Boston Instructs Its Representatives
605. To Lord Hillsborough, 18 May 1770
606. To John Pownall, 18 May 1770
607. To Sir Francis Bernard, 19 May 1770
608. To Lord Hillsborough, 21 May 1770
609. To Samuel Hood, 21 May 1770
610. From Thomas Gage, 21 May 1770
611. To Sir Francis Bernard, 22 May 1770
613. To Lord Hillsborough, 24 May 1770
On 15 May 1770, the Boston Town Meeting unanimously adopted a set of instructions drafted by Josiah Quincy Jr. for its newly elected representatives (James Bowdoin, Thomas Cushing, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams). The instructions urged the representatives to rouse a military spirit among the people and enter into a firm and lasting union with the other colonies. For Hutchinson, who marveled that the General Court’s outspoken challenge to parliamentary sovereignty in its resolves of the previous summer had not yet brought some official rebuke, this ringing call to resistance was the most extreme statement yet. In his History, he wrote that the instructions indicated to the government in England “in words more express and open than had ever been ventured on before . . . a design of general revolt” (TH History, 3:209).
Boston 18 May 1770
My Lord, I shall cover a printed copy of the Instructions of the Town of Boston to their Representatives and a written copy of an Address to me from the Corporation of Harvard College with my Answer to it.1 The Instructions appear to be the ravings of men in a political frenzy. I need not point out to your Lordship the Insinuations contained in them of the necessity of the People’s preparing to defend themselves and their Rights not by argument, & reasoning only but by arms and open resistance.
I am very sensible that the Authors of this and the like publications expect to obtain their ends by intimidating and they have more sense than to think we are capable any long defence against the power of Great Britain, but the body of the People are deluded by them & made to believe they are really in earnest and the same flame is raised as if they really were so and I think it must be in consequence of such an opinion that applications have been made to me from different quarters to put the Militia upon a more respectable footing. The Town also press their Representatives to endeavour it and not very obscurely intimate for what reason. Hitherto we have gone no farther than to disown the Authority of Parliament but, now even the King is allowed little or no share in the Government of the Province except the appointing a Governor who is not to be directed by His Majesty nor subject to his Instructions.
This publication is not, indeed, the Act of the Province but it is the Act of a Town whose Influence extends to every other Town in the Province and it is extremely probable that many other Towns will follow the Example of Boston and give Instructions of the same Tenor to their Representatives. The Address from the College is caused by the awe which the Corporation are under most of the members of it being persons, at other times, well disposed to Government.2
There has been some delay in sending back the Goods imported from England, and, I am informed the Owner of the Ship which carries them free of freight would willingly be excused3 and that some other active merchants are also afraid of consequences but the lower class of People who were called in as Servants in order to intimidate such as refused to join in the Combination are now become Masters and at a Meeting lately called determind that the Goods already arrived and those expected should all be sent back.
None of the Importers can be prevailed upon to bring an Action against the Committees who apply to them to send back their Goods. It is said they voluntarily agree to do it at the desire of the Committee but could there be a fair Tryal this desire would appear to be as compulsory as the desire of a Highwayman to a Traveller to deliver his purse and it is the fear of danger4 to their Persons and Property upon their refusal which causes a compliance.
The opinion which prevails, but which I would still hope is ill founded that, nothing will be done in Parliament to suppress these Combinations, and the Speeches said to be made in Parliament affirming them to be legal, and Letters received by the Heads of the Combiners from Persons of Character in England exhorting to perseverance all conspire to keep up the spirit here5 in the body of the people and to encourage the Council to persist in their refusal to cooperate with me in any measures for suppressing it.
I will neglect nothing which is in my Power but this is very little more by the Constitution than a meer negative, a power of refusing my consent to Elections,6 and other Acts of Government. I have the honour to be with greatest respect My Lord Your Lordships most humble & most Obedient Servant.
RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 194–95); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 18th May 1770, Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No 12) Rx 13th. June”; notations, “C:21:” and “Ent.” DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, ff. 43–44); at head of letter, “Duplicate”; at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 128–31); docketed, “Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson, Boston, 18th. May 1770 (No. 12) Rx 13th. June.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:485–86). SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 10, 3:80, 81), at head of the letter, “Govr. Hutchinson to Lord Hillsbro”; docketed, “Hutchinson to Hillsbro, 18 May 1770.” Enclosures to RC: Harvard Corporation to TH, 3 May 1770 (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, f. 196); TH to Harvard Corporation, 14 May 1770 (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 196–97); Town of Boston’s Instructions to Its Representatives (Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter, 17 May 1770).
Boston 18 May 1770
Dear Sir, I have inclosed to My Lord Hillsboro a printed copy of the Instructions given by the Town of Boston to their Rep.1 Surely such Insolence cannot be passed over without chastisement. I have likewise acquainted his Lordship with the reshipping the Goods imported which are prohibited by the Merchants Cap Scott being near laden with them. I have was in hopes to have formd a party among the Merchants and there seemd a great prospect of it for some days but the menace of people without property prevented. They have been told that there was hazard of such Goods being Returnd as might endanger the forfeiture of Vessel & Cargo but they shewed but little concern about it. When I have mentiond to any of the Importers their having a Right to recover damages by actions in the Law against any who are concerned in the combination they replied that there was no chance with a Jury that if there was and they should commence an Action neither there Persons nor Property were safe while it was depending and if they should escape the injury they feard & recover damages their business would be utterly ruined & nobody would dare to have any trade or dealing with them. Some of them who seemd determind to stand out could not find a Carman in the town who would carry their Goods from the Key where they were landed to their Warehouses. When I have hinted to some of the principal of them that they had not applied to me & the Council there answer has been that the mind of the C. was well known & such an application would only expose them to the rage of the populace. I have so often represented that this is not a combination of a party only but of the whole body of the people justified & favourd by compact of the authority of Government which by the Constitution has power to suppress it that I cannot still help flattering my self that Parliament has not risen without having taken some effectual measures for that purpose. If it has the only chance left is that the Oppression will be so great that a party will be formed among the Merchants to put an end to it. I have done & will continue to do evry thing in my power to encourage such a party but at present the prospect of success is very small.
Lord Drummond & Colo Robertson are here upon a visit from N York the latter to make provision for the march of the 29th Regiment to Providence.2 They tell me that altho the Assembly had provided for the Articles required by the Mutiny Act for a short time but as our Assembly had refusd to do it & no notice has been taken of this refusal the New York Assembly will be afraid of their Constituents & never make the like provision again. I am with the greatest esteem Dear Sir Your most obedient humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:484); at foot of letter, “Jona Pownall.”
Boston 19 May 1770
My Dear Sir, I am told by one of the Ministers of the Town that Dr Cooper has a letter from a Mem of Parl & he told me from whom a Gent who you know used to correspond with him in which it is said that shipping back 10000 £ worth of Goods will do more than storing an £100,000. & it is said that this Letter has done much to turn the scale when it was upon a balance whether the Goods should go back or not.1 Good God can the people of America ever return to a due subordination to G B whilst Members of the H of Commons there publickly and privately justify them in there revolt. I could not help mentioning this to you but must intreat you to lett no person know that this Intelligence comes from me. I am with the greatest respect and esteem
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:485); at foot of letter, “Gov Bernard.” Contemporary printings: Boston Gazette, 31 March 1777; Remembrancer for the Year 1777, p. 112.
Boston 21 May 1770
My Lord, On Friday the 18 Instant a Tidesman in the Customs seized a small coasting Vessel, belonging to Connecticut, and a few Cask[s] of Sugar for breach of the Acts of Trade. In the Evening the Officer was seized. stripped and carted about the Town for 3 or 4 hours, besmeared with Tarr & then coverd with feathers & followed by a great number of disorderly people.1
As my health was somewhat impaired I had been a short time in the Country and altho my house is but 6 or 7 miles from Town so little notice is taken of such disorders that I heard nothing of it until Saturday in the afternoon when I immediately directed the Justices of the Town to attend me in Council on Monday at 10 oClock. Upon inquiry how such a breach of Law could be passed over as it had been the Chairman, who was also Chairman of the Committee of the Town which prepared the Instructions to their Representatives, made answer that he thought himself under no obligation to make inquiry as no Complaint had been made in form.2 Upon my telling him that the Law had made it the duty of the Justices & the Sheriff to interpose in order to suppress Riots and, if the Offenders escaped, the Justices were required to make inquiry after them and if they neglected it for a certain time, they were subject to a penalty, and upon the Council’s advising me to enjoin them to do their Duty, he & his brethren promised me they would immediately examine into the Affair, and in a spirited manner. As some of the principal Actors are known, I hope, they maybe brought to exemplary punishment; for I find that this attack upon an Officer is not approved of by many who call themselves Friends of Liberty and are favorers of other illegal and unwarrantable measures. As it is of great Importance that the Officers of the Customs should not be intimidated, I will make the best Improvement of the present disposition, in so many people, and omit nothing in my power to promote a vigorous prosecution of the Offenders.
I have just now received a Letter from my Nephew Mr Rogers at New York who went there to be out of the way of the Boston mob for a short time but seems not to have changed for the better.3 The continuance & increase of this spirit, at Boston & New York raisd and supported by the illegal confederacies, will I hope justifie me with your Lordship for so often expressing my opinion of the absolute necessity of effectual measures to suppress them. I am very sure Government can not recover its vigour in this Province and I think not at New York until this is done, and if this is done I have no doubt of seeing Government restored and that the opposition which has shewn itself in the Assembly would abate and be of no long duration. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect, My Lord, Your Lordships most humble & most obedient Servant,
RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 200–01); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough &ca”; docketed, “Boston 21st. Mary 1770. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 13) Rx 1st. July”; notation, “C:22.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 132–34); docketed, “Lieut. Governor Hutchinson, Boston, 21st May 1770 (No. 13) Rx 1 July”; at foot of letter, “Inclosure: Copy of a Letter from Mr. Rogers to Lieut Govr. Hutchinson, dated New York, 14th. May 1770.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:488). Enclosure to RC: Nathaniel Rogers to TH, 14 May 1770 (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 202–03).
Boston 21 May 1770
My Dear Sir, I am exceedingly obliged to you for your kind congratulations upon the honour you supposed to have been done me & for your favorable opinion of me.1 My Letters in December from Governor Bernard Mr Jno Pownall Dr Franklyn & others informd me that Lord Hillsborough had signified that as soon as Report should be made upon the complaint of the Province against the Gov he would nominate me for his Successor.2 These Letters did not come to hand until 10 or 12 weeks after there date. The last of March I acquainted Ld H that as I had not only the body of the people but evry part of the authority of Government counteracting me in my endeavours for suppressing those Irregularities which appeard to me to be directly contrary to the fundamental principles of all Government & to tend to separate the Colonies from the Kingdom I had not strength of constitution to grapple with it & humbly prayed some other person might be appointed.3 Our last date from London is the 24 March. It was then said the nomination would be made very soon. If it should be delayed a few weeks my Letters will prevent its falling upon me. In common times a life of business would be agreeable to me & I am not so void of ambition as not to be pleased with the honours conferrd upon me by my Sovereign but when the state of the times is such as that a Governor must be deprivd of that tranquility of mind without which life itself is scarce desireable you will not wonder that I am not fond of the place.
You will be convincd by our News papers that leaving the Duty on Tea is not satisfactory to America. I wrote the 18 Feb that in my opinion it was better to leave all the Duties in force than to take off three and leave the other. I knew the people too well. Gaining one point makes them more sure of another & more restless till they obtain it. I even thought the plan Ld Chatham set out upon the most eligable tho I could not see all his distinction in the light he did.4 Repeal those Acts which are unconstitutional or but abide by the rest and inforce them with vigor. Instead of this they repealed one act & soon after passd another not much less exceptionable upon the principles they repeald the first.5 It is possible we may yet hear that Tea is liberated also before the bill goes through
I have had the pleasure of just seeing Cap Smith who I find very acceptable to the people as was Cap Caldwell at least both of them as much so as an Officer of the Crown who does his duty can be.6 The inclosd to Cap Caldwell came under cover to me please to cause it to be delivered and believe me to be in whatever station and upon evry occasion Dear Sir Your faithful humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:487); at foot of letter, “Com. Hood.”
New York May 21 1770
Sir, I have been favoured with two Letters from you of the 9th and 18th Inst, and am to thank you for the trouble you have taken about the March of the 29th Regt. to Providence.1
The Intelligence transmitted you about the Accoutrements and Caps may be relied upon as certain, tho’ possibly nothing intended by it more, than what you have discovered.2 I can not tell the Name of the Person who received the Commission to procure them, but the Patterns were got from Mr. Rawle, by a Person, whom said Mr. Rawle understood to be an Agent for the People of Boston, and expected daily to receive an Order from him, to prepare a Number sufficient for 4000 Men. Mr. Rawle is a good deal employed by the Army, and I think lives in the Strand.3
You will know before this gets to Boston, in what a Scandalous Manner Mr. Rogers has been treated in this Town; it is supposed to have been contrived at Boston by some of your Mutineers, and executed by Some of their Correspondents of the same stamp here, and I make no doubt, that they would have raised more of their kindred to have insulted Mr. Rogers at Philadelphia, had he proceeded thither.4 I return you the Letter you inclosed to me for him.5
Many Ships are arrived at this Port from England, but I hear of no News later than what you have had at Boston. The Majority is greatly increased by the Remonstrances, which instead of adding Strength to the Opposition, has weakned them greatly:6 And Most People are grown tired and Apprehensive of the Licentiousness of the Press, and Lawless Proceedings of many, who from their Rank and Stations, should be the Champions of the Constitution, instead of the Contrivers of it’s Subvertion. Some here expect a Repeal of the Tea Duty before Parliament breaks up, but I believe there is no Foundation for it. I have the honour to be with great Esteem Sir, Your most obedient, humble Servant,
RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:403–04); at foot of letter, “Honble: Lieut. Govr: Hutchinson”; docketed, “General Gage.” AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at head of letter, “Copy.”; at foot of letter, “Honble: Lt: Governor Hutcheson.”
Boston 22d May 1770
My Dear Sir, When I wrote to you the 18th by Scott I was at Milton & had heard nothing of the Riot at Boston the evning before.1 Some of the Rascals who have been most active in the Merchants mobs against Importers were concerned in this. I have had better success with the Justices than in former Instances and they seem to be inquiring into the Affair with som spirit.2 I told the Council that now an Officer of the Customs was attacked the World would think the Comissioners had some reason for their leaving the Town. Erv and P____s were offended & insisted upon it that they were never in any danger.3 This is easily accounted for as one is the Grandfather & the other the uncle of T______ who it is said complains of the other Comissioners for leaving the Town.4
It is commonly said that goods are returned in Scott to the amount of 15000£. This cannot be a quarter part of what has been imported & no doubt some of the friends of the Committee have been sufferd to retain good part of their Importation. It has been tho’t by some that there was danger of a confiscation of some of the Goods & of the Ship or at least that a good deal of trouble might arise before they were admitted to an Entry in London.5 If the accounts we have from Philadelphia are true, that they have agreed to import all goods but Tea it is probable the same agreement will take place here.6
Rogers went to New York to be out of the way of insults but he was in greater hazard there than he has ever been in Boston.7 The populace in both Towns are become absolutely savage. I think I never mentioned to you what I first heard from Auchmuty a few weeks ago that when one of the witnesses was examind concerning what I said to the Officer & his reply the night the people were killed he swore he stood close behind me and after relating the conversation he added that one of the Mob lifted up a large club over my head & was going to strike but that he seized him by the Arm & prevented it.8 I remember some people hurried me into the Town house & told me I was not safe there but I did not then know the occasion of it. Colo Goldthwait who is now in Town from Fort Pownall tells me he dined a few days ago in company with a Merchant John Browne, & that after dinner he said they repented of nothing so much as suffering Gov Bernard to go off as he did, if he was here now he should not leave the Province in a whole skin.9 These stories would be too trivial for a Letter if they did not serve to give you an Idea of the Temper of the people.
The Address from the Coll Corp has been presented to me.10 Some of them are ashamed of it & say they could not help it. I will inclose a copy of it & my Answer. Nothing can be more infamous than the Boston Instructions. Is it possible that they should pass without notice. Young Quincy who goes by the name of Wilkes Quincy pennd them.11 He bids fair for a Successor to Otis & it is much if he does not run mad also. It was first reported that they were the productions of Doctor Young.12 I wish the Statute of Henry the 8 might be declared by a new act to extend to America at least for the purpose of sending to your old Bailey the chairman of the Committee who reported them.13
Ruggles is chose & the Secretarys son with him.14 I hear of nobody else yet who is not at the direction of the Boston Members. I shall have trouble enough with such an Assembly but I would willingly undergo it a whole year rather than undergo the trouble I meet with from the dissolute State of the Town of Boston for one month.
I have had some conversation with Pond about settling his Regiment. I have appointed no Officers & from the account he gives me I am almost discouraged from giving out any Comissions.15 He says the Officers are very pressing that the Regiment may be settled and the men well exercised but he says at the same time that it is not with a view to their being better able to oppose a foreign Enemy but the Kings Troops if there should be an attempt to land again and for that reason he seemd himself rather to desire the Regiment to remain as it is. They begin to make a clamor that so many Regiments are in such a broken state. I do not think all the discipline they aim at would make them a whit better soldiers against the K’s Troops but I am loth to shew them any countenance when such a reason is publickly given for my doing it & therefore will delay until I can have opportunity of receiving your opinion upon it.
I am now at the 23d. Between 40 & 50 Merchants have at last had courage eno’ to meet this morning & altho their votes discover timidity yet it is a good beginning.16 They resolvd there should be a free Importation of all Goods in the fall except Tea, provided the gen’l Meeting approvd of it & if they should not approve of it that an Express should be sent notwithstanding to the Southern Governments acquainting them that this was the mind of the Merchants who had assembled. Molineux pronouncd these Merchants Rebels & Usurpers and the bells were set aringing in the afternoon for a general Meeting of Tom Dick & Harry at which I hear the Merchants who met in the morning attended & that there have been warm debates but I have not the particulars. I hear in general the proposal of the Merchants in the morning was not approved of. At Philadelphia they are of the same mind with the 40 or 50 Merchants here but are pressd by the New Yorkers and the Bostonians not to yield one year more will do the business & bring Parliament to what terms we please.17 Will the nation never have any feeling of these Indignities offerd them. Whilst I am writing I am told by one who was present that one of the Greens said it was unreasonable that the Merchants should be restraind from dissolving an Agreement they had mad among themselves by the People who were then assembled most of whom had no concern in Trade nor any property.18 Ruddock was so angry that he burst into crying & said his Indignation was raised to hear a young man offer such an Affront to that body who had been called in by the Merchants to there aid & having made use of them would willingly throw them off but they were mistaken.19 Molineux harangued the populace & frightned some of the young Merchants to such a degree that they desired leave to withdraw there names from a paper which they had signed declaring they desired a general Importation. Others said if they had no property they had Liberty & their posterity might have property. Upon the whole there was a general vote to adhere to the agreement. I am told that if Greene & Boylstone would have joined the point would have been carried.20 They told the rest when they were applied to that they were intirely with them in sentiment but they would not render themselves obnoxious when they had no assurance of protection. They are afraid of their fine houses. Boylstone has always told me that the silence or next to it in England has discouraged him & until he sees a proper resentment there he will keep as quiet as he can here. Considering the state of the Town which is as disorderly as ever I am very glad that I calld the Court at Cambridge. We have nothing from London since the 24 March. Your card of the 19 encouraged me I should hear from you further by the next Ship in 4 or 5 days.21 Something of Importance I have no doubt [hindred]. I have mentiond to my Ld Hillsboro the wretched state of the Eastern Part of the Province.22 Mr Goldthwait upon my telling him my intention thought it would be more agreeable to you to have some notice made about it than that affairs should remain in there present confusion. I have only room eno to add that I am with the most sincere respect and esteem Sir Your most faithful humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:491–92).
Boston 22 May 1770
Dear Sir, I send you under this cover the Instructions given by the Town of B to their Representatives. They are the composition of a young Lawyer a Coxcomb & evidence the truth of an observation I have often had occasion to make that if we are neglected by the authority in England we shall certainly go on step by step until we are independent.1 I fancy none of the Advocates for the Colonies in England will justify them in going that length. The doctrine advanced in this piece of rant may as well be urged against the Kings assent to our Laws or his appointing a Governor as against the Removal of the Court from Boston by His Majesty’s order for this remote power disconnected is never to be exercised but when the people of the Province think it for there good. Sometimes the objection is made to ministerial mandates but at other times to the Prorogative of the Crown. It is a meer Rhapsody but is the most impudent piece & most affrontive to the H of Lords and to the King of any I have seen published in America. It is true that it is not the Act of the Province but it is the Act of the Town of Boston or rather of the populace of the Town of Boston who controul all the Affairs of the Province. It is the Act of the same people who have wrote letters to and received Answers from Noblemen as well as Commoners of rank & distinguished characters & who have been made so vain as to think they ought to direct not only the Affairs of the Town in which they live but of the whole Province.
The Parliament will not be sitting. I am not a Judge whether it will deserve the notice of the King in Council a censure upon it there & advice to His Majesty to lay it before the Parliament or whether an Instruction to the Governor to transmit transcriptions of all the Laws by which Towns claim a Right of assembling there Inhabitants in order to their being also laid before Parliament will be proper for I must observe to you that the Purposes for which the T of Boston four times in f___ are illegal2 but I am very sure if declarations against the authority of the King & the authority of Parliament sometimes by the General Assembly sometime by the T of Boston are multiplied and suffered to pass unnoticed every such instance of neglect will render it more difficult to recover this authority. We have desperate people who I believe really think Troops will never be suffered to land here again & that Acts of Parliament they do not approve of will never be suffered to be carried into execution but when once it appears that there is a determination to maintain the general authority of K & Parliament at all events we must submit and the Anarchy of 3 or 4 past years caused by the want of this determination will make us more easily reconciled to Government & more sensible of the Blessings of it & until there be such a determination America will be in confusion. By the King’s Speech & the addresses I hoped to see such measures taken as to convince us that the Parliament was in earnest but our last advices are that we are like to remain in suspence until another Session. I must ask your excuse for repeatedly appearing so earnest upon this Subject. If you was in America & saw how much the few friends of Government lament that they are destitute of power to support Government & the enemies of government triumph in the success of their combinations against it I should need no apology with you. I am well informed that at one of the late Meetings when an exception was taken to compulsory measures because it would bring the resentment of Parliament upon us a principal Merchant replied that when the returnd Goods arrivd Parliament would not be sitting & it would be a stale affair the next Session & others have said that we were in no danger they had enough to do in England to support the authority of Government within themselves. I am with very great regard Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:489–90).
Boston 24 May 1770
My Lord, I have by this Ship sent to the Secretary of the Board of Trade, according to my Instructions Exemplifications of the Laws passed the last Session of the General Court with Remarks upon them. I cannot yet obtain the Minutes or Journal of the House of Representatives, the Clerk, being also a Member of the House, has been so full of busness that he makes that his excuse.1 I beg leave to observe to your Lordship that among the Acts and Doings of the General Court there will appear the Grant of a Township to 60 persons at a place called Machias between Penobscot and St. Croix upon condition they obtain His Majestys Confirmation within 18 months otherwise to be void.2 Grants or renewals of Grants of several other Townships in the same Part of the Province were offered to me and I refused my consent to them. I singled this out from the rest, it appearing that the Grantees were actual settlers upon the Lands granted, that the State of those Lands might be laid before His Majesty for his determination concerning them, before the whole are entred upon and possessed as private property. Colonel Goldthwait who has the command of Fort Pownall and of a Regiment forming there assures me that at Penobscot and to the Eastward, upon the Sea coast and Islands, there are between 500 and a 1000 Families who have built Houses inclosed large Tracts of Land and carried on Stocks of creatures erected Mills and use the Timber as their own. The Townships which were conditionally granted by the Province two or three of them excepted are full of Inhabitants without the consent of the Grantees. As this part of the Province is looked upon as an Asylum Criminals as well as Debtors flee thither and they have among them some very bad people and but few who have any tolerable character. I have picked out two or three of whose Characters stand best to make them Justices in hopes of preserving some degree of order. Before the Governor left the Province he had prevailed with the Sheriff to appoint a Deputy there and to allow him full fees.3 If they go on for 10 years to come as they have done for 8 or 10 years past the whole County that is of any value will be settled. Had it been made a distinct Government when your Lordship had it in contemplation several years ago a much more advantageous settlement would have been made there. Unless there be an interposition of Royal Authority I think there will be no restraint for the Assembly, not having the power of making absolute Grants and the conditional Grants not being confirmed give themselves no trouble about trespasses made there but any one that pleases takes possession and makes Improvement without molestation.
If there be no prospect of the Lands East of Piscataqua River nor those East of Kennebeck River being constituted seperate & distinct Governments I humbly submit it to your Lordship whether a proposal to the Province to quit or relinquish their claim to all the Lands East of Penobscot & to take as a consideration the absolute property of the Lands between Kennebeck and Penobscot might not be expedient. The Seacoast in both places are generally taken up, but East of Penobscot the greatest part of the people are late Intruders and having been but at a small expence, have neither a legal nor equitable Title. In both places there are large tracts of Inland Country unoccupied and without Claimants. A fondness for Land jobbing in many of the Members of the Court renders it not improbable that such a proposal would be complied with, for by the reserve made in the Charter they are now under restraint and on the other hand the reserve is of no use to the Crown whilst the Grants of Lands there originate with the General Court. I have the honour to be with the greatest Respect My Lord Your Lordships
RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 204–05); docketed, “Boston 24. May 1770. Lt Govr Hutchinson (No. 14) Rx 1st July”; notation, “C:23.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, ff. 134–38); docketed, “Lieut Govr. Hutchinson, Boston, 24th. May 1770 (No. 14.) Rx 1st. July.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:493–94).
Boston 26 May 1770
Sir, The persons who under the name of Merchants have carried on a Correspondence with such as call themselves a Comittee of Merchants in Philadelphia are now divided & the real Merchants who in the heighth of their zeal called in the Populace to their aid are now restrained by the populace from acting according to their Sentiments. Near 50 Merchants on Tuesday last met in the morning & agreed to a free Importation of all goods except Teas but through timidity made some sort of condition that the Trade in general approved of it.2 In the afternoon there was a Meetings of the Inhabitants in general & they disagreed to it but it seems to be beyond doubt that by far the majority of the Merchants who were present at this meeting were in favour of it but were over ruled by persons not in Trade and many of them without Property. The Letter from the Merchants in Philadelphia is kept private.3 Letters which encourage opposition to Parliamentary Authority are immediately published.
I suspect the Merchants in Philadelphia will be deceived by the accounts transmitted from hence & made to believe that the major part of the Merchants are still in favour of non Importation. There are 3 or 4 principal houses which I know to be for importation but have not courage to appear. If your Merchants will not suffer themselves to be imposed upon but will adhere to the Sentiments which they have expressed these principal houses will I think take courage & it may break up the Confederacy.
If these Combinations continue I think they must be destructive to Government. They are the cause of the disorders in this Government. It is my misfortune to have a Council who do not see the illegality of them & will concur with me in no measures for suppressing them. By the constitution of the Government I can do little or nothing authoritative, without the Council & I only have it in my power to persuade by reason & argument & to discountenance such as will not hearken to them. A Correspondence kept up by the Servants of the Crown in the several Colonies I think may be made very useful. It is with this view that I have taken the liberty to acquaint you with the real state of the Town at present & if there be any thing occurrs to you which you shall think may be of service to communicate to me shall be very glad to receive it but the less there is known of such a Correspondence the greater benefit will probably arise from it. I am very respectfully Sir Your most Obedient humble Servant,
AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:494–95).
Boston 27 May 1770
My Lord, Upon advice from Philadelphia that the Merchants there were disposed to break up their Association, except so far as relates to importing Teas near 50 Merchants of this Town met together and declared their willingness to join with the Philadelphians.1 This alarmed the heads of the Combination here and, at a Meeting of the Populace calld the same day in the afternoon it was voted strictly to adhere to the Non Importation until the whole of the Duties in the late Act shall be taken off.
I find many of the Merchants are very much dissatisfied that their Trade should be regulated by people not concernd in Trade & without property but their Timidity is such that a Meeting of such great numbers of people in opposition to them, immediately discourages them from pursuing what seemd to be their determination. There are 3 or 4 principal Merchants who are free in expressing to me their disapprobation of the present measures but they cannot be prevaild with to join with the rest who are of the same Sentiment. It is thought their additional weight upon the late occasion would have turnd the Scale.
I have acquainted Governor Penn with the state of things here, to prevent the Merchants there from being imposed upon there by false accounts in Letters and in print and I have desired a correspondence with him and I shall desire the like from Mr. Colden that every circumstance in either of the Governments favourable to the bringing to an end these most illegal & destructive combinations may be improved to that purpose, though after all we shall be in continual danger of the revival of them until the just and necessary Provision is made by Parliament for suppressing them.2 I have the honour to be most respectfully My Lord Your Lordships most humble and most Obedient Servant,
RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 211–12); at foot of letter, “Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough &ca.”; docketed, “Boston 27th. May 1770. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson (No. 15) Rx 16th. July”; notation, “C:24.” SC (National Archives UK, CO/768, ff. 138–39); docketed, “Boston May 27th. 1770 Lieutenant Govr. Hutchinson (No. 15.) Rx 16th. July.” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:495).
Salem May 30th 1770
May It Please your Honor, To pardon this freedom in troubleing you, but my present deplorable Situation, I hop will admitt of some little Excuse: I had that honour of haveing an Audience with your Honor about three weeks past at your Country Seat at Milltoun: Where I gave your Honor a small detaile of the aproaching danger I was threatned with; As likely to be deprived of my little small Income by an Arbitrary & headstrong People: As I would not comply to their Measures the Same being Repugnant to the law’s of Great Brittan; for not Signing against that Articule of Tea; by that means they have taken from me those pupiles I had under my care for Education, being all the Support I had to mantain my poor wife & Self.
Moreover my wife & I have been threatned to have our house pull’d down & tore to peics by a Rabble at unseasonable hours of the Night, calling out with a loud Voice kill that dog Jamieson he is a Governours man, a Bastard of Liberty. All these things I have indavoured to bear with that Magnanimity of Mind which becomes a North Brittan2 And have indavoured to avoid resenting this malignat treatment not taking the lest notice of the Same: The sons of liber[t]y as they stile themselve’s, Observing my calm disposition seeing I was now not disturbed at any of their threats, Bethought them selves of an other Method to kick up my Heels, which indeed they have effectually done: so the polititions set all Irons in the fire how to compleet my ruin; by endavouring to prompt every person where I was owing a Single copper to Sue directly wether Just or Unjust; The same was aggree’d to Nemini Contradicente3 and without the lest notice came on me like a Bear bereaved of her Whelps, Nevertheless I stood the first fire pouring down a small bag of dollars to satisfy their creaving apatide, they finding themselves Baulked in their designs, they wanted to Search further; into my affairs and by a very diligent search, & Scrutiny they at last Scented out I was indebted to a man in Road Island on Account Currant the same being patched up, the noble Sons of Liberty Immeadiatly sent for the same & the pretended Creditor granted a power of Attorny to one of my greatest Enemys to Sue for the same directly, which no sooner said but done, not haveing the lest thought of this, flattering my self the Storm was over, I to my great surprise was taken last Saturday the 26 Currant with a single writt for the Sum of £6 Lawfull. I immediatly apply’d to Friends as I thought to give Baile to stand Tryall but to my sorrow it was given in the Negative with this Answer.
Mr. Jamieson you have allways since you have been here taken the Governours part at all events and therefore we look upon you as an Enemy to America; so let him deliver you as we want your company out of Marblehead; So I thanked them for their friendship with Fiat Voluntas tua;4 so my last Refuge was Salem Goal, which pleased the populas so much that they gave me three Cheers hopeing I shou’d never return to Marblehead. I shall not trouble your Honor with all the particulars. Only where can the Injured fly for Redress, but to Your Honour, who now represents, one of the greatest Monarchs in the world; Your Honor was pleased when I had the pleasure of seeing you that you would endavour to interceed in my behalfe with Comissioners Paxton and Comissioner Burch in order to obtain some place under his. Majesty so as I cou’d live a little Undependent of this Arbetrary Set; my distress is great, and I have drained my self of cash: I bless God that I have your Honor to apply to, as I am fully convinced that nothing will be wanting in your power, to assist the distressed; May God grant you his protection & Aid in all your Undertakings and heap Blessings on your head and offspring and that you may be preserved from all Evil and bad designing men. The Goverment of this Province to rest easy on your shoulders & live to be a Friend to your Friends and a terror to your most enveterate Enemys is the ernest desire and Prayor of Your Honor’ Most oblidged most humble & most obedient Servant,
P.S. I have wrott Comissoner Paxton. This will be delivered you by my distressed Wife as I can not repose a Confidence in any but herself. Please Excuse the Errors of a person in my condition.
RC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 25:409–10a); dateline appears at the bottom left of the letter; addressed, “To— The Honourable Thomas Hutchison Esqr: Leutenent Governour of the Province Boston”; docketed, “1770.”