered the Duties of these Molosses for the King or in other words to have converted the Forfeiture into a Duty[.] On this Subject I am the more able to speak as it has made a part of my Enquiry: and I understand the Law is as follows. By the 6 of Geo: II when foreign Molosses are Landed before Duties paid, they or the Value thereof become immediatly forfeited, One third part to the King for the Support of the Province, one third part to the Governor, And one third to any Person whatsoever who shall sue for the same. Suppose after the Act of Forfeiture was Committed, the Merchants had paid their Duties, would that have secured them from the forfeiture? by no means: for notwithstanding the duties were afterwards paid, any person whatsoever might have prosecuted them for the Value of the Goods and by proving that the Goods were Landed before the payment of the dutys must have recovered the Value: and the very payment of the duties would have contributed to convict them: for that would prove the Goods to be Foreign and then there would have been nothing left but to prove the time of Landing, which was Notoriously before the time of paying the Duties: Could it therefore be expected that the Merchants would be prevailed upon to pay the Duties and forfeit the Goods also? Which Latter it would not be in my power to have prevented, if they would have complied with the former. but it may be said that at that rate the King looses his Duties and has no benefit from the forfeiture: this is true, but such is the spirit of the Law, which beyond all others, is more intent to the encouraging discoveries & prosecutions of breaches of it than to the bringing the money into the Kings Exchequer (H) The next Consideration, is whether the Entering, into a Composition with the Defendants in the Court of Admiralty was Criminal, and in what respect. If I have Offended in this, it must be in one of these two ways either by Injuring the Kings revenues, or by encouraging illegal practices by making too easy a Composition with the Offenders, as for the first, it is plain as before that I could not, If I had been ever so desirous ^to^ have recovered duties instead of the Forfeiture:X and it is as plain that by the Kings third of the forfeiture being appropriated to the Province, the Kings Custom House revenue was not interested in it. In regard to the encouraging illegal practices by the lowness of the Composition, I must resort to the Narrative __
When the Governor went to the Eastward which was three days after filing the Libells, apprehending whilst he was absent, application would be made for a Composition he left a power with the Advocate General to Consent for him for a Composition provided it was not less than 6d. for Molosses 9d. for Rum and 10s. for Sugars,6 which was about two thirds of the Value of the Molosses, and above one third of that of the Rum and Sugars. I was made acquainted of this and resolved to make it my rule also in regard to a Composition, The prosecution went on; and on the 12th day of September I came to Boston at the desire of the Advocate General to consider of proposals of a Composition, I immediately went to the Province House and waited on the Governors Lady, who told me that a proposal having been made for a Composition at a Lower rate than the Governors powers to the Advocate General would authorize, she had been advised by several of the Governors Friends to take upon her to consent for the Governor, and having been fully convinced of the Advisableness of it she had undertaken to consent for the Governor __ The terms were to be one third of the apprized Value (I) which are the Lowest terms that the Law allows of.7 I express’d an impatient dissatisfaction at the proposal, she referrd me to the Advocate General who Used many arguments to Convince me of the Expediency of it and promised to give me his Opinion (K) in writing for my Justification. I was still dissatisfied and altho the Custom House revenues were not interested in the Composition, I was desirous of having the Surveyor Generals approbation of it: He was out of Town; at no great distance but on the other side of the water. the Weather was very bad, and I was much out of Order and unable to Wait on him myself. The Business was kept open two days during which time I went and also sent to the Surveyors house to know if he was come home, which he not doing I wrote to him and sent my Servant over with the Letter8 informing him wrote to him of the proposal and hoped it would meet his approbation my Servant returned with a Verbal answer that it was very well (L) after which the Business was finally concluded. This is the whole truth. In short I am Guilty of having conducted a prosecution according to the Advice of the Kings Advocate, with diffidence to my own Opinion, Conformably to Law and against my own Interest. and for this my Misconduct, if it is such, I have been largly Mulcted by the Deminution of my share of the Forfeiture.
The third article, is for the Insult offered the Surveyor General in the tender of a Bribe to pass over such my proceedings without punishment. And here I shall have Matter to confess and appologize for, as Well as to vindicate and Defend. in the distraction of mind I was in when that transaction passed, I cannot depend upon recollecting every particular of it; thô, I can be possitive to my own intention and purpose: and I can with great truth aver that I never Considered that Offer as an Act of Corruption, I had no occasion to give him a Bribe to skreen me from punishment; I was then Charged with Nothing that was punishable and was not concious that I was Chargable with any such thing, for it must be here observed that the Charge of my having taken a Bribe of Fifty pounds was not made till 23 days after this (M) and tho it is put at the head of the General Charge against me, and made to appear as previous to my Offering the money, yet it was subsequent to it; and I dare say not thought of at that time, It may then be ask’d what I Offered the money for; I shall freely open my whole thoughts upon the Occasion. I had made an extraordinary discovery of a Kind of Fraud in which a great number of Traders were involved; I immediatly took the most Effectual means to prosecute them with Effect; but in the urgency of the business I was Guilty of an Act of disrespect to the Surveyor General in not informing him of this Discovery so soon as the Governor. if these two Accounts were Ballanced, sur’ly my resolution and activity as an Officer in prosecuting the perpitrators of a notorious Fraud ought to have greatly outweigh’d my Deficiency in a Ceremonial. but I found that my publick services weigh’d nothing, and instead of any approbation of that, I was overwhelmed with resentment, for having as I apprehended taken the Governors directions concerning the prosecution preferably to his. I was quite at a Loss how to Account for this and for the Excessiveness of his Anger, so far beyond the cause assigned for it. It is understood that the Surveyor General would not be above takeing a part of Condemnation money in cases where he directed the prosecution (N) for particular reasons which might be given if it was necessary in this place. It is therefore less to be wonder’d at that I hastily and very inconsiderately offered him a part of the money arising from the prosecution; expressly that and no other money: I say inconsiderately, for had I been in my Usual state of mind and had been desirous to purchace his favour, I should never have made the Offer directly to him but endeavour’d to procure the same by the mediation of others. But at that time I was so harrass’d with Ill treatment and so alarm’d with a View of trouble and disgrace by being exposed to the resentment of the People I prosecuted, and to the Anger of my Superior at the same time, and for the same cause that I was not Capable of Judging for the best. Nevertheless I have since been so sensible that my Offering him ^any^ money, even in the manner that I have before explained it, was very wrong; that I am ready to admit it was as it is called in the Charge, an Insult upon him, and I shall be very glad to have an Opportunity to make an Attonement for it.
I come now to the 4th. Article which I have before called the Supplimental one (O) as it was not moved that I know of ’till a month after the Surveyor General first express’d his resentment at my having filed the Libels before I informed him: nor till 15 days after my Consenting to the Composition. And I am here made very sensible how forcible the anger of a Superior is, however it be founded. For I am fully persuaded that if it had not been for this prosecution, I should never have had this Charge made against me; or if I had been so charged, the Account, of the Affair as I shall now give it evidenced only by my selfe, would have been sufficient to have vindicated me. For above four Years, the time that I have been in my Office, my integrity as an Officer has never been Questioned nor Doubted: The first persons in the Government, and the Surveyor General himself had given testimony of it, and now all a sudden I am so alterd that a single instance of Corruption Charged against me by People incensed at my having discovered and prosecuted their frauds, is so well received; that without making me acquainted with itX or giving me any opportunity to answer it, it is immediatly adjudged to be true; and I at once am Informed of the Charge, the Condemnation and the punishment:X at present I am not made acquainted with the Evidence produced against me I have no Opportunity to Observe upon the incompetency of it, nor to falsify it by other Evidence, nor to interrogate the Witnesses concerning such matters as from my defence but after I have been prejudged and called upon to defend my self, I am precluded the means of doing it, some persons who Know my Innocence are Intimidated by my enemies; they have not Virtue enough to give a Voluntary evidence, which may make them obnoxious to the People; and I have no Power to resort to, to Oblige them to give evidence at all. However Truth is great and will prevail, and in that confidence I shall give an Exact and true account of the transaction which is referr’d to in this Charge.
The Sloop Glocester David Glover Master had arrived at Cape Ann from Guadeloup and came to Enter in Ballast: I suspected that he had brought Goods with him and told him I should Swear him to his report, he hesitated I urged him to Confess what he had brought & told him if he would it should be better for him. He thereupon owned that he had brought a parcell of Molosses from Guadaloup and had Landed them; I told him he must pay such Duties as were due to the King, he agreed to it, and soon after put into my hands a hundred & fifty pounds sterling in part of the duties, which I had determined to take to the full. In a short time after I went to Boston and as soon as I came there I was made acquainted with a late Act of Parliament9 which I had not before known to enable the possessors of British property the produce of and remaining in the Conquered Islands since restored to France, to Export it as British Goods, there was a difficulty in this Act it was there said that such might be imported into this Kingdom; and the question was whither this Kingdom signified the Island of Great Britain only or the British Dominions in General, I consulted the Governor and the Surveyor General about this and they were both of opinion that according to the spirit and equity of the Act, the words this Kingdom must include the British Plantations; otherwise the purport of the Act which was to make British Subjects to withdraw their property from the Conquerd Islands without Loss would be defeated as to the greatest part of Such property. And the Surveyor General gave me the form of an Oath which I should Administer to persons bringing in Goods so Circumstanced. I thereupon returned to Salem and having sent for Glover examined him concerning the property of those Molosses and he producing Accounts which proved them to have been British property at Guadaloup, I administerd an Oath to him to that purpose and dismissed him for the present
Nevertheless having some doubt about my proceedings as this was the first Case of the kind and more such entrys were to be Expected, I sent him Word that he must still be answerable, If I should find myself to have been Mistaken about the Law in this Case, and also that I should reserve fifty pounds Sterling, in my hands as a deposit for his appearing to Answer further if required, And I promised that as soon as other Vessels came in and I had Advice of my Conduct being Approved of in not requiring those duties[,] I wou’d then returne him the fifty pounds deducting a sufficient Compensation for the Expence and trouble I had been at in my self and Clerk taking several Journeys upon his Account I also Considered whither I ought to prosecute him for unloading the Goods before Entry and took advice upon it, and it appear’d plainly to me that as I had Obtained his Confession upon promise of favour; and as he had at the time of his Entry discovered the whole truth and Submitted himself to pay what duties were due to the King, and it had been determined upon an Enquiry into the Case that no duties were due, I could not with Honor or Equity prosecute him for the penalty; and that I should disgrace the Kings service if I carried on a prosecution, in which the only evidence would be a confession so Obtained.
It is therefore humbly Submitted whither under these Circumstances I could with any propriety prosecute the said David Glover10 in the Penalty for breaking bulk before Entry; If I could not, then the fifty Pounds left in my hands could not be a Bribe for my non prosecution. It might indeed be Reckoned an Exorbitant reward for the Service I had done him in getting the Law explained in his favour: but I hope to prove that it was not even that, but only as I have said before a deposit: and this I shall do 4 ways; 1st: by my own Oath, which I hope Considering the difficultys I am put under, will be admitted as evidence 2d by the oath of one of the Owners of the Molasses who swears that he understood that the money was kept as a deposit. (☞) 3d. by the Open manner in which this Affair was transacted and the disregard of Secrecy thrô the whole transaction & 4th: by the general Character of my integrity and the singularness of the instance produced against me notwithstanding a strict inquisition has been made among a People insensed at my prosecution for other things of this kind P)
First as to my own evidence it will be given in this very writing; for when I first set about making my defence, I determined to confine it strictly to truth, that I might be able to make Oath to every fact alledged in it; said to be within my own knowledge; which I shall do at the foot of this writing.
2d: The Evidence of one of the Owners of the Molosses, and of the money deposited is — that he understood when all the money except the fifty pounds was returned to them by my Clerk that they were to receive the rest of the money excepting the Charges of the Journeys and trouble when the business was wholy settled. The master of the Vessell who was another of the Owners is now at sea (Q) and I cannot have his testimony they have received the money allowing me three pounds for the Charges of my Journeys to Boston and have given me a receipt for it as money deposited with me (R)
3d. The open manner in which this Affair was transacted and the disregard of Secrecy thrô the whole transaction. This business was done with the privity of Mr. Toovey my Clerk a person who was but lately a Stranger to me (S) and nither was nor could be put under such Obligations to me as to make it safe to me to trust him with a Secret of consequence especially one that there was no Occasion for me to make him privy to; If I meant to keep it a Secret. he attended at my receiving the hundred and fifty pounds and repaid the major part of the hundred pounds that was returned and was privy to the payment of the rest. and thô being now employed by the Gentleman that is appointed to keep my Office, and having greater expectations than from me, he does not recollect particulars, yet he remembers enough for me;X that the Affair was transacted thrô him like other common business. Does this look like Corruption? In taking bribes the left hand should not know what the right hand doth; But here I am Charged with doing an Act of Corruption in the open Office with the intervention of a Common Clerk, when the business of Corruption might have been done to as good a purpose and with more Security without him.
4th. My General Caracter which has always [been] that of a steady uncorrupt Officer, and upon occasions has had the testimony of persons of the first Rank and Credit in the Province, among which I may reckon the Surveyor General himself, And I doubt not but that I shall be favoured with testimonials which will sufficiently show the Estimation of my general conduct.
A Testimonial of a different kind which will further Evidence my integrity, is the Exultations of the People at my being displaced, Would the generality of a trading town rejoice at an Officer who would take Bribes and connive at breaches of the Laws of Trade, being; turned out? No, it has been my incorruptness, my prosecuting Frauds and not conniving at them which is the Cause of their triumph, (T) Again; If I had been conscious that I was Chargable with Acts of Corruption should I have ventured to have prosecuted 30 or 40 Traders at once? Corrupt Officers never prosecute they dare not; and perhaps there cannot be a better test of an Officer’s integrity than his frequently prosecuting frauds[.] I have besides this last set of prosecutions carried several others to Sentence within four Years and at such times and at all others have defied the whole Town to recriminate upon me. Let this therefore be amongst others a test of my integrity. (T) It is notorious that since my prosecuting, these frauds, the whole district of Salem has been ransack’d for Informations against me, and as Yet only this single one has been produced,X But I shall help them in this by informing against myself of all the pecuniary gratuitys for Extraordinary trouble and Charges above the Value of one pound Sterling at a time ever given me; which to the best of my remembrance with the three pounds before mentioned in the Course of 4 Years amount in the whole to £37 4s. 0d. and no more,X and I add to this that in every instance when I received any part of the said sum I did my Duty as an Officer truly and faithfully and did not connive at any fraud, or neglect any prosecution which in my Conscience I did believe ought to have been exposed and prosecuted and I am ready to give an exact and particular Account of every Occasion upon which I received any such extraordinary Gratuitys whenever I shall be thereunto required.
And now May it Please your Honors I humbly submit my Case to your wise Considerations and if after a Candid perusal of this Answer, and such proofs as shall be annexed hereunto any Doubts shall remain of my integrity as an Officer I most humbly desire that your Honors will be pleased to Order me to be Examined in the Strictest manner upon my whole conduct in my Office; from the time of my entering upon it, to that of my Suspension and particularly Concerning all extraordinary proffits & emoluments whatsoever. And if it shall appear that I have In General acted the part as well as bore the Character of an uncorrupt Officer, your Honors will ballance the whole Charge against me and after I have made a discovery (V) of an extraordinary and extensive fraud and prosecuted it by the best Advice According to Law, and to the utmost of my Power your Honors will not think that upon a Charge for the omission of Ceremonials only, or for casual and unpremeditated Acts of disrespect, I ought to incur a Censure and punishment as severe as Could have been inflicted upon me if I had connived at such frauds and endeavoured to have screen’d and secreted the same.
In tender Consideration of which I Humbly Pray your Honors will be pleased to acquit me of the Charge and order that I be Restored to my Office
(A) I met Mr Cockle in Boston on Wednesday & notwithstanding I had some conversation with him for absenting himself then, and so Often before from his Duty without leave; Yet he never mentioned any thing of his Arrant to Boston, so that he designedly kept me unacquainted wth the Secret.
(B) I was not out of Boston during the whole time these affairs were in Agitation, that cannot be an Excuse for the Delinquent
(C) The Board will Observe the ^great^ Stress that is laid upon the Assistance of the Governor of a single Province rather then that of a Surveyor General of a District of Eight Provinces ^& in a Matter with his departmt.^ whose Letters ’tis presumed would have had at least as much weight with Genl. Thomas as those of a Governor, far from having the respect of those of his Rank in America
(D) For this reason that he had absented himself from Duty several times in the preseeding month leaving a Person to Act for him without my knowledge, who was Neither Qualified by Oath or otherwise suitable .__.
(E) Appointed by Govr: Bernard during Pleasure __.
(F) I had Often given him possitive orders to Acquaint me with all Extraordinary Occurrencies in Custom House Affairs __ but it seems that Governor Bernard had taught him to disregard his Superior officers
(G) The Inconvenience to the Crown was only this; that two Vessels Loaded with Molosses, Sailed by the Walls of Castle William while you and Govr. Bernard was Contriving Matters there __ which Vessels I could have had Siezed to his Majestys Use, had you or Govr. Bernard communicated the Secret to me as soon as you ought, or even when you came last to Boston on the Fryday And many other Vessells at that time run away from other Ports in ye district; the two from Boston no doubt in consequence of a hint from somebody __
(H) that any ^Act of Parliamt^ imposing duties should be intended more to Catch the penalties then to Collect the duties is to me very Extraordinary, but The Honble Board of Customs are the Judges of this __
X it is not plain nor true for the people would readily have paid the dutys instead of the Composition, but that would not have suited you or your patron,
(I) The ^goods^ were all dispersd and Consumed long before the discovery. how could they be apprized __.
(K) It is to be Observed that the Advocate General for this Province1 is and has been many years in England the Gentleman that Acts is a Temporary Officer during the Governor’s Pleasure only & appointed by him.
(L) I am sorry to say that herein the Delinquent departs from truth.
(M) I had this Information the very day that he first acquainted me with the Anguilla Frauds __.
(N) Certainly the Surveyor General is not above taking his part of Condemnation money when he has a Seizure ^made^ & orders the prosecution, thô he is Unluckey that this has happened but once since he has been in America, and that in a very small Seizure lately made by his order.
(O) It is the first Article of his Charge __ & another of the same sort has been since given me. See. Smiths deposition.2
X you are ^fully^ made Acquainted, with it in the Charges. [This comment also applied to the next “X”.]
☞ here the delinquent as well as his Friend ought to Blush at the manner by which they Suborned this poor man to give such an evidence, being struck with remorse the man has since discovered the truth See his deposition: Page 213
(P) I know not who the Inquisitors were, the Informations given to me, were Voluntary __
(Q) It was with him the Clerk conducted the business under an Oath of Secrecy see his deposition page 17.4
(R) The fifty pounds was taken in May & no mention made of return till ^October, &^ after Suspension, and when it was found an Article of Charge, and it cannot be urged that it was kept as a deposit, because other Vessels had been since Entered with him under the Exact like Circumstances (wth. regard to the Act) without any deposit.5
(S) He has been upwards of three years in your Office, & ^was^ recommended to me in the strongest manner by Govr Bernard he also has ^since^ been recommended to me in a particular manner by the Right Honb. Mr Grenville first Lord of the Treasury
X So he ^truly^ does see his depositions
(T) It was your Imperious behavour to the Trade[rs] & the Extortionous sums Exacted from them, together with the design (that was apparent to everybody) that you and the Governor had of Converting the Kings duties ^in^to Penaltys for private advantage, that caus’d their Exultations at your removal.
X Their are many others that since have been Voluntarily given since your Suspension see Smiths in particular page 30
X for the truth of this see the Depositions of Messrs. Haskell, Glover, Toovey, Warner. Ellery, Abrahams, & Smith in the preceding pages6
(V) You can not have part ^no^ Merrit in the discovery, The Information was given you by letter from another Revenue officer, & it would have been no more than your duty if you had imediately made the same known to your Superiors in office that ^Effectual^ measures might have been taken in the Affair
Ms, RLbC Temple Papers, 1762-1768: Mr. Cockle’s Suspension, 235-251.
JOHN TEMPLE TO THE BOARD OF CUSTOMS COMMISSIONERS
Boston the 7th. May 1765
An affair which lately happen’d in this Province But within the district of the Collector of Rhode Island has for some time Engaged my Attention, & is the highest Insult upon the Laws of Trade, and indeed upon all Government that has Occur’d since I have been in Office; and is of such Importance to the Revenue that my Duty Obliges me to transmit you a perticular Account of it, the Narrative herewith Inclosed given by Mr Robinson the Collector of Rhode Island, and Capt Antrobus of his Majestys Ship Maidstone (& an Officer of the Customs) will acquaint you with the Facts so far as they fall within their knowledge, and their Opinion upon them; these Gentlemen dispatched an Express to me with their Letters and an Account of the Affair signed by Mr Robinson & Mr Lechmere, as Mentioned in the Narrative; Which I received on Fryday the 12th: of April about 3 o’Clock in the Afternoon, and I imediately sent them to Governor Bernard, with a Letter in Order to obtain his Assistance and desired that he would take such Measures as he should think Necessary and as the Exigency of the Service required, it appeared plainly by the Accounts I had received that nothing Effectual could be done for the Service of the Revenue and in Support of the Laws of Trade so grossly insulted but by that Imediate & Vigorous assistance from the Civil Authority which it was in the Power of the Governor only to give. I am Extreemly sorry to have this fresh Occasion to Complain of Mr. Bernards Conduct but the dutys of my Office oblige me not to pass over in silence what Appears to me so detrimental to his Majestys Revenue, had he Imediately taken the Vigorous measures in his power and enabled me to have dispatched an Express that Evening, or have done it himselfe with proper orders for the Necessary Assistance it is plain from the above Narrative that a great part if not the whole of the Stolen Goods might probably have been recovered which by this delay, there was time to convey away: and but a small part have been since found, but instead of this, Mr Bernard tho’t it Necessary to Consult his Council, which he ordered to meet at 9 o’Clock the next morning, at Ten he sent for my Papers, at twelve hearing Nothing from him, I wrote to desire him to acquaint me what Assistance I was to Expect from his Deliberations in Council and to let him know that I waited only for that to send off the Express, I send Inclosed a Copy of that Letter which I afterwards found gave great offence to him and his Council, In the Evening I received another Letter from Mr Robinson by Express acquainting me with his Arrest & Imprisonment, as mentioned in the Narrative, I imediately waited on Governor Bernard accompanyed by Mr. Dowse an Officer of the Customs at Salem and a Gentleman of Distinguished Integrity & Varacity. I communicated to him Mr. Robinsons Letter upon which a Conversation ensued as related by Mr Dowse in the Copy of the proceedings of Govr Bernard & his Council, which I herewith also Inclose; Upon this I would beg leave to Observe, my design on waiting on Govr Bernard was to communicate the further Intelligence I had received, and to conferr freely with him as a Fellow Officer of the Crown upon this Interesting Occasion: Mr Bernard took great Offence at this Conversation, & on Monday following represented it to his Council, called together on purpose in the manner Mentioned in the Inclosed Copy of their proceedings, his Account of our Conversation appears, compared with Mr. Dowses, to be evidently calculated by an Invidious Turn, to inflame his Council & Excite in them a personal Resentment against me And render me And the Service Unpopular which was the only end that could be Answered by his Communicating it to the Council;1 It must Naturally be a great discouragement to me and to every Officer of the Revenue from Conferring freely when his Majestys Service requires it, with other Officers of the Crown, whose Duty obliges them to Assist & support us, if our private Conversation is to be thus Exposed (to a Council & People all favourably Inclined to Smuggling) and turn’d to our prejudice; The Revenue Officers are Ex Officio2 sufficiently unpopular here, and every attempt to render them more so, must so far as it succeeds weaken their hands and Obstruct them in the due discharge of their Duty.
Mr. Bernard knew very well what he might Expect from a Council Anually chosen by the People and subject to his own Negative and who many of them from their Connections at least, if not by their Imediate Interest may Naturally be supposed to entertain very favourable Ideas of a Smuggling Trade.
Accordingly those of the Council who attended (for all did not think proper to be present) entered very fully into the Governors Measures (and instead of Considering what was to be done for the Kings Service) spent several days upon the Subject of the Private Conversation between the Governor & me; Implicitly summon[d] me to appear before them as in their Letter No. 6 in the Copy, This I chose not to take in the manner it Naturally imported & therefore gave it the Turn as in my Answer No. 7, After much Parade and Deliberation they tho’t proper to pass their Censures upon my Conduct, as in the Copy of their proceedings but with what reason or propriety your Honrs: will determine; I was also informed that it was moved in Council by the Governor that I should be prosecuted by the Attorney General, but this they thought too bold a stride and prudently dropt it; I can’t but consider the whole of this proceeding of which Governor Bernard was the Author & promoter as the highest Indignity offered to me in the Office I have the honor to Sustain.
I don’t expect it will be in my power to recover any more of the stolen Goods which doubtless are before this convey’d out of my reach: I shall use my utmost endeavours to discover the Authors of this Villany, and to bring them to such exemplary punishment as shall deter others from the like practices for the future, but I should have much more hopes of Succeeding in this could I depend on the Support & Assistance I might Naturally & Justly Expect on this Occasion; I consider Smiths suit against the Collector as Mentioned in the Narrative not only as Vexatious & Malicious but as the highest insult upon the Officers of the Revenue and shall take the most Vigorous measures in my Power to bring him to Condign punishment: by the practice here no Oath is required in order to hold any person to Bail, and of Consequence it is in the power of every Malicious Fellow to commence a suit & hold to Bail in any sum he pleases; by which means the Officers of the Customs (who are most Exposed to such suits) may at any time under Colour of the Law be taken off from their Duty, as was the Case with Mr Robinson, let the Service be never so Urgent; and after all they have only the pitifull Remedy of an Action for a Vexatious suit, and that perhaps against a person who may be unable to pay the Damages that may be Recovered.
The due Observance of the Laws of Trade and his Majestys Revenue here may perhaps very much depend on the Issue of this Affair and the Notice which may be taken of it at Home.
It is very easy for a Governor or the Civil Majestrate to save appearances without doing anything Effectual for the Service of his Majestys revenue, of which the present appears to me to be a striking Instance.
I have this day had Twenty thousand weight of Sugar Seized in this Port for being Landed without paying the Dutys and they shall be Imediately Libeled and I have no Doubt will be Condemned.
I apprehend the Service suffers much in this province for want of Law officers of the Crown, the Office of Attorney General is appointed by the Governor & Assembly during Pleasure & of course more devoted to the pleasure of the People then to take care of the Crowns Interest the Advocate is appointed by the Governor during pleasure only,
I am with the Greatest respect Gentlemen Your most Obedient and most Humble Servant
dupLS, RC T 1/442, ff 207-210.
STATE OF THE RIOT AND ROBBERY AT TAUNTON, MASSACHUSETTS
On the second day of April 1765 Timothy Dogget Master of the Sloop Polly Attended at the Custom House at Newport Rhode Island, & on Oath Reported the said Vessells Arrival from Surrinam with a Cargo of 63 Casks of forreign Molasses, & Job Smith of Taunton in the province of ye Massachusets Bay, Owner of said Vessell & Cargo who was present at the Master’s making said report, made an Entry of, & paid ye Dut[ies?] for 2067 Gallons which amounted to about 20 Hhds: & Mr. Nicholas Lechmere, Searcher & Landwaiter of the Port of Rhode Island attended the delivery thereof.
Mr Robinson the Collector of Rhode Island suspectin[g] that the Report was not Just, In order to discover the Fact thereof, Two days after proceeded to Deighton in ye Province aforesaid, (where said Vessell lay1 being about 35 miles from Newport, & within his District) accompanyed by Capt Anstrobus2 Commander of his Majestys Ship the Maidstone Stationed at Newport; who is also an Officer of the Customs; They arrived on Saturday the 6th. April, & upon Examination found that the Cargo consisted of about double the Quantity of Molasses reported, & therefore Seized the overplus, not reported, & also the Vessell, & leaving both in Custody of said Mr Lechmere assisted by Daniel Gutridge, the Collector’s Servant, They set out the next morning for Newport in order to send up proper persons to remove the Vessell as they could not procure them at Deighto[n] on any Terms; They arrived at Newport late at night & the next morning Capt. Anstrobus dispatch’d a Boat with prop[er] Men for the above purpose.
On Tuesday morning Mr. Lechmere & the Collector’s servant returned to Newport, & acquainted Capt. Anstrobus & the Collector That the said Vessell & Cargo had been rescued from them in the manner related in the Narrative tran[s]mitted to the Surveyor General at Boston, whereof th[e] following is a Coppy.3
Rhode Island 9th. April 1765
A Narrative of the Proceedings relating to the Sloop Polly.4
The Sloop Polly Capt. Doggett, having arrived in Swansey River within this Port but in the Province of Massachusets Bay, from Surrinam, the Master came to the Custom House last [blank]5 and reported on Oath 63 Casks of Molasses as the whole Cargo of his Vessell, and the Owner Job Smith of Taunton made two different Entries of 2067 Gallons for which he paid ye Duty, and the Collector suspecting that the Report was not Just, proposed to Capt. Anstrobus to accompany him to the place where the Vessell lay in Order to discover the Truth of it, and accordingly they reach’d there on Saturday, when the Collector on going on Board found that the Vessell was loaded with about double the Quantity reported, and thereupon they seized the overplus, which they considered as forfeited under the New Act,6 and also seized the Vessel which they likewise thought confiscable under the 8th: Sect. of the 15th Charles 2d: Chapter 7th: in regard that a true Inventory of the Cargo was not delivered as required by that Clause.
Mr. Lechmere who had arrived there sometime before them in order to attend the Delivery of the Cargo together with the Collectors servant were left on Saturday7 in possession of the Vessel, and while they proceeded here, to send off a proper Force to bring down the Vessel. But while Mr. Lechmere and Daniel Guteridge were on shore within less than a hundred yards of the Vessel, refreshing themselves, the Boat was carried off, so that neither of them could possibly go on Board, and as soon as it became dark, the Vessel was surrounded by boats & scows into which the whole Cargo was landed by at least 40 Persons in Disguise, and with their Faces blacked, and they were both threatened with all the bad treatment imaginable. The next Morning Mr. Lechmere applyed to one Colo. Richmond a Justice of the Peace in the Neighbourhood for his Aid &c: when he informed him, that early that morning a party of Men disguised as above and armed with Guns, Cutlasses &c:8 were going by his House in pursuit of the Captain & Collector, but on his assuring them that they were gone, they proceeded no further, and he found means to secure their Arms in his House, and upon this Mr. Lechmere and Daniel returned to Newport.
Capt Anstrobus had on Monday morning sent a Boat & Crew up the River to assist in Navigating the Vessel; and as that Force is quite insufficient to deal with so lawless, turbulent and wicked set of people, the Captain and the Collector are just now going up the River with a Party of Marines and other proper Force, which from the Accounts delivered to them they deem absolutly necessary but they are affraid that the Civil power will not assist them, and therefore they refer it to the Surveyor General whether it will not be necessary to apply to Govr Bernard for some further Aid. Their Plan is to apply to the Magistrates, for and Authorized by their Warrants to search every House and Store upon the River,9 and to secure any of the Men that might have been concerned in the Affair if they can be discovered. The Justice assured Mr. Lechmere that Two or three hundred Armed Men would be instantly raised10 to oppose any Force that might be sent up the Riv[er] to bring down the Vessell
The above is the-Account deliver[ed] of the Affair by Mr Lechmere wth. the [_] servant.11
Capt. Antrobus & the Collector expecting hourly further Accounts of the Affair from Deighton, thought it prudent to defer sending off the Express till they received those Accou[nts] and on Wednesday sett out themselves by Water for Deighton on Thursday morning in their way up the River they met the Boat sent off on Monday upon her return by which they received the further particulars mentioned in their Letters to the Surveyor General of which the following are Copy’s & immediately sent forward the Express.__12
Bristol Ferry 11th. April 176513
We deffered sending off the Express to communicate to you the Affair mentioned in the Inclosed Narrative till we could receive a more certain Account of it, and by reason ^of^ the Contrary Winds we are got no further yet then this place, where we met the Boat dispatched on Monday, and by which we learn this Additional circumstance Vizt: That the Sloop at spring Tide was run on the Beach where she lies with holes bored in her Bottom not possible to be removed ‘till another spring Tide. The Country is in Armes, but in hopes of quelling the disturbance, recovering the Goods stolen, discovering the perpetrators of the Riot, and to shew that we are determined to observe our Duty by enforcing the Execution of the Laws of England, we shall proceed there and continue there, till we have your further directions by Daniel who is to return immediately. The above Boat was obliged to put off on Tuesday night, because that about a Hundred People were going to fall on it: and this Truth Mr. Gilbert Deblois of Boston was an Eyewitness to. If the Government of Massachusets Bay will be Active in this Affair undoubtedly the people concerned may be detected, so as to receive their due punishment.
We are with Great respect & regard Your most Obedient humble Servant,
To Honble. John Temple Esqr.
In consequence of the several Accounts you’ll herewith Receive, I thought it proper to accompany the Collector myself with the armed Men, that every measure that could be taken for bringing these Villains to Justice might have every sanction possible; Nevertheless, you are acquainted that armed Force cannot act properly without the countenance of the Civil Magistracy which I have some reason to fear will not very readily be Obtained here, it will therefore be very necessary that Governor Bernard should give some directions with all the assistance in his Power; in the mean while, I shall do every thing in my Power to assist & protect the Kings Officers of the Customs, in every respect consistant with their opinion for the Kings Service: You’ll easily conclude from the place I write, I am not well provided either with Ink or proper paper, and that I am in great hurry to move forward, can therefore only add that I am with real regard and Esteem
Sir Your faithfull Obedient Servant
To the Honble: John Temple Esqr.
Thursday about noon they arrived with 30 armed Marines & about 40 Armed Seamen at Swansey, where they saw Mr Justice Richmond who Informed them That the whole Country was in armes, That he dreaded the Consequence of their proceeding further up the River, and that he was afraid of their being Attacked & overpower’d by Numbers, as the handful of men they had with them would be nothing against a whole Country, that had Arms at Command, They both declared to the said Justice that the Sole View of bringing the armed Force was to enable them to do their Duty, & to Defend themselves. They then applyed to Mr: Richmond & Mr. Jerathmeel Bowers (another Justice of the Peace) for their Aid Assistance & Warrant to recover the stolen Goods; but they Required to have the Application made in Writing; which was accordingly done & delivered to them: a Copy whereof follow’s15
We John Robinson Collr. of his Majestys Customs in & for the Port of Rhode Island and Charles Antrobus Esqr: Capt. of his Majestys Ship Maidstone Stationed in the said Port and also an Officer of his Majestys Customs Do hereby informe you, That on Saturday last we Seized to his Majestys use a certain Sloop called the Polly Timothy Doggat18 Master lately arrived from Surrinam in the River Taunton and then lying in the said River at Deighton19 in the County of Bristol and province of Massachusets Bay aforesaid, and within the Port of Rhode Island and also then and there Seized the Overplus of the Cargo that was not reported at his Majestys Custom House at Rhode Island aforesaid being between 50 & 60 Casks of Molosses. the number whereof Reported 63 Casks; And which said Overplus these Informants verily believes, was intended to be Smugled and his Majesty defrauded of his Revenue.
And these Informants further say that the ne[x]t day after making the said Seizure they left the same in the Custody and under the care of Nicholas Lechmere Searcher and Landwaiter of his Majestys Customs in & for the said Port of Rhode Island & Daniel Gutridge Servant of the said Collectors. And these Informants further say that on Sunday Night last (as they have been Informed & verily believe) the said seized Molosses was taken and Carried off by Persons unknown to them while the said Mr: Lechmere and Daniel Guteridge were refreshing themselves on shore within 100 yards of the Vessel, and since the said Vessel has been Run a Ground, and has had her sails & riggen carried off, and her Bottom bored, so that it may not be brought down the River. And James Morgan Mate of the said Ship Maidstone further Informes the said Justices, that he was Yesterday on board the said Vessel and found the same Empty and in the Condition above described. And of all the above particulars, these Informants are ready to make Oath to the best of their knowledge. And they Crave the Aid and Assistance of the above Magistrates, as well to discover the above Goods as the Persons concerned in the above Affair, so as to recover the possession of the said Goods and Secure the Persons aforesaid, and particularly they pray a Warrant to Search the House and Stores of Job Smith of Taunton20 and all other suspected places, the said Smith being the Importer of the said Molosses. John Robinson. Chas. Antrobus__ Ja. Morgan21
Soon after22 Mr. Richmond acquainted Capt. Antrobus & the Collectors That Mr. Bowers had the Resolves of the House of Assembly touching Affairs of this kind,23 & that Mr. Bowers would in a little time acquaint them with their Determination Mr. Bowers accordingly came & told them, That he had Carefully perused said Resolves, & that he found thereby, & by the Province Laws, that he could not give them the Aid, Assistance or Warrant required, and that it appeared to him it was the business of the Justices of the Superior Court.
This Conversation passed in the presence of Lieut: Baines o[f] the Maidstone, & Lieut: Burgis of the Marines. Fryday morning they proceeded to Deighton where they arrived about noon & found the said Sloop run a ground & strip’d of Sails, Riggen, Cables, & Anchors, all her Cargo taken out, & her Bottom boured, & her Hold filled with waters: They then took possession of her for the Kings use, in the presence of great Numbers of People, to whom they declared That the Armed Force they brought was intended only to protect them in the Execution of their Duty[.] At 3 in the Afternoon on Fryday Capt. Antrobus & the Collector went on shore when the latter was Informed, That there was an Officer ready to Arrest him; whereupon he Apply’d to know the Truth if it, when the Officer (named Gilbert) Arrested him at the suit of Job Smith in an Action for £3000 Lawfull money Damages for seizing said Sloop & Cargo: and a little time after they Carried him off in Triumph to Taunton about 8 miles distant, in Order to be Lodged in the County Goal:24 He travelled on foot to Taunton & arrived there late in the Evening escorted by the deputy Sheriff & at least a hundred people some on foot & some on horse back, with said Smith’s son Armed amongst them: Capt. Antrobus also Ordered Lieut: Bains, Mr Morgan the Mate & ^divers^ Seamen belonging to the Maidstone all Armed to Attend in order to protect him ye Collector from Violence: without which precaution it was apprehended that he must have been exposed to the Utmost Danger from the Lawless Furey of an incensed Rabble; About 11 o’Clock that Night, Smiths son came & Insulted the Collector & Ordered the Sheriff to take particular Care of him, for that his Father was determined to prosecute him with the Utmost severity so as to recover Damages: And on Saturday morning Smith himself sent a Message [_ _ _ _] to let him know [T]hat he thought his prisoner was too much Indulged, and requiring him to Carry him immediately to prison.
The same Morning the Collector sent an Express to the Surveyor General with a Letter to acquaint him with his situation: of which the following is a Copy.
Taunton Saturday Morning25
I now write to you from a Tavern in this Town, where I lodged that26 Night in the Custody of the Deputy Sheriff who about 4 o’ Clock yesterday in the afternoon Arrested me at the suit of Job Smith for Seizing the Polly and her Cargo of which he was Owner. As I advised you by my Letter dispatch’d by my Servant on Thursday last, and I presume that this Night I shall take my Lodgings in the Prison, which by all Accounts is not the most comfortable Habitation. My Antagonist by his Friends has made Several Overtures for an Accomodation; but as it is no more my Inclination, than it is in my Power, to favour a Wretch deserving the severest Treatment that the] Law can inflict, I continue Inflexable, and ready to suffer any thing that their malice and Wickedness can suggest, tho’ happy in the Consolation that the whole is the Effect of my doing my Duty. I might have avoided the Arrest, but I chose to let them entangle themselves, and Capt. Antrobus was so obliging as to send his Lieut: to accompany me with 8 Armed men to protect me from Violence. How Necessary such a precaution was, I can’t determine, but from the Crowds of People that were Collected in all parts of the Road between Deighton and this place, I may venture to say it was a prudent Measure.
Smiths son with his Sword by his side, and all his Friends &c: were of the Party. As I have not an Acquaintance in the whole County of Bristol so as to be Bailed, I see no other P[rospect but that I must] remain their Prisoner, whatever his Majestys Service may Suffer thereby.
The Armed Marines and Sailors that Captain Antrobus brought with him have behaved with the greatest Discretion and Good order, but we did not attempt to search for and recover the Molosses because Ezra Richmond and Jerathmeel Bowers two Justices of the Peace had refused their Aid and Assistance and even a Warrant to break open Smith’s Stores, where, guarded by a number of People we are informed the Cargo lies concealed.
Capt. Antrobus and myself can give you the most convincing Proof of the intention of Smith to Run the overplus of the Molosses entered, and defraud his Majesty of the Duty of it; but some Circumstances induce us to be Silent on this Head ‘till we have the pleasure to wait on you when me must discover a Scene which can’t be very agreeable to you.
And you’ll please to observe that when we left the Seizure in the Custody of Mr. Lechmere, I acquainted Smith that we Should follow Your directions in our proceedings in the Affair, so that had you ordered that the overplus, should be admitted to an Entry, we should had27 no objections as I Informed Mr. Smith.
When coming here Yesterday a Country Fellow who was one of my Guard, shew’d an Inclination to become an Informer in this Affair, and mentioned several things that may be of Service, which being observed by the Deputy Sheriff and the rest of the Party they called him a Side; and upon the Fellow’s insisting on conversing with me if he thought proper, they whiped his Horse and so carried him off, and the Deputy Sheriff on my Inquiry, told me the reason of it was least he should discover anything about the Affair that might be of prejudice to Smith.
Capt. Antrobus is at present employ’d in endeavours to get the Sloop off. I make no doubt Sir, but that you’ll consider the[se proceedings so flagrant] and violent an Insult upon the Government and Law, as to require the greatest Exertion of the power of the Crown, and to suppress them, and punish the Guilty, and whatsoever prosecutions it is necessary to carry on either in the Common Law Courts, or the Court of Admiralty, we apprehend must be done at Boston.
I think it almost unnecessary to observe to you that the ^whole^28 intention of this Law proceeding is to evade the Force of the Acts of Trade.
I am with, great Respect and Regard Sir Your most Obedt humble servant
P. S. Will you please to favour Mr Morgan with a Pass, so that he may not be obstructed on his Return to Morrow
To the Honble. John Temple Esqr.
In the Course of that day29 the Collector apply’d to Messrs. White, Fales & Williams, (Justices of the Peace & the two last Justices of the Court of Common pleas in that County) for their Aid Assistance & warrant to recover the stolen Goods, & search Smiths Stores, where they were Informed said Goods were deposited: but said Justices severally refused in the presence of Lieut Bains, to grant him the Assistance desired, which if they had done at that time, the Collector is of Opinion that a great part if not the whole of said Goods might have been recovered: The Collector understanding that Mr. White sometimes Acted as Atorney General in that County, and was Speaker of the House of Assembly intended to have employ’d him as his Council, & to have advised with him what was best to ^be^ done for the Kings Service, had not Mr. White informed him that he was Retained on the other side:
The Collector was this day informed by the Deputy Sheriff & Mr. Calwald (a Gentleman of Taunton) That the Meeting House Bell had [_ _ _ _] in orders to Allarm Smiths Friends & Neighbours to come to his Assistance; and that it was in Consequence thereof that such a Number of People were collected the preceding day as before mentioned:
Between 11 & 12 o’Clock on Sunday night ^morning^ the Collectors Servants arrived from Boston with a Letter from the Surveyor General whereof the following is a Copy __
Boston Saturday 12 o’ Clock 13th. April: 176530
I received yours by the Messenger, and Immediatly communicated it to Govr Bernard who called a Council this morning, the Result of which is a proclamation with a Reward for the discovery of the Offenders, & orders to the Civil Officers to be assisting to you all in their Power, all which you will meet with as soon as you Receive this;31 I could wish Govr Bernard had Spirit enough to have Acted in this Business without waiting for the form of a Council, then I [cou]ld have dispatched the Messenger last Night, however I hope nothing has suffered by this delay; your proceedings hitherto have been altogether with the greatest propriety, & I recommend it, that you go on with the same prudence, yet with firmness, even should you be obliged to come to Action if the service requires it, Mr Robinson will take Minutes of all proceedings such as may be Attested, as it is more than probable it will be necessary to transmit the Particulars to England, it is not probable that you will find the Goods, but the Sloop Capt. Antrobus will keep possession of and Carry to Newport if she can be got off. I hope some of the Offenders may be discovered and brought to Justice. I shall Issue a Proclamation with a large Reward for that Purpose. You will apply to the Govr. of Rhode Island if you are Informed that the Goods or any of the People are gone into that Colony. I dont expect [that he will exert him] self [but forms must be comply’d] with, you will keep me advised of all proceedings by Express [or] otherwise as the Service may require. I am with great regard
Gentn: Obedt: & most humble serv[t]
About 3 o’ Clock32 in the Afternoon of Sunday the Collector Appl[ied] to Mr Justice Leonard33 for a Warrant to search Smiths stores; th[e] Justice promised to attend him on that or any other service af[ter the] Meeting, & then produced the Governors Proclamation, which [the] Collector had not before seen, & thereupon desired it might be Re[ad] as the People came out of the Meeting House, or that it might [be] nailed up on the Meeting House doors before they came ou[t] [_] the Justice neglected both, & contented himself with nailing [it] on a Publick House near by after the People were all dispersing & then accompanyed him to Smiths House, who at f[irst] [refused] to open his Stores; but at last on the solicitations of Mr. Leonard he submitted to a thorough search of his Stores &c and in his Distill House they found only a few Casks of Molos[es] which they did not think themselves Justifiable in Seizing as they did not appear to be of that Cargo__
Soon after the Collector was informed that some of said Molosses was deposited in the Town of Taunton & apply’d to said Justice Leonard for his further assistance who said he was ready to give it, but as Messrs. White, Richmond, Fail[es] Pain, & Williams (all Justices) had been particularly wrote to [by] the Governor on the Affair, desired that the Collector would ap[ply] to them; which he immediately did (it being then about 6 o’Clock in the Afternoon) & desired their Aid Assistance & Warrant to search the Houses & Stores in said Town:
They accordingly Ordered a Deputy Sheriff to [_] themselves th[. .] [_] & to [_ _ _[ [open several] Houses & Stores know. That if they did not Open their doors, They should be oblig’[d] to grant a Warrant to break them Open: But they said They did not Consider themselves Impower’d to Grant a General warrant Being permitted to search without a Warrant, they found in a stable of William McWharten 8 Hhds. & 2 Tierces or Barrels of Molosses which the Collector seized to the Kings Use.
Those justices had received the Express from Boston about 8 of the Clock on Sunday morning, but they never informed the Collector of it, tho’ he saw them frequently in the Course of that day, nor was the proclamation published that day, excepting by Mr Leonard in the manner above mentioned;
The Justices far from exerting themselves with Vigor or shewing a Zeal in the Service required of them, seem’d doubtfull in every Thing of their Authority, & shew’d themselves in active to the last Degree, & endeavoured to Mitigate the Affair in favour of Smith as much as possible; And where the Collector urged them to summons particular persons to be Examined touching the Affairs on his Complaint that he suspected Job Smith was concerned in Carrying off the Molosses, & in order to discover what persons were his Accomplices or Concerned therein, They observed that unless there was a suit commenced, & depending, they had no such Authority.__ Between nine & Ten o’Clock on Sunday night the Collector was released from the Custody of the Sheriff on Mr Paxton’s becoming his Bail, who was sent from Boston by the Surveyor General for that Purpose.__
On Monday morning the 15th. April the Justices Granted their Warrant to press two Men & a Lighter to carry down the Molosses which had been seized: and afterwards the Collector having no further Information, told them that he [_] [not] [_ _ _] [would] give [any] [fur]ther [Assistance] but that he expected they would find out some of the persons concerned in Carrying off the Molosses, which they might eas[il]y do, if they would give themselves the least Trouble as the Af[fair?] was so Notorious.__ Mr Robinson cannot but observe [_] not one of the Justices Appear’d to have taken any steps towards Discovering the Offenders, but rather palliated the offence; Particularly Mr Pain said that if any Assurance could be had that the like disorderly doings should happen no more, it would be best to be as favourable as possible to Smith: especially as the people of that Country had been always ind[ulg]ed in all the Licentiousness Laxness & mildness imaginable fro[m] the Collectors predicessor at Rhode Island: to which Mr. Robinso[n] replyed That he was fuly satisfied that nothing would Contr[ibute?] more to deter people from the like practices for the future [_] making an Example of Smith & some others Concerned.
Mr. Paxton Informed Mr. Robinson that Mr Pain had told h[im] that Smith was ready to pay the Duties on the whole Molosses, & to Comply with such other Terms he should impose on him: to whic[h] Mr. Robinson Answered that paying the Duties was no more than he ought honestly to have done at first: & that he did not think he could dispence with the penalties of the Laws of Trade, but concluded that he would Referr the Affair entirely to the Surveyor General.__ This Morning the 15th. April Capt. Antrobus arrived at Taunton: He was personally knowing to all the Facts in the foregoing Narrative, except what pass’d after Mr. Robinson was Carried [off] by the Sheriff as before mentioned till this morning, & fully [_] confirms the same. Capt Antrobus & Mr Robinson are e[. . .?] of the Opinion that the Justices from their Connections & prejudices were more Intent on favouring Smith & Securing him & the other Offenders from Justice, & thereby Recommending themselves[s] [_ _] the [People of the Country] on whom they are [more] or less dependant, than in promoting his Majestys service. This Opinion they can’t help Conceiving from their own Observations of their general Conduct & Behaviour in this Affair.
They are also fully of Opinion That had Govr Bernard upon his first receiving Inteligence of this Affair, dipatch’d without delay the necessary Orders to the Civil & Military officers to have given the proper Assistance the exigency of the case required, & which they doubt not a Vigorous exertion of the Governors Authority would have procured. That they should have recover[ed] much more of the Molasses: And they found this Opinion upon the Information the Collector received on Saturday Morning that a great part of it was secured in Smiths Stores, where the Collector did not find any on Sunday Evening when he made the Search And upon the further Information given the Collector That a Quantity of Molosses was on Sunday night removed from a House in Taunton which it was too late to Search that Night by reason of the Justices not having sooner [provided?] Asistance.
May 4th. April 1765.
John Rbinson Collr.34
I have Examined the above Narrative and as far as I am mention’d to be acquainted with it It appears to me to be Just & True
May 4th. April 1765 _
Ms, RC T 1/442, ff 211-218.
THE DEPOSITION OF JOHN ROBINSON
John Robinson Esqr. Collector of his Majestys Customs in and for the Port of Rhode Island maketh oath and saith that having Jointly with Captain Antrobus of his Majestys ship the Maidstone who is an Officer of the Customs seized a Sloop called the Polly and a Quantity of Foreign Molosses being part of her Cargo in the County of Bristol and Province of the Massachusets Bay but in the Port of Rhode Island for a Breach of the Acts of Trade, He this Deponant accompany’d by Capt. Antrobus proceeded to Boston in order to communicate to the Honorable John Temple Esqr. Surveyor General of the northern District of North America the particular circumstances attending such Seizure and to Consult and advise with him about the prosecution of the same to Condemnation and of the Persons offending in this Premises, And this Deponant says that on the second or third day after his arrival at Boston he and Captain Antrobus paid their Compliments to his Excellency Governor Bernard at the Province House, and having been chiefly employ’d for the first ten Days or thereabouts informing a particular state of the whole transactions & proceedings touching the making the said Seizure and the recovering of the same after it had been stolen by the particular directions of the Surveyor General and also in consulting and advising with him about the Affair and having at length come to a resolution in conjunction with Captain Antrobus and with the advice of the Surveyor General to prosecute the said Seizure before Doctor Spry at Hallifax and to proceed in all other matters before Judge Russell at Boston he this Deponant about the eleventh day after their coming to Boston called on Mr: Auchmuty Advocate General of the Crown with an intention of giving directions about the prosecutions before Judge Russell and acquainted him with the Determination Capt. Antrobus and himself had come to, and mentioned to him the Names of two Persons concerned in the Affair whom he proposed as proper Objects to be prosecuted for Treble Value, but on Mr. Auchmutys observing that it would be best not to carry on such prosecution till the seizure was Condemned, this Deponant deferrd being more particular on this Head. And this Deponant further saith that having complained to Governor Bernard of the Misconduct of five Justices of the Peace in the County of Bristol he a Morning or two after waited on Governor Bernard concerning the same, when he acquainted him with the Resolution Capt. Antrobus and himself had come to as above mentioned And at the same time his Excellency delivered to this Deponant the Letter of which a Copy is hereto annexed marked Letter (A)1 having previously showed and read to him an Article in his Majestys Instructions to him therein referr’d to And this Deponant further saith that Governor Bernard signified to him that he had behaved to him with disrespect in not having advised with his Excellency about the carrying on of such prossecutions; That he disapproved of carrying the said prossecution to Hallifax and intimated that such a step would be a reflection on Judge Russell who had always behaved with integrity in his Office and repeatedly required an Account of the Molosses &ct. by him seized agreable to the foregoing Letter, in order that he might prosecute the same And this Deponant further saith that he acquainted his Excellency that it was not out of any disrespect he had not consulted him in the Affair, That Capt. Antrobus was equally concerned with him and they both with the advice of the Surveyor General had come to the foregoing resolutions about the prosecutions, and beg’d leave to Deferr giving a more particular answer to the said Letter till he had considered the same and consulted the Surveyor General as his principal Officer and to which this Deponant afterwards returned a written answer a Copy of which marked Letter (B)2 is hereunto annexed And this Deponant further saith that having waited on his Excellency in a morning or two after being Fryday the tenth day of May Instant with a more full Complaint against the Justices his Excellency told this Deponant that tho’ he cou’d Justify carrying on a prosecution against the said seized Molosses yet that he had changed his resolution on this Head and would not med’le with it, And he remarked that every prosecution that he had been consulted and advised with about had succeeded, and almost every one that the Surveyor General had been concerned in without him did not turn out well and he could expect no better from this cause seeing it was to be tryed at Halifax contrary to his opinion and he further observed that instead of prosecuting the Affair himself, as he once intended to do, he would if it did not turn out well, add this to some other Complaints and represent the same to the Secretary of State in London where the Deponant would be answerable for his Conduct or Words to that Effect And this Deponant further saith that about Ten ô Clock the next morning a person came to the Deponants Lodgings and acquainted him that the Governor and Council were met together, and to which the Deponant return’d an Answer purporting that he did not know of any Business he had with the Council, but that if they had any Business with him, he would wait on them on having proper and previous Notice of their meeting And the Deponant says that about half an Hour after, the same Messenger returned and said that the Governor and Council being met on his Account they desired to see him. And the Deponant as soon as he got himself dress’d waited on them at the Council Chamber And this Deponant further saith that upon his entering the Council Chamber the Governor told him that he and the Council had been in waiting for him about two Hours and expressed some dissatisfaction at it, and the Deponant excused himself on account of the short and improper Notice he had received. That on proceeding to Business it was observed by his Excellency that the Council were desirous to hear a more particular account about the Justices, and that it was but fair that the circumstances that made for should be known as well as those that made against the Justices. And he proposed to read the examinations of different persons particularly Mr Paxtons in order that this Deponant might confirm such part thereof as he knew to be true, to which the Deponant objected, as he had nothing to do with other Peoples account of the Affair; and proposed to give in his own account And the same is contained in the annexed writing marked (C)3 as is also his complaint against the Justices in the annexed writing marked (D)4 And the Deponant further saith that the above account was by him given in Answer to Questions asked by the Governor, and the manifest tendency of which Questions and all the Governors conversation was, to Excuse, mitigate and paliate the Offence of the Justices, particularly he said that he considered the conduct of the Justices on Saturday and on Sunday but one Transaction; And that their acting on Sunday was in a great measure an Excuse for their not acting the day before altho on Saturday night as this Deponant believes a great part of the Molosses was removed from different stores as he was since informed thereof And his Excellency said he considered Justice Richmond reason for not acting because he did not know the Law as a great excuse for him and on the Deponants observing that if he knew nothing of Law, he was not fit to be a Justice. Mr Gray one of the Council said warmly you are not to be a judge of that, And the deponant further saith that several disputes and Altercations having happened between the Governor and himself as to the propriety of some Questions that was asked which the Deponant considered as not at all relating to the Affair in Question and designedly put to answer other Views and likewise touching the meaning of Words and Expressions and also the Mode and manner that the Deponants Answers should be Worded in, the Governor attempting to restrain the Deponant from giving his account in his own Words and Language, The Governor on Account of such altercations charged the Deponant with behaving disrespectfully to him and the Council, And this Deponant Answered, he meant not the least Disrespect to either but that he considered himself ill treated in being sent for in that abrupt manner without any previous Notice or written message as well as the Restraint laid on him in giving in his Account as above mentioned and also by Mr Grays Expression before mentioned Vizt That he was not a Judge whither Mr Richmond was fit to be a Justice when the Deponant only meant to give his Opinion of the matter. And afterwards the Deponant took Occasion to Observe (in order to clear himself from the Governors Charge against him) that he did not know in what Light they considered his attendance there, but that as for his own part he considered himself there in the Light of a Servant of the Crown who had a Right to talk and expatiate with Freedom so that he was no way indecent or to that Effect.
John Robinson Collr:
Sworn at Boston- in New England the 18th day of May 1765
Before me Belcher Noyes Justice o’ Peace