The Patriots Turn to the Courts

    482. To Thomas Gage, 7 December 1769

    483. To Joseph Harrison, 7 December 1769

    484. From Sir Francis Bernard, 8 December 1769

    485. From Lord Hillsborough, 9 December 1769

    486. To Lord Hillsborough, 11 December 1769

    487. To [John Pownall], [early December 1769]

    488. From the Commissioners of the Customs, 15 December 1769

    489. To Sir Francis Bernard, 20 December 1769

    490. To Lord Hillsborough, 20 December 1769

    491. To Samuel Hood, 25 December 1769

    The Boston patriots were only temporarily stunned by the news that their efforts to remove Governor Francis Bernard and vindicate the cause of the town of Boston had not fared well in London. They instead turned to local courts, where sympathetic juries would enable them to attack their enemies. The Suffolk County grand jury found bills for libel against Bernard, General Thomas Gage, Commodore Samuel Hood, and all the commissioners of the customs. Since only the latter were still in the province, there was little to fear from such actions. Patriot merchants also threatened to bring suits against employees of both the customs house and the naval office who charged fees in excess of the schedule allowed by provincial law. As a final insult, the town of Boston initiated an effort to tax the salaries of the commissioners despite the long-standing practice exempting salaries paid by the Crown from local taxes.

    482. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 7 Dec 1769

    Sir, A few days since the Atto General informd me that the G Jury for the County of Suffolk had applied to him to draw Bills of Indictment against Gen Gage Sir Francis Bernard Com. Hood the Comissioners of the Customs the Coll & Compt. of this Port for writing letters to the Ministry in which the Inhabitants of Boston were greatly slanderd &c. and chargd with opposition to Government insurrection &c.1 This being a new species of offence the A G declind drawing the bills & cautiond them against so rash & ill judgd a measure but they persisted & either drew the bills themselves or applied to some other Lawyer & yesterday presented them to the Court. As soon as I heard it I sent for the Judges not having sat my self since the Gov saild except on one necessary occasion & advisd them to act with great caution. They had before ordered the Clerk to suffer no copies to be taken & I doubt not will take every step in their power to prevent you from having the least room to suppose they have not a due regard to your Character. Their own honour is concerned.

    I am sensible you will treat this whole proceedings of the G Jury with neglect & contemp & consider it as the meer effect of impotent wrath & party rage but I thot I could not dispense with acquainting you with it. I have the honour to be upon every occasion Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    I forgot to observe that they thought proper to omit Comadore Hood for what reason I know not.2

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:413a); at foot of letter, “His Excell Gen Gage.”

    483. To Joseph Harrison

    Boston 7 Dec 1769

    My Dear Sir, They are much alarmed at the Custom house with the determination of the Merchants to carry on a prosecution against those Officers who take other fees than such as are enumerated & stated by the province Law.1 Mr Sheaffe, I dont wonder at it considering his time of life & his moderate or no estate is distressed least if he should take any fee greater than upon trial he could justify after he had been sued for the first offence & he should be rendered incapable of holding any office.2 I have sent him my opinion that he is in no danger unless the second Offence be after a conviction of the first but I dont find that it satisfies him.

    As you are upon the spot when this controversy must be settled you will upon advice then be able to give directions to those employed under you & I have advised them upon any Action’s being brought to move for a continuance in order for notice to their principals as they are all Deputies.3

    I think for those services which are enumerated in the province Law I would take the fee as stated presuming it so must intend lawful money, I am told this would make no great difference and for those services of which the province Law takes no notice I would take the customary fees to which for many years there had been no exception. This seems to me to come the nearest to the intent of the word intitled in the Act of Parlt.

    We have had no sort of disturbance except what is called an Informers Mob since you left us & I think people would be easy in their minds if M______x & a few more among the Merchants did not with so much industry take every measure in their power to prevent it.4

    I wish I could hear of a general tranquility in England. I should not fear the like here. I am with Sincere Regard & esteem Dear Sir Your most obedient humble

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:415); at head of letter, “Mr Harrison.”

    484. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Pall Mall Dec 8th 1769

    No 13

    Dear Sir, I cannot add much to my former Letters: but I must caution you not to be too sanguine in expecting that the Business of America will be conducted in the approaching Session in such a Manner as the Friends of Government who understand the Subject would wish. A proper Check & Censure of the Combinations against the Trade of Great Britain, I fear, will not take Place; tho’ the Means for effecting such a Purpose are plain and unexceptionable. I now begin to be apprehensive that the whole of the late Act, including Tea, will be repealed;1 and have been told to day that the East India Company are to desire it:2 this I suppose is to be a Salvo for the Honor of Great Britain which by some Great People is thought to be much interested in such Repeal.

    To ballance this Account of the public Business, I can assure you that since I wrote my last, Lord H has spoke to me in strong Terms in your Favour & I believe would realise his good Intentions towards you very soon, if some Business which is necessarily preliminary to it could be got thro.3 But Business of all Kinds moves very slow: and I have made such a slow Progress in what is belonging to me, that there are many Matters of Importance with which I am charged, that I have not as yet had an Opportunity to open. So you must wait as we here do. I am with Compliments to all my Friends, Sir &c.,

    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:32–33); at foot of letter, “To Honble Lt. Govr. Hutchinson”; in an unknown hand.

    485. From Lord Hillsborough

    Whitehall Decr. 9th. 1769.

    (No. 30.)

    Sir, Since my Letter to you of the 4th. of November last I have received and laid before the King your Dispatches Ns. 5, 6, 7, and 8.

    As the contents of those dispatches are principally confined to the further Proceedings of the Merchants and others associated against the importation of goods from Great Britain, and to the Acts and Resolutions of the Inhabitants of Boston in their Town-Meetings, His Majesty has thought fit that they should be communicated to such of His Servants, to whose consideration your former Letters on those Subjects were referred, and I shall be very glad when I am enabled by their determination to transmit to you such Instructions, and to acquaint you with such Measures, as may be the Result thereof; but in the present State of the Town of Boston, considering that some Troops still remain there, and considering also the unwarrantable behaviour of it’s Inhabitants, it does appear to me highly expedient, in order to avoid the former Objections on the one hand, and to shew a becoming resentment on the other, that the General Court should be assembled at Cambridge, unless you think there are reasons for the contrary of such a nature as to outweigh these considerations;1 and it further occurs to me, that it would be highly unbecoming for you to concur in the election of any Councillors, who shall have been active Parties in the illegal Combinations which have been ent’red into and carried on in so unjustifiable a manner. I am &c.,


    Dft (National Archives UK, CO 5/758, ff. 218–19); at head of letter, “Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson.”; docketed, “Drat. to Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson. Whitehall, Decr. 9th. 1769. (No. 30).” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/765, ff. 70–71); at head of letter, “Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 30)”; in an unknown hand.

    486. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston Decemb 11. 1769

    No 12

    My Lord, The Grand Jury for the County of Suffolk persisted in their Resolution and have found Bills against Sir Francis Bernard General Gage the Commissioners of the Customs the Collector and Comptroller of the Port of Boston, for slandering His Majestys good Subjects in the Colonies and the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston in particular.

    This is a very extravagant Act1 more especially so far as it respects the Governor of the Province seeing provision is made by Act of Parliament for punishing Governors of Plantations, in England, for Crimes by them committed in the Plantations. I shall do every thing that is proper to prevent any further indignity to the Officers of the Crown. The Court gave immediate Orders to the Clerk to suffer no copies to be taken of the Bills and I apprehend there can be no Process upon them.2 It must destroy the confidence which is necessary to be placed in the Servants of the Crown if their Letters to the Ministry are suffered to be sent back to the Colonies and they are made amenable to Judicatories there which, at this time, when the Nation is considered as one Party and the Colonies the other, cannot be suppos’d to be altogether disinterested and impartial.

    By the last Ship a farther collection of Letters and other papers are come over to the Council and I am informed are in the Press. One of the Letters printed in this day’s paper I send to your Lordship under this cover the rest I will transmit as soon as they are published.3 I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord Your Lordships most humble & most obedient Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, f. 29); unaddressed but this numbered letter falls within the sequence of TH’s letters to Hillsborough; docketed, “Massachusets. Duplicates of two Letters No. 11 & 12 from Lt. Govr. Hutchinson to the Earl of Hillsborough, dated 1 & 11 of Decr. 1769, relative to the proceedings of the Merchants with respect to the non-importation of Goods from Great Britain; & to Bills found by the Grand Jury of the County of Suffolk against Sr. Francis Bernard, Genl. Gage & the officers of the Customs for slandering His Majesty’s good Subjects in the Colonies.”; note that despite the docketing, TH did not mark this letter as a duplicate. AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:416); unaddressed. SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 10, 3:60); at head of letter, “Govr. Hutchinson to Hillsboro 10 Decr. 1769.”

    487. To [John Pownall]

    [early December 1769]

    Dear Sir, As it is very evident that by the contests & dissentions in the Board of ^amongst^ the Commissioners ^of the Customs^ the party against Government has been very much strengthned it seems very necessary that the rise & progress of those Contests should be known.

    For several years before the appointment of the Board there had been a difference between the Governor & Mr Temple the Surveyor General ^and an opinion prevailing among the Merchants that the Surveyor did not approve of the proceedings in several suits which had been brought in the Admiralty for forfeitures upon the Acts of Trade & which were supposed to have been encouraged by the Governor he suddenly made himself popular at a time when the Officers of the Crown in general were unpopular & when the opposition was making to the Stamp Act proposed all Acts of Parl for a revenue from the Colonies.^1 Mr Paxton ^now one of the Commissioners^ had always been attached to all Government & I always understood that his attachment to Govr. Bernard broke [illegible] ^was the cause of breaking^ friendship between him & the Surveyor General and he used to complain that he could not bear the Tyranny of the Surveyor & I have heard [illegible] reason for his going to England. ^sometime before Paxton went to England.^ Whilst he was in England Temple married into a family with which he had not never before had any sort of connexion.2 ^When we first had^ the news of an proposed ^intended^ alteration in the Customs it was generally supposed ^thought^ to have been proposed to Mr Townsend by Mr Paxton. This naturally increased Mr Temples prejudice and it ^probably also^ caused a prejudice in Mr Bowdoins his ^wives^ father in Law Mr Erving his grand father & Mr Pitts his uncle all of the Council and all men of large estates & capable of drawing a large train after them. It was for some time made a question whether Mr Temple would be one of the new board, when he was appointed he was not at the head of it. The emoluments were two or three hundred pounds a year less than the reputed emoluments of the Surveyor Generals place, and a ^single person^ at the Board had only 1/5th. of the power of the Surveyor General. The two Gentlemen who came from England [illegible] have thought it ^dont see how he could think it any^ dishonour to be joined with but Paxton & Robinson had both been Officers under him and he always his Officers at a sufficient [illegible] Officers of the Customs ^observed a^ due distance.3

    The Clamour among the people ^against the Comissioners^ was less upon their first arrival of the Commissioners than I expected and I rather attributed Mr Temple’s not dining with them at one place & another where he was invited to his aversion to the Governor who was always invited with them than to a coldness towards his fellow ^the other^ Commissioners. But after a few weeks this coldness appeared very visible. It was soon ^then^ given out that the Board would be of no long continuance and when we had the news of ^as^ Mr Townsends death it was said ^was dead^ the Board ^Comissioners^ as such would die with him ^also^ and the Officers Surveyors would revive.4 The ^A great^ popular clamour against the Board increased and ^was raised which^ was encouraged ^much increased^ by the votes & debates & Resolves of the General Court ^against the Comissioners in forwarding which^ in Council the three gentlemen I have ^above^ named were as I am ^have been^ informed more ^remarkably^ zealous than others (but of this the Governor can give you a more particular account) and by engaging with the popular party against the Commissioners they were naturally led to favour them ^same party^ in their other measures in opposition to government. From that time to this the other four Commissioners have been neglected & slighted ^& shunned^ by all ^most of^ the Gentlemen of the Town. ^Mr Temple has avoided the company of all who had any acquaintance with them is certainly a favorite of all who are called sons of Liberty.^5 I always thought it probable that if there had been no breach in the Board of Commissioners Mr Temples connexions ^friends^ would have joined in supporting them ^it^ for the same reasons they ^used to join^ in supporting the Surveyor General I know of no reason for complaining against one [illegible] & I very much question whether the votes which have since passed in Council & have given so much offence to Parliament would ever have been carried, for Mr Bowdoin ^in particular^ had generally been friendly to government & ^except in his District^ not be considered as inimical to government.6

    It is most certain that before the arrival of the Commissioners the Tidewaiters & other inferior officers were extremely ^very^ corrupt. ^Government was so feeble that all^ Officers were ^in danger of^ popular rage if any seizures were made. Every attempt by the ^When the^ Commissioners ^attempted a^ reform ^it^ was cried out against as an unnecessary oppressive innovation and the removal of any Officer ^how^ ever culpable he had been was said to be for [no other]7 reason but because Mr Temple had appointed him. [Indeed in removing] one Officer from Nantucket a ^question^ was ^incautiously^ asked of him by Mr Robinson one of the Commissioners concerning his voting in the General Court which had better been omitted ^seeing it^ was improved to ^increase^ the ^complaints^ against the Board and [illegible] among the many complaints made against them ^carried some^ colour ^with it^ than any other I have heard of though as he was a person largely concerned in trade no other reason ^than that^ was necessary to remove him from being Collector.8 They have often asked my opinion especially in matters of Law and they always appeared to me to be sincerely disposed to discharge their Office ^Trust^ with the greatest fidelity. I know of no Officers who need the countenance & support of the Ministry more than they do. In England a smuggler loses his Reputation with all the better good men, as he is a robber of the publick the individuals of which the publick is composed are sensible they are injured. With us he is considered as withholding what Parliament has no right to ^require^ and as the Province has no benefit from the duty individuals are no sufferers from the nonpayment of it and a man ^is in just the same repute whether he makes a^ fortune by illicit trade a lawful or unlawful trade.

    Every Officer of the Revenue if he is faithful will necessarily be obnoxious The Commissioners tell me they have reason to think ^by Letters they have received from home^ that complaints have been made against them and that some of their ^under^ Officers of whom they had no suspicion have been influenced to ^insinuate things to their disadvantage.^ I have therefore ^for the sake of truth^ the more readily made this representation to you and though I have done it at the desire ^of one of them Mr Burch who seems peculiarly sensible of his hard Service yet^ I have done it without partiality. I know of no way ^but by putting it into your hands^ in which it can be made of use ^without danger of its becoming a^ prejudice to me. I would have avoided it if I did not think the cause of truth & justice might be served by it I doubt not the Governor upon recollection will be able to confirm every circumstance of it ^before he left the Province but^ General Mackay so far as any facts could come within his observation whilst here must be considered as altogether disinterested and seems to be the most ^a very^ proper person to be queried.

    You have encouraged me to this freedom which makes an apology unnecessary. I have the honour to be with very great esteem Sir Your most humble & most obedient Servant,

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:417–19); substantially revised with several illegible, crossed-out passages; unaddressed; undated.

    488. From the Commissioners of the Customs (Charles Paxton, Henry Hulton, and William Burch)

    Customhouse Boston

    15th. December 1769.

    Sir, We beg leave to inform your Honor that in the Course of the last year We and our Officers were frequently called upon by the TaxGatherers of this Town for Payment of the Province Tax upon our Houses &c. & also for a Tax laid upon the Salaries We receive from the Crown, which is distinguished by the Term faculty.1

    We have no Objection to the Payment of the former, but as We did not consider that our Salaries were subject to such a Taxation in America, the Payment of the Bill was delayed from time to time, but one of Us being threatned by the TaxGatherer with compulsive Measures paid his Tax bill, and the Rest of Us afterwards submitted to make the same Payment, but did not acquiesce to the Demand.

    We find that our Tax bills for the present year are higher than the last, by being rated to the Provincial Tax, as well as to the Town & County; We consider the imposing of Taxes by the Provincial Assemblies on the Salaries paid by the King to his Officers in America as injurious to his Servants & derogatory to the Honor of the Crown, and that our Acquiescence under such Impositions might be establishing a Precedent very detrimental to the Service. We have thought proper to lay the Matter before you, Sir, that you may take such Measures as you may judge proper on the Occasion. We are with great Regard, Sir, your Honor’s most obedient Humble Servants,

    Chas Paxton, Hen. Hulton, Wm. Burch

    SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, f. 13); dateline appears at the bottom of the letter; at foot of letter, “To His Honor Thomas Hutchinson Esqr. Lieut. Governor &c. at Massachusetts Bay”; in an unknown hand. SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/893, ff. 167–68); marked, “Copy”; at foot of letter, “Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson”; in an unknown hand; docketed, “Massachusets. Copy of a Letter from the Comms of the Customs at Boston to Lieutenant Govr. Hutchinson, dated 15th. Decr. 1769. Read Febry 8. 1770.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 67–68); at head of letter, “Commissioners of the Customs at Boston to the Lieut. Govr. 16: Decembr: 1769”; in an unknown hand.

    John Temple. By John Singleton Copley. Permanent Patrons Fund. 2003.133.1. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

    489. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 20 Decemb. 1769

    No 21

    My Dear Sir, Having wrote at large by a Vessel to Hull & another to Glasgow both which sailed about ten days since,1 I intend this only to cover the News Paper2 & to observe to you that the Session of the G Court is just at hand & I am just where I was when you left me not having one word of intelligence of the reception the extraordinary doings of the Court in their last Session met with in England. Adams has declared the troops must move to the Castle & it must be the first business of the Court to remove them out of Town.3 I am glad Pensilvania & the Jersies have complied with the Act of Parlt & made the provision required. New York by a change of parties are under more difficulty.4 The Delancys are become the Court Party & tho they wish to see the thing done are afraid suddenly to promote a measure they before opposed.5 I wish every other government may desert us & that we may go to quarrelling one government with another. There are 2 or 3 Vessels near sailing for London this only goes to Falmouth. I am most sincerely Dear Sir

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:421); at foot of letter, “Sr Fr Bernard.” Contemporary printings: Norwich Packet, 26 June 1775; Connecticut Gazette, 30 June 1775; Remembrancer for the Year 1775, 1st ed., p. 120 (2nd ed., p. 46).

    490. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 20. December 1769

    No 13

    My Lord, One of the Crew belonging to the Ship Black Prince and concerned in taking her from the Master and in the piratical Acts consequent thereupon is now1 in His Majesty’s Gaol in this town. His confession, before the Justice I shall send under cover with this Letter. Another of the Crew was with him but I have reason to think has made his escape. The person taken, Thomas Austin, is thought to have been a principal Actor. As it appears that one has been taken in London and that there were several others in company with him, who probably will be taken, it seems to me, at present, advisable to send Austin there also, for I doubt whether we shall have evidence here to convict him. I have wrote to Mr Wentworth the Governour of New Hampshire and to Mr Wanton the Governor of Rhode Island and unless they should have objections sufficient to discourage me I intend to procure a passage for him by the first opportunity.2 I may not omit observing to your Lordship that there is no provision for defreying the charge which attends the calling and holding a special Court of Admiralty for the Trial of Pirates. When the Council of this Province were in the Commission the charge used to be paid out of the Province Treasury. They are not in the present Commission, which has given some disgust, especially as the Council of New Hampshire are in it, and they decline giving their consent to any warrants or orders for money out of the Treasury.3 The last trial was for the alledged Murder of a Lieutenant of one of His Majesty’s Ships and Commodore Hood, being then upon the spot, undertook to defrey the charge.4

    I have received a Petition from several of the principal Inhabitants of the Town of Salem Marblehead and Glocester respecting the collection of the Greenwich Hospital Duty from the men belonging to their fishing Vessels, and praying my Interest for their Relief.5 I told the Petitioners that all I could do would be the transmitting their petition to your Lordship. I think those Vessels, which are out several days together, are plainly included in the Act, but it is certain that an attempt made to collect the duty above forty years ago was drop’d and has never been renewed since. I humbly submit it to your Lordship’s consideration whether it be expedient to revive an attempt, which has been so long laid aside, just at this time, and whether it may not retard the restoration of peace and tranquility by affording new fewel for our Incendiaries to make use of to inflame the breasts of the people. These Vessels are employed in the fall and winter, generally, upon trading voyages & then the Seamen have always been subject to the six penny duty and are content still to submit to the same.

    Complaint has been made to me, by three of the Commissioners of the Customs; that they are taxed by the Assessors of the Towns where they live for their Salaries.6 I shall take the liberty to transmit to your Lordship the Letter I have received from them. The Tax Acts are passed annually and have varied but little in their form for fifty years past, and Income by Commissions of Profit has been subject to Taxes, and none of the Officers of the Crown, except the Governor & Lieutenant Governor, are exempted; but it seems most probable that the Legislators who first framed the Tax Act had nothing more in contemplation than the Commissions of those Officers who received their Salaries from the Government of the Province or who received the profit of their Commissions from their fees as Officers of the Government, but the words are general and I doubt, however reasonable it seems to be, whether the Assembly can be brought to make a special exception, of the Commissioners of the Customs, in a future Tax bill, or of the Officers of the Crown in general, but whatever Instructions I may receive upon this Subject I shall carefully observe and conform to.

    The time approaches to which the Assembly stands prorogued. As I have received no Instructions from England to the contrary no body doubts of it’s sitting to do business. I have evidence of the declaration of one or more of the Members of this town that the first attempt shall be for a vote to insist upon the Troops being removed out of Town. I am taking every prudent measure in my power to prevent the attempt from succeeding in the House and do not despair of defeating it. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord Your Lordship’s most faithful humble Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 8–9); at foot of letter, “The Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 20 Decr. 1769. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 13) Rx 29 Jany: 1770.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:420–21); unaddressed; marked, “Falmouth Vessel” for ship transport. SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/893, f. 165); this copy includes only the paragraph, “Complaint has been made. . . . conform to.”; at head of letter, “Extract of a letter from Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson to the Earl of Hillsborough, dated Boston 20th. December 1769.”; in an unknown hand; docketed, “Massachusets. Extract of a letter from Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson to the Earl of Hillsborough. Boston 20th. Decr. 1769. Read Febry. 8. 1770.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 59–61); at head of letter, “Lieutenant Govr. Hutchinson, Boston, 20th. Decemb 1769. (No. 13) Rx 29 Janry 1770”; in an unknown hand. Enclosures to RC: Testimony of Thomas Austin, dated 10 December 1769 (National Archives UK, CO 5/759. ff. 3–4); Boston Gazette clipping of a letter from Hillsborough to General Thomas Gage, 8 June 1769 (f. 7); Petition from merchants of Salem, Marblehead, and Gloucester, 11 December 1769 (ff. 10–11); Proclamation from TH concerning the apprehension of John Shoals clipped from an unidentified newspaper (f. 12); Letter of the Commissioners of the Customs to TH, 15 December 1769 (f. 13); printed copies of letters between Governor Francis Bernard and others to Hillsborough (ff. 15–18).

    491. To Samuel Hood

    Boston 25 Decemb. 1769

    My Dear Sir, I was in some pain for Cap Linzee from the bad weather which came on soon after he sailed & I am glad to find by your obliging Letter of the 3 Instant that he arrived safe after no very long passage.1

    I am just where I was, in my political intelligence, when Sr Fr B sailed & in a fortnight from this time expect to meet my Assembly without being able to tell them whether their most extraordinary proceedings six months before are approved or disapproved of in England. They say it is the voice of the Nation that they are right. I know better but I do not know it from such authority as to make it advisable for me to say any thing to them about it & therefore must be wholly silent upon that Subject. You have heard of the Bills found by the G Jury for this County against General Gage the Governor the Commissioners of the Customs Harrison & Hallowell for slandering the loyal Inhabitants of the town of Boston in Letters sent to Administration.2

    The Select Men of the Town of Boston were the Complainants or Prosecutors. The Attorney Gen refused to draw the Bills and the Grand Jury applied to Dana the Justice you have heard so much off.3 I dare say you will not think yourself very fortunate in wanting only one voice. Eleven only of the G Jury having voted for the bill against Como. Hood and so you narrowly escaped. The Insult upon the Crown in each instance is inexcusable but as it respects the Governor the Kings Representative in the Province it is unpardonable especially as provision is made by an Act of P that all Plantation Governors shall be tried in England for offences committed within their Governments.

    I have an exceedingly good Letter from Gen. Gage who treats the affront with that contempt which the Authors of it deserve.4 Mr O. moved to bring on the Indictment against the Commissioners which is the only one that could be tried the other persons not being within the province, but the Court declined entring upon it and the whole matter lays for advisement.5

    I have in Gaol one of the Crew belonging to the Ship Black Prince & who seems to have been a principal Actor in the most inhuman piracy of which you have an account in the late English papers.6 I have no witnesses here & so many other difficulties attend a trial here that I have determined to send him to England the other Commissioners here approving of it. I wish you had not been so far off as to make it impracticable to consult with you upon it.

    I will cover the last infamous News paper. I always think it increases the honour these defamers do me when they join me to better men than my self.7

    Give me leave to ask you to [recall] whether you never met with a man who [illegible] you [illegible] in just such language as that [illegible] the circumstance which marked. I have no sort of evidence ^I cannot help making conjectures who were^ the authors of this piece both ^from^ the stile or mode of expression except the notoriety of their general acquaintance with what is published from time to time in the paper. ^and from some facts mentioned in it but I have no certainty.^

    Mr Commissioner Temples leave of absence it seems has been delayed these two last pacquets for what reasons I know not.8 We have no later private Letters than the 11th of October & the last papers are the 18th. We have had a Xmas day as pleasant as any day in September. Please to accept the compliments of the Season [illegible] I am most sincerely Dear Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:422); at head of letter, “Commodore Hood.”

    492. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 28 Dec 1769

    No 22

    My Dear Sir, I have no new occurrence to acquaint you with. In a Letter I wrote to My L Hillsb the 11 Nov. I mentiond Mr Meins being attacked by a person in K Street. I acquainted Mr Murray with what I had wrote that if I had made any mistake he might set me right before it went out of my hands.1 He then made no Objection but yesterday I had a card from him to acquaint me that the deposition gone or going to England mentions Mr Meins being followed by a number of persons before the assault was made & that he, Mr Murray, was afraid my account would lessen the weight which otherwise they might have. I have no doubt of the truth of the depositions but think it not proper to give Ld Hillsborough the trouble of another Letter upon the Subject & rather mention it to you that if there be occasion you may let my Sentiments be known.

    I shall cover another News paper.2 It would be endless to observe the infamous falshoods contained in these papers. I guess the forge where the piece upon Commodore Hood &c. was fabricated. I am sincerely Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:423); at foot of letter, “Sr F Bernard.”

    493. To John Pownall

    Boston 28 Decemb 1769


    Dear Sir, I think it necessary to inclose to you a Vote of Council in July last appointing Wm Bollan Esq. their Agent.1 I never saw the Vote until it was brought to me a few days since to authenticate. When the H or C are called upon to make a seperate defence it seems reasonable & necessary for them to have their Agents or Attornies but that either the House or the C should authorize an Agent to appear in all matters which concern them or the province is unwarrantable & unconstitutional.2

    I therefore lodge this copy with you to make such use of it as may be thought proper & that consideration may be had of it before the authenticated vote is offered, which I suppose will be sent by this Ship. I imagine the same ends will be answered as if I sent it in a publick Letter to My Lord Hillsboro and I may avoid the resentment of the C for endeavouring to counteract them.

    I shall direct my letters to you on His Majestys service as it gives them an additional security against illminded persons tho I consider them as private Letters. I am with great esteem Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:423); marked, “Private”; at foot of letter, “John Pownall Eq.”