Appendix 3

    Account of the Hearing before the Privy Council

    Some Account of the hearing before the Council feb. 28 1770

    The House of Assembly of Massachusets Bay, in July 1768, directed a Committee to prepare & report a Petition to the King for the Removal of Sir Francis Bernard their Governor, which, when reported to the House, was, for want of Proofs, recommitted. In June 1769, a Petition to the same Effect, with a few Additions & Alterations, passed the House; and was transmitted without any Proofs, to Dennis De Berdt Esqr their Agent, with directions to present it to his Majesty; which he did on the 14th of September 1769. Sir Francis Bernard, as soon as he heard it was presented (Sepr 22nd)1 petitioned the King in Council to appoint a day of hearing; and the 27th of January ensuing was appointed. On January the 17th. Mr De Berdt presented a Petition, for a further time, to enable him to obtain Proofs of the Charge; and a Month was given him: the hearing being postponed to the 28th of february. On the 15th, thirteen days previous to the Time appointed, Mr De Berdt preferred a second Petition praying a further time of seven Months; suggesting that the short time elapsed, from the Assembly’s passing the Complaints to their Prorogation, was not sufficient to collect the Proofs.2 Sir Francis gave in a Counter-Petition, alledging that the Complaint was past 18 days before the Prorogation of the Court, & that it had been usual for a Committee to act upon Business, which required a constant Correspondence with the Agent, during the Recess of the Court; & praying, that the Complaint might be heard, on the day appointed; to give him an Opportunity of justifying himself.3 It accordingly came on, Wednesday the 28th of february 1770, before the Committee of the Council. Present, the Lord President, Archbishop of York, Duke of Queensbury[,] Earl of Shaftesbury, Earl of Kinnoul, Earl of Marchmont, Earl of Hillsborough, Lord Viscount Barrington, Lord Le Despencer, Lord Sandys, Wellbore Ellis Esqr, Richard Rigby Esqr, Master of the Rolls, Lord Cheif Justice Wilmot.4

    Mr De Berdt appearing preferred a Petition setting forth, that as he had not received any Proofs of the Alligations against Sir Francis Bernard, on Account of the Prorogation of the Assembly, he was not prepared to act upon the Complaint, & must decline it if it was brought on immediately.

    P. C.5 “Mr De Berdt, if a further Time of seven Months is given you, shall you then be certainly prepared, to support your Complaint”?

    Mr De Berdt. “My Lord, I cant be certain, as I dont know when the Assembly will sit”.

    P. C.6 “Mr De Berdt then declines entering upon the Complaint, unless a further Time of seven Months be given him, &, at the Expiration of that, as much as he shall then want”.

    P. C. “Mr De Berdt,7 I observe that Facts are differently stated by you & Sir Francis Bernard; you say this Petition was passed, some short time before the 15th of July, when the Assembly was prorogued; Sir Francis alledges that it passed 18 days before the 15th of July”.

    Mr De Berdt “I am not certain, My Lord, about the Time; but understand it to be just before the Prorogation”.

    Sir F. Bernard “My Lords, I have with me the Journals of the House, to which, if you will give me leave, I will refer”.

    The Journals being accordingly examined the time appeared ^proved^ to be 18 days, from June 27th to July 15th. The Journals of the House of 1768 were also read, where it appeared, that the Complaint had been brought on then, but recommitted for Want of Proofs.

    P. C.8 “Has it been usual Mr De Berdt during the Recess of the Court, for a Committee to receive and answer Letters upon Business which required it”?

    Mr. D: B: “I have known of no such Usage, My Lords, since I have been Agent”.

    Sir F. B: “My Lords it has been very common; & I have remonstrated to the Council, upon the Illegality, of a Committee of the House sitting, when the House was prorogued; tho in Cases of necessary Correspondence, with the Agent, I have not disapproved it”.

    Mr Mauduit who happened to come in afterwards, being asked about it, informed the Lords, that it had been very common, during his Brother’s Agency9 for that Province, for a Committee whom he understood to be the Speaker & the Boston Members, to receive & answer his Letters; whether by the Appointment of the House or by Usage he could not say.

    Sir F. B. “That this Complaint, My Lords, was not intended to be prosecuted before your Lordships is plain from many Circumstances. It was published in the Papers, ten days before it was presented to the King: since I have been here, I have been called upon to answer this Complaint in the Public Papers, while I have been endeavouring to bring it on, before His Majesty’s Privy Council; particularly in three Letters by a Writer who signs himself Junius Americanus”.10

    P. C.11 “Were these Letters published, whilst it was depending before the Privy Council”?

    Sir. F. B. “All of them I beleive, My Lord, but one was published in December last, at which time it was certainly before the Privy Council”.

    P. C.12 “Mr De Berdt, I ask you this Question, as a Man of Honor. Did you receive any directions ^from Boston^ to publish anything relative to this Complaint, in the Public Papers”?

    Mr D: B: “Not that I know of, My Lord; but I can’t answer such a Question as that without my Letter Book”.

    P. C.13 “It is a strange thing, that you should not remember so material a Direction, as that must be”.

    P. C.14 “Are the Papers signed Junius Americanus published under your Direction & Knowledge”?

    Mr D. B: “My Lord, I know nothing about Junius Americanus”.

    Sir. F. B. “My Lords, the Papers, signed Junius Americanus, contain nothing, but what must be derived from the Party, whence this Complaint originates; it is therefore probable, that there is a Communication between them & Junius Americanus, either directly, or thro Mr De Berdt”.

    P. C.15 “Mr De Berdt, did you write a Letter to the Speaker of the House, desiring a Power of Attorney, in Order to prosecute this Complaint, in some other Court than this”?16

    Mr D. B. “No, My Lord”.

    P. C.17 “Mr De Berdt, did the House of Assembly, then, pass this Complaint, & transmit it to you, without any Proofs of any of the Allegations”?

    Mr D. B: “Yes, My Lord; & they wrote me Word, that the Documents were not ready, but should follow immediately”.

    Sir F. B. “Eight Months, My Lords, are passed without any Documents appearing”.

    P. C.18 “How many Letters have you received from the Speaker of the House, since the Transmission of their Complaint”?

    Mr D. B. “I cant say, My Lords, without consulting my Letter-Books”.

    P. C.19 “Have you received ten”?

    Mr D. B. “Not so many, I beleive”.

    P. C.20 “How many then? five”?

    Mr D. B. “Five or six, My Lord, I cant be certain”.

    P. C.21 “Have you wrote to the Speaker for Proofs of the Allegations”?

    Mr D. B. “Yes, My Lord, several times”.

    P. C.22 “Have you received any Answers to those Letters?”

    Mr D. B. “I have to such Parts of them as related to other Business but none with Regard to the Complaint”.

    P. C.23 “Does he take no Notice at all of those Parts of your Letters which relate to the Complaint?”

    Mr D. B. “None, My Lord”.

    P. C.24 “This is very extraordinary”.

    P. C.25 “Mr De Berdt, I must ask you that Question once more; are you certain you did not write to the Speaker for a Power of Attorney to act against Sir Francis Bernard”?

    Mr D. B. “I know of no such Thing, My Lord”.

    P. C.26 “Do you know a Mr Hall, as Master of a Ship”?

    Mr D. B. “No, My Lord”.

    P. C.27 “I desire you will once more recollect yourself & answer me positively, whether you did not write for a Power of Attorney”?

    Mr D. B. “I beleive I did write for proper Powers”.

    P. C.28 “If you wanted29 proper Powers, by what Power do you appear here?”

    Mr D. B. “As standing Agent to the House”.

    P. C.30 “Than31 you wanted ^those^ Powers for some other Prosecution than this”.

    Mr D. B. “I think it would be for Sir Francis Bernards Honor, that he should give time for a full Enquiry into his Conduct”.

    Sir F. B. “My Lords, I desire that my Honor may not be committed to the Care of Mr De Berdt; I have Reasons which I wont trouble Your Lordships with. It is now nineteen Months, since this has been made a Subject of Abuse against me in the Public Papers; & they now wish to continue it to the same use, a Year longer. But as I never submit to the Tribunal of a Newspaper, & am now before the proper Court of Enquiry, into my Official Conduct, I hope Your Lordships will think nineteen Months of Abuse enough”.

    The Attorney-general,32 who attended for Sir Francis Bernard, then desired to be heard ex parte. But the Lords said there was no Occasion for it; & adjourned to that day sev’night, to prepare a Report, to the King. They accordingly laid their Report before His Majesty, who ordered the Complaint “to be dismissed, as groundless vexatious, & scandalous”.

    The foregoing Account, which was wrote immediately after the hearing by a Person who attended at it, sufficiently speaks for itself; it demands little Attention to perceive the Inconsistency of the Agents Conduct; & how ill his Answers agree one with another.33 The two Facts, on which he founded his second Petition, for postponing the hearing, appear in the Examination incontestibly against him. His Answers to one of the Lords, that he did not write for a Power of Attorney to prosecute this Complaint in any other Court — that it was true he had wrote for proper Powers, & yet that he thought himself sufficiently empowered, as standing Agent of the House to appear before the Privy Council, contradict one another. — His affecting not to recollect whether he had received Orders to publish in the Papers against Sir Francis Bernard, & yet not denying it, & his pretended Ignorance of Junius Americanus, the only continued Publication against Sir Francis are, in every Sense of the Words, mean & evasive, if not worse: And how shall we beleive him, that the Speaker had regularly answered, every other Business in his Letters, except what related to the Complaint; & never gave any Answer to that Part of them. — The Question, whether this Complaint was passed by the House, without any Proofs, seems to refer to the following Dilemma — If they say they had Proofs, they could have produced them — if they say they had not, they confess themselves to be Calumniators.

    Mar. 1. 1770.

    AMs, AC      BP, 12: 219–226.