To James Otis, Sr.
Head Quarters [Cambridge] Augt 5th 1775
The Bearer Colo. Baldwin has this Morning reported that among others out of Boston, the Barrack Master’s Wife came Yesterday; and is now detain’d at Malden1—As there may be Inconveniences, from Persons being Suffer’d indescriminately to go thro. the Country, many of whom, are undoubtedly disaffected to the Publick Interest: I have caused a Court of Inquiry to set upon several, but the Business multiplies so fast, and we are so much Strangers to the Characters, and Conduct of many, that I would wish to put it on some more proper Footing: especially as it takes Several Field Officers every day from their Duty—You will please Sir, to lay this Matter before the General Court that they may either appoint some proper Persons more Competent to this Business, or take such other Steps as shall appear to them likely to remedy this Mischief.2 Colo. Baldwin is refer’d to the General Court for Directions respecting Mrs Goldthwait—I have the Honor to be Sir Your most Obedt Humbe Sert
Since writing the above Col: Baldwin being impatient to return to his Post—General Gates will be the Bearer of this.3
LS, in Thomas Mifflin’s writing, M-Ar; LB, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
James Otis, Sr. (1702–1778), father of the prominent Patriot orator and pamphleteer James Otis, Jr. (1725–1783), was elected to the new Massachusetts council on 21 July and became president of the council soon afterwards. A prosperous merchant and self-trained lawyer from Barnstable, the elder Otis held several powerful political offices before the Revolution, including a seat on the governor’s council, a colonelcy in the militia, and judgeships on the probate court and the court of common pleas. Although Otis remained a member of the governor’s council until the beginning of hostilities, he supported the American cause in Barnstable, and upon hearing of the Battle of Lexington he ordered the Barnstable militia to march to the aid of the Patriots. During the fall of 1775 Otis’s health apparently began to fail, and he did not attend the council after 11 November.
1. Hannah Brigham Goldthwait, wife of Major Joseph Goldthwait, barrack master of the king’s troops in Boston, landed at Winnisimmet ferry with two other women about five o’clock on the afternoon of 4 August. Loammi Baldwin escorted them to Watertown for investigation by the General Court, which freed Mrs. Goldthwait’s companions on 7 Aug., after finding them to be no threat to the liberties of America. That same day the General Court directed Mrs. Goldthwait “to go to Stafford, to endeavour the Recovery of her Health, by Use of the Waters there . . . and afterwards to remove to Rehoboth to reside with her Brother, Mr. Joseph Brigham, there to be under the Care of the Committee of Correspondence of said Town (without any Expence to the Public).” Later in the month the General Court gave her permission to take the waters at Newtown rather than at Stafford (Mass. House of Rep. Journal, July–Nov. 1775 sess description begins A Journal of the Honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Watertown, Mass., 1775. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends ., 49, 52, 97; also in “Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 50, 53, 149). Her husband was proscribed and banished in 1778.
2. GW’s letter was referred on 6 Aug. to a committee of both houses of the General Court, and on the following day it was resolved “that Joseph Greenleaf Esqr., Capt. Edward Proctor and Mr John Peck be a Committee whose duty it shall be to give constant attendance at the place where the People coming out of Boston to Chelsea shall land, and strictly examine into the characters and circumstances of all such persons as may arrive from Boston at the said Chelsea; and if upon enquiry any of the said persons shall appear to be enemies to this Country, then the said Committee are directed to keep in custody all such suspected persons untill a proper representation shall be made to this Court, and order given thereon” (“Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 51; also in Mass. House of Rep. Journal, July–Nov. 1775 sess description begins A Journal of the Honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Watertown, Mass., 1775. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends ., 49–50).
3. The postscript is in Joseph Reed’s writing.