An Order in Council

    649. From Lord Hillsborough, 6 July 1770

    650. From Sir Francis Bernard, 7 July 1770

    News of the Massacre and the continued disorders in Boston occasioned a series of meetings of the Privy Council, which resulted in an Order in Council decreeing that Castle William be transferred to royal control and Boston Harbor be made a rendezvous for the king’s ships in North American waters. Both Hillsborough and Bernard warned that these were only preliminary steps, part of a more comprehensive response to the situation that must await the return of Parliament but might well include reforms to the Massachusetts charter to strengthen the hand of royal government.

    649. From Lord Hillsborough

    Whitehall, 6th. July 1770.

    (No. 38)

    Sir, Since my Letter to you of the 14th. of last Month I have received your Dispatches numbered from 9 to 14, & have laid them before the King.1

    These Dispatches do all of them, except the last, relate only to the Disorders & Disobedience which continue to prevail in the Province under your Government, & your Inability in the present State of it to prevent or check the Abuses, or punish the Offences, which are every Day committed.

    As it is now but too plain that the Lenity & Forbearance of Parliament have had no other effect than to aggravate the Evil, & to encourage still further Opposition to the Supreme Legislative Authority, & that Measures are now carried to such a length as to menace the supporting by Force the unjustifiable Acts which have been committed, & the unwarrantable Doctrines which have been inculcated, I received the King’s Commands to lay before His Majesty in Council a State of the Disorders, Confusion & Misgovernment which have for some time past, and do still continue to prevail in the Province of Massachuset’s Bay.

    This State has been accordingly referred to a Committee of the Privy Council for Plantation Affairs who having made their Report to the King, His Majesty has been pleased to approve thereof, and inclosed I send you a Copy of the ________ Order in Council thereupon, which you are at liberty to make such use of as you think will best promote His Majesty’s Service without making it publick or communicating it by Message or Speech to the General Court. This Order will inform you of the Measures which the King means to pursue, & I am to acquaint you in consequence thereof that it is His Majesty’s Pleasure, that the Company in the Pay of the Province, now doing duty in Castle William, be withdrawn, and that the Possession of the Fort be delivered to such Officer as Lieut. Genl. Gage shall direct to take the Command of it, & therefore you will not fail, so soon as General Gage shall have communicated to you the Orders given by him for this purpose, to take the proper Steps for the Execution of that part of this Service which depends upon you.

    The Settlement of the Country to the Eastward of the River Sagadahock by Persons under Colour of Grants from the General Court, which by the express Terms of the Charter are of “no force, validity, or effect until approved by the Crown,” is a matter of great importance in various lights, but in none more so than in that of the encouragement it has given to the waste and destruction of that Timber, the preservation & supply of which is become a matter of the most serious consideration in respect to the Naval Strength of this Kingdom.

    You say in your Letter No. 14 that no restraint to these illegal Settlements is to be expected or obtained unless by an Interposition of Royal Authority, but how that Authority can be exerted so as to operate as a Remedy to a Mischief of this magnitude I am not able to perceive, on the contrary it appears to me that the Remedy ought properly, & can only effectually come from the Province within whose Jurisdiction the Lands lye, and that the neglecting to exert every legal means to prosecute such Trespasses, and prevent such unwarrantable Intrusions, will be justly imputed as a default, for which the Province will stand responsible.

    What you suggest of the propriety of a proposal to the Province to quit their Claim to all the Lands East of Penobscot, and to take as a compensation the absolute Property of the Lands between that River & Kenebec, deserves consideration, but I very much fear that any accommodation of this kind will, in the present State of the Province and temper of the People, be very difficult to be obtained if however you think that such a measure might be effected, and that there is no other possible Remedy I shall be very glad to receive your further Sentiments upon it, and to be furnished with every fact & material argument that can be produced to support the Proposition.

    I think it proper to acquaint you that I have been informed that Col Goldthwait has been removed from his Office of Truck Master by the Assembly, who have elected a Man exceptionable in himself, & more so from his connections with the opposers of Government.2 It is said that you have consented to the election of this Person, but I hope such consent, if it should have been given, will not have the consequence to remove Col. Goldthwait from the Command of Fort Pownall, as it is of great importance that it should not be in the Possession of such as countenance an opposition to the Authority of the King’s Government.

    The King entirely approves of your having summoned the General Court to meet at Cambridge, but in case the Meeting there should be attended with any such Inconvenience as may make it adviseable to hold it in some other Place, His Majesty is pleased to leave it to your discretion to remove it to any other Town in the Province, except Boston. I am &ca.


    AC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 206–08); at head of letter, “Lieut. Governor Hutchinson.” AC (National Archives UK, CO 5/765, ff. 167–71); at head of letter, “Lieut. Governor Hutchinson.”

    650. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Hampstead, July. 7. 1770

    No. 33

    Dear Sir, I have received your Letter of May 22: I have now by me two Letters for you, which have waited for a Conveyance, the late Advices having stopt a Ship laden for Boston: so that I shall dispatch what Letters I have by the Packet this Evening.

    Since I have wrote my former, a Committee of the Council has been sitting at the Cockpit from day to day, upon a Reference of Enquiry into the Disorders of Boston. They have examined a good many Gentlemen acquainted with Boston & have formed Conclusions, which are digested into a Report to the King, which I understand was confirmed in Council yesterday. As you will receive a Copy of the Order of Council with Orders thereupon in the same Packet with this. I need not enter into particulars. What is done at present is preparatory to bringing the Business into Parliament, and for that Purpose the Governor, Lieut Governor, Council & House of Representatives will be called upon to make Answer to the Charge against them contained in the Report of the Committee of Council. I beleive you and I shall have little else to do but to admit the Charge to be true & justify ourselves under the Inability we have been subject to from the Constitution of the Government & its Consequence the Defection of the Council.

    Nothing will be done at present with the Forces but taking the Castle into the Kings hands & strengthening it both with fortifications & troops; & bringing the royal Navy to Boston as head Quarters. It is not proposed to put Troops into the Town untill there is a Magistracy which may be depended upon; which will be the first Business to provide for. The Threats of the Faction to prevent the Kings Troops coming into the Town are despised; since the Fleet alone will be sufficient to secure the Subjection of Boston. The Faction is continually defeating its own Purposes & no sooner had they got rid of the Troops, but by an high handed Riot unchecked by any Magistrate, they showed the Necessity of having Troops in the Town & a Magistracy which will preserve the Peace & protect the Subject.1

    In what Manner the civil Power is to be strengthened does not appear & probably is not yet determined. The cheif Question will probably be, whether to vacate the whole Charter or only to explain & amend it especially in regard to the appointment of the Council, which all agree must be altered. I am for the latter, as it seems to me that the Appointment of a royal Council alone will rectify all the Disorders of the Government that arise from the Constitution. Some other Regulations not arising from the Charter may be wanting, as the Return of Juries &c. You would do well to give this a full Consideration & let me know your Thoughts.

    You will receive a Letter from Mr. Pownall concerning continuing Col Goldthwait in the Command of Fort Pownall.2 It does not contain an Order to restore him, because they would not suppose that you had superseded him. But Mr. Pownall authorised me to recommend to you that if you had been prevailed upon to supersede him You should immediately restore him; of which you may advise me or him.

    Govr P has made it his Business for some days past to vindicate himself from a Report that prevails every where that his Letters were the Occasion of the goods being returned from Boston. He told me that he had been with Lord N upon the Subject & my Lord asked me about it in a Conversation I had with him a few Nights ago.3 But I beleive his Assertions of his not having wrote to that Purpose don’t gain much upon the Report which is strongly credited in the City, & positively asserted by some of the Merchants there.

    I leave it to other Letters to inform you of the Orders which are gone to the Commissrs both in regard to their own sitting & preventing illicit Trade. In regard to the latter, I beleive the Smugglers will make no great Advantage of the late Proceedings of their Friends the Mob. I am &c.,


    I put the loose Paper in one of your Letters into proper hands: it is one of many Notices the Effects of which are daily expected.4

    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:104–07); at foot of letter but before postscript, “The Honble Govr Hutchinson.”