Entries appearing in italics occurred in England.


    17 January: The Boston Society for Encouraging Trade and Commerce forwards their petition to Dennys DeBerdt, agent of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The petition, addressed to Parliament, protests the Revenue Act of 1766. New York merchants send a similar petition to Parliament at roughly the same time.

    28 January: Hutchinson accompanies Governor Francis Bernard to the opening of the legislative session, sitting with the members of the Council. His presence prompts a protest from the House of Representatives that Hutchinson had no right to sit with the Council, unless he was elected, even if he did not vote or speak,

    5 February: General Court votes to dismiss Richard Jackson as agent.

    20 February: Hutchinson relinquishes his right to sit in Council meetings.

    10 March: Dennys DeBerdt presents Boston merchants’ petition to Lord Shelburne.

    12 March: Charles Townshend proposes an American revenue program to the cabinet.

    12 March: General Court selects Hutchinson as one of three commissioners to settle an on-going boundary dispute with New York.

    April/May: Hutchinson suffers a nervous collapse brought on by ill health, exhaustion, and depression.

    1 May: Treasury Board approves a plan for an American Board of Customs.

    13 May: Charles Townshend introduces his American program to the House of Commons.

    27 May: After the government party suffers serious losses at the polls, failing to elect the councilors who had been purged the previous year, Governor Francis Bernard vetoes five of the newly elected patriot councilors nominated by the House of Representatives.

    9 June: Volume 2 of Hutchinson’s History is published in Boston.

    29 June: Townshend Act receives royal assent.

    30 June: Boston receives details of the Townshend Act but no information about whether or not the act has been passed.

    31 August: Boston Gazette suggests adopting a nonimportation agreement to protest the Townshend Act.

    4 September: Charles Townshend dies unexpectedly.

    8 September: The American Board of Customs is appointed.

    28 September: Hutchinson and the other Massachusetts delegates (William Brattle and Edward Sheaffe) arrive in New Haven to meet with commissioners from New York to resolve the disputed boundary between the two colonies. They narrow the land in contention down to a 25-acre strip and hammer out a compromise proposal for that land, but neither provincial legislature can accept the compromise. The issue remains unresolved until 1773.

    28 October: Boston town meeting unanimously adopts a non-consumption agreement to go into effect on 31 December 1767.

    5 November: The first of John Dickinson’s 14 essays entitled “Letters from a Farmer” is published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, with the final installment appearing the following January.

    5 November: Customs Commissioners Henry Hulton, William Burch, and Charles Paxton arrive in Boston from London.

    20 November: Townshend Act takes effect. At a Boston town meeting, James Otis Jr. urges complying with the new act and containing their protests to strictly legal forms.

    December: The London edition of the second volume of Hutchinson’s History is published.


    12 January: The members of the House draft a letter for their agent Dennys DeBerdt to present to the king. While still acknowledging the supremacy of Parliament, the letter protests against taxes designed solely to raise a revenue, the activities of the commissioners of customs, and the threatened suspension of the New York Assembly.

    21 January: Lord Hillsborough assumes the newly created office of secretary of state for the colonies.

    21 January: James Otis Jr. and Samuel Adams present an early draft of the Circular Letter to the House of Representatives, but it is not approved.

    28 January: John Robinson arrives from Rhode Island to take up his appointment on the American Board of Customs, giving them a full board.

    2 February: Arrival of a letter from Lord Shelburne approving of Bernard’s veto of several opposition councilors last spring and finding fault with the exclusion of Hutchinson, Oliver, and other government party supporters.

    13 February: The Massachusetts House of Representatives approves the Circular Letter, which is sent to the other colonies detailing Massachusetts opposition to the Townshend Act and calling for the colonies to present a united front against the act.

    22 February: The Massachusetts House sends a letter to Secretary of State Lord Shelburne, protesting that Governor Francis Bernard has misrepresented both the legislature and the true state of the province.

    29 February: Boston Gazette publishes an outspoken attack on Governor Francis Bernard written by “A True Patriot” (Joseph Warren).

    5 March: Boston town meeting adopts a nonimportation agreement to begin 1 June, contingent on New York and Philadelphia following suit.

    7 March: Council censures the Boston Gazette and promises to provide Governor Francis Bernard with any assistance at its disposal to punish those involved in printing the article by “True Patriot.”

    8 March: Massachusetts House fails to concur with the Council, while James Otis Jr. warns that none of the councilors who supported the motion would be re-elected to the Council in May.

    Mid-March: As chief justice of the Superior Court, Hutchinson charges the grand jury to initiate libel proceedings against those involved in publishing the recent critiques of Governor Francis Bernard. After being warned by James Otis Jr. and others, the grand jury fails to initiate any libel proceedings.

    18 March: The anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act is celebrated by small public gatherings and the hanging of effigies on Liberty Tree.

    28 March: Customs commissioners send a formal petition to the British ministry requesting troops for their protection.

    29 March: Salem merchants adopt a nonimportation agreement.

    Mid-April: New York merchants agree to the nonimportation agreement adopted by Boston the previous month as long as Philadelphia merchants do as well. (Ultimately, Philadelphia merchants will refuse.)

    15 April: Virginia petitions against the Townshend Act, prompted in part by the Massachusetts Circular Letter.

    21 April: Lord Hillsborough writes all of the colonial governors denouncing the Massachusetts Circular Letter.

    22 April: Lord Hillsborough writes Governor Francis Bernard ordering the Massachusetts House to rescind the Circular Letter or face dissolution.

    9 May: John Hancock’s sloop Liberty arrives in Boston from London and registers a suspiciously small cargo.

    10 May: St. George’s Massacre occurs in London; twelve supporters of John Wilkes and bystanders are shot down by soldiers.

    17 May: HMS Romney, a 50-gun frigate, arrives in Boston from Halifax.

    25 May: Hutchinson fails by a narrow margin to win election to the Council. A few days later, Governor Francis Bernard vetoes six of the councilors elected by the House.

    June: Philadelphia merchants fail to adopt Boston’s nonimportation agreement.

    8 June: Lord Hillsborough directs commander-in-chief General Thomas Gage to move at least one regiment to Boston.

    9 June: Customs officials seize John Hancock’s sloop Liberty.

    10 June: Customs commissioners order the Liberty towed away from the dock to a location under the guns of HMS Romney, igniting a riot by the Boston townspeople.

    13 June: Customs commissioners, except for John Temple, flee to the Romney as a result of the rioting.

    14 June: A Boston town meeting approves a petition to Governor Francis Bernard listing the grievances that led up to the Liberty riot.

    15 June: Governor Francis Bernard receives Lord Hillsborough’s letter ordering the House of Representatives to rescind the Massachusetts Circular Letter or face dissolution.

    18 June: Rumor reaches Boston that British regulars have been ordered there.

    20 June: Customs commissioners, their families, and staff move to Castle William. Customs Comptroller Benjamin Hallowell sails for England with an account of the Liberty riot.

    21 June: Governor Francis Bernard informs the Massachusetts House of Lord Hillsborough’s command to rescind the Circular Letter.

    22 June: Hillsborough writes to inform Bernard he has been granted a leave of absence to come to England.

    24 June: Governor Francis Bernard sends for Hutchinson, who is riding the eastern circuit for the Superior Court and was in Exeter, New Hampshire, at the time, requesting his immediate return to Boston in light of rumors of an impending attack on Castle William.

    30 June: After nine days to consider, the Massachusetts House refuses to rescind the Circular Letter by a vote of 92–17 and drafts a petition to the king requesting Governor Francis Bernard’s removal. Bernard immediately prorogues the General Court.

    6 July: Parliament creates four vice-admiralty courts in America: Halifax, Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

    16 July: The Council dispatches a message to Lord Hillsborough, protesting the Townshend duties and other regulations on trade.

    29 July: Governor Francis Bernard shows the Council General Thomas Gage’s offer to send troops to Boston on request, but the Council refuses to request them.

    30 July: After receiving reports from Customs Comptroller Benjamin Hallowell, Lord Hillsborough writes Governor Francis Bernard a letter, ordering stern measures to bring the province firmly back under Crown control. At the same time, he writes General Thomas Gage, ordering more troops to Boston.

    9 August: Boston merchants adopt another nonimportation agreement, this one not contingent upon the agreement of the New York or Philadelphia merchants. The agreement will be in effect from 1 January 1769 to 1 January 1770.

    27 August: New York merchants adopt nonimportation. Philadelphia will follow in February 1769.

    3 September: After receiving word that troops are indeed heading for Boston, Governor Francis Bernard meets secretly with aides from General Thomas Gage to make preliminary arrangements for the troops’ arrival.

    7 September: Because of slow transatlantic communication, General Thomas Gage finally receives Lord Hillsborough’s letter of 8 June, ordering a regiment to Boston.

    8 September: Governor Francis Bernard leaks the information that British troops are on their way to Boston.

    9 September: Patriots place a barrel of tar as a signal on top of Beacon Hill; if lit it will alert surrounding towns to danger.

    10 September: Two Irish regiments, the 64th and 65th, sail from Cork for Boston under Major General Alexander Mackay.

    11 September: Boston town meeting convenes to discuss the possible arrival of British troops.

    12–13 September: Boston town meeting adopts a set of resolves, pledging to resist by all “constitutional means” Parliament’s efforts to raise money in the colonies without local consent. Fearing the arrival of British troops as an occupying force, the meeting also calls for citizens to arm themselves, under the pretense of a rumored French invasion, and calls for a special province-wide convention to be held later that same month.

    16 September: Governor Francis Bernard receives official word that troops are on their way to Boston.

    18 September: Bernard receives word that two additional regiments have been dispatched from Ireland.

    19 September: Governor Francis Bernard officially announces to the Council that British troops will be arriving in Boston from both Halifax and Ireland. Two regiments, the 14th and 29th, depart from Halifax bound for Boston under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel William Dalrymple.

    22–28 September: Representatives from ninety-six towns attend a convention of the towns at Faneuil Hall. The convention discussed the imminent arrival of British troops.

    28 September: Ships carrying two regiments of British infantry, the 14th and 29th, arrive in Boston harbor from Halifax.

    30 September: A Council meeting held at Castle William with Lieutenant Colonel William Dalrymple produces no solution for quartering the troops.

    1 October: Both regiments of British troops land in Boston without incident, although they are housed in temporary quarters for nearly a month while the provincial government determines where to put them. Governor Francis Bernard wishes to allow them the use of several province-owned buildings, such as the town house, Faneuil Hall, and the Manufactory House, while the Council maintains there are adequate quarters for all the troops at Castle William in the harbor.

    15 October: General Thomas Gage arrives in Boston to inspect the situation of the troops.

    29 October: Advocate General Jonathan Sewall sues John Hancock for triple the value of goods allegedly smuggled into Boston aboard the Liberty.

    8 November: The king’s speech at the opening of Parliament declares Boston to be in “a state of disobedience to all law and government.”

    10–25 November: Most of the ships containing the Irish regiments arrive in Boston.

    14 November: The customs commissioners appear publicly in Boston for the first time since the Liberty riot.

    24 November: General Thomas Gage returns to his headquarters in New York.

    15 December: The House of Lords adopts a number of resolutions (in response to the king’s speech) expressing severe disapproval of the refusal to rescind the Massachusetts Circular Letter, the resolutions of the town of Boston, continuing disorder there, and the summoning of a convention of the towns. An accompanying address suggests the instigators of the disorder should be sent to England to be tried for treason.


    1 January: Nonimportation agreement goes into effect for six months.

    16 January: News of the king’s speech the previous November arrives in Boston, though accounts from London differ concerning the severity of punitive measures North Americans should expect.

    23 January: Boston Gazette publishes six letters written by Governor Francis Bernard concerning the dispatch of British troops to Boston.

    3 February: John Wilkes is expelled from the House of Commons.

    10 March: Philadelphia merchants approve a nonimportation agreement.

    25 March: Customs commissioners finally relinquish the legal battle over the Liberty since no witnesses would agree to testify on their behalf.

    8 April: Attested copies of the six previously published letters of Governor Francis Bernard to Lord Hillsborough arrive in Boston, renewing anger against the governor.

    15 April: The Council dispatches its rebuttal to the aspersions made by Governor Francis Bernard in his letters.

    27 April: Governor Francis Bernard receives word that he will be made a baronet.

    27 April: A committee of Boston merchants meets to review cargo manifests to determine which merchants have adhered to the nonimportation agreement.

    31 April: The final ship with the Irish regiments, including the commander Major General Alexander Mackay, arrives in Boston after being driven by storms as far south as the West Indies.

    13 May: The British ministry dispatches a circular letter to all colonial governors promising that the Townshend duties will almost certainly be revised in light of colonial resistance.

    16 May: Virginia House of Burgesses adopts a series of resolves asserting their sole right to tax and protesting against treason trials taking place anywhere other than where the crime was committed.

    25 May: Patriots make strong gains in the annual elections for the General Court. Governor Francis Bernard vetoes eleven councilors, whom the House refuses to replace, leaving just seventeen councilors for the coming year.

    Late May: Handbills circulated in Boston name the chief merchants who imported goods from Great Britain that spring, including two of Hutchinson’s sons, Thomas Jr. and Elisha.

    Early June: Boston Chronicle alleges that many merchants have imported goods in violation of their own agreement; the merchants challenge the Boston Chronicle to publish names of violators with details of their shipments.

    14 June: Governor Francis Bernard moves the General Court to Cambridge, hoping they will be more amenable to conducting business away from the British troops, but the House flatly refuses to cooperate as long as soldiers remain in Boston.

    27 June: Massachusetts House drafts a petition to the king seeking Governor Francis Bernard’s removal from office.

    Late June: General Thomas Gage orders the Irish regiments to Halifax after an extended period of quiet in Boston. The 64th leaves immediately.

    2 July: Governor Francis Bernard tells the House of Representatives he has been called to Great Britain to advise the ministry.

    4 July: A large contingent of the 65th Regiment leaves Boston for Halifax, with the rest of the regiment scheduled to depart before the end of the month. The 14th and 29th still remain in Boston.

    7 July: Massachusetts House passes several resolutions challenging the authority of Parliament (modeled on the Virginia Resolves), alleging misrepresentations by Governor Francis Bernard, and protesting the actions of the commissioners of customs.

    19 July: Massachusetts General Court dispatches its petition to the king for the removal of Governor Francis Bernard from office.

    26 July: News reaches Boston that the Grafton ministry is considering repealing all of the Townshend duties except that on tea.

    27 July: Boston merchants pass a resolution to continue nonimportation until all the Townshend duties are repealed.

    Summer: James Otis Jr. engages in a protracted controversy with customs officials Henry Hulton, Joseph Harrison, John Robinson, William Burch, Charles Paxton, and Benjamin Hallowell about their representations of him, in their published correspondence to England.

    2 August: Governor Francis Bernard sails for England, leaving Hutchinson as acting governor.

    10 August: John Mein, publisher of the Boston Chronicle, begins publishing ship manifests showing merchants who had signed the nonimportation agreement but were still importing goods from Britain, many of whom were well-known patriots.

    17 August: Patriots publish the names of the merchants who will not sign the most recent nonimportation agreement, calling them “enemies to their country.” Thomas Hutchinson Jr. and Elisha Hutchinson are on the list.

    4 September: James Otis Jr. publishes a scathing attack on Customs Commissioner John Robinson in the Boston Gazette.

    5 September: Otis and Robinson brawl in the British Coffee House.

    7 September: Letters to the Ministry is published containing many additional letters from Francis Bernard, Thomas Gage, Samuel Hood, and the commissioners of customs.

    Fall: Hutchinson publishes an appendix to his History, although it is not available for purchase.

    4 October: Boston town meeting publishes a list of those merchants who refused to enter into the nonimportation agreement, which includes two of Hutchinson’s sons and his nephew Nathaniel Rogers. Thomas Hutchinson Jr. agrees later that day to store his imported goods until 1 January 1770, when the agreement expires.

    17–19 October: Boston merchants decide to extend the nonimportation agreement indefinitely, insisting on the repeal of all the Townshend duties, as well as the Revenue Acts of 1764 and 1766.

    18 October: By order of the Boston town meeting, Samuel Adams publishes a report entitled An Appeal to the World defending the town against the aspersions of Governor Francis Bernard in his published letters.

    24 October: John Mein visits Hutchinson, seeking advice on how to handle the escalating threats on his life.

    28 October: John Mein is attacked in the streets of Boston, forcing him to take shelter in the guardhouse. That same night, the mob tars and feathers a suspected customs informer and parades him through the streets of Boston.

    5 November: John Mein, who has been hiding in various places around Boston ever since 28 October, flees to a British navy ship in Boston harbor.

    Mid-November: John Mein sails for England.

    Late fall: Benjamin Greene & Sons secretly begins selling goods and publicly announces the firm will conduct business as usual after 1 January 1770. Several other merchants do the same.

    4 December: After New York and Philadelphia merchants opt out of the new, extended nonimportation agreement, Boston merchants alter their agreement, vowing to continue the boycott only until all the Townshend duties are repealed but no longer insisting on the repeal of other duties on trade as well.

    28 December: The first meeting is held of a new Boston organization known as the Merchants and Traders, which is open to people other than merchants as well.