Adams Papers

Clarendon to the Boston Gazette, 12 May 1766

Clarendon to the Boston Gazette

Cockleboro’, near Barnardston,1 N. E. 12th May 1766

Messieurs PRINTERS,

Seeing a Piece in the New Hampshire Gazette of last Friday, mentioning the Composition that was made by Mr. Cockle2 and the G––––r some Time ago, it occur’d to me to enquire what was be­come of the Money compounded for by them, for the Duties on those Cargoes of Molasses;3 I have heard that the G––––r received his third Part last September was twelve Months, that Mr. Cockle received his before he was dismissed; the other third Part which I understand belongs to the Province, I have never heard any Thing at all about. I am informed that it amounts to upwards of Eight Hundred Pounds Sterling, which may be worth the Attention of those who have a Right to Enquire into these Things; and if the Province Treasury is in no want of Money, why may not this £800 Sterling go in Part towards the Requisition that is to be made for the Sufferers,4 or be applied to the erecting a Monument to Mr. PITT, or to the cultivating that fine Island Mount Desart.5 But however it may be disposed of, the Money I am credibly informed is at present, and has been more than Eighteen Months in the Hands of some of the Gentlemen of the Court of Admiralty.

I am your constant Reader,


Reprinted from the (Boston Gazette, 19 May 1766). JA’s recent use of the pseudonym “Clarendon” (13–27 Jan. 1766, above) and the consistency with which newspaper writers used such pseudonyms, already mentioned (Editorial Note, 3 March – 5 Sept. 1763, above, and work cited there), justifies attribution of authorship to JA, although no draft or fragment has been found for this letter.

1That is, Bernardston, founded in 1762 and named after the Governor; Cockleboro’ is fictitious (Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts, Boston, 1966).

2On James Cockle, former royal customs collector in Salem and Marblehead, see JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 1:328–329 and note.

3The New-Hampshire Gazette, 9 May 1766, printed official documents and unofficial commentary about the alleged collusion between Bernard and Cockle in profiting in illegal trade. In 1764 they were supposed to have allowed about 2,000 hogsheads of molasses from the foreign West Indies to land in Salem under false clearance papers and then to have brought suit against the merchants involved. In consequence of their action, the merchants were able to settle out of court instead of having their cargo seized by the royal surveyor of customs. Thus, the merchants had to pay only £2,400—one-third of which went to Cockle, Bernard, and the provincial government each—rather than more than twice that amount in customs duties to the king (Jordan D. Fiore, “The Temple-Bernard Affair: A Royal Custom House Scandal in Essex County,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls. description begins Essex Institute Historical Collections. description ends , 90 [1954]:58–83).

4As long ago as 25 Sept. 1765 in his speech to the House of Representatives, Bernard had called for compensation for those who had suffered at the hands of the Stamp Act rioters. Among the sufferers were Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver. See Mass., Speeches of the Governors, &c., 1765–1775 description begins [Alden Bradford, ed.] Speeches of the Governors of Massachusetts, from 1765–1775. . ., Boston, 1818. description ends , p. 42; Gipson, Empire before the Revolution description begins Lawrence Henry Gipson, The British Empire before the American Revolution, Caldwell, Idaho and New York, 1936–1970; 15 vols. description ends , 11:16.

5That is, Mount Desert, off the Maine coast, which the General Court had granted to Bernard, 27 Feb. 1762 (Bernard to Lord Barrington, 20 Feb. 1762, postscript 27 Feb., Edward Channing and Archibald Gary Coolidge, eds., The Barrington-Bernard Correspondence . . . , Cambridge, 1912, p. 50–51).

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