J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Pronouncing on Printers

In 1767 Benjamin Franklin’s daughter Sally married Richard Bache (1737-1811, shown here), a Yorkshireman who had moved to Philadelphia two years before.

A note in the Papers of Benjamin Franklin states:
The family’s name was originally Bêche or de la Bêche, and one tradition traces the family back to the Norman Conquest. In England the name seems to have been pronounced Beech, but in America it is pronounced to rhyme with the eighth letter of the alphabet, “H.”
Even before I saw that note, that’s how I (an American) pronounced the Bache surname.

But it appears that Bache’s American contemporaries pronounced the family name “Beech” just as the English did—at least when referring to Richard’s son, the iconoclastic printer Benjamin Franklin Bache. Here’s Thomas Jefferson in 1788:
If young Mr. Beach has begun to exercise his destined calling of a printer, he would be the best correspondent for Pissot for many reasons…
And here’s President George Washington in 1793:
The publications in [Philip] Freneau’s and Beach’s Papers are outrages on common decency…
Most tellingly, here’s Franklin himself, writing to John Adams in 1787:
My Son Beach and my Grandson are much flatter’d by your remembrance of them, & join in presenting their Respects.
I found those references during a discussion on Twitter started by Jordan E. Taylor.

But that situation prompted me to wonder about the name of one of Boston’s leading printers, Benjamin Edes. Was I pronouncing that right? Even more important, was I correct years ago in assuring Gary Gregory of the Edes & Gill Print Shop in Faneuil Hall that we were pronouncing it right?

Fortunately, we have a phonetic spelling from Abigail Adams in 1775:
Poor Eads escaped out of town last night with one Ayers in a small boat, and was fired upon, but got safe and came up to Braintree to day.
Phew!

(And speaking of names, Richard Bache’s older brother, who came to Philadelphia before him, was named Theophylact Bache. Pronounced “beech.”)

Monday, November 19, 2018

An Immigrant’s Advice to Jefferson about Thanksgiving

Benjamin Vaughan (1751-1835) was a British radical politician who in the 1790s both served a term in Parliament and moved to Maine. He made his first appearance on Boston 1775 as a Ben Franklin fanboy.

While in America, Vaughan corresponded with various politicians, including President Thomas Jefferson. Living in New England, Vaughan was acutely aware how many of his pious neighbors distrusted Jefferson’s thoughts on religion.

Worried about the new President’s emphasis on keeping church and government separate might fly in New England, Vaughan wrote to Jefferson on 15 Mar 1801:
I trust that your administration will have few difficulties in these parts, provided it steers clear of religion. You are too wise & just to think of any official attacks upon religion, & too sincere to make any affected overtures in favor of it. You know where you are thought to be in this respect; & there it may be wise to stand.—

If a ruler however at times acts with a view to accommodate himself to the feelings, in which many of the citizens for whom he takes thought, participate; this can neither be considered as a violation of truth or of dignity; and is not likely to prove unacceptable, if done avowedly with this view.—

For example, it is not in, & is perhaps without the constitution, to recommend fasts & thanksgivings from the federal chair, at the seasons respectively when the New Englanders look for those things; & therefore you will not think it perhaps needful for you to meddle with such matters. But, if you did, this example will serve my purpose. You may then I presume safely & acceptably interfere with a view to name a time, when a large proportion of your constituents may be enabled to do the thing in question consentingly & cotemporarily. You certainly may make yourself in this an organ of the general convenience, without departing from any of your own principles; especially as you will take due care to use decorous language, should the occasion be used.

I do not however see any necessity for a federal fast or federal thanksgiving, when these things are open, to the states approving them, to order for themselves.—I treat the case therefore merely for illustration.—

The religion of the New-Englanders will require to be touched with tenderness. Your opinions are known, & in defiance of those opinions you have your office: consequently you m[ay?] continue to hold them, as a privileged person. But it will be wise, as to these parts of the Union, to keep these opinions in the only situation in which they have hitherto been seen; a private one; & for the regulation of your private conduct.
Presidents George Washington and John Adams had each proclaimed two national Thanksgivings. Adams’s proclamations became controversial, and he even blamed them in part for his loss to Jefferson in 1800. Adams had made his proclamations in the spring, which might explain why Vaughan was so eager in March to counsel the new President about how to handle that tradition.

President Jefferson maintained his stance against proclaiming Thanksgivings, but, as he wrote to his attorney general in 1802, he also felt the need to explain his reasons to the public.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

“Landed and quartered in town”

On 18 Nov 1768, 250 years ago today, the Boston Whigs’ “Journal of Occurrences” alerted their readers in other North American ports to this news:
The 64th Regiment of those troops Col. [John] Pomeroy, are landed and quartered in town, the 65th Regiment Col. [Alexander] Mackay, at Castle Island; they consist of 500 men each.—The battalion-men of the detachment of the 59th are to return to Halifax.
The Whigs also counted eleven Royal Navy ships, not counting the chartered transport ships, in the harbor.

With four regiments (the 14th, 29th, 64th, and 65th) in town, plus part of the 59th and a contingent of Royal Artillery, this was the largest number of soldiers stationed in Boston before late 1774.

The 64th and 65th were fresh from recruiting in Ireland, so they were at full strength. The Whigs’ estimate of “500 men each” is probably a little high and doesn’t necessarily apply to the two regiments that had arrived earlier from Nova Scotia.

Nonetheless, there were probably around 2,000 soldiers in Boston for a couple of weeks that fall. The 1765 census counted 2,941 white men above age sixteen (i.e., eligible for militia duty). Thus, in that stretch two out of every five white men in Boston belonged to the British army.

[The photograph above comes from Revolution250’s recent “Boston Occupied” reenactment, photographed by Chris Christo for this gallery at the Boston Herald.]

Saturday, November 17, 2018

“The town was altogether under the government & controul of the military power”

One of the things that Bostonians found most irritating about the British army regiments who arrived in the fall of 1768 was how they posted armed guards around town.

There were sentries at the gate on the narrow Neck to the mainland. There were sentries in front of major government buildings like the Province House, where the royal governor lived, and at the houses that commanders rented for themselves. That meant armed soldiers were standing at some of the busiest corners of the town.

Yesterday I quoted the Whigs’ “Journal of Occurrences” huffing about rude and even violent guards on the Neck and elsewhere.

On 5 December Samuel Adams as “Vindex” complained in the Boston Gazette:
I Can very easily believe that the officers of the regiments posted in this town, have been inform’d by our good friends [i.e., royal officials] that the inhabitants are such a rude unpolish’d kind of folks, as that they are in danger, at least of being affronted during their residence here; and therefore their placing centinels at their respective dwellings seems to be a natural precaution, and under that apprehension may be a necessary step to guard their persons from injury.

Or if it be only a piece of respect or homage every where shown to the superior officers of the army, it is a matter which concerns no other persons that I know of, I am sure it is no concern of mine: In this view it is a military custom, in no way interfering with, obstructing or infringing the common rights of the community.

But when these gentlemens attendants take upon them to call upon every one, who passes by, to know Who comes there as the phrase is, I take it to be in the highest degree impertinent, unless they can shew a legal authority for so doing.

There is something in it, which looks as if the town was altogether under the government & controul of the military power: And as long as the inhabitants are fully perswaded that this is not the case at present, and moreover hope and believe that it never will, it has a natural tendency to irritate the minds of all who have a just sense of honor, and think they have the privilege of walking the streets without being controul’d.
When the regiments first arrived in Boston, the royal authorities had been worried about locals rising up and attacking those men. But there was no rebellion. Indeed, the Whigs themselves worked to channel public anger into political, not physical, resistance.

So why did the army command keep the sentries out stopping everyone coming into and leaving the town or passing major landmarks? Sure, that provided more protection, but it also exacerbated people’s anger, which could only lead to more trouble in the future.

Part of the answer is that setting up sentry posts is what armies did. It was how garrisons worked. It kept the men occupied, trained, and alert.

But another part of the answer is that the commanders weren’t really trying to stop civilians. They were trying to stop deserters from their regiments.

On 1 November the “Journal of Occurrences” reported:
The last night a soldier passed the guards, at the south part of the town, and was haled, but not answering, they followed and fired at him several times, and being impeded in running by the sea-weed on the beach, he was taken and brought back to the guards: This man was present at the execution [of Richard Eames] in the morning, but nothing is like to prevent desertion while the troops remain in this place.
The army was thus locked in a vicious cycle. The Crown had ordered those regiments to keep peace inside Boston, not out on Castle Island. But being stationed in a populous town made it easier for soldiers to escape. Which meant the army had to set up sentries, search parties, and firing squads to stop deserters. Which angered the civilian population and only made it harder to keep the peace in Boston.

Friday, November 16, 2018

“The inhabitants of this town have been of late greatly insulted and abused”

By late October 1768, the army regiments in Boston had all moved into rented barracks. The town’s Whigs therefore could no longer complain about them occupying public buildings or trying to push poor people out of the Manufactory.

Those activists therefore focused on recording conflicts between soldiers and locals in the streets. Here’s a sample of their complaints from the “Journal of Occurrences.”

29 October:
The inhabitants of this town have been of late greatly insulted and abused by some of the officers and soldiers, several have been assaulted on frivolous pretences, and put under guard without any lawful warrant for so doing.

A physician of the town walking the streets the other evening, was jostled by an officer, when a scuffle ensued, he was afterwards met by the same officer in company with another, both as yet unknown, who repeated his blows, and as is supposed gave him a stroke with a pistol, which so wounded him as to endanger his life.

A tradesman of this town on going under the rails of the Common in his way home, had a thrust in the breast with a bayonet from a soldier; another person passing the street was struck with a musket, and the last evening a merchant of the town was struck down by an officer who went into the coffee-house, several gentlemen following him in, and expostulating with the officers, were treated in the most ungenteel manner…
Note how solid the class division of eighteenth-century British-American society was. The physician, merchant, and other “gentlemen” got into conflicts with officers who allegedly behaved “in the most ungenteel manner.” Meanwhile, the tradesman and “another person” were accosted by enlisted men.

1 November:
An householder at the west part of the town, hearing the cries of two women in the night, who were rudely treated by some soldiers, ventured to expostulate with them for this behaviour, for which boldness he was knocked down with a musket and much wounded, they went off undiscovered; another had a thrust with a bayonet near his eye, and a gentlemen of this town informs, that a day or two before the physician already mentioned met with his abuse, he overheard several officers discoursing, when one of them said, if he could meet that doctor he would do for him.
2 November:
Two men and a lad coming over the Neck into the town, were haled by one guard and passed them: soon after they were challenged by another, they replied they had just answered one, but they hoped they were all friends; upon which a soldier made a pass or two with his bayonet at one of them, who parried the bayonet at first, but was afterward badly cut on the head and grievously wounded in divers parts of his body.

One passing the south town watch was challenged but not stopped, he drew his sword and flourished it at the watch, using very insulting language; he was then discovered to be an officer a little disguised [i.e., drunk], another soon joined him, full as abusive, both declared that if they had been challenged in the street and no orders shewn, they would have deprived the watchman of his life.

A country man also coming into town, was thought to have approached nearer the guards than he should have done, for which offence he was knocked off his horse with a musket.
The conflict between the “south town watch” and the two officers was unusual in crossing class boundaries. The watchmen were working-class men, but they were employed and empowered by the town to keep the peace. The officers, in contrast, were gentlemen answering to the Crown government. Which group of men had authority to order the other around? That argument played out in the streets for months.

And then there was the exacerbation of the guardhouse on the Neck.

TOMORROW: Why did the British army need to guard the Boston Neck?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Giving Dickinson His Due

Back in 2012 I compared the number of books lately published about Thomas Paine, supposedly a neglected Founder, with the much smaller number published about John Dickinson.

That will probably change after the John Dickinson Writings Project starts to publish the projected eight volumes of The Complete Writings and Selected Correspondence of John Dickinson in late 2019. The leaders of the project state:
John Dickinson (1732–1808), America’s first political celebrity, wrote more for the Founding than any other figure, including many issuances from the national congresses and conventions from 1764 to 1786. He also wrote prolifically for ordinary Americans with the intent to educate them about their rights and how to resist tyranny peacefully.

In addition to being one of the foremost legal scholars of the era, he was also the only leading founder who was an abolitionist, an advocate of women’s rights, and a champion of other subordinated peoples, including Indians, the poor, and prisoners. As a fellow traveler with the Quakers, though not a member of their society, he brought his religious beliefs to bear on his legal and political work with the goal of “defending the innocent & redressing the injurd.” . . .

For a number of reasons, including illegibility, complexity, and lack of archival identification and processing, Dickinson’s papers have never before been fully accessible. These factors, combined with misperceptions about Dickinson’s role in the Founding, mean there is very little extant scholarship on this central figure. Yet the Dickinson material is a rich resource on almost every aspect of 18th-century American society, including:
  • London/Middle Temple in the 1750s
  • The William Smith libel trial of 1758
  • The flag-of-truce trade of the 1750s–60s
  • Pennsylvania royal government controversy
  • Resistance to Britain from 1764 to 1776
  • Military 1775 to 1783
  • Resistance to 1776 Pennsylvania constitution
  • Peace negotiations in 1779
  • Presidency of Delaware, 1781–82
  • Presidency of Pennsylvania, 1782–85
  • Mutiny of 1783
  • Celebrations for the birth of the Dauphin
  • Wyoming controversy
  • Res Publica v. Longchamps
  • Res Publica v. Doan
  • Creation/Ratification of the Federal Constitution, 1786–1788
  • Delaware constitutional convention of 1792
  • Jay Treaty Protest of 1795
  • Abolitionism/slavery
  • Agrarianism
  • Books and book ownership
  • Democracy
  • Democratic Republican party politics
  • Celebrity
  • Education
  • Federal power v. states’ rights
  • Foreign relations
  • Indian rights/diplomacy
  • Jurisprudence
  • Peace activism
  • Philanthropy
  • Political moderation
  • Religion—Quakerism and “nature religion”
  • Religious liberty
  • Taxation and economic policy
  • Westward expansion/land and property rights
  • Virtue and corruption in government
In April 2020, in connection with the first volumes of Dickinson’s collected writings, the American Philosophical Society, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and Library Company of Philadelphia will host a day-long symposium about the man in Philadelphia. The organizers hope to feature eight to ten papers, the best of which will be published in an essay collection, the first ever devoted to Dickinson.

There’s a two-stage process for scholars to propose papers for that symposium. First, “Preliminary proposals of ca. 250 words accompanied by a CV” are due on 15 Nov 2018. The organizers will consider those “initial ideas and interests…based on their substance and viability considering the sources.”

The scholars whose projects show potential will then receive access to the server that contains the transcriptions, document images, and secondary sources being used to create the print edition. After consulting those materials, the researchers can then submit “Final proposals of ca. 500 words” by 15 Jan 2019. The organizers will choose the projects for the symposium. Final papers will be due on 1 Mar 2020. Symposium speakers will be reimbursed for travel and lodging.

The director of the John Dickinson Writings Project is Jane E. Calvert, Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky. Questions, requests for extensions on the preliminary proposal deadline, and proposals should go to her at jane.calvert@uky.edu.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Execution of Richard Eames

As described yesterday, on 22 Oct 1768 a general court martial in Boston convicted Pvt. Richard Eames of the 14th Regiment of desertion. A week later, the court sentenced the soldier to death.

“Some of the first ladies among us presented a petition for his pardon” on 30 October, the Boston Whigs’ “Journal of Occurrences” later reported. The town politicians managed to bring Eames’s case back to their main cause: “it was his first desertion, and in a time of peace, and which could not have happened had he been quartered agreeable to act of Parliament on Castle-Island.”

But the army command, headed by Gen. Thomas Gage, wanted to discourage other soldiers from deserting. The issue of the Boston Chronicle printed on 31 October reported that Eames
is ordered to be shot on the Common this afternoon, between the hours of 8 and 12 o’clock.—All the troops in town were ordered into the Common this morning by 6 o’clock, to attend the execution.
The regiments marched onto the Common “drumming the dead beat.” Eventually Eames was brought out “dressed in white,” accompanied by the chaplain of his regiment, reported in different sources as named Palmer or Palms.

A firing squad lined up. Eames “appeared very penitent,” the Boston News-Letter stated. The muskets fired, and Eames’s body collapsed. The Whigs wrote:
The regiment then marched round the corpes as it lay on the ground, when it was put into the coffin, which was carried by his side into the Common, and buried in a grave near where he was shot, and the church service read over him.
Some later accounts say Ames’s body was buried where it lay, but this wording suggests it was moved to the Common burying-ground.

(Local newspapers called the soldier “Ames,” but David Niescior reports that army records call him “Eames.”)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tracking Down Pvt. Richard Eames

As soon as the British regiments arrived in Boston, soldiers began to desert. Don Hagist of British Soldiers, American Revolution has found that desertions went up just before and after a move—perhaps because of higher discontent, perhaps because the disruption made it easier to slip away.

In his thesis, “‘We might now behold American Grievances red-dressed:’ Soldiers and the Inhabitants of Boston, 1768-1770,” and other essays, David Niescior reports that on 12 Oct 1768 a party of soldiers from the 14th Regiment went out into the Massachusetts countryside searching for deserters. This group included Sgt. John Phillips and Pvts. Thomas Wilson and Thomas West of the grenadier company. They were all dressed in civilian garb.

On the 14th the search party was about twenty-five miles out of Boston. The men stopped at a tavern, where Sgt. Philips asked “a Negro Woman” about deserters. She told them “one of the Men had got a place with a Farmer the last Week” and pointed out that farmer’s house.

The sergeant sent Wilson and West to the farm to ask for more information. The farmer led those men to Richard Eames, a soldier of the 14th Regiment, who had hired on as a hand.

The search party hauled Eames back to Boston. On 22 October he was court-martialed. Eames tried to excuse his departure by saying he was owed back pay and “had often been struck” during drill. Other men testified that he had been paid no less and struck no more than any other soldier.

Character witnesses said Eames was “an Honest man tho’ sometimes unfortunate in Liquor.” However, going twenty-five miles away, staying away for several days, and taking a job on a farm didn’t seem like the actions of a drunken binge.

The court martial found Richard Eames guilty and sentenced him to death.

TOMORROW: An execution on Boston Common.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Philbrick on the Battle of the Chesapeake, 13 Nov.

On Tuesday, 13 November, the American Antiquarian Society will host Nathaniel Philbrick speaking on the topic of “The Naval Battle that Won the American Revolution.”

This talk is based on Philbrick’s latest book, In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown. In retelling the history of that decisive campaign, this book focuses on its naval dimension and the Battle of the Chesapeake between the French and British navies.

In a prepared interview his publisher shared with History News Network, Philbrick spoke about that emphasis:
Since In the Heart of the Sea (2000) I have been making the point that before there was the wilderness of the American West, there was the wilderness of the sea. But I have to say even I was surprised by the impact that water had on the course of the Revolutionary War. As Washington realized from the very beginning of the alliance, the only way to defeat the British was with the help of the French navy. Only then could he break the British navy’s stranglehold on the Eastern Seaboard and win the victory that made possible American independence. Ultimately the course of the war came down to America’s proximity to the sea, the watery realm that I’ve been writing about since I moved to Nantucket 32 years ago.
Because of the ongoing construction to expand the A.A.S. building, this talk will take place across Park Avenue at the First Baptist Church, 111 Park Avenue in Worcester. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M., and the talk is due to start at 7:00. There is parking along Regent Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and Drury Lane, as well as in the lot at 90 Park Avenue.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Redcoats Return to Newport, 17 Nov.

On Saturday, 17 November, the Newport Historical Society, the Redwood Library & Athenæum, and two dozen of the region’s top-notch Revolutionary War reenactors will present a program titled “Redcoats at the Redwood: A 1778 Living History Event.”

The British military occupied Newport, Rhode Island, for years during the Revolutionary War, fending off threats from land and sea. This event focuses on the year 1778. Here’s the event description:
The Redwood Library’s Harrison Room will be transformed into an officer’s club as men from the British army and Royal Navy discuss the latest news and intelligence about the war efforts, in-between relaxing, playing cards and enjoying a few drinks.

Chat with reenactors portraying key figures such as General [Richard] Prescott, Mary Almy, Joseph Wanton Jr. and the newly wed Henrietta Overing Bruce. Other personas will include a printer, a minister, a merchant, officer’s wives, and a local woman who’s courted by a British officer.

Hourly activities range from toasts to games and will include a skit inspired by the Redwood’s history from this time. Visitors can learn about 18th-century newspapers, letters, artwork and military passes, including the pass that was required to leave the island, along with life during the Revolutionary era in Newport.
Spectators can also try a Spy Challenge, collecting intelligence as they chat with the reenactors to learn about the British military plans.

This event is scheduled for 2:00 to 7:00 P.M. at the Redwood Library, 50 Bellevue Avenue in Newport. There is a parking lot beside the building. Admission is free, though donations are welcome.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wheelwright to Apthorp to Molineux

Yesterday I quoted a letter from William Molineux stating that in October 1768 he had agreed to rent buildings near the center of Boston to the royal army, despite being one of the Whig activists most opposed to having troops in town. Was that rank hypocrisy?

When the historian John Richard Alden published that letter for the first time in the New England Quarterly in 1944, he wrote:
It is possible that Molineux acted merely as an agent in these transactions, but it is most likely that he rented his own properties to the British army, in full knowledge that they would be used as quarters for the redcoats.
But a 28 Oct 1768 letter from provincial secretary Andrew Oliver, while also portraying Molineux as a money-grubbing hypocrite, shows that the man was indeed acting as an agent for the real property-owner.

As I quoted yesterday, Oliver wrote that Molineux
made an Offer of the Stores on Wheelwrights Whff. at the modest rate of £400 Sterl. p. Ann:? The General has however agreed with Mr. Apthorp himself for them at the rate of £300 and you may guess who will finally pay the reckoning.   
The final price, per Molineux’s letter, was indeed £25 per month or £300 per year—the price “Mr. Apthorp” had arranged.

“Mr. Apthorp” was Charles Ward Apthorp, oldest son of Boston’s richest merchant and military contractor of the previous generation, Charles Apthorp. The younger man had migrated to New York City with the army command. There he built a successful mercantile career and served on the governor’s council.

After Charles Ward Apthorp dissolved his Boston partnership with his brother-in-law Nathaniel Wheelwright, that led to a frightening wave of bankruptcies in early 1765. Apthorp ended up owning most of Wheelwright’s property. And to manage that property, Apthorp made William Molineux his Boston agent.

Thus, when Molineux wrote that he leased “all the Stores on Wheelwrights Warffe, (so Called)” to the army, he was leasing Apthorp’s property. The 1769 map of Boston even relabeled that wharf as “Apthorp’s” (shown above in the lower left, next to John Rowe’s Wharf).

Oliver’s statement that “The General has however agreed with Mr. Apthorp himself for them” indicates that Gen. Thomas Gage had made a deal with Apthorp before he even left New York. The owner of those buildings wanted the army to have them. Molineux wasn’t acting on his own.

But that doesn’t mean Molineux was above blame. He always had a hard time distinguishing the public good from what was good for himself. In this case, he first offered the Wheelwright’s Wharf buildings for £400 per year. Did he think that would be a prohibitive price that would keep the army out, or did he just want the extra £100? Did Apthorp require him to rent the sugar-distilling house as well, or did Molineux decide to do that on his own?

It’s pertinent that Molineux wasn’t just forwarding the proceeds of these deals to Apthorp with a little commission retained. He was apparently living off the Apthorp properties, tallying up revenue and expenses for some future settlement. In late 1774 that would catch up with him—but that’s a story for another time.

What mattered on 10 Nov 1768, 250 years ago today, was that as the first transport ships carrying soldiers of the 64th and 65th Regiments arrived from Cork, Ireland, the army had secured quarters inside Boston for them.

Friday, November 09, 2018

“What do you think of the Patriotism of W.M”?

When Boston businessmen started to lease property to the royal army in late October 1768, word of those deals got around quickly.

Andrew Oliver, secretary of the province and merchant, sent this news to a business associate in London on 28 October:
[The army] is taking up Stores & other Buildings for their accomodation. They first took up Mr. [James] Smiths Sugar House of Mr. [James] Murray; this was well enough; he acted in character and upon Principle, but what do you think of the Patriotism of W.M who used his utmost interest in supporting the People in the Manufactory House in their Opposition to the Troops coming in there; and then made an Offer of the Stores on Wheelwrights Whff. at the modest rate of £400 Sterl. p. Ann:?

The General has however agreed with Mr. Apthorp himself for them at the rate of £300 and you may guess who will finally pay the reckoning.

Or what do you think of the patriotism of J R. to sollicit the Supply of the Troops and in fact letting his Stores for the Use of the Troops?

Or what do you think of J O’s sending a Card to the General & his Family to dine with him? Or of their refusing it? Where is Patriotism or where is Principle?
“J O” was probably James Otis, being polite to Gen. Thomas Gage and “his Family”—in this case meaning his aides. Otis had indeed opposed the Crown’s decision to station troops in Boston, but he was also an upper-class gentleman (even a bit of a snob) and a canny politician. He understood that being personally polite to the king’s general would look better than snubbing him. There was no financial interest in what he did.

In contrast, “J R.” or John Rowe did indeed profit from leasing buildings to the army. We know that he made that deal from his own diary. We also know he was both joining the other selectmen in protesting those troops and socializing with army officers, sometimes on the same day. Rowe’s politics swung with the prevailing winds.

The real surprise was “W.M”—William Molineux. He was one of the Whigs’ most confrontational leaders. Just the month before, Oliver had probably heard Gov. Francis Bernard and Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson discuss a warning that Molineux was prepared to lead 500 men in an attack on the troops. So did the same Molineux really rent buildings to the army?

We know that he did because of a letter from Molineux himself. On 13 Feb 1769 he sent a complaint to Lt. Col. John Pomeroy, at that time the highest-ranking officer in Boston:
By Indentures of Agreement between [Royal Engineers Capt.] John Montresor Esq [shown above] & my Self, the 28th. Octr. Last I Lett him all the Stores on Wheelwrights Warffe, (so Called) at £25 Sterling per month to be paid monthly, which he promisd to Pay Punctually—& also on the 5th. Novemr: Let him a Sugar House for the Artillery Company, which they now Occupy, at £5 per month to be paid in Like manner.
In 1769 Molineux was no longer complaining that the army had barracks near the center of Boston. He was complaining that the army hadn’t given him enough money for those buildings.

TOMORROW: But who really owned that property?

Thursday, November 08, 2018

“The stench occasioned by the troops in the Representatives Chamber”

Even after His Majesty’s 14th Regiment of Foot moved out of Faneuil Hall, owned by the town of Boston, some troops remained in the Town House, which had become provincial property.

That building is now known as the Old State House. Its interior is different from how it looked in the 1760s. Back then it included a large, elegant room where the governor met with the Council and an even larger room with a small spectators’ gallery where the lower house of the General Court met.

No representatives had met in the Representatives’ Chamber since June 1768 when Gov. Francis Bernard had dissolved the legislature. But that space was also used as Boston’s courtroom. (A standalone courthouse was under construction a block away on Queen Street, to open in 1769.)

On 8 Nov 1768, 250 years ago today, Massachusetts’s top court met in that room. That offered the Boston Whigs another opening for a complaint about Crown policy, written the next day:
Yesterday the Superior Court met by adjournment at the Court House. In the afternoon a motion was made by J[ame]s O[ti]s, Esq; one of the bar, that the court would adjourn to Faneuil-Hall, not only as the stench occasioned by the troops in the Representatives Chamber, may prove infectious, but as it was derogatory to the honour of the court to administer justice at the mouths of cannon and the points of bayonets.
At the time, many doctors thought bad odors and miasmas could carry disease.

The Superior Court judges, led by Thomas Hutchinson, turned aside Otis’s suggestion to move, but he had made his point. The Whigs’ report continued:
This day the troops were removed from that Chamber, much to the satisfaction of the people who have looked upon their being placed there at first by the G[overno]r as an insult upon the whole province.
The army set up its main guard in a building facing the Town House, with a guard and a couple of small cannon at the door. So the Whigs complained that set-up threatened the civil government.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

“No appointment of this sort could have been more unpopular”

As described last week, on 26 Oct 1768 Gov. Francis Bernard told his Council that the royal army had started renting buildings around the center of Boston to convert into barracks.

That news couldn’t have come as a surprise to the Boston Whigs. Three weeks before, they had reported just such a rumor in their “Journal of Occurrences”:
Report, that James Murray, Esq; from Scotland, since 1745, had let his dwelling house and sugar houses, for the quartering of troops, at £15 sterling per month
But soon the Whigs found something new to complain about besides Murray being Scottish. They suggested that he and the governor had agreed on a corrupt quid pro quo.

As you recall, Gov. Bernard had started to press Boston’s justices of the peace to provide legal authorization for taking over the Manufactory or other buildings in Boston. A magistrate could empower government employees to carry out some legal actions, conceivably with the help of the troops themselves. Boston’s established magistrates threw up the same obstacles as the Council. Then on 27 October the Boston Whigs reported:
The people were this morning filled with astonishment on hearing that the G——r had nominated and appointed the J——s M——y already noticed in this Journal, as one of his Majesty’s justices of the peace for the county of Suffolk; no appointment of this sort could have been more unpopular, or have raised a more general indignation.

The inhabitants being fully persuaded that by means of the steady conduct of our bench of justices in refusing to quarter and billet troops in this town contrary as they apprehend to an act of Parliament, this gentleman was added to their number, and that the G——r will not now want a Justice Gillam, or a more fit instrument to carry his purposes into the utmost execution.

It is given out that when this nomination was made [in the Massachusetts Council], there was silence for a space of time, and such signs of disgust as raised the passions and voice of this G——r, who afterwards condescended to use arguments and intreaties with his C——l in favour of his said friend, which finally prevailed to obtain the consent of a majority of two only.
Murray had been a member of the appointed governor’s council in North Carolina before joining his little sister, Elizabeth (Murray Campbell) Smith, in Boston. He wasn’t as wealthy as his sister and elderly brother-in-law, despite his efforts, but he was the sort of mature, genteel merchant who often got picked for political posts in the British Empire. As a native of Britain with family and business ties back there, Murray was a natural Loyalist. That was no problem for Bernard, of course.

In “Justice Gillam,” the Whigs alluded to Samuel Gillam, a magistrate in Surrey, England. On 10 May he had read the Riot Act twice to a crowd showing support for John Wilkes, then held in the King’s Bench Prison near St. George’s Field. After that warning had no effect, Gillam authorized soldiers guarding the prison to fire on the increasingly violent crowd. About six people were killed, more than a dozen wounded. A grand jury indicted Gillam for his part in the “St. George’s Field Massacre,” but in July the court acquitted him on the grounds that he had acted within the law. The Boston Whigs feared a similar outcome locally, and used that prospect to link themselves to the London Whigs.

The day after reporting Murray’s appointment, the “Journal of Occurrences” went back to the question of barracks:
In the morning it was known that the troops which lately occupied Fanueil-Hall, had been placed, or had quartered themselves in the buildings, which had been hired of James Murray, Esq; but owned by James Smith, Esq; of Brush-Hill, [in Milton.]

such a procedure in the face of an act of Parliament, may well surprise the inhabitants, and lead them to think that some gentlemen of the civil or military order have concluded that they have a right for certain purposes, of dispensing with those acts at their pleasure:

However this may be, it is hoped that the people will soon have the satisfaction of knowing whether such steps can be taken by any with impunity; or whether every order and person among us is not equally held to the due observance of law.
Murray was acting as agent for his ailing brother-in-law and sister. The buildings he rented, formerly used to distill molasses into sugar or rum, became known as “Smith’s barracks” or “Murray’s barracks.”

The Boston Whigs were still arguing that the Quartering Act required regiments to go into the barracks on Castle Island, far from central Boston. They had objected to the army taking over publicly owned buildings. But at this point those activists were also objecting to the army renting private properties from their legal owners.

COMING UP: A less likely landlord.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Mystery of “William Benson a Negro Man”

On 6 Nov 1775, the Boston Gazette, then being published in Watertown, ran this announcement from the keeper of the jail at Cambridge:
Cambridge, October 20, 1775.

BROKE out of the Goal in Cambridge, the following Prisoners, Thomas Smith, and William Benson a Negro Man. Said Smith is a very noted Thief, hath been in almost all the Goals on the Continent; had on when he broke Goal, a blue Jacket, a Pair of striped Trowsers, sandy coloured Hair about 5 Feet 4 Inches high.

Said Benson the Negro had on when he went away, a dark coloured old Coat, a Pair of old black knit Breeches, about 5 Feet 6 Inches high. Whoever will take up said Prisoners, and return them to said Goal, shall be handsomely rewarded, by

ISAAC BRADISH, Under Keeper.
The name of William Benson caught my eye. I wondered if this might be the black man of that name who appears in the records of the town of Framingham.

That William Benson was born in 1732. His parents, Nero Benson and Dido Dingo, had been kidnapped from Africa to New England. They married in 1721. Nero Benson served in Massachusetts army units around 1725 and died in 1757.

William Benson was sold to a man named John Collins about 1762 but somehow gained his freedom shortly afterward—though he had to fight for it. Collins and two helpers tried to forcibly take Benson back into captivity and resell him. A Middlesex County grand jury indicted Collins in 1764. He formally acknowledged Benson’s freedom and refunded the buyer’s money (or, under another interpretation, bought Benson back and freed him). Under those circumstances, the court accepted Collins’s plea of no contest and let him off with a small fine.

By early 1762 William Benson was husband to Sarah Perry of Sudbury, born in 1747. Or as Shrewsbury warning-out records from 1762 said, “Perry, Sarah, alias Benson, white, called by William Benson, (colored) his wife.”

According to William Barry’s history of Framingham and the town’s published vital records, their children included:
  • Katy or Cate, born 8 Apr 1763, later the wife of Peter Salem.
  • Abel, born in 1766.
  • Polly, born in 1773.
  • Sally, born in 1782.
  • William, who died young.
Traditions in Framingham and Needham say that a black trumpeter helped to summon the militia in one part of the region on 19 Apr 1775. Various authors have named that military musician as Nero or Abel, both recorded in other documents as playing the trumpet. But Nero was dead by 1775, and Abel was no more than nine years old and didn’t mention such service in his military pension application. I’ve posited that William—Nero’s son and Abel’s father—is a candidate for being that trumpeter.

Was the same William Benson locked up in the Cambridge jail a few months later? Unfortunately, I’ve found no more detail on this escaped prisoner. On 9 October the besieging army’s general orders had said:
If any Negroe is found straggling after Taptoo beating about the Camp, or about any of the roads or Villages, near the encampments at Roxbury, or Cambridge, they are to be seized and confined until Sun-rise, in the Guard, nearest to the place where such Negroe is taken up.
That was confinement in a military stockade, not the town or county jail, but it reflects the general hostility toward blacks that Gen. George Washington’s army adopted in that season.

Of course, African-American soldiers were already serving in that army, and at the end of December Washington reversed course and decided they could continue to serve. William Benson’s son Abel became one of those Continental soldiers, signing up in 1780 at the age of fourteen (saying he was sixteen). He received a plot of Framingham land as payment. After Abel’s mother died, his father William came to live there.

Monday, November 05, 2018

“Popes and bonfires, this evening at Salem”

On 5 Nov 1768, 250 years ago today, Boston’s apprentice printers issued this broadside, one of the most elaborate surviving artifacts of the holiday they called Pope Night.

The top of their broadside says, “South End Forever. North End Forever.” Under bibliographic rules, that’s become the title of the sheet, even though its creators probably thought their publication was “Extraordinary Verses on Pope-Night.”

Someone worked hard on the long poem that followed—so hard they didn’t remember that the 5th of November commemorated an event in 1605, not 1588.

That broadside highlights how in the mid-1700s Boston observed the 5th of November differently from every other New England seaport. Only in Boston was the youth population large enough, and the neighborhood pride fervent enough, for there to be rival Pope processions that ended up brawling. Other seaports had one main procession followed by a feast and a bonfire, with no intervening violence.

In the 1760s Boston’s town leaders worked hard to reconcile the South End and North End gangs against the common enemy of royal officials and Parliament’s new revenue-raising laws. That’s how he get this broadside celebrating both ends of town equally.

Here’s Donna Seger’s discussion of the 5th of November in Salem from her Streets of Salem blog last year:
…it is to our second President [John Adams] that we owe the first reference to Pope Night in Salem, long before he became our second President. When he was attending court in Salem he made the following note in his diary for November 5, 1766:
Spent the evening at Mr. Pynchon’s [on Summer Street–a house that is still with us but much changed], with Farnham, [Jonathan] Sewall, Sargeant, Col. Saltonstall &ct. very agreeably. Punch, wine, bread and cheese, apples, pipes and tobacco. Popes and bonfires, this evening at Salem, and a swarm of tumultuous people attending.
Pope Night certainly continued on after the Revolution: I can find references up to 1819 in the Reverend William Bentley’s famous diary. His entry for the 5th of November, 179[5] reads:
Not all the revolutions which have passed over our Country can efface the remembrance of this anniversary. The boys must have their bonfire. But the light of it is going out. We have little concern in powder plots of Kings at this day. . . .
Every other year or so the Reverend makes a Pope Night entry, all of which express his increasing irritation, until his final words on the matter in 1819:
We have had this evening the full proof of the obstinate power of superstition & habit. The 5 of Nov. was celebrated by the ritual & rubric of the English Church for political purposes. The history of the plot against all fact most pertinaciously insisted upon [as real], & the popular celebration, by the carrying about the Pope & the Devil, most zealously encouraged. Tho we have lost all connection with Great Britain & have detected the fraud & the purpose, yet our common people still keep the 5 of Nov. and we had a roaring fire on the Neck on this occasion. We had not the old fashion transportation through the streets, nor the riots & quarrels, but we had enough to shew us that old habits are invincible against all the light which can be offered them.
And after 1820 or so, no other Salem references, save Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Old Times” where Pope Night is something distinctly past.

The “holiday” seems to survive over the nineteenth century in a few other places, namely Marblehead, Newburyport, and Portsmouth, where it became known as Pork Night. I think the boys of Salem transferred all of their mischief and mayhem and bonfire-building energies to two other more American holidays: Halloween and the Fourth of July.
At the start of the twentieth century, Halloween had inherited the Pope Night traditions of bonfires and young people going door to door asking for treats. By the end of the 1900s only the trick-or-treating was left in most of America. These days that tradition seems to vary greatly by neighborhood.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Tracing the Life of Dr. Joseph Warren

For decades we had only two solid biographies of Dr. Joseph Warren, both well researched for their times but showing their age: Richard Frothingham’s Life and Times of Joseph Warren (1865) and John Cary’s Joseph Warren: Physician, Politician, Patriot (1964).

Then in the last decade two new biographies have come out. Both are products of years of parallel research that uncovered new evidence and proposed new understandings about Warren.

The first was Samuel Forman’s Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty from 2011. I met Sam after that book appeared, and we’ve worked together on topics like a proper site for a Dr. Warren monument in downtown Boston, how the late doctor’s mattresses ended up at Gen. George Washington’s headquarters, and the real story of Deborah Champion.

This year brought Christian Di Spigna’s Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero, a product of decades of research. I met Christian in Williamsburg a couple of years ago, became friends, and gave him feedback on his manuscript before publication.

Christian is speaking at the Massachusetts Historical Society on Wednesday, 7 November. As of now that event is sold out. He’ll be at the Museums on the Green in Falmouth on Thursday, 8 November, and the David Library of the American Revolution in Pennsylvania on Thursday, 6 December.

Warren’s life lends itself to an exciting biography. One of the challenges of the form is that people are much better documented after they become famous, leaving relatively little contemporaneous evidence about the actions that made them famous and a lot of evidence about later, uneventful years. But the shape of Warren’s life is like the graph of rising action for a novel: it slants up with the Revolution in Boston, accelerates in 1774, and reaches a dramatic climax at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

All biographers of Dr. Warren seem to be inspired by his heroism and quick to give him the lion’s share of credit for political projects he contributed to. I’m skeptical about some such judgments, such as that Warren wrote the Mucius Scævola essays, directed the Boston Tea Party, or was posed to become a national political figure (though even contemporaries like Peter Oliver made that claim). Warren was still a young man in a society that valued seniority and deference to group actions.

Of course, we have no way of knowing what the doctor might have accomplished in his forties and beyond. He shouldered more and more responsibilities in late 1774 and early 1775. In those months Boston’s older political leaders became busy with continental affairs (Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing), left town (Dr. Thomas Young, Josiah Quincy, Jr.), died (William Molineux), or were traduced (Dr. Benjamin Church). I think the story of Warren’s political career isn’t that he was crucial to every Boston Whig effort from the mid-1760s on but that he grew into the position of being crucial in 1775.

Forman and Di Spigna disagree on some questions about Warren, emphasizing different pieces of evidence or interpreting them differently. Both books are worth reading and considering, and both add to our knowledge about a man who became vitally important to Revolutionary Boston.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

The Legacy of Francis Lewis

I’ve written a couple of times about Deborah Lewis, a child born to John and Thankful (Crowell) Lewis of Yarmouth in 1730. The family soon moved to Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard.

In the summer of 1764, still living on the island, Lewis made a major change. Adopting the name Francis Lewis, he began living as a man. He married a young widow, Anne Luce, and they had at least five children between 1765 and 1782.

Francis Lewis lived through the Revolution, the new Massachusetts and U.S. Constitution, the Jeffersonian ascendancy, and the War of 1812. He died in 1823, a ninety-three-year-old great-grandfather.

Francis Lewis is an example of a transgender American well before hormone treatment and gender-change surgery became available (over sixty years ago now). At birth he was perceived as “bearing a similarity of both Sexes,” but his family and local authorities decided he was a girl. He was listed in vital records as female and had the limited rights of a woman well into adulthood. We don’t have his account of those first thirty years, or of his last sixty years, but we can presume the decades after 1764 were more comfortable and happy for him.

Currently, according to a draft memo reported by the New York Times, officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are trying to establish that: “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth. . . . The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

Francis Lewis was identified at birth as a female and listed as such on his society’s equivalent of a birth certificate. But that society was able to recognize that designation as incorrect—even with no knowledge of “reliable genetic evidence.” The proposed H.H.S. approach would make us go backward at least two and a half centuries.

Closer to home, we in Massachusetts are faced with a referendum, this year’s Question 3, which would revoke protections from discrimination against transgender people. Again, I think of Francis Lewis. According to his death notice, Lewis’s “family has always deserved and received the respect of those who knew it.” Transgender people deserve the same respect from us today.

Friday, November 02, 2018

“Compleat Quarters were provided for all the troops”

Yesterday we left Gov. Francis Bernard stymied by both Boston’s justices of the peace and the Massachusetts Council in his effort to secure barracks for the king’s troops in Boston closer than Castle William.

By his own account, Bernard told his Councilors:
I said that I was now at the End of my tether: for as they had declared before, that they would adhere to the Act of parliament, and had refused to act in that liberal Way which I thought was their duty when the King’s Necessary Service was obstructed, I could propose nothing farther to them.

For I foresaw that if I proposed to hire [i.e., rent] & fit up houses &c for the troops, they would answer that did not become their business till the public houses were full. But if any Gentleman thought it was to Any purpose to put such a question I was ready to do it: this was declined by Silence.
According to the Boston Whigs, Bernard
recommended their appointing one or more persons, to join with General [Thomas] Gage, in hiring barracks for the troops in this town; the G——r apprehending it best that those who it is likely will finally be saddled with the expence, should be assisting or at least advising in this matter. The Council were utterly against this proposal, as the barracks at Castle-Island still remained empty, and it would have countenanced the quartering of troops in this town; and as the barrack-masters had before taken upon themselves to hire barracks at their own direction and risque.
Would any local citizen take the financial risk of paying for those barracks and waiting to be reimbursed? If providing barracks was the colony’s responsibility, as the Quartering Act said, then the Massachusetts General Court would have to authorize that expenditure. And leaders of that legislature had already warned that they were in no hurry to do that.

But Gov. Bernard was taking a different path: the army would put up the initial money to rent barracks. He wrote:
I then informed them that by reason of this general refusal of quarters the General found himself obliged to hire & fit up houses at the expence of the Crown for the reception of the troops, who now (Oct 26) especially they who were encamped, began to feel the Want of Warm quarters; and as he thought the Expence would ultimately fall upon the province; He desired that I would appoint a Commissary to join with & assist his officers in providing such houses, especially with regard to the Œconomy of the Expences. I therefore desired their Advice & Assistance in making such appointment.

This after a long debate was refused, they saying that if they should join in such appointment, it would be admitting that the province ought to be charged with the Expence; and I could appoint Auditors to examine the Accounts without them.

I thereupon put an End to this Business, having been employed in it from Sep 19 to Oct 26 in all 38 days, without any prospect of doing Any thing to purpose, but under an Obligation of trying evry Effort, before I gave it up.
The army was already implementing Gen. Gage’s plan. According to Bernard, “the General, who foresaw how this Negotiation would end, had employed his Officers to hire & fit up houses for the Troops: so that by the time I had received the definitive refusal, Compleat Quarters were provided for all the troops.”

The question of who would ultimately pay those rents was unresolved. There was also the issue of how the Quartering Act required colonies to supply certain provisions for the barracks, such as firewood. The Council had ordered Massachusetts’s commissary to supply the barracks at Castle William, but not any buildings in the center of town. Bernard concluded, “therefore it is not done, nor like to be done.”

But at least by the end of October all the troops had somewhere in town to sleep.

COMING UP: The regiments’ new landlords.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

“Your Excellency will therefore excuse our doing anything”

During the conflict over the Manufactory building, Gov. Francis Bernard was still pushing other ways to find housing for the two-plus regiments in town.

The governing law was the Quartering Act of 1765. That required colonies to provide barracks for army troops, which Massachusetts did at Castle William—but the Crown didn’t want the troops off on that island.

The next option in the law was government-owned buildings—but locals didn’t want troops in Faneuil Hall, the Town House, and Manufactory.

After that came “inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualling houses, and the houses of sellers of [wine and spirits]”—and no one wanted to force citizens to turn over those properties without strong local authority behind the order.

Gov. Bernard had gotten no cooperation from his Council, so he tried another branch of local government. He put pressure on Boston’s justices of the peace. Those magistrates were appointed, not elected, so they supposedly owed more loyalty to the Crown.

The governor started that effort on 20 Oct 1768, the same day that Sheriff Stephen Greenleaf actually got into the Manufactory. In a letter to London, Bernard explained:
I therefore summoned all the acting justices to meet me in the Council chamber: Twelve of them appeared; I acquainted them that the General demanded quarters for two regiments, according to the Act of parliament; they desired to take it into Consideration Among themselves; I consented, & We parted.

Two justices, 2 days after this [i.e., 22 October], attended me with an Answer in writing, whereby the whole body refused to billet the Souldiers. But these Gentlemen informing me that the Justices had been much influenced by the Argument that the barracks at the Castle ought to be first filled &c, I showed them the Minutes of the Council whereby the barracks at the Castle were assigned for the Irish Regiments; and they must be considered as full. This was quite new to them, the Council themselves having overlook’t this effect of their Vote. I gave them a Copy of this Vote & returned the Answer desiring them to reconsider it.

Three days after [i.e., 23 October] the same Gentlemen informed me that they had resolved against billeting the Souldiers but could not agree upon the reasons to be assigned for the refusing it:
At that meeting, according to the Boston Whigs, Lieutenant Governor Chief Justice Thomas Hutchinson insisted to the magistrates that Bernard “required their answer not in the usual way, but in writing, and under their hands.”

The justices therefore got another day to prepare a written reply to Gov. Bernard. (Meanwhile, the Manufactory option had collapsed.) The Boston Whigs included the 24 October result in their “Journal of Occurrences”:
May it Please Your Excellency,

Your Excellency having been pleased to demand of us to quarter and billet a number of officers and soldiers in the publick-houses in this town: we would beg leave to observe that in the act of Parliament, a number of officers are mentioned for that purpose, namely constables, tytheing-men, magistrates, and other civil officers of the town, which upon enquiring we cannot find have been applied to; and also that by the same act of Parliament the justices are not empowered to quarter and billet the said officers and soldiers, but in default or absence of the aforementioned officers; your Excellency will therefore excuse our doing anything in this affair till it is properly within our province.

William Stoddard
Richard Dana
John Ruddock
Nathaniel Balston
John Hill
Edmund Quincy
John Avery
John Tudor
Dana (shown above) and Ruddock would take the selectmen’s complaint against Capt. John Willson days later. With justices Hill and Quincy, they would also collect most of the depositions about the Boston Massacre. Avery’s namesake son was one of the Loyall Nine. So these men included the most radical of the magistrates.

Gov. Bernard had started this conversation with “Twelve” justices, but only eight signed that letter. The governor reported: “2 others were against billeting & gave other reasons for their refusal; 2 others argued for billeting, but declined acting by themselves after so large a Majority of the whole body had declared for the contrary Opinion.”

Stymied again, Bernard called his Councilors back in. The Whigs’ version of that meeting began:
the Governor proposed in the forenoon their submitting the dispute relative to quartering troops in this town, to the opinion of the judges of the Superior Court [i.e., Hutchinson’s court]; which extraordinary motion was with great propriety rejected.
Gov. Bernard had no legal avenues left to pursue. There was only one way for the army to solve the problem of housing its troops for the winter: throw money at it.

COMING UP: So where did the soldiers go?