The Death of Nathaniel Rogers

    677. To Sir Francis Bernard, 12 August 1770

    678. From Thomas Gage, 12 August 1770

    679. To Lord Hillsborough, 14 August 1770

    680. From Peter Oliver, 16 August 1770

    681. To Thomas Gage, 19 August 1770

    682. To [Samuel Hood], 19 August 1770

    683. From Sir Francis Bernard, 20 August 1770

    684. To William Parker, 26 August 1770

    685. From Thomas Gage, 27 August 1770

    As Hutchinson’s nephew and a leading holdout against nonimportation, Nathaniel Rogers was long the butt of popular harassment. In the spring of 1770, Rogers journeyed to New York, hoping to encourage merchants there to abandon the agreement. Hung in effigy and warned that his life was in danger, Rogers elected not to continue his trip to Philadelphia, but hostile demonstrators discovered him on his return trip to Boston, even on remote Shelter Island. Once back in Boston, he faced continued persecution and sought refuge with his wife’s relatives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Upon his return to Boston, the windows of his house were once again broken and the knocker ripped off his front door. On 9 August, after swearing out a complaint against one of the alleged perpetrators, he suffered an apoplectic fit and soon died. Rogers was due to assume the role of secretary of the province, once Andrew Oliver stepped up to the job of lieutenant governor and Hutchinson became governor in his own right.

    677. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 12 August 1770


    No. 32

    My Dear Sir, Mr. Rogers has been excessively worried by the most diabolical crew that are upon the face of the earth, and altho he offered them a carte blanche yet they would not receive him nor cease their hostilities. After repeatedly breaking his windows & in a most beastly manner casting tubs of ordure at his door about a month ago he had information that they intended injury to his person & he came out & lodged at Milton. I advised him to take a journey to Portsmouth & spend a week or 10 days with his wives kinsman Governor Wentworth but he could not then leave his business & returning to town & meeting with no molestation for two or three weeks he flattered himself his troubles were at an end.1 About a week ago his windows were broke again in the night & the knocker twisted from the door. This was done by a single person a Smiths Servant whom the master being an orderly man discovered [him] & Thursday last Rogers left me at my house in Town to go to Justice Quincys for a Warrant.2 As he held up his hand to swear that he had grounds to suspect the person the Justice observed a Tremor & asked if he was not well & advised him not to give himself so much concern. He had got but a few steps from the Justices door just by the Post Office when he complained of being ill to a woman who stood at her shop door & who asked him in where he remaind near half an hour fancying he should grow better but an apoplectic fit came on, his countenance changed to black instantly & before I could get to him after notice given me he was in the Agonies of death & expired about 4 o clock the same afternoon. You know he had been once or twice before slightly touched & there was reason to expect a return & that he would die in this way but it is very probable that it has been accelerated by the troubles he has met with. Mr. Rogers coming into my family very young upon the death of his father & mother brings his own death nearer to me than that of a Nephew otherwise would be.

    I hope his Commission was not taken out that the fees may be saved, a Successor must be found.3 The Secretary writes you upon this Subject. I think with him, nobody has more pretence than Flucker and as I think those who have appeared foremost in support of government ought in good policy to be encouraged. I could wish, unless he be before provided for, that he may be accomodated in consequence of this event. If there had been no claimers I would have asked it for my brother whose principles are as good as any mans and whose abilities are, if I am not prejudiced, superior to most men’s.4

    In yesterday’s paper you see an instance of the Villany of the Faction. My Reply to the House I carried with me [to] Cambridge somewhat rough there not being time to transcribe it. The House were desirous of beginning their journying that day and Adams promised the Dep Secretary that if I would suffer the first draught to go to the House, he would redeliver it to be copied. Instead of so doing he gave [it] to Edes & Gill to print. They printed the word immediately instead of mediately, though I had very carefully wrote it to prevent an error.5 The Secretary immediately pronounced it done by design and, though I directed Draper to correct it in his paper the Thursday following yet Adams squibbed upon the Monday next after.6 This, you will say, only makes his own piece rediculous when the Truth appears, but the misfortune is that seven eights of the People read none but this infamous paper and so are never undeceived.

    Mr. Belcher is upon his last legs and cannot continue many weeks.7 I think to have heard at some time or other that you had thoughts of procuring the Registers place for one of your sons. I therefore would make no sort of motion concerning it until I have your approbation. I cannot think it worth more than a hundred a year communibus annis which nobody in England of any credit would accept of especially when the Officers of the Court of Admiralty are so unpopular.8

    It would make Mr. Cotton easy & for his sake I have taken the liberty to write to Sir Edward Hawke but inclose the Letter to you to be delivered or not just as you shall think proper for if you have laid aside all thought of your own family it may be engaged to another or you may think it fruitless or inconvenient for me to concern myself about it.9

    I am with sincere regard and esteem Your

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:534–35); partially in WSH’s hand.

    678. From Thomas Gage

    New York August 12th: 1770


    Sir, A Packet arrived this Morning and I have received Letters to the 12th of June. Nothing is yet determined upon and I find it may be yet sometime before Matters can be brought to any certain Issue. In the mean time the 14th Regiment will remain in their present Quarters, and I should be glad that you would so concert Affairs with Lieut. Colonel Dalrymple that a Detachment of the above Regiment may March into Fort William and secure that Fortress, the Moment the Circumstances of your Government may render such a Measure prudent and Necessary.1 Should Affairs be drawn to such Extremity, I shall without delay not only reinforce the Regiment, but strengthen the Fort and Island as well as their Situation will Admit of. I hope there may never be Occasion for such Precautions, but if you and other Officers of the Crown should be drove, by a Repetition of the tumultuous and Violent Proceedings of the Town of Boston, to take Shelter at the Castle for the Security of your Persons they will be absolutely necessary.

    The Publick News will not lead you to think the Tempers of the Factions much Mended, but soon alter to shew an increase of Disorder. Alderman Harley had a Narrow Escape from the Mob when the Lord Mayor went with the last Remonstrance.2 People in general think the Madness is Subsiding and that they shall recover their Senses again. I have the honor with great Regard, Sir, &c.

    AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “Honble. Lieut Governor Hutchinson”; docketed, “Copy To The Honorable Lieut: Governor Hutchinson Boston, New York August 12th: 1770.”

    679. To Lord Hillsborough

    Boston 14 August 1770


    No. 22

    My Lord, It is my duty to give your Lordship the earliest advice of the death of Mr. Rogers, who was taken ill in the Street the 9 Instant and soon after was seized with an Apoplectic fit which carried him off in 3 or 4 hours. From his constitution, and habit for several years past he seemd in danger of such a stroke but it is very probable that the troubles he met with from the infatuated party among us brought it on sooner than otherwise, and at the very time he was seized he was going from a Justice of Peace to whom he had made complaint of a Villain who he had discovered to have made an attack upon his house a few nights before. If his Commission should arrive it is my present thought that, as it will never have been published, the Secretary may continue to act in his present post with propriety and suspend the publication of his Comission for Lieutenant Governor until there shall be new directions from your Lordship in consequence of this event. I have the honour to be with the greatest respect My Lord, Your Lordships most humble & obedient Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    RC (National Archives UK, CO 5/759, ff. 261–62); at foot of letter, “The Right Honorable the Earl of Hillsborough”; docketed, “Boston 14th. Aug. 1770. Lieut. Govr. Hutchinson. Rx 17th. Septr. (No. 22.)”; notation, “C:36.” DupRC (National Archives UK, CO 5/894, ff. 67–68); in WSH’s hand; at head of letter, “Duplicate.” SC (National Archives UK, CO 5/768, f. 159); docketed, “Lieut. Governor Hutchinson Boston 14 Augt. 1770 Rx Sepr. 17. (No 22).” AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:536).

    680. From Peter Oliver

    Middlebro’ Augt. 16. 1770

    Dear Brother! I recd. an half Line from you per the Waggon am sorry for those concerned in Mr Roger’s Death particularly I condole with his Sister Sally, whose delicate Mind must need be affected by it.1

    This will be conveyed to you by your Son from whom & the others we have been entertained by their agreeable Visit.

    I am in Hopes you are easier in your political Situation than of late & wish you the greatest Peace of Mind. I have been uneasy for some Time past lest one & Another were destined to fill the Bench, & more especially a Brigadiers; but a Gentleman having told me of a Speech made lately by him, I think my Self obliged to communicate it to you: speaking of your late Answer to an impudent Message, he said, “not all the Angels or Archangels, Cherebim & Seraphim, nor the whole celestial Hierarchy could have made so fine a Speech.” This I take to be so great an Address that a political Pardon is inadmissible.2

    I understand that you are coming this Way to buy some Hay or Corn or something else; if so, & you imagine it would not be too erratick to call & see me, it would be pleasing to me to have a Minutes Visit from you, but I would not Urge any Thing to your Disadvantage for no One wishes you more Health & Peace of Mind than Your sincere Friend

    Peter Oliver

    RC (New York Public Library, Samuel Adams Papers); addressed, “To his Honour Thomas Hutchinson in Milton”; docketed, “Judge Oliver Aug 16.”

    681. To Thomas Gage

    Boston August 19 1770

    Sir, I have the honour of receiving two of your Letters since I last wrote to you.1 I am glad to find, by the first, that you agree in sentiment with me upon the expediency of a measure, for the general benefit of the Colonies, which I shall do all in my power to promote.2 In consequence of what you write in the last I have appointed to meet Colo. Dalrymple to morrow that we may consult together upon the Subject. I am at a loss what can be done, without giving suspicion of the intention of doing it, except being constantly upon our Guard against a surprize & using all possible caution to prevent any jealousies of a change in the Possession of the place, until it shall be found necessary to carry it into execution.

    My Lord Hillsborough writes me that our Affairs had opened a large Field of Discussions and Doubts and objections, which had arisen, had been refferred to His Majestys Law Servants. I think, therefore, a Determination may not very soon be expected.

    I should have duly acknowledged your favour, by the last week’s post, if it had not been for the sudden death of my Nephew Mr. Rogers a few days before. Although his ill habit threatned an Apoplexy, sooner or later, yet I have great reason to think it was accelerated by anxiety of mind, from the abuse he has met with, and he was seized coming out of a Justices house, to whom he had applied for a Warrant against a fellow who had attacked his House a few nights before.

    My Lord Hillsborough acquaints me in a former Letter that His Majesty had appointed him to the Office of Secretary of the Province. I have the honour to be with greatest Esteem Sir Your most humble most obliged Servant,

    Tho Hutchinson

    Let me beg the favour of you to forward the inclosed to Mr. Stephens.3

    RC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “His Excellency General Gage.”

    682. To [Samuel Hood]

    Boston 19 August 1770

    My Dear Sir, I have two of your most obliging Letters unanswered. The first was deliverd me, by Mr. Murray at the Castle, a few minutes after I had sent away my last Letter to you; the other I have the pleasure of receiving from the Hands of Capt Caldwell.1

    Last nights post brought me Letters of the 12 June from Lord Hillsborough.2 Nothing yet is determined. The subsequent proceedings of the Town of Boston after the affair of the 5 and 6 of March had increased the apprehensions of further violence. The last advices from Boston were3 of the 21. of April after Richardson had been convicted by the Jury against the opinion of the whole Court. You will have a more full account from your friends of the general state of Affairs than I am able to give you. As far as I can judge there was rather a lull just when the Packet came away altho a little before when the L Mayor went with the last Remonstrance Alderman Harley had a narrow escape from the Mob and the Storm may probably rise again.4

    I wish the arrival of Cap Gambier only because Mrs. Hood & you wish it & I shall think my self happy if in your retirement I may now & then be honoured with a line from you.5 If anything shall further occur which may deserve your notice whilst you remain at Halifax I shall not fail of comunicating it.

    The sudden death of my Nephew Mr. R who was brought up in my family sits heavy upon me. I think it was accelerated by the savage treatment he met with.6 I am with the greatest regard & esteem Dear Sir Your most Obedient

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:536–37); partially in WSH’s hand.

    683. From Sir Francis Bernard

    Hampstead, August 20. 1770

    No. 40

    Dear Sir, My Concern for Lady Bernards coming over is greatly increased by the unaccountable delay of Lord Dunmore, who after keeping the Tweed in constant waiting for 3 Months has this last Week been seen about the Town & at Places of Diversion as if he had no thoughts of embarking as yet.1 My Hopes are now that Lady B has got another Ship: for the Tweed may arrive too late to return this Winter. For this Purpose I got Mr Hallowell to Speak to Commre. Gambier on behalf of Lady Bernard, being disappointed of seeing him myself.2 Mr Gambier said that when he got to Boston he would wait on Lady Bernard and offer her any Assistance in his Power; & that he should immediately after his Arrival order home the Glascow, & Lady B might have a Passage in her. I hope it has been so ordered; for I see no Prospect of the Tweeds getting to Boston in any reasonable time. If Lady B should go in the Glascow or another Ship be so good as to give Notice of it to Captn. Collier at his Arrival at New York.3 Also favor us with your Interposition with Commodore Gambier, if necessary.

    I saw Lord North last Thursday & had a long Conference with him. I Shewed him 2 of your Letters & some other papers: he has a very clear Idea of your Situation. He declared at Court that day to a friend of yours that you would be Governor & Mr Oliver Lieut. Governor: he said to me that he hoped you had agreed to it: I told him I understood you had. He is very earnest in rewarding the friends of Government: Brigr. Ruggles is appointed one of the Surveyors of Woods with a Salary of 300 pds. a Year: I am authorised by Mr. Cooper to acquaint him with it, which I beg you will do with my Congratulations, if I should not have time to write myself.4

    It has been long determined to Supersede Mr Temple. I was preparing a Petition to the King to desire that an Order might be made for an Enquiry into Mr. Temple’s Charge against me.5 But being informed that he had done his own Business with Government, I stopt my Hand that it might not be said that his Censure was occasioned by me. Tho I don’t care what he thinks upon the Occasion, I would have his Friends know, with some of whom I have been upon friendly terms, that seeing how this Business would go I kept myself clear of it. Nevertheless I intend when his Business is over to find an Opportunity to vindicate myself from his Calumnies; if it should be thought in anyways necessary.

    I hope that the Reformation of your Government will be done not by breaking the Charter (tho your People have afforded Means enough for that, if it was desired) but by amending it by the Authority of Parliament, who will declare themselves by such Act not bound by any Act of a King alone, so as to be precluded from making Provision for the Administration of Justice & the Support of Law & maintenance of Government thro’out His Majestys Dominions.6 This is the right & constitutional Way of proceeding with Subordinate Governments, over whom the Parliament of Great Britain is the Sovereign Power, or the Empire of Great Britain is not a Body. The Manner of doing this Business requires great Judgement and Administration will be obliged to the Friends of Government for Informations upon this Subject. The Desire at present seems to be to do all that is quite necessary & no more: large Schemes, which the Subject Matter will afford, had better be deferred to quieter times.

    The last Packet from New York brought large Orders for Goods; so great, the Merchants say, that it will take all the Stock that is ready. And if the like Orders come from Philadelphia, which are daily expected, it will be sometime before all Demands are answered, & Goods must rise in Value. The Accounts from New York shew that the Merchants there by exerting themselves with Spirit have got the better of the Mob as your Merchants might have done long ago, if they had not been influenced by extreme Pusillanamity. The Combination against importing from Great Britain being defeated by itself will afford a useful Lesson, that if so unnatural & absurd a Plan could be really carried into Execution, it must bring general Ruin upon America, before Great Britain begins to feel it. I am &c.,

    SC (Houghton Library, Sparks 4, 8:118–20); at foot of letter, “The Honble Govr Hutchinson.”

    684. To William Parker1

    Boston 26 August 1770

    Dear Sir, In 16 or 17 years practice I never knew a case like to that which you have stated. I never knew an Estate represented Insolvent in two different Governments. I think it never should be. I do not know that they have such an Insolvent Act in any Colony except in the New England Governments & Nova Scotia. Where the Law of England takes place there can be none because Debts are paid according to their nature or degree and when an Executor or Administrator has paid all by this Rule you know that, plene administravit is a sufficient defence.2 I always supposed the best way to be this, that the Insolvent Estate should be settled by the Ordinary where the Testator or Intestate died. I suppose you admit Executors to bring Actions without a new probate of the Will upon a certificate or at most, an Exemplication and I know, in more than 20 Instances, I have given certificates of the granting Administration upon Intestate Estates and Seamens wages & prize money have been paid out of the Offices in England, to the Attorney of the Administrator without taking a new Administration in England. I do not believe that the Courts would suffer an Action to be brought without Administration there, and if you should make it necessary for that purpose according to Law the seccond ought to be to the same person and the whole Estate comes into one hand. As the greatest part of the Creditors are generally in the Province where the Testator or Intestate dies, and, in cases where it happens otherwise the Judge always allows time in proportion for distant Creditors to give in their claims and causes the notice to be more publick I have seldom known of any Complaint. This plan appears to me to come the nearest to Equity under the present circumstances of the Colonies and I do not see why it may not be mutually condescended upon without any new provision in the Laws of any Colony. If the particular case you refer to had fell under my cognizance whilst I was in Office and I had appointed Commissioners and afterwards found that a Commission had issued where the Testator or Intestate died I would have revoked the Commission I granted for the sake of Justice which I should have thought could not be done without it.

    I have often wondred that the Merchants in England are easy with what we call the absconding Acts which began first in this Province and have since spread to every Colony I believe upon the Continent. We seize immediately all the Effects which a Bankrupt has in America but if he happens to have none or any particular Creditors get no share in them they are so good natured in England that they never refuse to admit us upon the same footing with their own People. This Practice in America under these Absconding Acts prevents any precedents in cases of Bankruptcy which might be analogas to case you state.

    You certainly think right when you think Boston people are run mad. The frenzy was not higher when they banished my pious great Grandmother, when they hanged the Quakers, when they afterwards hanged the poor innocent Witches, when they were carried away with a Land Bank, nor when they all turned new Lights than the political frenzy has been for a Twelve month past. If we were not mad I have no doubt we might enjoy all that Liberty which can consist with a state of Government and that the affair of Taxation has given them so much trouble in England as to prevent any future attempts unless our breaking a challenge and offering indignities insults and defiances shall provoke them to it. I believe the delay in the Act you refer to is occasioned meerly by the pressure of the Affairs of the Kingdom.3 A packet of great consequence which went to the Treasury above a twelve month ago had never been opened when Mr. Robinson arrived in England and perhaps never would have been if he had not make inquiry for it, as it went from the Commissioners of the Customs.4

    Pray present my Complements to Mr. Livius when you see him.5 I am in his debt which intend to discharge when I have any thing worth his acceptance. I am with sincere regard Sir Your

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:538–40); in WSH’s hand; notations in another hand at a later date, “Some one in a neighbouring Colony” and “William Parker Esqr of Portsmouth as appears by FB letter of Aug 29 (No 34).”

    685. From Thomas Gage

    New York August 27th: 1770

    Sir, I see nothing more necessary at present than what you propose in your Letter of the 19th: Inst; vizt: to guard against any Surprise, and to take Possession the moment the Extremity of Affairs render such a Measure necessary & right.1

    Your Affairs have indeed opened a large Field of Discussion, and require more Dispatch as well as vigour than from present Appearances they are likely to obtain, we must hope for the best.

    I am much concerned at the sudden Death of your Nephew, whose End might no doubt have been brought on from an uneasy Mind.2 The Insults he recieved, and the continual Fears he was under of Attacks from a lawless and insolent Rabble might have affected Men of firmer Minds.

    The Letter you inclose’d for Mr. Stephens of the Admiralty shall be taken Care of,3 and I am with great Regard, Sir, &ca &ca &ca.

    AC (Clements Library, Thomas Gage Papers); at foot of letter, “[illegible] Governor.”

    686. To Sir Francis Bernard

    Boston 28 August 1770

    Liverpool & Stevens

    No. 33

    My Dear. Sir, I thank you for your last favour No. 30.1 Its rare that a Merchant man has a longer passage than the Packet but it happned so in this instance. I delivered your Letter to Lady Bernard, without delay, who has kept her self in readiness for some time past to embark upon very short notice. The distresses of the Town of Boston have not yet opened its Eyes. They do not Consider that it is only a few Merchants in England who are losers by their non importation and that the Tradesmen & Manufacturers do not feel it. The infamous Molineux & Young with Cooper Adams and two or three more still influence the Mob who threatned all who import, but it seems impossible that it should hold much longer many who, at first were zealous among the Merchants, against importing are now as zealous for it.2 Philadelphia is in a struggle. The General writes me that he is of opinion they will follow New York, then no doubt Boston will give up too, but if they should an Act of Parliament for the severe punishment of all who shall in like manner offend for the future will nevertheless be necessary, for those fellows, having had power so long in their hands, will r[e]assume it upon the lightest pretence.3

    The Superior Courts sits to day at Boston. The trial of Preston and the Soldiers will no doubt come on this term. I omit nothing in my power to hinder the prejudices of the people upon the Trial and I cannot help hoping that if there should be a Verdict against them or any of them and there should be a respit, the people will be kept within bounds. What you mention of an habeas Corpus and the Castle was suggested to me sometime ago by the General.4 I wrote him in answer that I doubted whether, agreable to the Laws and Usage of the Province, it could be done. It seemd to be taking a prisoner charged with a capital Offence out of the Custody of the Law, for by an Act of the Province, Prisons are to be provided and kept in each County as the Court of General Sessions shall see needful and I know of no colour for making the Castle a prison, like the Tower for state Prisoners or any other. I will however, consult the Judges. You will think I cannot be too careful, in a case wherein the people so much interest themselves, to do nothing which shall give room to charge me with a deviation from Law. I have persuaded Judge Lynde who came twice to me with his resignation in his pocket to hold his place a little longer. Timid as he is I think Goffe is more so; the only difference is, little matters as well as great frighten Lynde, Goffe appears valiant until the danger or apprehensions of it, rise to considerable height, after that he is more terrified than the other.5 Judge Oliver appears to be very firm tho’ threatned in yesterdays paper, and I hope Cushing will be so likewise.6 The prospect certainly is much better than with any new Judges I could have appointed who would have accepted.

    I have prorogued the Court 3 weeks farther.7 I intend to try them again sometime in October unless I should receive Instructions to make it necessary to meet them before. You advise me not to be concerned about my Salary. I am not. It never shall have the least influence and I will never remove the Court to Boston a minute sooner upon that account nor will I give the Ministry any trouble about it so long as I can find money from my own Estate to support me. The Council at present are with me, and in many parts of the Province the people disapprove of the proceedings of the last Session. As the season advances for short passages from Europe I must soon hear from you a month or two later than your last. I am with sincere esteem & Respect,

    T H

    AC (Massachusetts Archives, SC1/series 45X, 26:540–42); in WSH’s hand.