The Restoration and the Royal Commission of 1664

BY the year 1660 the results of earlier colonial enterprises had become so considerable as to appear in clear relief, while they were extended and reënforced in such fashion by the Restoration government itself as to give both unity and breadth to the movement.  The return of the king gave again to the English executive its old form.  National life had gained in vigor in consequence of the period of revolution, while its energies were no longer absorbed in domestic troubles.  They found vent beyond the seas and proved their strength by the multiplication of colonies, the extension of trade, and the development of a more clearly defined colonial policy.  Intense and successful rivalry with the Dutch was continued, resulting again in war.  To this were added the beginnings of what before the end of the century was to prove a much larger and more prolonged struggle with France.  This gave a world-wide significance to the navy, trade, and the colonies.

On the American continent the event of first importance during the period of the Restoration was the occupation of New Netherland and the subjection of the Dutch in that province to English rule.  By this means the middle region which had been left unoccupied when Jamestown and Sagadahoc were settled came into the possession of the English.  The middle Atlantic coast was thus closed to alien colonists, and a region of great strategic and commercial importance was acquired.  By its acquisition a fatal blow was at the same time struck at the interests of the Dutch in North American commerce.  Within this territory four provinces were founded, two of which were destined to be almost imperial in extent and resources.  They gave unity to the colonial area, made possible a continuous coast line under English control on the east and a corresponding frontier line on the west.  They gave a territorial basis from which the advance of the French on the north and west could be successfully met.  As the Earl of Clarendon and the Duke of York, with a group of men who surrounded them, were chiefly responsible for this event, so this same group will be found for a generation to be closely connected with every act which had as its object the strengthening of imperial control over the colonies.  In many ways the trend in that direction was powerfully strengthened by the establishment of the province of New York.

Next in importance to the acquisition of New Netherland was the settlement of the Carolinas.  This gave a large and much-needed extension to the colonial area on the south.  Not only did this extend the English coast line and frontier, but it partly filled in the gap between the continental and the island colonies; it helped to make the vast Newfoundland-Trinidad arc continuous.  It therefore had an important influence on the relations between the English and Spanish in North America.  The personal relations also between the founders of the Carolinas and Barbadoes are suggestive.  As the result of the occupation of New Netherland by the English and the settlement of the Carolinas, the New England colonies, with Virginia and Maryland, cease to be mere isolated outposts and take their places in a group of dependencies.  The rudiments of a system of colonies begin to appear, and that suggested to the merchants and officials at home a colonial policy which should embrace them all and apply to them common principles of administration.

Next in importance to the acquisition of the colonies was the development of the policy by which their relations with one another, with other states, and with the parent state should be guided.  Historically the processes of acquisition and government went on together and mutually conditioned one another.  We may say that by 1675 the colonial territory had been definitely acquired; but at that date the principles upon which it was to be governed were just being developed.  Not the least notable achievement of the period was the formulation which was then given to those principles and the effort that was made to enforce them on a large scale.  The policy was set forth in part in the acts of trade, but it also concerned the problem of defence by sea and land, and touched more or less directly every question that lay within the sphere of government.  Its object may be comprehensively stated to have been the maintenance of the maximum of advantage for both, but especially for the realm, might be secured.  It differed from the policy of the early Stuarts in this respect, that greater emphasis was laid on questions of trade and defence, while in ecclesiastical relations the colonies were allowed a large degree of freedom.  In this connection it is worthy of note that the reference to the dominions which was contained in the Elizabethan act of uniformity was omitted in the act of uniformity of Charles II.  This affords conclusive proof that the Restoration government declined to revive, so far as the colonies were concerned, the ecclesiastical issues upon which Archbishop Laud and his associates had laid such emphasis.  The internal religious development of the colonies during the period of the Restoration proves that the government consistently adhered to this principle of action.

Perhaps the most direct line of connection which it is possible to establish between the ideals and policy of the Commonwealth and those of the ministries of Charles II may be found in the papers of Thomas Povey, to which reference was made at the close of the previous chapter.  Povey and Noell appear to have renewed their overtures after Restoration, and that in very much the same form which was given to them while Cromwell was still living.  They urged the establishment of a council for foreign plantations, to be appointed by the privy council, which should give directions in ordinary cases and in extraordinary should report to the king.  In 1660 Povey was appointed treasurer to the Duke of York, a post which he held until 1668.  In 1661 he was made receiver general of rents and revenues of the plantations.  He was also one of the masters of requests, and from 1662 to 1665 he was treasurer for Tangier and surveyor general of the victualling department.  In both these posts he was succeeded by Samuel Pepys.  Several of his kinsmen were also in office in Ireland and the plantations.  He was on intimate relations with Temple and Crown, the claimants of Nova Scotia.  These facts, together with others which will be mentioned later, suffice to prove that Povey was a typical office holder of the Restoration, and that he was brought into connection with a large group of men who, like himself, surrounded the statesmen of the time.  His friend, Martin Noell, was knighted after the Restoration and died a wealthy merchant.  The fortune of Noell appears to have been made in part in the slave trade, but he thought it not inconsistent with his calling to be also a charter member of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England.

Tobias Bridges, another friend of Povey, was also knighted by Charles II, and during the Dutch War, in 1667, commanded two regiments of the king's troops who, from Barbadoes as a centre, served in an expedition against Saint Christophers and the French islands of the neighborhood.  Major Edmund Andros was an officer in one of these regiments.  Captain John Berry, whom we shall meet as a member of the royal commission of 1677 to Virginia, commanded a part of the vessels with which the land force coöperated in this expedition.  Captain James Carteret, afterward notorious in New Jersey, served at the same time; while Captain John Scott, whose activity as an agitator and intriguer against the Dutch before the occupation of New Netherland was conspicuous, shared even more prominently in these doings in the West Indies.  The fact that M. De la Barre, as governor of Martinique and viceroy of the Caribbean islands, held a leading position on the side of the enemy, establishes a line of connection between these events and later ones of equal importance in Canada.  Closely connected with these men and with all others who were engaged in the plantation service, was Joseph Williamson, who was at first secretary to Lord Arlington and later (1674-1680) secretary of state.  His note-books were filled with abundant information concerning all the colonies, their officials and systems of government.  For twenty years, as clerk, expert, or responsible official, Williamson's influence is traceable in every event of importance which affected the northern colonies, none apparently grasped the situation more fully or urged his views more persistently than did Samuel Maverick, a man whom we have already met and whose activity at this time will receive further attention.

If we add to the individuals who have just been mentioned, Nicolls, Werden, Randolph, Cranfield, Blathwayt, Southwell, Sawyer, and rise from them to courtiers and statesmen of higher rank,—Berkeley, Culpeper, Arlington, Carteret, Shaftesbury, Clarendon, and the Duke of York himself,—we shall enumerate in part the group of leaders from whom proceeded the colonial policy of the Restoration.  The policy which they applied to the colonies was the same general character as that which they supported at home.  For their prominence and influence in colonial affairs they are comparable with Raleigh, Gilbert, and their associates in the Elizabethan age and with Gorges, Smith, Sandys, and other colonizers of the early Stuart reigns.

But whether or not the suggestions to which reference has been made were precisely the ones that were adopted, they fitted in perfectly with the tendencies of the times and resemble to a marked degree the plan which soon took form.  They also agreed well with the committee system, which to a large extent was perpetuated after the restoration.  The growth in the volume of business which occurred after 1660 promoted this tendency.  By orders in council or by direct act of the king committees of council were created for a variety of purposes and were utilized as long as the need for them existed; then they disappeared and others took their places.  Thus, by a free adaption of means to ends, of which the gradual development of the cabinet furnishes the classical example, the executive business of the English government was done.  During the years immediately following the Restoration we hear of a committee for the plantations or for the foreign plantations; and this was perpetuated, though with changes from time to time in its personnel.  A standing committee for trade and commerce was appointed.  We also hear of a committee for Jamaica and Algiers, of one for Jamaica alone, of one for the Guinea trade, of one for the royal company of adventurers, of one for the Newfoundland fisheries.  Occasionally the entire council sat as a committee of plantations.

On July 4, 1660, a little more than a month after the return of the king, under an order in council a committee was appointed to deliberate on petitions which had been presented by various merchants who were trading to the plantations in America.  This committee was to receive further petitions or proposals relating to the plantations and report to the privy council.  Among the members of this body were the lord chamberlain (Earl of Manchester), the lord treasurer (Earl of Southampton), Lord Say and Sele, Denzill Hollis, Secretaries Nicholas and Morrice, and Anthony Ashley Cooper.  References appear for this group during the next few months under the name of the committee for foreign plantations or for plantations in America.

When it was desired to create a body somewhat more permanent than a committee, but one which should work in connection with the privy council and subordinate to it, a formal commission was issued, accompanied, if thought needful, by instructions; and by this means a standing council or board of commissioners was brought into existence.  But after the committee system developed, it is not necessary to suppose that the council or boards of commissioners, when they were created, supplanted the committees.  The evidence apparently warrants the conclusion that the two continued to exist together and were used, the council for the permanent and general work of administration, and the committees for specific purposes.  After the Restoration, moreover, the domestic and foreign trade of England was, so far as possible, administered separately from the trade and other affairs of the plantations.  The plantations were treated as a group or unit by themselves.  Still, all English interests, however distinct in location or in character, were superintended by the leading ministers and privy councillors, aided by such experts as they called to their assistance.  Therefore all interests and policies came to a common clearing-house in the end, and there was a similarity of procedure among all the bodies concerned.

When, therefore, on November 7, 1660, just two months after the passage of the navigation act, a patent was issued for the establishment of a council for trade, and on the first of the following December another patent establishing a council for foreign plantations, it did not imply that these bodies superseded all existing committees within their field.  Their existence did not have this result, for evidence is abundant to the effect that many committees were later formed within the privy council to act or report on a great variety of matters connected with trade and colonization.  The patents of November 7 and December 1 created standing councils, consisting largely of ministers and privy councilors, but also containing merchants and other experts, whose duty it was during a considerable period of time to consider and promote English interests at large within the entire field of trade and colonization.  Committees in the meantime dealt with a variety of special and temporary interests.

The membership of the council for trade and of the council for foreign plantations was much the same.  Lord Chancellor Hyde was at the head of both, and associated with him were the principal officers of state, especially the lord treasurer and Sir Edward Nicholas, secretary of state.  Among the merchants whose names appear in both lists were Thomas Povey and Martin Noell, while the name of John Lymbery also appears on the council for foreign plantations.  The council of trade was empowered to consider how the navigation, trade, and manufactures of the kingdom might be improved and to report its views to the king.  In the commission and instructions to the council for foreign plantations the emphasis was laid on colonial trade, and the policy of the crown in reference to the colonies was outlined.  "We have judged it meet and necessary," the commission states, "that so many remote colonies and governments, so many ways considerable to our crown and dignity, should now no longer remain in a loose and scattered condition, but should be collected and brought under such a uniform inspection and conduct that we may the better apply our royal councells to their future regulation, securitie and improvement."  In view of the growing trade and population of the colonies, it was also declared that, "in all treaties and leagues with foreign princes and allies, the security and prosperity of trade and commerce shall be tenderly considered and provided for."  It was thus clearly announced that the extension of trade and colonization was thenceforth to be a leading object of English foreign policy.

The new council was instructed to secure and keep copies of all grants from the crown; to obtain from the governors all possible information concerning the way in which the colonies were governed, their laws, and the state of their defences.  As often as necessary, the council was required to inform the king of the complaints of the colonists, of the nature and amount of the commodities which they produced, with full details respecting their commerce.  It was to seek information from merchants, planters, seamen, and any others who could give it.  It was also instructed to study the colonial systems of other states and to adopt such of their methods as seemed wise or ward off dangers which seemed to come from them.  The idea was repeatedly enforced that the administration of the colonies must be made more certain and uniform, and that they should be treated as a whole rather than singly.  The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England was at this time rechartered, and the council was instructed to care for the maintenance of orthodox ministers in the colonies and for the extension of Christianity among the natives.  The instructions closed with a clause of general import, requiring the council to dispose of all matters relating to the good government and improvement of the colonies, using its utmost skill and prudence.  In cases where its members should judge that further powers were necessary, they should apply to the king or the privy council.

Before the council for foreign plantations was formed the affairs of the West Indies had been prominently before the government.  So had the conflicting claims of Elliot, Temple, and Crown to Nova Scotia, while the former doings of the Kirkes in Canada and other northern regions were an object of inquiry.  In Virginia Governor Samuel Mathews had died, in January, 1660.  The assembly, being already aware that the kingship was likely to be restored, had turned at once to Berkeley, who was still a resident of the province.  He was restored to the governorship in March, though as the servant of the "grand assembly," the supremacy of which within the province was for the time being fully acknowledged.  To the acts of the session which was held when Berkeley was elected, the assembly declared itself supreme and required that all writs should issue in its name.  But at the close of July the restored king issued a commission to Berkeley as royal governor.  In the autumn of 1660, when the fact of the Restoration was known and had been duly announced, the assembly met in the king's name and the forms of royal government were fully restored within Virginia.

If one is to judge from the records which it has left, the activity of the council for foreign plantations was quite marked for about a year after its creation; then it diminished and wholly ceased with the year 1668.  The chief activity of the board preceded the Dutch war of 1665 to 1667, and seems to have been lessened by that event.  Thomas Povey was especially prominent in all its early transactions.  The business of the council began with an inquiry into the affairs of Jamaica and of New England.  This revealed the fact that it was not so easy to secure information about New England as it was about the island colonies, and delay ensued.  The affairs of Barbadoes also came prominently before it.  It inquired into the conflicting claims respecting Nova Scotia.  The necessity of limiting the tobacco culture and of diversifying the industry of Virginia came under consideration.  It deliberated on the method of supplying servants to the plantations, and on the status of Jews in the colonies.  Through the petitions of various parties who had grievances against Massachusetts it presently obtained some insight into New England affairs, and those continued for some time to occupy its attention.  But in one report it expressed itself as convinced that Jamaica was capable of being made "the most eminent plantation of all his Majesty's distant dominions."  In order to facilitate its efforts the council, which was nearly as large as the privy council, created several subordinate committees.  References appear to committees on New England, on Maine, on Nova Scotia, on the Quakers, and on Barbadoes.  Its procedure was evidently an imitation of that of the privy council, a fact which may be assumed to have been true of all the commissions of the period.

One of the first duties of the new plantation board was to draft a letter which, with certain variations, could be sent to Barbadoes, Virginia, and New England.  In this letter, which was despatched to Virginia in the spring of 1661, the fact of the appointment of the plantation council was announced, and the governors were directed to send to it an account of their system of government, of their militia and other means of defence, of their revenue and expenditures.  A statement of the population of their colonies, arranged according to social classes, was also required, with an account of the products raised and full statistics as to trade.  They were particularly warned to enforce the act of trade, to suppress immorality, and to maintain worship according to the forms of the Church of England.  Virginia was told to send over a list of its parishes and to encourage the settlement of Anglican pastors.  With the letters went the king's declaration from Breda and the act of indemnity which had recently been passed by parliament.

In the case of Virginia, however, the information thus called for was probably given by the governor in person, for, owing to rumors that an effort would be made to revive the old company, the assembly, at its session of March, 1661, resolved to send Berkeley to England as agent, and voted to raise 200,000 pounds of tobacco to meet his expenses.  Berkeley was absent on this errand till the fall of 1662, Francis Moryson serving in the interval as deputy governor.  Of the details of his doings as agent we have no knowledge, but nothing more was heard of the proposal for the reëstablishment of the company.  It is certain that Berkeley, during his residence in England, was thrown into connection with the group of merchants, officials, and courtiers who, from various motives, were interested in schemes of colonization.  His brother, Lord John Berkeley, was a member of both the council for trade and the council for foreign plantations.  In 1663, besides becoming a charter member of the Royal African company, Lord John was one of the eight to receive the patent of Carolina, while two years later, jointly with Sir George Carteret, he received from the Duke of York the grant of New Jersey.  For a time he was also lord lieutenant of Ireland.  At an earlier date, during the period of the Stuart exile, he had also been interested in a plan for the establishment of a proprietorship in Virginia.  He was a typical courtier of the early period of Charles II, loose in morals, an autocrat in his notions of government, and a high churchman in religion.  In the last two qualities the governor of Virginia fully shared, while for a period he too was an active member of the board of proprietors of Carolina.

Berkeley returned to his province fully sharing in its spirit of loyalty and of Anglican orthodoxy, and entered upon a second administration which was to continue for more than fifteen years.  The first half and more of this term was, with a few exceptions, a period of quiet prosperity and growth in Virginia.  Through the avenues of trade and personal intercourse, as well as by the ordinary process of administration, intimate connection with England was maintained.  The devotion of Virginia to the restored monarchy was shown by an act passed in 1661 which provided that the anniversary of the execution of Charles I should be perpetually kept as a fast, and the anniversary of the restoration a day of thanksgiving.  Probably in no other colony would such legislation as this have been possible.  But the cavalier, Berkeley, was eminently fitted to be the leader of a society which was animated by this spirit, and for more than a decade he enjoyed in Virginia a degree of respect amounting almost to reverence.  In Maryland, likewise, the proprietary régime was fully reëstablished, and for a considerable time it continued undisturbed by internal strife or by conflict with any outside power.

So far, therefore, as the continental colonies were concerned, the questions which demanded immediate attention were the settlement of disputes within New England, the determining of the relations between that group of colonies and the home government, and the reoccupation of New Netherland.  The Clarendon ministry regarded these questions as interdependent and treated them collectively, as distinct but not unconnected aspects of the same colonial policy. The reoccupation of New Netherland was an incident of the struggle with the Dutch for commercial supremacy, while at the same time it involved a resumption of active administration in the southern part of the old territory of Northern Virginia, or more exactly in the middle region which under the grant of 1606 had been left free to the two companies for joint settlement.  The view systematically advocated by the English government implied that, owing to the failure of the Plymouth patentees, and later of the New England council, to successfully prosecute their plans of colonization, that region had been left open, and Dutch adventurers had forced their way in and taken possession.  They had secured the best part of the beaver trade and had become carriers of much of the tobacco and other products of the English colonies, as well as of their European imports, on the ocean.  Their subjection or removal was therefore regarded as an incident both of the territorial and trade policy of England.  Partisans even went so far as to affirm that the Dutch government had never acknowledged the work of these squatters or made itself responsible for the defence of the territory which they had occupied.  Therefore should England resume possession of its own, it would not be a casus belli. This view, of course, was extreme and inconclusive, for it ignored a whole series of facts which have been elsewhere set forth.  But it suited well the imperialistic ambitions of George Downing, of the New England colonists, and of the English merchants and officials.  After the Restoration events both in England and America tended steadily toward this consummation, until, in March, 1664, the decisive step was taken by the issue of the charter to the Duke of York.  By that patent the province of New Netherland, though still in the possession of the Dutch, was bestowed on the heir of the English throne.  This insured not only that New York would be a special object of interest to the king and the English government itself, but that on the accession of James it would become a royal province.  The grant, as originally made, was vast in extent, and had the duke at the time been as fully conscious of his opportunities in America as was Nicolls, his governor, it would not have been diminished by sub-grants.  But even as it was, it set up an obstacle to the westward expansion of New England, while Long Island and the two dependencies which were joined with it—Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and the district between Pemaquid and Nova Scotia—were suggestive of the old grant of Northern Virginia, or of that of 1620 to the New England council.  It is possible, even in the Duke of York's patent of 1664, to see the faint sketch of a vast royal province which should envelop the New England colonies and by its growth realize the dreams which Sir Ferdinando Gorges had cherished throughout his life.  The project originated among those who were the political heirs of Gorges and his supporters under the early Stuarts, and it was the first stroke after the Restoration which had as its object the revival of the ideals and policy which had led to the resignation of the charter of the New England council.  It appears in history as a most important landmark in the development of that type of colonization of which Gorges was one of the earliest exponents.

When viewed in this light, it becomes evident that the establishment of the English province of New York was an event of profound significance, not only in itself, but in its relations to New England.  English statesmen of the period, and those among their advisers who were most alive to American issues, were aware of this, and events as they progressed brought out the fact in ever clearer relief.

If we view colonial affairs chiefly in their political and ecclesiastical relations, and look at them from the standpoint of the Anglicans who controlled English policy during the years which immediately followed the Restoration, our judgment must be that New England, and especially Massachusetts, needed regulating.  Even one who cared little for religious conformity or for Anglican predominance, but who was ready to insist upon the necessity of a genuine recognition by the colonists of English sovereignty, would also be ready to join in the demand that some steps be taken to bring Massachusetts into greater harmony with tendencies that were operative in the colonies generally.  A due regard also to private rights would lead to a similar conclusion.  Finally, there was even less probability of obedience to the acts of trade in New England than elsewhere.  The attempt of Gorges and his friends, in the reign of Charles I, to force New England into the mould of the royal province had failed.  During the period of the Commonwealth and Protectorate that section had been left almost to itself.  With the restoration of the kingship, therefore, it was inevitable that some steps should be taken to establish relations between the English government and the New England colonies which would better facilitate the exercise of imperial control.

Early in 1661 petitions in considerable number from those who had grievances against Massachusetts were presented before the English government.  They came chiefly from Edward Godfrey, Captain Thomas Breedon, Samuel Maverick, Archibald Henderson, John Gifford and associates who had been concerned in iron works, young Ferdinando Gorges, Robert Mason, and last of all from the Quakers.  The burden of Godfrey's complaint, and of that of Gorges, was the encroachment of Massachusetts on Maine.  Godfrey in particular stated how for years he had vainly labored both in the colonies and in England to secure justice, but had failed.  His defence of the rights of Gorges, which he claimed were coincident with the rights of the king and the true liberties of Englishmen, had occasioned the loss of much of his property.  He now demanded justice.  He charged that Massachusetts was aiming at independence, while as an inducement for interference in the interest of the crown he called attention to the fact that for purposes of trade the mouth of the Piscataqua was more valuable than all New England beside.  Gorges dwelt upon the services of his grandfather in the cause of English colonization, on the patent which he had obtained from Charles I, and on the act of usurpation by which, when weakened through civil war at home, he and his heirs had been robbed of that grant.  Robert Mason made similar representations concerning New Hampshire.

Captain Breedon submitted the book of laws of Massachusetts, called attention to the religious test, to the failure of the magistrates to take or administer the oath of allegiance.  He found that many were opposed to acknowledging the king or owning any dependence on England.  Yet, according to his exaggerated claim, two thirds of the soldiers were non-freemen and would be glad to have officers who bore the king's commission.  Breedon dwelt with special emphasis on the fact that the regicides, Whalley and Goffe, had been sheltered in New England.  Of this he was one of the first to give information in England.

In 1653, or thereabouts, John Gifford, agent of William Beck and other English undertakers in the iron works at Lynn, had been sued in the county court by his principals for the sum of £13,000, the loss of which they claimed to have sustained because of errors and fraud in Gifford's accounting.  In 1654 the case came on appeal before the general court, and several hearings were held.  The case had gone against Gifford, and he had been held for brief periods as a prisoner and put under heavy bail.  Maverick and others had furnished bail for him.  Beck and his English associates now petitioned the home government for redress, alleging that for supposed debts their estates in Massachusetts had been seized, their agent had been imprisoned, and they had not yet been able to find a remedy.

The petitioners to whom reference has been made, with all their associates, joined in the request that a general governor should be sent to New England.  The petitions from Quakers were signed by Nicholas Upshall, Samuel Shattuck, and others, and after describing the laws which had been passed against them and the sufferings which they and many members of their sect had endured, urged that their grievances be heard and redressed.  In the political projects to which the other petitions were committed, the Quakers of course took no interest.

The only petition which was presented against any colony except Massachusetts, was that of Giles Sylvester, of Shelter island.  He complained that the government of New Haven, because he refused to acknowledge its right of jurisdiction, had confiscated some three thousand acres of land which he had bought from the Indians.

Samuel Maverick was in England at the time of the Restoration and remained there during the four years that immediately followed it.  His long residence in New England and large acquaintance with its affairs, combined as they were with a sober judgment, made valuable both the information he was able to give and the advice which accompanied it.  A correspondence was early begun between him and the Earl of Clarendon, which was continued till about a year before the fall of that minister, and of the important practical effect which followed this exchange of views there can be no doubt.  During or about 1660 Maverick also prepared in manuscript an Account of New England which we may suppose was intended for the use of officials and that it also had an influence.  In his letters Maverick refers to the leading episodes in the early dealings between the home government and Massachusetts, and in such way as to show that his ideas were to an extent reflected in the missives which were sent from the king to that colony.  During the period of the Restoration nothing comparable with this relationship arose except in the case of Edward Randolph; while in personal qualities and balance of judgment the comparison shows results decidedly favorable to Maverick.

The ideas and course of policy which were urged by Maverick upon Clarendon were an elaboration of those set forth in the "Child Memorial" of 1646, with the addition that, in connection with the needed regulation of New England affairs, the power of the Dutch on the Hudson and Delaware should be overthrown and that the two enterprises should be undertaken together.  In sketches of the past doings of Massachusetts which he repeatedly submitted to the minister he referred to all the instances of its harshness and intolerance from the beginning, not omitting any important events which indicated a dislike of the kingship in England or a disposition to oppose it.  As in 1646, so now, he insisted on the necessity of changing the conditions of citizenship so as to admit all freeholders to active political rights, and thus broadening the religious system so as to secure equal privileges to Protestants generally. In reference to the question of admission to baptism he defended the principle of the half-way covenant, which Massachusetts, by the way, was just adopting.  The necessity of enforcing the right of appeal he never forgot, while he called attention to the inconsistency between the oath of fidelity and the obligations of allegiance.  Going further, he urged a general reform of the laws of Massachusetts, the rectifying of her boundaries, and the assumption of immediate control over her militia by the king.  As the means by which to carry all those measures into execution, he urged the appointment of a royal governor or the sending of a commission, and that the royal governor or the sending of a commission, and that the royal appointees should be accompanies by a small armed force for the reduction of New Netherland.  He did no look for resistance of consequence in either colony, for in the one the hold of the Dutch was too weak to make it possible, and in the other the numerical superiority of the non-freemen was so great that the supporters of the magistrates and elders would be forced to yield.  As a result of the regulation of New England affairs, a way, he believed, would be opened through which the crown could secure a revenue from those colonies in the form of quit rents, while its influence would be enhanced in every way.  The policy which the home government was now to follow could hardly have been pointed out more aptly, while the share which Maverick was to bear in its execution not only rounded out his career, but curiously illustrates the persistence of many of the earliest tendencies in New England history.

A comparison of these petitions and memorials makes it clear that, however much the complainants might exaggerate their hardships and slur over or conceal the motives which gave apparent justification to the conduct of Massachusetts there was need of inquiry and possibly of interference by a sovereign power. The presumption was raised that private rights had been violated.  The charge was made that certain public duties were being neglected.  But for the satisfactory treatment of these delicate questions both intelligence and a sense of fairness were necessary.  And it must be admitted that it was doubtful whether English officials of the type which controlled affairs after the Restoration would possess both these qualities to the requisite degree.

When the king returned and monarchy was again set up in England, John Leverett was still resident there as agent for Massachusetts.  Endicott was governor at Boston.  In September, 1660, Leverett wrote to Endicott stating that complaints against Massachusetts had been submitted to the king by Godfrey and others, and there was talk about sending over a royal governor.  In the absence of express orders, Leverett did not feel authorized to appear at court sent its first addresses to the king and parliament and resolved to associate Richard Saltonstall and Henry Ashurst with Leverett in the agency.  The address to the king, which was prepared with the assistance of the clergy, was notable as the first of a series of such papers which emanated at this period from the general court.  Its biblical phrases and its exaltation of the royal dignity, its almost fawning humility, might well have befitted a petition from the chosen people, when in exile, to their Persian monarch. But behind the expressions of humility appeared the proud consciousness that the Puritan was able to justify, not only his removal from England, but his course of policy since that event.

The limits beyond which the colony would not voluntarily go in its submission to the king, were stated in the instructions which were now sent to the agents, and to this position it adhered throughout the twenty years of controversy which were to follow.  It insisted that the Massachusetts system of government, both in church and commonwealth, was consistent with charter.  If that system were changed, as it necessarily must be if any other power was imposed upon them, the object which had been sought by the removal into New England would be defeated.  To this they would never consent. Furthermore, they insisted that appeals to English tribunals, whether in civil or criminal cases, should never be permitted. The reason assigned for this were that the expense attending such process would be intolerable, and the practice would bring authority within the colony into contempt. Behind this assertion lay doubtless the feeling that a concession on this point would also imperil the church-state system.  That system was the citadel ever approach to which should be strongly guarded.

After asserting their readiness to defend the colony against the specific charges which had been made, and expressing the desire that the ordinance of 1642 exempting the colony from English customs duties might be renewed, the court closed with an injunction concerning the practical management of its case by the agents.  "It is our meaning," they say, "that if in publick you or either of you be called to answer to these or to any other particulars, that you give them to understand that we would not impower any agent to act for or answer in our behalfe, because wee could not foresee the particulars wherewith wee should be charged, but these are only private intimations to yourselves, which wee desire you to make use of for our indemnitie as you best may in a more private way and personall capacitie."  This instruction to agents was repeated on many another occasion during the later controversy, and its effect always was to block proceedings and cause indefinite delay.  It indicated that Massachusetts was again pursuing the tactics of passive resistance, and that it chose to define the relations which existed between itself and the home government as essentially diplomatic.  Nothing was more irritating to the officers of the crown than the discovery of this fact.  It clearly revealed the truth of Clarendon's statement, that the New England colonies were hardening into republics.

There were, however, one or two minor matters in which an immediate show of submission might serve a good purpose, and of these the magistrates at once availed themselves.  One was the suppression of the Rev. John Eliot's book, the Christian Commonwealth, which was supposed to contain the Fifth Monarchy heresy, for which the fanatic Venner had lately suffered in London.  A similar opportunity was offered by the presence of the regicides, Whalley and Goffe, in New England.  The statements of Breedon and Crown concerning the favorable reception which was given these officers in Boston and vicinity was correct.  The knowledge of this made the officials of Massachusetts anxious to relieve themselves and the colony of this new cause of suspicion.  Therefore, when a royal warrant for the arrest of the regicides arrived, Endicott commissioned Kirke and Kellond—one a merchant and the other a shipmaster, and both recently arrived from England—to search for them. Whalley and Goffe had already withdrawn into the jurisdiction of New Haven. There they received protection, and Governor Leete was able so to delay the proceedings of Kirke and Kellond, that the regicides made good their escape into the wilderness.  When the danger was past, Secretary Rawson wrote to Governor Leete warning him of the peril of disobeying the king's warrant for the arrest of the regicides.

Early in February, 1661, as soon as the first address from Massachusetts had been received, the king sent a gracious letter assuring the people of his high regard for the colony, and of his determination that it should share equally with the rest of his dominions in his moderate ecclesiastical policy, and in the measures for the encouragement of trade which he intended to undertake.  When this letter was received in Massachusetts, a day was specially set apart for thanksgiving.  But at the same time a committee of four magistrates, four deputies, and four elders was appointed to meet during the recess of the court and consider "such matter or thing of public concernment touching our patent, laws, privileges and duty to his Majesty, as they in their wisdom shall judge most expedient," and report at the next session.  This action showed that the Massachusetts leaders considered themselves at the beginning rather than at the end of a struggle.  This committee was asked by the court to define the liberties of Massachusetts and also the duties which were imposed upon its people by their obligation of allegiance to the king.

Only a brief period elapsed before the general court met again in special session.  The committee then submitted its replies to the questions which it had been asked to consider. In accordance with many precedents they appealed to the royal charter and claimed for the colony the right to the institutions of government for which it provided.  Massachusetts, they said, was a body politic, and was vested with power to make freemen.  After describing in outline the institutions for which the charter provided, though without stating that they had come into existence in Massachusetts in their present form as the result largely of removal and not of royal grant, the committee declared that any imposition which was prejudicial to the colony and inconsistent with any just law of the colony that was not repugnant to that of England, was an infringement of its rights.  Coming to the subject of allegiance, they interpreted it somewhat more carefully than was done in 1646.  Not only did they consider the colonists bound to defend the territory which had been granted them from foreign attack, but to endeavor as they were able the preservation of the king's person, his realm and other dominions, and to reveal and thwart all conspiracies against them.  It also included, they said, the obligation to seek the peace of king and nation by punishing crimes and propagating the gospel within the colony, "our dread sovereign being styled 'defender of the faith.'"  Those who were flying from justice in England might not find shelter in Massachusetts, while the colony would plead with the king against all who should attempt the violation of its privileges.  With this carefully guarded explanation of the rights and obligations of the colonists, the accession of the king was proclaimed in August.  The law of Massachusetts permitting free access to her harbors of ships which came for trade from other countries was repealed.  And order was issued instead that such bonds should be taken from all shipmasters and returns made as were required by the navigation act of 1660, but as no custom house was established the order was without practical result.

It was during the month which immediately followed the despatch of the kings' missive, that the petitions to which reference has been made were presented to the English government.  They made a strong impression on the council for foreign plantations, though its members realized that only one side had yet been heard.  An attempt, however, had been made to get some information from Leverett, but he had said that his agency was at an end.  Neither he nor those who had been appointed with him appear to have acted.  Leverett, indeed, returned to Boston in the summer of 1662.  He was reported in England to have declared that, before they would admit of appeals the colonists would deliver New England up to the Spaniard.  His usefulness as an agent could scarcely have survived such a statement as that. This the council interpreted as meaning that Massachusetts had purposely withdrawn from communication.  They therefore presented a report to the privy council which was decidedly unfavorable to Massachusetts and prepared a sharply worded letter to be sent to the colony.  They also suggested that Captain Breedon would be a good agent to intrust with its delivery.  But Breedon was soon discredited by a revelation of the fact that under false pretences he had just obtained a commission as governor of Nova Scotia.  The privy council, however, without regard to the suggestion about Breedon, took the business into its own hands, as one which demanded further investigation and more patient handling.  For a considerable time no further action was taken.  Then, in September, the royal order, to which reference has been made in a previous volume, was issued, that the Quakers who were in prison under sentence of death or other corporal punishment should be sent to England for trial.  This message was delivered by the Quaker, Samuel Shattuck; but, though the execution of the laws was for a time suspended, no Quakers were sent to England for the purpose mentioned. Such a course would have implied the existence of a right of appeal, which Massachusetts was resolved never to recognize.

Late in 1661 the general court resolved, though contrary to the urgent protest of Endicott and Bellingham, the governor and deputy governor, to send agents to England.  Simon Bradstreet and the Rev. John Norton were selected.  Two committees were appointed, one to raise by subscription the necessary funds, and the other to prepare an address to the king, letters to friends of the colony in England, and additional instructions for the agents.  Both met with difficulties.  The funds were raised, though after considerable effort. The other committee found both the agents averse to going.  Besides the perils of a winter voyage, and the delicate health of Norton, the task was considered a difficult, if not a hopeless, one.  As both had been prominent actors in recent events—Norton the leading clerical antagonist of the Quakers—they not unreasonably feared detention, or even imprisonment, in England. Whatever occurred, the agents could scarcely avoid incurring odium in Massachusetts.  The discussions by which they sought, so far as possible, to secure themselves against loss or disaster continued for nearly two months.  When finally Bradstreet and Norton sailed, they took with them instructions to answer all arguments made in England against the colony, to refute all scandals, to represent its people as loyal subjects, and to ascertain, as far as possible, the king's intentions respecting them.  But, added the general court, "you shall not engage us by any act of yours to anything which may be prejudicial to our present standing according to patent."  Captain Thomas Hull, the mint master, accompanied the agents to answer complaints which had been made respecting the coining of money in Massachusetts. But as soon as the agents had gone, the court ordered the first bullion that came to hand to be coined into twopenny pieces of silver.

The mission did not prove so disastrous as was feared.  The agents were politely received, and, though confronted by some of the leading Quakers, their cause suffered no important injury.  They were able to return after an absence of little more than six months, bringing with them a letter from the king.  The opening sentences of this missive contained a gracious pardon for all possible deviations from the patent in the past, as due rather "to the iniquity of the times than the evil intentions" of those who bore authority in the colony.  The king also expressed his confirmation of the patent and of all the privileges which existed under it.  But when he came to speak of the future, the royal utterances were not so welcome to the colonial authorities.  The king commanded that the oath of allegiance should be taken and observed, and that justice should be administered in his name.  As the principal object of the colonists in securing their charter was to obtain freedom of worship, they were directed to guaranty the same to any Anglicans who might reside within the colony.  No one should be excluded from office because of the opinions he held, and all freeholders of competent estates, who were orthodox in religion and not vicious in conversation, should be entitled to vote in the election of all officers, civil and military.  If the number of assistants required by the charter was found too great, it might be reduced to ten.  As it had been necessary to make a sharp law against Quakers in England, no objection would be made if the like were done in Massachusetts.  The requirement that all laws and ordinances, made during the late troubles, which were derogatory to the king's government should be repealed would also cause little difficulty, for none which came expressly under that designation had been found.

Notwithstanding the mild tone which characterized much of the royal missive, it was evident that the crown insisted upon some changes which would ultimately curb the independence of Massachusetts and make a breach in her system of uniformity.  The struggle was in reality just beginning, and as it proceeded the royal letter of 1662 was frequently referred to as an authoritative statement of the purposes of the English government relative to Massachusetts.  For this reason the work of the agents appeared to the strict Puritans of the colony to be a failure.  Those who at the outset had opposed the mission considered their views to have been justified.  The agents, it is true, were not well qualified for their task; but, whoever they may have been, they would have found themselves almost powerless at the English court.  No one could have accomplished what the Puritan oligarchy really desired.

The general court at its next session, in obedience to the express command of the king, ordered the publication of the royal letter.  It also ordered that all processes should issue in the name of the king.  Somewhat later it was enacted that the returns of shipmasters entering the colony should be taken before they were allowed to depart, as required by the navigation act.  After a special order from the privy council officers were appointed to see that the navigation act was enforced and the necessary bonds taken.  The court also felt justified in reviving the laws against Quakers.

The case set forth in the petitions of the Mason and Gorges heirs made absolutely necessary an inquiry into the doings of Massachusetts in northern New England.  In the petitions, especially of Robert Tufton Mason, not only was the encroachment of Massachusetts on their territory described, but new currency was given to the notion which Sir Ferdinando Gorges held, that the Massachusetts charter had been procured through fraud and was therefore void from the beginning.  Some false statements were made concerning the means which were used by Massachusetts in order to get possession of the territory.  A committee of reference, of which Mason himself was a member, presented the king an ex parte report in which they, of course, fully supported the territorial claims of Mason and Godfrey.  The attorney general, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, also reported in favor of Mason's claims.

While the cause of the proprietors was being thus urged in England, in May, 1661, Ferdinando Gorges appointed his relative, Francis Champernowne, with Henry Josselyn,—who had defended the Gorges claims in times past,—Nicholas Shapleigh, Robert Jordan, and others, commissioners to proclaim the king and reëstablish proprietary government in Maine.  A public meeting was held at Wells in December and resolutions in accordance with the commands of Gorges were adopted.  A representative assembly, called a general court, was summoned to meet at the same place the following May.  This roused Massachusetts to action.  Her commissioners, Denison, Hathorne, and Waldron, were ordered to reduce Maine again to submission.  When, in May, 1662, a general court which was called under Gorges' authority and attended by chosen "trustees" met at Wells, the Massachusetts commissioners interfered.  They summoned the inhabitants before them.  They wrote many times in an imperious tone to the commissioners and traders to cease from their disorderly acts and submit.  The representatives of Gorges refused to submit.  Then a conference was held and a compromise was reached.  According to this a court was to be held at York the following July by Henry Josselyn and Major Shapleigh, representing Gorges, and Captain Waldron and Captain Pike, representing Massachusetts.  Writs were to be issued in the king's name.  Massachusetts, however, did not resign her jurisdiction, but continued her commissioners and issued her orders as usual for the holding of county courts.  In June, 1663, her commissioners were ordered to arrest any one whom they found in Yorkshire acting under authority other than that of the king and Massachusetts.  In Norfolk county, which included the New Hampshire settlements, no attempt was made at this time to oppose the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.

The political and religious exclusiveness of Massachusetts and the encroachment of that colony upon the territory of the Mason and Gorges heirs furnished the chief reason for the interference of the king in New England affairs.  But there were also other conditions and questions which needed attention.  In internal organization and to a very large extent also in spirit and purposes, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven were one with Massachusetts.  None of these colonies proclaimed the king until the middle or latter half of 1661.  The Narragansett Settlements stood apart, and their many controversies with neighboring colonies inclined them to take shelter under English protection.  They proclaimed the king's accession in October, 1660.  It is true that the type of thought and feeling among the settlers of Providence and Rhode Island was Puritan.  The tendency among them toward local independence was as strong as that shown elsewhere in New England.  Their institutions were taking a form which was similar to that of the other New England colonies. But the controlling idea of the inhabitants was the desire for perfect religious liberty.  This was a condition which both Charles II and James II would feel inclined to cherish.  The Narragansett Plantations offered one of the avenues through which royal influence could gain a foothold in New England.  That was clearly perceived, and furnished a strong reason, not only for the grant of the Rhode Island charter, but for royal interference in the boundary disputes by which the very existence of that colony was threatened.  Still other boundary questions were raised by the grant of the New York charter, which seriously affected Connecticut, and by the issue of the Connecticut charter, which similarly affected New York.

As all the colonies of southern New England had been founded by private initiative and that in part since the withdrawal of royal influence, it was reasonable that some inquiry should be made concerning the attitude which they held toward the crown.  The entertainment of the regicides within New Haven and their final escape made such a course seem all the more necessary.  The passage of the acts of trade and the adoption by the home government of a well-defined commercial policy made it necessary to inquire closely into the means which the colonies were taking for its enforcement.

Since the crown had no officials of its own appointment resident in New England, nor any who were under the king's instructions or who were bound to report the condition of the colonies to him, the information could be obtained only through a royal agent or commission.  A decade before commissioners had been sent by parliament to "reduce" disobedient colonies.  The diplomatic attitude which Massachusetts had assumed now made another resort to a device of this kind especially necessary.  Resort to a measure like this was an easy first step in the application of royal pressure which was intended to force the New England colonies, and especially Massachusetts, out of a position which was anomalous, and to bring them into line with colonial development in general.  As early as September, 1662, the lord chancellor declared in the committee for plantations that the king would speedily send commissioners to regulate the affairs of the colonies.  The Duke of York would consider the choice of fit men.  The following April the king declared in an order in council that he intended to preserve the charter of Massachusetts, and would send commissioners thither to see how the charter was maintained and to reconcile differences which existed among them.

The men who, in 1664, were selected for the delicate task were Colonel Richard Nicolls, Sir Robert Carr, George Cartwright, and Samuel Maverick.  Nicoll's qualifications were of a high order, and have been sufficiently indicated in another connection.  The selection of Maverick as a member of the commission was a natural result of his services and of the friendly relations in which he stood toward Clarendon.  His knowledge of the case was such as to make him expert; he was also a colonist as well as and Englishman.  But his lifelong opposition to Massachusetts Puritanism had made him a partisan and to that extent unfitted him for the task to which he was now appointed.  Carr was one of those adventurers, undistinguished by principle or ability, whom the home government was too ready to appoint to posts in the colonial service.  Cartwright apparently possessed ability and honorable intentions, but he lacked qualifications in point of knowledge and tact.  Taken as a whole, the appointments were as wise as under the circumstances could reasonably be expected.

Two sets of instructions were given to the commissioners, one relating to Massachusetts and the other to the rest of the colonies.  Both were elaborate and were drawn with ability.  The former was the more minute, because in Massachusetts lay the most difficult part of the task. The commissioners were ordered, as soon as they arrived, to deliver to the governor of Massachusetts the letter which they brought from the king; also their commission and such instructions as it seemed wise to make known.  Attention was repeatedly called to the fact that the chief object of the English government in sending the commissioners was, if possible, to induce Massachusetts to obey the commands of the king as expressed in his letter of June, 1662.  The commission, however, seemed to imply something beyond this; for it was said that full authority was given the commissioners "to hear . . . and determine all complaints and appeals in all cases and matters, as well military, as criminal and civil and proceed in all things for the providing for and settling the peace and security of the said country," according to their discretion and instructions.  In the instructions, however, they were warned against hearing any cases except those which seemed to involve an evident violation of the charter.  They were not to interrupt the ordinary course of justice.  In reference to boundary disputes, they were to make only temporary adjustments, reserving final judgment to the king.  They were specially cautioned also to conciliate the people and leaders, to assure them that the king had no intention of diminishing any right to which they were entitled under the charter.  Religious freedom was in no way to be infringed, but it must be guarantied to Anglicans.  Permanent residents of good and honest conversation must also be admitted to full political rights.  In short, inquiry should be made to ascertain whether or not the requirements of the king's letter of June, 1662, had been complied with.

Other objects of the commission were to learn if the regicides were still protected in the country; to secure, as was contemplated in 1654, the help of New England in the conquest of the Dutch; to ascertain as fully as possible the religious, political, and economic condition of the colonies, also the state of their defences, so that this information might be used as a guide to further steps of policy; to see if the acts of trade were enforced, though the colonists were to be made to understand that loyalty, rather than gain, was for the present desired.  Massachusetts was to be induced, if possible, to submit to a renewal of her charter, so that in certain respects it might be improved.  It was the desire of the king, revealed by the instructions, that he might have the appointment of the governor and the control of the militia.  In the commission provision was made that, when business was transacted, Nicolls should always be present and have a casting vote in the case of a tie.

The commissioners, accompanied by the armament which was to be used in the reduction of New Netherland, arrived at Piscataqua and Boston in July, 1664.  When all the members had reached Boston, the king's letter—which was very conciliatory in tone—and the commission were delivered to the governor and council.  That part only of the instructions which related to the attack on New Amsterdam was then made known.  The magistrates promised to call a session of the general court early in August and submit to it the question of raising troops to aid in the contemplated expedition.  The troops were raised, though their help was not needed.  The court at this session also made that formal change in the religious test to which reference has been made in the discussion of the relations between church and commonwealth in Massachusetts.  After completing these preliminaries the commissioners departed for the Hudson and the Delaware.

The spirit of violent distrust with which the commission was regarded in Massachusetts is shown by the address which was sent to the king by the general court of October, 1664.  After dwelling, as was always the case, on the services and privations of the fathers in founding the colony, and stating that the court had already done all to satisfy the king which could be done consistently with conscience and their liberties under the patent, they continued: "But what affliction of heart must it needs be unto us, that our sins have provoked God to permit our adversaries to set themselves against us by their . . . complaints and solicitations, . . . and thereby to procure a commission under the great seal, wherein four persons (one of them our knowne and professed enemy) are empowered to heare, receive, examine and determine all complaints and appeals . . . and to proceed in all things, for settling this country according to their good and sound discretions, &c.  Whereby, instead of being governed by rulers of our own choosing (which is the fundamental privilege of our patent) and by lawes of our owne, wee are like to be subjected to the arbitrary power of strangers, proceeding not by any established law, but by their own discretions.  And whereas our patent gives a sufficient royal warrant and discharge to all officers and persons for executing the lawes here made and published, . . . wee shall not now be discharged and at rest . . ., when we have so far executed and observed our lawes, but be liable to complaints and appeales, and to the determinations of new judges, whereby our government and administrations will be made void and of none effect.  And tho wee have yet had but a little taste of the words or actings of these gentlemen, that are come over hither in this capacity of commissioners, yet we have had enough to confirme us in our feares, that their improvement of this power . . . will end in the subversion of our all."  "If these things go on," they continue, at once anticipating the worst, "your subjects here will either be forced to seeke new dwellings, or sinke and faint under burdens that will be to them intollerable."  Enterprises of all kinds will be discouraged, the inhabitants driven to extremities, and the plantation ruined.  But the king in the end will be the greatest loser of all.  "It is indeed a grief to our hearts, to see your majesty put to this extraordinary charge and cost about a business, the product whereof can never reimburse the one halfe of what will be expended upon it."  Not only had erroneous representations been made about dissensions which were alleged to exist in the colony, but the amount of wealth which was to be had there had also been greatly exaggerated. "Imposed rulers and officers will have occasion to expend more than can be raised here," and far less will be obtained than would be accounted by one of these gentlemen as a considerable accommodation.  It is little wonder that these protests and insinuations, gratuitous as they were at this stage of the business, should have drawn reproof even from the king and severe replies from the ministers.  It stamped the errand of the commissioners in New England as almost hopeless from the beginning.

Until late in the autumn the commissioners were occupied with the conquest and pacification of New Netherland.  They then undertook the difficult task of fixing the boundary between Connecticut and New York.  Questions of boundary had been left unsettled when the royal charter was granted to Connecticut in 1662.  The document had been allowed at that time to pass the seals, because Winthrop promised submission "to any alteration" in the boundaries of the colony which might later be made by commissioners whome the king even then was intending to send "into those parts."  The question of the limits of Connecticut on the south and west had been made more complicated by the issue of the charter to the Duke of York in 1664.  Connecticut claimed Long Island because in her charter it was stated that her southern boundary should be the sea.  But in the charter of the Duke of York it was expressly stated that Long Island should form a part of his province.  By the charter of 1662 Connecticut had been given a westward extension to the South Sea.  The Connecticut river, on the other hand, had been specified as the eastern boundary of the Duke of York's grant.  Nearly all of the settlements in Connecticut, together with the whole of New Haven colony, lay west of the river.  The historical connection of both New Haven and Connecticut with eastern Long Island had also been intimate.  On the other hand, if Connecticut was allowed unlimited western extension, the development of New York would be forever crippled.  Overlapping claims like these could be adjusted only by the crown or its representatives—the same power which by its carelessness or connivance had permitted them to originate.

Governor Winthrop, with four agents appointed by the general court of Connecticut, and two invited representatives from the town of eastern Long Island met the commissioners at New York in November, 1664, for the settlement of the boundary question.  That part of it which related to Long Island was soon adjusted, for it was impossible to dispute the positive declaration of the Duke of York's charter.  But the question of the western boundary of Connecticut was full of difficulties.  New Haven had not yet submitted to Connecticut.  But in view of the location of that colony, it was impossible for the commissioners to insist upon the provision of the Duke of York's patent.  Had they done so, the prospect of success in later negotiations in New England would have been destroyed.  Nicolls at least was clear on this point, and an agreement was reached according to which the boundary was to run north-northwest from Mamaroneck creek to the Massachusetts line, approaching at no point nearer to Hudson's river than a distance of twenty miles.  But Nicolls and his associates were deceived, for the starting point was only about ten miles from the Hudson, and if the line were extended north-northwest, it would cross the Hudson near Peekskill and reach the latitude of the southern boundary of Massachusetts near the northwest corner of Ulster county.  Because of this error the agreement was never ratified by the Duke of York or by the king, and many years of controversy followed before a final settlement was reached.  But at the same time this conference, taken in connection with the grant of New York to the duke, had an important bearing on the history of the sea-to-sea patents, so far as such existed in New England.  The commissioners, in their report to the king, declared that a line drawn twenty miles east of Hudson river was the western limit of both Connecticut and Massachusetts.

In January, 1665, after the consideration of the Connecticut boundary was ended, Cartwright and Maverick repaired to Boston.  Later they were joined by Carr, though he lingered on the Delaware until the patience of his colleagues was nearly exhausted.  Nicolls was unable to visit New England until the beginning of May, when he shared in the important negotiations of that month with the magistrates and general court of Massachusetts.  During the interval the three commissioners were forced to live among a population the majority of which viewed them with suspicion or open hostility.  "This day," writes Cartwright, "a Quaker (my country woman) told me before Capt. Breedon, she had heard severall say yt I was a papist and yt Sr Rb. Carr kept a naughty woman, and examined her if I had not kept one too, or if she knew me not to be a papist.  Mr. Maverick they declare to be their profest enemy.  Many factions speeches fly up and down.  This day (they say) here is a secret council and that all the ministers within 20 miles are called to it. . . . I am sure you know in what condition I am in; though you seem to deny me your assistance, yet let me have your pity, and I will doe my utmost."  With a sure instinct for the probability that in some way money would be levied upon the colony, if the royal policy was executed with thoroughness, the rumor was circulated among the people that a quit rent of a shilling an acre was to be collected on the land and about £5000 annually taken besides.  It was also reported that the discipline of the churches would be infringed and the processes of government interfered with by the hearing of appeals.  Complaints were uttered of the expense which the entertainment of the commissioners was imposing on the colony, while the commissioners themselves were trying to eke out their stipend from the king so as to make it last during their prolonged stay.  Cartwright wrote that he had not gone to dinner with a townsman since he came to Boston, "suspecting them to be as I fear they are," but he treated all who visited him as civilly as he could.  Maverick declared that Cartwright had been "too retired."  He himself had spent three weeks visiting friends in the chief Massachusetts towns and he believed he had removed the prejudices of many.  He hoped he had not been "over sociable."

Finding the spirit of opposition in Massachusetts so strong, the commissioners thought it best to begin with the adjustment of affairs in Plymouth, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, so as to return to Boston, if possible, with the prestige of success.  In February they went to Plymouth.  Thence, early in March, they passed through Rhode Island to Connecticut, returning by the Narragansett country and reaching Boston again about the middle of April.  To the magistrates of each of these colonies substantially the same propositions were submitted which were contained in the king's letter of 1662.  They were, that all householders should take the oath of allegiance and that justice should be administered in the king's name; that all who were of "competent estates and civil conversation" should be admitted to the rights of freemen; that all persons of orthodox faith and upright lives should be allowed freedom of worship and of organizing congregations of their own; and that all laws derogatory to the king, which might have been passed during the "late troublesome times," should be repealed.  Rhode Island was also asked to provide suitably for its own defence.

As those requirements in nearly all respects conformed with the practice of the colonies of southern New England, they were accepted without opposition.  At the suggestion of Plymouth the demand that the privilege of forming new congregations should be granted was confined to those who had secured a minister of their own.  In Rhode Island an "engagement" was accepted in lieu of the oath.  To the additional suggestion that Plymouth should seek to obtain a new charter, that colony demurred.  Closer connection with the home government, even through an agent, was not then desired.

Rhode Island was very compliant, and while there the commissioners freely heard appeals.  They had been fully instructed to inquire into the conflicting claims to the Narragansett country, and this part of their duty they fulfilled to the letter, both Samuel Gorton and Massachusetts presenting long statements full of mutual recriminations.  The claim of the Atherton company was examined and found invalid.  In order to save the Narragansett country to Rhode Island, the commissioners at first commanded the various squatters who had come in from Massachusetts and Connecticut to remove.  Later, however, this command was revoked and the question of their rights was referred to the king.  From one of the Indian sachems who had participated in the surrender of the country to Charles I, twenty years before, the commissioners obtained an acknowledgement of the deed.  Relying on this, they took the Indians and their country into the king's protection, naming the district the King's Province.  The magistrates of Rhode Island were empowered to administer justice in the region until the king's pleasure could be further known.  In this business, and especially in efforts to dispossess Pumham, that ancient and wily protégé of Massachusetts, Sir Robert Carr showed unusual activity, and incidentally came into relations for the moment both with the Apostle Eliot and with Roger Williams.  Though the settlement of the bounds of Rhode Island involved questions of too great complexity for the commissioners to determine, they performed an invaluable service for that colony by giving final notice to Massachusetts that encroachments toward the south would no longer be permitted.  They recognized the fact that the possession of the Narragansett country was necessary, one might almost say, to the continued existence of Rhode Island as a distinct colony; and by placing its magistrates in charge of the district under the king's protection the commissioners aptly served both the interests of the crown and those of Rhode Island.  The settlement of Massachusetts people in the Pequot country, under claims said to have originated in conquest, the commissioners looked on with equal disfavor; but they did not give any express recognition to the Hamilton claim against Connecticut, because it was not confirmed by actual settlement.  When they returned to Boston the commissioners, with reason, congratulated themselves on the success which had attended their efforts in southern New England.  Opposition they had met with nowhere, while in Rhode Island they had found an interest sufficiently strong, they hoped, to furnish a leverage against Massachusetts.  Their doings in the south would add no recommendation to them in the eyes of the Bay Colony, for it suggested too clearly what was likely to be attempted on the Piscataqua and even in Massachusetts itself.

Before the departure of the commissioners from Boston to visit Plymouth and the other colonies, in obedience to instructions and in order the better to meet exaggerated reports concerning the king's intentions and their own, they asked the magistrates to call all the inhabitants together on the day of the court of election, early in the following May.  There they might learn directly and without mistake "his Majesty's grace and favor to them."  Attempts, like this, to appeal over the heads of the magistrates and general court to the people at large were naturally offensive, though in their reply the governor and assistants did not refer to this aspect of the case.  They said that they could see no reason for this proposal, while to draw the people away from their houses would leave the colony exposed to Indian attacks; "all could come if they would—there was no prohibition."  Cartwright, in one of his characteristic statements, declared the proposal to be so reasonable that he who would not attend was a traitor.  And before they left the commissioners sent a letter to some of the non-freemen advising them and their neighbors to be present at the next court of election and hear a message direct from the king, as "the best way to prevent all slandering of his Majesty and all misapprehensions in his good subjects and all prejudices from us."

On the eve of the election the commissioners returned, Nicolls now at last appearing with them.  Endicott had just died; Bellingham was the acting governor.  Letters had lately been received from Secretary Morrice and the lord chancellor, in reply to the last communication from the general court.  It was said that it had been unfavorably received by the king, as "the contrivance of a few persons who had been too long in power"; that they were unreasonably jealous of the king, who had no intention of infringing their charter, but who must institute an inquiry because of the complaints which had come from various quarters.  Clarendon wrote in much the same strain, declaring "it will be absolutely necessary that you perform and pay all that reverence and obedience which is due from subjects to their king and which his Majesty will exact from you."  The commissioners also, as they began the negotiation, delivered a statement of their own, protesting language of needless irritation against the alleged slanders which had been circulated about the object of their mission.

These expressions both from the home government and its agents, we must believe, made an unfavorable impression at the outset, though in view of the past history and present attitude of Massachusetts utterances in that style were most natural.  When taken in connection with the known attitude of at least all the commissioners except Nicolls toward the colony, and with what was partly known and partly surmised about the real object of their coming, they strengthened the resolution of the Massachusetts leaders to stand by their charter.  They would not allow the rights which they had enjoyed under it to be diminished in any essential particular.  This augured ill for the hopes of the king, through the commission, to secure the right of appointing a governor, or of controlling the militia, or of hearing appeals from the colony.

During the first week of the negotiation the commissioners delivered to the magistrates all their instructions of a public nature which concerned Massachusetts.  In the meantime the election was held and Bellingham was chosen governor.  He was less violent in his temper than Endicott had been, and in times past had occasionally opposed the dominant clique of magistrates and elders.  But on questions like those which were now at issue Bellingham was in no way inclined to yield.  To the instructions which merely called for information a ready assent was given.  It was stated that a map showing the bounds of the colony was in preparation; that the records showing what the relations of Massachusetts and of the United Colonies had been with the Indians would be submitted; an account of the schools and especially of the college at Cambridge was furnished; statistics concerning government, industry, and the population were prepared; such explanation of the Whalley and Goffe episode as was possible was given; while they were not conscious of having "greatly violated" the navigation act and they were sure they had no law against it.  The Massachusetts book of laws was submitted, and various changes in it were suggested by the commissioners.

The task of explaining or justifying their treatment of the king's letter of 1662 the magistrates found more difficult.  Of its commands the only one which had been promptly obeyed was that to administer justice in the king's name.  On the arrival of the royal commissioners in 1664 the law relating to the admission of freemen had been so changed as to technically, though not really, comply with the king's command.  Of the remaining orders, those to administer the oath of allegiance and to permit the use of the Book of Common Prayer had not been carried into effect.  As to the oath of allegiance, it was now said that many who were in office had taken it before they left England, while it had been administered to Matthew Cradock, the first governor of the company.  Their oaths of fidelity and of office were also cited as the equivalent of the oath of allegiance, though they were worded quite differently, and both contained the clause, "considering how I stand obliged to the king's majesty, his heirs and successors by our charter and the government established thereby."  This clearly withdrew from his obligation to the king the entire content of the subject's obligation to Massachusetts, and in view of this fact Nicolls told the court that he did not see how it could be acceptable to his Majesty.  As to the position of Anglicans in the colony the commissioners expressed themselves as wholly dissatisfied, while they could not understand the wording of the new law respecting the admission of freemen.

But the discussions between the commissioners and the magistrates came to a crisis when the former announced their purpose to hear appeals and to sit as a court of justice for that purpose in the colony.  As we have seen, they were authorized by their commission to do this, though the mild tone of their instructions had seemed to preclude such action.  The right had been exercised by them in Rhode Island, and in two cases they proposed to try their power in Massachusetts.  One of these arose from a complaint of Thomas Deane concerning the failure of the Massachusetts government to aid him and others in the prosecution of the ship Charles, from the French island of Oleron, which had in 1661 entered the port of Boston in violation of the navigation act.  The magistrates, on the other hand, claimed to have done full justice by Deane and other parties involved.  The other case concerned one John Porter, said to have been a worthless fellow who, having been imprisoned on the charge of wilful disobedience to parents, had either been banished or had broken jail.  The commissioners had met him in Warwick, Rhode Island, and, on hearing his complaint, had granted him the king's protection and ordered him to appear at Boston for a hearing before them.

When it was announced that these cases were being heard, the one concerning Porter being peculiarly irritating to the Massachusetts authorities, the general court protested against the action as an infringement of their patent.  The commissioners in reply desired a conference with a committee of the court.  A committee of eight was appointed to meet them.  At the conference which followed, in reply to the claim of the commissioners that their instruction to hear appeals was not an infringement of the grant, but was implied in the very nature of the colony and its patent, the committee of the court pleaded that full and absolute authority to govern the colony had been given by the charter.  They also argued that submission to appeals, especially in criminal cases, would prove an insufferable burden to individuals and make endless trouble for the government.  The effect of remoteness, as compared with corporations located in England, Scotland, or Ireland, was emphasized.  When the commissioners stated that they would try cases without a jury and according to the law of England, the committee sought to apply in an exclusive sense to Massachusetts the principle that subjects should be tried by the law of the land.  They also regarded it as intolerable to submit to a tribunal whose law was its own discretion.  With this notable utterance on the subject of appeals the conference ended.

The commissioners next asked the court to name a place where they might sit and hear complaints.  The court declared itself ready, if the commissioners would name specific cases, to submit copies of their proceedings therein; but beyond that it would not go.  The commissioners closed the discussion with a warm protest against the attitude of suspicion and disobedience assumed by the court, and with the announcement that the next morning they would sit at the house of Captain Thomas Breedon and hear the case of Deane.  The court then stated that it did not consent to or approve of the proceedings of the commissioners, nor did it consist with their allegiance so to do.

The next morning, an hour before the commissioners were to meet, a herald was sent to Breedon's house, and afterwards through the town, proclaiming the fact with sound of trumpet that the court was forbidden.  This action was decisive; the hearing did not occur.  The commissioners then abruptly closed negotiations, declaring that, "since you will needs misconstrue all these letters and endeavors, and that you will make use of that authority he [he king] hath given you to oppose that sovereignty which he hath over you, we shall not lose more of our labors upon you, but refer it to his Majesty's wisdom, who is of power enough to make himself to be obeyed in all his dominions, and do assure you that we shall not represent your denying of his commission in any other words than you yourselves have expressed it in your several papers under your secretary's hand."  In another communication they used this suggestive language, "The king did not grant away his Soveraigntie over you when he made you a Corporation.  When His Majestie gave you power to make wholesome laws and administer Justice by them, he parted not with his right of judging whether those laws were wholesome, or whether justice was administered accordingly or no.  When His Majesty gave you authority over such of his subjects as lived within the limits of your jurisdiction, he made them not your subjects nor you their supream authority."  The issue between Massachusetts and the crown was essentially one of sovereignty, and it was never more clearly stated than in these sentences.  The court submitted later a detailed and vigorous defense of its position in all its bearings, and upon the matter of appeals and the ecclesiastical system it stood firm to the last. The case of Deane was also reopened by the colony and the commissioners were invited to the hearing.  They, of course, refused to attend.  Nicolls now returned to New York, and the other commissioners went to the Piscataqua to undertake the settlement of controversies in that region.  By so doing, as well as by their express utterances, they confessed that the attempt to bring Massachusetts into submission through a royal commission had failed.  Nearly a month had been spent in the effort and nothing decisive had been accomplished.  The charter stood in the way, and, as events still further ripened, it became evident that the obstacle must be removed before the plans of the home government could attain success.

When the commissioners were about leaving England for the colonies, a royal letter was written commanding Massachusetts to surrender the Province of Maine to Ferdinando Gorges.  Another letter was written to the inhabitants of Maine, commanding them to submit to Gorges.  Nicolls was also appointed by Mason as his attorney, a suggestion of the fact that all those who were assailing Massachusetts stood near to the Duke of York and that his enterprise on the Hudson was more closely connected with the attack on New England and on the charters than has generally been supposed.  But the war with the Dutch was just beginning and the fear that De Ruyter might make a descent on New York forced the immediate return of Nicolls to his own province, and prevented active participation on his part in the doings of the commissioners among the eastern settlements.  But the region beyond Sagadahoc, later to be organized as the county of Cornwall, had been granted to the Duke of York, and any settlement which might favor the king's interest on the Piscataqua and in Maine could hardly fail to affect the remote outposts also.

John Archdale—probably the same man who later became a proprietor and governor of South Carolina—came over with the commissioners in 1664 as agent for Gorges.  His influence was later felt in Martha's Vineyard, as well as in the region farther north.  By him the royal letters in favor of Gorges which have just been referred to were delivered, the one to the magistrates of Massachusetts, and the other to Henry Josselyn and Edward Rushworth, who were acting on behalf of Gorges in Maine.  These men, with Archdale, obtained from some of the inhabitants of the region an acknowledgment of their submission to the claims of Gorges. They also wrote to the magistrates of Massachusetts, demanding the withdrawal of its authority. On November 30, 1664, while the royal commissioners were occupied with the reduction of New Netherland, the magistrates at Boston replied to this letter, claiming Maine as within the bounds of their patent and insisting that agents of Gorges should not attempt to exercise powers of government there.  The king, they said, had promised that they should be heard in England, and until a decision had been reached there no other authority than their own should be recognized. The general court, at its session in May, 1665, issued a proclamation declaring the government of Massachusetts still in force in Yorkshire; courts were to be held as usual and all officers were commanded to perform their duties.  The map which was prepared for the commissioners included, as within Massachusetts, all the territory as far north as Casco bay; while a detailed statement of this claim, supported by documents, was prepared.

Meantime, however, an assembly of Gorges' supporters was held at Wells and some orders for the government of the region were issued. Archdale was made colonel of the militia, and "several private trainings" were held.  Such was the situation when, in June, 1665, Carr, Cartwright, and Maverick appeared among the eastern settlements.  They assumed that Massachusetts could not rightfully claim authority north of the bound house,"3 large miles north from the Merrimac River."  They therefore attempted to organize government there in the king's name.  With the assistance of one Abraham Corbett and a few other discontented persons, chiefly at Portsmouth, they sought to make it appear that there was a general demand for a change.  We hear suggestions of a resort to intimidation, while it is quite probable that Carr and Cartwright used threats and made imposing claims.

At Portsmouth, relying on a letter from the king that the forts should be strengthened as a defence against the Dutch, an assembly was called by the royal commissioners. But an appeal of John Cutt and others, of the board of selectmen, to the governor and council at Boston, drew from them an order forbidding the inhabitants to obey any of the commands of the commissioners.  The meeting, however, was held, and a number of names were signed to a petition asking the king to set them free from the government of Massachusetts.  The inhabitants of Portsmith and Dover, who were loyal to Massachusetts, transmitted to the general court a signed statement of the fact.  Finally, the appearance of Danforth, Lasher and Leverett, as commissioners from Massachusetts, proved decisive.  Corbett was arrested and taken to Boston as a prisoner.  The royal commissioners were unable to secure a following which possessed strength at all sufficient to overcome the influence of Massachusetts and its reputation for efficient government.

In Maine the way had been better prepared for them, and more men of standing could be counted among their supporters.  Those settlements they formally received into the king's protection, and some of their leading inhabitants were empowered to act as justices of the peace.  From Maine they passed for a brief visit to the Duke of York's grant east of the Kennebec, which they erected as a county and named Cornwall.  Thence the three commissioners returned to Massachusetts.  A report to the king was then prepared, which related their doings in all the colonies they had visited, and drew sharply the contrast between the opposition shown in Massachusetts and the spirit of submission which seemed to exist elsewhere.  It was a frank confession of the failure of the commission to bring about any change in the attitude of Massachusetts toward the crown.  Cartwright sailed with the report for England, but on the voyage was captured by a Dutch cruiser; some of the papers of the commission were lost, but after long delay the report reached England.

Before the commissioners finally separated, the general court of Massachusetts had sent another address to the king, complaining of the partisan spirit which had been shown by all the members of the board except Nicolls, of their attempts to undermine the government of the colony and to arouse enemies against it within and without.  The court begged that the unfavorable representations which it was probable the commissioners would make on their return to England might not be received as the truth.

The commissioners, on their part, enlarged upon the futility of more correspondence and expressly referred to be the revocation of the correspondence and expressly referred to be the revocation of the charter of Massachusetts as likely to the only effective remedy.  Maverick wrote to Clarendon, suggesting, as means to bring Massachusetts to terms, that only persons specially licensed should be permitted to trade with New England, and that this measure should be enforced by two vessels stationed off the coast.  Boston merchants who proved refractory might be punished by seizing their estates in England, and a few of the most disloyal inhabitants might be sent to England.  He suggested Bellingham, Hathorne, Gookin, Waldron, and Oliver as fit persons to be dealt with in this manner.  Nicolls in later communications to Arlington and Morrice at first expressed the hope that the transfer of trade by natural process from Boston to New York would induce a change of spirit.  Later, he thought that an embargo on the trade of Massachusetts might be resorted to with good results, for he believed it would soon induce a change of spirit.  Later, he thought that an embargo on the trade of Massachusetts might be resorted to with good results, for he believed it would soon induce the well affected to give up the ringleaders.

In April, 1666, the king issued a circular letter to the colonies of New England, in which satisfaction was expressed with the attitude of all except Massachusetts.  In that colony, he declared, the opinion seemed to be that the commission was a violation of its charter, that the king had no jurisdiction over them, and that there was no right of appeal.  The king therefore had recalled his commissioners, and ordered that the general court should send to England four or five agents, of whom Bellingham and Hathorne should be two, that a full inquiry into the points at issue might be had.  In the meantime affairs in the Province of Maine should remain as the commissioners had left them.  A letter was at the same time sent to Rhode Island contrasting its dutiful conduct with the deportment of Massachusetts.

When this command was received, a division began to appear among the people and was reflected in the general court of Massachusetts.  A petition signed by more than one hundred inhabitants of Boston, Salem, Newbury, and Ipswich, was presented to the general court, urging a reasonable acknowledgment of the sovereign rights of the king and submission to his will.  "The receiving of a character from his Majesty's royal predecessor for the planting of this colony," said the petitioners, "with a confirmation of the same from his royal person, . . . sufficiently declares this place to be a part of his dominions, and ourselves his subjects."  They asked that nothing further be done which should tend to provoke the resentment of the king.  Among the magistrates also a debate occurred in which Bradstreet urged that agents be sent to England, for though the king might not be able to reach the colony by legal process, his prerogative gave him power to command their appearance. Willoughby, the deputy governor, met this with the argument that they must obey God rather than man.  On the one side it was urged that the relations between Massachusetts and the crown and Calais. On the other side it was said to be "too hard to put us in the same condition with Calais."  Thus the representatives of the trade centres in the colony and of those whose ardor for the Puritan ecclesiastical system had cooled, or had never been strong, sought to make their interests felt and to bring Massachusetts more fully into harmony with the conditions of the growing colonial system.  The colony had never wholly lacked testimonies of this character, but they were henceforth to increase in volume and importance.  Maverick had rightly perceived that the wise course for the home government would be to encourage this division of sentiment.

The general court vented the irritation which the petition had caused by ordering its foremost signers to appear, but no record of further action has been preserved.  In a letter to Secretary Morrice the general court declined to send the agents whom the king had ordered and committed their cause to God and the clemency of their prince.

France had now allied itself with the Dutch in their war with the English, and in an earlier letter from the king Massachusetts had been authorized to confer with Sir Thomas Temple, the proprietor of Nova Scotia, about a joint attack on Canada.  Temple visited Boston for the purpose of promoting this plan.  But Massachusetts replied that it was not possible for her to undertake so distant an enterprise and one of such doubtful issue.  The only step which was taken to conciliate the English government was the sending of a present of masts to the king.  But the war, resulting as it did in the downfall of the Clarendon ministry, diverted attention from New England affairs, and gave Massachusetts a respite for ten years.  The heirs of Gorges and Mason took no further steps to establish their rights among the eastern settlement.  Massachusetts, through her commissioners, fully restored her control in 1668, and maintained it without further opposition till the question was again opened in England.

Herbert L. Osgood, The American Colonies In the Seventeenth Century, 1907

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