Lord Shelburne’s Letter

    293. To the Duke of Grafton, 3 February 1768

    294. To [Richard Jackson], 14 February 1768

    295. To Unknown, 17 February 1768

    The contentious mood of the Massachusetts House received a temporary check with the arrival on 2 February of a letter from Lord Shelburne to Francis Bernard approving of the governor’s action in vetoing a number of opposition councilors elected by the House in May 1766. The letter also found fault with the legislature for excluding Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver (“men of unexceptionable character”) as well as other principal officers of the government (the attorney general and the judges of the Superior Court) from seats on the Council. Shelburne went on to state that although the decision to allow the lieutenant governor to be present at Council meetings rested entirely with the Council itself, he believed Hutchinson’s exclusion proceeded from personal pique and found it “very extraordinary that a person of very respectable character, and whose learning and ability has been exerted in the service of America, should yet meet with so much animosity and ill will in a Province which seems to owe him particular obligations.” Shelburne also demurred on taking a position on whether the House could employ its own agent, calling it a matter for the Board of Trade to resolve (see Papers of Francis Bernard, 3:407–08). Initially taken aback by such criticism from someone they regarded as an ally, the members of the House eventually rallied, passing their famous Circular Letter urging intercolonial resistance to the Townshend program on 11 February (JHR, 44:236–39). On 22 February they wrote Shelburne asserting that his opinions could only rest on misrepresentations from Bernard. Consequently, they requested from Shelburne copies of the governor’s correspondence (JHR, 44:239–40). Hutchinson, perhaps focusing too much on the words of commendation from the secretary of state, did not say much in his correspondence about the Circular Letter when it first passed. Intercolonial communication had become more routine since the meeting of the Stamp Act Congress, whereas Lord Hillsborough, new to his office, believed the Circular Letter to be an effort to form an intercolonial confederacy to overturn the acts of Parliament.

    293. To the Duke of Grafton

    Boston 3 Feb 1768

    My Lord Duke, I have the unexpected honour of receiving a letter from your Grace signifying your Graces favourable opinion of my ^past services^ and your intention to name me to His Majesty for a seat at the Board of Customs whenever a vacancy shall happen if you shall know that it will be agreeable to me. The place your Grace proposes would be of primary advantage to me having ^has more than^ three times the emoluments of the post I ^now^ Hold of Chief Justice ^and^ as I have a family of ^several^ children just which I am anxious to provide for ^to provide for to introduce into the World this pecuniary advantage^ would not be unwelcome, but I may not dispense with acquainting your Grace that these two posts are thought to be incompatible and that I very much doubt whether I should Retain the ^weight &^ interest which I have in the hearts of the people and be as able to contribute to the preserving or rather restoring order & a due subordination to the supreme authority of the whole Empire was I to hold any office ^a place^ in the Revenue ^Customs^ as I might be in ^my present post or any^ other place not immediately Related to the ^Revenue^. After observing this I am intirely at your Graces disposal as you shall think proper.

    There is at present a better appearance in the H of R than there has been for some time past. A Letter which the Govr. Received yesterday from My Lord Shelburne approving of his conduct in negativing several of the persons elected for Councillors in May last and disapproving the measures of the Party in oppositeion to Government has an extreme good effect the heads of this party having by an unaccountable mistake buoyed themselves up with the ^an^ opinion that their proceedings gave as great ^less^ offence ^to the people^ of England ^& to the Ministry than they Really did & ought to do^.1 I should hope the eyes of the people in this & the other colonies would be open to see their true interest if it was not for the inflammatory pieces which are continually publishing in our News papers which we have not as yet [sufficient] our internal authority ^is not yet strong enough^ to treat as they deserve.2

    I shall ever have a grateful Remembrance of the marks of friendship I received from ^had the honour of being known to^ My Lord Aug. F-R. both in ^in the years 32 & 33 in^ New England & New York to the last of which places I made a journey in the year 1734 ^made him a visit at New York in 34^ whilst His Lordship Resided there and [illegible] flatter myself. I should have [returned] [illegible] are [in his] favour [illegible]3 ^Remembering of his friendship I flatter myself if his Lordship had lived I should have Retained an Interest with him to this day^. I hope ever to demean my self so as to preserve your Graces good opinion of me and have the honour to be with the greatest Respect Your Graces most faithful & most obedient servant,


    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:287–88); unaddressed but Grafton was the only duke with whom TH was in correspondence at this time. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 11 December 1775.

    The Duke of Grafton. By Pompeo Batoni. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

    294. To [Richard Jackson]

    Boston 14. Feb 1768

    My dear Sir, A Letter from Ld Shelburne to the Gov. has done great service and I have no doubt that if the two Houses were to come to a choice of Councellors there would be a considerable majority in my favour.1 Something may happen before May to turn them again. The Duke of Grafton has done me the great honor to write to me in a very obliging manner & to assure me that if a vacancy should happen in the Board of Customs he would Recommend me to His Majesty for a seat there. This is great condescension in His Grace. I have acquainted him with the true state of the case viz that a place in the Customs would lessen if not destroy my present interest in the people but after that I was at his Graces disposal.2 It is not probable that I shall outlive any of the present Comissioners all except Paxton being younger than I am. If I had no children I should be very little concerned about the emoluments of any post further than the income of my present fortune added to it would afford me a decent support.

    The Gov. friends assure him he never stood better with the Ministry & that they are well disposed to advance him to a better Government. He hardly knows how to understand it having had the same advices before since which BBs3 Carolina & Nova Scotia have been disposed of and it is Reported New York also. BBs & Carolina he wrote would be agreeable to him tho’ the Climate of the latter I think would now discourage him. I do not know his mind as to Nova Scotia nor do I think he would be fond of a Removal any where if the Salary which has been proposed should be fixed, but he tells me that he has some expectation he shall have to go home in the Summer & shall be better able to judge there what can be done for his advantage & mine than he can do here. I shall desire nothing that is not agreeable to him. The circular letter to the other Governments which I wrote you in my last our Patriots had failed of carrying they have since obtained.4

    I know how extreme tender you are of any abridgment of the peoples Rights & they are extremely obliged to you for it but the popular part of the Court here have taken the whole Government very much into their hands and one, at least, of the other branches have lost very much of the weight which was intended it by the Charter & that was full little.

    I hope Ld Shelb. will take some notice to the Gov. of their writing to the Secretary of State.5 But their keeping a separate Agent in England and corresponding with him upon Affairs which concern the whole Government and after this the Councils concurring with them in Grants for his support is quite a new thing, and I expect no Province Agent whilst they are indulged.6 The H of R may have affairs in England distinct from the other Branches, they may have a controversy with the Gov or they may be called upon to defend their own proceedings & in these and the like cases it is highly Reasonable somebody should appear for them and be paid for it but the affairs they instruct their Agent upon are not of this sort only.

    They have been sitting near 7 weeks and are like to continue 3 or 4 weeks longer & many of them are as fond of it as the long Parl. in Ch. the firsts time.7 It was a mistake in the Charter to appoint the Court for Election in May a time of year when the Members cant be long enough from home to do the business of the year and so a Winter session is necessary whereas one session in a year would have been enough & in one half so long as the present they might do all that is necessary for the publick Service for the whole yearI have ^desired^ Mr Bromfield ^to deliver you^ an indian tool or instrument which belonged to one of the Natives probably before the English came to America. I have affixed a label to it with an inscription and if you think it is not too trivial I pray you would lodge it in the British Museum. If the Indian Mochasins or shoes their belts or any part of their habits or ornaments would be any curiosity worthy of notice in that grand Storehouse I would send them over to you. I am Dear Sir Your obliged & most obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:288–89); unaddressed but Jackson thanks TH for the Indian axe in No. 317, below. Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 11 December 1775.

    295. To Unknown

    Boston 17 Feb. 1768

    Sir, America is in a tolerably calm state at present. The late Act of Parlt. is I believe every where submitted to altho’ it is generally said to be an abridgment of their Rights as they are taxed without a Representation.1 The writers in News papers have been calling upon the people to exert themselves in opposing all Taxes. Their arguments are trite & though in a new or different dress yet they have but little effect.2 The Assemblies seem to think it prudent to be silent. New York spent many weeks in endeavours to comply & not comply with the Mutiny Act. It seems they have at last framed an Act of Assembly to the satisfaction of the Governor. Rhode Island is too insignificant to deserve notice. The Massa. Assembly seemed full of spirits at their first meeting but they evaporated in part in Instructions to their Agent which are not made publick3 & since that they have been much damped by a Letter from Lord Shelburne4 which I heard one of the minority call a heavenly Letter & if I had not been so much the subject of it my self I should pronounce it the best calculated that could be for restoring us to a state of government & good order. We have however now & then flashes from our firebrand I wish I could think them presages of his extinction.5 After all we are in an uncertain state & ever shall be whilst we have such confused notions of our connexion with G B. I often wish for a plan of government for the Colonies as like as may be to that for Ireland but whether our Assemblies could be brought to as Reasonable measures upon Recommendations from the Crown as the Parlt. of Ireland have come into from time to time is a question I cannot Resolve.6

    We have been a long time without News from Engl. I am Sir Your very humble servant,

    When we write with freedom it is still of importance that it should not be known.

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:289–90); unaddressed.

    296. From Nathaniel Rogers

    London the 17 Feb: (new) 1768

    My dear & respected Sir, I wrote you the 11th. Instant by Scot, since which I have had your chimney peice finished agreable to your last order, together with the 2 tablets—tho’ the first order was finished before the alterations came to hand yet Mr Hayward was very obliging in making an other.1 I could have wished you had given me larger powers as, for 20 Guineas you might have had something very elegant. I inclose you bill Lading for two Cases on board Freeman [containing]2 them. I sent the books by Capt Colling on board Dixcey. I hope he will deliver them safe but he has turned out a very bad man. I have also paid Mr Mauduit £11. 4/. Sterlg so much he paid at the Treasury this with £7. 11. 10 for the Chimney & £3. 12/. for the books & 2/6 paid Freman primage amounting in the whole to £22. 10. 4. I shall in a day or two Call on William Palmer for ^9d. bills Lading^3. You have Mr Mauduits & Haywards receipts Inclosed.

    Mr. Mauduit has consented to forward you the Warrant by Jarvis & I shall give it under his Cover to Mr. Wheeler an Episcopal Clergyman who goes passenger in Jarvis who sails in Two days. I could have wished my dear Sir, the sum had been larger, but the Ministry are exceedingly tenacious in mony matters--they pretended tho’ that had it been larger and intirely upon the footing of being Chief Justice that the Assembly would not pay their usual allowance.4

    Our resolves & our instructions give the greatest umbrage here, and steady plans will be laid to distress our Trade.5 It is a very few days since, Mr. Greenville declared in the House that the Americans had no right even to fish upon the Coasts, that it was by the particular indulgence of Great Brittain who might resume it whenever she pleased, that he wished every American in the World could hear him, it was upon the debate upon continuing the bounty on Greenland ships which expired this year, it is continued till the year 1770 when our bountys expire & then it was suggested in the House, that the whole matter of the fisheries can be resumed without any impediment when it is designed to give such special encouragement to the British Ships as shall worm us out of the Trade.6 Mr Greenville said he had made it his business to give such encouragements to America during his administration as he tho’t would promote those branches of Trade she was best suited for, it was upon the Idea of her being subject to British laws to British acts but as many people had tho’t proper to Controvert that point he had seen cause to change his Opinion & he tho’t the Contrary ought now to be pursued. I have been several times in the House of Commons when America has been incidentally mentioned not a friendly speech could be heard, all was attention, all was silent to hear the severest invectives did any one rise to soften to cool the prevalent heat he could not be heard. Mr Huske made a very good speech in Answer to Mr Greenvilles assertions relative to the fishery, the best ‘tis said he ever made, & with good spirit & resolution. Ld. North has a day or two ago bro’t in a bill for erecting Courts of Admiralty in America, it seems it could not be done upon any old Act of Parliament, and the stamp Act is Considered as repealed in all & Every part, so this new bill is bro’t in & the present talk in the house is, that there shall be four Judges one at Halifax, at Boston & the other two where stationed is not yet known.7

    There has been a very great debate in the House of C. upon a motion made by Sr. Geo Saville to bring in a bill of limitation upon the Crown, in point of its Titles like what was passed in the 21 James—the necessity of such limitation was allowed on both sides, but the propriety of the time was disputed.8 It was a point of opposition to the administration who had lately made a grant of an estate in the possession of the Duke of Portland to Sir James Lauther upon some slight pretences which Estate had been granted by the Crown to the Dukes Ancestors—it was for the purpose of Elections.9 The debate was for 8 hours I was present the whole time. Sir Geo Saville made the motion, it was supported by Sr Anthony Abdy, Mr. Dowdeswell, Greenville, Montague, Seymour, ^Mr Yorke^ Mr Burke (Lord Rockinghams) Mr Bennet, Ld. Palmerstone, against it, Ld. North, Ld. Clare Ld. Barrington, Sr Fletcher Norton, Mr. Jenkinson Hans Stanley, Mr Dyson Mr Rigby, the Master of the Rolls--the debate was very arduous & the Ministry were so pressed, that my Ld. North who has the lead gave the word & called for the order of the day, on the previous Question--upon which the House divided.10 The odds were 114 & 134—so the Ministry but just carried it, it was tho’t a great triumph for the Opposition to come so near. Lord Rockingham was much Interested in this debate, for tho’ it was past 11 when the House divided, he stood in the Crowd in the lobby waiting Impatiently till the majority was declared. Mr Burke who is reckoned a great speaker tho’ very flowery & figurative in his Expressions, was the severest upon the Ministry. The ministry had thrown out in the Course of the debate that a great deal of mony would be gained to the Crown by inclosing the forests--what said Mr Burke do they talk of a revenue in this way, it is like putting a great Value in an Alembic or some Chymical Vessel to torture about the 20th. part of the real Value into a liquor exalted at last to a Cordial for what, why I will tell you, to revive the Spirits of a fainting Administration--a great laugh ensued.

    I hope you will forgive the almost illegibleness of this letter but I have been this whole day very much engaged and it is now near two in the morning & the bag goes at Sunrise. I am with the greatest Affection & respect Your Honors most Obedient & Obliged Nephew,

    Nath Rogers

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:248–53); dateline appears at the bottom of the letter; endorsed, “London 17 Feb 1768 Mr Roger’s Letter.” Enclosures not found.

    297. From William Bollan

    Henrietta street, Feby 18th. 1768.

    Dear Sir, I am obliged to you for two kind letters, one dated Oct 31st., the other the 14th. of Dec; but my present circumstances oblige me to desire that you will take in part of pay a letter which I wrote to the public, & publish’d about four days ago, in consequence of my being concern’d in an attempt to extirpate bribery & corruption in the election of members of parliamt1 & of which I purpose to send you by capt. Freeman 100 copies, to be given away to my old friends Petr. Oliver, Mr. Trowbridge & Mr. Lee,2 with others, who, to my great comfort, are so numerous, that I have not time to name them; and to such others as you shall think fit. This letter will give you my sense of our present condition. At the desire of the chief mover of this business I drew a Bill, which had the approbation of one of the first persons in point of rank & character in the kingdom; nevertheless you will readily imagine that the lawyers in the comittee appointed to bring in the bill wou’d never agree to a draught made by an American lawyer, and, without finding any fault with it, save that it was long, they took it from my friend, who was in course the first person named of the committee, & said they wou’d retain the ideas; but they were so far from doing it, that their bill was defective in several material points wherein I had made proper provision. After this bill had been read in the house it was brought to me for my consideration, and the next morning I gave a note of its defects, since which I have heard nothing of the lawyers who drew it, but have been told that one of the chiefs of a powerful party had censured it by reason of these defects. It is to come on in a committee of the whole house to morrow, and, I suppose, it will be fritter’d away, or wholly laid aside.3

    Our foreign trade declines, but the trafic in elections is very brisk; we have our borough-brokers, and the price, I am told, has for some time been about £4000 for a single member. The mayor & aldermen of the city of Oxford having been incautious in their dealing, and the facts coming out in the proceedings on the bill, they have for some time been lodged in Newgate; but, after severe reprehension, they are dismissed and gone home: a couple of attornies, & a broker, have also been commited, and a parson, I hear, will soon be brought out of the country to keep them company. The Oxonians gave their present members the preference; but, like honest men, they answer’d that they never wou’d sell them, and therefore wou’d not buy them.4 The frequency of offences lessens the horror of them, and our want of due attention to the nature of this dangerous disease is such, that, altho’ I am very unwilling to despair of the commonwealth, I can not forbear thinking it is in danger. Some worthy persons are of opinion that the rotten part of the constitution has brought the whole into an incurable state; but haveing said so much in print upon this subject I shall quit it for the present.

    A free expostulation, you are sensible, is the right & duty of friendship, and therefore I must tell you plainly, in vulgar phrase, that you appear sollicitous to white wash your little great man,5 & surprize me when you talk of his resolution. Pray, did not he suffer the ensign of defiance to the law & government of the empire, I mean the image of Mr. Oliver, to hang up all day in a conspicuous part of the sole entrance into Boston by land, contrary to two most excellent principles, principiis obsta, & Qui non obstet quod obstare potest, facere videtur?6 And, pray, did not he check, or rather prevent, the execution of the warrant which you as chief justice issued, by the advice of council, to take down this image? You seem, moreover, to have forgot that your first account of the outrages commited against every principle of government made no mention of this great man, whose exertion of the powers of government was the first object of representation; and that in a subsequent letter you disapproved of part of his conduct. Things are ever best understood when known from their beginings, with a proper state of the facts; and if you had sent me in the time an account of everything material relative to the origin of your violences, I am much enclined to think it wou’d have been better for the province in general, & yourself in particular: and, whatever you may think of your favorite, I am persuaded that his law, justice & policy will be found wanting when weigh’d in a just balance, at the same time believing that if some parts of his conduct were known to you they wou’d fall under your censure as well as mine.

    About two or three years ago we had a talk of establishing a royal fishery in America, which for my own part I censured very freely,7 as injurious to the nation as well as the colonies, who were to be distinguished to their prejudice. Some months ago when attending at the admiralty, one of the captains speaking unhandsomely, or rather ignominiously, of the N. Engd. fishing vessels in general, which were employ’d in the N. England ^Newfoundland^ fishery last year, I interposed, & endeavoured to convince him, & did to his satisfaction, or at least to his silence, that the encrease of their number, notwithstanding the possible misconduct of some, redounded to the public welfare; and very lately a noted sea officer, who at the first entrance into his command came to me with a sollicitude of information ^in a particular affair, having^ enquired what number of New Engd. vessels were employ’d in the cod fishery, in a manner which appear’d to me unfriendly to them, I answered to this effect that their number had varied extremely; but that the greater the number was the greater benefit redounded to the public; and ^he having^ in the course of our conversation discovered some political sufficiency I observed to him ^to this effect^ that the knowledge of the men of his corps was ^sometimes^ so partial & imperfect, that I had been several times obliged to lay them flat upon their back, & put to the trouble of wiping out of the minds of ministers the impressions which had been made by their partial representations. I have lying before me a late public paper containing proposals of the most arbitrary & severe restrictions of the inhabitants of your province in the use of the fishery.8 The policy of the times consider’d in its nature & consequences is so bad, that I shou’d wish to have nothing to do with it if regard for the welfare of my country wou’d let me be at quiet yet I hope it is not quite so bad as to favour these idle & injurious restrictions.

    I am very glad to find that your hard treatment after your great services & sufferings does not more distress you; and when you will receive better I know not, for many of our modern politicians seem to have nothing in their mind whereon themselves or any others can rest. Adieu Yours most sincerely,

    W Bollan

    DupRC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:254–55a); at head of letter, “Duplicate”; at foot of letter, “Lt. Govr. Hutchinson”; endorsed, “Mr Bollan 18 Feb. Duplicate 1768.”

    298. To David Chesebrough

    Boston 21 Feb 1768

    Dear Sir, I fully intended to have wrote you by the Post not expecting he would go till Monday. I am well satisfied you have taken the most prudent measures about my Sisters farm.1 All that is necessary now is to determine whether to close with Sanford or to purchase the House. I think the latter would be for her Interest but she has not the money. Her Tenants at Elizabeths Island are behind hand in their rent. Possibly you may sell more wood. If you should not & the Owner of the frame will not stay till you can make the money from the wood I think she must give over the thoughts of it. I am loth to give you so much trouble in writing so circumstantially about your proceedings. I know you will do for the best.

    I have just Received my letters from London the latest the 29 Decemb. Lord Gower Presid of the Council in the room of Ld Northington Resigned. Lord Weymouth Sec of State in the Room of Mr. Conway & Lord Hillsborough appointed a third Sec of State for America. Lord North who is Chancellor of the Excheqr. has very much the lead. Mr. Greenville is well pleased with this arrangement & my friend says it will be no surprize if he shall be by and by at the head of it but adds that we shall be disappointed & notwithstanding all the affronts offered him in the Colonies that he will be for allaying & not inflaming the Spirit which prevails against them in the nation. I wish it may prove so.2

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:290); at head of letter, “Mr. Chesebrough.”