Parliament Roused

    363. From Israel Mauduit, 10 February 1769

    364. From Thomas Whately, 11 February 1769

    On 15 December 1768, the House of Lords adopted eight resolutions proposed by Lord Hillsborough that accused the Massachusetts House of denying parliamentary supremacy and encouraging in its Circular Letter an “illegal combination” to overturn the Townshend Act. The resolutions also noted the “disorder” in the town of Boston, the failure of its justices of the peace to suppress it, and the continuing need for troops to enforce the law. A sixth resolution declared the Boston town meetings of 14 June and 12 September to be illegal and “calculated to excite Sedition,” while the seventh and eighth denounced the unconstitutionality of the convention of the towns. An accompanying address urged that the governor of Massachusetts conduct an investigation to identify the “Instigators of the late Disorders” and send them to England so that a special commission might be formed to try them for treason according to the Statute of 35 Henry VIII. A long delay ensued before the Commons could take up the matter in early February 1769, principally because it was preoccupied with the expulsion and subsequent re-election of John Wilkes. A number of supporters of America in the House questioned the legality of transporting those accused of treason to England for trial instead of the place where the alleged crimes were committed, but ultimately the government prevailed. See Papers of Francis Bernard, 5:11–12, 14–20, for a very full account of the resolutions introduced in the Lords and the late January debates in the House.

    363. From Israel Mauduit

    Clemens Lane 10th Feb 1769

    Dear Sir, I here send you the Controversy between G Britain & her Colonies review’d, which I think contains a full refutation of all your peoples pretensions.1 The writer was furnishd with the Materials from the Board of Trade, & I believ the facts may be depended on.

    I was not sorry to see a paragraph of my Letter in your papers; especially as the controversy, which followd upon it, shewd that you had taken effectual care to conceal the writer. It was calculated for the time of the Arrival of the Troops; & containd truths, which I thought it might be of Use to have known upon that occasion. That part of your Letter, which relates to him, I read to Mr Hollowell, who thought himself much obliged to you for it.2

    We have now once more put down our Incendiary;3 & I think he can never rise again, from the Jail he is confined in for more than 12 months to come. He had never done it before, but for the favour he met with among some of the Ministry themselves; who have since been convinced of their Mistake; at least they voted for his Expulsion. He will be chosen again for Middlesex, but that will signify nothing, as the presidents are clear, & the parliamt wont clear him & having lost the protection of his Privilege, the Courts of Justice will easily know how to manage him. Tis a melancholy thing that so worthless a fellow should have so long delayd the parliamentary proceedings upon so much more important subjects. But both the parties in opposition, while every one who spoke professd to detest the man, were yet willing to make use of him as a means to Embarrass & distress a sett of Ministers, who had themselves been preaching in the same way, & had been themselves but too much concernd with him.

    That affair being got rid of, the house immediatly proceeded to the American concerns, & the Party regards, & some private Interested Views made a Number of Speakers; yet you will see by the Votes the house agreed with the Lords in their several resolutions condemning the treasonable behaviour of your people. I dont mean the word Treasonable is in the Votes, tho many of the ministers calld it so in the Debate. The chief Objections were to the Insufficiency of Resolutions with out Effects following upon them. The friends of the Ministry without Doors (tho nothing of that kind appeard in the house) affect to say, there may be orders already gone to bring over the Delinquents. All the principle lawyers in the house were of opinion, that the Statute of Henry the 8th was in full force for the bringing any persons to be tried for treason to the Kings Courts in Westminster Hall, from any part of his Majestys Dominions. If any orders are gone you will know it first by their Effects; & when I hear it from you, or hear that they are arrived in some port in England, I will then believ it.4 Till then I will not be again deceivd by great professions without any performances, Though the Resolutions youll see are very Strong, & the Joint Address of Both houses to his Majesty to order his Governor to transmit the proper Evidence, in order to the bringing over & trying the offenders, will I hope make some of them Tremble.

    At the time when this Arrives, your papers will probably have been filld, as ours have, with all Kinds of puffing Articles about Mr Wilks. And where a man has once got possession of the printers, he may write, & make himself as important as he pleases. We here in London know the Origin of all those articles: but your people at a distance, & the lower Class here, may easily be imposed on by them. In the Examination of the Printers at the Bar of the 2 houses, upon the Libel about Ld Weymouths Letter,5 it appeard that the News paper mens Runners were with him in the Jail every day, to take any Articles, which he thinks will serv his purpose. Swan, one of them, told the Lords, that he went to him at least 3 times a week, commonly oftener, to Settle Articles of News (as he expressd it to the Lords with a sort of sneer upon his Author) for the publick Service. In the Commons it was to Settle Articles of News with him for the Good of my Country, plainly laughing at all the fools who believd in em.6 You have pretty well learnd all these Arts at Boston. Men of desperate fortunes & ruind characters, some in fear of getting into Jail, & some that are just got out of it, gett together, & call themselvs by the name of some publick meeting; & draw up Instructions or Resolutions; not because they think that they are of any importance there, where they are known; but merely to be printed in the News papers, & make a figure at a distance where they are not known; & to tempt other Credulous people to imitate them. Forgive my hasty writing. I have directed the Votes to Mr Rogers; & am Sir your most Obedient humble Servant,

    Israel Mauduit

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:294–97); unaddressed; endorsed, “Israel Mauduit Esq 10 Feb. 1769.”

    John Wilkes. By William Hogarth, Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

    364. From Thomas Whately

    London 11th Feb. 1769

    Sir, I have defered answering your favours of 17. Octr. & 10th. Decr. till the Consideration of the American Affairs was over: I am sorry to say how little has been done; I am afraid no more is intended; I will therefor give you a full, tho’, I doubt, not a satisfactory Account of our Proceedings, as I apprehend, for the Winter. The Manner in which Mr Danforth’s Petition was received appears in the Votes of 25th Janry.1 The Manner in which it had been obtain’d was known to the Ministry, & stated to the Houses; but their great Desire to admit some American Petition induced them to receive it; entering it only as a Petition of Individuals, not of the Council:2 to some however the implied assertion of the Right was an insuperable Objection. The Ministers overlook’d it; & yet the first day insisted on rejecting a Petition of Mr Bollan, tho’ perfectly innocent, & tho’, because it was so, Mr Grenville with many more strongly pressd to have it received.3

    These were all the material Events previous to the Consideration of the Resolutions & Address sent down by the Lords: I have already transmitted Copies of them to Mr Oliver:4 The Commons have agreed to them with some Amendments in points of Accuracy: I cannot pretend to state to you all that pass’d in two days debate upon them: the Inefficacy & the Locality of the Plan proposed were much insisted on; Lord Rockingham’s & Lord Shelbourne’s friends objected to the Whole; Mr Grenville, tho’ he ridiculed and disapproved of such a Plan for such a Crisis as much as any body, & particularly urged the Absurdity of exasperating a deluded People with angry Words, while the Tameness of the Measure would encourage them, yet as the Facts had been stated by the Lords, he would not, by a Negative to the Resolutions, give any Reason to suppose that he countenanced the Transactions therein condemn’d; nor on the other hand, by assenting to the Address, shew any Approbation of a Measure so inadequate to the Occasion.5 You will easily see what must have been suggested on these Topics: I will not trouble you with Arguments which so obviously occur; but confine myself to what was said on the Statute of Henry the eight.6 They who opposed the whole Plan, generally, not universally, disputed the Application of the Act to the Colonies: It was pass’d before they existed: the Title & the Preamble prevent such an Application, unless upon an Admission that the Colonies are not within the King’s Dominions: some doubted whether it was an existing Law; but that Point was given up. Mr Grenville declared, that he, upon the Words of the Preamble & Title had been inclined to think the Statute not applicable; & wonder’d the Ministers had not rather rested on the Statute of Edward the sixth which was less doubtful:7 but said that the Precedents & Authorities cited by the Attorney General had convinced him, that the Act did extend to every Part of the Kings Dominions. Those Authorities were many: some of the most material that I can recollect are these. In Brooke’s Case, reported in Anderson & I think in Dyer, the twelve Judges were unanimously of opinion that the Act extended to Treasons committed in Ireland; tho’ there is a seperate Parliament; & every Species of Jurisdiction for constituting & trying any Offences. In Perrots Case that Determination was acquiesced in. Macquire’s Case is to the same purpose. The former I am sure, the latter I believe is in the State Tryals. Lord Hale in many Passages maintains that Treasons committed in Ireland, & in Guernsey &c. the Remains of the Dutchy of Normandy, are triable under that Statute in England. Even a Peer of Ireland, tho’ amenable there only before the House of Lords, may be, & often has been, tried here by a common Jury. At the latter End of Queen Ann’s Reign one Kirby was brought from Antigua to be tried on that Statute here, for a Treason committed there. The Proceeding was on an Opinion of Northey Attorney General, & Raymond Sollicitor General, & pass’d the Council, as appears from the Council Books, when Lord Chancellor Harcourt, & Lord Ch J Parker, afterwards Lord Chancellor Macalesfield, were present: he was indicted & pleaded, as appears from the Record of Kings Bench, but afterwards broke prison. Not one Lawyer in the House supported a Doctrine contrary to such Authorities. As I cite them from Memory, you will pardon any little Inaccuracies: in the material points I am exact & I thought you would wish to be furnish’d with them, as after a Debate upon the Subject here, I conclude it will be Matter of Controversy with you.8

    I do not hear of any Design to bring in a Bill to explain & amend the Mutiny Act, tho’ I have not been wanting to signify thro’ proper Channels the Difficulties which you have Inform’d me occur in the Execution of it, but perhaps they stay till further Experience has shewn the whole Extent of what may be necessary to alter.9 I fear all parliamentary Proceedings relative to America are at an End for the present; & that this, with the long Letter I wrote you on 14th. Novr is the whole History of the Session.10 As to the ministerial Measures, tho’ when Parliament was call’d upon to approve of them, the Ministers were in return call’d upon to declare, whether they meant to abide by them, especially the Suspension of the Assemblies. No Answer could be obtain’d; but there has not appear’d the least Idea of withdrawing the Troops from Boston, nor will the last Revenue Law be repeal’d, or I believe alter’d, whilst the Right to impose Duties is question’d. The Opinions without doors on the Claims of the Colonies, & the Behaviour of the Bostonians, seem to me the same as they have been for some time past, & the Concurrence of the other Colonies in the Principles of Boston only confirm those Opinions. I have the honour to be With great Respect your most obedient humble servant,

    Thomas Whately

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:298–301); at foot of letter, “The Honble Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson.”