Waiting for Parliament

    593. To John Pownall, 6 May 1770

    594. From Thomas Gage, 7 May 1770

    595. To Thomas Gage, 9 May 1770

    596. To Sir Francis Bernard, 11 May 1770

    597. To William Palmer, 11 May 1770

    598. To Thomas Pownall, 11 May 1770

    599. To Robert Wilsonn, 11 May 1770

    600. To Thomas Gage, 13 May 1770

    601. To Lord Hillsborough, 13 May 1770

    602. From Sir Francis Bernard, 13 May 1770

    Although news of the partial repeal of the Townshend duties reached the colonies in May, it was unclear whether the opposition in Parliament would eventually succeed in repealing the duty on tea as well. The opposition effort to force new parliamentary elections, as demanded by the remonstrance of the London livery companies in mid-March, appeared to have backfired and strengthened the North administration’s hand. Yet there had still been no response to the bold resolves of the Massachusetts General Court the previous summer, and Parliament seemed divided on the question of whether colonial combinations to enforce the nonimportation agreement were legal or not. Under the circumstances, how would Parliament respond to the news of the Boston Massacre that had arrived in London at the end of April? Would even more troops be ordered to Boston, or would Parliament pass over the event as an unfortunate accident? Royal officials in America, like Hutchinson and Gage, had no choice but to wait anxiously for further instructions.

    593. To John Pownall

    6 May 1770

    Dear Sir, The people of this Town have now laid asid all fears of parliamentary resentment. Their Leaders tell them they have Letters from England & some from Members of Parliament advising them to persevere & to compell all who import Goods to ship them directly back.

    It is certain that by Comittees & by threats from some of the populace all who belong to the Town are reshipping their Goods & the Newspapers say it is done voluntarily but the compulsion is so glaring that I think one time or other the Sufferers must have their Remedy upon the Estates of Mr. Hancock Rowe Phillips & some other wealthy men who attend these meetings by actions brought in this province or in some other parts of the Kings Dominions where they may be amenable.1 They dare not touch the property of the Inhabitants of other Governments but suffer their goods to be sent them and our Inhabitants go to Rhd Isld & N Hamp to purchase there what Boston always used to supply them with. This is madness to a degree almost incredible but it is nevertheless certain that they are destroying themselves to be revenged on those who would not fall in with their Schemes. Without the aid of the other parts of the Government I can do nothing more than exclude them by my negative from Offices. Some among us say that until Parliament incapacitates them for sustaining any Office bringing Actions in any Courts &c. &c. they will not desist nor shall we ever know who are willing among ourselves to join in supporting Government until it appears that the authority in England are at all Events determined to support the Supremacy of Parliament over America & there is danger that by delay those who are now the friends of Government will be lost for I scarce pass a day without this language from somebody or other. If they leave us in England, to the mercy of these People we must all join with them. I fancy sometimes the reluctance which appears against suppressing these combinations may proceed from the appearance of partiality in suffering confederacies against Government to remain in England & yet punishing them in America. The Combinations in England are for removing particular persons from the places they are in the combinations in America are against Government itself the authority of which is in express words denied by the Combinations themselves.2 But this distinction I need not mention to you. If both are criminal yet they greatly differ in degree. I have the honour to be Dear Sir Your most Obedient Humble

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:477–78); at head of letter, “Mr Jon Pownall.”

    594. From Thomas Gage

    New York May 7th: 1770.

    Sir, I have the honor of your Letters of the 25th: and 29th: Ultimo. The Mail with Letters to the 7th: of March is arrived, but I have not a Line from the Secretary of State. Our News much the same as what you have received at Boston. Partys appear to be so violent and powerfull, and all tending to the Obstruction of Government, that I fear so much Attention and Vigour is required to Stem the Opposition, and preserve Tranquility in the Kingdom, as to afford little of either for the Service of its Dependencies. I can’t otherwise Account for this profound Silence respecting some Resolves of your Assembly passed last year,1 and upon many other Events which you are acquainted with, And I observe your Assembly has now gone a Step further, by deeming it illegal to keep Troops in the Province without their Consent,2 nor do I suppose they will Stop till they have thrown off all Dependency.

    Lieut: Colonel Dalrymple continualy represents the Situation of the Troops in being crowded so much as they are, which has made me the more Anxious to remove the 29th: Regiment, before the Warm Weather setts in, least any contagious disorder should get amongst them. If the present Object is only the Defence of the Island in Case of Extremity, One Regiment is sufficient. If Vigorous Measures are to be pursued it appears from your Representations of Affairs, that a much larger Force than two Regiments will be required: And I have laid the Situation of the Troops in this light before the Ministry.

    We have some Reports here which give your Friends Pleasure, and I hope the next Packet will confirm them, that I may have the Pleasure to offer you my Congratulations;3 for I am with Sincere Regard, Sir, &ca.

    AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of the first page: “Lt: Govr: Hutchinson.”

    595. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 9 May 1770

    Sir, As soon as I had got ride of the Assembly I moved my family for a short time into the Country, my health requiring it, which prevented my from answering your last favours by the return of the post which brought them.1

    Your Letter relative to the 29th Regiment I laid before the Council. They think that any Advice from them is unnecessary. I hope it will appear as they suppose. I shall require the Civil Magistrate[s] to do their duty and I believe there will be no occasion for any compulsory measures. I have much at heart the case of the Officer & Soldiers and shall do every thing in my power to prevent the Injustice you fear; but all I can do is to improve every circumstance when it happens, to serve this principal point, for there is no foreseeing what will happen when every thing depends upon the humour of the People. I have no great hopes of continuing the Tryal but will not cease endeavouring to do it. I cannot yet find that there is any foundation for what you have been informed about the Caps, further than that several of the Officers of the Militia have expressed a fondness for a company of Grenadiers in each Regiment.2 It might assist me in my enquiry if I knew who the person is in London to whom the Orders were given. I have not the least apprehension that the body of the People will deliberately go into any measures for seperating the Province from the Mother Country but I have no doubt we have People in this Town continually seeking occasions for irritating the people into sudden rash acts of violence in hopes to bring on a general convulsion. In this State of things prudence as well as Resolution seems to be highly necessary. I wish I may be so happy as to temper them as to defeat these wicked machinations. I have the honour to be very respectfully Sir, Your most Obedient humble Servant

    RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:402); in EH’s hand; at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.”

    596. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 11 May 1770


    No. 18

    My Dear Sir, I have wrote you of several dates & have also wrote to Lord Hillsborough Mr Pownall &c. by Cap Johnson who has lain near a week in Nantasket windbound1 & I send this Letter by a Vessel bound to the Orkneys & from thence to Petersburgh2 that I may omit no opportunity of letting you hear from me. I forgot to mention to you that the prosecution of the Officers both of the Custom house & the Naval Officer is suspended. If it should be revived a proper use shall be made of your Observations upon the Subject.3 I have no doubt that the Connivance in the inferior Officers at the partial payment of the Duties upon Sugar Molosses &c. is the cause of the present acquiescence in the usual Fees.

    Mr Bernard for some weeks past has been much better and sometimes quite calm & rational rather in a melancholy frame. M. Logan has wrote you very particularly concerning him & the rest of your family by Johnson. Lady Bernard is preparing for her Voyage. I expect very soon an answer from Commodore Hood to whom I wrote desiring she might be accommodated with a passage in one of the Ships under his command.4 I am preparing to meet a new Assembly at Cambridge. I expect to have a very extraordinary set of Councellors offered for my approbation. Boston has chosen Bowdoin for one of their Representatives, in the room of Otis who had 70 or 80 Votes notwithstanding his Lunacy.5 I am very respectfully Dear Sir Your most faithful humble and most obedient

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:482).

    597. To William Palmer

    Boston 11 May 1770

    Sir, I have only just to observe to you that my sons manage the business committed to there care as well as the times will admit1 and altho they are forced to submit to mean and unreasonable concessions upon the whole I hope the adventure will be attended with profit.

    My dependance was upon spirited measures in Parliament to suppress combinations which appear to me to be the highest Offence against Law and yet we are told they are said by some in Parliament not to be illegal.

    I will write you more at large when more at leisure in the meantime remain

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:479); at head of letter, “Mr Wm Palmer.”

    598. To Thomas Pownall

    Boston 11 May 1770

    Dear Sir, I should have wrote to you oftener & without regard to my having Letters from you to answer if I had any thing agreeable to make the Subject of a Letter. We certainly are advancing much farther towards Independency than you imagine & I know it to be publickly declared by the Leaders of the people that no Act of Parliament which they do not approve of shall be carried into Execution here.

    Our combinations I know you must have conceived of as a voluntary forbearance from importing Goods, but when you know them to be Assemblies of the mixed multitude proscribing all who do not come into their measures and taking upon them selves powers which no authority known by the Constitution ought to exercise you will determine them to be incompatible with a State of Government.1 The Establishd Authority have the law for their Rule this Corruption of a Democracy have no Law but Sic volumus & every body submits.2 They are told indeed we do not desire you to comply unless you do it voluntarily but if you do not there are more than 1000 people assembled and we fear the consequence. To avoid these consequences all the Importers belonging to this Town are shipping their goods back again to London by a Ship belonging to Mr Hancock who gives the freight. This Gentleman is now the idol of the Populace but he is in danger of being ruined by it. Flattery has intoxicated him. He was chosen Speaker pro Temp. I was loth to negative him but I could not be faithful & shew any countenance to the heads of the opposition to Government. For the same reason I was obliged to prevent Cushing when he was chose by the two Houses from being Comissary General & to stop an intended Grant to Molineux who is also a Cock of the Game.3 These Negatives & removing the Court out of Boston is all I can do to discountenance the irregularities there. If the Council would join with me I could do more but they join with the people & rather counteract me than afford me any aid. The Confusions in England are urged in excuse for every disorder here and when the Contemners of Parliamentary Authority are threatned with Parliamentary resentment an answer is ready. They have enough to do in England to take care of themselves. I am with very great regard & esteem Dear Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:481); at head of letter, “Gov Pownall.”

    599. To Robert Wilsonn

    Boston 11 May 1770

    Dear Sir, You cannot imagine how pleasd I am to see your name stand alone on one side and all the rest of the Common Council of the Ward on the other. I always thought you full enough disposed to favour the people in their opposition to Government but when I see you forsake them when they run into such extravagant measures, which can never be justified upon any principles but what will justify a compleat revolution it gives me a great opinion both of your judgment & integrity.1 I dare say the weight was of your side altho numbers were with the other & it is impossible that the eyes even of the comon people should not soon be opened & see that they are made the dupes to serve not the cause of Liberty but the interested views of party Leaders. You are carrying your indecent illiberal & even savage harangues to such a heighth as is inconsistent with that respect & reverence which be the form of Government what it may is due to the supreme authority and which if not preserved the authority it self must soon fall. You do not consider the extensive consequences of such irregularities. They are not confined to the Island of Britain they reach to the Colonies. We ape you in every thing especially in every thing which is a reproach to you & for fear of falling short we go beyond you & are now more licentious than even the people of England. This is in part to be attributed to a cause which does not exist in England. The Supreme authority with you nobody disputes where it lyes. With us there are such divisions about it that we begin to think it best there should be none and that every man should do what is right in his own Eyes. No body now dares say that Parliament has a right to tax us. Lord Chatham Lord Camden & others support us in that.2 We have not penetration enough to conceive of these subtle distinctions and some of us suppose that if you once set bounds to the supreme authority the subjectes will never agree among themselves where the Line shall be drawn and our people now say that if we ought not to be taxed by a power without us we ought not to be bound by any Laws whatsoever made by such power for it is idle to say we are not subject to a Tax act which takes a small sum out of our pockets and yet are subject to an Act restraining our Trade which prevents a very large sum from coming into our pockets.

    You have brought all this trouble upon yourselves & upon us by your own imprudence. You never ought to have mad[e] any concessions from your own power over the colonies and you ought not to have attempted an exertion of power which causd such a general dissatisfaction thro the Colonies. God only knows when the ill Effects of this mistake will cease, I fear not until you can unite among yourselves for till then you will have a party who will encourage disorders & confusions in the Colonies for the sake of distressing Administration.

    When your Political frenzy is over I hope ours will abate & that the Confusions will be less than they are at present but Government will never recover its vigour until the Relation the Colonies bear to the Parent State is better ascertained. I am Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:479–80); at head of letter, “Robert Wilsonn Es.”

    600. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 13 May 1770

    Sir, I am honourd with your Letter of the 7th. The Packet brought me a Letter of the 7 March from My Lord Hillsboro. He had that afternoon received from me Letters and papers giving an account of the very extravagant proceedings of the Town of Boston the middle of January which he had not had opportunity of receiving the King’s Commands upon but would not fail of writing again the first conveyance.1

    I have a Card only by a Merchant Vessel from Sir Francis Bernard the 19th of March & papers down to that day.2 If an article in the last paper can be depended upon both Houses of Parliament, and by a very great majority in each seem determined to proceed with vigour against the promoters of the Remonstrance.3 I know what Offence it would have been deemed a Century ago. As the Constitution has been gradually ever since changing and the Democratical part making advance I know not what it will be deemed at this day. I had intelligence sent me in December last that as soon as the Report was made upon the Complaint against the Governor I should be appointed his Successor.4 In common times this would not have been disagreeable. In the present state of America and of this Province particularly I think no man who prefers Tranquility of mind to either Honours or Pecuniary advantage, can wish for the post. I wrote to My Lord Hillsboro by a Vessel which saild the latter end of March that I was not equal to it and prayed that a person of superior powers both of body and mind might be appointed, and I think it not improbable my Letter may arrive before the Affair is compleated.5 However that may be I am very much obliged to you for your favourable opinion and have the honour to be very respectfully Sir Your most humble and most obedient Servant,

    May 14th Another Vessell arrived last night from London with news to the 24th March when nothing remarkable had occurred since the last. Give me leave to ask you to send a servant with the enclosed to my Nephew who I imagine may be returned to York from Philadelphia.6

    RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:483); at head of letter, “Gen Gage.”

    601. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 13 May 1770

    (No. 11)

    My Lord, By the post last night, from New York I have the honour of your Lordships letter No. 33,1 and I hope I shall very soon receive His Majesty’s Command, upon the Subject of my Letter of the 24th January and the Papers which accompanied it, for I am to meet the Assembly again at Cambridge the 30 of this month and, at present, am unprepared to say any thing to them any farther than relates to their interior Affairs. If they hear nothing from His Majesty nor from the Parliament disapproving the Principles so publickly avowed by the Assembly at their Sessions in the Summer of 1769 and by the Council the Winter following they will be ready enough to infer that all they have advanced is right and will persevere in it.2

    The Removal of the Election to Cambridge and the Negatives upon the Heads of the Opposition are very displeasing,3 and every Engine in their power is employed to induce me to recede from the plan but I shall steadily adhere to my Instruction. I have the honour to be most respectfully My Lord &c.

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 192–93); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough Ld”; docketed, “Boston 13th May 1770. Lieut. Govr: Hutchinson (No. 11) Rx 13th. June.”; notations, “C:20” and “Ent.” DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, f. 41); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough Ld”; docketed, “Massachusetts, Duplicate of Letter No. 11 from Lt. Govr. Hutchinson to the Earl of Hillsborough, dated May 13, 1770, relative to the inconvenience likely to arise from his not hearing from His Lordship before he meets the assembly again at Cambridge.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 127–28); docketed, “Lieut Govr. Huthcinson, Boston, 13 May 1770. Rx 13 June (No. 11.).” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:482).

    602. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Hampstead, May 13, 1770

    No. 29

    Dear Sir, I have received the duplicate of your Letter wherein you decline the Government of your Province (the original not being come to hand) & immediately communicated the same to Lord H & afterwards to Lord N.1 The former is much embarrast with this Motion of yours, as your Patent is so far past, as to make it an uncommon Case to put a Stop to it: but it is suspended for the present and will remain so untill L H has received an Answer to his Letter signifying to you the Resolution to appoint you.2 Therefore you are not like to be soon relieved; & how far you are in a better Situation as Lieut. Govr. than as Governor in Cheif you are the best Judge. I wish that you had had Resolution enough to have waited for your Appointment in Cheif, tho you had been sure to have been degraded to a Rhode Island Governor.3 I feel for you most heartily, & can assure you that Administration is quite Satisfied with the Part you acted on the 6th of March, tho it has been censured in the Newspapers in a way that does not deserve an Answer. I will use my utmost Endeavours to prevent this Act of Irresolution from being Ill understood, and also to get such an Appointment to the Cheif Justiceship as shall make it comfortable to you. I have allready said to the two Lords before mentioned that there will be much greater Difficulty in finding a fit Successor to you as C.J. than to me as Governor. But the Misfortune is that Things are not ripe for the Appointment of a new Governor, who if adequate to the Business ought to be vested with new Powers & supported with a new Establishment. As for sending a common Adventurer there to fight under the present Disadvantages it wont be thought of. This leads me just to touch upon the present political State so far as relates to your Subject.

    The Ministry have had a severe Campaign, & tho they have gone on in all common & unavoidable Business with a large Majority they have long ago shewn their Intention to bring no Disputes in the House which could be avoided. For this Purpose they have declined entering upon any American Business that could be avoided. And tho the Advices from Boston of the late Disturbances seemed to make the Interposition of Parliament quite necessary, yet it was declined by the Ministry on Account of the lateness of the Session, which would not allow time for determining the Facts necessary to form Resolutions properly; which was true enough. When the Opposition proposed an Enquiry into the Causes of the disturbances at Boston, they were answered that His Majesty would give Orders for it.4 When some of the Opposition called upon the Ministry to propose a Plan for the Correction of the Americans, especially the Bostoners, assuring them that they would heartily join in it (in which I beleive they were sincere) the Ministry declined it,5 and thro’ the whole showed that they thought it better that the Parliament should interpose in this Business at the beginning of the next Session than at the tail of this. Therefore on the day appointed for taking into Consideration the Affair at Boston, the Ministry stood wholly upon the defensive; &, tho baited with Words pretty fully, counted 197 to 79.6 This continual Procrastination is very discouraging, but at present, it is no more promising to the Faction at Boston than to the Friends of Government; as it [is] certain that preparatory Steps will be taken in the mean Time, & most of the Cheifs of the Opposition declar’d, some in high terms, against the Proceedings of the Town of Boston, whose Publications & Letters have done them much more harm than good. To illustrate the foregoing, I shall inclose a Minute of the Debate in the House of Commons taken by FW who is a very good Parlt. reporter.7

    The Parliament is to rise next thursday. I shall set out tomorrow for Lincoln & shall be absent a fortnight. I shall have your Letters sent to me if they come within that time. I write from a House 3 Miles from London which I have taken for a year. Give my Complts. to all my Friends & excuse me to them to whom I owe Letters. I neglect no Business but cannot be punctual in Writing. I am &c.,


    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:93–93); at foot of letter, “The Honble Govr Hutchinson.”

    603. From Nathaniel Rogers

    Bloomendale May 14. 1770.

    My hond. & Dear Sir, Instigated by the Infamous paragraph in Edes & Gill, which was purposely sent here to be inserted; and by a private aggravating letter they received from Boston, The Sons of Liberty burnt me in Effigy last Thursday Evening1 and had I been at home would have conducted me to Liberty Pole & have made me recant. They have since sent me a Letter declaring their pleasure I should depart the City in 24 hours. I was at Mr Apthorp’s at Bloomendale the time of the Riot and have been there ever since.2 The Gentlemen at New York all disclaim the proceeding & are highly incensed, Oliver DeLancey told me I might thank my own dear Country men for the Yorke sons of Liberty would never have thought of it.3

    This incident will prevent my going to the Southward, we design crossing Long Island & stay a day or two at Shetler Island & return home.4

    Last Satd. they had accounts here of the Phila Merchants having on Wednesday or Thursday before, met & that 60 out of 61 voted to Import all Goods (Tea excepted.) they were to meet this day & make a definitive determination.5 This has occasioned a great ferment here and a Mr. Sears the Molineux of Boston, was very busy on Saturday disclaiming against the Philadelphians & endeavouring to prevent the flames catching [to] all the Merchants.6 I hear [Spech] of the matter so they doubt not they shall also Import, and they only wait till Wed: yo hear the results of this day at Phila. This Important Peice of News will I suppose be transmitted to the Ministry by the pacquet which sails to morrow. Your Honor will easily see the hand which has so artfully conducted the Philadelphians through the whole of this delicate & political Affair of Non Importation.

    I have been under great obligations to many Gentlemen here, Mr Charles Apthorp has offered [to] support me with his Life & Fortune but I have received no personal Injuries.

    David Vanhorn, Mr Pemberton’s deacon that was, is a most [violent?] creature—I am sorry to say that such classes of men, have through the whole shewn themselves, the most inimical to all subordination & good Government.7

    Please to let my sister I am well.

    I am with the greatest Respect Your Honors Obedient & Obliged Nephew

    Nath Rogers

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 202–03); dateline appears at the bottom left of the letter; at foot of letter, “His Honor Thomas Hutchinson Esq.”

    604. To Joseph Wanton

    Boston 17 May 1770

    Sir, About the 2d or 3d of March I took the liberty to cover with a letter to you a packet to the Ministry being informed a Vessel from Newport was bound to London. There being no opportunity to Nport I sent the whole by the Providence Coach under cover to Mr Sessions to be forwarded to you. I have never been informed what became of the Packet. If you received & forwarded it I shall be obliged to you to let me know when & by what Vessel it went. If you did not receive it I beg you would by a Line to Mr Sessions inquire if it came to his hands. I would not give you this trouble if it was not that the Packet contained matters of Importance which I should be very much concerned to have reason to think had fallen into any bad hands in the way of Providence.1

    I am very glad to hear the Gent of Newport treat with contempt the Insolent behaviour of a set of Men in this Town.2 I consider my self as half a Rh Isld man & rejoice in there prosperity. If the duty upon Tea should not be taken off I have no doubt by my advices from England it will be owing to the Tyrannical & compulsory Actions of the people of this Town and the countenance or connivance of the Government. If we had done no more here than your people have done its extremely probable the duty upon Tea would have been taken off at the same time when the other duties were taken off. I hear Mr Molineux & others connected with him threaten the Colony with the ruin of there Trade but this you are sensible is the Effect of meer impotent malice.3 I am very respectfully Sir Your most

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:486); at head of letter, “Gov Wanton.”