Letters from England Urging Moderation

    651. To Thomas Gage, 9 July 1770

    652. To Samuel Hood, 11 July 1770

    653. To Sir Francis Bernard, 13 July 1770

    654. To Lord Hillsborough, 15 July 1770

    655. From Thomas Gage, 15 July 1770

    Earlier in the summer, fears that a mob might lynch Captain Preston and the other prisoners prompted General Gage to suggest they be transferred to the security of Castle William. The jurist in Hutchinson disapproved: since the Castle was not an official prison, he believed he lacked the authority to remove them from a prison under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court. The arrival of letters from Thomas Pownall, William Bollan, and Catherine Macaulay, all urging the need for moderation and a fair trial, calmed the tense situation and reduced worries for the prisoners’ safety.

    651. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 9. July 1770

    Sir, Coming late to Town I have just time to acknowledge your favour by the Post. I could not avoid mentioning to you the difficulties which lay upon my mind; at the same time I had very little reason to expect any other Answer than what I have received from you. The Expedient you propose at present, appears to me impracticable.1 I have no Authority to make the Castle, like the Town, a Prison or to take a Prisoner out of the Custody of the Law. The least irregularity would make me answerable for the Consequences, especially as all my Instructions from the Ministry are guarded and, although I am required to support the Authority of Government to my utmost yet, I am very properly so required to do it by legal constitutional measures, which considering I am left alone, my Council always differing in Sentiments from me are few and feeble. I will give constant attention to the Affair and, having done every thing in my Power, must make my self as easy as I can be the event what it may.

    The Papers to day contain News to the 14th of May. Our Sons of Liberty are in high Spirits. I have seen Mr Tom Pownall’s Letter to them and Mr Bollan’s and Mrs. Maccaullay’s.2 They all applaud them for their moderation & the Restraint they laid themselves under. Mr Pownall assures them that from the declarations of the Ministry they may Rely upon it no Troops will be ordered to Boston unless the Civil Magistrate desire it. Bollan encourages the same thing but is not so sanguine. Their Depositions were arrived and no accounts to contradict them.3 I have not a line, but there are one or two Letters which say that notwithstanding the number of witnesses on the other side Preston’s account Prevailed against all of them. The master says the Affair was to be considered in Parliament the 17th May. Perhaps you will have later advices. I am very Respectfully Sir Your most humble & most obed Servant

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.”

    652. To Samuel Hood

    Boston 11 July 1770

    My Dear Sir, Our last advices are by a Vessel from Bristol which brings a London News Paper of the 14th May the last Letters are the 12th. I have not a script. The news is all of one side the master of the Vessel sent express by the Town being a passenger. He says that his arrival & the depositions he carried quite alterd the face of Affairs & that we may depend upon it neither the Ships nor Troops will be ordered here. I have seen Gov Pownalls Mr. Bollans & Mrs. Mcaullay forsooth her Letters also to the Town.1 Pownall mentions what you see in the News Papers, that Ld North said in the House the Troops would be removed from Boston or something tantamount to it & sufficient to rely upon that it will be so. Parliament would sit till the 23 & it is agreed that the affair of Boston would again be considered but the time is certainly very short to do any thing to purpose. A Letter from Mr. Waldo says there was talk of the Comissioners being removed to Amboy & he tells his Correspondent not to be surprized if he should hear Sir F B was appointed with the addition of his 600£ pension.2 If you have nothing direct this may amuse you like so many Articles in a News Paper but nothing more can be depended upon than that the business was still before Parliament & I think it pretty evident now the Ministry will do nothing more than what Parliament shall advise to. I find the Comptroller for this Province passed the Seals about the 27 of April & my friend had paid 400£ for the fees of my Comission.3 My Letters arrived the 1 or 2d May which I doubt not caused a demur & gave rise to the conjectures you see in several News Paper Articles but as yet I know nothing further.4

    Altho our Liberty people exult in their prospect yet it does not seem to satisfy them. They are for something further. At a Town meeting yesterday the spirit rose very high. Independence was a word much used. They sent a foolish Message to poor Preston to inquire about the Account he had sent home & the answer he had received & I am informed he gave a discreet tho an evasive answer or rather he declined giving a direct answer.

    They expressed also resentment against Pownall for advising them to avoid severity in their pursuit against Preston.

    I thank you for your favours by Captain Linzee who you justly observe cannot but be agreeable to all the good people we have among us.5 I shall not say a word against the Mermaids being employed upon any other Service which you think proper for her as I would not wish unnecessarily to detain any Ship here.6 I have the honour to be with the greatest truth My Dear Sir Your most faithful & obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:516–17); at head of letter, “Com Hood.” Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 8 January 1776; excerpt only from “I find the Comptroller . . .” to “. . . yet I know nothing further.”

    653. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 13 July 1770

    No. 27

    My Dear Sir, I could not let this Vessel go without a line because in our present state I know you wish to hear by every opportunity. The master of the Express sent by the T is returned & brings London papers to the 14 May. All my news is on one side. I have seen their Letters from Gov Pownall Mr. Bollan & Mrs. Mccaullay.1 Adams found great fault with Gov. P.[’s] letter because he does not go the length they would have him & is for keeping them too dependent upon G Britain. It seems among other things they desired Mrs. Mccaullay to recommend a proper person for an Agent. After advising them by no means to think of a person who has any sort of connexion or interest with Lord H she tells them she cant think of a more proper person than Mr. Sayre.2

    I design to make another trial with the Court the 25th the time to which they stand prorogued.3 We are every moment expecting the determination of Parliament. I saw Lady Bernard and the two young Ladies well the day before yesterday.4 I am very respectfully Dear Sir Your most faithful Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:518).

    654. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 15 July 17701

    (No. 19)

    My Lord, There has been no Occurrence worth relating since I last did myself the honour of writing to your Lordship. Altho the party in favour of Importation increased yet both sides agree to wait until they know the whole that will be done by Parliament before they come to any further determination for another year.

    I intend to meet the Assembly again at Cambridge the 25th Instant. I am not sure that they will proceed to business but I will do evry endeavour to persuade them to it and I think it necessary to give them an opportunity for it, there being many important Affairs necessary to be transacted by them. There is no establishment for the Garrison at Castle William nor that at Fort Pownall. The Officers & Men continue in service relying on future provision for there pay but if they should incline to quit the service I know not how to detain them or to provide others in their stead but I apprehend there is no danger of it until they suffer by their pay being withheld & there being unable to borrow upon the credit of it.

    Many Laws are expired which ought to be revived & the Treasury is without money. Some active members care not how much the discontents are increased but I hope this is not the Spirit of the Court in general. If they obstinately refuse I cannot carry them to Boston until I have further Instructions how to govern my self they having claimd it as a Right to sit in Boston unless they shall judge it for the Publick Good to sit elsewhere which effectually deprives the Crown of the exercise of its prerogative.

    I know of no place in the Province besides Boston where a Winter Session can be held with any tolerable convenience and whilst the House are so averse to sitting any where except in Boston they will make no provision for there accomodation elsewhere. There will be time for to receive further direction before January when it has been usual for them to meet to choose their Civil Officers & do other ordinary publick Business. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord Your Lordship’s most humble and most obedient Servant,

    Thomas Hutchinson

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 249–50); at foot of letter, “Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 15th. July 1770 Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 19) Rx 14th. Septr.”; notations, “C:32.” and “Massachusetts. Duplicate of a Letter No. 19 from Govr. Hutchinson to the Earl of Hillsborough, dated July 15. 1700, relative to the importation of British Goods, & his intention to meet the Assembly at Cambridge again.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:517–18). SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, f. 160); docketed, “Boston July 15 1770 Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No: 19) Rx. 14th: Sepr.”

    655. From Thomas Gage

    New York. July 15th: 1770

    Sir, I could devise no means in the present Circumstances, more effectualy to avert the designs you so much apprehend, than those I submitted to your Consideration: And am sorry to find by yours of the 9th Instant that you deem those Proposals impracticable, because they are illegal.1 I did not consider the Legality of the Expedient, or knew it to be otherwise than consistent with your legal Authority, or I should not have mentioned it. I can say no more at present on the Subject, than to assure you that I am very sensible you will do every thing in your Power to do.

    The Letters you take Notice of from Messrs. Pownall, Bollan &ca correspond with the Contents of your Last Dispatches and mine. Nothing was then determined upon, and those Persons could know nothing beyond the Date of our Dispatches for the Affair had not been brought before the Parliament. And no Resolution would be taken by the Ministers till the Sense of Parliament was known.

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

    AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “Govr: Hutchinson.”

    656. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Hampstead July 16 1770

    No. 34

    Dear Sr., I hereby send you duplicates of my Letters Nos. 31 & 32, which went by the Packet ten days ago.1 I have desired that a triplicate of a late report of the Commitee of Council may be sent you by this Ship, & hope you will receive it. I am not allowed a Copy of it myself, tho I have the liberty of perusing it. I misinformed you, when I told you that you would have orders to lay it before the Council & Assembly, & require their answer. That was the intention at first; but it is now departed from: it is said that the disorders of the Government are so notorious that there is no occasion to make them a subject of litigation. Administration is now pledged to lay this business before Parliament & thither it must go.

    In my last I recommended to you to give me your sentiments upon the several particulars wanting to the reform of your Government.2 This was from myself: I am now from higher Authority to desire that you will give this subject a full consideration & let me know your thoughts upon it. You will probably have a Letter from Mr. P to the same purpose.3 I shall divide this Enquiry into two Parts. 1 What is necessary to be done to give Government Activity & practicability for the present without looking any farther than to the present Disorders & the causes of them. 2 What is expedient to give Government a new & durable Form equally constitutional in Regard to the Rights of the Crown & the Liberties of the People, so as to prevent not only the present Disorders but all others which may arise from a Contention for Power for the future. The former is confined within a narrow Compass; the latter opens a large Field. You know a good deal of my Sentiments on both these Heads; if the latter is chose, perhaps it may be necessary to begin with the former as Preliminary.

    As I have given over all thoughts of returning to Boston I shall have no Interest of my own to interest ^influence^ me in this Business; & my Prejudices are in favour of the People I mean the good and wise Part of them & not that abominable and wicked Faction and its Tools who pretend to call themselves the People. My great Ambition is to see a form of Government established among you which shall be as perfect a Model of the English Constitution; as its dependency upon the imperial State will admit of and free from all the Errors & Defects which more or less render every form of Government upon the Continent imperfect. And then let them say I had a hand in it. I am &c.

    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:107–09); at foot of letter, “The Honble Govr Hutchinson.”

    657. To Samuel Hood

    Boston 20 July 1770

    My Dear Sir, We have only one day’s later news from England than when I last did my self the honour of writing to you.1 Upon the arrival of the Vessel this morning Cap Linzee asked my opinion upon the number of Ships necessary here & proposed that only a frigate & two of the Sloops should remain. I have not a line from the Ministry to make it necessary for me to detain them nor have I the least intimation of any particular measures intended. I therefore very readily gave him my opinion that I thot it advisable that two at least of the small Vessels should leave the Town & be employed in any Service you thought proper. As soon as it shall appear that Parliament is up without coming to any Resolutions which may make a numbers of Ships necessary I know of no benefit that can arise from detaining more than the frigate & one of the Sloops or perhaps a Scooner constantly here the latter for the purpose of conveying intelligence to you if there should be occasion for it. I think a very few days must give us news from England a month later than we have had from any authority. In general the Servants of the Crown here expect none but pacifick measures the Sons of Liberty say they have the greatest certainty there will be no others. I have the honour to be with the greatest esteem Dear Sir Your most humble and most Obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:518–19); at head of letter, “Com. Hood.”

    658. To Thomas Gage

    Boston 23d. July 1770

    Sir, I have the Honor of your Letter of the 15th. Yesterday a Vessel Arrived which Left London the 24 May. I have Letters to the 22d. Parliament Rose the 19 & Nothing done as to America. I send you Pasage of a Letter from Sr. FB, I have the Honor to be very Respectfully, (Private)—1

    Sir it appears to me to be a Matter of great Importance to his Majesty General Service, and to the real Interests of the Colony, that the Discord begining between New York and Us Should be encouraged. I wrote Some time ago to Mr. Colden, upon this Subject But he rather Declin’d Concerning himself ^in^ it2 there Certainly is a Strong aversion3 which Nothing but the Confederacy against G. Britton Could have Conquer’d. This has too much the Appearance of Machiavillian Policy—but it is justifiable as it has the most Obvious tendency to Save the Colonies Ruining Themselves as well as Distresing the Mother Country4 if Pensilvania could, be Brought to take part with N. York, I think the Bisness would be done. I must beg the favor of you not to Suffer this Letter to come under any other than your Own Observation I have the Honor to be &c.

    SC (Massachusetts Historical Society, John Thomas Papers); addressed, “Govr. Hutchinson to T. Gage, 23 July 1770”; docketed, “Govr. Hutchinson to T. Gage 23 July. 1770”; notations, “23 July 17.70” and “probably an intercepted letter.” Contemporary printing: Remembrancer for the Year 1775, 1st ed., p. 106 (second paragraph only). The sole copy of this letter from the John Thomas Papers at the MHS does not appear to the editors to be either in TH’s hand or any of his usual clerks. John Thomas was the general who had charge of TH’s letterbooks after they were first seized from his house in Milton in 1775. The printed version of the letter in The Remembrancer begins with the following introduction: “A great number of Governor Hutchinson’s letters have lately fallen into the hands of our people. A Correspondent at Roxbury has favored us with the following extract from one of them to Gen. Gage, then at New York, dated at Boston, July 20, 1770.” It is less likely the letter was intercepted in 1770 than that the original was lost after it was copied in 1775.