A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at the house of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, No. 28 Newbury Street, Boston, on Thursday, February 25, 1926, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Samuel Eliot Morison, Ph.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
Mr. Charles Knowles Bolton of Shirley, Mr. Arthur Howland Buffinton of Williamstown, and Mr. Charles Eliot Goodspeed of Wollaston, were elected Resident Members, and Mr. Charles Evans of Chicago, Illinois, and Mr. Henry Crocker Kittredge of Concord, New Hampshire, were elected Corresponding Members.
Mr. Percival Merritt read a paper on
The clearly defined and continuous history of the French Protestant Church in Boston begins with the arrival of the Rev. Pierre Daillé from New York, probably during the summer of 1696. He had, however, four predecessors who appear to have had some connection, albeit a slight one, with the French Huguenots in Boston.
Laurentius Van den Bosch
The first was Laurentius Van den Bosch (Laurence Vanderbush), who arrived in Boston early in 1685. He seems to have been a Frenchman, either by birth or by descent, who had lived in Holland, where his name, du Bois, had been changed to the Dutch equivalent.624 He removed to England and obtained Anglican ordination in August, 1682.625 He then went to Carolina, where he spent two years, and from there came to Boston. The earliest record of him in Boston is found in “A List of Seuerall psons returned to ye Countie Courts at seuerall times not admitted nor aproued of by ye selectmen of Boston to be Inhabitants of ye Towne.”626 “1685 Apr. 9. Lawrence Vandebost a ffrench Ministr at Andrew Marrines [Marriner’s] that hath baptized & Marryed some persons here contrarie to Law.”627 Van den Bosch drew down upon himself a scathing comment from the dominant clerical party on account of his character and practices, as appears in the tract entitled A Vindication of New England.628 W. C. Ford, in a paper on Ezéchiel Carré,629 reproduces a letter from Van den Bosch to the Bishop of London,630 July 4, 1685, in which he recalled to the Bishop the fact that he had received ordination at his hands “au première jour d’Aoust,” for the purpose of being minister in Carolina, where he had remained for two years; that it had been impossible for him to continue there because the French people could contribute nothing to his support. He had left Carolina for Boston, where he found cause for complaint on account of his treatment by the Independents, because he was a minister of the Church of England and endeavored to maintain its interests and its Liturgy. He had found himself in trouble and persecuted because he had performed marriages and baptisms. He also referred to the difficulty of attempting to establish a French Church on account of the scarcity of French people in Boston.631 Under date of September 23, 1685, Sewall recorded in his Diary that “Laurence Vandenbosk Fr.[ench] Minister Marries [Giles] Sylvester and Widow Gillam; though had promis’d the Court to do no more such things: this about the beginning 7r: is since gone to New York.”632 Daillé wrote from New York to Increase Mather on May 2, 1686, and again in July, interceding on behalf of the French in Boston that they should not suffer on account of the annoyances caused by Van den Bosch and his irregularities.633 In his letter of July, 1686, Daillé also wrote that:
he, contrary to pledges given, and to what is honorable and just, snatched away to himself two parts of our Church (which reside in the country); so that our Church, which, before the arrival of the above mentioned Vandenbosch was intimately joined together, and, so to speak, one heart and one soul, now went off into parts.634
Van den Bosch on his removal to New York had allied himself with the French Congregation, but had soon introduced dissension by drawing off those of its members who lived on Staten Island, and establishing a congregation of his own there.635 The Reverend Henricus Selyns, minister of the Dutch Church in New York, wrote the Classis of Amsterdam on September 20, 1686, that “Many French refugees were filling up the churches there, (in America). Rev. Peter Daille, at New York, Rev. Lambertus van der Bosch, on Staten Island; and at Boston, Rev. Morpo, were ministers of that nationality.”636 He seems to have remained at Staten Island for about two years and then to have gone to the Church at Esopus.637 It is impossible to establish dates with any satisfactory degree of accuracy. Contemporary records are meagre and statements by later writers are general and vague. It is probable that he went to the church at Esopus, or Kingston, in 1688, and remained there until some time in 1690, or possibly was in the vicinity, at least, until 1691.
In a Bill, dated at Windsor, August 19, 1688, for the purpose of making “free Denizens of this our kingdome of England” provided they live “within our kingdome, or elsewhere within our Dominions” there appears the name of “Lambert Bosch.”638 Whether this was Van den Bosch or not cannot be stated positively, but it seems not unlikely, in view of his position later on as Rector of an Anglican Church in a purely English Province, and of the fact that the Royal Governor of New York was on occasions applied to for Letters of Denization.
On July 31, 1690, the Dutch Church at Albany reported to the Classis of Amsterdam that “The minister at Esopus (Vandenbosch) is unfit for his office.”639 A month later, August 30, the Church of Kingston in a letter to the Classis referred to the
death of our very worthy minister, Domine Weeksteen; also that his place has again been supplied by Domine Laurentius Van den Bosch. But to our very great grief, we must say that he has, by his bad behavior, caused more wickedness than edification. It would be too tedious, to go into details. Domine Dellius,640 who with others have been a Committee on this matter, can verbally inform your Reverences thereof. The business has taken such a shape that he has himself offered his resignation to the Consistory. This alone prevented a decision in his case. The said Van den Bosch is still here, and occasionally preaches in some house; but this only causes disputes and alienations. There is a great breach in our church, and only God knows how it is to be healed.641
The Rev. Mr. Selyns also wrote the Classis on September 14, 1690, that:
Domine Laurentius Van den Bosch, who was called from Staten Island to the Esopus, we found it necessary to suspend from the ministry for drunkenness and incivility; but he still continues to preach and to drink. Unless your Reverences in your official capacity, sustain us — for we in ourselves are without authority and quite powerless — by censuring said Vanden Bosch in an open Classical letter sent to us, it may be expected that all things will decline, and the disintegration of the Church continue.642
In course of time the Classis took up the subject of Selyns’ letter, and referred it to the Deputati ad Res Maritimas to examine the Acta of the churches of New Netherland as to the government of the churches since they came under English rule, and to take action in accordance with the situation of affairs.643 On June 27, 1691, the Deputati reported that they could find no instance of censure being passed on a minister in New Netherland, but that they found cases of dismissal by the local authorities without having asked the approval of the Classis.644 Van den Bosch, however, settled the matter in his own way. The Rev. Messrs. Selyns, Varick, and Dellius wrote the Classis, October 12, 1692, that “Domine Vander Bosch, who was under censure, has left Esopus and gone to Maryland.”645 And on January 30, 1693, Mr. Selyns wrote the Classis on behalf of the Church of Kingston requesting them “to call a pious and orthodox minister in the place of Laurence van den Bosch, who was deposed on account of his unedifying life, and who has run away.”646
Exactly when he made his appearance in Maryland is not known, but he was certainly there in 1692.647 In that year the General Assembly of the Province of Maryland passed an Act for the establishment of the Protestant Religion in the Province which was signed June 2d.648 The Act provided that the Commissioners of the various counties should lay out and divide their counties into parishes. On the 22d of November, 1692, the Commissioners of Cecil County divided their territory into two parishes, North and South Sassafras.649 Johnston’s History of Cecil County states that “The Rev. Laurence Vanderbush was then officiating in North Sassafras, and had probably been there for some time, for it is a matter of record that he administered a baptism on the 2d of July previous , and during the year he baptized eighteen others. But little more is known of his history, only that he died in 1696, at which time he was also in charge of South Sassafras parish.”650 The Parish Church of North Sassafras was St. Stephen’s, in what is now Earleville, and that of South Sassafras was St. Paul’s, in Shrewsbury.651 Some extracts have been published from the “Church Record of St. Paul’s Parish, from 30th Jan’y 1693 to 11th April 1726.”652 Under the year 1694 is this entry: “9th d. 7th. Mr. Laurence Vanderbush having offered himself to officiate as Minister, was accepted at a salary of 800 lbs.653 of tobacco per annum. Mr. John Leigh was appointed clerk of the Vestry.”654 The Church Records also show that Van den Bosch’s successor was the Rev. Stephen Bordly, who was licensed by the Bishop of London to the Province of Maryland, and appointed by Governor Francis Nicholson, under date of June 23, 1697, to officiate as a clergyman of the Church of England in the Parish of St. Paul’s.655 There is no record as to the actual date of the death of Mr. Van den Bosch, but it was undoubtedly some time during the year 1696, as stated in the History of Cecil County.
David de Bonrepos
The Massachusetts Archives, under date of July 12, 1686, contain a record of the petition of the French Protestants, lately arrived from St. Christopher’s, to live here and bring in their effects. It was ordered that upon taking the Oath of Allegiance they should be allowed to reside in his Majesty’s dominions, and to proceed from hence and return hither as freely as any other of his Majesty’s subjects.656 It is believed that with them, or soon after, came the Rev. David de Bonrepos.657 It is known that his brother, Elie de Bonrepos, was among the heads of families who came to this country from the Island of St. Christopher.658 In the letter of the Rev. Henricus Selyns to the Classis of Amsterdam, September 20, 1686, which is cited above, he refers to the minister at Boston as the “Rev. Morpo.”659 While it is difficult to see how the name de Bonrepos could have become transmogrified into “Morpo” there is little doubt that this allusion is to David de Bonrepos.660 This supposition is strengthened by the fact that ten years later, September 30, 1696, Selyns wrote “Domine Morpe (or Morpo) labors in the more distant places in the country,”661 at which time de Bonrepos is known to have been engaged in pastoral work outside of the city of New York.
He was still in Boston during the winter of 1687–88. In the Report of a French Protestant Refugee in Boston, containing letters written from Boston, November-December, 1687, an allusion is made to the fact that “M. de Bonrepos, Brother of our Minister, has bought one [an English residence] fifteen Miles from here, and at one League from a very pretty Town, and where there is a great Trade, which they call Sallem …”662 During the ministry of de Bonrepos in Boston permission was given by the Council of Massachusetts Bay to the French Protestants to make use of the Latin Schoolhouse for their religious services.663 Some time in 1688 de Bonrepos removed to New Rochelle, where there were a number of refugees from St. Christopher.664 Selyns informed the Classis of Amsterdam, October 10, 1688, that “About five hours from here, where Nova Rupella (New Rochelle) is laid out, and is building up, a new (French) minister (David Bon Repos) has arrived.”665
Here he remained probably until 1696, when he became pastor of the Church at Staten Island, and also assumed the care of the church at New Palz. It is possible that his removal from New Rochelle may have taken place a year or two earlier, but the available, though scanty, evidence points to 1696.666 The correspondence of Selyns with the Classis of Amsterdam shows that by September, 1696, at the latest, Daniel Bondet had succeeded to the charge of the Church at New Rochelle, and de Bonrepos [Morpo] was at work in the country.667 C. W. Baird in an article on Pierre Daillé states that “Staten Island was now  supplied with a pastor, De Bon Repos, who also succeeded Daillé in the charge of the church at New Palz.”668 The Rev. A. V. Wittmeyer, in a Monograph on the Huguenots in America and their connection with the Church, wrote that de Bonrepos took charge of the church at New Palz in 1696, and that he was succeeded at New Rochelle by Bondet in “1694 or more probably in 1696.”669
Mr. de Bonrepos seems to have remained at Staten Island until his death in 1734. His name appears as a witness to the will of a resident of Richmond County in 1713.670 May 6, 1734, there was proved the will of “David de Bonrepos, Minister of the Holy Gospel, in the County of Richmond,” the will itself being dated June 16, 1733.671
Ezéchiel Carré, a native of the Isle of Ré, was admitted in 1670 to the study of philosophy and theology in the Académie of Geneva.672 He became later pastor of two congregations in France, Mirambeau in Saintonge and La Roche Chalais in Guyenne.673 When, in the autumn of 1686, a party of forty-five French Protestant families sailed for New England for the purpose of settling in the Narragansett Country, Carré accompanied them as their minister.674 After the departure of de Bonrepos from Boston, Carré frequently preached to the French Congregation there, as did also Daniel Bondet, then at Oxford, Mass. Occasionally the pulpit was supplied by the Rev. Nehemiah Walter, of the First Church in Roxbury, an accomplished French scholar.675
In W. C. Ford’s paper on Carré he has given an interesting account of a tract printed by Samuel Green in 1690 and written “Par Ezechiel Carre cy deuant Ministre de la Rochechalais en France, â present Ministre de l’Eglise Francaise de Boston en la Nouvelle Angleterre.”676 It consists of an examination by Carré of a Catechism by a Jesuit Father, written in an Indian language, for the purpose of instructing the Indians on the principal points of religion, which aroused the antagonism of the French Protestant. Cotton Mather contributed a preface, and Carré addressed his introductory letter to “Messieurs Les Anciens de l’eglise Françoise de Boston.” The title-page shows that he considered himself, and was regarded as, the minister of the French Congregation in Boston at that time.
In the summer of 1691 the French colony at Narragansett was broken up, and the various families, with the exception of two or three, removed to other places.677 Seven went to Boston, others to Oxford, Milford, Connecticut, New Rochelle, and South Carolina, but the larger part went to New York, twenty-one of the names which were recorded in the Narragansett colony reappearing in the records of the French Church in New York.678 As regards Carré himself there is no further record, and it is not known whether he returned to Europe or went to some other locality in America or the West Indies.
The Records of the Council of Massachusetts Bay contain the following entry under date of August 5, 1686: “There are lately arrived fifteen French Familyes with a Religious Protestant Minister, who are in all Men, Women and Children, more than four score soules, and are such as fled from France for Religions sake, and by their long passage at sea, their Doctor & twelve Men are Dead” … Charity was solicited for these and other French refugees who were expected to arrive, and action was taken accordingly by the Council for their relief.679 The Protestant Minister referred to in this record of the Council, is believed to be Daniel Bondet, who accompanied the French refugees to their settlement at Oxford, or New Oxford, in the Nipmuck Country. According to a statement, made to the Classis of Amsterdam, by the Rev. Henricus Selyns, September 30, 1696, he had formerly been a professor at the Protestant Academy of Saumur.680 While in England, and shortly before his departure for this country, he was ordained a minister in the Anglican Church, as is shown by the records in the registry of the See of London: “13 day of April 1686 — On this day Daniel Bondet of France was admitted to holy orders as Deacon and Priest by the above written Lord Bishop”681 [Henry Compton]. He also received an appointment from the Company for propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America to serve as their Missionary among the Indians.682 The French settlement at Oxford was established either in the autumn of 1686, or the spring or summer of 1687.683 A statement made by Bondet in a petition to Lord Cornbury in 1702 affords some presumption in favor of the earlier date:
I am a french Refugee Minister, incorporated into the body of the ministry of the Anglican Church; I removed about fifteen years ago 684 into New England with a company of poor refugees to whom land was granted for their settlement, and to provide for my subsistence I was allowed one hundred and five pieces per annum from the funds of the corporation for the propagation of the Gospel among the Savages. I performed that duty during nine years with a success approved and attested by those who presided over the affairs of that Province.… I remained, after that, two years in that province expecting a favorable season for the reestablishment of affairs, but after waiting two years, seeing no appearance, and being invited to remove to this Province of New York by Col. Heathcote who always evinces an affection for the public good and distinguishes himself by a special application for the advancement of religion and good order, by the establishment of Churches and Schools, the fittest means to strengthen and encourage the People, I complied with his request and that of the company of New Rochelle in this province, where I passed five years on a small allowance promised me by New Rochelle.…685
At a Council meeting held at Fort William Henry June 29, 1702, it was ordered that Bondet’s petition be referred to Colonel Caleb Heathcote for examination and report. He found:
that the Petitioner was employed about fifteen years ago by the corporation for Propagating the Xtian ffaith amongst the Indians at a place called New Oxford near Boston, … Dureing the time of his stay there, which was about eight years, it appears by a certificate under the hands of the late Lieut. Governour Stoughton of Boston, Wait Winthrope, Increase Mather, and Charles Morton, that he with great faithfullnesse care & industry discharged his duty both in reference to Xtians & Indians, and was of an unblemished life and Conversation.686
Bondet’s statement in his petition in 1702 that he had been “during nine years” at Oxford, two years in the Province, and five years at New Rochelle, sixteen years in all, would locate him at Oxford in 1686. Heathcote repeats his statement as to “about fifteen years,” but refers to his stay at Oxford as about eight years instead of nine, which would seem partially contradictory of Bondet’s statement. But by June, 1702, he had been for nearly six years at New Rochelle, a fact with which Heathcote was thoroughly familiar, so that allowing eight years for Oxford, six years for New Rochelle, and two years for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, or sixteen years in all, the correspondence with Bondet’s statement is exact. Both statements, however, are so general that it is not possible to draw definite conclusions. The same difficulty arises in attempting to determine the exact time when Bondet left Oxford. The settlement was temporarily broken up by an Indian massacre which took place in August, 1696.687 Bondet had withdrawn from the colony some time before this and removed to Boston. His successor, Rev. James Laborie, in presenting a petition, dated October 1, 1699, to the Governor and Council of Massachusetts Bay on behalf of the inhabitants who had resettled at Oxford in 1699, wrote:
Mr. Bondet, formerly minister of this town, not only satisfied to leave us almost two years before the Indians did commit any act of hostility in this place, but carried away all the books which had been given for the use of the plantation, with the acts and papers of the village, we most humbly supplicate your Excellency and the most Honorable Council to oblige Mr. Bondet to send back again said books, acts, and papers belonging to said plantation.688
From this statement it is supposed that he removed to Boston some time in the autumn of 1694, where he remained until 1696, during which period it is probable that he ministered to the needs of the French congregation.689 Some time in 1696 Bondet took charge of the French Church at New Rochelle at the suggestion of Col. Heathcote.690 On September 30, 1696, the Rev. Mr. Selyns wrote the Classis of Amsterdam that:
Domine Brodet, (Bondet,) who was formerly professor at Salmur, (Saumur,) and who has lived and preached for eight years among the Indians, has been called to New Rochelle, five hours from here, where he gives great satisfaction by his gifts and holy life.691
His ministrations there were for the benefit both of the French and the English. On June 21, 1699, he signed a testimonial, with several other ministers, in behalf of the Rev. Mr. Dellius, and described himself as “Minister of the French and English Church. at New Rochelle, and Assistant Teacher of the Indians.”692 Ten years later, June 6, 1709, the members of the Church together with Mr. Bondet addressed a letter to Col. Caleb Heathcote asking him:
to assist us with your presence and directions, that we may come to some terms of resolution for to have our church in full conformity with the National Church of England; and for to have the protection and assistance of the Rulers and encouragers of the same, that the service of God may be established in our place according to that holy rule693 …
It is not improbable that Heathcote, who was an active Churchman, had been instrumental in bringing about this expression of a desire for conformity. At all events he conferred with them as requested and under date of June 13, 1709, reported the matter to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts with his favorable recommendation.694 It is evident, however, that at a somewhat earlier period this subject had been brought directly to the attention of the authorities in England, as is shown by the wording of the commission from the Lieut. Governor of New York to Bondet to be the Anglican minister of New Rochelle:
The bearer hereof Mr Daniell Bondett an Orthodox Minister of the Church of England having laid before me the Orders of ye Right Honoble and Right Reverend ffather in God Henry [Compton] by Divine mission Lord Bishop of London and Diocesan of this Province to officiate in your Church and Parrish according to ye Rules & Constitution of the Church of England as by Law Established bearing date June 16th 1709, as also a Letter from ye Venerable Society for propagation of ye Gospel in fforeign parts bearing date June 6th with an Extract of their Journal June 3, 1709 Constituting and Appointing him one of their Missionaries and a Yearly Sallary for his Service in Your Church. You are therefore hereby directed to receive him as such. Given undr my Hand & Seal this ninth day of November in the Eighth year of ye Reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Anne of Great Brittain &c Annoq: Dni 1709. Richd Ingoldesby.695
The records of the Venerable Society show that:
At New Rochelle the Society in 1709 met the wishes of a settlement of French Protestants for conformity with the Church of England by adopting their Minister the Rev. D. Bondet, and instructing him to use the English Liturgy; whereupon the people generally conformed. … Mr. Bondet (1709–21) had a large congregation. …696
After a pastorate at New Rochelle covering a period of twenty-six years Mr. Bondet died either late in August or early in September, 1722.697 His will, which was dated March 24, 1722, and proved September 21, 1722, constituted as his sole heir Lieutenant Oliver Besly, Jr., of New Rochelle, and provided that all his books should be given for “the use of the Church at New Rochelle.”698
Pierre Daillé, who had been a professor in the Academy of Saumur and became an exile from France on account of his religion, came to New York from Holland some time during the year 1682. In a sketch of Daillé, published in 1877, the Rev. Charles W. Baird wrote that:
In 1682 Domine Henricus Selyns came from Holland to take sole charge of the Dutch Reformed Church of New York. With him, or soon after him, Pierre Daillé arrived there. An eminent authority states that he was engaged by the Consistory of that Church to come and preach to the French.699
In his Monograph on the Huguenots in America, the Rev. A. V. Wittmeyer, Secretary of the Huguenot Society of America, wrote that “in 1682, the project of founding a permanent French Church at New York was successfully resumed by the Rev. Pierre Daillé, who has been very appropriately called the Apostle of the Huguenots in America.” Mr. Wittmeyer also stated that while Daillé was in Holland he received a call from the Dutch Church of New York, which never forgot the religious interests of the Huguenots, and that his mission was to preach to his brethren who were scattered through the Province.700 His relation to Selyns, and the nature of his functions, are clearly set forth in a letter from Selyns to the Classis of Amsterdam, dated October 21–31, 1683:
Domine Peter Daille, formerly Professor at Salmurs, (Saumur, France,) has become my colleague. He exercises his ministry in the French Church here. He is full of zeal, learning and piety. Exiled for the sake of his religion, he now devotes himself here to the cause of Christ with untiring energy. Rev. John Gordon has come over from England, to perform service for the English. His English service is after my morning service, and the French service is after my afternoon service.701
Some months earlier, May 8–18, 1683, Selyns had written to the Boston ministers, with whom he always maintained friendly relations, that:
I am alone, and alone am ministering in sacred things to this church and to circumjacent churches, by preaching three times every week in this city, and in some [weeks] oftener elsewhere; except the Reverend Mr. Daillé, who forsook France on account of persecution, and who preaches [to the French], and Mr Peter Van Zuuren, who is a promulgator of the oracles of God in certain country places. They are men of similar life and faith.702
The Rev. Charles H. Stitt in his article on the “Huguenots of New Palz” states that the church of New Palz was organized by Daillé, and that the first entry in the Records of the Church is as follows:
Jan. 22d, 1683, Mr. Pierre Daille, minister of the word of God, arrived at New Palz, and preached twice on the Sunday following, and proposed to the families to choose by a majority of the votes of the fathers of families an Elder and Deacon, which they did, and chose Louis Dubois for Elder, and Hugh Freer for Deacon, to aid the minister in the management of the members of the Church meeting at New Palz, who were then confirmed to the said charge of Elder and Deacon. The present minute has been made to put in order the things which pertain to the said Church.703
Daillé’s ministry in New York City, and the adjacent country places, continued about fourteen years, during which time the correspondence of Selyns and the other Dutch ministers with the Classis of Amsterdam contains frequent references to him. But gradually his field of labor seems to have become curtailed. Van den Bosch, as we have seen above, established an independent congregation on Staten Island. De Bonrepos, after serving some years at New Rochelle, removed to Staten Island, and also assumed charge of the church at New Palz. The Rev. Pierre Peiret, who arrived in New York in the latter part of 1687, came in course of time to have the special charge of the church in the city.704 It is generally stated that Daillé accepted a call from the French Church in Boston and removed there in 1696. The Rev. Henricus Selyns wrote the Classis of Amsterdam, September 30, 1696, that “Domine Daillé, recently the French minister here, has been called to Boston, and ministers in the French church there. Domine Perrot, a man of great learning, formerly a minister in France, now serves the Church of God here.”705 This statement would seem sufficiently explicit to establish the year of Daillé’s removal, and as a matter of fact there is no known record of his being in Boston prior to 1696. But nearly three years earlier the Rev. Messrs. Selyns and Rudolphus Varick wrote the Classis under date of November 20, 1693, “Domine Daille, the French minister, is called to Boston, and is going there. Domine Perrot will therefore take charge of the French services both in the city and the country.”706 This letter suggests the possibility of a removal to Boston earlier than 1696. Mr. Wittmeyer wrote in regard to Daillé’s connection with the Church at Staten Island that he continued to serve until 1694, with the exception of two years during which he had been supplanted by Van den Bosch.707 Mr. Baird stated that Daillé’s last visit to the Church at New Palz appears to have been made in April, 1694.708 Still all writers on this subject give the year 1696 without qualification, and in absence of any positive evidence to the contrary attention can only be called to the possibility.
The earliest record which is found of Daillé in Boston is of September 4, 1696, when he certified as “Daillé Ministre” to the marks of certain French refugees from Oxford affixed to a petition in favor of Gabriel Bernon.709 Cotton Mather, in the Magnalia, in his list of Suffolk County ministers, “at this present Year 1696,” includes “a French Congregation of Protestant Refugees, under the Pastoral Cares of Monsieur Daille.”710 Esther, the first wife of Pierre Daillé, died during this year and her death is recorded under date of December 14.711
Daillé’s pastorate, which continued for nineteen years, appears to have been a successful one. His relations with the Congregational ministers in Boston and with the inhabitants in general were friendly, and his position in the community was well established both by reason of his learning and his exemplary life.712 Although this was the most successful period of the French Church, it was not without its difficulties owing to the poverty and paucity of its members. In June, 1700, the Elders of the Church, Rawlings, Chardon, and Grignion, petitioned Governor Bellomont and the Council for aid because many of their people had left, or were about leaving, Boston, and stated that they needed assistance to enable them to maintain their minister.713 It seems probable that this petition was forwarded to England and brought to the attention of the King, for on October 24, 1701, Francis Foxcroft petitioned the Council for the remission of all duties on European commodities to the value of £300 sterling, the gift of his Majesty for the use of the French Church.714
As has been stated above, the French Protestants were granted by the Council, as early as November, 1687, permission to use the Latin Schoolhouse for the purposes of their religious, services.715 By 1704 they had acquired a piece of land in what is now School Street and wished to build a church of their own. The Minutes of the Council of January 12, 1704[–5] contain this record:
Upon a Representation made by Mr. Daille Minister and the Elders of the French Protestant Church in Boston, That his late Majesty King William had bestowed on them Eighty-three pounds to be Imploy’d towards building them a House for the publick worship of God, Setting forth, That they have purchased a peice of Land in Schoolhouse Lane in Boston for that use, Praying to be Licensed to aske & receive the Benevolence of well disposed persons that shall be willing to Encourage so pious a worke to assist them in the said Building. Advised That License be accordingly granted & the money’s thereby collected to bee put into the hands of Simeon Stoddard Esqr and to be Applyed for the use aforesd and no other. And the House when built to be forever continued and Improved for religious worship.716
Upon application to the Selectmen of Boston the Church officers received an unfavorable response. At a meeting of the Selectmen on January 29, 1705, it had been resolved that the congregation of French Protestants having for some years past held their public meetings in the Free Schoolhouse, and for some months past had met in another convenient room, while the old Schoolhouse was taken down and a more commodious one built, the new house now having been finished the congregation was given liberty to meet in it as they had formerly done in the old one.717 At the next meeting, held on February 7, it was recorded that the French Congregation having petitioned for a license to erect with timber a building for a meeting-house, thirty-five by thirty feet on Schoolhouse Lane, the Selectmen had consulted with the major part of the Justices of the Town. They declared it to be their opinion that it should not be granted since the French had the offer of liberty to meet in the New Schoolhouse, “that being Sufficient for a far greater number of persons than doth belong to their Congregation,” and accordingly the Selectmen disallowed the petition.718 By reason of this decision the meeting-house was not built until after the death of Daillé.
In September, 1706, a letter and petition were prepared by Daillé for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, asking for assistance and stating that “It is proper that a minister try every resource before forsaking his flock.”719 The petition was forwarded to the Secretary of the Society by Governor Dudley in October, 1706, with his recommendation of the appeal. The Rev. Samuel Myles, Rector of King’s Chapel, and Christopher Bridge, the King’s Lecturer, also wrote endorsing the application.720 But the reply of the Society was unfavorable: “Mr. Daillé had not been sent out under its auspices, nor was his congregation ‘conformable to the Church of England.’”721
During the remaining years of his life there is little to note, either in regard to him or to the Church. Sewall refers to him occasionally; once in 1706 as attending a burial in the company of the Rev. Mr. Colman.722 In 1713 he was one of the clerical pall-bearers, together with the Rev. Messrs. Wadsworth, Pemberton, and Colman, at the funeral of the second wife of Cotton Mather.723 On April 14, 1715, Sewall wrote: “I visit Mr. Peter Daillie, who seems to be in a languishing dying Condition; has kept house about 8. weeks.”724 He died on May 20, 1715, at the age of sixty-six, and was buried in the Granary Burying Ground.725 By his will he gave his French and Latin books to the French Church as a library for the perpetual use of its ministers. He also left £100, the interest thereof to be used for the support of the minister for the time being, and £10 for the use of the Church when its Meeting-House should be erected.726
Andrew (André) Le Mercier
Andrew Le Mercier was a native of Caen in Normandy, and a graduate of the Academy of Geneva.727 In the year in which his predecessor, Pierre Daillé, died, 1715, Le Mercier, then about twenty-three years of age, entered into a contract in London with Andrew Faneuil of Boston, to become the pastor of the French Church at an annual salary of one hundred pounds New England currency.728 He reached Boston before the end of the year and entered upon his pastoral duties. In the following year the long delayed church building was erected, a brick edifice, on School Street, and was employed as a place of worship by the French congregation until the sale of the property in 1748. While he probably was not the equal of Daillé, either as a man of learning or as a preacher, he appears to have had a fairly successful pastorate. In course of time, however, his congregation diminished and finally became a very small body, doubtless owing to the removal of French Protestants from the city, and also to their gradual absorption into the community at large, and to their allying themselves with other religious bodies. In 1730 he, with several others, petitioned the General Court to be admitted to the privileges of citizenship, which accordingly was granted to them. In 1732 he published in Boston his Church History of Geneva together with a Political and Geographical Account of the Republic of Geneva. In the following year he also published a Treatise against Detraction. In the latter volume, in his Dedication to the Elders and others of the French Church, he wrote:
You have not despised my Youth, when I first came among you; you have since excused my Infirmities, and as I did the same in respect to yours, it has pleased our Saviour, the Head of his Church, to favour us with an uninterrupted Peace and Union in our Church for the almost eighteen Years, that I have preached the Word of Salvation to you. By that blessed Peace, our Flock tho’ exceeding small, hath subsisted, and even is enlarged by the addition of some who were once the Opposers of our Doctrine, I mean Roman Catholicks, several of whom have been here converted by the preaching of GOD’s Word; and also by the addition of some Protestants of other Nations.729
Le Mercier also manifested a philanthropic and humanitarian interest in affairs outside the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The Gay Transcripts in the Massachusetts Historical Society contain a copy of a proposal, addressed by him from Boston, September 28, 1729, to the Governor of Nova Scotia, Richard Phillips, for settling a colony of one hundred families of French Protestants in Nova Scotia if they should have sufficient encouragement granted to them. He desired for this purpose an allotment of lands, temporary exemption from taxes, an annual allowance of £80 sterling for the support of a minister for four years, and that the colonists might be brought over from London in naval vessels.730 On November 25, 1729, Major Cope, one of the Governor’s Council, replied to Le Mercier that the Governor was favorable to his project and that he would recommend it to the authorities in England.731 Apparently nothing resulted from the proposed plan as there is no further reference to it. Some years later, March, 1738, he applied to the Governor and Council of Nova Scotia for a grant of the Isle of Sables, stating that he had stocked the island, built a house, and established a few men there. He represented that in case of shipwrecks it would be of great advantage to have the island settled and cattle there for the benefit of the victims of disasters. The petition was referred in April, 1738, to the Lords of Trade as coming from “Mr. Le Mercier a ffrench Minister in Boston (who calls himself an English Man by naturalisation).”732 That his petition was granted is shown by an advertisement, signed by him, in the Boston Evening Post, January 30, 1744.733 In it he recited that the Governor and Council of Nova Scotia in April, 1738, had issued a proclamation forbidding all persons from hindering his settling on the island, and prohibiting the killing or taking any of the cattle or goods which he sent there. Also in the same year the Governor and Council of Massachusetts Bay had, at his request, published a similar proclamation to protect his life-saving station, which he described as a “Sea-Hospital.” But inasmuch as “the love of Money, which is the Root of all Evil, is so deeply rooted in the Hearts of some Fishermen, that they have sundry times stole our Cattle & our Goods, regarding neither the Laws of God or of Man, neither Justice to me, or Humanity to Shipwreck’d Men, which by their Wickedness they endeavour to starve” … he offered a reward of £40, old tenor, “to any Person or Persons not belonging to the Island of Sables, that shall discover said Robbers.”
These proclamations apparently were not effective, for it became necessary to publish a notice in the Boston News Letter of February 26, 1747,734 increasing the reward to £100 old tenor, for the discovery of those who still continued to steal the cattle and plunder the island. This advertisement closed as follows:
N.B If any Families of well minded Persons are inclined to go and settle there (even upon a Tryal) they shall have all reasonable and sufficient Encouragement from us. And whereas the Lonesomeness of the Place is almost the only Difficulty that may attend that Settlement, We make it known that some Families have already expressed their Willingness of settling there: They may know further by Enquiring of us the Subscribers. [Signed] Andrew Le Mercier Henry Atkins Thomas Hancock.
The project seems to have been completely abandoned after a time, for in an advertisement inserted in the News Letter of February 8, 1753,735 the island was offered for sale by “Andrew Le Mercier, Pastor of the French Church.”
By 1748 the French Congregation had become so reduced in numbers that they sold their Church Building to the New Light Congregation over which the Rev. Andrew Croswell was installed pastor in October of that year. The deed of the Church was given in May, 1748, for the sum of £3000, old tenor, and it was stipulated that the property should remain “for the sole use of a Protestant Church … for the worship of Almighty God, from henceforth and forevermore.” Notwithstanding this stipulation it became in 1788 the home of the first Roman Catholic Church in Boston. The deed to the New Light Congregation was not recorded until April, 1749, and in the interval Le Mercier laid claim to the property as his own and entered into negotiation with Edward Jackson to become the purchaser. Jackson being doubtful as to the title, Le Mercier petitioned the General Court in November, 1748, for its sanction of the proposed sale. He recited that the male communicants and subscribers in the Church were reduced to about seven; that they were no longer able to maintain him and his four children; and that since the dissolution of the Church was unavoidable and that consequently there were no successors “the said House & Land is the Soil and Freehold of your petr.” He also stated that as he considered it his duty to minister to the few remaining members of the congregation so long as they should require, he would, at his own charge, “provide a decent apartment for their Meeting every Lords day.” The Court found apparently that his contention as to the law was sound, but ordered on November 17, 1748, that he should serve Messrs. Boutineau, Arnold, Brown, Zachariah and Andrew Johonnot, and Paquinet, with a copy of the petition that they might show cause, if any, why the prayer should not be granted. They entered a vigorous protest reciting the terms on which Le Mercier was settled among them, and the moneys which he had received by bequests or gifts. They also stated that:
he has driven all our Young People to Other Churches, notwithstanding we wish him well, & design, if we sell our Church, to Give him out of it about £1650, old tenor; but for him to Sell our Church, that we with our own Money have Built and Purchased, and so to turn us out of our Church, will be a President never before heard of, and if allowed of, Will be of a dangerous Consequence.
They therefore prayed that the petition be dismissed, which undoubtedly was the case since the sale to the Congregational Society was consummated.736 Mr. Le Mercier evidently put into execution in the following year his plan of still ministering to those of the French who desired his services. The Minutes of the Selectmen under date of March 15, 1748[–9] show that:
The Revd mr. Andrew Le Mercier appeared & desired to have the Liberty for the French Congregation which are at present but small, to meet in the South Grammer School in Order for Carrying on the Publick Worship on the Lords Days, as they are deprived of a place to meet in at present. Voted, That Liberty be Granted for them to Meet in the said School house accordingly.737
He died at his home in Roxbury, where he had bought land in 1722, on March 31, 1764, in his seventy-second year, according to a notice in the Boston Gazette of April 2, 1764.738 His will, which was dated November 7, 1761, was proved June 15, 1764.
Mr. George P. Anderson communicated
A brief but interesting reference to Ebenezer Mackintosh of Boston, the Stamp Act rioter and patriot, of whom I spoke in some detail in March, 1924,739 is contained in “The Origin & Progress of the American Rebellion to the year 1776 in a Letter to a Friend.” This is a manuscript written in London, March 1, 1781, by Peter Oliver.740 The text was written at the request of Thomas Whately of London, and he is the “Friend” to whom it is addressed.741
What Peter Oliver has to say about Mackintosh is especially significant because he had unusual opportunities to know about Mackintosh’s activities as a Son of Liberty, and as a mob leader in the Stamp Act period. It is important likewise to understand who Peter Oliver was. He was the son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Belcher) Oliver, and a descendant of Elder Thomas Oliver, who was among the early settlers in Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was born in Boston, March 26, 1713, and graduated at Harvard College in 1730. His home was in Middleborough. By social ties and by conviction he was early attached to the Crown party, and so was his equally unpopular brother, Andrew Oliver, who was Secretary of the colony for fourteen years, and was Lieutenant Governor from 1771 to 1774. Peter Oliver, after holding several offices, including that of Justice of the Inferiour Court of Common Pleas for Plymouth County, in 1756 was made a justice of the Superior Court of Judicature of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, then the highest court in the colony, and in 1772 was appointed Chief Justice of that court.
Oliver was learned in the law, was a gifted writer of both prose and poetry, but in politics he was violently opposed to the liberal or patriot party. Just before the Revolution he refused to accept the salary voted him by the General Court, preferring to receive payment through the British Crown. On account of this refusal he was impeached and removed from office in 1775. So incensed were the patriots over his attitude on public questions that he did not dare to attend the funeral of his brother Andrew.
When the Revolution broke out Oliver sought the protection of General Gage and the Loyalist troops and when Boston was evacuated in March, 1776, he sailed with the British to Halifax and later went to England, where he lived the rest of his life on a pension from the British Crown. His estate in Massachusetts was confiscated. He died in Birmingham, England, October 13, 1791.
The observations of Peter Oliver about himself and about the funeral of his brother Andrew are of particular value in revealing the state of public feeling. When Andrew Oliver died, on March 3, 1774, he was Lieutenant Governor, and the funeral arrangements were formal and such as were fitting for an official of high rank. It was decided that the Cadets, which were under the command of John Hancock, should attend the funeral and fire three volleys over the grave in the Old Granary Burying Ground. As soon as the details of this arrangement were publicly known, Samuel Adams sharply protested to Hancock, declaring it most improper that a man whose administration and whose whole public career had been so highly objectionable to the people, should be honored by the Cadets. Hancock did not agree with Adams on this point, and replied that the attendance of the military organization and the firing of the salute were tributes to the office and not to the man; he therefore declined to accede to Adams’ request that the Cadets remain away from the funeral. Accordingly the volleys were fired at the grave, as had been arranged.
The immediate sequel to this disagreement between Hancock and Adams was the unexpected presence of a large contingent from the Sons of Liberty or their sympathizers at the Oliver obsequies. Under ordinary circumstances it would have been difficult to find a single Son of Liberty at Oliver’s grave. As the body was lowered into the tomb, this coterie gave three cheers, to the mortification of the true friends of the deceased. The Sons of Liberty had come to the funeral for the specific purpose of registering their spite and disapproval. Peter Oliver, in this same manuscript, in speaking of his brother’s funeral, says: “The Vengeance of the Faction was carried to, & beyond the grave — Upon his Interment a large Mob attended, & huzzaed at the intombing the Body; & at Night there was an Exhibition at a publick Window, of a Coffin & several Insignia of Infamy — & at this Exhibition some Members of the general Assembly attended — could Infernals do worse?”
It is evident that this unusual and disgraceful scene was the direct result of Adams’ protest to Hancock. The crowd, finding that the Cadets intended to attend the funeral, decided to nullify the act of respect by the militia, by giving three cheers. A number of historical writers have mentioned the incident of the cheers at the grave, but I think the motive behind the outburst never before has been traced to its origin.
The feelings of Peter Oliver about his own enforced absence from the funeral he expresses as follows:
The chief Justice [thought] his Risque of his Life was too great, for him to pay his final Visit to the Death Bed of an only Brother; & his Friends advised him not [to] pay his fraternal Respect to his Brother’s Obsequies — the Advice was just; for it afterwards appeared, that had he so done, it was not probable that he ever would have returned to his own home. Never did Cannibals thirst stronger for human Blood than the Adherents to this Faction — Humanity seemed to be abhorrent to their Nature; & the whole Tenor of their Conduct to this Time will justifye the Observation.
Oliver was a scholar, but his observations on the American Revolution are extremely biased, and he never has anything to say in favor of the patriot cause. It is all the more remarkable that in commenting upon Mackintosh’s activities he should have uttered no harsh words against him. He might easily have launched into invective in describing the man who escorted his brother Andrew to Liberty Tree, December 17, 1765, where he was compelled to renounce his appointment as distributor of stamps under the Stamp Act. Instead, as will be seen, Oliver speaks well of him.
One American historian, upon examining the entire Oliver manuscript, of which a part is about to be quoted, is reported to have remarked, probably as a facetious half-truth: “I always thought Peter Oliver was crazy, but after reading his account of the origin of the American Revolution, I feel certain of it.”
With this introduction, which is notice that Oliver’s version of the Revolution (which he calls a rebellion) cannot safely be accepted as a true picture of the times, I direct attention to that part of the manuscript in which mention is made of Mackintosh. Oliver is speaking of the Stamp Act disturbances in Boston in 1765, and as previously related he had intimate knowledge of Mackintosh’s part in the scene of humiliation in which his brother was an unhappy figure. This is what Oliver writes of the period of the Stamp Act riots:
Governor Bernard, by his great Firmness & Prudence, had secured the Stamps which were sent from England in Castle William, about 3 Miles from Boston; otherwise, they would have been involved in the general Destruction: and Things remained in a State of Anarchy through the Year 1765. The Leaders of the Faction had hired a Shoemaker, named Mackintosh, as the Antitype of Massianello of Naples;742 but he was a much cleverer Fellow: he was sensible & manly, and performed their dirty Jobs for them with great Eclat: he dressed genteely; & in Order to convince the publick of that Power with which he was invested, he paraded the Town with a Mob of 2000 Men in two Files,743 & passed by the Stadthouse, when the general Assembly were sitting, to display his Power: — if a Whisper was heard among his Followers, the holding up his Finger hushed it in a Moment: & when he had fully displayed his Authority, he marched his Men to the first Rendevouz, & Order’d them to retire peacably to their several Homes; & was punctually obeyed. This unhappy Fellow was always ready for the Drudgeries of his Employers, until, by neglecting his Business, he was reduced to part with his Last of all; took to hard drinking, was thrown into a Jail & died: — and, to the eternal Disgrace of his rich Employers, when he supplicated some of them for 2 or 3 Dollars to relieve his Distress, he was refused the small Pittance, because at that Time they had no further Service for him; & had he not possessed a Soul endowed with superior Honor to any of his Employers, he would have brought several of them to the Gallows: there are Instances of Villains, of the small vulgar Order, who discover Souls superior to those of many of the great Vulgar.
This estimate of Mackintosh seems not only to coincide with the conclusions reached by me in 1924, but it tends to place the shoemaker upon an even higher plane than I had assigned to him. Oliver’s picture of Mackintosh’s power over a mob of two thousand people sounds like an exaggeration, yet all the evidence from other sources shows Mackintosh to have been in supreme command of the riotous element during the Stamp Act period. Oliver makes plain his belief that Mackintosh was taking orders from “men higher up,” and this is in accordance with the tradition among Mackintosh’s descendants that he was in league with Hancock, Adams, and other patriots in the troublous period just before the Revolution.
When Oliver intimates that Mackintosh might have brought several of the patriot leaders to the gallows had he not been possessed of a fine sense of honor, it is almost certain that he is referring to Mackintosh’s part in the Boston Tea Party and the probable part in the destruction of the tea that he had been directed to take by Hancock and Adams. It will be remembered that Mackintosh said, about 1810, referring to the Tea Party: “It was my chickens that did the job.”744 There can be little doubt that his principals knew all about what was going to happen on the fateful night of December 16, 1773, and that he was merely their agent. It was one of those “dirty jobs” to which Oliver refers.
The last part of Oliver’s reference to Mackintosh, in which the shoemaker is pictured as being in poverty and supplicating his rich employers for a few dollars, certainly suggests that Hancock was one of his rich patrons. Samuel Adams could not be properly classified as rich, but William Molineux might have been believed by Oliver to be wealthy, and James Bowdoin was recognized as possessing an ample fortune. The two last mentioned may possibly have figured in the exploit, especially Molineux, who is known to have assisted in throwing overboard the tea.
Oliver’s statement that the shoemaker took to hard drinking and was thrown into jail may have been true — probably was true, since his wife had died and he must have been discouraged, for there was little business in Boston and vicinity. The implication, however, that Mackintosh died in jail is without foundation. Mackintosh, as we know, retired from Boston in the spring or summer of 1774 and went to Haverhill, New Hampshire, where he lived until 1816, twenty-five years after Peter Oliver himself had died.
Oliver in closing his account of the “Rebellion” says: “I am not conscious of any Disguise of Truth in the Relation of Facts.” Assuming the honesty of that statement, Oliver’s account of Mackintosh’s death sounds like an inspired and accepted version, spread about Boston for a purpose. It fitted into the plans of the men “higher up” to have it generally believed that Mackintosh was dead.
The report of Mackintosh’s death also suggests that when he left Boston he went to a distant frontier point so that the story of his death could not readily be disproved. In view of the fact that he seems never to have returned to Boston there may have been an agreement that he was never to revisit the scenes of his former turbulent triumphs. That Mackintosh was busy plying his trade as shoemaker in New Hampshire in September, 1774, and that thereafter he was a peaceable citizen in Haverhill and vicinity is unquestioned. Nothing more is heard about hard drinking habits, and if he was a hard drinker in Boston just before he left the town, it might easily be explained by his discouraged state of mind. When he went to Haverhill he rubbed out the old slate and started a new one.
Oliver twines little laurel on Mackintosh’s brow, but he does not whine over the excesses of his followers. He unmistakably regards him as the agent of his rich employers, and by implication puts all the responsibility for his doings upon them. Whether his employers were rich or poor is immaterial, but it is material that they were the leading Sons of Liberty in Boston.
On the whole, the observations of Peter Oliver, though biased as is his entire narrative, tend to confirm the theory that Mackintosh was working with the tacit approval of Hancock, Adams, and other patriot leaders, if not with their actual connivance. They also suggest that the shoemaker’s disappearance from Boston just before the outbreak of the Revolution was dictated not only by his care for his own safety but also by the wishes of his “employers.” The patriot leaders perhaps had reason to fear the consequences of disclosures made by Mackintosh, if he were seized by the British and compelled under duress to tell what he knew about the secret acts of the Sons of Liberty from the time of the Stamp Act riots down to the Tea Party. The details of the latter event they particularly wished to remain a sealed book.
Before leaving Peter Oliver, it may prove profitable to revert to that dramatic scene at Liberty Tree on the seventeenth of December, 1765, in which his brother, Andrew Oliver, and Mackintosh were the chief actors.745 A contemporary letter, which presently will be cited, proves that Mackintosh was not the prime instigator of those exercises. Many of the spectators may have thought that he originated the demonstration, but the initiated must have known that he merely executed plans made by an inner circle of the Sons of Liberty.
This letter will make it clear that the proposal to compel Oliver to make public resignation of his office of stamp distributor started with a small group of the Sons of Liberty. Its members were known among themselves as the “Loyal Nine.” While the personnel of this group cannot be stated with absolute certainty, eight of the nine can be named with reasonable confidence, and it is possible to make a ready conjecture as to the identity of the missing one.
The letter was written by Henry Bass to Samuel Phillips Savage, on December 19, 1765, two days after Oliver had been publicly humiliated. Bass, who was then twenty-six years old, became a Boston merchant and lived in Rawson’s Lane (Bromfield Street). He was one of the Loyal Nine, and known as such to Savage, who, less than two years later, became his father-in-law.
Savage had formerly lived in Boston, where he was born and where he was a selectman in 1761 and 1762. In 1765 he was living in Weston. He was a prominent patriot, and, it will be remembered, presided over a meeting held December 16, 1773, in the Old South Meeting House when disposition of the tea was being considered. The fact that eight years before that historic meeting Savage was the recipient of inside confidential information relative to the actions of the Boston Sons of Liberty, marks him as one of the earliest of the patriots to abet resistance to royal authority. Incidentally it may be stated that Bass was one of the men who threw the tea overboard.
The letter follows:746
Boston 19 Decr 1765.
On seeing Messrs Edes & Gills last mondays Paper, the Loyall Nine repair’d the same Evg to Liberty Hall, in order to Consult what further should be done respecting Mr Oliver’s Resignation, as what had been done heretofore, we tho’t not Conclusive & upon some little time debating we happrehended it would be most Satisfactory to the Publick to send a Letter to desire him to appear under Liberty tree at 12 ºClock on Tuesday, to make a publick Resignation under Oath: — the Copy of wch the Advertisement, his Message, Resignation & Oath you have Inclos’d.747
the whole affair transacted by the Loyall Nine, in writing the Letter, getting the advertisements Printed, which were all done after 12 ºClock monday Night, the advertisements Pasted up to the amo of a hund was all done from 9 to 3 ºClock.
you also have a Copy, of wt he said to the publick as near as we can Recolect: he thank’t the Gentm for the Polite Letter & treatment he Recd a Copy of what you have Inclos’d was last Evg sent to Messrs Drapers to be put in to days Paper wt Directions not to print any of the transactions, without they did the whole; if the[y] could not wt propriety as being the Government’s Printers to send it to the Patriots of Liberty Messrs Edes & Gill, for whom we have the greatest respect. The whole was Conducted to the General Satisfaction of the publick.
& upon the Occasion we that Evg. had a very Genteel Supper provided to which we invited your very good friends Mr S.[amuel] A.[dams] and E[des] & G.[ill] & three or four others & spent the Evening in a very agreeable manner Drinkg Healths &c.
I must desire you’d keep this a profound Secret & not to Let any Person see these papers, & should be glad when you come to town youd bring them with you, as we have no other Copys, & choose to keep them as Archives. We do every thing in order to keep this & the first Affair Private: and are not a little pleas’d to hear that McIntosh has the Credit of the whole Affair.
we Endeavour to keep up the Spirit which I think is as great as ever.
I give you joy in the Custom house being Opened, & hope soon to advise you of the Courts of justice being the Same, I am wt my best wishes for you & Family, health & Happiness your affe. friend
P S. I have Recd a Letter from Billey748 he Begs you’d send him down his Jackets & Breeches, as he Stands in great need of ’em. I should be glad you’d write me more particular what Sort of Planks you want faith749 tells me two Inch: Let me know in your next & about the Boards &c.
Attention is especially directed to the reference to Mackintosh in Bass’s letter: “We do every thing in order to keep this & the first Affair Private: and are not a little pleas’d to hear that McIntosh has the Credit of the whole Affair.” The reference to the “first Affair” probably is to the hanging of Oliver’s effigy on Liberty Tree on the fourteenth of the preceding August, which was followed by the destruction of a building supposed to be designed as a stamp distributor’s office, while the home of Oliver also was somewhat damaged; but it may possibly refer to the ruin and destruction of Thomas Hutchinson’s house. Whatever the reference the Loyal Nine wanted the matter kept quiet. They believed, too, that Mackintosh’s shoulders were broad enough to bear the burden of any stigma that may have attached to either enterprise. They planned to keep secret their part in both undertakings, but were pleased when public opinion drew attention away from the real cause of the demonstration, and gave Mackintosh credit for the public humiliation of Oliver. It let them out. No matter if it let him in.
The Loyal Nine were content to remain in the background while Mackintosh occupied the center of the stage. The Nine remained unknown except to a very few. It was a safe arrangement for all. Had not Mackintosh gone free after the sweeping vandalism perpetrated at Hutchinson’s house? Did not the sheriff after arresting him actually release him the morning after that scene of revelry and destruction? Surely nobody would disturb the shoemaker merely for escorting Oliver to Liberty Tree, and seeing that no harm came to him. Thus, the Loyal Nine probably reasoned, and as for Mackintosh himself, it is certain that he cared little or nothing about the risk he was assuming. Doubtless he thoroughly enjoyed playing the rôle assigned to him. He liked to be in the public eye. He had been there before on various Pope Days. He was close to the Loyal Nine without being one of their number. They pulled the strings in secret, and he made the Crown officials dance in public.
Who then composed this mysterious and powerful Loyal Nine? Although I have found no other reference to this band by that title, the cordon of logical conjecture can be drawn so closely about a suspected group that little doubt remains as to their identity. When William Gordon wrote his History of the American Revolution, in 1786, he said that the effigy of Oliver which was hung on Liberty Tree on August 14, 1765, was prepared by John Avery, Jr., Thomas Crafts, John Smith, Henry Welles, Thomas Chace [sic], Stephen Cleverly, Henry Bass, and Benjamin Edes.750
This list, it will be observed, contains only eight names. One additional name would complete the group known as the Loyal Nine. Apparently this band of the Sons of Liberty which in August had been on Oliver’s trail, four months later was still active in harassing and discrediting him.
John Adams on December 19, 1765, two days after the public resignation of Oliver, writes: “Messrs. Crafts and Chase gave me a particular account of the proceedings of the Sons of Liberty on Tuesday last …”,751 so that he must have known all about the affair within forty-eight hours.
A piece of evidence still better than Gordon’s list is found in Adams’s Diary, under date of Wednesday, January 15, 1766, only twenty-nine days after Oliver’s resignation. Adams writes:752
I spent the evening with the Sons of Liberty, at their own apartment, in Hanover Square, near the tree of liberty. It is a counting-room, in Chase and Speakman’s distillery; a very small room it is.
John Avery, distiller or merchant, of a liberal education, John Smith, the brazier, Thomas Crafts [Jr.] the painter, [Benjamin] Edes, the printer, Stephen Cleverly, the brazier, [Thomas] Chase, the distiller, Joseph Field, master of a vessel, Henry Bass, George Trott, jeweller, were present. I was invited by Crafts753 and Trott to go and spend an evening with them and some others. Avery was mentioned to me as one. I went, and was very civilly and respectfully treated by all present. We had punch, wine, pipes and tobacco, biscuit and cheese, &c. I heard nothing but such conversation as passes at all clubs, among gentlemen, about the times. No plots, no machinations.
It will be observed that Adams’s list of those present is nearly identical with the list named by Gordon. He does not attach the “junior” to Avery’s name, and omits Henry Welles, but includes two new names — Joseph Field, whom he describes as the master of a vessel, and George Trott, the jeweller. The latter, it will be noted, is one of the two men who invited Adams to the meeting. Avery’s name, apparently, was used as bait. The presence of Field doubtless can be considered as accidental — a friend of some of the others, perhaps, who happened to be home from a voyage. His sympathies, doubtless, were known and he was trusted. They were all, generally speaking, young men.
It will be seen that Adams does not mention Mackintosh, and it can be taken for granted that the shoemaker was not present. If he had been, it is hardly possible that Adams would have omitted to record that fact. If Trott’s name be added to the eight names given by Gordon, then the personnel of the Loyal Nine is known. This line of reasoning strengthens the supposition that Mackintosh was not a member of this inner circle. That he was an important part of the secret machinery of the Sons of Liberty, however, is not for a moment to be doubted.
Comparison of these two lists shows that in both instances is named first. This probably is not an accident. It seems to indicate that he was the chief man in this group, and therefore mentioned first. His leading position was justified, for, as time went on he proved the only one of the Loyal Nine, with the possible exception of Benjamin Edes, to attain any prominence in the Revolutionary era. Avery was a Harvard graduate, Class of 1759, and is set down tenth when the class was arranged according to social standing. This was relatively high rank. Among his classmates was Joseph Warren. Avery’s father was a Harvard graduate, Class of 1731, and also his grandfather, Class of 1706. This made young Avery something of a New England aristocrat. At any rate, so far as education, refinement, and social position were concerned, he was the outstanding member of the Nine. That, perhaps, is why his name was mentioned to Adams as a guaranty of propriety.
A natural question arises. On account of his learning and social gifts was Avery drafted to write the public notices of the Sons of Liberty? Was he the “M. Y. Sec’y,”754 whose signature was attached to so many notices of the Sons of Liberty at this period and for some years thereafter? Conjecture on that point centers about him and Benjamin Edes, who was an editor and accustomed to writing, as two conspicuous possibilities. This period was the beginning of the public doings of the Sons of Liberty in Boston, and the man behind the public notices probably was in the group now under discussion. The field of responsibility is narrowing, although the significance of “M. Y.” still remains a mystery.
In view of all the known facts Avery stands forth as a most encouraging possibility as the “secretary” of this aggressive group. It is interesting to note that after the Revolution was under way, Avery, who on March 23, 1769, married Mary, daughter of Thomas Cushing, speaker of the lower branch of the General Court, was made Deputy Secretary of the Council, the upper branch of the General Court, and a few years later at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of 1780, became the first secretary of the Commonwealth. He continued to hold that office until he died in 1806. Did the patriots elect him secretary because they knew he had made a good secretary in the Stamp Act days? Perhaps. At any rate he gave satisfaction, as is shown by his unbroken service of more than a quarter of a century.
Turning now again to Mackintosh, let us consider his relationship to the Loyal Nine. If he was not one of them, he surely was one of their most ready and willing instruments. He had a certain relationship because he was recognized as being first captain general of Liberty Tree and in charge of the hanging of effigies. Yet the evidence available seems to be that he did not sit in the inner council chamber. But if he did not sip punch with the others, and smoke the pipe of treason or something very like it, he never was long unapprised of important decisions made by those high in authority. If the Loyal Nine were primarily the men of thought, Mackintosh admittedly was the man of action who carried out their plans.
Even if Mackintosh in 1765 was not one of this small group, there is evidence that four years later he was regarded as a leading actor among the Boston Sons of Liberty. George Mason, a Boston sympathizer with the King, wrote on October 20, 1769, to Joseph Harrison, Collector of Customs in Boston, who was then in retirement in London, the following interesting opinion of Mackintosh:
As opportunity offers I shall be very faithful in transmitting to you whatever Inteligence I think of Importance; I shall watch them [the Sons of Liberty] very narrowly from a real Principle of doing my King and County Justice — You may please to remember I hinted to you formerly, that if one McIntosh in this Town, was apprehended, it would be a means of unravelling the whole scene of Iniquity. The Man has already been threatened with Death in case he should inform. As to any Evidence on this side the Water it would weigh but little, but if Government should think proper to send for him Home, I am firmly perswaded it would answer the end — He was one that attended their Night Meetings, and knows more of their Secret Transactions than the whole of what they call the Torys put together.755
The significance of that clause in Bass’s letter to Savage in which he says that Samuel Adams was present with them at a very genteel supper two days after the renunciation by Oliver, must not be lost. It is very plain that both Samuel Adams and John Adams were cognizant of what was going on in this select group. They were in a position where they could say that they were not present at the planning of these object lessons, and yet they knew about them and doubtless tacitly approved them. In other words there was a union of the high Sons of Liberty and those who were not so high. Mackintosh represented the invisible force of which the Royal authorities with good cause were afraid. With these facts demonstrated, it is easy to understand why at a later period, when the town was full of British soldiers and the Tory ministry was clamoring for the punishment of the ringleaders, it became perilous for Mackintosh longer to stay in Boston and he quietly retired to a haven in New Hampshire.
After the Revolution was an accomplished fact, Mackintosh humbly continued to peg shoes in Haverhill, while presently John Hancock became the first governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If Hancock ever had any fears that Mackintosh would return, seek favors and involve him in any of the devious events of the years 1765–1774, they were never realized. The shoemaker was never moved by greed or envy, but he enjoyed excitement. At heart as good a patriot as the best of the Bostonians, he played his part, during a critical period, and retired to oblivion on the frontier. While he occupied the stage he was no small contributor to the program of Colonial resistance to British misrule, and his character will not suffer by close comparison with that of John Hancock.
Mr. George P. Winship then read a ballad from a manuscript commonplace book of the early seventeenth century, owned by Mr. William B. Goodwin of Hartford. The date is not given in the manuscript, but the entries immediately preceding it are copies of documents dated in the first decade of the century. Mr. Winship pointed out that the ballad is obviously a satire on the Puritans of the period. By permission of the owner of the manuscript, the text of the ballad is printed here.
In England there is no hope to staye
where good men are displaced
To Amsterdam is your onlye waie
and there wee shall bee graced
Ha downe downe heighe downe
my brethren staye not heere
But let us all to Amsterdam
and there weele dominere
There is no kinge us to comand
nor lordlye Bushopes there
There is no highe comission
to put us all in feare
There are no Supstitious thinges
no cap nor Surplesse used
By crossinge & by coniuringe
no baptissme is abused
There is no popishe tiranye
or brethren there bee found too
Where Dicke and Tome shall ellders bee
and Leather girdle Johne too
Wee shall not subscription feare756
A ffigg for prlacye
No mane shall urge or conscience there
farewell, lyve honestlye
There weele erecte or prspitree757
in spite of the wicked crewe
That vantinge saie moste wickedlie
that or Relligion is newe
Non wicked ther wth us shall byde
to infecte a holie brother
Our sisters shall be sanctiffied
and weele loue on[e] an other
When on[e] another wee doo greete
or kisses shall bee holye
And weele take heede where as wee meete
that wee comytte not follye
Comon praier weele haue non
but as the sperite moves us
So will wee preache praie and expound
unto all suche as love us
Weele breake seavene pulpyts in a yeare
wth feruencye of knockinge
And all the world shall or zeale heare
to coole there wicked mockinge
An howers tyme shall not us seeme758
wee will not bee confyned
Weele make or brethren nighe to starve
onles beefore theie haue dyned
Ah howe freelye maie wee gape
to shaue this churche or mother
Non shall or zealous censure scape
unlesse hee bee a brother
Then when wee doo comunicate
weele sitt still on or Arses
This kneelinge weele not tollerate
lyke papists at there masses
All things wee learne by reasones lighte
and scorne authoritie
wth all his sophistrie
And Peeter Ramus weele extoll759
kata pantos hee shall bee
Kathauto et kathaloo shall
rule euerie good degree760
This little prymer shall instill
a Sperite of Inovation
And this is that wch on[e] daie will
bee fitt for separation761
Heare wee shall leave Antiquitie
to yeeld no mane there due
And thus wee shall prpared bee
to build the churche anewe
The prdicamts then downe shall goe762
wee will haue non to mynde them
Theye savore muche of Bushope too
to much is order in theme
Weele cutt or heare763 close to or skulles
these foretopes weele not use theme764
Courte rouges765 fittethe non but gulles
o fye wee must not learne theme
There weele weare the fflownderkinne766
and damne the pantalowne
Our Breeches shall bee verye thyne
Perikadills767 must goe down
To weare grette slopes768 it is a synne
or conscyence dothe advise us
If that wee cane put Peeter in769
mee thinkes it maie suffice us
Meate[?] ornaments are scandalous770
in no wise to bee used
Greate breches are Idollatrous
good cloathe is thus abused
Greate bands weele excomunicate
or Cuffes theie shall bee narowe
Weele buye theme at the cheapeste rate
of everie holie marowe771
Theres none shall hurte heavens ꝑuidence
by castinge of a dye
ffor wee will banishe quite from thence
all suche impietye
Wee will not worshipe at the cardes
the knaves and Ydolls there
Wee will not see theies kinges wth bandes
o burne suche heathenishe geare
Come Coblers come Tailores come
and make an holye natyon
The wicked ones shall have there dowme772
that blame or separation
O come apace streight for yor lyves
my brethrene oute of Thrall
Come quickelye bringe awaie yor wyves
And weele bee Alle in Alle.773