William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Finding aid created by
Francis Bernard Massachusetts Bay Report, 1763
Meg Hixon, August 2011
Francis Bernard Massachusetts Bay report
Bernard, Francis, Sir, 1712-1779
Sir Francis Bernard, colonial governor of Massachusetts, compiled this 31-page manuscript report for British authorities at the conclusion of the French and Indian War (September 5, 1763). Bernard's report provides details about the colony's geography, economics, and government, along with administrative suggestions.
The material is in English
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
Francis Bernard Massachusetts Bay Report, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Sir Francis Bernard was born in England in July 1712. After graduating from Oxford University in 1736, he practiced law. In 1758, he received an appointment as governor of New Jersey, and in 1760, he became governor of Massachusetts. Bernard publicly supported British economic policies for the North American colonies, including the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, and in 1767, he requested military assistance following protests against customs commissioners. After facing increasing unpopularity among the colony's residents, Bernard resigned, and he left Massachusetts in 1769. Upon his return to England, he lived in Aylesbury. He and his wife, Amelia Offley, had ten surviving children. Bernard died on June 6, 1779.
Collection Scope and Content Note
Sir Francis Bernard, colonial governor of Massachusetts, compiled this 31-page manuscript report for British authorities at the conclusion of the French and Indian War (September 5, 1763). Bernard's report provides details about the colony's geography, economics, and government, along with administrative suggestions. Bernard remarked on Massachusetts residents' loyalty to the crown, and believed that their sentiments compared favorably to those of other colonists.
- Pages 3-5: Geography of Massachusetts and border disputes with other colonies
- Pages 5-6a: Shipping and manufactures within the colony; trade with other colonies and Great Britain
- Page 7: Inhabitants' clothing and furniture
- Pages 7a-8: International trade
- Pages 8-8a: Illegal trade and its prevention
- Pages 8a-9: Soil quality; agriculture; and indigenous metals
- Page 9: Mines
- Pages 9a-10a: Estimated population; plans for a census
- Pages 10a-12: Military information, including manpower and information on Fort William and other military buildings
- Pages 12-13a: Indian population; conflicts with Native Americans
- Pages 13a-14: Imports and excises
- Pages 14-18: Constitution of government; offices and officeholders; payment of civil servants; potential for local peerage
- Pages 18-18a: Conclusion
- Great Britain "need not fear Trades & Manufactures set up here; since whatever is saved or gained here will be sent to Great Britain, to purchase other things." (6a)
- "The people here are very much tired of Negro Servants, & it is generally thought that it would be for the public Good to discourage their importations if it was not at present very inconsiderable, not one parcel having been imported this year as yet." (10)
- "In the beginning of the late War many perished by the Sword, but much more by the Diseases incidental to a Campaign." (10a)
- Respecting the native population, "These people who have for near a Century occasioned so much expence of blood & treasure to this Province are now in a manner reduced to nothing." (13)
- "Great & many are the inconveniences which arise to the Public, as well from the insufficiency as from the precariousness of the Salaries of the Chief Officers; which will never be remedied but by the Establishment of a sufficient & independent Civil List, out of which his Majesty may assign to the public Officers such salaries as the Dignity & duty of their offices should require: A regulation extreamly wanted in America, for which it would be very easy to provide a proper Fund." (16)
- "I know of no Colony where the Compact between the King & the People is better observed. The Royal Rights are never openly invaded: the utmost that is done, is to dispute what are Royal Rights." (16a)
- "On the other hand it would be objected on the behalf of the People to have a Council appointed & removeable by the Crown..." (17)
- "If these great matters were regulated, lesser things would mend themselves. In fine, a Civil List, an Independent middle Legislative Power, & a Court of Chancery with a few other regulations, which would follow of course, would give this Government as good a constitution as any in his Majesty's American Dominions: Especially as the People in general are as well inclined to his Majesty's Government, & as well satisfied with their subordination to Great Britain, as any Colony in America..." (18-18a)
- Great Britain--Colonies--America--Administration.
- Great Britain--Colonies--America--History--18th century.
- Indians of North America--Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts--Economic conditions.
- Massachusetts--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
Additional Descriptive Data
The Clements Library's Book Division has several books written by Sir Francis Bernard.
Pencak, William. "Bernard, Sir Francis, First Baronet (1712-1779)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004.