February Meeting, 1937

    A STATED Meeting of the Society was held, at the invitation of Mr. James M. Hunnewell, at the Club of Odd Volumes, No. 77 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, on Thursday, February 25, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Samuel Eliot Morison, in the chair.

    The records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.

    The Corresponding Secretary announced the death of the Hon. James Parker Parmenter, a Resident Member, on January 14, 1937, and of the Hon. Elihu Root, an Honorary Member, on February 7, 1937.

    The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of letters from Mr. Bentley Wirt Warren, accepting Resident Membership; from the Hon. Joseph Burr Tyrrell, accepting Corresponding Membership; and from Mr. Howard Mumford Jones, accepting Associate Membership in the Society.

    Mr. Jerome Davis Greene, of Cambridge, and Dr. Henry Rouse Viets, of Boston, were elected Resident Members of the Society.

    Dr. James Lincoln Huntington read a paper on

    The Honorable Charles Phelps

    A SCANT mile back from the busy artery which carries the traffic from Brattleboro to Bennington, through upland meadow, abandoned stage road now overgrown, through thick forest—there, deep in the shade of massive trees, one comes upon a patch of ground so thickly surrounded that one literally stumbles over the low stone wall into this God’s Acre. Inside, enclosed by mossy stones and an old iron gate, trees nearly if not quite a century old tower high—birches, maples, and spruce. Standing in almost their original plumb are five splendid headstones of finely carved marble, each balanced by a footstone. On one of these slabs is lettered:


    An Eminent Jurist

    and Theologian

    Born Aug. 27, 1717

    Died Apr. 17, 1789

    This stone is erected

    AD 1824

    By one whose hands

    while a child

    Hath been joined to his—

    And unto whom

    Hath descended

    A Grandsires Blessing.

    It is of this eminent jurist—and I might almost add philosopher—I wish to tell. One reason for doing so is that Charles Phelps has appeared more than once in the pages of this Society’s Publications. Then, too, we have an elaborate and painstaking portrait of this great-great-great-grand-father of mine which is very picturesque, and also a sketch of his curious domicile. These descriptions seem worth perpetuating. They are by the hand of his grandson, John Phelps, who erected the tombstone. He was born in Marlborough, Vermont, November 18, 1777, and died in 1849. Thus for twelve years he lived with his grandfather, while later this grandson was the close friend and advisor of Charles Phelps’s widow, who survived her husband by some twenty years.

    From The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestry—a book rich in errors—and from family papers in my possession, one learns that Charles Phelps was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, August 16, 1717.1175 His great-great-grandfather William, born in Tewkesbury, England, in 1599, came to Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1630 with his six children. He shortly thereafter moved to Windsor, Connecticut, where he died in 1672. His son Nathaniel, born in England in 1627, went with his father to Windsor, but subsequently continued the migration up the Connecticut Valley to Northampton, where he died in 1702. It was his grandson, the third Nathaniel, born in Northampton, February 13, 1692, who was the father of Charles Phelps, the subject of this paper. This Nathaniel, it appears from a deed dated May 29, 1738, was a bricklayer. We know little of Charles Phelps’s education or why he moved across the river to Hadley, which he did shortly after his marriage to Dorothy Root, of Northampton, in 1740. The historian Judd states that Charles Phelps moved to Hadley “in 1743 or 1744”; but it must have been earlier, for in one of my deeds, dated February 20, 1740/41, he is described as “Charles Phelps of Northampton bricklayer”; and another deed, dated September 22, 1741, refers to him as “Charles Phelps of Hadley Mason.” Evidently he followed his father’s trade for several years, for he is referred to in deeds as bricklayer as late as 1750. But in 1753 we find him described in a deed as “gentleman,” and from then on he seems to have pursued the practice of law, for these latter deeds are filled in by his own hand. That he made rapid strides in the practice of law would seem evident from the fact that in the records of the Court of General Sessions for the County of Hampshire held at Springfield on May 15, 1759, we read, following a list of “Justices of said Court present,” that “Charles Phelps Esq.… now published his commission.” His name also appeared in these lists in 1760 and 1761.

    I have in my possession a long letter to Charles Phelps from his eldest son, Solomon, written at Cambridge, January 28, 1760, in which he quotes at some length from Virgil. He ends his letter with this N.B.: “Brother Charles can give you the English of my Lattin Motto.” This rather implies that the elder Charles was not over proficient in Latin. The earliest of the father’s letters that I now own, written on August 22, 1760, is addressed: “For the Venerable ye President & the Reputable Worthy fellows of Harvard College at Cambridge.” In it he writes:

    I hereby assign the Reason why my Son has tarried here so long My Riding horse was Lame and my other Cut with a Sithe that Neither of them could Perform the Journey and as soon as I Could Get another Horse upon Hire and Get him Shod He Set out and Some other Hindrances I met with that nessesarily Detained him—Therefore I pray he may not be fined but Excused for These Reasons the mean time begging Leave to Subscribe my self your Very Humble and Most obedt Servant at Commd &c

    C. Phelps

    Earlier in that same year, as the following document in my possession testifies, Charles Phelps had encountered trouble at home.

    January 19th 1760

    These may certify whom it may concern

    That at a meeting of the Pastor and Breatheren of the Chh. of Christ in Hadley To inquire into the Reason of Charles Phelps Esq’s his Conduct in so long absenting himself from the Comunion of this Chh. Sd. Phelps appeard and declared himself of different Sentiments from this Chh. in Respect of the Qualifications of such as are to be admitted to full Communion and that he esteemed the matter of Difference between him and the Chh. herein to be in a Point of such Importance that He could not in Consience hold Communion with a Chh. of different Sentiments from him in it and of a Practice in the admission of members so differing from what he thought it ought to be as that of this chh. and that for this Reason only he could not hold Communion with us in the Ordinance of the Lords Supper. Where upon the Chh. (Tho in the opinion of the chh. what he alledged would not justify his forsaking our Communion) Judged that it became them in such a Case to shew that leniety and toleration of Conscience as not to censure his conduct as gross scandel or proceed against him as a Scandelous offender and yet this chh. could not look upon his Conduct as any other than a Breaking off from us whereby (persisting in it not withstanding all that could be said to convince him that the difference in Sentiments was not a sufficient ground for it nor would warrent his withdrawing from our Communion). He had cut himself off from the Communion of this Chh. and came into the following vote:

    Voted That Charles Phelps Esq. by long absenting himself from the Communion of this Chh. hath cut himself off from the Communion of it and this Chh. Esteems and declares itself discharged from any further Jurisdiction over him.

    N.B. That when the above Vote was taken Sd. Phelps tho he had withdrawn and divided himself from the Communion of this Chh. was not otherwise scandelous. Nothing further had ever been laid to his charge in this Chh.

    Hadley, Jan. 27, 1760

    Saml Hopkins, Pastor of Chh. of Christ in Hadley

    Whether it was this friction with the church in Hadley or the adventurous spirit which existed in the family we have no means of telling, but shortly after his son Solomon graduated from Harvard in 1762 we find Charles making plans to leave Hadley and Massachusetts, taking up in 17641176 grants in three townships that were supposed to be within the jurisdiction of the province of New Hampshire. These townships were New Marlborough, Draper (now Wilmington), and Somerset at the foot of the Green Mountains. Here he established, with the help of his son Timothy then but seventeen years of age, a large farm. The house was extraordinary and is thus described by his grandson, John Phelps:

    … [It was] a sort of castle built of hewed logs, standing in a bleak, open field, recently partly cleared, stumps, logs and other vestiges of rude creation surrounding it; … never … finished. The original design of the building was large and magnificent. In the basement were mills, worked by hand or horse-power, for grinding corn. On the first floor was a spacious hall, with folding-doors at either end, through which the north winds were wont to sweep at pleasure. In this hall, also, was the staircase. Entering this hall from the south, on your left you entered the grand parlor, next was a spare sleeping-room, and lastly, on the extreme end, was his honor’s chosen library, composed of the best authors of the day, on divinity, law, physics, belles-lettres, &c., &c. Divinity and law occupying by far the heavier shelves. On the right side of the hall were his honor’s dining-hall, cook room, sleeping-room, and two bedrooms as convenient appendages. The two upper stories were designed as rooms for a college establishment, recitation rooms, lecture rooms, and dormitories for young gentlemen students.1177

    It was clearly Charles Phelps’s idea to found a college, and in his will, according to his grandson John, he left

    this whole college establishment solemnly dedicated and set apart for an institution of learning, in perpetuity, and endowed with many ten thousand acres of his Draper and Somerset estates. Young Moses Porter Phelps, son of Charles Phelps Esq., of Old Hadley, his grandson, then [1789] a student in Cambridge College, was duly appointed first President thereof.…1178

    But, as has been said, the house was never finished. In fact, according to John Phelps, “there were no chimneys, no glass windows, no recitation rooms, no dormitories, no [upper] floors. The upper stories were always used for hay-lofts.”1179 The house was “cold, smoky and cheerless; a poor defense against the rude blasts of an inclement climate.”

    Charles Phelps took up his abode in New Marlborough in 1764 being the third settler in that township. It was at that time supposed to be part of New Hampshire, but was soon after claimed by New York as a part of Cumberland County. In the early disputes which terminated in the Westminster Massacre of March 13, 1775, the Phelps family is found lined up against the New Yorkers, for on May 1, 1775, Solomon Phelps writes: “Our country is now in a very critical situation. The people in general are almost ready to revolt from New York. Such consummate ignorance and knavery are blended in our magistrates, that they are insufferable.”

    In Benjamin H. Hall’s History of Eastern Vermont there are further details concerning the members of the Phelps family and their early activities against New York. Charles Phelps was a delegate to the third Westminster Convention, February 7, 1775, called mainly for the purpose of seeking judicial reforms from the New York legislature. Together with Dr. Solomon Harvey he was entrusted with the preparation for publication of such extracts from the proceedings as they should deem advisable. It was Phelps who drew up the convention’s formal petition stating the people’s burdens and grievances, and pointing out that failure to relieve them might involve obstruction of the further settlement of the county.1180

    In the following month Phelps had further occasion to display his hostility to New York when he attended a meeting at Westminster of committees of Cumberland and Gloucester counties. He was one of three appointed to draw up a remonstrance and petition on behalf of those assembled there. But this attitude could not long endure in the face of the issue that was developing between the colonies as a whole and Great Britain; and Phelps, like most of the other dissenters, soon threw in his lot with the New Yorkers against the greater enemy.1181 Later in the war, when the majority of the Vermonters, seized with the idea of forming a separate state, ceased to coöperate with New York, Phelps adopted the view that New York had a valid claim to the territory in question. From then on he became a leader of the adherents to the New York authority in southeastern Vermont.

    And yet, while during this period the New York angle of the Vermont question loomed large in his mind, Phelps from time to time seems to have looked for at least a partial solution of the problem to his native Massachusetts where old claims to Vermont lands were intermittently revived. In June, 1774, he was in Boston in connection with a petition to the General Court regarding the “50 Townships” lying within the Massachusetts claim.1182 Three years later, in July, 1777, when the American evacuation of Ticonderoga left the people of Cumberland County open to threats of British invasion, Phelps, citing New York’s refusal to come to their aid, turned to Massachusetts for assistance. General Heath’s reference at the time to Phelps as being of “New Marlborough within the Claims of this State” is one indication that Phelps certainly made use of this drawing card in promoting his cause.1183 As a result of his energetic efforts, the Council provided the Vermonters with 300 firearms, 150 pounds of powder, 300 pounds of lead, and 455 flints. In October of this same year he was once more before the Massachusetts Council, this time with a petition for a supply of salt, and again in June, 1779, Phelps brought the matter of Vermont claims to the attention of the Massachusetts authorities.1184

    On September 11, 1777, “at Brother Amos Allens Greenfield about sunset,” Phelps’s first wife died. The next year he married again. The following memorandum relating to this event is in his own hand:

    I was married to my 2nd wife the widow Anstis Kneeland of Boston 2nd day of November 1778 by the revrnd Mr Parker Church of England Minister in Trinity Church at Boston on Monday at Eleven of the clock forenoon according to the form of the Episcopalian Church as used in their Common prayer Book… She was the widow of the Late Mr Timothy Kneeland printer son of Mr Samuel Kneeland Printer of Boston.

    The story of this courtship is told by his grandson, John Phelps. Apparently the distinguished judge had had designs on a certain rich widow named Eustis, much nearer his age.

    His call at her elegant mansion was to declare this his intention. This princess of a lady gently declined the honor intended her, but politely informed him that she had a niece visiting with her, also a widow, to whom an offer of the kind might be more agreeable; and she thereupon introduced her. The young lady, all covered with blushes, and trembling with apprehension, received the salutation of an old gentleman, large and corpulent, six feet three inches in the clear, in full bottom wig, frizzed and powdered in the most approved style, either for the judicial bench or ladies’ drawing-room. The announcement of the question immediately followed. The lady turned pale. Her delicacy was shocked. With overpowered sensations she begged to withdraw a moment. Her aunt also gently obtained leave of absence and followed. After a short consideration the ladies both returned. “Judge Phelps,” remarked the elder lady, “we are taken by surprise. The subject is deeply important. My niece, although favorably impressed, asks time to consider. She presumes upon your delicacy, and is assured that if it at all corresponds with your gallantry, you will indulge her a short space for reflection, say one week, after which, if you will honor us with a call, my niece, we, I mean, will be better prepared.” “Preparation! Dearest madam, do me the favor to commit all preparation to my care. I am so happy in this respect that I have already hinted to a dear friend of mine, a Presbyterian minister of the Kirk of Scotland, (to which Evangelical communion I have no doubt you conform) that I may have need.” “Not on account of the marriage of my niece, sir! By a Presbyterian! That will never do; never, sir.” Alas! how liable are the most eager hopes and expectations to receive a chill. In the way of his own cherished profession the gentleman was brought up with a special demurrer here, and that by a lady.

    With the astute eye of a lawyer, however, he perceived that the lady had committed a departure from the original issue, which was a matter of substance, to wit: marry now, or not marry at all, and had closed upon a new issue, and that too of a mere Presbyterian form, of no substance at all. He therefore adroitly proposed, in the most eloquent and polite terms, to the ladies, and in a manner most condescending, that on reflection he cheerfully yielded in matter of form to their superior propriety and taste, and would be married in any church they might choose on the morrow morning, so that in the afternoon they might set out on their journey to his seat in the Grants.1185

    In The Evening Post; and the General Advertiser for November 14, 1778, appeared the following notice:

    On Monday the second instant, after a very short courtship, was married Charles Phelps, Esq; to Mrs.—Kneeland. If true genius, profound learning, a marvelous fluency and uncommon politenese—have any tendency to attract the fair—no person can wonder a lady should bestow herself upon the gentleman above mendoned.

    Back to the cheerless unfinished barracks this rural magistrate took his elegant Boston mistress. Let us briefly contrast the two as described by the grandson who knew them both so well. First the judge:

    His dress on ordinary, every day occasions, was mean, badly attended to and slovenly. But when dressed for public occasions, nothing could be more magnificent, fashionable, and in better taste. The finest linen, frilled at wrists and bosom with the most costly cambrics; golden buckles to his stock, costly gems for buttons to his wristbands; deep blue broadcloth coat of the finest and firmest material; buff vest and small clothes, with bands at the knee secured with golden buckles; or else, for change, cravat of black, with satin vest and small clothes, silk stockings, with shoes or boots to fit. And then the wig: That ample, full-bottomed, full-powdered wig of the style of Louis XIV, or George II, to which add the brilliant on his finger, and the rings in his ears, the whole being surmounted with the tasteful chapeau-de-bras, with buttons of gold; .…1186

    And his new-found Boston wife, how is she described by this same step-grandson? He writes as follows:

    Methinks I see her now of a fine summer’s afternoon or evening, dressed to see her little Johnny, some four years of age, the only quality she expected, unless upon an evening of uncommon leisure, when my lively, spirited mother might accompany me. There she sits, clad in rich, changeable silks, gold watch, with heavy establishment in her girdle; a double chain of gold, connected in front with a large, precious stone locket set in gold, around her delicately turned neck; golden bracelets around her wrists… Methinks I can see her now, and hear, too, that soft and gentle “ahem,” as if to prepare her voice for the sweetest and tenderest welcome,.…1187

    In the summer of 1779 Charles Phelps was instructed by those citizens of Cumberland County loyal to New York to present a petition concerning their troubles to the New York legislature, then sitting in Kingston, and thence to bring it before the Continental Congress, provided the legislature assume the expenses involved. It was in August while at Kingston that he wrote the following letter to his son Charles at Hadley, Massachusetts:

    Dear Son Charles

    I have waited a whole fortnit for some of the members of both Houses of Legislature Ere any thing relative to my affaires Could officially be transacted at my first mention thereof to the Governor he seemed to be very spiritted in his Resolutions to do Every thing on his part to have the Legislature take up Vermont affair—and has been as assiduous since as he ought to both Houses & Especially the Senate—and both houses seems to approve of my Plan well my affairs are the first Engaged yr serious attention yesterday the assembly unanimously voted to send me to Congress with expenc to be bore by the State how the Senate will Conduct theron I know not; to day they will Determin I am told; what it is I dont yet Know whether they concur or non Concur—I intend to know before I seat up

    I am well & have been Ever since Except a Little Ill turn one Day not bad—A Grate Blast at Esopus here where the assembly sets 60 od miles Down Hudsons River from Albany near it West Side one of the Best Dutch Country towns I Ever saw the people the most anglifyd have been a rich people burnt all the town 2 years since by regulars ye houses Stone & Lime bright Walls yet standing in part some houses in part restored all furniture Consumed allmost in the fire.

    These in hast from your Loving Father

    Chas Phelps

    August 26: 1779. If I live till to morrow shall be 62 years old O! Longevity to what multitudes fall Short of from which a Due Sensation affords matter of the most Serious & Important Speculation—

    N:B: Prepare your Eternal Welfare Let what will become of your Secular remember your once Dear mother will no more advise you here of—

    My best respects to Mrs Porter your Dear Mother and Warmest affection to your Dear Wife, Dolly,1188 her husband, & your & their Children my Grand ones, and my Due regards to all Inquiring acquaintances &c

    P. S. Many people in these parts are Exceedingly affronted with Boston State for breaking the regulating Act & now they have run down the Currency almost to nothing & are fearfull it will sink vast Sums in their wicked hands of manopoly & Extortion Least it should more they say they are urgent to have the money made Good now it is Good for nothing but when it was near as Good as Silver then they would kill it so as to Get vast sums of it These people are rady to Execrate all such people but multitudes here think it is best to Let it sink to nothing that them Sharpers & Cut throats may Loose it all & strike off a new Emission on Interest redeemable in a short time they wont hear nothing to the scheem of raising the value of it again. Committees meet often but bring nothing to pass as I hear of—

    The New York legislature agreed to Phelps’s proposition on August 27 and he proceeded to Philadelphia with his documents for Congress. That body on September 24 passed Resolutions favorable to the petitioners. Phelps, who in the interval since his arrival had lent his efforts to the attempt to secure favorable action by Congress on the Vermont measures proposed by the New York delegation, lingered fora while in Philadelphia after his own task was completed. John Jay, writing to Governor Clinton on October 7, had this to say about Phelps:

    Dear Sir, You will receive this by Mr. Phelps, of whose Fidelity to New York I have a good opinion; tho I cannot approve of all his manoeuvres to serve the State on this occasion. He appears neither to want Talents or Zeal, but the latter is not always according to knowledge, and the former carry him sometimes into Forrests [?] One of the New Hampshire Delegates told me that Phelps, in order to engage him against Vermont, endeavoured to persuade him that New Hampshire had a Right to a number of Townships in it; and he further told me, that on comparing notes with the Massachusetts Delegates, he found that Phelps had been playing the same Game with them. This story he told me in the Presence of some of the Massachusetts Delegates who smiled and were silent. I have never said any thing of this to Phelps because it could have answered no good Purpose; and I mention it to you, as a Circumstance which marks the man. He has, however, by talking on the Subject with every body done good. In my opinion his Expences should be paid without Hesitation, and he should be so treated as to go Home in perfect good Humour with the Legislature, for whom he now professes great Regard & Esteem, & I believe he is sincere in his attachment. Men of his Turn and Talk are always useful when properly directed. It is easily done by encouraging the good opinion he entertains of his own Importance.1189

    These indeed were anything but tranquil times in Vermont, and much worse was to follow. On May 17, 1782, a convention of representatives from Brattleboro, Guilford, Halifax, and Marlborough drew up for presentation to Governor Clinton a combined “remonstrance and Petition.” Charles Phelps was the bearer and carried proper credentials to Poughkeepsie. In this document he was recommended as a proper person for first justice of the Inferior Court of Cumberland County if New York should set up such a tribunal. On June 5, he, with fourteen others, was appointed Justice of the Peace for Cumberland County. He was also appointed, with two others, “a commissioner to administer the oath of office to all civil and military appointees.” His son Timothy was appointed sheriff and also adjutant of the military organization.

    On September 11, 1782, following a series of drastic measures taken by the Vermont government against the New York faction, Charles Phelps was chosen by a number of that faction in Cumberland County as their agent to bring their problems before Governor Clinton and then before Congress. On that very day a warrant had been issued by the Vermont authorities for Phelps’s arrest, and he did not dare to go home to his family, but set out at once upon his mission. He was pursued for some miles by a posse of eight or ten men, but escaped from them and went to the home of his son in Hadley, Massachusetts. My great-great-grand-mother, Elizabeth Phelps, the daughter-in-law of the judge, writing in her diary in the house in Hadley, made the following entry: “Sept. 14 Satt… In the afternoon Father Phelps came here, there has been great commotion there about a new State, got to Bloodshed but no-one Killed yet as we know of.” She notes further that he set off for New York the following Wednesday. Charles Phelps arrived at Poughkeepsie on September 20, and stayed there until October 1, when, in spite of Clinton’s attempts to dissuade him, he started for Philadelphia. It was undoubtedly in Poughkeepsie and at this time that Phelps’s twelve-page pamphlet, Vermonters Unmasked, was printed by John Holt, a New York printer who had left that city for Poughkeepsie just before the British occupation.1190

    Phelps appeared before a committee of the Continental Congress on October 8, 1782. In a letter to Governor Clinton, October 9, 1782, James Duane, a New York delegate, wrote from Philadelphia:

    … Mr. Phelps has arrived and I believe his Eloquence will be well employed. He has opportunities; his singularity draws attention, and he overflows in the plenitude of his Communicative Powers. He is, however, terribly distressed; without Cloaths fit for the season: without money or Credit to pay for his board: and leaning on the scanty support which the exhausted purses of your Delegates can afford. What is to be done for him?1191

    On October 10, Charles Phelps presented his memorial to Congress.1192 He continued his communications to that body throughout the fall although his money was exhausted and he was in great want and depended to a considerable degree upon charity for the food that he ate. Indeed his friends in Congress were fearful that he would be arrested and imprisoned for the debts which he had incurred in Philadelphia, but at last he obtained a loan and cleared up his obligations. Congress adopted Resolutions in behalf of the New York faction in Vermont on December 5, 1782, and on December 9 Phelps set out on his return, going by way of Poughkeepsie and arriving at his home in Marlborough in January, 1783. In his absence the contents of his house, including his library, which was supposed to be the finest in Vermont, had been seized and sold under the hammer. All his documents were burned at this time.

    That Charles Phelps was undoubtedly very unpopular in Vermont is seen by the following extract from a letter of the governor, Thomas Chittenden, to the president of the Continental Congress written on January 9, 1783:

    But admitting that Congress have a judicial authority to control the internal police of this state, this state has an incontrovertible right to be heard in its defence, as a party (in law), and should, on this thesis, have been cited by Congress to a hearing at their tribunal, previous to their having passed their resolutions on the 5th of December last, this state might have had the privilege of vindicating its cause. But that Congress, at the special instance of Charles Phelps (a notorious cheat and nuisance to mankind, as far as his acquaintance and dealings have been extended), should come to a decision of so important a matter, ex parte, is illegal, and contrary to the law of nature and nations.1193

    Charles Phelps’s property had been confiscated, as has been noted. His son Timothy, who had been banished from Vermont in October, 1782, and had returned the following January, was imprisoned in Bennington during the first half of the year 1783. Charles Phelps actually was not arrested until January 4, 1784. He was imprisoned in the jail in Westminster and was tried on February 3. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of resisting arrest and was sentenced with others to pay the cost of prosecution. To the charge of being hostile to the State of Vermont he pleaded guilty; he was adjudged “attainted of Treason” and sentenced to sixty days’ imprisonment and forfeiture of all his estates to the use of the State.

    An attempt was made at about this time to recapture Timothy, who was in hiding at his brother’s home in Hadley, Massachusetts. In Elizabeth Phelps’s diary we read as follows:

    Jan. 19, 1784 Monday five men came to take Brother Timothy they abused my husband and took Tim. Went off. We had a most Dreadful fright, but Blessed be God no lives lost. My husband went to Col. Porter’s, a number of men pursued em brought em back. Tuesday had court in Northampton. Brother [Timothy] went on to New York.

    On October 27, 1784, a bill was passed granting the Phelps family full pardon. The sentence of the Supreme Court against Charles Phelps was rescinded, and all that remained of his property was restored to him, thus saving him from beggary and ruin. As a result of all his losses the State of New York in 1786 granted him 508 acres in Montgomery County, New York, in the township of Jericho.

    What of Charles Phelps after this turbulent period was over? He was never reconciled and spent most of his declining years writing and pleading for the New York cause. He saw the Federal Constitution adopted, for he lived until 1789. Before he died he was convinced that Vermont would soon be recognized as an independent State, and so it was on March 4, 1791

    How can we further appraise the intellectual attainments of this man? His grandson John reports this conversation with Micah Townsend, a distinguished jurist, formerly of New York, who, because of his Loyalist sympathies, had left that city for Brattleborough at the outbreak of the Revolution. There he spent the remainder of his life. John Phelps quotes him as follows:

    Sir, I knew your grandfather well … [He] was a much greater man than your father, or ever you will be … It has been my fortune to act with and against your grandfather on many great occasions. I have known all the men who have ever acted an important public part in this State. Among them all your grandfather was the most learned, the ablest, and the readiest upon all occasions of any one I have ever acted with or against, save one. Nathaniel Chipman … was his only superior. But he … in my opinion has a mind all but unsurpassed among men.

    It is interesting to note that when the Phelps library was confiscated the choice of these books was allotted by the Vermonters to Nathaniel Chipman and Micah Townsend. Perhaps this tribute is inspired by a sense of gratitude. At any rate, we may accept this view of his contemporary and former enemy for what it is worth. Certainly Charles Phelps had a vivid and active life. What if only the timorous deer and the drumming partridge visit his tomb? He has left a deep impression on the tablets of one of the most rugged States of the Union.


    Charles Phelps’s Memorial to Congress1194

    To the Honorable United States in Congress assembled

    THE Memorial of Charles Phelps of the County of Cumberland in that Part of the State of New York commonly the New Hampshire Grants, humbly sheweth that your Memori[a]list with a great Majority of the Inhabitants of the said County are attached to the Gover[n]ment of the State of New York and profess to owe Allegiance to the same: That by the Resolutions of Congress of the 21st of September 1779 and the 2d of June 1780 Those Inhabitants considered themselves protected and secured in their Persons and Properties from any Authority which might be attempted to be exercised over them (either civil or military) by the pretended state of Vermont, especially as those Resolutions of Congress, so wisely adopted to preserve the Peace of that District of Country, have been religiously observed by the Inhabitants professing allegiance to the State of New York and New Hampshire, who are by far the greatest number of Inhabitants residing on the East Side of the Green Mountains, west of Connecticut River, and in no Instance have been violated by them, in exercising any Authority under the State of New York, over those Inhabitants who profess to owe Allegiance to the pretended State of Vermont.—That the said pretended State of Vermont in direct Violation of the said Resolves of Congress in the month of June last did make & publish a pretended Act, inflicting the most cruel & unheard of Penalties on such of the Inhabitants residing on the New Hampshire Grants, who should not submit to the authority of their usurped Gover[n]ment, a Copy of which Act is herewith presented to Congress for their inspection; And Ethan Allen (who holds a Commission of Colonel under the United States) in pursuance of the said Act and in obedience to the Authority of Vermont, so called, did in September last past with some Hundreds of armed men make a sudden Decent [sic] upon the said County of Cumberland and has taken and confined in Prisons a Number of reputable Inhabitants of the said County, perticularly the High Sheriff & other officers both civil & military, holding commissions under the Authority of the State of New York, some of whom have been fined in large Sums, Others are condemned to Banishment not to return on Pain of Death, and their Estates Confiscated; and to add to their Affliction, tis said & believed they will be sent into Canady to be delive[re]d up to that Power with whom the Executive of the said pretended State of Vermont, the last year, made a Treaty of Alliance.

    That your Memorialist is duly authorised by a Convention of the County of Cumberland to lay before the United States in Congress Assembled the unhappy and deplorable Scituation of such of the Inhabitants of the said County as profess allegiance to the state of New York, as by the Certificate of the Cha[i]rman of the said Convention herewith presented, more fully may appear;

    Wherefore your Memorialist humbly prays, that Congress would immediately interpose by their Authority for the Relief & Protection of those unhappy sufferers who are now Prisoners or banished, and to prevent any violences of the like kind in future; This Protection and relief they humbly conceive they have a Right to expect and receive as good Citicens of the United States professing Allegiance to the state of New York, & having inviolably observed those Resolutions of Congress which intitles them to the Notice & Protection of the United States.

    Your Memorialist further begs leave to observe that unless a restoration of Property is ordered, and the Authority of the United States interposed for the Preservation of that Peace, which by their Resolves they have declared to be so necessary to the foederal Union & which they were determined to support & maintain, many Hundreds of Families owning Allegiance to the state of New York will soon be reduced to a state of the greatest Poverty and misery, which will evidently appear by a Number of affidavits and other Papers herewith presented to your honorable Body relative to the violent Proceedings of the Vermonters in pursuance of their said pretended Act, besides the Information your Memorialist is able to give of the Present state of that District of Country if he should have the Honour to be heard before a Committee of Congress on that subject, and your Memorialist as in duty bound shall ever pray

    Charles Phelps

    Mr. George P. Anderson commented on Dr. Huntington’s paper as follows:

    I AM interested in this study of Charles Phelps, first because I am a native Vermonter, and second because my great-great-grandmother, Ruth Phelps, of Northampton, Massachusetts, is identified with this same Phelps family. I suppose I am a distant kinsman of Dr. Huntington.

    The Vermont career of Charles Phelps is complex and somewhat bewildering. Let us assume that he was honest in his contentions. He was, none the less, on three sides of a changing political scene, and, first and last, never got anywhere. Moreover, he did all he could for more than twenty years to embarrass the constructive plans of those who were trying to erect an independent State.

    Phelps started out with various tracts of land in the New Hampshire Grants, so called, which he had secured by purchase from Benning Wentworth. If he had steadfastly identified himself with the party that supported those New Hampshire titles, he would have come out all right, and he would have retained all that he ever had in Vermont land titles. But he switched to the New York party, and although the New Yorkers refused to confirm his earlier titles, he continued to adhere to the New York group despite rebuffs, and remained a partisan in their camp for a long period of years—too long for his own good. At last, an old man and in desperate financial straits, concluding that he would meet with no ultimate success in the group he so long had supported, he switched again and made a determined effort to induce the lawmakers of Massachusetts to set up an ancient claim to the southern part of what is now Vermont, which, if successful, would have brought fifty towns in that section under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. This last move doubtless was based on the hope that Congress might consent to a division of the whole disputed territory, and give New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts each a slice.1195 The appeal by Phelps to the Massachusetts lawmakers aroused no enthusiasm, and for the third time this determined but erratic advocate was tied to a futile plan. If he had only favored the Haldimand negotiations initiated by the British, which were based on a hope that what is now Vermont would return as an English colony, his cycle of mistakes would have been complete.

    In his own day Phelps was regarded as a trouble-maker, and his record as unfolded here today shows, I think, that he was a trimmer. You have heard what Governor Thomas Chittenden said about him, and Chittenden was very patient and long-suffering. To be sure, Chittenden and Phelps belonged to opposite political parties, and allowance must be made for the tension of the times, but I have always regarded Phelps as a disturbing element who jumped from one dilemma to another and never landed on solid ground. He was on all sides but the winning one. His last five years, 1784–1789, were spent in comparative quiet, thanks to the indulgence of the settlers who had erected an independent republic and ruled it firmly and wisely from 1777 until Vermont was admitted as a State. Phelps never was reconciled to the Vermont party, his attitude being totally different, for instance, from that of Robert E. Lee after the Confederate cause was crushed.

    Charles Phelps was a lawyer of the type that believes in persistent litigation. He may, however, have felt that he was in the same position as a present-day attorney who not long ago was arguing a case in court when the presiding justice interrupted him by saying: “Were you not here a short time ago in another case, urging an argument exactly opposite to the one you now are offering?” “Yes, I was, your Honor,” replied the lawyer, “and I figure that I cannot be wrong in both instances.” Perhaps Phelps thought that he eventually would emerge a winner from some of his forums. But he never did win. His descendants have had better luck, for the name of Phelps is honored in Vermont, in Massachusetts, and elsewhere. The best that I can say for Phelps is that his motive throughout was to save his home. I have said that he was a trimmer, and in my opinion he was, but it might be fair to say that he was a conscientious trimmer—whatever that may be.

    Most of the settlers of Vermont were kept in a similar quandary for nearly a generation. But, unlike Phelps, they were not wranglers, and few of them displayed his shifting qualities. It is difficult for us at this distance to understand or appreciate considerations that prompted the acts of the settlers of that period. In the last analysis the unrest in Vermont shows two sets of land-jobbers striving to dominate the district where titles were in dispute. There is little to choose between them.1196 A huge stake was on the board, and the winner of the game was entitled to a rich reward. On one side were the New Hampshire titles, first in the field and valid when made. At a later period, when the king had decided in favor of New York, that province appeared to be on top, and it doubtless would have been a winner if the American Revolution had not knocked into a cocked hat any royal decrees applying to land in this country.

    At the juncture under discussion, men whom I shall call “the Connecticut machine,” relying upon old New Hampshire titles that were supposed to have lapsed for breach of condition, entered the field and proceeded to take steps to make their titles good. Most of these lapsed titles had been bought for a song. In this Connecticut machine were the Allens, Ethan and Ira, Thomas Chittenden, and a host of other resolute men. They confronted the New York land-jobbers, of whom James Duane was a leader and Governor George Clinton one of the most belligerent figures. These two parties clashed, and neither ever lost sight of the main chance. The Connecticut group, to which were added a few Massachusetts figures, and most of the Wentworth grantees, who had stubbornly held to their soil in the face of attempted New York evictions, were on the soil and refused to yield. Had the New Yorkers been tactful, they might have had with little dispute the greater part of what is now Vermont. But they insisted that by virtue of the Crown decree they were entitled to receive fees a second time from the settlers who had already bought titles from the Wentworth régime. Some settlers having ample resources bought the land a second time, but the great bulk of yeomen rose in anger, the row spread and reached such proportions that it was not ended until a new State was created and recognized.

    One political consequence which might have occurred if New York had established control over the section now known as Vermont may be noted in the presidential election of 1884 when James G. Blaine would have been chosen president instead of Grover Cleveland. In the official canvass Cleveland carried the Empire State by the narrow margin of 1,149 votes, the figures being: Cleveland, 563,154, while Blaine had 562,005. In Vermont Cleveland had only 17,331, while Blaine received 39,514 votes.1197 If we can believe that the political complexion of the people living in Vermont in 1884 would not have been materially different if that tract for a century had been a part of the State of New York, then it is easy to see that Blaine would have carried New York by a plurality of more than 20,000 votes and would have been elected.

    I shall not pursue in detail this vein of speculation, but it can easily be seen that in any state-wide election in New York that was carried by the Democratic party by a plurality, say, of less than 20,000 votes the result might have been reversed if the section known as Vermont were embraced within New York limits. The fate of governors and senators, and the complexion of the Assembly and of the State Senate might on several occasions have been changed. Vermont, as we know, is to date the only State that never has been carried by a Democratic candidate for president or governor. This, to be sure, is all speculative, but the subject matter may interest students of colonial politics and statecraft.

    One other political event of consequence may have resulted from the failure of the State of New York to maintain jurisdiction over the district now known as Vermont. That consequence is enmeshed in the political manoeuvres that led to the final selection of the capital of the new nation.1198 The city of New York had been selected in January, 1785, as the temporary seat of Congress. It was well understood that the selection was temporary, but that body continued to hold its sessions there for more than three years. When, early in July, 1788, Congress was officially notified of the ratification of the Constitution by eleven of the thirteen states, sharp rivalry broke out once more among the various States over the selection of a place for the inauguration. New York, of course, desired the honor and confidently expected to receive it; but it was not until more than twenty ballots had been taken that New York was finally selected as the place where George Washington should be sworn in as our first president.

    This decision, although for the moment settling the issue in favor of New York, was far from clinching victory with finality. The dispute over a final site for the capital went on, and the contest had many acrimonious features. The dispute was in a great degree sectional in character, and the southern states were strenuous in their demand that the seat of government should be in their part of the country. Kentucky, then the western section of Virginia, had, with the consent of Virginia, applied to Congress for admission to the Union. The New Yorkers did not wish another southern State to be created. The politicians stalled for time, and the question of Kentucky’s admission was by agreement postponed in July, 1788, until the new government had been inaugurated.1199

    It was a foregone conclusion that Kentucky would be admitted as a State, and the politicians of New York, if unscrupulous and unbelievably selfish, were alert enough to see the handwriting on the wall. Kentucky was potentially another vote to carry the capital to the South. How could they offset this? It was easy to see that the admission of a northern State would leave the contest on an even basis. At this juncture they initiated efforts to hurry along the admission of Vermont before Kentucky should be admitted. It was a crafty move, worthy of the statesmen of New York. But it failed chiefly because the Vermonters were slow to confer any benefits upon the men who for more than thirty years had been their enemies. The New Yorkers argued that it would be more to the advantage of Vermont to have the capital near at hand rather than at a long distance to the South. Travel distances were factors of great importance in those days, but human nature is always strongly displayed in a long-drawn controversy. The sop thrown out by the New Yorkers was regarded as a case of deathbed repentance, and the Vermonters proceeded leisurely to examine the olive branch extended by their long-time adversary. Vermont had no public debt, and some of her statesmen were not anxious to have her join the Union. Neither were they in any great hurry to accommodate New York, and negotiations dragged along. Vermont finally went into the Union ahead of Kentucky, but New York, beyond a money payment, reaped no benefit from that fact.1200 Admitted in 1791, Vermont was able to be included in the federal census of 1790, as that undertaking was not completed within the twelve months of 1790. Kentucky, admitted in 1792, did not get into the census.

    Meanwhile New York had lost the prize of having the capital. Negotiations looking to the early admission of Vermont, despite the helping hands of Alexander Hamilton and John Jay of New York, took so long that the extra vote from the North was non-existent. If Vermont promptly had let bygones be bygones, there is a possibility that New York might have won.

    The rivalry in the South ended with Maryland and Virginia ceding to the government certain tracts of land, and the District of Columbia was created, and the issue settled forever. It is interesting, however, to speculate as to what might have happened in 1788 or 1789 if in 1782 the politicians of New York, when Congress was willing, except for the opposition of New York, to admit Vermont to the Union, had given up their land-jobbing fight and substituted statecraft for the policy of greed. This is purely historical speculation—one of the “might-have-beens” of that early formative period. The persistent demands of the Shylocks of New York for their pound of flesh may or may not have deprived New York of the capital. There is a good chance that it did. In colonial history there are many instances of greed, sometimes for office but usually for domain. Few more sinister shadows can be found anywhere than that cast by the persistent New Yorkers who finally pocketed their thirty pieces of silver.

    Mr. Albert Matthews presented the following communication:


    Relating to the Last Meetings of the Massachusetts Royal Council, 1774–1776

    THE sixteenth volume of the Council Records in the Massachusetts Archives ends with the meeting of May 14, 1774, while the seventeenth begins with the meeting of July 26, 1775, under the patriot government. When preparing over twenty years ago my “Notes on the Massachusetts Royal Commissions, 1681–1775,”1201 I asked at the State House whether there were not some records of the Council after May 14, 1774, but none were forthcoming. When, however, proofs came in of Mr. Oliver Elton’s interesting paper, “Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Oliver, 1734–1815,”1202 I made another attack on the Archives and was rewarded by the production of a volume of which the contents are here printed. The title fairly describes those contents,1203 which are not original documents but copies of papers relating to the Council in the last two years of the royal government obtained from the State Paper (now the Public Record) Office in London in 1852. Here will be found letters from Gage, Oliver, and the Council to Dartmouth, with his replies; an instruction to Gage; the proceedings at nine Council meetings; lists of Councillors; addresses of the Council to Gage, Oliver, and the king; letters from several Mandamus Councillors or their relatives detailing the violent measures taken by the patriots to compel the former to resign from the Council; the oaths taken by Oliver on October 25, 1775, when he became acting governor; and descriptions of conditions in the Province and in Boston during the siege. Though some of the material has already appeared in print, much of it is new, and all comes directly from the actors in the drama themselves.

    Of the value of the new evidence no better illustration can be given than the light it throws on Oliver’s resignation from the Mandamus Council, correcting some points in regard to which Mr. Elton was under misapprehension. Oliver’s resignation was extorted from him under threats on September 2, 1774. On that day he firmly promised and engaged “as a Man of Honour and a Christian, that I will never hereafter upon any Terms whatsoever accept a Seat at said Board on the present novel and oppressive Plan of Government.”1204 Yet he is stated to have said on October 12, 1784, that “As soon as he got into Boston under the protection of the Kings Troops he reassumed his Office.”1205 Mr. Elton made a gallant attempt to defend Oliver from the charge of having gone back on his word, remarking that “an Englishman and a descendant may breathe a fleeting wish that Oliver could have told his persecutors to go to the nether regions”; and continued: “There is, indeed, no doubt that he remained Lieutenant Governor.” Of course that statement is accurate,1206 but then Mr. Elton went on to say:

    On the face of it, the only office he could re-assume was his post on the Council. But this surely cannot be supposed. Not only would it have been out of his character to go back on his word; but any such action would have led to a tempest of abuse, not undeservedly, from the patriots; and of this we could not fail to have a record. I suggest that the re-assumption was simply that of his Lieutenant Governorship, which, though technically never abandoned, had been, de facto, interrupted by the crisis. In Boston, at any rate, he could function.

    Now Oliver’s lieutenant-governorship was not in question; his resignation from that position had been neither requested nor made; and the office he reassumed was of course his place in the Council. It is a little difficult to understand why Mr. Elton should have been so worried over his ancestor’s action, for a promise exacted under threats of ill-usage is not generally regarded as binding; yet it is interesting to find that Oliver himself suffered real agony of mind before deciding to disregard his promise. This is abundantly clear from his letters to Dartmouth of September 3, 10, and December 9, 1774.

    Letters & Doings of the Council &c., between April 9, 1774 & April 21, 1776

    State Paper Office

    London, 2 September 1852


    In conformity with your letter of the 30th June last, I endeavoured to trace out such notices of the minutes of the Council of Massachusetts Bay as might be found in the Correspondence here, subsequent to the 14th of May 1774, at which date the regular series of Minutes ceases. But observing such notices of minutes to be very fragmentory and meagre, it occurred to me that I should be able to procure a more lucid view of the transactions of the Council, by extracts from the Correspondence of the period, referring exclusively to their proceedings. The result of my labors confirms me in my opinion, that after the 14th of May 1774 above alluded to, no regular transmission of minutes of Council, to England, ever took place; and I feel pretty well assured, that by a careful perusal of the series of extracts now sent, you will arrive at the same conclusion.

    I think there can be no doubt that the singular minute of Council of the 28th of October 1775, and the following one of the 30th of that month, were the last instances in which that body exercised its powers; and the state of Boston, according to Governor Oliver’s letter of 26 Jany 1776, clearly shews that for some considerable time prior to that date, all civil Government had been in a dormant state, and from that period there is no evidence of the exercise of any of the functions of Council, till at last the remnant of its members merged in the population of Halifax.

    If the mode I have pursued in thus tracing out the course of the Council to its extinction, meets with your approbation, I shall be very much gratified.

    I have the honor to be


    Your most obedient

    The Honorable

    & very humble Servant

    Amasa Walker, Esq

    Robt Lemon [2]

    Proceedings in Council of the Province of Massachusetts Bay; extracted from Documents in Her Majesty’s State Paper Office, London. [3]

    Secretary the Earl of Dartmouth to General Gage, 9 April 1774. Extracts

    S. P. O.

    Massts Bay

    Vol. 157

    Whitehall 9th April 1774.


    I send you herewith, by His Majesty’s command, a Commission under the Great Seal, appointing you Captain General and Governor in Chief of His Majesty’s Province of Massachusetts Bay; together with such Instructions as have been usually given to Governors of that Province for their guidance in the exercise of the ordinary and more permanent Powers and Authorities incident to that command…

    You will observe Sir, that I have throughout the whole of this letter, avoided making any [4] mention of the Council for the Province of Massachusets Bay, and I have been thus silent with regard to them, from an apprehension that from what has already appeared respecting their conduct, any hope of proper Advice or assistance from them would be vain: at the same time I do not mean that any Constitutional power or authority vested in them, should be set aside by any part of these Instructions, or that you should not be at liberty to give them full confidence and communication, in case you shall perceive such an alteration in their conduct as will justify such a behaviour towards them.

    There are however some amongst those who constitute the present Council there, upon whose attachment to the Constitution no reliance can be had in any case where the Sovereignty of The King in his Parliament is in question; and His Majesty thinks it essential to the due support of that Sovereignty, that the principal of those who insisted upon the Report of the Committee of the Council on the 27th of September1207 last, in which Report that Sovereignty is questioned, at a time when the execution of the Laws was openly opposed by force and violence, should not have Seats at the Council Board. It is therefore His Majesty’s pleasure that if those Persons, or any of them, shall be chosen at the next General Election, you do put your negative upon such Election…

    I am &c

    Dartmouth [5]

    Additional Instructions to General Gage 20 May 1774

    S. P. O.

    Massts Bay

    Vol. 87 B.T. p. 19

    1774 May 20

    Additional Instruction to our Trusty and Welbeloved Thomas Gage Esqr our Captain General and Governor in Chief, in and over our Province and Territory of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in America. Given &c1208

    Whereas by an Act passed in the present Session of Parliament intituled “An Act for the better regulating the Government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England,” it is amongst other things enacted and provided that from and after the 1st day of August 1774, so much of the Charter granted by Their Majestys King William and Queen Mary to the Inhabitants of the said Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, and all and every clause matter and thing therein contained, which relates to the time and manner of electing the Assistants or Counsellors for the said Province, be revoked, and it is thereby revoked and made void and of none effect, and that the Offices of all Councellors and Assistants elected and appointed in pursuance thereof shall from thenceforth cease and determine [6] and that from and after the said first day of August 1774 the Council or Court of Assistants of the said Province for the time being, shall be composed of such of the Inhabitants or Proprietors of Land within the same, as shall be thereunto nominated and appointed by Us our Heirs and Successors from time to time, by Warrant under Our or their Signet or Sign Manual, and with the Advice of the Privy Council, agreable to the practice now used in respect to the appointment of Counsellors in such of our other Colonies in America, the Governors whereof are appointed by Commission under the Great Seal of Great Britain: Provided that the Number of the said Assistants or Counsellors shall not at any one time exceed thirty six nor be less than Twelve. It is therefore our Will and Pleasure that so soon as the time limited by the said Act for the continuance of the Council or Court of Assistants for our said Province, elected and chosen by the General Court or Assembly pursuant to the said Charter shall have expired, you do forthwith call together the following Persons, whom We do with the advice of Our Privy Council and in pursuance of the said Act, hereby nominate and appoint to be Our Council or Court of Assistants for our said Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England for and during our pleasure:—Thomas Oliver Esqr Our Lieutenant Governor of our said Province or Our Lieu tenant Governor of our said Province for the time being, Thomas Flucker, Peter Oliver, Forster Hutchinson, Thomas Hutchinson, Harrison Grey, Samuel Danforth, John Irwin, James Russel, Timothy Ruggles, Joseph Lee of Cambridge, Isaac Winslowe, Israel Williams of Hatfield, George Watson of Plymouth, Nathaniel Rae Thomas, Timothy Woodbridge, William Vassal, Joseph Greene, William Browne of Salem, James Bouteneau, Andrew Oliver [7] of Salem, Josiah Edson of Bridgewater, Richard Letchmere, Joshua Loring, John Worthington, Timothy Paine, William Pepperell, Jeremiah Powell, Jonathan Simpson, [John] Murray of Rutland, Daniel Leonard, Thomas Palmer, Isaac Royal, Robert Hooper of Marblehead, Abijah Willard, and William Cucking Esquires.

    And it is Our further Will and Pleasure that you do upon the first Meeting of our said Council or Court of Assistants, and before any other business is proceeded upon, administer to each of the Members thereof the Oaths, and also cause each of them to make repeat and subscribe the declaration required, as well by the said Charter as by any Law or Laws of our said Province now in force, to be taken made repeated & subscribed by the Assistants or Counsellors who have been so elected and constituted by the General Court or Assembly under the Authority of the said Charter; and it is our further Will and Pleasure that you do permit the Members of our said Council, to have and enjoy freedom of Debate and Vote in all affairs of Public concern that may be debated in Council, and also all the powers, privileges and immunities at present held exercised and enjoyed by the Assistants and Counsellors of the said Province, constituted and elected from time to time under the said Charter as aforesaid, except only in such cases as are otherwise provided for by the said Act of Parliament intituled “An Act for the better regulating the Government of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.” And it is our further Will and Pleasure that you do from time to time as vacancys may happen in Our said Council, transmit unto Us, by one of our Principal Secretaries of State, the name or names of any person or persons, Inhabitants or Proprietors of Lands within our said [8] Province, whom you shall esteem the best qualified for that Trust. But you are not of your own authority to appoint any person or persons to be a Member or Members of our said Council nor to augment nor diminish the number thereof, as it may from time to time be constituted & appointed by Us our Heirs and Successors.

    And whereas we are sensible that effectual care ought to be taken to oblige the Members of Our Council to a due attendance therein, in order to prevent the many inconveniencies that may happen for want of a Quorum of the Council to transact business as occasion may require; It is our Will and Pleasure that if any of the Members of our said Council residing in the said Province shall hereafter absent themselves from the said Province, and continue absent for above the space of Twelve Months together, without leave from you, or from the Governor or Commander in Chief of the said Province for the time being, first obtained under your or his hand and seal, or shall remain absent for the space of two Years successively without Our leave given them under Our Royal Sign Manual, their place or places in the said Council shall immediately therupon become void; and that if any of the Members of the said Council residing in the said Province shall hereafter wilfully absent themselves from the Council Board when duly summoned, without a just and lawful cause, and shall persist therein after admonition, you give timely notice thereof to Us, by one of Our Principal Secretaries of State. And We do hereby Will & require you that this our Royal Pleasure be signified to the several Members of Our Council aforesaid, and that it be entered in the Council Book of the said Province as a Standing Rule. [9]

    Governor Gage to the Earl of Dartmouth 19 May 1774. Extract

    Boston May 19th 1774

    MY LORD…

    The New Members of the General Court meet on Wednesday next, the 25th Inst to be sworn, and elect the New Council, at which time I shall observe His Majesty’s orders respecting the Councillors who drew up and supported the Report of the Committee on the 27th of November last, in case they are reelected…

    Tho: Gage

    Governor Gage to the Earl of Dartmouth. Extract

    Boston May 31st 1774


    Since my last of the 19th Instant, the General Court assembled here to be sworn, & elect the Members of His Majesty’s Council. The inclosed paper will inform Your Lordship of all that passed on the occasion; in which you will observe that I refused my consent to the Election of thirteen of the New Counsellors. The three first on that list were of the Old Council who drew up the Report of the Committee of Council on the 27th of November last, and the rest either Committee Men for Correspondence or such Persons as I could not approve. [10]

    A List of the Counsellors

    Elected by the Assembly of the Massachusetts Bay on Wednesday 25th of May

    Counsellors elected and consented to by the Govr

    • Samuel Danforth Esq.
    • John Erving Esq.
    • James Pitts Esq.
    • Artemas Ward Esq.
    • Benjn Greenleaf Esq.
    • Caleb Cushing Esq.
    • Samuel Phillips Esq.
    • Richard Derby Junr Esq.
    • James Otis Esq.
    • William Sever Esq.
    • Walter Spooner Esq.
    • Jeremiah Powell Esq.
    • Benjn Chadbum Esq.
    • George Leonard Junr Esq.
    • Jedediah Prebble Esq.

    Counsellors elected and not consented to by the Govr

    • Jas Bowdoin Esq.
    • Saml Dexter Esq.
    • John Winthrop Esq.
    • Willm Phillips Esq.
    • John Adams Esq.
    • Jas Prescott Esq.
    • Timothy Danielson Esq.
    • Michael Farley Esq.
    • Benjn Austin Esq.
    • Norton Quincy Esq.
    • Jerathmeel Bowers Esq.
    • Enoch Freeman Esq.
    • Jedediah Foster Esq. [11]

    Earl of Dartmouth to Govr Gage 3 June 1774. Extracts


    Whitehall 3 June 1774


    Since you left England the Parliament has made a very considerable progress in the American business, and I send you herewith, by the King’s command, two Acts, to which His Majesty gave the Royal Assent a few days ago…

    The Act for the better Regulation of the Government of the Province of Massachusetts Bay provides that from the First of August next, all Elections of the Council under the Authority of the Charter shall be void, and that for the future the Council shall be appointed by the King.

    In consequence of that provision His Majesty has, with the Advice of his Privy Council, nominated 36 persons, qualified as the Act directs, to be the Council of Massachusetts Bay from and after the time limited for the continuance of the present Council, and inclosed herewith I send you His Majestys Additional instruction,1209 under the Sign Manual, authorizing and requiring you to assemble the said Council, and containing such further directions as are thought necessary and incident to this new Establishment, and as correspond with the Provisions of the Act in relation thereto.

    It would perhaps have been in some respects desirable that it might have been left to the King’s discretion to have directed that, in case of the death or absence of both Governor and Lieutenant Governor, the Administration of Government should [12] have devolved upon the Senior Counsellor, as in other Governments; but as the Act reserves to the New Council all the Liberties Privileges & Immunities enjoyed by the other, except in the cases provided for, it is apprehended that such direction cannot be given; and for the same reason it has appeared at least doubtful, whether the Crown could delegate to you the powers of Suspension and Appointment to vacancies, pro tempore, exercised in the other Royal Governments.

    In this situation it became the more necessary that a Lieutenant Governor should be immediately appointed, and the King having, upon Mr Hutchinson’s recommendation, nominated Mr Oliver of Cambridge to that Office, inclosed I send you His Majesty’s Sign Manual containing his appointment.

    It would have been a great satisfaction if in the choice of the Persons recommended to the King to be of the New Council, we could have procured more perfect and satisfactory information both of the characters and connections of the principal Persons in the Colony, qualified for such a Trust; but the case would admit of no delay, and we have been obliged to make our choice by such assistance as we could procure from those who are supposed to be the best informed.

    There is little room to hope that every one of the persons whom His Majesty has appointed to be of his Council, will be induced to accept that honour; for there can be no doubt that every art will be practised to intimidate and prejudice. I trust however that the number of those who decline will not be so considerable as to involve you in any difficulty on that account, or to create any embarrassment in the execution of a measure upon which so much depends. [13]

    Whatever vacancies may be created, by any of the present Members refusing to act, ought to be filled up as soon as possible, and therefore you will transmit to me, by the first opportunity, the names of such Persons as you think best qualified for that Trust, and the most likely to give weight and authority to the measures of Government; taking care at the same time not to propose any from whom you have not received assurances of their readiness to accept the Office.

    It is to be expected that every artifice, which has been hitherto used with so much success, to keep alive a spirit of Sedition and Opposition in the people, will be exerted on the present occasion, to entangle and embarrass; but the King trusts that by temper and prudence on the one hand, and by firmness and resolution on the other, you will be able to surmount all the obstacles that can be thrown in your way…

    I am &c


    Governor Gage to Secy Dartmouth 26 June 1774. Extracts

    No 3.

    Salem June 26th 1774

    My Lord

    The General Court met here on the 7th Instant…

    The Council sent me the inclosed Libel on my [14] Predecessors in this Government in an Address, on which account I refused to receive it, sending them the reasons for my refusal, which I also send Your Lordship…

    I got the consent of Council to my nomination of Mr Justice Brown of the Inferior Court of Essex County, to succeed the late Judge Ropes, as Judge in the Superior Court, and he is appointed and sworn in accordingly…

    I have the honor to be, &c

    Thos Gage



    In Council, June 9, 1774

    Ordered that Jeremiah Powell, William Sever and Jedediah Preble Esqrs be a Committee to wait on His Excellency the Governor with the following Address in answer to his Speech at the opening of the present General Court.

    Thos Flucker Secry

    To His Excellency Thomas Gage Esqr Captain General and Governor in Chief of the Province of Massachusetts Bay &c

    The Address of the Council of the said Province

    May it please Your Excellency

    Your Speech to the two Houses at the opening of this Session has been duly considered by this Board. [15]

    His Majesty having been pleased to appoint you to the Government of this Province, We take this opportunity to wait on you with our congratulations on that occasion.

    Your Excellency has arrived at a Juncture when the harmony between Great Britain & the Colonies is greatly interrupted, whereby your Station, though elevated, must needs be rendered less agreeable to you than otherwise it would have been. But if you should be the happy Instrument of restoring in any measure that harmony, and of extricating the Province from their present embarrassments, you will doubtless consider these happy effects as more than a compensation of any inconveniences arising to you from the peculiar circumstances of the times. His Majesty’s faithful Council will on all occasions chearfully co-operate with Your Excellency, in every attempt for accomplishing those desirable ends. We wish Your Excellency every felicity: the greatest of a Political Nature, both to yourself and the Province, is, that your Administration, in the principles and general conduct of it, may be a happy contrast to that of your two immediate Predecessors. It is irksome to us to censure any one, but we are constrained to say there is the greatest reason to apprehend, that from their machinations (both in concert and apart) are derived the Origin & Progress of the disunion between Britain and the Colonies and the present distressed state of this Province,—a Province, to which the latter of them, in an especial manner owed his best services, and whose Liberties and Rights he was under every obligation of duty and gratitude to support.

    The Inhabitants of this Province claim no more than the Rights of Englishmen, without Diminution or “Abridgement.” These as it is our indispensible [16] duty so it shall be our constant endeavour to maintain to the utmost of our power, in perfect consistence however with the truest Loyalty to the Crown, the just Prerogatives of which Your Excellency will ever find this Board zealous to support.

    Permit us Sir on this occasion to express the firmest confidence that under their present Grievances, the People of this Province will not in vain look to your Excellency for your paternal Aid and Assistance; and as the great End of government is the good of the People, that your experience and abilities will be applied to attain that end; the steady pursuit of which, at the same time it insures their confidence and esteem, will be a source of the truest enjoyment,—self Approbation.

    We thank Your Excellency for the assurance you have given, “that you shall with pleasure concur with the two Houses to the utmost of your power, in all matters that tend to the Welfare and Prosperity of the Province;” and Your Excellency may be assured that we shall contribute everything on our part, to promote measures of so salutary a tendency.

    June 14. The Committee appointed to present the foregoing Address, waited on His Excellency therewith yesterday, and read as far as that part which reflects on the Administration of His Excellency’s two immediate Predecessors, when he desired the Chairman not to proceed any further, and that he would assign his Reasons for refusing to receive it, in a message to the Council; and on the same day sent by the Secretary the following Message. [17]

    Gentlemen of the Council.

    I cannot receive an Address which contains indecent reflections on my Predecessors, who have been tried and honourably acquitted by the Lords of the Privy Council, and their conduct approved by the King.

    I consider this Address as an Insult upon His Majesty and the Lords of his Privy Council, and an Affront to myself.

    T. Gage

    Governor Gage to Secy Dartmouth 27 August 1774. Extracts


    Salem August 27th 1774

    My Lord.

    I had the honour to receive Your Lordship’s separate letter dated 3d of June, on the 6th Instant, in which came inclosed two Acts of Parliament for regulating the Government of the Massachusetts Bay, and for the more impartial Administration of Justice in the said Province; together with an Additional Instruction to the Governor, & Mr Oliver’s appointment of Lieutenant Governor…

    No time was lost in forming the New Council. I assembled all the Members who could be collected on so short a notice, on the 8th Instant, & appointed the whole to meet on the 16th. The List inclosed will inform Your Lordship of the names of the Gentlemen [18] sworn in, of those who have refused to accept the nomination, or are wavering, absent, or dead.

    The twenty four who have accepted the honour the King has conferred upon them, are as respectable Persons as any in the Province, and the Lieutenant Governour is generally approved of by all parties. I must defer sending Your Lordship recommendations to the vacancys, to another opportunity, for though I have several in my mind, I am first to be assured of their willingness to act, and the number of Counsellors being considerable, gives time to look out for others. Your Lordship judged right that Art would be practised on this occasion to intimidate & prejudice; even force was attempted on Mr Ruggles by a number of People collected on the road near Worcester, with intent to stop him, but he made his way through them.

    My former letters have acquainted Your Lordship that the Acts in question had been published here, and People have had leisure to consider means to elude them, in doing which they are very expert. At a Town Meeting held at Boston in July, in order to avoid the Calling a meeting afterwards, they adjourned themselves to the 9th of August, and adjourned again on that day to sometime in October. I assembled the Select Men in Boston, had the Clause read respecting Town Meetings, told them I expected their obedience to it, that I should put the Act in force, and they would be answerable for any bad consequences. They replyed they had Called no Meeting, that a former meeting had only adjourned themselves.

    I laid the affair of Adjournments before the New Council, and found some of Opinion that the Clause was thereby clearly evaded, and nearly the whole unwilling to debate upon it, terming it a Point of Law, which ought to be referred to the Crown Lawyer, [19] whose opinion is to be taken upon it, and by which I must govern myself.

    Another clause of the Act is likewise referred to the Lawyers, concerning the removal of Sheriffs. Upon intimating to the Council my desire to remove a Sheriff, some immediately objected that it did not belong to the Council, for that the Governour was alone empowered to remove any of the Sheriffs now in office, and that the Act only required Consent of Council, to remove such Sheriffs as the Governor should first appoint by his own authority, & want to remove afterwards.

    It was the unanimous Opinion of the Council that an Assembly should be called as early as possible, and Writs will be issued for their meeting by the latter end of October.

    The state of the Province was at the same time taken into consideration, and a letter read that I had received from Hampshire County, an extract of which I transmit to Your Lordship; & several Members gave an account of the state of their respective Countys; from whence it appeared that the Phrenzy had spread in a greater or less degree thro’ all; of which I shall write more fully before closing my letter…

    I have the honor to be, with the greatest regard respect and esteem, My Lord

    Your Lordships most obedient and most humble servant

    Thos Gage [20]

    List of Counsellors

    Sworn in Augt 8th 1774

    Refused to Accept

    Mr Oliver Lieut. Governor


    Mr Royal

    Mr Gray

    Mr Hooper

    Mr Flucker

    Mr Williams

    Mr Foster Hutchinson

    Mr Russell

    Mr Browne

    Mr Green

    Mr Lee


    Mr Vassal

    Mr Loring

    Mr John Erving Senior

    Mr Winslow


    Mr Pepperell

    Mr Boutineau

    Mr John Erving Junr

    Sworn in Aug. 16th 1774

    Mr Danforth


    Mr Chief Justice Oliver

    Mr Powell

    Has been summoned but no answer received.

    Mr Paine


    Mr Ruggles

    Mr Palmer, at Surinam

    Mr Edson

    Mr Oliver


    Mr Worthington,

    Begs time for further consideration

    Mr Thomas Hutchinson


    Mr Murray

    Mr Woodbridge, deceased

    Mr Willard

    Mr Watson

    Mr Simpson


    Mr Thomas


    Mr Leonard

    Mr Lechmere

    [21] Extract of a Letter from Hampshire County, dated August 10th 1774

    I sincerely congratulate Your Excellency on your appointment and arrival to the Chief Seat in Government, and as heartily wish you may be the happy instrument, under God, of restoring peace, good order and subjection to Government, now almost at an end. Never was a time when such numbers of wise and good men, as well as others, were so infatuated, ’till the present; an enthusiastick frenzy and surprising madness obtains everywhere; nothing said in the coolest manner avails, but rather irritates. Indeed whoever proposes pacific measures, is considered as an enemy to his country, and threatened with ruin. The source of all this Your Excellency will easily conceive, and from whence propagated. The fences of Law are broken down, and without Your Excellency’s aid, our lives as well as property will be much endangered. We rely on Your Excellency’s wisdom and power to support and defend us against the fury of the Mob, which are rising in many places, abusing individuals, and, as I am well informed, are determined in case the Royal Assent be given to the two last Bills, to prevent the holding the Courts the ensuing Term in the County of Berkshire, and the same thing is threatened to be done in this County. Even the people of Connecticut have undertaken to reform the laws in this Province, and chastise the King’s subjects within Your Excellency’s jurisdiction. No attempts, that we hear are made by the Magistrates of that Colony to prevent and suppress the disorders and insurrections. Every measure proposed & pursued seems to be with a view to insult Majesty and widen the breach between this and the Parent State, and even to dare the vengeance of the Supreme Authority [22] of the British Empire, in America, which without some immediate powerful interposition, will, it is to be feared, be felo de se.

    Govr Gage to Secretary Dartmouth 25 August 1774. Extract

    Separate & secret

    Salem August 25th 1774

    My Lord

    Your Lordship’s letter Separate and Secret of the 3rd of June has been received…

    I will here acquaint Your Lordship that the Extract of the letter from the Country, which you will receive by this opportunity, is from Colonel Williams, and written to me to excuse his acceptance of the honor the King has conferred upon him in nominating him a Counsellor. Colonel Worthington, who lives in his neighbourhood, gave the same reasons for not accepting at present, who from the reputation of his abilities, firmness and influence, is of more loss than all the rest who have refused. Royal’s refusal is from timidity; Russell, who is a good man, feared the loss of some post he enjoys; Vassall, Green and Hooper, plead age and infirmities, but I believe choose to avoid the present disputes. Mr Irwin, who has not yet decided, has connections with all sides, and would keep well with all, and I apprehend wants to see what turn affairs will take before he gives a positive answer. Mr Powell lives at a great distance, and I suppose has had no opportunity to send an answer; but it is of little consequence whether he refuses or accepts.

    [23] Upon the whole I dont apprehend that better men could have been chosen than those who have been sworn in; altho’ I found a shyness in several towards giving an opinion about the Adjournment of Town Meetings, and a desire to throw the removal of Sheriffs now in office, entirely upon the Governor, by a construction of the Act which appeared to me quite foreign to its intent, and contrary to the plain words of it.

    I have the honour to be, with the greatest regard respect and esteem, My Lord

    Your Lordships most obedient & most humble Servant

    Thos Gage

    P.S. Mr Irwin has since sent his refusal. T.G.

    Governor Gage to Secretary Dartmouth 2 Septr 1774. Extracts

    No 11.

    Boston September 2d 1774

    My Lord

    Your Lordship’s dispatch No 6 is duely received. Your Lordship will know that the state, not of this Province only, but of the rest, is greatly changed since Mr Hutchinson left America.

    Tho’ I saw things were bad when I wrote from Salem, I found them much worse than I expected when I arrived here. Several of the New Counsellors who dwell at a distance had fled from their houses, and been obliged to seek protection amongst the Troops in Boston. In that number Messrs Ruggles, Edson, [24] Leonard, and Murray, and Messrs Loring and Pepperell are lately come into town. The object of the people was to force them to give up their Seats in Council, which has taken effect with Mr Paine, who was seized and roughly treated. There are bad reports of Mr Watson tho’ I have no news from him; but Mr Willard was grievously maltreated first in Connecticut where he went on business, and every Township he passed through in his way home in this Province had previous notice of his approach, and ready to insult him. Arms were put to his breast with threats of instant death, unless he signed a paper, the contents of which he did not know, nor regard. He went home after making me that report, but the news is that a large body was marching to his house in Lancaster, to force him to some other concessions.

    Upon the first rumour of disturbance Mr Andrew Oliver resigned his seat in Council, as have also since, Messrs Isaac Winslow, Thomas Hutchinson, Lee of Cambridge, Danforth, and this moment Mr Watson…

    I ordered a Council to assemble, but upon their representation that they should be watched, stopped and insulted on the road to Salem, and desiring to be assembled here, I hope His Majesty will approve of my consenting to their request.

    The Council was of Opinion that it was very improper to weaken the Troops here by any detachments whatever, as they could not be of any use to the Courts, as no Jurors would appear and by that means defeat their proceedings, and that disturbance being so general and not confined to any particular spots, there was no knowing where to send them to be of use, and would terminate only in dividing them in [25] small detachments, and tempt numbers to fall upon them; which was reported to be the scheme of the Directors of these operations.

    It was considered that the whole is now at stake, Connecticut and, they add, Rhode Island, as furious as they are in this Province, and that the first & only step now to take was, to secure the friends of Government in Boston, and to reinforce the Troops here with as many more as could possibly be collected, and to act as opportunities and exigencies shall offer…

    Precepts are issued for the calling an Assembly on the beginning of next month, tho’ uncertain whether the People will choose Representatives; but we may be assured, if chosen, that they will not Act with the New Council; and it’s supposed the project has been to annihilate said Council, before Meeting, to throw the refusal upon the Governour to act with the Old Council elected the last Sessions. So that we shall shortly be without either Law or Legislative Power…

    I transmit Your Lordship a Minute of Council and Copies of attested Papers and letters.

    I have the honor to be with the greatest regard respect and esteem. My Lord,

    Your Lordships most obedient and most humble Servant

    Thos Gage

    P.S. Mr Simpson, another Counsellor, has just resigned. [26]

    At a Council held at the Council Chamber in Boston, Wednesday August 31st 1774


    • His Excellency Governor Gage
    • His Honor, Lieut. Governor Oliver
    • Mr Chief Justice Oliver
    • Colo Murray
    • Mr Treasurer Gray
    • Mr Boutineau
    • Mr Secretary Flucker
    • Mr Lechmere
    • Brigadier Ruggles
    • Commode Loring
    • Judge Hutchinson
    • Colo Erving
    • Judge Brown
    • Colo Leonard
    • Colo Edson
    • Mr Pepperell

    His Excellency represented to the Board the very great tumults and disorders prevailing in many parts of the Province, tending to the intire subversion of Government, and particularly the attacks made upon divers Members of this Board (residing in the Country) which had arisen to such a height, as that several of them had thought it necessary for the safety of their persons, to repair to and continue in the town of Boston, and referred them to the Gentlemen’s own account of this matter, which they related and reduced to writing.

    His Excellency then desired the Advice of Council what they thought expedient and proper for him to do in this exigency of affairs, and whether they would advise to the sending of any troops into the County of Worcester, or any other County in the Province, for the protection of the Judges and other Officers of the Courts of Justice. Whereupon several Gentlemen of the Council expressed their Opinions, that inasmuch as the opposition to the execution of any part of the late Acts of Parliament relating to this Province, was [27] so general, they apprehended it would not be for His Majesty’s service to send any Troops into the interior parts of the Province, but that the main body continue in the Town of Boston, which might be strengthened by the addition of other Troops, to be improved as circumstances may occur, and be a place of safe retreat for all those who may find it necessary to remove thither.

    To which the Council Unanimously Advised.

    The foregoing is a true Copy from the Minutes of Council.

    No 1.

    Attest. Thos Flucker Secy

    Daniel Oliver to Colo Ruggles

    Hardmicke 19th Aug: 1774

    Dear Sir

    It is with the greatest anxiety of mind for your safety that I now set down to inform you, that the spirits of the People in this and the neighbouring towns, especially New Braintree and Greenwich, are worked up to such a pitch of resentment and rage, vs1211 you, that you must not attribute it to pusilanimity in me, when I advise you, if you value the preservation of your life, not to return home at present; I mean at least, if you have accepted of any appointment under the Crown or the Government, in consequence of the late Acts of Parliament: for the People are determined not to submit to them, and to run all hazards to avoid it. There are those here who I am satisfied thirst for your blood, and they have influence enough over others to put them upon spilling it. High threats continue that you shall [28] never pass the great Bridge alive, and all unite in the opinion that you will not be able to do it. I really think it will be the highest act of rashness in you to attempt it, at present.

    I am, Dear Sir, Your affectionate friend and humble Servant

    Daniel Oliver

    Colo Ruggles

    A true Copy from the Original on the Council Files.

    No 2

    Attest. Tho Flucker

    Mr Paine to the Governor

    Worcester, August 27th 1774

    May it please Your Excellency.

    In my letter to Your Excellency of yesterday, I had not opportunity to give you the particulars of the transactions of that day, which happen’d in this town; so far as I can recollect I now send them. On the 25th persons were employed to ride round to the neighbouring towns, to assemble the people early on the 26th. I had some private notice of it, but upon the whole I thought it not best to go out of the way, and determined to stay and see how far they intended to carry matters. The People began to assemble so early as Seven oClock in the morning, and by Nine, by the best computation, more than Two Thousand men were paraded on our Common. They were led into town by particular persons chosen for that purpose, many were Officers of the Militia, and marched in at the head of their companies. Being so assembled they chose a large Committee from the whole body, which Committee chose a Sub Committee to wait upon me, namely Joshua Bigelow, Edwd Rawson, Thomas [29] Denny, John Goulding and Joseph Gilbert, (the three first were of the last House of Representatives) who came to my house, leaving the main body upon the Common. I received them first at my Chamber Window, but upon assurance from them they had no design to treat me ill, I admitted them into my house. They then informed me of their business, that they were a Committee chosen by a large body of People assembled on the Common to wait upon me to resign my Seat at the Council Board. I endeavoured to convince them of the ill consequences that would ensue upon the measures they were taking, that instead of having their grievances redressed which they complained of, they were pursuing steps that would tend to the ruin of the Province: but all to no purpose, they insisting that the measures were peaceable, and that nothing would satisfy the Assembly unless I resigned, & that they would not answer for the consequences if I did not. Thus surrounded on every side, without any protection, I found myself under a necessity of complying, and prepared and signed a resignation, which the Committee refused to accept, and after making alteration according to their own minds they accepted of the following form, vizt

    To Messrs Joshua Bigelow, Thomas Denny, Joseph Gilbert, Edward Rawson and John Goulding


    As you have waited upon me as a Committee chosen by a large body of People now assembled on the Common in Worcester, desiring that I now resign my Seat at the Council Board; my Appointment was without my sollicitation, and am very sorry I accepted, and thereby given any uneasiness to the People of the County, from whom I have received many favors, and take this opportunity to thank them: and I do hereby assure you that I will not take a Seat at the Board [30] unless it is agreable to the Charter of this Province.

    The Committee then insisted that I should go with them to the main Body, and there read said Resignation, which I at first refused to do, but there came several messages from the Body, telling me that the People would not be satisfied unless I appeared before them, at the same time giving me assurances that I should meet with no insult. I then was escorted by the grand Committee to the main Body, who were drawn up in the form of a hollow square, and there was obliged to read said Resignation. I met with no insult excepting they obliged me to walk with my Hat off when I passed through them to come off. They soon after dispersed, and the Town by noon was all still, part of them went home, and a large detachment went to Rutland to wait upon Colonel Murray, but I hear he had taken himself away in the night.

    Thus Sir you see an open opposition has taken place to the Acts of the British Parliament. I dread the consequence of enforcing them by a Military Power; people’s spirits are so raised they seem determined to risque their lives and everything dear to them in the opposition, and prevent any person from executing any commission he may receive under the present administration. They give out that Brigadier Ruggles shall not sit as a Judge in our County Court, and that the Court shall not be held here.

    I ask Your Excellency’s pardon for troubling you with this long epistle, but I hope Your Excellency will excuse me, as I thought it my duty to let you know the particulars of the affair and of the present temper & disposition of the People in this part of the Province.

    I wish Your Excellency all that wisdom [31] necessary to direct you at this critical time.

    I am, Your Excellencys most obedient & humble Servant

    Timo Paine

    A true Copy from the Original on file in the Secretary’s Office.

    No 3


    Colonel Murray to his Father

    Rutland August 28th 1774

    Hond Sir

    The reports that prevailed on Fryday last, respecting your being waited on by the People, were yesterday confirmed. In the morning early I had word brought me from different quarters that the People had been gathering all night and marching to Worcester to treat with Mr Paine, and when they had done with him, they would proceed to Rutland to bring you to terms, and that to prevent your going away, Centry’s had been fixed on the several roads leading from Rutland and round the house, from 9 or 10 o’Clock last evening; that the time of your setting off in the evening was but in season to prevent falling into their hands. About 12 o’Clock at noon they began to appear about the house; the first parties that came up were the Templetown, Hubbardston, and Princetown people, commanded by Captain Wilder of Templetown and his subalterns, and Captain Holden of Princetown. From this command Centrys were planted about the house and in the adjacent fields, the night Centrys as the day light came on, having disappeared. Soon after this they were coming in from all the adjoining towns, untill three in the afternoon, at which time [32] they had a body of 1500 men, most of them armed with sticks, in general heavy enough to have levelled a man at a stroke. The Princetown People, I have been since told, marched from home with Fire Arms, but lodged them a little distance from town, to be repaired to if occasion required it. I was by this time informed that some of your friends that knew of your going off, had assured them you were not at home, in hopes they would disperse, as it was given out by them that they had no design to destroy your property or injure any one of your family; but assurances of that sort had no effect; the disappointment of their not meeting with you at home, so exasperated them, that it was feared by your few friends it would be difficult to prevent their destroying the buildings. But they at last determined if they could be suffered to make search for you in the house & out buildings to satisfie themselves that you were not at home, they would disperse: to which I at first would not consent, but told them that rather than suffer such a rabble to enter the house, I would defend it with the little force I had (which was only our own family, which you are sensible could have made but a poor defence) to the last extremity. However finding them determined, I finally consented a small number of their leading men might enter, upon a promise from them that no insult should be offered. Upon which a Committee of Seven were chosen, and the house searched; they then joined their Body and wrote the inclosed letter to you, which I am told was unanimously approved of. Soon after which (Sun about half an hour high) every one dispersed without doing the least damage to any part of the estate. But I have been told, and have not the least doubt but it will be put in execution, that if you do not make a Public Recantation (as they express it) of your Seat at the Council Board [33] by the 10th of September next, they will make you another visit and destroy all your buildings, &c; and should you be at home, the greatest indignities would be offered to you; and I have too much reason to fear you might expect nothing short of death. Upon the whole, Sir, the temper of the People is worked up to such a pitch, that every person whatever (not to speak of those in office only) that will not join them, are considered as enemies to their country, and must expect sooner or later to feel their severest resentments, and perhaps at last be obliged to take up arms in defence of their cause, or suffer the loss of their lives. Tell them the consequences of their proceedings will be Rebellion, Confiscation and Death, and it only serves as oil to increase the flame; they can draw no consequence to be equally dreadful to a Free People (as they say) like that of being made Slaves, and that this is not the language of the common People only you may be assured, as those that have heretofore in life sustained the fairest characters in every respect, are the warmest in this matter, and it is likewise general almost without exception, so that among the many friends you have heretofore had, I can scarcely mention any to you now; and the very few that remain so, dare not say it, looking upon themselves in the greatest danger. The few troops the General has, they consider as nothing; therefore I hope none will be sent, as it would throw us all into the greatest confusion. I have related facts as they really are, and must beg of you not to think of returning home at present, unless you think you can consistently resign your Seat at the Council Board; as I cannot doubt of their failing to put in execution what they have threatened. Should anything further transpire from them, I shall not fail to give you [34] the earliest intelligence. And am with all respect

    Your dutiful Son

    Daniel Murray

    A true Copy from the Original in the Secretarys Office.

    No 4

    Attest: Thos Flucker Secy

    Mr Thos Hutchinson Junr to the Governor

    Milton August 30th 1774

    May it please Your Excellency.

    Altho’ I am fully sensible of the honor conferred on me in my appointment as a Member of His Majesty’s Council, and should think myself happy to be able, in the least, to contribute to the restoring of peace and good order in the Province; yet as I perceive the same spirit which has obliged a number of the Gentlemen of the Towns in the country to resign their office as Counsellors, or to quit their places of abode, to be enkindling in the breasts of the people of this and the neighbouring Towns against me also, and as it would be exceedingly inconvenient for me to change the place of my residence, or submit to any kind of restraint of my person, being the only one of Governor Hutchinson’s family now in the country, and having the care of his affairs here, as well as those of the late Lieut. Governor [Andrew] Oliver, both of which I apprehend will suffer greatly by my being under any personal restraint.

    I am sensible these reasons are of a private nature, but as they relate to the concerns of others more than my own, I hope Your Excellency will think them sufficient to induce you to accept the Resignation of my trust as one of His Majesty’s [35] Council for this Province.

    I am, with the greatest respect

    Your Excellency’s most obedient Servant

    Thos Hutchinson Junr

    A true Copy from the Original, on file in the Secretary’s Office.

    No 5

    Attest. Thos Flucker Secy

    Mr Loring’s Narrative 31 August 1774

    At 12 o’Clock in the night of the 29th Instant I was awaked by a very hard knocking at my door; immediately I jump’d out of bed and threw up the window, when I saw five men disguised, their faces black’d, hatts flap’d, and with cutlasses in their hands: I ask’d them who they were, they answered they came from a Mob. I then asked them what they wanted; they told me they came to know if I would resign my Seat at the Board. I answer’d I would not, and went into some discourse with them, asking what right they had to make such a demand on me or any other man. They told me they did not come to talk, they came to act, & that they wanted my answer: I replied that they had got it already. They then told me they would give me till tomorrow night to consider of it, and then the speaker gave orders to a large party who were in the road, to discharge their pieces, which they accordingly did, and which I took to be pistols. They then told me my house should be safe till tomorrow night, and went off in number about sixty. The next night being the 30th I thought it most prudent to leave my house, and my son went [36] out to it to receive the Mob. He informs me as follows:—that in the evening about ½ past 8 o’Clock his mother came home much affrighted, and told him at or near Liberty Tree in Roxbury, she saw about fifty men assembled, who immediately on knowing the carriage began to huzza scream & whistle, and called out to the Coachman to stop, but he continued on, and they followed the carriage in this manner for near a mile, and were then close at hand. About 9 o’Clock he heard their noise, and in a few minutes they were up to the house, and immediately knocked at the door; he went to it and found five men disguised, their faces black’d and cutlasses in their hands: they order’d the candle to be put out, and then asked for the Commodore, and said they came for his answer. He told them he was gone to Boston, and then endeavoured to reason with them against their demand, but to no purpose; they said this was the second time they had come, and to beware of the third, that if he would publish in the Thursdays News Paper a Recantation, it would be well, if not, he must abide by the consequences, which would be very severe, that his house should be levelled to the ground, and many other of the like threats; and then these Five who seemed to have the direction, I can’t say command, of the Mob who were at the gate, retired to them, and during all this time they kept laying on the board fence with clubs, and crying out Dont fire, for God’s sake dont fire, keep back, keep back: but the People did not seem to mind them, and continued their hollowing and knocking on the fence with their clubs: all which was designed to intimidate. They soon went off, and, as he was informed, to the house of Mr Pepperell, who not being at home, they returned again within the space of [37] half an hour, and in the same tumultous manner halted in the road opposite the house, and all at once were very silent, occasioned, as he was informed, by some friends speaking to them; a few minutes after they set up their hollowing &c again, and went off. And as it was a very dark night he could not judge of their numbers, but was told they were about two hundred.

    J. Loring

    Boston 31st August 1774

    A true copy from the Original on file in the Secretarys Office.

    No 6

    Attest: Thos Flucker Secy

    Colonel Leonard to Governor Gage

    May it please Your Excellency.

    Agreable to your request I have committed to writing the particulars of the late riot in the County of Bristol. I returned to my house at Taunton on the Saturday after my having taken the oaths &c requisite for my taking a Seat at the Council Board. On Sunday noon I received intelligence that the People were much exasperated at me, and the Town of Taunton, with the neighbouring towns, were to assemble the next day to deal with me (that was the expression) for accepting a Seat at the Board, that it was expected they would begin with remonstrance and entreaty, and if that proved sufficient to obtain an engagement on my part to resign my Seat, all would be well, if not, that a number had determined to proceed to violence. Such was the intelligence I received and could depend on. Many things rendered it impracticable for me to make any resistance in my own house, one of which I beg leave to mention, the [38] situation of my wife, who was pregnant. I accordingly came as far as Stoughton that day, and the next to Boston, supposing that the People would disperse without giving my family any trouble, when it should be known that I was absent. But I was mistaken: on the next day which was the 22d Instant, about five hundred persons assembled, many of them Freeholders and some of them Officers in the Militia, and formed themselves into a Battalion before my house; they had then no Fire-arms, but generally had clubs. Some of the principal persons came to my house with a message that the People were much incensed at my accepting a Seat at the Board, and begged I would resign it. Upon being informed that I was not at home, they returned to the main Body, who dispersed before night, after having been treated with rum by their Principals.

    My Family supposing all would remain quiet, went to bed at their usual hour; at 11 o’Clock in the evening a Party fired upon the house with small arms and run off; how many they consisted of is uncertain, I suppose not many; four bullets and some Swan-shot entered the house at the windows, part in a lower room and part in the chamber above, where one Capt. Job Williams lodged. The balls that were fired into the lower room were in a direction to his bed, but were obstructed by the Chamber floor. No other attack was made, tho’ several persons were afterwards discovered lurking behind some uninhabited buildings and in other places near my house.

    Capt. Williams at whom the firing seems to have directed, was the person that furnished me with the intelligence that the People were to assemble, and who pulled down and tore in pieces a written notification that was fixed on the Meeting House for the People to assemble; [39] wherefore I conclude it probable that the attack upon the house was principally designed for him. However that may be, my family were exposed by it, and I have received repeated advices from my friends at Taunton, since I arrived at Boston, that my life will be in danger if I return.

    I am with great respect, Your Excellencys most obedient humble servant

    Dan: Leonard

    Boston Aug. 31st 1774

    A true Copy from the Original on file in the Secretarys Office.

    No 7

    Attest. Thos Flucker Secy

    Mr Pepperell to Governor Gage

    Boston August 31st 1774


    I think it my duty to inform Your Excellency, that in consequence of my neighbor Captain Joshua Loring’s informing me yesterday that he was attacked by a Mob on the evening of the 29th Instant, and threatened with very ill consequences if he did not by the next night resign his Seat at the Board, and Mr Loring’s mentioning to me his determination not to stay in the country any longer at present, I thought myself obliged to come to Town last evening. Very early this morning my servant brought me intelligence from the country, that a large number of men, in disguise, came to my house last evening and inquired for me, and being informed that I was in town, they ordered my servant to come to me this morning and tell me that I must resign my Seat at the Council Board or take the consequence of a [40] refusal. It gives me the greatest pain Sir, to see the Province in so disorderly and confused a state. I know of nothing that will tend more to convince the People of their error, and of the necessity of a due subordination to Government, than Your Excellency’s wise and cautious Administration.

    I have the honor to be with the greatest respect,

    Your Excellency’s most obedient & most faithful h[um]ble Servant

    W. Pepperell

    A true Copy from the Original, on file in the Secretary’s Office.

    No 8

    Attest: Thos Flucker Secy

    Mr Lee to Governor Gage

    May it please Your Excellency.

    When I qualified as a Counsellour, I did it under an apprehension that I might be serviceable to my King and Country, and that the fixing a Civil Council, agreable to Act of Parliament, would have contributed in some measure to quiet the disturbed state of the Province and been preventive of any extraordinary exertions of power; but on the contrary I find the establishing such a Council has so universally inflamed the minds of the People of the Province, and excited such tumults and disorders in various parts of it, as threatens a catastrophe greatly to be dreaded, and exposes the Members of the Council to such continual injurys and insults as I am unable to sustain. I am therefore obliged to submitt to the rage of the times, and must beg Your Excellency to accept a Resignation [41] of my Seat at the Board, which I am under a necessity of forfeiting by Non-attendance.

    With perfect esteem and respect, I am,

    Your Excellencys most obedt humble servant

    Jos: Lee

    Cambridge 1st Sept. 1774

    A true Copy from the Original, on file in the Secretary’s Office.

    No 9.

    Attest: Thos Flucker Secy

    Governor Gage to Sec[retary] Dartmouth


    Boston Septr 2d 1774

    My Lord.

    I have given Your Lordship in my letter of this date, the names of several of the New Council who desire to resign their Seats; and I have now the honour to transmit you the names of Three Gentlemen who desire to be of the Council, viztMr John Vassall of Cambridge, Mr Eliakim Hutchinson, and Mr Nathaniel Hatch.

    I have the honour to be with the greatest regard respect and esteem, My Lord

    Your Lordships most obedient and most humble Servant

    Thos Gage [42]

    Governor Gage to Secretary Dartmouth. Extracts

    No 12.

    Boston September 3d 1774

    My Lord

    In my letter of yesterday I just made mention of a letter in the moment received from Lieutenant Governor Oliver. That Gentleman came to me yesterday about noon, and acquainted me that a number of people had passed his house in Cambridge going into Town, which is about eight miles from this; but that he had talked to them and they listened to his advice to be quiet and return peaceably home, which they promised to do without making any disturbance. It was supposed they assembled in order to force Messrs Danforth and Lee to resign their Seats in Council, which they had done the day before…

    It was therefore concluded, that all objects being removed, for that they were satisfied of his being in the Council as he was at the same time Lieutenant Governor, the People would immediately go away, and he therefore begged I would not think of ordering any troops there, as there would be no occasion for it, and could only be productive of mischief…

    I expected to hear from the Sheriff, Mr Phipps, if anything extraordinary happened at Cambridge, but received no farther advice till near six in the evening, when the letter which I have mentioned, and inclose,1212 was brought me from the Lieut. Governor, about which time the Insurgents had finished their business and went off, after forcing him to resign his Seat in Council. I have found since, that when [43] Mr Oliver came first to me, it was in consequence of the People’s desire, and of their assurances that no disturbance or violence would happen, and he was so confident in their promises and of his own influence over them, as to go back to Cambridge, and in his way met the Sheriff, whom he perswaded to go with him. They thus both fell into the snare; for they obliged the Sheriff to sign a paper as well as Mr Oliver.

    The Lieutenant Governor came to me this morning with the news, and in the greatest distress. He told me many particulars, which I desired him to commit to writing and tell Your Lordship his own story.

    I have the honor to be with the greatest regard respect and esteem, My Lord,

    Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble Servant

    Thos Gage

    Lieut[enant] Governor Oliver to Secretary Dartmouth

    Cambridge September the 3d 1774

    My Lord.

    Having on the arrival of the Scarborough received thro’ the hands of His Excellency Genl Gage a Commission from His Majesty appointing me Lieut. Governor of this Province, I am bound to acquaint Your Lordship of such circumstances as relate to me in that station.

    His Excellency immediately upon the receipt of the Commission inclosed it to me, with an order for my [44] attendance in Council, in obedience to which I attended and took the usual and requisite Oaths.

    Your Lordship will have heard that the commotions of the People upon the alterations of Government, had arisen to such a pitch in this Province, that several gentlemen of the Council declined taking their Seats at the Board, and several others, after they had taken the oaths, constrained by violence to sign papers renouncing their appointment & resigning their Seats.

    But during all these commotions I was considered as entirely free from any danger of these attacks. And in this confidence remained at my house in Cambridge, exerting myself in cultivating loyalty to the King, and submission to Parliament, as the only sure means of having their grievances redressed. I wish my success had been equal to my endeavours. The disposition of the People to oppose the late regulations, universally thro’ the Province, rising higher & higher, appeared yesterday in a more eminent degree than it had before done, in the County of Middlesex. A large body of People to the amount of 1500 came down from the country, without arms, consisting of Landholders of this County, marching thro’ this Town. Many of the inhabitants of this and the neighbouring towns came to me, desiring I would use my influence to make them return peaceably home.

    They were to pass by my house; as soon as they arrived I went out to them, enquiring the cause of such an appearance. They respectfully answered they came peaceably to enquire why they had been deprived of their Rights and Priviledges. I addressed them upon the impropriety of such embodied multitudes, spoke to the different subjects on which they founded their complaints, and imagined I had quieted them, from the respectful manner in which they expressed their thanks, and promising they would conduct [45] themselves in the most orderly manner. They proceeded on to the Common about a mile from my house, where a report soon prevailed that the troops were on their march to disperse them.

    They interceeded with me that I would wait on the General to prevent their coming, and promised that no disorders should arise. I waited on His Excellency and related the particulars, and requested the troops might not be sent: he told me no troops were ordered. I returned to them as I had promised, and received their thanks by their Committee. Upon my being about to leave them, they desired to speak to me. I told them I would hear them. They began with expressing their regard and respect for me, and ended with observing how happy I should make them, if I would quit the Board. I told them I considered it as very ungrateful treatment to mention the thing to me, I urged many reasons and particularly as I stood in a general relation to the whole Province, could hear nothing which came from a particular County. They considered my reasons, and Voted them satisfactory. I submitted to these things in order to quiet their uneasy minds, upon principles of humanity as well as policy.

    This left me entirely clear that I should have no further trouble with them upon this subject; and as their deportment was peaceable, I flattered myself they would soon disperse.

    But in the afternoon, observing such companies pouring in from all quarters, and those of a lower class, I began to apprehend they would become unmanageable, and fearing some troubles would arise, wherein I should be called upon, I chose to get out of the way.

    I was just going into my carriage to proceed to Boston, when a vast crowd advanced, and in a [46] short time my house was surrounded by 4000 People, and one 4th part in arms. Not apprehending any abuse designed to me, I waited in my hall, when 5 persons entered, with a decent appearance, who informed me they were a Committee from the body of the People to demand my Resignation as a Councillor. I reproached them with ingratitude & false dealings, and refused to hear them. They answered that the People were dissatisfied with the Votes of their Committee in the morning, and now demanded my Resignation, as drawn up in a Paper which they held in their hands. I absolutely refused to sign any paper. They desired me to consider the consequences of refusing the demands of an inraged People. I told them they might put me to death, but I would never submit. The Populace growing impatient began to press up to my windows, calling for vengeance against the Foes of their Liberty. The five persons appeared anxious for me, and, impressed with some humanity, endeavoured to appease the people: but in vain. I could hear them from a distance, swearing they would have my blood. At this time the distresses of my Wife and Children, which I heard in the next room, called up feelings, My Lord, which I confess I could not suppress. I found myself giving way, and at that instant, Nature, ingenious in forming new reasons, suggested to my mind the calamities which would ensue if I did not comply. I cast about to find some means of preserving my reputation. I proposed that the People should take me by force; but they urged the danger of such an expedient. I told them I would take the risque; but they would not consent. Reduced to this extremity I took up the paper, and casting my eyes over it with a hurry of mind and conflict of passion which rendered me unable to remark the contents I wrote underneath the following words:—

    My house being [47] surrounded with four thousand People, in compliance with their commands I sign my name.

    Tho. Oliver

    The five Persons taking it, carried it out to the People, and found great difficulty in getting it accepted. I had several messages sent me, informing me it would not do. But I declared I would do nothing else, if they put me to death. The more respectable farmers used all their endeavours to reconcile the rest, and finally prevailed, when they all marched off in their several companies, wishing me well, & cautioning not to break my Promise.

    Thus my Lord I have given you a plain narrative of the proceedings of this day. If I stand acquitted to His Majesty, Your Lordship and the World, I shall esteem myself happy. I could not have done more unless I had determined to have died, which would have brought on a train of calamities to this country which I shudder to think of.

    I should esteem it as the highest favour, if Your Lordship would signify by one line your opinion of my conduct in this affair, and in what manner I ought to act with regard to taking my Seat at the Board; as I shall remain under a most embarrassing suspense until I hear the event.

    I have the honor to be

    Your Lordships most obedient and most faithful humble Servant

    Thomas Oliver

    I hope Your Lordship will excuse the many corrections in my letter,1213 as my mind is ill at ease. I must confess I have scruples of taking my Seat at the Board, as I have promised, altho’ by force. Yet as I did not prefer Death to making the Promise, I have scruples which His Majestys commands will [48] dissipate. There is published a very erroneous account in the Newspapers, to answer their purposes; but Your Lordship may assure yourself of the truth of my account in every particular.

    Secretary Dartmouth to Govr Gage. Extracts

    No 9.

    Whitehall Septr 8th 1774


    Your letters of the 20th and 27th July, which were received by a New York Mail that arrived yesterday, do not contain any thing that requires particular instruction…

    Your not having received on the 27th July the Bill for regulating the Government of the Massachusetts Bay and His Majestys Sign Manual for the appointment of the New Council, is a very unlucky circumstance; and I am the more surprized, as I find that my dispatch containing those documents was sent from my office on the 3d of June, to be put on board the Scarborough Man of War that lay at Plymouth to receive it…

    I am &c

    Dartmouth [49]

    Lieutenant Govr Oliver to Sec[retary] Dartmouth

    Boston September the 10th 1774

    My Lord

    I did myself the honor of writing Your Lordship the 3d of this month, giving an account of the transactions at Cambridge the day before.

    I have the pleasure to find my behaviour approved in this part of the world, although I submitted at the last. Some gentlemen of the army may regret that they had not an opportunity of sharing in the business of that day, and from thence may not approve of my humanity and tenderness to an ungrateful people.

    But Your Lordship will perceive by my account published in the Massachusetts Gazette, the reasons I acted upon; namely, that at the time when I applied to His Excellency General Gage, they appeared to have no design of any kind of harm, but only to enquire into some circumstances relative to their Powder being removed, which as soon as they had informed themselves of, they would peaceably return. I imagined I had satisfied them with regard to their complaints, and that as soon as they had talked the matter over among themselves, they would all disperse. I knew His Excellency had been advised not to send the troops out of town; and I knew that as the People were then without arms, no glory would be derived to the Military to destroy a number of poor farmers, but on the contrary, that it would have been considered as an act of inhumanity, & rather serve to irritate than suppress their spirits. Under these considerations I readily undertook it, and if I erred, it was an error in judgment. But I flatter myself I shall stand acquitted to Your Lordship upon these principles.

    But, my Lord, the principal question upon [50] which I have presumed to trouble Your Lordship at this time, is relating to my conduct consequent upon this matter. I have applied to the General; he has referred me to the Opinion of my Friends, and my own Feelings.

    Various are the opinions of my Friends, and with regard to my own Feelings, I have scruples which embarrass me.

    I am sensible by the common rules laid down on this subject, I may be acquitted in breaking this extorted Promise. But in every man’s mind there is a certain standard by which he must try his actions. In some, that rule or standard is more vague than in others. Common rules of rectitude are sufficient to satisfy some; while others must, for self approbation, consider the subject more nicely.

    In my case now before Your Lordship, I consider myself at the time, even of compulsion, to have had an Election. A hard alternative ’tis true; but still I had it in my power, either to die, or make the Promise: I chose to live.

    A mind under the habitual influence of candour recurs not to those reservations, by which others excuse themselves.

    At the time when I gave the Preference to Life, I had no reservation in my mind, that Compulsion would liberate me.

    But I now conceive that the Commands of His Majesty, as the fountain of Honor, will secure my reputation from any impeachment

    From the same principles I deduce, that should such a conjunction of circumstances take place, as that just so many of the Council should be obliged to resign, as to invalidate the Board for the want of my attendance; from the importance of His Majesty’s service I should conceive a Command to be implied, [51] and consider it as my Duty to attend.

    But I shall esteem it as a particular instance of Your Lordship’s goodness, that you would signify your directions in this matter to me; which would take off every difficulty from my mind.

    I do not presume to give Your Lordship any account of things here, as it might be considered as putting myself forward, and breaking in upon the line of the Commander in Chief.

    I hope Your Lordship will pardon me in the trouble I have given you in this affair, and permit me to subscribe myself

    Your Lordships most faithful and most obedient Servant

    Thomas Oliver

    Governor Gage to Secy Dartmouth. Extracts

    No 13.

    Boston Septr 20th 1774

    My Lord

    Since my letters by the Scarborough ship of War, I have received some letters and papers, which I transmit Your Lordship, relative to the proceedings in the distant Countys…

    Mr Willard has been obliged to resign his Seat in Council since my last; the rest remain firm notwithstanding daily threats of Plunder, Devastation and ruin, and even of Assassination…

    I have the honor to be &c

    Thos Gage [52]

    To Josiah Edson Esqr


    In consequence of the Town assembling the 29th of August, and choosing us the Subscribers to demand your Resignation (as Counsellor) your absenting yourself, and our making report thereof to the Town, they Unanimously Voted that unless you signed the inclosed Recantation by the 26th Inst and publish the same in the News Paper, they will consider you as obstinate, refractory, and unfitt to live in the town for the future: And directed us to leave the same in writing, to be forwarded to you.

    Samuel Dunbar


    Robert Latham

    Richd Peckin

    Eleaser Cary

    Nathan Mitchell

    Philip Bryant

    David Leonard

    David Kingman

    Bridgwater September 14th 1774

    Governor Gage to Secretary Dartmouth. Extract

    No 14.

    Boston Septr 25th 1774

    My Lord

    Many Members are chosen for the General Court that was appointed to meet at Salem on the 5th of next month, and I have information that the Old Council has been summoned to attend there. The New Council appointed by the King who have taken [53] refuge in this Town, dare not attend at Salem, unless escorted there and back again by a large force; which as affairs are circumstanced will answer no end. The Assembly will not act with them, and I cannot act with the Old Council, so that nothing but confusion can arise from a meeting of the General Court, on which account I mean to fall on measures to postpone the Session…

    I have the honor to be &c

    Thos Gage

    Secretary Dartmouth to Govr Gage, Extracts

    No 11.

    Whitehall 17th October 1774


    From the accounts which we had received through various channels of what passed in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, upon the arrival of the Scarborough with my dispatches to you of the 3d of June, we had entertained hopes that the popular phrenzy had begun to subside, that the acceptance of Seats in the New Council, by so large a number of respectable persons, would disappoint the expectations of the faction, and that tho’ they might seek to elude the Laws by artifice and chicane, yet that the execution of them was not likely to be opposed by violence, and that the People in general would at least have waited the result of the General Congress before they took any decided measures.

    Your letters however, which I have received by the return of the Scarborough, represent the affairs of the Province to be indeed in a very dangerous & critical [54] situation, and it looks not only as if the People were determined at all events to refuse obedience to the Law, but that notwithstanding the assistance of so large a Military force, sent purposely to support the Authority of Civil Government, they have it still in their power to trample upon it with impunity, and to bid defiance to all controll.

    This however is a state that cannot have long duration; the discontinuance of Courts of Justice must produce the greatest anarchy and confusion; and tho’ I see that you have still a Quorum of the Council to act with you, yet I fear that whilst they can act but in the midst of a camp and under the protection of an army, that Authority will have little weight…

    Appearances in general are at present certainly very unfavourable; some however there are that do not wear so gloomy an aspect; and I cannot but persuade myself that even in the New England Government, where prejudice and resentment have taken such strong hold, there are many Friends to the Constitution who would stand forth under the protection of Government. Such men ought to be encouraged, and inclosed I send you the Royal Mandamus for the admission into the Council, of Messieurs Eliakim Hutchinson, Nathaniel Hatch, and John Vassall, the gentlemen whom you recommend, and also of Mr George Erving, who is stated by Mr Hutchinson to be a very proper person, and was I find much disappointed at not being in the first Nomination.

    I am &c

    Dartmouth [55]

    Secretary Dartmouth to Lieut[enant] Governor Oliver

    Whitehall 17th October 1774


    Your letter to me of the 3d of September has been laid before the King.

    The manner in which you have been compelled, by violence, to subscribe to a resignation of your Seat in Council, is as disgraceful to Government, as I am persuaded it must have been painful and humiliating to you; but as from the circumstances attending that transaction (as stated by you) it is evident that your refusal to resign would have been attended with very fatal consequences, His Majesty is graciously pleased to acquiesce in the reasons you assign for your conduct.

    It will be a very great satisfaction to me to hear that such an alteration has happened in the affairs of the Province, as to admit of your taking your Seat at the Council Board, without hazard of your life; but if the People should continue in the same state of frenzy and violence, such a step can be of no advantage to the King’s service, and may (indeed most probably would) expose you to the resentment of a People who seem determined at all events to resist the Civil Authority, and even to sacrifice the lives of their fellow subjects to the most unjustifiable pretensions.

    I am &c

    Dartmouth [56]

    Governor Gage to Secretary Dartmouth. Extract

    No 17.

    Boston October 30th 1774, and Nov. 2

    My Lord

    Nov. 2. The King’s Schooner the St Laurence which conveys this dispatch, being detained, I transmit Your Lordship the last resolves which this Provincial Congress has published, after which they adjourned to the 23d Inst. And I learn that their secret determination is, to assemble the Old Council at their next meeting, in order to form as compleat a Government as they can…

    I have the honor to be &c

    Thos Gage

    Lieutenant Governor Oliver to Secretary Dartmouth

    Boston December the 9th 1774

    My Lord

    The honor done me in your much esteemed favor of the seventeenth of October, signifying “His Majestys gracious acquiescence in the reasons assigned for my conduct” calls for my particular acknowledgments to Your Lordship, as well as my utmost exertions in the cause of my Royal Master.

    General Gage has no doubt acquainted Your Lordship that since the 2d of September, the Province has been in such a state of confusion, in which the People have so far put an end to all law and order, that the direction of Government has been rather in the line of a General than that of a Governor. And as the forms of a Council under these circumstances, and the prejudices of the People would only tend to [57] encrease their violences, and add to his difficulties and embarrassment; upon these reasons I presume he has avoided calling one. But by moderation & prudence as a Governor, and the strictest discipline as a General, has prevented every occasion which could give them a pretence for commencing hostilities, and in the mean time has enclosed and fortified the Town in such manner as to give us a full assurance of security.

    How long the Province may continue in this state, or what particular circumstances may turn up, to render a Council expedient, I cannot presume to say; but whenever His Excellency thinks proper to call a Council, I shall surely attend my Duty. This I had determined on before I had the honor to receive Your Lordships letter, and mentioned it to Govr Hutchinson in former letter.

    Indeed the more I examined the whole affair, the more clearly it appeared I could not be bound to the observance of a compulsory Promise, extorted by a Mob, who every day were verging to, and at length arrived at, a state of rebellion.

    Soon after the attack made on me the 2d of September, I removed with my family to Boston; judging it unsafe to remain longer among a People, who in such a state of frenzy, were governed by no principles, but blindly led, or impelled by a set of wicked seditious Levellers, who in form of Committees of Correspondence, and under the name of Patriots, were propagating Treason and Rebellion thro’ the Country. Various means were used to induce me to return; but not availing, they changed their conduct, and tried the effects of abuse in false reports and publications, equally unavailing.

    Here, my Lord, I shall continue, ever ready to exert myself in a cause which from Principle I have [58] uniformly asserted, and which it now more immediately becomes my duty to support.

    I have in a former letter to Your Lordship observed that I was restrained from giving any intelligence upon the general concerns of the Province, from a delicacy that I might not intrude myself into a course of communication that may be considered as more properly belonging to the Commander in Chief. But I shall be ever ready to obey Your Lordships commands upon that head.

    I am, Your Lordships most faithful and most obedient humble Servant

    Thos Oliver

    Governor Gage to Secretary Dartmouth. Extract

    No 20.

    Boston December 15th 1774

    My Lord

    Nothing has been left untryed that could tend to hurt and terrify the Mandamus Counsellors to resign, who have withstood all threats against their persons and properties, but they are still obliged to take shelter with the Troops, and I have judged what Your Lordship remarks, that in such a state the taking any step by their Advice would add no weight to the authority of Government, but rather be an argument for disobedience; for that reason I have avoided the assembling of them in Council as much as possible. I am to acknowledge the receipt of the Royal Mandamus for the admission of the Gentlemen therein nominated, into the Council; [59] Messrs Erving, Vassal and Hatch have accepted the honour conferred upon them, but desire that it may be kept secret for a time, and that they may not be called upon till they are prepared. I have yet received no positive answer from Mr Hutchinson. All the former Counsellors stand firm and deserve the greatest encouragement…

    I have the honor to be &c

    Thos Gage

    Governor Gage to Secy Dartmouth


    Boston December 25th 1774

    My Lord.

    I am to acknowledge Your Lordships circular letter of 2d of November, and inclose Your Lordship a List of the Council of the Massachusetts Bay, as it stands at present, and will not fail to transmit a like list at the Periods mentioned in Your Lordship’s letter.

    I have the honour to be with the greatest regard respect and esteem, My Lord

    Your Lordships most obedient and most humble Servant

    Thos Gage [60]

    A List Of Majesty’s Council

    In his Province of the Massachusett’s Bay

    Thomas Oliver Esq. Lieut. Govr

    John Murray

    Chief Justice Oliver

    Joshua Loring

    Harrison Gray, Treasurer

    John Irving Junr

    Thomas Flucker, Secretary

    Nat. Ray Thomas

    Foster Hutchinson

    Willm Pepperell

    William Browne

    Danl Leonard

    Timothy Ruggles

    Richd Lechmere

    Josiah Edson

    Jas. Boutineau

    John Vassal

    Accepted but not sworn in, for reasons given in letter No 20.

    Nathaniel Hatch

    George Irving

    Eliakim Hutchinson Ill, and has given no positive answer.

    Governor Gage to Secretary Dartmouth. Extracts

    No 35.

    Boston July 24th 1775

    My Lord

    I have the honour to transmit Your Lordship an Address to the King from the Council of this Province, who, notwithstanding every insult and oppression, have stood firm in their principles of Loyalty and affection to His Majestys Person and Government. I also inclose a List of the Council, to which I add the names of other Gentlemen who, as well as many of the Council are suffering for their attachment to the King and Constitution… [61]

    I am to acquaint Your Lordship of the death of Mr Eliakim Hutchinson one of His Majesty’s Council, and a Judge of the Inferior Court.…

    I have the honor to be &c

    Thos Gage

    At a Council held in the Council Chamber in Boston Monday July 17th 1775


    • His Excellency the Governor
    • His Honor the Lieut. Governor
    • Chief Justice Oliver
    • Col. Edson
    • Mr Thomas
    • Mr Gray
    • Col. Murray
    • Col. Leonard
    • Mr Flucker
    • Mr Boutineau
    • Mr Loring
    • Brigr Ruggles
    • Mr Lechmere
    • Sr Wm Pepperell
    • Judge Hutchinson
    • Col. Erving
    • Col. Hatch
    • Judge Brown
    • Col. Willard
    • Mr G. Erving

    The Council signified to His Excellency their desire that he would give them an opportunity to testify their Loyalty to their Gracious Sovereign and attachment to His Government in Humble Address, which His Excellency was pleased to Consent to, and thereupon appointed His Honor the Lieut. Governor, Chief Justice Oliver, Treasurer Gray, Brigr Ruggles, and Judge Browne to prepare an Address and report it to the Board: and then directed that the Council be adjourned to Thursday next.

    In Council July 20th

    The Council being met according to Adjournment [62] and every Member of the Board being present:—

    The Committee reported that they had prepared an Address to His Most Excellent Majesty; which was read and Unanimously Accepted, and

    Ordered, that His Excellency the Governor be desired to transmit said Address to the Right Honorable the Earl of Dartmouth to be laid before His Majesty.

    A true Copy from the Minnets of Councill

    Attest. Thos Flucker Secretary

    The Humble Address of the Council of the Province of Massachusetts Bay

    To the King’s most Excellent Majesty

    Most Gracious Sovereign.

    At a time when a most unnatural Rebellion is raging in this Province, We Your Majesty’s Council of the Massachusetts Bay, animated with the warmest affection for your Sacred Person, the most entire confidence in the wisdom and benignity of your Government, and the strongest attachment to the British Constitution, beg leave in humble Address to approach the Throne.

    While we lament the disorders and confusions of Your Majestie’s Colonies in America, we are constrained to express our abhorrence and detestation of those flagitious machinations of a number of evil men, who uninfluenced by the lenity and clemency of your Government, and unawed by the dread of your displeasure, have seduced the unwary and undisceming multitudes to adopt their Principles and promote their destructive purposes.

    With that humble satisfaction which arises from conscious integrity, we beg permission to assure Your Majesty, that notwithstanding the Resolves of Congress and the Obloquy we have been loaded with, the dangers [63] we have encountered and the evils we have suffered; yet, supported by a sense of our duty, and the hopes of your most gracious approbation, we have steadily adhered to that cause, which from principle we are engaged in.

    Regardless of those efforts to degrade us, we have ever been ready to discharge the trust reposed in us, chearfully acquiesing in the wisdom and goodness of Parliament, and acknowledging its Authority to bind us in all cases whatsoever.

    It is with concern and indignation we see the honor of our King and the Authority of the Supreme Legislature injured and affronted; tho’ with tenderness we contemplate that punitive Justice which the dignity of our Sovereign, the Authority of a British Parliament, and the security and welfare of an August Empire, require to be exercised upon a refractory People.

    We consider our connection with & dependance upon Great Britain as the surest basis of lasting peace, and prosperity to this Province. We think it our indispensable duty to contribute our utmost exertions to perpetuate, as well as our highest felicity to enjoy its blessings: and most ardently wish it may be established, under the happy auspices of Your Majesty and your illustrious family, to the latest Posterity.

    In the name and on behalf of the Council

    Thomas Oliver, President [64]

    List of Counsellors

    For the Province of Massachusetts Bay. July 21st 1775

    • Thomas Oliver Esqr Lieutenant Governor
    • Peter Oliver Esq. Chief Justice
    • Abijah Willard Esq.
    • Harrison Gray Esq.
    • John Erving Junr Esqr
    • Thomas Flucker Esq.
    • Daniel Leonard Esq.
    • Timothy Ruggles Esq.
    • Nathaniel R. Thomas Esq.
    • Josiah Edson Esq.
    • Sir William Pepperrell Bart
    • John Murray Esq.
    • Joshua Loring Esq.
    • James Bouteneau Esq.
    • William Brown Esq.
    • Richard Lechmere Esq.
    • Foster Hutchinson Esq.
    • Nathaniel Hatch Esq.
    • Sworn in since last return
    • George Erving Esq.

    List of Persons

    Who are suffering for their attachment to Government

    • James Putnam Esq.
    • John Chandler Esq.
    • Richard Saltonstall Esq. Sheriff of Essex
    • William Tyng Esq. Sheriff of Cumberland
    • David Phipps Esq. Sheriff of Middlesex
    • Joshua Loring Junr Esq. Sheriff of Suffolk
    • Elisha Jones Esq. of Weston
    • Charles Russell Esq.
    • Peter Johonnet [65]
    • Thomas Amory
    • Thomas Brindley
    • Revd Mr Wiswall
    • Richard Clark
    • Consignees
    • Benjamin Faneul
    • Thomas Hutchinson
    • Henry Barns Esq. of Marlborough
    • John Worthington Esq.
    • Fled or Kept Prisoners
    • Israel Williams Esq.
    • William Payne Esq.
    • James Russel Esq. and others at Charlestown
    • Isaac Rand - - - -
    • ditto
    • Thomas Gilbert Esq.
    • Jonathan Sewall Esq.
    • Daniel Bless, of Concord

    N.B. The foregoing Persons, both Counsellors and others have suffered exceedingly in their property, for their attachment to Government, by a Resolve of the Provincial Congress, and a total stop to all kinds of business.

    Governor Gage to Secretary Dartmouth. Extract


    Boston July 24th 1775

    My Lord

    I am sorry to acquaint Your Lordship that many of the Friends of Government and even several of the Council who have sought Protection in this Town, begin to feel distress, the money they brought with them being expended, and the Rebels preventing their receiving any profits from their [66] estates. Some of the most respectable of the Council have applyed to me for assistance; we have no publick money, nor could I dispose of it in that channel if we had. And I have been obliged to divide with them the little cash remaining of my own. We shall all soon be in the same situation, till cash is sent to us by our Agents; for by a Decree of the Congress no Officer’s Bill is to be taken, and there is not a merchant, even in New York, who now dares to send us money for our draughts…

    I have the honour to be &c

    Thos Gage

    Secretary Dartmouth to Governor Gage. Extract


    Whitehall 2d August 1775


    I have only to add, that if we are driven to the difficulty of relinquishing Boston, care must be taken that the Officers and Friends of Government be not left exposed to the rage and insults of Rebels who set no bounds to their barbarity. And when I mention this circumstance, I must not omit to inform you that His Majesty is graciously pleased, upon a representation made to him of the distress to which many of the Members of your present Council are exposed, to direct that you do, from time to time, give them such relief and make them such allowance as you shall judge necessary, and include the expence in your Contingent Accounts…

    I am &c

    Dartmouth [67]

    Governor Gage to Secretary Dartmouth. Extract

    Boston 9th October 1775

    My Lord

    I must inform Your Lordship that a Theft has been committed on the Province, and that all the Seals have been taken out of the Council Chamber where they were kept. This was observed on the 4th Inst; on the 6th I sent a Message to the Lieutenant Governor and Council, to make every necessary enquiry they possibly could, into the matter, which they have done, and I am sorry to tell Your Lordship without any good effect; which you will see by their answer to my message, which I have now the honor to transmit to Your Lordship.

    I have the honor to be, with the greatest regard respect and esteem, My Lord

    Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble Servant

    Thos Gage

    In Council, October 9th 1775

    Ordered, that His Honor the Lieutenant Governor, Chief Justice Oliver, Treasr Gray, Judge Brown and Mr Lechmere, be a Committee to wait on His Excellency the Governor with the following Answer to his Message of the 6th Instant.

    Thos Flucker Secy

    May it please Your Excellency.

    Agreeable to Your Excellency’s Message to the Board of the 6th Instant, We have gone into a [68] strict enquiry and examination under oath, of all those persons who have been returned to us, as having had access to the Council Chamber between the Ninth day of September and the Fourth of October Instant, in which we have not been able to discover any traces whereby we might come at the knowledge of the Publick Seals.

    We have directed the Secretary to lay the several affidavits before Your Excellency.

    Lieutenant Governor Oliver to Secretary Dartmouth. Extract

    Boston November 28th 1775

    My Lord

    Agreeable to His Majestys Instructions left with me by His Excellency Governor Gage, I take the earliest opportunity of acquainting Your Lordship with those circumstances which in any way relate to the Civil Government of this Province.

    Immediately upon the departure of the Governor,1214 I waited on Major General Howe and Admiral Graves, assuring them of my readiness to do every thing in my power to promote the good of His Majesty’s service, and offering my assistance, and that of the Council, in any thing that might in the least degree contribute thereto.

    General Howe soon after communicated to me a proclamation which he proposed to publish, for promoting an Association of the Inhabitants. I immediately called the Council together, & recommended it to them. They having referred the matter to me, I drew up the form of Association; such an one as I thought best calculated to answer the purpose, and [69] named to the General, the Honble Peter Oliver, Foster Hutchinson and William Brown, as proper persons to regulate it and receive the Subscriptions.

    Within the time limited by the Proclamation, 480 persons subscribed their names, and excepting some few whose characters had been doubtful, they were generally men who in principle were supporters of Government. I have already forwarded to Your Lordship, by General Burgoyne, an Abstract of the Minutes of Council, with a List of the Members, agreeable to the Instructions, and that you might be more fully informed of the whole matter, I took the liberty to send with them the General’s Proclamation with the Association referred to…

    I am, My Lord, &c

    Thomas Oliver

    At a Council held at the Council Chamber in Boston, on Wednesday the 25th day of October 1775


    • His Honor Thomas Oliver Esq. Lieutenant Governor
    • Chief Justice Oliver
    • Colo Edson
    • Mr Thomas
    • Treasurer Gray
    • Colo Murray
    • Colo Leonard
    • Brigr Ruggles
    • Mr Lechmere
    • Mr Loring
    • Judge Hutchinson
    • Colo Erving
    • Colo Hatch
    • Judge Browne
    • Colo Willard
    • Mr Geo. Erving

    His Excellency Thomas Gage Esq. Captain General and Governor in Chief of the Province having embarked for Great Britain, His Honor the Lieutenant Governor this day in Council took the Oaths by Act of Parliament appointed to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance [70] and Supremacy, repeated and subscribed the Test or Declaration therein contained; together with the Oath of Abjuration, and an Oath that he would to the utmost of his power endeavour that all the Clauses matters and things contained in the several Acts of Parliament now in force, or that shall hereafter be made relating to the Colonies or Plantations, be punctually and bona fide observed according to the intent and meaning thereof; and that he would faithfully perform the duties of Lieutenant Governor & Commander in Chief1215 of the Province, according to his best skill and judgment.

    The following Message from the Lieutenant Governor was then delivered to the Council, vizt

    A Message from His Honor the Lieutenant Governor to the Council 25 October 1775

    Gentlemen of the Council.

    His Excellency Major General Howe, Commander in Chief1216 &c &c has thought proper to communicate to me a Proclamation which he means to issue, & has desired I would communicate it to the Council. His intentions are to recommend to the well affected inhabitants of this Town, an Association for the preservation of internal Order and good Government, proposing thereby to give an opportunity to the loyal subjects under his protection, to distinguish themselves from those who are dis-affected to the King’s Government, and at the same time to establish a Military Watch or Patrole for the better maintaining the Police and internal security of the Town. He has still a further view founded on principles of humanity as well as the good of the service. He conjectures that there may be many loyal good subjects here, who in the present [71] scarcity of provisions and fuel may want relief, whose health and strength may admit of their being applied to the good purposes before mentioned. Of such he would select from the Associators a certain number, to be formed into Companies, under Officers appointed by him out of the Associators, to be solely employed within the Town for those purposes; and for which service they should be furnished with arms, and an allowance be made to such as required it, of fuel and provisions equal to what is issued to His Majesty’s troops within the Garrison.

    The General would wish that the regulation of this Association should be undertaken by some persons in whom both he and the Inhabitants can confide. I therefore refer to you the consideration of this matter; and of such persons as you shall recommend, I will take the earliest opportunity to acquaint His Excellency.

    Thomas Oliver

    And the said Message having been read, Chief Justice Oliver, Brigdr Ruggles and Judge Browne were appointed a Committee, to take the same into consideration and report an Answer thereto.

    And then the Board were adjourned to the next day.

    Thursday October 26, 1775

    Present in Council

    His Honor the Lieutenant Governor and the same Gentlemen as on yesterday

    The Committee appointed to take into consideration His Honors Message, reported the following answer, vizt

    May it please Your Honor.

    Your Honor having been pleased to communicate to the Board His Excellency the Honorable Major General [72] Howe’s intention to publish a Proclamation, to promote an Association within the Town of Boston, in order to maintain the Police and internal security of the Town, at this important crisis, as also his desire of its being communicated to His Majesty’s Council:—

    Your Honor having desired the Opinion & Advice of the Board upon this interesting occasion, we beg leave Sir to express our grateful resentment1217 of His Excellency’s great politeness in submitting his intentions to the Board and our warmest sentiments of esteem for that humanity expressed in the intended Proclamation, so evidential of a mind interesting itself not only in attention to the public welfare, but also to the relief of those private distresses in which so many of His Majesty’s loyal subject[s] are unhappily involved, from the effects of a most ungrateful rebellion: and a most sensible pleasure must be derived from the reflection that we may expect every thing which we can hope or wish for, from the Military exertions of a Gentleman endued with so amiable a character as that which General Howe is adorned with.

    Your Honor hath been pleased to refer the consideration of regulating the form of the Association to the Board, and have intimated General Howe’s wish that the regulation may be undertaken by persons in whom both himself and the Inhabitants may confide. We would therefore Sir beg leave to offer as our opinion, that we imagine the affair is so peculiar to the Military Department, that we Advise Your Honor as Commander in Chief,1218 and in whom the Board hath the most perfect confidence, from the experience of your abilities, to recommend to General Howe such persons to regulate this important and necessary Association as he may approve of, that peace and good order & the safety of His Majesty’s Loyal Subjects may be secured & established. [73]

    Read and Accepted, and Ordered that Harrison Gray, Foster Hutchinson, John Erving, Daniel Leonard and Nathaniel Hatch, Esquires, be a Committee to wait on His Honor the Lieutenant Governor with the foregoing Answer to his Message of yesterday.

    And then the Council was adjourned to the 28th of October.

    Saturday 28 October 1775

    The Council met according to Adjournment.


    • His Honor the Lieutenant Governor
    • And the same Gentlemen as before, except Brigdr Ruggles

    The Lieutenant Governor informed the Council, that the Small Pox had broken out in several parts of the Town, and that no steps had been taken by the persons appointed by law to prevent its spreading, & recommended to the Board to take some immediate measures for stopping the progress of that disease before it became more general.

    The Board entering into a consideration of the matter requested the Lieutenant Governor to consult with Major General Howe, whether it was for the good of His Majesty’s service that it should be stopped.

    And the Board was adjourned to Monday the 30th.[74]

    Monday 30th October 1775

    The Council met according to Adjournment.


    • His Honor the Lieutenant Governor
    • And the same Gentlemen of the Council, as before.

    The Lieutenant Governor having informed the Board that he was authorized by Major General Howe to say that it was for the benefit of the service that the Small Pox should if possible be prevented from spreading;—

    The Council thereupon Ordered that Richard Lechmere, John Erving and Nathaniel Hatch Esqrs be a Committee to prepare a Hospital to receive the several infected persons, and to take proper steps for their removal thereto.

    A true Copy from the Council Minutes Attest

    Fras Skinner D. Secy

    Lieutenant Governor Oliver to Secretary Dartmouth. Extracts

    Boston January 26th 1776

    My Lord

    I am come now to lay before Your Lordship the state of this Town, in which I beg leave to be a little more particular.

    The Town of Boston, which in its most flourishing [75] state might contain about 15000 Inhabitants, is now reduced to about 3500. Of this number I presume there may be one thousand males. Two hundred and fifty of which are refugees from the Country, 750 of its original male inhabitants, and 2500 women and children.

    Of the 1000 males I have no doubt that 500 are truly loyal subjects, and such as have exhibited the strongest proofs of their attachment to Government. Of the remaining 500 I believe one half, viz. 250 to be as strongly attached to the Rebel interest; the other half to be mere indifferent. I should here observe that the women and children are for the greatest part families of the loyal subjects, the others having more generally sent their families out when they could not go themselves; so that the Loyal and their connections may amount to upwards of 2000.

    During the Blockade these people have generally subsisted themselves by their own means & industry. The difficulties they have undergone have been great and pressing. We had no fund to support these people nor the expence of the Police; no rent being paid either by the troops or others, at least with very few exceptions. Under these circumstances it was impossible to exercise the Civil Powers, without embarrassment to the service, and for that reason it has continued in a dormant state, most things being conducted in a Military line. Thus far My Lord, I have acted upon my own judgment; but I could wish to have Your Lordships directions for my future conduct.

    If this post is to be maintained and the country to be penetrated from hence, it may possibly produce such an alteration of circumstances as to require an alteration of our present mode of Government. If we are able to drive the Rebels back in the country (which will require a great force and early applied) it may [76] open a door to many persons coming in, of whom we may form some kind of Civil Society. A continuation of military Government in that case, might deter many from returning to their loyalty, and lead them rather to retreat back with the Rebels, to the increase of their numbers.

    If a Garrison should only be continued here, and the War prosecuted in some other part, and the Port Bill suspended (which seems absolutely necessary) Trade in that case might require a restoration of Civil Government, or many of the Inhabitants must be supported as part of the Garrison at public charge.

    But if this Place should be abandoned & the army remove to any other part of the Continent, I beg leave to be directed how I shall dispose of the Council and other Civil Officers. To carry them with the army would perhaps be a clog to the service: to leave them behind, would be to expose many of them to destruction. There are I suppose sixty or seventy Persons, with their families, who could never make their peace with the Rebels, and who would be unable to subsist themselves by any means when deprived of their Property. Thirty of them, exclusive of the Revenue Officers, are now some way or other supported by Government. If that support was continued they might remove to some cheap country, until their services were wanted: but the remainder must suffer…

    Your Lordships most faithful and most obedient humber Servant

    Thos Oliver [77]

    Lieutenant General [sic] Oliver to Secretary Dartmouth. Extracts

    Boston March the 10th 1776

    My Lord.

    General Howe having determined to remove with the Garrison immediately from this place, (the reasons of which Your Lordship will more particularly learn from him) I am now preparing to embark for Halifax, with the Council, and such of the Inhabitants as dare not trust themselves to the violence of the People.

    Solicitous to pursue such steps as may be most for the interest of Government I am under some embarrassment what course to take; whether to go with the army, or to proceed to England. But as the shipping here is not sufficient to convey those who choose to leave America, I thought it most prudent to go with them to Halifax.

    General Howe has been so kind as to provide us ships, but as our removal is sudden and the means of transportation rather confined, we are obliged to content ourselves with taking only such necessaries as will barely suffice for the passage. The remainder of our effects we must leave behind…

    As my charge and trust must of course cease (at least for some time) and as I can no way contribute to the promoting of the service, I shall think it my duty to repair to England…

    I have the honor to be. My Lord

    Your Lordships most obedient & most faithful humble Servant

    Thos Oliver [78]

    Lieutenant Governor Oliver to Secretary Lord George Germain. Extract

    Halifax Nov. Scota 21 April 1776

    My Lord.

    By His Majesty’s ship Milford I had the honor to receive Your Lordships letters, circular, bearing date the Tenth of November and 23d of December last…

    The abandoning of the Town of Boston, & removal of the troops from that post, renders it, My Lord, unnecessary to say any thing upon the subject of Your Lordship’s instructions to me, as Civil Commander1219 of that Province. I can only assure Your Lordship that, had it been expedient to have maintained that Post, I should with the utmost zeal, have continued to have discharged my duty in paying all obedience to His Majesty’s Instructions…

    I have advised with General Howe, my Lord Percy, and Admiral Shuldham, whether by my continuance here, I could in any degree contribute to the promoting of His Majesty’s service. They all agree, that in the present circumstances there can be nothing for me to do, and approve of my going to England…

    The Honble Major General Howe having determined on the 6th of March to evacuate the Town of Boston, made me acquainted with his intentions, & desired I would with the greatest expedition prepare the Council and such of the Inhabitants as choose to leave the Town, for embarking with the Army. Accordingly the short time allowed for that purpose was employed in making the necessary preparations; and on the Tenth of March, by orders from the General, we embarked on board five transports allotted for that [79] purpose. The very hasty manner of our embarkation, as well as the crowded condition of the ships, prevented our taking with us any thing more than our private Papers, Plate, and Sea Stores.

    On the 17th of March the General and the Army embarked, … and, stopping at King-Road some days to make the necessary arrangements, and to destroy the works at the Castle, proceeded to Nantasket Harbour. On the 25th of March the wind being fair, we sailed in the first Division for Halifax, under the convoy of the Fowey Man of War, where we arrived the 29th of March…

    I Robert Lemon Chief Clerk in Her Majesty’s State Paper Office, London, do hereby Declare that this Transcript of the Minutes and Proceedings of the Council of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, from the 9th of April 1774 to the 21st of April 1776, is a true Copy, extracted from the Originals preserved in the State Paper Office. Witness my hand this 3rd day of September in the Tear of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Two.

    Robt Lemon

    I hereby Certify that Mr Robert Lemon made the above Declaration and signed the same in my presence this 3rd day of September 1852.

    Abbott Lawrence

    Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America