The expulsion of John Mein

    441. From John Mein, [28 October 1769]

    442. To Thomas Gage, 29 October 1769

    443. From John Mein, [29 October 1769]

    444. To Sir Francis Bernard, 31 October 1769

    445. To Lord Hillsborough, 31 October 1769

    446. To Samuel Hood, 31 October 1769

    447. From John Mein, [early November 1769]

    John Mein, the printer of the Boston Chronicle, was proscribed for violations of the nonimportation agreement earlier in the summer. The public boycott angered Mein since he had assumed his importations of paper, available in Massachusetts in only very limited supply, would be regarded as a reasonable exception to the agreement. Mein began publishing in early August the complete manifests of all arriving vessels as declared at the customs house. The manifests made clear that enforcement of the agreement had been, at best, inconsistent, if not blatantly biased, and various merchants rushed to print denials that they had violated the agreement. On 12 October, he published a “Catechism for the Well-Disposed,” which laid bare all the shortcomings in the enforcement of the agreement. On 23 October, he followed up with the satirical “Outlines of the Characters of the Well Disposed,” which ridiculed a number of leading patriots. On the morning of 28 October, Mein encountered Captain Samuel Dashwood, a member of the committee of inspection whom he had described as “the Grunting Captain, an unclean Beast” in his “Characters” satire. In the scuffle that followed, Mein was hit by a shovel, drew a pistol, and allegedly wounded a bystander. He sought refuge with the main guard of British regulars, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Mein was one of the most effective opponents of the nonimportation agreement, but subsequent events suggest that Thomas Hutchinson believed he had gone too far and was, to a certain extent, the author of his own troubles. For a more extended account of Mein and his controversy with the Boston merchants, see Tyler, Smugglers & Patriots, pp. 121–38.

    441. From John Mein

    [28 October 1769]

    Boston Kingstreet a few Minutes

    after five OClock Afternoon

    Honourable Sir, I informed you in a Conversation some days ^since^ of the probability of my being attacked: It has just now happened by a Number of People on change; upwards of twenty, armed with ^a^ Spade, Canes, & Clubs. I luckily got into the Guardroom, where I now am: I write ^to^ your Honour to know what protection the Law can afford to a person in my Situation; and the Names of the Officers of the Law, who will put that Law into execution. About two hundred People are before the Guard room and in Kingstreet: the Case requires immediate Steps to be taken, not on my own ^Account,^ as I informed your Honour, in our former Conversation: but from an Apprehension if I am again attacked, having my friends about me, ^that^ some unlucky Accident may ensue. As I have mentioned above the Case requires instant precautions to be taken. I am Your Honours most humble Servant,

    John Mein

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:459); addressed, “To The Honble Thos. Hutchinson Esqr. Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Massa: Bay Boston”; endorsed, “Mr Meins Letters”; undated but the urgent tone of the letter and Mein’s references to the immediacy of events indicate that it was likely written shortly after he was confronted by Dashwood on 28 October 1769.

    442. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 29. Octo 1769.

    Sir, As nothing has occurred among us until the last evning which deserves ^your^ notice I have avoided giving you unnecessary trouble since Governor Bernard left the province. Yesterday towards noon the people imagined they had got scent of an Informer. He was sought after great part of the day & towards evning taken. A mob was raised & preparation was immediately made for punishing him in the same manner as has been lately practiced in most of the maritime towns.1 I knew not the occasion of the tumult when I first heard it but I thought it incumbent on me to desire Colo Dalrymple to order the forces under his command to be ready to march when occasion required which he readily did.2 The tumult increased several thousand people being collected passing from one quarter of the Town to another threatning to break the windows of all houses which were without lights. I summoned such of the Council as were in town & such of the Justices as were near to meet me in the Council Chamber & kept persons employed to give me immediate notice of every new motion of the Mob. Between eight & nine they dispersed of their own accord & the Town was quiet. None of the Justices nor the Sheriff thought it safe for them to restrain so great a body of people in a dark evening,3 besides, their design with people in general if not legal, was laudable4 being necessary for the publick good. I have required the Council & Justices & the Sheriff to attend me at my house upon the first appearance of a mob at any time hereafter. I am not sure that they will not chuse to see the most heinous crimes perpetrated rather than military aid should be called in to prevent them. I hope they will not and I think this the most likely way to convince them of their duty & persuade them to the practice of it. They very readily declare their detestation of these disorders but they seem to doubt which of two evils is the least.

    I long to hear the sentiments of the nation upon the late most extraordinary confederacies in opposition to parliamentary authority in so many of the Colonies. Until they are known the friends of government in this province must be altogether upon the defensive. I have the honour to be with very great esteem & respect Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:398–99); at head of letter, “Genl Gage.” SC (Clements Library, Gage Papers, enclosed in Gage to Lord Hillsborough, 4 December 1769); unaddressed; in an unknown hand. SC (National Archive UK, CO 5/88, f. 7); in an unknown hand; docketed, “Extract of a Letter from Lieut. Governor Hutchinson to General Gage. Dated Boston 29th October 1769. In Major Genl. Gage’s (No 37) of Decr. 4th. 1769.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/234, ff. 6–7); headed, “Extract of a Letter from Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson to General Gage, dated Boston 29th. October 1769.”; in an unknown hand. Although this edition does not usually note differences between authoritative versions of letters and copies made without authorial control, because no RC of this letter has been found, significant variations from the AC that appear consistently in all three SCs have been detailed in the notes.

    443. From John Mein

    [29 October 1769]

    Honourable Sir, I now Write to you as the Principal Civil officer in this Province, to claim that Protection to which every Man in my Situation, has a legal right; I was last Afternoon in open day light attacked by a number of persons in a most notorious manner, and it was owing to the Providence of Almighty God that I escaped with my Life: Soon after I acquainted you with my situation and received no Assistance;1 and such is the disposition of my Enemies in this Town, that unless I am properly protected I cannot say what will be the consequence: I have just wrote to Mr Foster Hutchinson desiring He would accompany a friend to the House where I now am, to take some depositions against the persons who assaulted me; and he refused to attend:2 I have desired two friends to sign this Letter, that whatever may happen the blame may be fixed on the proper persons.

    I am informed that the very persons who attacked me, and who Struck me, without even my returning it ^only presenting a Pistol to keep them off^ have taken out a Warrant against me: I am ready to surrender myself, provided I have a proper force to prevent any Injury to my person, from a Licentious Mob: and I make no doubt, I shall clear myself to the ^satisfaction of the^ Impartial World: and I shall immediately commence Actions against those persons who assaulted me, having sufficient evidence to convict them.

    Honourable Sir, you must be sensible of my applying to you at your own House, in Company with Mr Fleming, on Tuesday, the 24th instant, for Advice & Protection,3 having received many Anonymous threatening Letters, as well as Epistles cautioning me to be upon my Guard; and several persons intimating to me that my Life was in danger: I then claimed both your Assistance and Advice, and tho’ my fears were not, at that time, for my personal safety, yet I was apprehensive of dreadful Consequences ensuing, to the unhappy persons, who might attack me, as my Friends had told me, they were resolved to assist me against every illegal ^Attempt.^ I also then said that I would immediately present a memorial to you and the Council, that no blame might be laid on me, from any breach of the peace, which might happen: this you repeatedly advised me against, & repeatedly objected to. I have so far followed your Advice, and the Effects have been very different from what you imagined: In the Attack made on me last Night, I received a push on the Belly, the mark still remains: and as I was retreating to the Main Guard, with a Mob around me, (who were repeatedly striking at me as I have Evidence to prove): I also received a Blow which Cut my Cloaths and has left a large Contusion on my left Shoulder Blade.

    In my late Conversation with ^you,^ and in my letter of Yesterday to your Honour, I acquainted you that my fears were not for Myself; Yet now, from the best Information from various quarters, that if I appear in Public, I shall undoubtedly lose my Life, I have not only to fear what may happen to a deluded unthinking, Rabble, but to be apprehensive of great danger to myself and friends.

    Immediately after I was assaulted last night, a tumultuous Assembly of many hundred persons went to my house, broke open Doors and Partitions, and Robbed the House of two Muskets: Whatever else of damage may have been committed, I cannot at present ascertain.4

    As you mentioned in your Conversation that no previous steps could be taken to preserve the Peace, Now that it has been broken, I have some Title to claim a protection from further Insults. As I am determined to surrender my Self notwithstanding all the theats against me, I wait in full Confidence of a speedy Answer. I am your honours most humble Servant,

    John Mein

    Also in the Conversation with your Honour, I asked if on the 5th. of Nov, being a riotous day in Boston, you could inform me of the name of any Justice of Peace that would engage to be at any particular place, if necessity required him to be called; to this you answered, you did not know any that would refuse to do his duty. I then asked if your Honour would be in Town that Night; You said you could not tell, and told me, often, no previous steps could be taken; and advised me against the Memorial to you in Council.

    The Matter has, now, arisen to such a pitch, that a proper Guard of Military appears to me and my friends, to be necessary, to attend to and from the Justices.

    John Mein


    Richard Hirons5

    John Fleeming

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:455–56a); unaddressed; undated but Mein’s reference to the attack on him “last Afternoon” indicates that he wrote this letter on 29 October 1769.

    444. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 31. Octo. 1769

    No 15

    Dear Sir, I went to dine with my brethren of the Superior Court at Cambridge where Judge Lynde told me he was surprized at seeing Tooveys deposition as published in Edes & Gills paper which he met with at Springfield that when he returned to Salem he inquired of Colo Pickman how he came to take that deposition against Gov Bernard & never gave him any notice of it.1 Pickman replied that he did not remember there was such a passage.

    Afterwards the Judge saw Pickman the son who is a Justice of peace & inquired of him about it.2 He said that his father some time ago upon seeing the deposition said he did not remember there was one word about Gov. Bernard in what Toovey swore to & Pickman the ^son^3 said he verily believed that part was added after the attestation was made by the Justice for which space had been left. I give you just what Judge Lynde said to me without any other remark than this that when I came home I looked into the printed deposition & find the several parts well connected without that clause which is so very strong against you that I can hardly think it possible for Colo Pickman who is very observant & has a good memory to have forgot it. Perhaps you may be able to come at a sight of the original. The horrid wickedness of the thing does not make it less probable in these times. I say nothing to you by this ship of another mob nor of the affair of Mein who I think cannot stay in the town but refer them to another conveyance.4 The papers I inclose & am with great sincerity your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:401); unaddressed but this numbered letter falls within the sequence of TH’s letters to Bernard; marked, “Scot & Leith” for ship transport.

    445. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 31 October 1769

    No 9

    My Lord, I was in hopes that nothing would have occurred to make it necessary for me to give your Lordship the trouble of a letter by this ship, but on the 28. of this month, in the evening, the Town, for a few hours, was in great confusion and I was, for some time, under apprehensions of tragical consequences. I will inclose to your Lordship the article in the Gazette which was printed under my correction.1 I doubt not many persons were concerned in this affair for the sake of punishing an Informer who would scruple joining in acts of violence against any other persons. It is, however, of a most dangerous tendency. I have done all in my power, have issued a proclamation which I have no reason to think will have any other effect than to preserve the appearance of government,2 and have convened the Justices and endeavoured to convince them of their duty to exert themselves as much in cases of this sort as in any other whatsoever; but this, I fear, will also be to little purpose, perhaps may afford subject for ridicule, with impunity, in the next News papers. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord Your Lordship’s most humble and most obedient Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/758, ff. 220–21); marked, “Duplicate”; at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 31: Octr. 1769. Lieut Governor Hutchinson (No. 9) Rx 16. Decr. (Dup—orig. not recd).” RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, ff. 25–26); at foot of letter, “The Right Honor. the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Reced Read [text erased] 1770.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:400); unaddressed; marked, “Scot & Leith” for ship transport. SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 42–43); unaddressed; in an unknown hand; docketed, “Lieut. Governor Hutchinson Boston 31st. Octr: 1769. (No. 9) Rx 16th. Decemr. (Dup: Origl. not receiv’d.).” SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 10, 3:50); at head of letter, “Govr. Hutchinson to Lord Hillsborough”; endorsed, “Hutchinson to Hillsborough 31 Octr. 1769.” Enclosure to DupRC: Boston Gazette, 30 October 1769, p. 2.

    446. To Samuel Hood

    Boston 31 Octo 17691

    My dear Sir, The 29th. in the evening we had what the friends to Liberty call an Assemblage of the people at any other time it would be called a very great Mob many ^several^ thousands of the lower class of the people & some it is said of the middle sort being collected together & keeping the Town in a Tumult from dusk to 8 or 9 o clock.

    I could not for some time learn the cause or design of it but knew it must be illegal & I thought it necessary to desire Colo Dalrymple to order all his men to their arms which he readily did I collected such of the Council as were in town and as many Justices as were near but by that time or soon after they were convinced we had pretty good intelligence that the mob were dispersing being near satiated with the punishment of a supposed Informer who had been tarred &c & carted through the Town.

    A very injudicious Printer a day or two before by severe caracatures of many of the Heroes of Liberty brot on a quarrel & an assault which caused him to fire a pistol some say two after which he was sheltered by the main Guard & has not since appeared.2 This much increased the flame & the people are so incensed against him that his business is at an end & I think he will not be suffered to remain in town.

    I wish we may be able to prevent further violence. Two or three months more must pass before we shall know what they will do with us in England & I see a prospect of nothing but confusion. Many people are distressed by this plan of non importation. They have brought this distress upon themselves. They wreak their malice upon those who would have prevented them.

    It is now 11 weeks from our last dates from London.

    We may evry day expect a Vessel which left London the middle of September when I fancy some judgment can be made of what was intended when Parlt meets tho it will be uncertain and probably not tend to compose us.

    I shall not fail of keeping you advised of occurrences. I have the honor to be Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:400); at head of letter, “Como Hood.” SC (National Archives UK, CO5/758, ff. 229–30); unaddressed; marked “Copy”; misdated 30 October 1769; in an unknown hand; docketed, “Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson to Commodore Hood dated Boston 31st: Octr. 1769. In the Lords of the Admty’s of 20 Decr. 1769.” SC (Parliamentary Archives, enclosed in Hood to Lords of Admiralty, 23 November 1769); dated 31 October 1769; in an unknown hand; docketed, “No. 4. Extract of a letter from Lieut. Governor Hutchinson to Commodore Hood. Dated at Boston the 31. October 1769. Inclosed in Commodore Hood’s letter of 23. Novr. 1769.”

    447. From John Mein

    [early November 1769]

    Honourable Sir, Beside a personal Conversation, in Company with Mr Fleming, previous to my being attacked; this is the third Letter, I have had the Honour to write you:1 to the second, the Gentleman who presented it, requested an Answer in Writing; which you declined. It is readily granted that you declared to him I might appear with safety, but it ought also to be remembered that you mentioned, that I must be sensible of the Weakness of Government: This I have been already fully convinced of; I only wish to see one proof to the contrary, for at present, I am not at all inclined to put myself into the hands of a Lawless Mob. I have been assaulted in the Most Villanous Manner by a Number of People; I have received personal hurt; I have not so much as touched one of them even to this Moment. They notwithstanding all this have taken out a Warrant to Apprehend me, not as my friends inform me quietly to wait the issue of a Suit in which they are Conscious they must be cast; but as has been often declared to get me once into the Custody of the Officer, and then a Mob knows where to find me; and whatever happens afterwards, Your Honour, must Understand me, was done by Nobody.

    I am advised against appearing publickly by every Person whom I have the opportunity of consulting: It therefore now rests with Your Honour to Call in that Assistance which the Wisdom of Administration has afforded you to Support the Weakness of Government here. I have a great number of People whom I am bound to support; I have three seperate Branches of Business that require my attendance; Unless the request already made is granted, I shall be obliged to go home and Leave all my Effects at the Mercy of a tumultuous Populace, with law in their Mouths, but Rapine in their Hands; & in a place where even the Civil Officers of the Crown are too timid, for it cannot be called Prudence, even to speak far less act. I have been obliged to say this much from experience. If I go, I shall carry with me proper Authenticated Representations of that Power and Support being withheld while the most evident necessity demanded its being exerted; Every Person must then stand to the Consequences of his own behaviour. I am Honourable Sir Your most humble Servant,

    John Mein

    I Wish for an Answer in Writing, it may either be given to the Gentleman who present this, sent to my Store, or to Dr. Hirons House.2

    J. Mein

    The hurry and disadvantages under which I write must plead my excuse for Incorrectness &c. In case Should not have been explicit enough I again repeat that I am ready to delivery myself up provided I have a proper guard to protect me.


    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:457–58a); undated; addressed, “To The Honble. Thos. Hutchinson Esqr Lt Governor of Massa. Bay Boston.”

    448. From John Robinson

    Boston 1st. Nov. 1769

    Dear Sir, I find that Mr. Sewell wrote to the Court last Night.1 Whether his Letter will have the disired Effect a little Time will determine. I am, however, equally obliged to you, Sir:

    Mr. Reeve was intrusted to shew you some Information that was given me of a Design against me.2 He says that you thot it would be of Service to me to withdraw from the Town for some time. I believe it would, but where can I go to. My Father in Law is also of that Opinion; & he wishes that I could go to England with the Approbation of my Brethren.3 We are all sensible that we have been great Sufferers for want of one of us being at home, but they suppose that Gov. B_____d’s Presence will restore all to Rights. Where Prejudices are taken they are not easily removed; & The G_______r may have Business of his own on his hands to divert his Attention from ours.4 Besides I find that our Enemies are not only implacable, but unwearied in Their Pains & Endeavours to injure us. Venner without doubt came over upon some such Account.5 It is probable, nay pretty certain, that his Business was to settle a Plan of Operation between T. & Morris.6 It is known that he has sent some very lengthy Performances home by him, whereas we are to be totally Silent. While he is invalidating our Representations against him, we, by our Silence, acquiesce under the Falshoods laid to our Charge. This is a Proof that one Man has a vast Advantage over many in Disputes & Contests of this Kind. He has been always before hand with us. He is writing while we are deliberating & cannot agree what to say or whether to say any thing. New Misrepresentations will daily go home against us, & we have no Body to answer for us. Mr. Hulton has been long of Opinion that one of us should go home. Mr. Burch has been obstinate against it. Paxton has been rather neuter, but inclining to Mr. Burch’s Opinion.7 It is certain that if Government does nothing this Parliament that we cannot stand our Ground, & it will not be a small support that will enable us to make head against the Opposition. Here I can be of no great Service this Winter, because The Board can only undertake Matters of course; but at home I might be of great Service, & can do no harm at all Events. Should you see things in the light I do, you would oblige me greatly by speaking to the other Commissioners (I mean three of them) upon the Subject. But I would first chuse to have some Conversation with you; & for that purpose, I wish I knew when you will be in this part of the Town, as I do not think it prudent for me to come to the North End. In my private Affairs, it would be an Advantage to me to go home at this Time. I need not enter on house keeping this winter. It may be deferred untill we see what Turn Matters will take. I am with great Respect Sir Your most obliged & faithfull Servant,

    Jno. Robinson

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:335–36); at foot of letter, “Lieut. Govr.”; endorsed, “Jno Robinson Nov. 1 1769.”