News from England and a Change of Heart

    641. To Lord Hillsborough, 26 June 1770

    642. From Israel Williams, 26 June 1770

    643. To Lord Hillsborough, 29 June 1770

    644. To Israel Williams, 30 June 1770

    In late June, Hutchinson finally received his first news from England of the response to the Massacre. With relief, he learned that the king and his ministers approved his conduct in ordering the removal of the troops to Castle William, but other than granting Hutchinson permission to request even more troops from General Gage, Hillsborough provided Hutchinson with few specific directions. Hutchinson also discovered that he had been appointed governor-in-chief in mid-April. Now in possession of the office from which he once begged to be excused, Hutchinson changed his mind. Despite recent attacks on one of the commissioners and its employees, the volatile political situation of mid-March appeared to have stabilized. He had weathered his first session of the legislature and successfully postponed the trials of Captain Preston and the soldiers. Perhaps he could handle the job better than he once thought?

    641. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 26 June 1770


    (No. 18)

    My Lord, I am now to acknowledge the honour of your Lordship’s letters No 35 & 36.1 I have the most grateful sense of the honour conferred upon me by His Majesty and only wish my Abilities were equal to my Desires to promote His Majesty’s Service.

    There is an universal Impatience to know the Measures which will be taken in consequence of the News of the Removal of the Troops, but whilst some among us are expecting such as may restore a due Influence, to the King’s Government, the greatest part depend, as they wish, that all will pass over with little notice.

    I have never asked the advice of Council, in form, upon the Expediency of applying for more Ships & Troops because I was sure they would advise to apply for the Removal of those which remain and without their Advice, considering the restrictions I am under by the Charter, I did not think I could justify expressly applying for them especially as I knew that Governor Bernards caution in not applying without advice of Council had been approved of by His Majesty.2 I have, however, constantly advised General Gage & Commodore Hood of every Transaction of any moment that I might enable them to judge what ships or Troops were necessary to be kept here and, when Commodore Hood had ordered all the Ships upon short Cruises, provided I approved of it, I signified to Captain Smith that it did not appear to me expedient that the Town should be left without one or more Ships of War.3

    I am happy in having His Majestys express commands, in case of Verdict & Sentence against Captain Preston and the Soldiers, because it will render less exceptionable what I always supposed would be necessary if I had not received those Commands.4

    The Attorney General is absent upon a Circuit. As soon as he returns I shall direct him to enter a Noli Prosequi in every Suit against the Officers of the Crown upon Indictments for Letters wrote to His Majesty’s Ministers.5 This, at present, is the most eligible way of getting rid of those Suits. When the Courts were free none of them would have been suffered to be commenced.

    I have prorogued the General Court to the 25th of July to meet at Cambridge again. The House peremtorily refused to do any business. The Council avoided doing any but distinguish between a neglect & refusal. I shall transmit under this cover the several Messages since I had last the honour to write to your Lordship.6 I humbly pray that I may have further directions for my conduct if they should persevere in the same Obstinacy at another Session.

    If measures shall have been agreed upon to suppress the illegal Confederacies in the Town of Boston, the Influence of which extends through the Province, I hope the spirit of opposition may flagg for a time, but it never will expire until the Colonists are brought to know that their Ancestors remained Subjects of England when they removed to America as fully as if they had only removed from one part of the Island of Britain to another part of the same Island. I have the honour to be with the greatest Respect My Lord Your Lord ships most humble & most obedient servant

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 228–29); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 26th. June 1770. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 18) Rx 4th. August”; notation, “C:28.” DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, ff. 55–56); at head of letter, “Duplicate”; at foot of letter, “The Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:507–08). SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 148–51); docketed, “Boston 26th. June 1770 Lt Govr. Hutchinson (No. 18.) Rx 4th. August.”; at foot of letter, “Inclosures Three printed Papers.” SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 10, 4:4); docketed, “Govr. Hutchinson to Lord Hillsborough, 26 June 1770”; excerpt of third paragraph only. Contemporary printings: Boston Gazette, 31 March 1777; Remembrancer for the Year 1777, pp. 112–13. Enclosure to RC: Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, 28 June 1770.

    642. From Israel Williams

    Hatfield 26 June 1770

    Sir, A real concern for the future happiness and well being of the Country, induces me to trouble your honor, and begg a line if a leisure minute presents, but which I may be inform’d, what we are to expect. By your not sending the representatives home, I am led to Suppose Some thing of great importance was expected.1

    The Controversy about the place of the Courts Sitting, is a matter of Speculation, tho’ in the dispute, it is acknowleged your honor has greatly the advantage of the Council and houses, and they cant help feeling the force of your observations, however we live in a time when truth and reason are less regarded than ever, perhaps, and when a poor deluded people are like to be easily preval’d on, to adopt and pursue measures, that have a direct tendency to bring on ’em the evils and injuries, they fully intend to avoid. Your honors tenderness and regard for this infatuated Province is clearly manifest yet your Condesention and goodness I fear will not procure you one freind. If others are like one from us, the more kindness, the more malitious, and as a Gentleman of candour lately observ’d to me, his conduct was the result of a fixt hatred to your honor2 which led me to think of what Governor Belcher said on his being appointed Governor and taking on him in the chief command, that he woud court his enemies, he was sure of friends, by his conduct lost both.3

    By what I hear liberty and property are no longer Sacred, Government at an end, and unless we are reduc’d, by Some foreign power; neither property nor lives, will be much longer Secure.

    What determines the People in Boston to conduct as they do, is difficult to imagine, unless they are governd by those who have nothing to lose.

    If they expect the Country will on tryal Support their measures, and fight for ’em, they will be miserably disappointed. Cou’d the Constitution be preserv’d and Government restor’d I shoud heartily wish for it, but to be as we are and held in Suspence, I do by no means desire, because the delays we Shall ripen for harder measures; which I apprehend is the real reason of the Inaction of the ministry and not what is pretended.

    I have long expected the arrival of your honors Commission,4 but dont hear of it, I am Sure it woud have Salutary effects, Specially in this County. We are degenerating fast, in many Towns, and the more for the opposition the Importers meet with. We purposed to have bought a Chest a Tea of your Sons; which woud Soon vend, but are told, it cant be got out of Town, nor can I get a peice of paper fit to write your honor a letter on. What a wretched Situation is this. I fear Boston will not only ruin themselves but the Province. Your honor will not be able to prevent it. God is departed I fear from New England, and why, for that we have forsaken him.

    I am told I misnamed Mr. Todd, his Christian name is Samuel.5

    I wish your honor the continuance of that Wisdom and prudence which you have discover’d in this critical day, and firmness and fortitude to Surmount all difficulties. I am with the greatest respect Your honors faithful friend and most humble Servant,

    Israel Williams

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:415–16); addressed, “To the honorable Thomas Hutchinson Esqr. Lieutenant Governor, &c, Boston.”; docketed, “Hatfield 26 June 1770 [Israel Williams?].”

    643. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 29 June 1770


    My Lord, [Your lordship] does me great honour by your Lordships private Letter of the 26 April.1 My obligations to your Lordship will be the same as if I had received His Majestys Comission which you intended me for the Government of the Province. There have been no Letters from London since the 30th of April but by several Articles in the News Papers which have been brought by Vessels from the Out Ports it is generally supposed that a stop has been put to the Commission for this Province. When I wrote to your Lordship the 27th March2 my health had been much impaired by very close application to business, deprived of that exercise to which for many years I had been used, and I had the utmost reason to expect a further succession of such trying Scenes and that on my death or incapacity for business the Government would be in greater confusion than it ever had been. I thought my self therefore bound not meerly for the preservation of my own life but from a regard to the publick Interest to pray your Lordship that a person of superior strength both of body and mind might be appointed to the Administration. I had then only some hints of your Lordships favorable intention and no reason to think my Letter would come to hand at so critical a time as it probably did. My health returned beyond my expectation. I have abated no part of my Attention to the Affairs of the Province and to the State of the Town of Boston [to prevent] further acts of violence. For this purpose I knew it to be of the utmost Importance to keep off the Trial of Captain Preston and the Soldiers and yet to do it in such a manner as that it might not appear to be done by my Influence. This has been happily effected. The Town was in such a State that it was very necessary to remove the General Court and [hole] it would have been a dangerous precedent to be justified only by the last extremity to have carried it back upon the [hole] people by calumnies and false representations cherished at least by the family connexions of the [folle?] who has been more inimical to me as he had been to Governor Bernard than any person in the Province besides.3 They have escapd any considerable Injury to their persons or properties until about two days ago. An attack was made upon Mr. Hultons house in the night which put his family and Mr. Burchs into such terror that they thought it necessary to take shelter in the Castle.4 The most improbable suggestion was made in Council by the father in law and uncle of Mr. Temple that Mr. Hulton had procured people to make this Assault in order to have a pretence for removing to the Castle and rendering the Town obnoxious.5 Mr. Porter the Comptroller General had been assaulted in the Streets by three or four Ruffians a few evenings before for which there being only his own Testimony it was, at the same time, said to be all a fiction.6 And when the rest of the Council advised to a Proclamation with a reward the two who had opposed it at first finally agreed to it because it would tend to discover the persons who had been employed by Mr. Hulton to make the attack upon him.7

    The Opposition made by one of the Commissioners to all the rest and his making the Sons of Liberty his most intimate acquaintances has done infinite disservice to the Cause of Government which depends much upon the Servants of the Crown & the connexions they can form to support it8 and in this popular Constitution there.: is no making a party in favour of Government in any other way every branch of the Authority depend more or less upon the voice of the people who all unite [against?] the present measures.

    The Town at present is led by several persons of profligate Characters both for Religion & Morality and, about an equal number of the most precisely devout. It is difficult to say which are capable of the most illegal and violent acts for promoting the cause they are engaged in. By this union they have this great advantage that the body of the people who are divided in proportion are not very different are more easily brought to enlist some under the one sort & some the other.

    As Servant of the Crown & his friends appearing against the measures of Government [. . .]

    I am sure your Lordship has a: just conception of the state of a person in publick Trust who has only a choice of Evils & must be more or less in doubt uncertain who has with every body who by the Constitution he is bound to advise with counteracting him and watching for every advantage against him.

    The Affairs of the General Court have given me, comparatively, but little trouble. My path has been plain and I was determined not to deviate. The mutinous spirit of the Town of Boston has furnished me from time to time with only a choice of Evils, of most uncertain Consequences.

    I must submit my Conduct to your Lordship. I am sure I have aimed at the publick Service and have omitted nothing in my power to restrain the people from extending their encroachments without irritating them to such a degree as to bring on a general revolt. The Success hitherto has been greater than I feared it would be. In whatever Station I may hereafter act I shall make the same service my aim as far as it shall come within my Sphere and shall ever approve my self Your Lordship’s most faithful and obedient

    Dft (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:512–13). Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 8 January 1776 (excerpts only).

    644. To Israel Williams

    Boston 30 June 1770

    Dear Sir I have only time to write you two or three lines to inform you that, upon a hint given me of the King’s Intention to appoint me Governor, as soon as I found the Spirit raised against me by the People of Boston & so much heighthened by others from whom I did not deserve it, I knew I could do no Service to my Country and wrote the latter end of March, declaring my unfitness for it & my desire if the appointment was made to resign. The 28 April my Commission had passed the Royal Signature and my friend had advanced 400£ for the fees. The 2d or 5th May as appears by the Papers my letters came to hand and I suppose put a stop to the delivery of the Commission and you will soon hear of a new appointment whether of a person who will be a better friend to the Country than I have been must be determined hereafter. I have had no Letters & know not whether I shall have my money again or any part of it but, you may believe me, I feel no anxiety about it. I am sure we are destroying ourselves but it is out of my power to help it. No measures were determined.

    I am your sincerely

    T Hutchinson

    645. From Thomas Gage

    NYork July 1st: 1770

    Sir, I have been favoured with your Letters of the 19th: 21st: 22d: & 23d of June. I am obliged to you for the Directions you intend giving the Attorney General upon his Return from the Circuit respecting the Indictments against Sr: Francis Bernard and myself;1 His Majesty’s Orders concerning these matters were communicated to me by the last Packet, and I wish this was the only Trouble you are likely to have upon your Hands.

    The Subject of your two last Letters is the more alarming as it is very likely to happen.2 The People have gone on Step by Step without Check or Opposition to the most dangerous Heighth of Licentiousness, and nothing is too daring for them to undertake during the Anarchy that now subsists. I can easily give an Opinion how to prevent the Event you so much fear, if you could as easily follow it. I know nothing that can resist Force, but Force, and you are acquainted with the orders lately transmitted to me, to give you all the aid, and, Assistance you shall require, but I am sensible you will answer me, that you can not ask my Assistance without the Advice of Council, and no one of your Council will advise you to ask my Assistance, or to bring Troops into the Town. You think at the same time if Troops were in the Town no Magistrate wou’d employ them on such an Occasion, but they might notwithstanding be the Means of preventing it. It is true on the first Arrival of the Troops, the People were kept in some Awe by them, but they no sooner understood that they were bound up by Constitutional Laws, and could not act in quelling Riots & Disturbances but under the Authority, and Order of the Civil Power than they despised them, and became as licentious as before their Arrival. In the Situation therefore you suppose the Troops in, unable to act, I can’t forsee they would be of much use, or in any Shape prevent the mob from executing their Designs, unless they shou’d break the Bonds of Discipline in a Fit of Madness and Rage, and attack the People, which I confess upon such occasion I am of Opinion might happen.

    How affairs will turn out, or what Resolutions will be taken I can not pretend to judge, but I shall be prepared, and in as great Readiness as in my Power, to obey any Commands the King shall send me, or any Requisition you shall judge proper to make; and as you have asked my Opinion, I will take the Liberty to hint the putting the Prisoners on Board one of the King’s Ships, or confining them at the Castle. If Sentence of Condemnation should be past, I concieve the Regt: could send a strong Detachment to recieve the Prisoners at Night, and march them to Dorchester Neck where the Boats that carried the Detachment over might remain to bring them back.

    I have the Honor to be with great, Regard, Sir, &ca &ca &ca

    P:S: You need not make any Apology for inclosing any Letters under my Cover, I shall chearfully take Care to forward all you send.

    AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “Gov Hutchinson Boston.” Contemporary printings: Boston Gazette, 17 July 1770; Massachusetts Spy, 26 July 1775.

    646. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 2 July 1770

    (No. 26)

    My Dear Sir, I hear just now from pretty good information that there is to be a grand meeting to night at Molineuxs home to consider whether to make up opposition or not to the Troops which they expect will be orderd here.1 You know exactly the state we are in. Cabals on evry corner. Possibly when they are discouraged & disperse they will say as they used to do it is all misrepresentation. Every thing is infinitely uncertain. The better sort who see the terrible Effects of Anarchy seem to increase, but I doubt whether they are yet sufficiently convinced to make a stand if the comon people should run into these mad measures which they brag of & which I flatter my self they are not mad eno deliberately to attempt to execute when they shall see a force which they know must over power them. If no greater numbers than were in the T the 5 of March should attempt to land without a sufficient naval force to cover the landing I have no doubt they would be opposd. We are every moment expecting the determination in England. I am Dear Sir Your very faithful humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:515).

    647. To John Pownall

    Boston 2 July 1770

    Sir, Having omitted inclosing to My Lord Hillsborough a proclamation and also Minutes of Council which respect some late disturbances & it being proper that every Occurrence should be communicated to His Lordship I take the liberty to inclose them to you for that purpose.1 There was another affair of the same sort with that of Mcmasters on the 29 of last month but I am informed the man, who was insulted does not want Spirit & being an Inhabitant of another County has determined to bring an Action there against his Assailants where I think he will stand a good chance & I shall do all in my power to encourage him. I am with great regard

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 234–35); at foot of letter, “Mr Secretary Pownall”; docketed, “Boston 2d. July 1770 Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson JP. (Private) Rx 4th. August”; notation, “C:29.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:515); at foot of letter, “Mr Jono Pownall.” Enclosures to RC: Council Minutes, 21 May 1770 (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 236–37); Council Minutes, 21 June 1770 (ff. 238–39); Proclamation by TH, 28 June 1770 (printed; f. 240).

    648. From Israel Williams

    Hatfield July 4 1770

    Sir, Ever since your honor told me at Cambridge of your writing the ministry, you declin’d the chief Command1 I have fear’d, what is now come to pass. Is there no possibility of your obtaining the Commission with honor, is there any great impropriety in yours friends undoing what you have done; was it not too Sudden a determination; are we always to expect bad times, may we not hope for better, and that soon? The Commonwealth as you once Said to me is never to be despair’d of;2 why then Sir do you give it up for lost; and draw a conclusion that you can do no good to your Country? Perhaps this is the very time when you can do more, than in any other part of your life. Why shoud you bury your Self? The best men in the Province, wish and long for your Establishment in the supreme command.

    I know some of the best men hide themselves at this day. Their courage will I hope return, and with it peace and good order and under the direction of a wise and good Governor, we may be again a happy People.

    Pardon, for these hints from your Sincere friend. I am Your humble Servant,

    Israel Williams

    I humbly propose the Commissions your honor designs shall Issue, may be made out by the Secretary and dedimus for Swearing the officers before any impediment arises.3

    RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:417); addressed, “To the honorable Thomas Hutchinson Esqr Lieutenant Governour &c Boston”; docketed, “Colo Williams July 4 1770.”