321. To Richard Jackson, 16 June 1768

    322. To [Thomas Whately], 18 June 1768

    Given the extensive ramifications for the town of Boston of the seizure of John Hancock’s sloop Liberty and the subsequent riot it caused, it seems remarkable that Thomas Hutchinson provided only two accounts of the event. The seizure of Liberty, the riot, and the subsequent flight of the commissioners of customs to Castle William would prompt the cabinet, at Lord Hillsborough’s instigation, to dispatch even more troops to Boston.

    321. To Richard Jackson

    June 16. 1768

    My dear Sir, I received today your very kind Letter by the Ap. pacquet designed a month sooner but by a blunder in the Post Office was sent I suppose to Boston in Lincolnshire & returned. You will be amazed at the proceedings of our people since my last. The 9. in the Evening the Cust. H. Officers seizd a Sloop belonging to Mr H. one of the Boston Rep. for making a false Entry. It is said a Cargo of Mad. Wine was landed in the night & the next morning the master entred 4 or 5 pipes & swore it was the whole of his Cargo. This was the town talk for several weeks but it was supposed nobody would dare make a seizure. The Officers differd in opinion the Collect. thinking she might lay at the wharffe after she had the broad arrow but the Comptroller thot it best to move her under the Guns of the Romney which lay a quarter of a mile from the shoar & made a signal for the man of wars boats to come ashoar.1 The people upon the wharffe said there was no occasion she would ly safe & no Officer had a right to move her but the master of the Man of War cut her Moorings & carried her off. A Mob presently gathered & insulted the Custom H Officers & carried them in triumph up the Wharffe tore their cloaths & bruised & otherways hurt them until one after another they escaped. The mob increased to 2 or 3000 chiefly sturdy boys & negroes & broke the windows of the Comptrollers house & then the Inspector’s Williams & then went in search of the Man of Wars boats which not finding they took a boat belonging to Mr H. the Collect dragged her into the Common & burnt her & about one a Clock dispersed. This was friday. Saturday & Sunday evenings are sacred. Monday it was suppozed would produce something more important but in the afternoon printed tickets were put up in different quarters notifying the Sons of Lib. to meet the next day at 10 o Clock at Liberty Hall or Lib. Tree which is all one to consult what was proper to be done in these times of Oppression & Distraction to preserve peace & Order & maintain their Rights &c.2 This diverted the Evenings work but at the appointed time some thousands of the Rabble met but it being a rainy day they adjourned to Fan. Hall where a proposal was made to send the Cons. to notify a legal Town meeting for the afternoon at the South Ch. the Hall not being large eno’.3 Accordingly the same Company met in the Afternoon under a new name & chose Otis their Moderator who after haranguing them some time from the Pulpit suffered them to harangue one another until they had agreed upon an Address to the G. the most extravagant thing that has yet appeard & appointed 21 of their number to wait on him with it and then adjourned to the next day for an AnswerThe G. let them know he could not comply with what they principally desired which was to order the Romney out of the Harbour but should be glad to do every thing for the good of the Town, & Province consistent with his Duty to the Crown &c.4 Upon Receiving this Answer they adjournd until tomorrow the 17 to consider what further measures are proper. The Commissioners Hulton Burch Paxton & Robin Remained pretty easy Saturday & Sunday but Mond. morning early they sent a card to the G to let him know they were going aboard the Romney & desired his orders for their Recept at the Castle which he Readily gave.5 The Collect & Comptroll & most of the other Officers of the Cus. are ^also^ withdrawn & it is by no means advisable at present for any of them to Return.

    I have been with my family several weeks in the Country. The G. is at his house in the Country but goes to Council every day or two.6 Tuesday morning he sent one of his sons to me to desire me to come to him being in expectation of very important news from Town. I went immediately when he acquainted me that he had been endeavouring all Saturday & Monday to prevail upon the C. to come into some spirited measures but all to no purpose, that when he sent his son away he was apprehensive he should Receive such advices of the proceedings of the Sons of Lib at Boston as that it would be necessary for him to withdraw but happily before my arrival he had more favorable accounts. It is now the talk among the populace that neither the Commissioners nor the Comptroller shall be suffered to Return to Town & just before noon today I saw a printed notification upon the Change Requiring a full meeting tomorrow as the fate of the province & of America depended upon the measures to be then taken.7

    It is very natural to ask where the Justices & Sheriffs are upon these occasions. The persons who are to assist the Sheriff in the execution of his Office are Sons of Liberty & determined to oppose him in every thing which shall be contrary to their Schemes. Some of the Justices are great favourers of them & those who are not are afraid of being sacrificed by them & will issue out no warrants to apprehend them. Let an Officer behave ever so ill even if he was to abet the Disorders he ought to suppress I do not think it would be practicable to Remove him seeing it cannot be done without the advice of C & they would be afraid to give the advice.

    It is unfortunate that in the midst of these difficulties the Romney has been pressing Seamen out of all inward bound Vessels & altho he does not take men belonging to the Province who have families yet the fear of it prevents Coasters as well as other Vessels coming in freely and it adds more fewel to the great Stock among us before. It is pity that in peaceable times any pressing of Seamen should be allowed in the Colonies. If it was not I believe the Commanders would not have so many Deserters as they now have.8

    I have wrote in so circumstantial a manner because the G tells me he has so many public Letters to write that he shall not be able to write any private.

    I am very glad you have a seat in Parl again. I am sure the Col would have lost a good friend if you had declined it. One of them has behaved ungratefully Rather owing to the influence of a bad set of men just at that time altho too great a disposition to neglect & treat ill their best benefactors has prevailed from their first settlements.9 The party are afraid of Risquing the choice of a Provincial Agent & altho as you observe we gave up to N York all they could reasonably desire yet the H Rather than have an Agent to make defence in Eng. have voted that the Commissioners shall comply with the last demand of N Y without taking any care of a considerable number of families settled upon the Lands by the encouragement of this Province & who upon their being left to N Y will meet with no mercy but the Council hitherto decline concurring.10

    I have kept my letter open until the 18. Last Evening I went on board the Romney found the Commissioners & families still on board but intend to the Castle to morrow. They let me know they had resolved to send Mr Hallowell immediately to Engd. so I shall commit this Letter to his care which I had before intended by a Merchant Vessel.11 The Town of B yesterday gave their Rep. Instructions prefaced with a large Representation of the grievances from Impresses & the swarms of bloodsucking Custom house Officers & then direct them to procure Relief in a parliamentary way & to make enquiry whether any person had wrote or used any endeavours that Troops should be sent here there being, as the Instructions say, many alarming Reports to that purpose.12

    A Committee of the Town had prepared a Resolve that whoever had by writing or any other ways & means promoted or even wished that Troops might be sent here was a Tyrant in his heart a Traytor & open enemy to his Country. This was pushed by their T. Clerk & others & weak as it is would have passed if it had not hapned not to be approved by a Lawyer a noted Son of Liberty.13 I am with the most sincere esteem faithful & obedient,

    A Comittee of Council having been with Cap Corner he has conducted with great prudence & taken much from the edge of the Resentment Raised against the Man of War.14

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:310–12); at head of letter, “Mr Jackson.”

    John Hancock. By John Singleton Copley. Photograph (c) 2019. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

    322. To [Thomas Whately]

    Boston, 18th June 1768.

    Sir, As you allow me the honour of your correspondence, I may not omit acquainting you with so remarkable an event as the withdraw of the commissioners of the customs and most of the other officers under them from the town on board the Romney, with an intent to remove from thence to the castle.1

    In the evening of the 10th a sloop belonging to Mr. Hancock, a representative for Boston, and a wealthy merchant, of great influence over the populace, was seized by the collector and comptroller for a very notorious breach of the acts of trade, and, after seizure taken into custody by the officer of the Romney man of war, and remov’d under command of her guns. It is pretended that the removal and not the seizure incensed the people. It seems not very material which it was—A mob was immediately rais’d, the officers insulted, bruis’d and much hurt, and the windows of some of their houses broke; a boat belonging to the collector burnt in triumph, and many threats utter’d against the commissioners and their officers: no notice being taken of their extravagance in the time of it, nor any endeavours by any authority except the governor, the next day to discover and punish the offenders; and there being a rumour of a higher mob intended monday (the 13th) in the evening the commissioners, four of them, thought themselves altogether unsafe, being destitute of protection, and remov’d with their families to the Romney, and there remain and hold their board, and next week intend to do the same, and also open the custom-house at the castle. The governor press’d the council to assist him with their advice, but they declin’d and evaded calling it a brush or small disturbance by boys and negroes, not considering how much it must be resented in England that the officers of the crown should think themselves obliged to quit the place of their residence and go on board a King’s ship for safety, and all the internal authority of the province take no notice of it—The town of Boston have had repeated meetings, and by their votes declared the commissioners and their officers a great grievance, and yesterday instructed their representatives to endeavor that enquiry should be made by the assembly whether any person by writing or in any other way had encouraged the sending troops here, there being some alarming reports that troops are expected, but have not taken any measures to discountenance the promoters of the late proceedings;2 but on the contrary appointed one or more of the actors or abettors on a committee appointed to wait on the governor, and to desire him to order the man of war out of the harbour.3

    Ignorant as they be, yet the heads of a Boston town meeting influence all public measures.

    It is not possible this anarchy should last always. Mr. Hallowell who will be the bearer of this tells me he has the honour of being personally known to you. I beg leave to refer you to him for a more full account. I am, with great esteem, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,

    Tho. Hutchinson

    Printed in Letters Sent to Great-Britain, pp. 3–5; unaddressed but almost certainly written to Whately, as are many of the letters in this pamphlet. No manuscript copies of this letter have been found.

    323. From Nathaniel Rogers

    London July 2. 1768

    My dear & esteemed Sir, I was much obliged by your several favors in April. I was too ill when I received them to see Mr Jackson. I saw him yesterday, but frequent interruption prevented a long visit, he harbours not the least disgust, but expresses all that esteem & regard for your Honor, which a good mind can desire—he keeps no copies of letters, but he is positive he says that he has wrote you more than once since September. The truth of the Case is amongst all Gentlemen here almost, they are grown quite weary of American matters they think they did so much in the repeal of the Stamp Act, they think our opposition to the present Act so unreasonable & ungrateful, and American Affairs have been so long the subject that they hate to think of them or of anything that brings them to their Mind, this I have found pretty general with all with whom I have conversed. My Lord Rockingham who is our best friend among the Nobility, is out of all patience, he told a Gentleman, a friend of mine, a few days ago, that we were determined not to leave our friends this side the water without the power even of a Shadow of an excuse. The refusal of Faneuil Hall to the Governor appears so illiberal & so impotent that we are become contemptible.1 This is not known but chiefly with the Ministry & those who concern them selves with America, these are the people to serve us but they seem now really to despise us, all our Countrymen here are so ashamed of it, that we palliate it all we can.

    The request too of the Assembly to have the Governors Letters, transmitted from Lord Shelburnes office, at least the copies, appeared to his Lordship & to every body of Consequence so strange & inofficial, that it tended to heigthen their ill opinion of our Temper & dispositions.2

    A Gentleman your very good friend, and who is far from having taken the least Offence, told me Yesterday, that the Ministry propose to remove Governor Bernard to Virginia if he would accept it, the only difficulty was the rank, as he would be but Lieut Gov there, this Gentleman proposed that he should have rank given him with the Governors of the Colonies, but it did not seem to be embraced.3 The King is willing to bestow any mark of his favor. The Ministry proposed his being made a Baronet if he chose it, or in any way to make up the deficiency of rank & as it is near a thousand a year better than his present Government they hope he will accept it, but they are determined not to do a disagreable thing to him, as his conduct is highly approved of. The Gentleman further said that if Governor Bernard accepted Virginia the Government of the Massachusets would be left in your hands in what rank you chose, either in your present, or as Governor. He also added that Lord Hilsbro and Lord Shelburn both informed ^him^ of these Circumstances & Consulted him upon it. He declined his name should be mentioned at present, tho’ your Honor will easily know who it is. Anything that will add to your peace of mind, to your ease & happiness will ever affect me, who have been so much obliged by you.

    I was so very negligent as not to call on Gov: Pownall, thro’ a multiplicity of Engagements he has just before & since my illness very obligingly called several times, & has invited me to spend some time with him in the Country. It is very necessary to my health & I shall go tomorrow for a week, from whence I shall go to Yorkshire. Sir Geo Saville too has been very obliging in calling & inviting me, that I shall I hope see him in the Country. When I am at Mr Pownals, I shall mention to him something I have in view, which as I am a Young man an opportunity ^may^ happen of its taking place, through him & his brother4 it might easily be obtained, and should such an opportunity happen, I hope for your Honor’s countenance I shall lay a foundation as far as I am able amongst ^my friends who are of^ the several parties, which now divide the Kingdom, but all is extreamly uncertain. Mr John Pownal is indeed a man of business, has so much Knowledge in his department, that he is become necessary, & so of course in all Changes will be steady. Dr. Franklin, the only person to whom I have mentioned, thinks his friend ship will be of more consequence in the Affair than any other person’s, but I will not trouble you Sir any longer.5

    I am very incapable of writing with any degree of precision my health is so infirm tho’ I daily gather strength. I forgot to say that I read to Dr. Franklin what you wrote me upon his request he tho’t himself much obliged to me and said he would write you and would also send one or two of the Gentlemen’s performances.6 He has not sent them to me yet, I suppose he will & I shall forward them. I think myself much obliged in this Instance, as the D is very kind & polite to me. I am with the greatest Respect My dear Sir Your Honors Obliged & Affectionate Nephew,

    Nath Rogers

    I forgot to say, that the Archbishop applied about a year ago to the King upon the subject of sending Bishops to America, the King approved it and referred him to the Ministry, but they totally refused the good old Archbp. They said they wanted to sustain the Connection between the Colonies & to strengthen every tye, & not to break off any one, and the Archbp has given the point ^up^ grieving that political Considerations should take place of religious ones. The Ministry however neither were nor are of his Opinion, nor is it probable they ever will so that we may be entirely easy on that Subject.7

    The Governor has his leave, but wether it is sent out Mr Jackson did not know.8

    3d. American matters will certainly come on next Session of parliament and as the Bedford Interest has much increased of late, It is generally thought that they will by winter bring in Mr Greenville new & his friends.9 Our Agent here is absolutely incapable of business.10 Should your Honor be in power, I need not mention how absolutely necessary it will be to have a new Agent to take care of our Interests, for the whole Current of the Nation is against us. I mention this out of a real regard for my Country, who appear foremost in America & here by their her Agent, the least of all.

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:263–69); at foot of letter, “Honorable Thomas Hutchinson Esq”; endorsed, “Mr. Rogers 2d. & 3d. July 1768 London.”