Proroguing the General Court

    670. From Lord Hillsborough, 31 July 1770

    671. To Sir Francis Bernard, 4 August 1770

    672. From Lord Hillsborough, 4 August 1770

    673. To Thomas Goldthwait, 5 August 1770

    674. To Lord Hillsborough, 5 August 1770

    On 31 July, the House adopted a long response to Hutchinson’s opening message urging it to proceed to business. Although acknowledging that the time and place of meeting the General Court was indeed part of the royal prerogative, it insisted that such a prerogative could only be exercised for the general good. It opined that “wicked ministers” could sometimes deceive the king, and that the point of summoning it to meet in Cambridge was merely “to harass us and bring us into compliance with some arbitrary mandate.” Its reluctance to proceed to business was, in the opinion of the House, no different from the many instances in British history when the House of Commons withheld grants of money in order to protect the liberties of the people, and the House concluded with a list of grievances that included the vice-admiralty courts, recent revenue acts, occupying troops, and the massacre of innocent citizens. Hutchinson replied with an almost equally long rebuttal on 3 August and dismissed its members until they should once again meet at Cambridge on 5 September. Although Hutchinson would not yet have received such instructions, his actions were entirely consonant with letters Hillsborough drafted before leaving London for the summer.

    670. From Lord Hillsborough

    Whitehall July 31st 1770

    (No. 39)

    Sir, Your Dispatches Ns. 15. & 16. have been received, and laid before the King, and I am commanded to signify to you His Majesty’s Approbation of your Conduct, not only in the Measures you pursued for improving the Circumstances that appeared favorable for putting an end to the Associations against importing Goods from Great Britain, but also in the Moderation & Prudence you shewed in the Exercise of your negative Voice on the Election of the New Council.

    It is plain from what passed on the Advices from Pennsylvania of the disposition in that Province to discontinue their Association, that the more sober & considerate Merchants of Boston wish to get rid of the Fetters which by their own Imprudence they have forged for themselves, & I have no doubt that these unwarrantable Combinations to distress the British Commerce in general would long ago have been at an end, had they not been encouraged by the Correspondence of ill-designing Men on this Side the Water.

    I collect from many of the late Transactions at Boston that great Pains are taken by some Persons to excite the People to Violence, & the use which may be made by these desperate Men of the Distress which the Associations have brought upon that Town is a circumstance, in the present state of the Province, that cannot be too closely attended to.

    Every letter which has been received from Boston, and communicated to me, since the Advice given to His Majesty by His Privy Council, respecting the state of His Province of Massachuset’s Bay, furnishes additional Proof of the Rectitude as well as the Necessity of the Measures which they have recommended. The Refusal of the Council & House of Representatives to do any business unless they are assembled at Boston is an Act that appears to me irreconcileable with both the Letter & Spirit of the Constitution of the Government of Massachuset’s Bay, & is as injurious to the Rights & Privileges of the People they represent, as it is inconsistent with the just Authority of the Crown to direct the Governor, by Instruction, in the exercise of those discretionary Powers vested in him by the Charter, & by his Commission, & therefore this is a Circumstance, which among many others, shews the necessity for an Interposition of the authority of Parliament. In the mean time my letter of the 6th. instant will remove all Doubt you might otherwise have had in respect to the Conduct you are to observe on this occasion, and render any further Instruction altogether unnecessary.

    The gaining further Time in the Case of Captain Preston, and the other unhappy Persons involved with him in the same Misfortune, is of the greatest Importance to them, & I trust that before the time of Trial comes, every prejudice will give way to Truth, Candour, & Justice. I am &ca.


    AC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 222–23); at head of letter, “Lt. Govr. Hutchinson.” AC (National Archives UK, CO 5/765, ff. 178–81); docketed, “Lt. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 39.).” SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 43, 1:125); copy of third and fourth paragraphs only.

    671. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 4 August 1770


    (No. 31)

    My Dear Sir, The House having persisted in their refusal to do Business, I have prorogued them to a further time, having gained over in this short Session enough of the Council to prevent Bowdoin from obtaining a Vote for an Address, which he had prepared conformable to the Sentiments of the Faction in the House, and I hope to keep a party there strong enough to defeat his future Attempts.1 Neither Worthington, Ruggles, Murray, nor any Member capable of opposing Adams &c. came to the Session.2 Many, if not a majority of the Members wish to go to Business but are afraid. I will have a full House another Session and have great encouragement that I shall carry the point then notwithstanding their unanimity now. I did not disign to enter into any Argument with them, but I found it necessary to undeceive the People and since my Speech I percive a great alteration among them and it will certainly have a good effect. The answer to it and my Reply I will inclose.3 The Answer, drawn by Adams, breaths the seditious Spirit which has appeared in Edes & Gills papers. The Rudeness to the King to the House of Commons, to the Ministers of State, the declarations of Independance, the menaces of an appeal to Heaven, and the Peoples no longer bearing with their Injuries without seeking Redress, plaints hinting a downright Revolt are so criminal & at the same time so daring, that some notice will be taken of it, if the Nation is to be roused by any thing. The Messages and Resolves of the Spring Session, the printed proceedings of the May Session, and the papers I now send you laid all together, before Parliament will furnish full Evidence of the principles of this Party incompatible with their remaining a Colony of Great Britain, that nothing more seems to be necessary. They are a little alarmed at my check for the word Impudent expecially as they must have known that altho’ you were instructed by the Secretary of State yet it was by the Kings express order.4 But they have gone on so long that they are not much affraid and Cushing, who was last night at Goffs w[h]ere I lodge upon being asked wether he was not apprehensive that this repeated refusal to do Business might cause a Quo warranto against the Charter, answered that their had been none since the Reigns of the Stuarts and they dare not send one here.5

    I hope my conduct will be justified, publickly or in such manner that it may come to the knowledge of the people of the Province, for it may have a good Effect with them, though the Heads of the Faction wou’d be more insolent.

    The Treasurer will immediately issue his Warrants for a Tax of £92000 ________ which will be more than the Province can pay. Its possible it may be some inducement to do business another Session for the sake of stopping the Warrants, but it is uncertain. They are properly infatuated and except a few of their Leaders they are not capable of giving any sort of reason for their conduct, but charge it one upon another by this general excuse that there is no resisting a Torrent.

    In this Trial in Council we seperated Erving from Bowdoin the latter went of[f] in great wrath and declared he would not come to Cambridge again. The former I think must see the folly of his grandsons projects and that they tend to his own destruction as well as the distress of the Government.6 I hope to make a good use of this division and to break the connexion which the House have forced the Council to maintain with them.

    I am afraid I shall not be able to prevail with Judge Lynde to keep his place until the Trials of the Officers & Soldiers are over. I have just now rec’d a Letter [from] him which looks as if he was determined. I must do the best I can.7

    I send you a Letter from Goldthwait to shew you what they are doing in that Country.8 If I have no Orders to put a stop to the Settlers there they will pitch upon all the Land between the Sea and the Banks of St. Lawrence. I suppose what they mean by a Grant from his Majesty is nothing more than the privilege granted to the Officers & Soldiers after the War to pitch upon Tracts in order to a Grant or Confirmation of Title from the Governours.

    We are long without news & expect it with Impatience. I am Dear Sir Your Obliged & most Obedient Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:530–31); in WSH’s hand.

    672. From Lord Hillsborough

    Whitehall Augst. 4th. 1770

    No. 40

    Sir, As I was upon the point of setting out for the Country to avail myself of a Leave of Absence, which the King has been so good to give me for a few Weeks, I received two Letters from you (No. 17 and 18) and have laid them before His Majesty;1 and I have received His Majesty’s Commands to signify to you His Approbation of the Resolution you have evinced, by resisting the unconstitutional Pretensions of the House of Assembly with regard to the indubitable Right of the Crown to appoint the place of Meeting of the General Court; and I am to repeat to you His Majesty’s Commands to continue the Meeting of the General Court at Cambridge or elsewhere as you shall think fit, but not at Boston, untill you shall receive His Majesty’s further Pleasure thereupon.

    The Doctrines set up by the House of Assembly and the Council tend to destroy every power reserved to the Crown by the Charter, and therefore it is absolutely necessary to shew that His Majesty will not suffer them to have any effect.

    As to any other Matters contained in these two Letters, such of my Dispatches as had not reached you at the time of your writing will furnish you with full Answers and Informations.2 I am &c.


    AC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 241–42); at head of letter, “Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson.”; docketed, “Drat. to Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson. Whitehall Aug. 4th: 1770. (No. 40.).” AC (National Archives UK, CO 5/765, ff. 181–82); docketed, “Lt. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 40.).” SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 43, 1:126); first two paragraphs only.

    673. To Thomas Goldthwait

    Boston 5 Aug 1770

    Dear Sir, As the House will do no business what has been done by Major More & others and the Stockbridge people must remain without giving preference to one or the other until another Session, before which will be time for an Answer from Ld Hillsborough to what I have wrote upon the Subject of those Lands in general.1

    I will not forget the person you mention for a Coroner but whilst I am telling you so it comes to my mind that Mr. Flucker sometime since named a person for Coroner which he was to give me in writing and I have forgot. I think it was for Penobscot. Before I do any thing I will see him & let you know the name.2

    Our news from England to about the 24 May. My Letters arrived as I told you they would, & prevented the Commissions issuing but as they had passed the Royal Signature the Governor writes me they would only be suspended until my Answer came to the Letter Lord Hillsborough wrote acquainting me with the appointment, which Letter was conceived in such obliging terms that I could not avoid an answer which if nothing be determined before, I rather think will cause the Commissions to come out.3 The Answer went by a Vessel which sailed 7 weeks ago.

    You see all that relates to the Court in the News Papers. Worthington Ruggles Murray nor any other person not affraid of Adams & the Bostoneers would attend. The Council could not be prevailed upon by Bowdoin to pass a Message he had prepared for them of the same spirit with that from the House, and if I could persuade a few to exert them selves the point would be carried in the House another Session, but its a great point gained in Council w[h]ere Erving fell off from his Son in law Bowdoin.4 I have mentioned likewise to Ld Hillsboro the case of the Fort without any Establishment, but I hope next Session the H. will make provision.5 I am Dear Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant,

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:531–32); in WSH’s and TH’s hands; at foot of letter in TH’s hand, “Mr Goldthwait.” Contemporary printing: Boston Gazette, 15 January 1776; third paragraph only minus its final sentence.

    674. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 5 August 1770


    (No. 21)

    My Lord, I send your Lordship under this cover a Message sent to me by the House of Representatives which more fully evinces the principles and temper of the Leaders and Heads of the Opposition than any thing which has preceded it.1 I am of Opinion that the Majority of the House would have disapproved of this Message if they could have acted with freedom uninfluenced by the Town of Boston and the combinations there. A Message of the like kind reported by Mr. Bowdoin chairman of a Committee did not obtain in Council and I have strong assurances that the major part of the Council will be for complying another Session, and am not without prospect that the House will also. In the mean time the people of the Province are the only Sufferers. It being a very busy time I thought it advisable to prorogue them, rather than increase discontent, by compelling them to sit; and I should have prorogued them 4 or 5 weeks farther if I had not thought it probable I should receive Instructions from your Lordship which might make it necessary for them to sit sooner.

    I intended to have avoided entring into an Argument with them but I found it absolutely necessary to remove the Prejudices which the Inhabitants were under from their Publications, and it has certainly had a good Effect in many Towns in the Province; but in the present state of things when the minds of men are so easily inflamed, I could not, consistent with prudence shew that resentment against a Message, so affrontive to the King the Parliament as well as His Majestys Ministers & other Publick Officers which it deserved.2 I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord &c.

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 256–57); at foot of letter, “Right Honb. the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 5th. August 1770 Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson. Rx Septr. 17th. (No. 21.)”; notation, “C:35.” DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, ff. 63–64); in WSH’s hand with closing and signature by TH; at head of letter, “Duplicate.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 157–58); docketed, “Lieut. Governor Hutchinson. Boston 5 Augt. 1770 (No 21) Rx Sepr. 17.”; notation, “Inclosure 1. Printed Paper containing Govrs. Speech 2. Massachusets Gazette Augt. 9.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:532); at foot of letter, “Ld H.” Enclosures to RC: Newspaper clipping (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, f. 258); Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, 9 August 1770 (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 259–60).

    675. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Hampstead, Aug 6. 1770

    No. 38

    Dear Sir, I received your Letter dated July 2 last Saturday by a Messenger from Lord H, who in a Note said he should set out early the next Morning.1 By the Return of the Messenger I acquainted him with the Contents of your Letter. My Lord proposes to return about the 20th of Sept., when I shall return from an Excursion into the Country, which I shall make as soon as I have seen Lord North who is gone out of Town for a fortnight & expected to return for a day or two next Tuesday. At present it is all a dead Vacation and no Offices are open.

    I observe in the Boston Gazette that a Grant of a Township at Machias has passed the General Court.2 This was sent up to me; & I refused it from Sense that I was not at Liberty to make any more Grants in that Country till the former were confirmed. I am now confirmed in my Opinion & know for certain that it is expected that no more Grants should be sent up till those before the Board are determined upon. I give you this Hint that if you have consented to this Grant you may make an Apology for it; which the particular Circumstances of the Settlement will well afford. The Exorbitances of the Grant, that is, 80 square miles instead of 36 the usual Number, will require Some Excuse; there being Several Letters of mine explaining my Ideas of the proper Terms for settling towns and particularly that there should be ten families for every six square Miles.

    I have used my utmost Endeavours to get the 12 Townships confirmed; but hitherto without Success: I shall renew them next Winter. The Board of Trade has reported in favour of the Confirmation of Mount Desert; and it now lies before the Council, where it has been postponed for what Reason I can’t tell: But my Lord President told me there was no Objection to it, & it should be done in a short time.3 I am &c.,


    P.S. Aug 8

    I have now received No. 26. 24 is not come to hand.4 You must bear with patience: all is for the best; out of confusion will come order.

    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:113–14); at foot of letter but before postscript, “the honble Govr Hutchinson.”

    676. From Ebenezer Silliman

    Fairfield Aug 11 1770

    Dear Sir, Your much esteemed Favor of the 8th of July duly came to hand for which I am greatly obliged to you, am heartily sorry that anarchy & Confusion prevails among the people of your Govt. to the degree that you are discouraged so as yet you decline taking & leading Them to quiet, Peace & Prosperity, but seeing it does & is likely still to prevail I shod be glad it was confined to the Massachusetts Colony, but alas the Dementation seems to be almost or quite universal in all the Colonies. In many Things, Connecticut may claim the Van. The whole Government here is in the hands of the People, so that they are subject to no control & consequently every one that holds any considerable Position in the Govt. [finds] the continuance of his Employ very precarious, & if his Ingenuity be not great enough to foretell what will please the People, let his Ability & Integrity be what it will, he stands a miserable Chance, so that the Study of Mankind seems to be of greatest importance in our Policy.

    I am sorry your worthy Sons have not yet power to dispose of their own, but such are the American Ideas of Liberty at present (which I hope is peculiar to them.) It is a Pity that any who belongs to the human Species ever embraced them, if Europeans shod treat them as they treat one another, I shod not wonder if they cryd out of Tyranny & Oppression; for I suppose the most despotick Prince that History furnishes us with Acct. of never forbid any Subject from selling what is their own unless he wants if for his own particular Use. I am fully of opinion that if I had rec’d a whole Chest but one month ago I cod have disposed or retailed for Cash at a reasonable price by this Time, yet there is still a very great Demand for it, & I don’t know of any prospect of a supply very quick.

    As you was kind enough to tell me in the Close of your Letter, you shod take a pleasure to render me any Service in your Power either here or by mentioning my name in England; for which I beg Liberty to return my sincere thanks. Thereupon wod acquaint you that I have been informed that Mr. Jos. Harrison Collector of the Port of Boston was designed not to return to Boston, but determined to resign his Office in England, if he hath resigned it or wod do it & the vacancy not filled, His Brother is Collector at present for the Port of New Haven and doubtless wod be glad to exchange N Haven for Boston, & I shod be glad to succeed him at N Haven, there being nothing in Colony better to ask for, that is in the gift of the Crown, if you cod by your recommendation procure one the Collectorship of either of them Ports, or some other Emolument of the Crown, you wod lay me under still greater Obligations of Gratitude, which I shall always rejoice to have opportunity acceptably to express.

    I suppose you are no stranger to my [blank space in MS] & my sufferings for endeavoring to support Government, the cause [of] which sufferings is no more or less that because I judged it my Duty to administer the oath to the Governor that the Act of Parliament, commonly called the Stamp Act, required him to take, for that & that only I was divested of all the offices that I held under the government.

    I conclude You are knowing that being antecedent to that Affair not only one of the Council but one of the judges of the Supr. Court & I suffered the loss of both for yielding obedience to an Act of the British Legislature. You doubtless remember the news Papers informed Us that when the Addresses of both Houses of Parliament was presented to the King for that purpose His Majesty was graciously pleased to say that he was determined to shew Tokens of his Royal Favor to all those in America that had suffered in appearing for the support of Government. I can’t help but think my Self one of that Character viz. I had only to make the sufferings known. I had hope that some notice wod be taken & some recompense be made, at lest suppose it is best to try, Your aid by recommending me to some of your Friends as are most likely to attain the King’s Ear, would greatly oblige him who is with great Esteem, Sir, your most Obednt. & Humble Servant.

    PS Should be glad of a Line in Answer & also whether you have heard anything from England lately relative to our Colony.

    AC (Massachusetts Historical Society, Miscellaneous Bound Papers).