AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF
Bryce E. Withrow (name of student) in
Master of Arts (degree) Au~st
A Biographical Study of Barlow Trecothick, 1720-1775
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During the critical ten year period before the American Revolution, Barlow Trecothick was an active pro ponent of American views in Great Britain.
He was born in
Stepney, England, moved to Massachusetts as a child and was reared in Boston.
He joined the business of Charles Apthorp
a wealthy Boston merchant after having served an apprentice ship with him in the Caribbean area.
Apthorp's oldest daughter Grizzel and moved to London where he quickly became an influential merchant and politician. It was while living in London that Trecothick took an active part in gaining the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1765-66.
His organization of the merchant resistance to the
Act was instrumental in pressuring Parliament to repeal it.
Trecothick was elected an alderman of London in 1764 and was the Sheriff of London in 1766.
In 1770 he was elec
ted to the prestigious position of Lord Mayor of London.
was elected to Parliament in 1768 as one of the four members for the city of London.
While in Parliament he was a vigorous
defender of America during the critical pre-Revolutionary decade.
He was one of the few members of Parliament who knew
America well and defended its views. The colony of New Hampshire made Trecothick their agent for the period of 1765-75.
He was also the acknowledged
leader of the London merchants who traded with North America. His leadership of this powerful group was recognized through out Britain and the American colonies. Trecothick's death in 1775 silenced a faithful and ardent supporter of American rights.
His demise at such a
crucial time significantly weakened the much needed pro American support in Great Britain.
A BIOGRAPHICAL STUDY OF
1720 - 1775
the Department of Social Sciences
Emporia State University
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts
Bryce E. Withrow
. .. 1, Oogenf
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I want to express my appreciation to the professors of history in the Department of Social Sciences, Emporia State University, for their guidance, stimulation of interest, and considerable time and effort given while writing this thesis. My sincere appreciation to my wife Sally, who was by my side helping in every way she could as the thosis wus researched and written.
My gratitude goes to her for the
many hours of typing she devoted to this work and her un tiring envouragement to me.
INTRODUCTION During the post-Revolutionary period of America's history many figures made their contributions and have been duly recorded for posterity.
The major participants, as well
as most of the minor ones have been thoroughly researched and have had material published about them.
Few of those
involved have not been extensively considered in historical research.
One person, however, who figured significantly in
this period was Barlow Trecothick, yet little has been written about him or his achievements.
This thesis is an
attempt to document the efforts and achievements of Barlow Trecothick who worked untiringly for untroubled relations between Britain and her American colonies, especially in mercantile matters. In the British Empire America and the City of London were accustomed to elected representation.
The two factions
were closely bound together in business as well.
unique position as an American-reared London politician inti mately connected with the colonies in business and family, placed him in the right place at the right time.
beliefs and actions were expressions of his strongly-felt desire to achieve a harmonious relationship between Britain and her colonies in America.
Throughout his career as a
London politician and merchant he worked for this harmony at every opportunity. iii
iv No one did more to bring about the repeal of the Stamp Act than Barlow Trecothick.
His successful organi
zation of merchant pressure on Parliament caused them to take action which in effect postponed the hostilities between the colonies and the mother country.
The decade which the repeal
preceeded gave the Americans the time needed to congeal their opposition to Britain; without this period of time the end result of the American Revolution would have been different. For this decade prior to 1776 Trecothick was the recognized leader of the British merchants dealing with America.
He was the prominent defender of American rights
and expression in Parliament.
In fact he was respected by
members of Parliament, the King, the London electorate and American colonial leaders, a remarkable and unique feat. His opinions and statements were carefully considered. The research required to collect the necessary infor mation for this thesis covered a rather wide area. of the research was conducted in England.
The archives of
the British Museum Library, the Cambridge University Library and the Sheffield Public Library were used extensively.
collection of London newspapers for the 1765-1775 period, which are located in the British Museum Library in London, was instrumental in collecting the accounts of Trecothick's public career.
The Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, which is
a collection of Lord Rockingham's papers, is located in Sheffield, England in the City Public Library. invaluable in research for the Stamp Act period.
These were The
Cambridge University Library was very helpful because of its large collection of relevant publications.
also done in the Guildhall Library of London, the Lambeth Palace Library in London and the City Records Office in London.
Some research was done through the mail, such as
various guilds of London, the Lord Mayor's Office, the New Hampshire Historical Society, Addington Palace, and others.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
CHILDHOOD AND EARLY LIFE.
• • • • • • • • ••
THE STAMP ACT. • • • • • • • • • • •
LONDON CITY POLITICS • • • • • • • • • • • • •
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT • • • • • • • • • • • • •
COLONIAL AGENT • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
PERSONAL LIFE. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
BIBLIOGRAPHY • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Chapter 1 CHILDHOOD AND EARLY LIFE Barlow Trecothick was born in the village of Stepney, England, on January 27, 1720, the son of Captain Mark and Hannah Greenleaf Trecothick.
Stepney was a small village
located about a mile north of the dock area of east London. A rough dirt road connected the villages with the wharves. In the midst of a crooked row of red brick dwellings with a sprinkling of Elizabethan style houses, stood the tall spire of St. Dunstan's Church, which overlooked the green at its feet. To this church Barlow Trecothick was brought for his baptism, when he was three days old, on January 30, 1720. 1 His surname was recorded by the vicar as "Trascothick."
explanation for this error might be that his mother could not write, and brought the baby to the church alone.
pronounciation of Trecothick was apparently spelled by the vicar as best he could.
Captain Mark Trecothick was a
mariner and may have been at sea when Barlow's birth occurred. In any case, the spelling error was not made a year later when another son, Edward was baptized. 2 Some historians have stated that the registration at Stepney meant that Barlow Trecothick was born at sea en route to Boston, Massachusetts. 3 1
As he was baptized in
Stepney, this is obviously incorrect.
While many babies
born en route to England were indeed registered at Stepney, babies born at sea on board ships which had embarked from England were registered at their port of entry.
Had he been
en route to America, he would have been registered in Boston. The baptism of Edward in 1721 indicates that the family lived in Ratcliffe, a section of Stepney, at least a year after the birth of Barlow.
Years later, when Barlow
Trecothick was campaigning for a seat in Parliament in 1768, he claimed Stepney as his place of birth, not Boston. 4 So contrary to the claims of some historians that he was American born or born at sea en route to America, Trecothick was indeed born in England. The origin of the name Trecothick is uncertain. all probability it is an old Cornish name. extinct Cornish language, meant village.
Tre, in the now The frequent use
of Tre in place names is seen throughout Cornwall. has common usage in surnames.
An old Cornish verse says,
"By the Tre, the Pol and the Pen, Ye shall know the true Cornishman. ,,5
In the Cornwall Parish Register one finds the
surnames of Trescowdick, Trescowthick, Tregodicke, Trevithik, Trevithick, and other varieties of the name. 6 There is no indication of any place in Cornwall named Trecothick.
possible that the surname was changed in spelling, as often was the case in those times. The family moved to Massachusetts between 1723 and 1724.
It is possible that Captain Trecothick moved his
family to America to join Thomas Trecothick.
Thomas was a
mariner born about 1707 and was probably Mark's brother. The two mariners may have journeyed to America together.
is doubtful they would have left England before 1723, as Edward would have been under a year old. Another son, also named Mark, was almost certainly the eldest of the children of Captain and Hannah Trecothick. He lived in Boston and married Sarah Davies in Boston on April 2, 1740. 7
In 1745 he contributed toward the purchase
of some bells for Christ Church in that city.8
He died in
early 1747, his will being administered by Charles Apthorp in April 1747. 9 The fourth child of the family, a daughter Hannah, was born on December 2, 1724, in Boston, where most of the family remained for the rest of their lives. Barlow Trecothick stated in 1766 that he had lived in Boston from age seven to age twenty-two. 10 Perhaps he meant in or near Boston from 1724 to 1727 for the family lived outside the city.
Captain Mark Trecothick died in
early 1735, on March 22;11 his widow was granted letters of administration for his estate, which was inventoried at thirty-four pounds and two shillings. 12 Barlow was fifteen years of age at the time. It was in Boston that Barlow Trecothick was educated. He served his apprenticeship with Charles Apthorp, who was a merchant, paymaster and commissary to the British troops.13 He began his apprenticeship at about the age of sixteen, and when he was twenty-two he had finished the apprenticeship
with Apthorp, and became an agent for the firm.
association with Apthorp continued throughout Trecothick's life, in business as well as in his family life. married Grizzell, Apthorp's eldest child.
In 1747 he
1742, he had moved to Jamaica, where he represented the Apthorp firm in the Caribbean area. 14 While in the West Indies, he acquired property in the islands of Antigua, Barbados and Grenada.
"He built up extensive Antiguan
interests and he also became one of the largest land-owners in the island of Grenada.,,15
Part of the property he owned in Grenada was a plantation in partnership with Tomlinson. 16
Sugar consignments from his estates in the West Indies pro vided income for Trecothick throughout his life. 17 The number of slaves Trecothick owned must have been considerable, 813
his hcJ.r Gold 366 from Arrtigua alone. 18 During the early period of Trecothick's business
association with Apthorp, he made a number of influential business acquaintances.
John Tomlinson was the son of Major
John Tomlinson, who was the colonial agent, in London, for New Hampshire.
Trecothick also dealt with John Wentworth,
who later became Governor of New Hampshire and Nova Scotia, and became friendly with his son Samuel Wentworth.
Hancock and John Hancock were also business associates. These early contacts were maintained throughout Trecothick's life.
In 1745 Trecothick was in Jamaica representing the company.
In a letter from James Minot to his brother George
in Boston on January 20, 1745, Trecothick is mentioned. You doubtless have heard of the great Hurricane at Jamaica which they say has done vast damage, the only account we have is via South Carolina. Mr. Apthorp is the only person in town who has a letter from Mr. Tregothick. 19 Trecothick spent about seven years in the Caribbean.
possible that these seven years were not concurrent. Trecothick later stated that he was "at Boston from seven years old to twenty-two, then settled in Jamaica.
to New England for three years, then settled in London. ,,20 Using this timetable, it seems he could have lived in Jamaica after his marriage in 1747.
He might have been inaccurate in
his mathematics, but in any case, he did return to Boston in
1747. Grizzell Apthorp, the daughter of Charles Apthorp, became Barlow Trecothick's wife on March 2, 1147, in Boston. She was the eldest child of a family of eighteen, and was named for her mother. 21
The Apthorp family was a prominent
one in Boston, and was noted in Boston for requiring two pews in King's Chapel. 22
Several of the Apthorp brothers moved to London and were associates of Trecothick there. 23 The Reverend East Apthorp moved to England and became the vicar of Croydon Church which was only a few miles from Addington, Trecothick's estate south of London.
appointed him the Civic Chaplain of London in 1770.
Apthorp settled in London and became a partner in the Trecothick-Tomlinson-Apthorp business. In April of 1763, Trecothick and John Tomlinson borrowed [27,000 from John Apthorp, one of his brothers-in law, for their business capital. 24 There is little information available for the three years Trecothick lived in New England after returning from Jamaica.
In 1750, Trecothick was named as one of the execu
tors of a Mr. COWling's will, which was probated in September of that year.
In the will he referred to Trecothick as his,
"dear friend and partner, Barlow Trecothick of the City of Boston. ,,25 In 1750 Trecothick was a surety at the baptism of Samuel Wentworth's son. 26 This friendship evidently turned sour, as Trecothick apparently sued Wentworth from 1755 to 1756, for debt, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
This may have
been one of his reasons for his going to London.
Jervey wrote in his article about Trecothick that: • • • he went to London to prosecute his appeal to the Privy Council, which apparently he won in 1760, as there is a letter from him to the Secretary of the Treasury of that date and in the following year. 27 Trecothick was certainly in London in April of 1756. A letter, written to Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire from London on April 5, 1756, was written by Trecothick for Major John Tomlinson, who was the colonial agent for New Hampshire and a Member of Parliament. 28 He apparently assisted Tomlinson in some of his clerical duties as agent.
7 The Reverend Palfrey Perkins called Trecothick the "clerk of fund raisers," in an article called "FUnd Raising in the 1750's" which dealt with efforts to solicit money for the construction of King's Chapel in Boston. 29 About l25,000 was needed, and since Trecothick was in London, he became the "only really active person to person solicitor in this fund raising.,,30
Trecothick attempted to get a donation from
Captain Thomas Coram, who "had made his fortune in American plantations and in ventures at sea.,,31
Coram had become a
person of some importance in London, and had founded the Foundling's Hospital. Trecothick was not aware of Coram's past history and association with the church in Boston, and did not know that this relationship had made Coram very bitter.
made a donation in 1703 to the inhabitants of Taunton, Massachusetts.
A portion of land was given to the vestrymen
to be used to gain funds for a church.
In a statement grant
ing the land to the citizens, he expressed the hope that "ever hereafter the inhabitants of the town of Taunton should be more civilized than they are now. ,,32
the vestrymen were offended by his words and disregarded the trust.
In fact, they eventually sold the property for l100,
and contributed it towards the very fund Trecothick was try ing to assist.
Unsuspectingly, Trecothick called on Captain
Coram, and described the conversation in these words: I waited on him and was graciously received but when I opened the Occasion of my visit he broke out into the most passionate Reproaches against the Vestry of King's
Chapel for slighting the present he made them of a piece of land. I represented that his present Petitioners were to a Man another sett of people and not chargeable with the misconduct of their predecessors with whatever else I could think of to cool the old Gentleman but all in vain. After several attempts to soothe him, he flatly told me that he knew it was in hie power to serve the Church very much, but that by God if the twelve Apostles were to apply to him in behalf of it he would persist in refusing to do it~ This I thot a definative answer and so took my leave. J3 Even so, Trecothick, who was persistent if nothing else, paid Coram another visit and was very courteously treated until he mentioned the church.
that "He was directly relapsed into his passion, so that you may lay aside all hope from that Quarter. ,,34
obvious by now that Coram would not be a prime donor, so Trecothick advised they give up on him.
The reply from
Boston was in agreement, since "tis best to be without Assistance from the Devil.,,35 The partnership of Tomlinson-Apthorp-Trecothick was involved in purchasing goods for merchants in North America. In November of 1759, they negotiated for a victualling con tract for troops in New England. 36 Various accounts of loans and subscriptions taken by the firm are on record for the period 1759 to 1762.
In February of 1761, Charles
Apthorp was named as the American agent for the firm.
company was a money contractor for the British forces in America, which meant that they purchased specie for the troops there. 37 Contracts for provisions and payment of specie for the troops in America were usually awarded to English merchants with business connections in the colonies.
This was the case with the Tomlinson-Apthorp-Trecothick firm. In 1761, Trecothick took up by sUbscription t17,500 of Government stock. 38 In 1762, Trecothick's firm "applied for a subscription of t2o,000 to Newcastle's last loan.,,39
its early stages the business was confronted with various problems.
On April 28, 1763, Trecothick and John Tomlinson
borrowed t27,000 from John Apthorp, which was probably used within the business. 40 It was not repaid fully until 1798, by Trecothick's heir, James Ivers Trecothick. 41 The Trecothick business was mentioned unfavorably by John Hancock in a letter to his uncle, Thomas Hancock, on January 14, 1761.
John Hancock complained about "Mr. Trecothick's
house, who I can't say have us'd me well.,,42 On June 20, 1760, Trecothick was empowered to receive t200,000 for Massachusetts Bay toward troop expenses, in the
event that their agent, Mr. Bollan, should become incapaci tated. 43 In September and December of 1760, the House of Representatives of Massachusetts considered letters of business from Trecothick regarding colonial matters. 44
April of 1762, Trecothick was appointed as agent to act for Mr. Bollan in the event of his incapacity.45 By 1764, the firm of Trecothick-Tomlinson lobbied for bounties on lumber imported from America, a reduction on whale fin duties, and for a duty on American iron.
year, the Board of Trade invited the firm to a hearing on the question of paper money in the colonies.
10 Trecothick was also consulted on various aspects of the Mutiny Act. 46 Trecothick's expertise in the American trade was increasingly recognized throughout the early 1760's.
established himself in the mercantile circles of London, and at the same time, entered into the political life of the City.
In 1761 he made an unsuccessful venture into city
politics, but in 1764 he was elected Alderman of Vintry Ward in London. 47 This position was held for life, and gave 'l'recothick
political base from which he could actIvely
participate in public affairs.
NOTES 1St • Dunstan's Church Register, Stepney, England, 1719-1720 (Register Micro-filmed in Greater London Records Office, London). 2An entry in the Stepney Parish Register for December 18, 1721, shows the correct spelling.
4Rockingham Papers, Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments (MSS in Sheffield City Library, Sheffield, England), R27, p. 21. 5Traditional poem of Cornwall, England.
6J. Hambley Rowe, M.B., Symons Gazetter of Cornwall (Bradford: No publisher, 1924). 7Albert Matthews, "Barlow Trecothick, Lord Mayor," Notes and Queries, 11th Series, Vol. III (London: John C. Frances and J. Edward Frances, 1911), pp. 11-12. 8Arthur H. Nichols, M.D., "Christ Church Bells, Boston, Massachusetts," The New En~land Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. LVIII 1904). (Boston: New Engiand~istorical and Genealogical Society, 1930), p. 69. 9Matthews, "Barlow Trecothick," p. 11. 10Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R27, p. 21. 11Matthews, "Barlow Trecothick," p. 11. 12Ibid. 13Theodore D. Jervey, "Barlow Trecothick," The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vol. XXXII (1931), p. 158. 14Namier and Brooke, History of Parliament, Vol. III, p. 558. Also involved in the business was John Tomlinson, Junior. Trecothick was an agent for the Apthorp-Tomlinson firm there. 11
15V• L. Oliver, History of the Island of Antigua, Vol. 1 (London: 1894-1899), p. 39. 16R. M. Howard (ed.) The Lon~s of Jamaica and Hampton and td., 1925), p. 245.
~odgL' Vol. 1 (London: Simpkin, Mars all, Hamilton, Kent
17The Last Will and Testament of Barlow Trecothick, dated June 25, 1774. A copy is in the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London (Ref: P.R.D. PROB/11/253 Alexander), original copy is in the Lambeth Palace Library, London Temporalities: Addington Park title deeds. 180liver, History of Antigua.
Vol. 1, pp. 306-316.
19James Minot to George Minot, January 20, 1745, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. LIY-
(1898), p. 470 .
20Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R27, p. 21. 21Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, Vol. LXXXII (1970), p. 23. 22Ibid. 23Notes and Queries, Vol. CXCV (London: Oxford Uni versity Press, 1950), p. 259. One of the Apthorp brothers married the eldest daughter of Galdridus Mann. 24Last Will and Testament of Barlow Trecothick. 25Notes and Queries, Vol. CXCV, p. 416. 26Jervey, "Barlow Trecothick," p. 158. 27Ibid. 28J. Handbury and John Tomlinson to Governor Wentworth April 15, 1756, Province of New Ham¥shire Journal of the House t 1756 (Concord, N.H.; copied rom Corr. Vol. III, p. 491. This letter is in Trecothick's hand and is dated London, 5 April, 1756.
29Reverend Palfrey Perkins, "Fund Raising in the 1750's," Colonial Societ of Massachusetts Publications, Vol. os u 1S e y e ocie y, , pp. 270-272. 30Ibid. 31Ibid.
13 32 Ibid •
36Namier and Brooke, History of Parliament, Vol. III, p. 272. 37David Hall to Benjamin Franklin, February 9, 1761, The Papers of Ben~amin Franklin, Vol. IX (Philadelphia: American Philosop ice! Society and Yale University Press, 1970), p. 273. 38Namier and Brooke, History of Parliament, p. 272. 39Ibid. 40Ibid. 41Ibid.
(Un Corp or p. 34.
Chapter 2 REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT Barlow Trecothick's most enduring contribution to history was his involvement in the repeal of the Stamp Act. The productive efforts he made to channel opposition to the Stamp Act into a constructive and sensible appeal to Parlia ment were significant.
No one did more to bring about the
repeal of the Stamp Act, an event which postponed hostilities for a crucial decade. The possibility of a bill to gain revenue from the American colonies developed after the conclusion of the expensive Seven Years War in 1763, which left a British debt of 3.8 million pounds sterling. 1 As early as March of 1764, the possibility of a Stamp Act was discussed.
Grenville, the Prime Minister asserted such a tax might be required "towards further defraying the said expenses, it may be proper to charge certain stamp duties in the said colonies and plantations. ,,2
In early 1765 the Grenville
administration was seriously investigating various possi bilities.
In consequence of this a group of concerned
merchants met in February of 1765 to form the Merchants of London Trading to North America Committee.
The purpose of
the committee was to make all opposition to the bill which later became the Stamp Act.
In an anonymous pamphlet 14
15 published in 1765, the committee's original purpose was described thus: When the stamp-bill, now under consideration, was first moved in Parliament this session, the agents for the continent colonies had a meeting of the merchants of London, who traded to their several colonies, to enquire of them the amount of the debts due from the colonies, in order to found an argument of their ina bility to pay any new tax. 3 Trecothick was now well established in London as a politician and American merchant and was a known Parliamentary candi date.
He was elected Deputy Chairman and was the principal spokesman for the committee. 4 The stamp Act was passed by the House of Commons on
February 27, 1765, and by the House of Lords on March 8 without substantial opposition in either house.
had carefully written the Act and had solicited many opinions.
It emerged as an all-encompassing revenue bill;
little was left untaxed in colonial public life.
ments used in court proceedings, attorney licenses, papers to clear ships from harbor, diplomas from colleges, bonds, grants, deeds, mortgages, indentures, leases, contracts, bills of sale, articles of apprenticeship, liquor licenses, playing cards, dice, pamphlets, almanacs and newspapers, as well as the advertisements in them, had to use paper which had been stamped by the Treasury Office.
Some of the taxes
were quite high; for example, newspapers were taxed a penny for a single sheet and pamphlets a shilling per sheet. tax had to be paid in sterling, not colonial currency.5
As the colonists read the new Stamp Act, they would find themselves taxed without consent for purposes of revenue, their rights to common-law trial abridged, the authority of one prerogative court (admiralty) enlarged, and the establishment of another (ecclesiastical) hinted at. 6 The reaction of the people of America to the Stamp Act is legendary. in England.
Their violent rejection was well reported
The colonial behavior, as well as many colonial
editorials, was well reported in London newspapers.
populace was kept informed of America's resistance to the stamp Act.
Riots and other unlawful activities tended to
make the English resentful and outraged at American lawless ness.
"They thought that the insolence of the Americans
deserved chastisement, where otherwise the hardship of their circumstances might merit relief.,,7 Doubtless the most effective method the colonists used to resist the Stamp Act was the non-importation agreements, mainly of Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
This boycott of
merchandise from Britain had a ruinous effect upon British business.
With a recession already hurting the economy, this
added injury was significant.
Because of these difficulties,
the merchants of Britain who dealt with America were moved to action. In early November, Barlow Trecothick wrote to the Marquis of Rockingham, Charles Watson-Wentworth, the new Prime Minister who had replaced George Grenville.
letter must have caused great concern to Lord Rockingham. Trecothick said of the Stamp Act that it was evident the
17 colonists, with the backing of the bankers, "soon determined to prevent its execution,,,8 a point of which the Prime Minis ter was well aware.
Being one of London's leading merchants,
his forecast of disaster was taken seriously.
In his letter
to Lord Rockingham, Trecothick warned that continued enforce ment of the Stamp Act would have: • • • consequences of which must be very dreadful- they are too many and too terrible for me to describe- I therefore only beg leave to lay one of them 'gmmediately affecting these Kingdoms' before your Lordship. He went on to warn Rockingham of the future of Britain's economy should the Stamp Act remain in effect.
No ship could
clear harbor except on stamped paper, the customs officers could not comply with the Act, and every ship if cleared under these circumstances, was subject to seizure at any port in the British Dominion.
"It therefore follows," he
asserted, "that no Man in his Senses will trust to Clearance so imperfect, and of course from the first of November, all Exportation from North America must cease.,,10
further included that a termination of trade with the Sugar Islands would ensue since they would be deprived of their provisions from the northern colonies, thus the produce from the islands to Britain would also stop. The British merchant would not be able to collect directly from the northern colonies or by a circuitous route of bartering.
Therefore, he pointed out:
Many of the British Merchants trading to North America who will be disabled from paying their Engage ments here--even those of them who can stand the present Shock, will be under the Necessity of declining fur~her
Exports; so that a total stop must be put to all Pur chases of Manufactures for a Country whence no Return can be expected from this State it naturally and unavoidably follows, that an exceedingly great Number of Manufactures are s~~n to be without Employ and of course without Bread. The last word "Bread" was written very large. Trecothick complained that it would be some time before Parliament met again, "The chasm is a terrible one," he stressed, "and the object in Question is too great to be so long suspended.,,12
The strangulation of business for
this period of time, from November to March (the time he calculated to be the soonest a repeal could be announced in America) would be "fatal to all or most Branches of American Commerce. ,,13 The letter ended by Trecothick stating his great fear: • • • that too tering the Remedy, embarrassed Nation Administration may Effects proceeding
great Delay and Caution in adminis may render the Diseases of this incurable; and even a virtuous therefore be deemed accountable for from the Errors of their Predecessors.14
Such alarming predictions from a knowledgeable merchant were distressing to Rockingham.
Opposition to the
Stamp Act was also politically expedient, since the defeat of the Stamp Act would be a defeat for his opponents, the Grenvillites, as well. letter promptly.
Rockingham answered Trecothick's
He told Trecothick that "When you consider
the present circumstances you will not find that an earlier meeting of Parliament than intended can be of the utility you would hope.,,15
Political savvy pointed out to Lord
Rockingham that "the persons who were the Planners of the Act will be the chief persons sitting in the House. ,,16
was wise to wait a few days or weeks until more evidence was available, he said.
This was contrary to Trecothick's view.
Rockingham pointed out that "It's both necessary and wise to wait for good grounds to proceed upon. ,,17 As a leader for the merchants, Trecothick's assets and potential contributions were obvious to Rockingham.
the conclusion to his letter he invited Trecothick to dinner saying: I shall be very glad to see you on Tuesday (12 November) evening--if you would favour me with your Company to a mere private dinner on that day, it would be ver obliging and I may then be able to talk more fully. 18 The meeting of November 12 was the beginning of an association which lasted until Trecothick's death in 1774.
backgrounds and social circles were different, their mutual interests helped to create a constructive alliance.
or not this was the first meeting between them is uncertain. Rockingham's followers had gained a reputation among the people as champions of freedom since they had supported John Wilkes in his fight for freedom of the press.
Trecothick was a lukewarm supporter of Wilkes at this time, he was involved in London City politics and it is possible he dealt with Rockingham during this earlier period.
Trecothick and Samuel Wentworth had been business associates for some time, though some evidence suggests they were no longer friendly.
Rockingham and Wentworth were distantly
20 related and knew each other.
Trecothick could have become
acquainted with Rockingham through the Duke of Newcastle, who knew both men.
In any event, the alliance of the London
merchant and the Marquis of Rockingham was formed at this time. There is no record of the discussion which took place at Rockingham's home in Grosvenor Square, but it was undoubt edly dominated by the Stamp Act.
Rockingham was in favour
of repeal but was a cautious, political person.
apprehensions of economic disaster weighed upon him in a more personal sense.
He did, however, follow Rockingham's
guidance throughout the struggle for repeal and continued to do so throughout his political career. The two men met on December 2 to discuss a memorial from the proprietors of Grenada.
They probably met several
times between the recorded meetings of November 12 and December 2.
They organized a private meeting which met some
time before December 2.
This meeting was mentioned in a New
York newspaper in reference to the later December 4 meeting at the Kings Arms Tavern. 19
At this time, prior to December
2, Rockingham probably discussed with Trecothick the various letters he had received from cities such as Bristol, Liver pool, Manchester, Lancaster and Leicester.
expressed alarm at the commercial problems and one stated that business "for some time past has been upon the decline.,,20 The decision to solicit backing from the merchants of London was taken and newspaper notices were placed for December 2,
21 which called for a meeting at the Kings Arms Tavern on December 4. Late in November, letters from stamp distributors in America pleading to be allowed to resign their posts, were sent to the Treasury by Benjamin Franklin and Trecothick, their purpose being to demonstrate the impossibility of collecting the revenue. 21 Franklin's involvement with the Rockingham-Trecothick efforts before February of 1766 is obscure. Franklin and Trecothick had been involved in appoint ing agents for the Stamp Act, clearly a miscalculation. James McEvers of New York "had been appointed distributor of stamps without his knowledge, through the recommendation of Alderman Barlow Trecothick of London. ,,22
Franklin wrote to his father that another Stamp Act distribu tor, a friend named Kollock, believed his appointment was owed to Trecotnick but in fact was secured by Benjamin Franklin. 23
Trecothick had named George Meserve for New
Hampshire "while Franklin secured the appointments of John Coxe and Jonathan Hughes as distributors for New Jersey and PennsYlvania.,,24
Trecothick and Franklin now realized their
mistakes in being involved in the appointment of collectors. Their positions in America were greatly enhanced by their testimonies before the Parliamentary Committee in February of 1766 and by their insistence on repeal. Trecothick wrote to the Lord Commissioner for Trade and Plantations on November 25.
In this Memorial he
22 represented English merchants and proprietors of lend in Grenada.
Trecothick was a landowner in the island with
The purpose of the memorial was to
request a separate assembly for Grenada in an attempt to sort out local problems.
Rockingham had directed Trecothick to
obtain the opinions of the proprietors on actions which they doomed necAnonry.
He flAnt a copy of this lotter Boveral days
later to Rockingham and in an accompanying letter requested the meeting of December 2.25 Throughout the last two weeks of November the strategy they would adopt to achieve the repeal was decided upon.
Rather than question Parliament's authority or
judgment, they would present facts which would demonstrate the ruin the Stamp Act and the non-importation agreements would surely bring.
By blaming the ill-advised schemes of
Grenville for the economic stoppage they avoided an affront to Parliament. newspapers.
Accordingly a notice was placed in the London
The notice read:
The merchants tradlng to North America, are desired to meet at the Kings Arms Tavern, in Cornhill, on Wednesday next, the 4th of December, at tW~6ve o'clock precisely, on affairs of great importance. The item appeared in the major London newspapers of December 2, 3 and 4.
According to newspaper accounts, the turnout for
the meeting was large, "On Wednesday, at the Kings Arms Tavern in Comhill, there was a very numerous meeting of the merchants of this city trading to North America. ,,27
tavern was big enough to accommodate a crowd of three or four
23 hundred, and "numerous" probably meant several hundred merchants in attendance.
The tavern was located in the
center of the city and was ideal for this type of gathering because of its capacity. Attending the meeting were merchants, traders, and manufacturers, all feeling the financial strain of the colonists' non-importation agreements.
They blamed the
Government, not the colonial merchants, for the state of affairs.
Hope was renewed, however, since a new Government
had recently been formed. of Rockingham was in.
Grenville was out and the Marquis
Now if things went well for them,
there was a chance for repeal of the Stamp Act. After the meeting was called to order, one of the first items of business was the selection of a chairman. "Barlow Trecothick was unanimously voted to the chair.,,28 His election as chairman was, of course, pre-arranged.
Trecothick was chosen, a committee of twenty-eight men was chosen.
According to the proceedings of this meeting,
recorded by Trecothick: The meeting proceeded to the choice of a committee consisting of the following gentlemen. VIZ. Mr. John Strettel, Mr. Anthony Vialars Jnr., Mr. Grey Olive, Mr. Anthony Merry, Mr. Jonathan Barnard, Mr. Dennis DeBerdt, Mr. George Haley, Mr. Thomas Lane, Mr. Gilbert Harrison, Barlow Trecothick Esq., Mr. William Neate, Mr. Richard Neave, Mr. Harris, Mr. Chambers, Mr. Nicholas Ray, Mr. David Barclay Jnr., Mr. Daniel Mildred, Mr. John Buchanan, Mr. John Stewart, Mr. Samuel Athawes, Mr. Capel Hanbury, Mr. Gilbert FranklYn, Mr. Edward Bridgen, Mr. William Greenwood, Mr. Charles Crokatt, Mr. Charles Ogilvie, Mr. Clark, Mr. Alexander Hana. 29
24 The reason for the specific number of twenty-eight being chosen for this committee is not easy to decipher. Trecothick's records of the proceedings give no indication. There were probably two or three chosen for each colony. Businessmen with interests in a particular colony probably were to represent that colony.
A report of the meeting in
the major London newspaper of December 5 and 6 stated that "a committee was appointed consisting of principal merchants trading to each colony. ,,30
In the New York Gazette, an
article stated that "a committee was appointed, and particular gentlemen among them chosen to represent the particular colo nies.,,31
Most of the merchants were of means and reputation. Some of the committee members and their colonial
interests are known.
DeBerdt was an agent for Massachusetts}2
Ray represented the colony of New York,33 and Hanbury dealt with Virginia and Maryland. 34 Ogilvie was associated with the Carolinas and may have represented that colony.35 Trecothick was now joint agent for New Hampshire having been designated as joint agent by the New Hampshire legislators on November 22. 36 It is impossible that he could not have known about the appointment since the news could not have reached England in so short a time.
He had previ
ously acted for the province on various occasions and probably believed he could act for the colony in an unofficial status. Concern was mutual among those who attended this midday meeting and methods to affect relief were discussed. "The Committee were desired to consider of the best method of
application for procuring the relief and encouragement of the North American trade.,,37
Their intent was:
• • • to solicit some effectual remedy in the present distressed state of the trade to the colonies so essen tially necessary for the support of the manufactories of this kingdom.38 They settled upon an old and valued English tradition for redressing grievances:
Bristol merchants had met previously with Trecothick and their assistance was assured. 39 At the December 4 meeting it was decided "to apply to the Outports and to the Manufacturying Citys and Towns for their concurrence and Assistance.,,40
In all, thirty such letters were sent.
letter told of the: • present state of the British Trade to North America and the prospect of Embarrassments which threaten the loss of our depending P49perty there and even to anihilate the Trade itself. Along with this letter soliciting "concurrence and assistance in support of a regular application to Parliament, or other wise; by Petition from your Body, by all the interest you can make, ,,42 was a copy of the proceedings of the December 4 meeting including the names of the Committee members.
letter stated that: We desire to unite with you in a Measure so essential to the best Interest of Great Britain--wishing to have your sentiments on the subject--through the course of which we mean t~ take for our guide--the Interests of these Kingdoms. 3 By design, the letter carefully avoided mentioning the ticklish problem of Parliamentary powers, which was a very touchy point with the Members of Parliament, and stressed
26 only the commercial difficulties the Stamp Act was creating. Their strategy was to emphasize the damage being done to the economy because of the Stamp Act and to minimize the colo nists' denial of Parliament's authority to tax them. When asked in February of 1766 by the Parliamentary Committee how the petitions were acquired, Trecothick told them that various towns had asked for models of petitions but he had declined.
He suggested that they "speak from
their own feelings and that none should complain but were aggrieved.,,44
Now one c~uld assume that Trecothick and
Rockingham worked out the final draft of the letter together. It is probable that between December 4 and December 6 they met to finalize the application to the merchants outside London.
At the December 4 meeting it was decided to meet
again on December 6, probably for several reasons.
may have wanted to present the final draft of the application to the outports and manufacturing towns, as well as the copy of the proceedings of the December 4 meeting, to Lord Rockingham.
Also, the merchants sought wider support.
felt it in their interests to include the West India merchants in this endeavour.
The West Indian merchants had held a
meeting in the same tavern, the Kings Arms, the day before, December 3.
At this meeting they had adjourned until
December 17 when they would have "a special meeting • • . on affairs of importance to our Sugar Colonies.,,45 On December 4 and 5 this advertisement appeared in major London newspapers:
West India Meeting. The proprietors of estates in the West Indies and the Merchants trading therewith, are desired to meet on special affairs, at the Kings Arms Tavern in Cornhill, ~gmorrow the 6th inst., at twelve o'clock precisely. A greater urgency was now felt by the West Indian merchants and they decided not to wait until December 17 for their next meeting.
Trecothick probably had a hand in the arrange
ment of this earlier meeting.
In any case, the West Indian
Merchants trading to North America were arranged for the same date, December 6, and probably at the same location, the Kings Arms Tavern.
Thus it seems likely that these two
meetings were merged into one.
In future the two groups of
merchants would be combined for greater influence. 47 At either the meeting of December 4 or the one which met two days later, it was decided to calIon the Secretary of State for the Southern Department.
An article which
appeared in the London newspapers of December 5 related that: We hear that a Committee of Merchants trading to America, will, one day next week wait on His Majesty's Secretaries of State, on some Affairs of great Importance to their Commerce, in that part of the World. 48 Perhaps the reference to merchants trading to America instead of to North America reflects the consolidation of the two merchant groups.
Several London newspapers of December 14
carried articles pertaining to visits made by the Committee to Government officials.
One item reported on:
• • • Thursday, December 12, a Number of Merchants waited on the Secretaries of State in order to lay before them a vast Number of Letters received by them, forbidding the sending any more Goods to America. 49
Another meeting which took place on the following day, December 13, was a deputation from the merchants of London who traded with North America.
• • • Waited on the Ministry, to request their countenance and support, in the remedy of the distresses under which that Branch of British commerce now laboursPO It was reported that this deputation had sought from the Ministry, "their countenance and support in their intended application to Parliament, and, it is said, met with great encouragement. ,,51
Apparently the visitations planned for
December 4 were carried out with some success. After these items of business were conducted, the London Merchants Trading to North America adjourned their meeting until the sixth of December. 52 The merchants were now organized and ready to channel their efforts in a pro ductive manner.
They were to prove that they carried
considerable weight in matters which concerned the colonies. Two days later, December 6, letters were sent as planned to the towns and ports.
Also, a letter of similar
content was sent to the Lord Mayors throughout Britain. The letters told of the present state of trade to America and the probable consequences should the decline continue. An appeal was made to concur and assist in a petition to Parliament.
Trecothick wrote the letters in agreement with
Rockingham, but the essential ingredients were as the merchants committee of London had desired. Rockingham and Trecothick probably did not meet again until after Christmas, preferring to wait for the replies to
29 the petitions before taking further action.
not meet until December 17 and then only briefly.
December 20 it adjourned until January 14, giving the Ministry some time to prepare a repeal which would satisfy both the merchants and Parliament.
It was during this time
the Rockingham Ministry worked with various elements of the colonial and merchant interests.
After Parliament met in
early January 1766, the terms were agreed upon; a declaratory act in general terms, and then considerations of trade, as justification for the repeal of the Stamp Act. The Duke of Newcastle was to play an important part in the House of Lords in conjunction with Rockingham and Trecothick, in the framing of the Declaratory Act as well as in gaining repeal of the Stamp Act.
Newcastle had known
Trecothick earlier, as evidenced in his urging Trecothick to accept the Shoreham constituency in Parliament in September. He was kept in close touch with the progress of the activi ties and probably attended several of the organizational meetings, since he asked Rockingham to hold one of their meetings at a time most suitable to him. 53
In fact, Newcastle
seemed rather angry with Rockingham when he was not told about one evening meeting and pointed out that he should be kept better informed. 54 Newcastle's feelings did not prevent him from rendering assistance in gaining repeal however, and in February the merchants called upon the Duke to thank him for his support. 55
The Duke of Newcastle probably lent his
30 political wisdom in the management of the repeal in the House of Lords. 56 Trecothick met with Rockingham on at least two occasions before Parliament met.
Rockingham told the Duke
of Newcastle in a letter of December 31, that he had Trecothick, Sir William Baker and Sir William Dowdeswell to dinner on that day and, "we set till much too late to come to your Grace this evening.,,57
A few days later in a more
detailed account of the meeting, Rockingham told Newcastle that the general opinion was to give the colonies "every possible relief in trade and commerce" but this should go "hand in hand with Proclorations of authority or censures of the right of tumult.,,58
He added at the end of the letter,
"Trecothick and the Merchants of Trading and Manufacturing Towns go on well,,,59 a reference to the petitions.
met Rockingham at least once more before the repeal which took place on February 22.
On February 16, he wrote to Lord
Rockingham telling him that he would see him at 11:00 A.M. 60 Throughout this period before the repeal, they probably con sulted often, though records of these other meetings do not exist. At these meetings Trecothick and Rockingham further developed their strategy.
One point was a careful structur
ing of the testimony which would be given before the Parliamentary committee in February.
It is likely that both
had a hand in the selection and order of witnesses.
31 they probably decided at this time on the method of presenting the petitions to Parliament. Trecothick wrote a lengthy petition himself which was composed of allegations and proofs of economic distress along with observations he had made. 61 One Petition was presented to the Commons and one to the Lords in January as added emphasis to the other petitions arriving from the merchants throughout Britain. 62 In the petition Trecothick made valuable points. 63 He showed that the exports to America increased from £432,000 to £538,000 between 1763 and 1764. After introduction of the Stamp Act, the exports were only £405,000, a substantial drop from the previous year.
computations were from eight major export houses in London. The petition went into detail as to how the trade between the northern colonies, Britain, other European countries, and the Sugar Islands was inter-dependent.
Also, the important
avenue of gaining gold was detailed with proofs of how it was declining.
The petition forcefully argued that the colonies
were essential to the continual economic independence of Great Britain from its neighbors. The colonial trade was now in such disorder, the petition stated, "that nothing less than its utter ruin is apprehended without the immediate interposition of Parlia ment.,,64
The disorders were stated as:
• • • drawbacks retained here, Custom House Bonds multiplied, heavy duties on American trade. These Universal disorders in the American Provinces; Courts of Justice shut; no recovery of debts by law; no legal security to be obtained for debts, navigation and
32 commerce obstructed, failure of remittances; decay and loss of credit, restriction of orders for goods--all which have disgbled the petitioners from continuing their exports. 5 Detailed also was the problem of obtaining payment from the Americans.
The merchants did not blame them (the colonial
merchants) for the delays.
"Delays cannot be deemed inten
tional or impeach the willingness of the Americans to pay their debts. ,,66
It sometimes took four or five voyages to
get the necessary remittances.
The consequence of this was
that at least twenty-nine million was owed to the British merchants, which restricted them from exporting.
Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Manchester a conservative estimate was a i4,450,OOO debt. Of the thirty letters sent by the London Merchants Committee, twenty-six replies were received with their own petitions to Parliament.
On the back of a copy of the letter
sent to the merchants throughout England on December 6, now in the Rockingham papers, is the notation, "This letter concerted between the Marquis of Rockingham to Mr. Trecothick the principal instrument in the happy repeal of the Stamp Act without giving up the British authority quieted the Empire.,,67
Dennys DeBerdt, agent for Massachusetts also
felt this method of lobbying was a wise one.
He wrote to
an American friend: I have the further satisfaction to inform you that the merchants of London warmly espouse your Cause, have Chosen a Committee to Carryon an application to Parlia ment who have sent Circular Letters to the Principal Cities and Towns throughout the Kingdom to Join their
33 Weight and influence with ours and then to bring both City and Country as well as your own Petitions in aid to the ministry which I hope will be a way superior to any party opposition that can be made against us. b8 The pressure on Parliament mounted.
The newspapers were
daily giving accounts of distress in the country and its consequences. Soon after the Christmas holidays the petitions began to flood in. trade.
All complained of the decay in the American
The first twenty-four were presented in nine sittings
of the Commons.
As the provincial merchants arrived in Lon
don with their petitions, they probably reported to Trecothick and he arranged the movement of their presentation.
the petition carriers had been instructed to report to their Members of Parliament. One London newspaper of January 14, 1766, carried this detailed account of Bristol's reaction to the petition: Monday last there was a meeting at the Merchants hall, Bristol, where it was unanimously agreed to draw up a petition to Parliament relative to North American affairs, when William Reeve, Esq., Master of the Hall, Joseph Farrell and Thomas Fair, Esqrs., were appointed to carry up the said petitions, and deliver it to their Members in Parliament. The same evening there was a meeting of several gentlemen, who have the interests of the colonies much at heart, who drew up another petition (setting forth the distresses of the colonies, the interruption of commerce, and the stagnation of trade in this Kingdom) which was signed by the Mayor, Aldermen, and principal inhabitants of that city; and Sam. Sedgley, and Henry Cruger, Esqrs., were requested to wait on their Repre sentatives therewith. 69 The next day another account was reported from Southwark. The inhabitants of Southwark met at the Town Hall and sent a petition stating the injury of the Stamp Act and requesting
34 that "every means in our power to procure a removal of this national eVil,,,70 be employed.
The petitions caused quite a
stir throughout the country as well as in Parliament.
press daily printed some of them in their entirety, but they were disqualified by some as being, "the effects of minis terial artifice.,,7 1 One writer charged the Ministry with sending "in structions to Members (of Parliament) from the trading and manufacturing towns, against the act.,,72
This allegation is
partially true as Trecothick stated in the letter sent to the Lord Mayors and British towns and cities that they should try to influence their Members of Parliament and those in their neighborhood. 73
One in six Members of Parliament was
engaged in commercial actiVity or interests from the period of 1734 to 1832. 74 Out of the fifty-two merchants who sat in Parliament in February 1766, only six voted against the repeal.
This suggests a unanimous merchant disapproval of
the stamp Act and also demonstrates how successfully the press~re
had been applied to the members of the House of
Commons. The climax came when the House of Commons went into a committee of the whole on American affairs until February 21 to hear testimony concerning the repeal.
dealt the final blow to the Stamp Act as it gave the advo cates for repeal the offensive.
The daily sessions of the
committee lasted into the early hours of the morning.
Rockinghamites carefully managed their many witnesses to
35 maximize the economic circumstances and to play down the difficult objections of taxation and authority.
merchants, agents, former agents, seamen, and Americans were called to testify. On February 11, the two main witnesses, Trecothick and Benjamin Franklin were called in.
Trecothick was the
first witness of the day and was interrogated immediately after the reading of the petition from the London merchants. His testimony was a lengthy four hour affair, but when he had finished he had impressed many with his technical knowledge of Anglo-American trade and the effects of the Stamp Act on that trade. 75 After a brief statement qualifying his position as a London merchant of 15 years who had dealt in the North American trade for 23 years, he began answering questions. Much of his early testimony was a reneat of facts stated in the London petition.
He was asked the value of export trade
to America and he told of the decline in 1765 after two years of increasing trade.
He calculated the annual trade to be
around three million pounds.
Trecothick went into lengthy
explanations of the method of payments and the commodities traded and explained the workings of the circuitous trade with other countries. To the question, "Is the trade to North America now stopt?", he replied, "Almost wholly. ,,76
He told of orders
which were being held in abeyance pending the repeal of the Stamp Act.
Other complaints were discussed, such as the
36 extension of Vice Admiralty Courts and the shortage of specie in the colonies.
When asked if he would comply with
his outstanding orders if the Stamp Act was enforced, he said, "Certainly not, ,,77 the reason being that he would not consider putting his property "into a Country embroiled in Confusion as to make it Uncertain. ,,78 When asked questions designed to credit some of the growth in the colonies from assistance from Parliamentary bounties and encouragements, Trecothick did not give that assistance much credit.
Asked if some of the past debts
did not go back a number of years, he said that he knew of none.
Questioning then switched to the Act itself.
asked if modification would ease the situation, "Certainly as far as it goes,,,79 he replied.
Then he stated unequivo
cally, "I believe nothing less than the Actual Repeal of the Stamp Act will restore America to Peace.,,80 To strengthen his claim for the necessity of peaceful trade with America he told the members that, "I consider the Trade of Great Britain on the decline to every part of the World except America. ,,81 serving no colony.
He degraded the Stamp Act as
He was asked if he would have complied
with orders had the Stamp Act been executed without oppo sition, to which he replied, "I should have considered them as Disabled to the amount of Tax and have therefore Shortened my Credit. ,,82 Act continued.
He was asked if he would fill orders if the He said that he certainly would but that they
must send money in hand.
One questioner claimed that the
37 only diminishing of credit would be about i60,OOO, the amount of the taxation.
Trecothick said, "I believe it will raise
three times that Sum.,,83 He denied that there were equal benefits to the colonies from the troops employed there.
He told the members
that he knew of instances of people moving from Boston just to avoid the inequalities of taxation.
In fact, "Boston from
the best accounts is rather declining in Inhabitants.,,84 Trecothick was asked, "Do you think if no force is Used from hence Will the Colonies Submit?" he "thought not."
He replied, that
"Will they chuse to continue in a State of
Confusion?" he was asked.
"I can't tell how it will end,,,85
he answered. A hostile questioner then asked Trecothick, "Will it be more for their Advantage to go in confusion or submit to the Stamp Act?,,86
The question was objected to and Trecothick
was asked to withdraw while the members discussed the ques tion.
When he was called in again the question was restated,
"If the Stamp Act is not repealed don't you think the Confusion now reigning there will compel an Execution of the Act itself?"
Trecothick answered, "I believe it may be the
Event but through a dreadful Chain of Occurrences.,,87 Another questioner asked Trecothick if the act could not be modified so that the Americans would submit to it. Trecothick was adamant; "I believe no modification will Satisfy them."
Why was this, he was asked.
people from one end of the Country to the other have set
38 their faces against it." asked.
"On what principle?" the questioner
Trecothick's reply was, "They think it oppressive in
its Nature and an Infringement on their Rights from both." Then he was asked, "If the oppression was removed would they submit?"
He answered, "They consider the whole as oppressive
Both Quantity and Quality. ,,88 Then Trecothick was asked if he considered that they would resist another internal tax.
He felt they might.
Would they "oppose an internal Tax merely as such?"
think there is no Danger that they should," he replied.
naive question of whether the Americans would react with ill honor if the Act was enforced was answered in the affirmative. Then he was asked if this would affect the trade.
thought it would. Another line of questioning then took over, this time regarding the effects at home.
Trecothick quoted proposals
for some manufacturing people to go to Pennsylvania because of lack of work at home.
Asked if he knew of people leaving
for America, he replied, "I do of some--don't recollect any came back. ,,89
The questioner asked if these manufacturers
did not turn into farmers.
Trecothick would not accept this
suggestion as he knew of some who remained in their usual employment. "Have you orders for this year?" (1766) the ques tioner asked.
"Yes," Trecothick said.
"If the Stamp Act is
Modified" the question was put, "will you comply with the conditional orders?,,90
An emphatic "No" was the reply.
39 no orders would be executed to manufacturing towns.
consequences of this, Trecothick believed, would be fatal. The petitions and how they were acquired became the next subject of questioning.
"What are the means or Arts
used to procure those Petitions?"
I will give you a candid account. We find America in Confusion our Property in danger our remittances un certain and the Trade in Danger of annihilation. We was called on by the Bristol Merchants this hastened our Meeting for all the Merchants trading to North America they met they chose a Committee they Instructed that Committee to write Circf letters to the Manufactur ing Towns requiring their Support in an Application to Parliament and to Use their Interest with the Members to make the Interest of Great Britain the Base of their Application. I have given Copies of that Letter to several Gentlemen, Many of the Manufacturing Towns sent for the Form of a Petition which we declined particularly at Bristol we thought it too indecent and desired them to Speak for their own feelings aD~ that none should Complain but what were aggrieved.~ Trecothick was asked how the colonists would obtain necessary manufactured articles.
He replied that the French Islands
and Fisheries would furnish them.
Indeed, Trecothick said,
"I have seen flour from old France. ,,92
He was asked if the
loyal sUbjects of America were discontented with the Stamp Act.
He answered, "I believe there is a great proportion of
Loyal Subjects as loyal as those here but at present all discontented.
If the Stamp Act was repealed this House
would soon have Specimens of that Gratitude.,,93 Then a series of questions were put to Trecothick attempting to establish his satisfaction with various measures of the government enacted before the Stamp Act. His recollection was not good on some specific dates and statements.
James Harris, a Grenville follower, wrote:
40 We examined witnesses, sitting each day till near ten o'clock, some of them were Americans, some Yorkshire manufacturers, and the leaders London merchants with Alderman Trecothick at their head, all primed • • • to say everything against the Stamp Act, and neith~r to answer nor to know anything on the other side. 94 In conclusion, the questioner asked Trecothick, "What is the Debt due from North America?"
At the lowest computation 2,900,000 pounds sterling I am authorized to say due to the City of London. Bristol 800,000 pounds sterling at least. Glasgow 500,000 from Virginia and Maryland, Liverpool 150,000 since to add 90,000 pounds sterling. Manchester 100,000 and since to say 150,000 pounds sterling. 95 Most of the debt had come within the past year.
Stamp Act remain, he foresaw diminishing business with the colonies.
Since the colonies were not in a peaceful state,
orders would not be filled.
He would comply with orders,
he said, if the Act was repealed.
He feared many bankrupt
cies would ensue and felt that manufactured goods would either be purchased from France or from within America. Such disasters would cause irreparable harm.
end of a lengthy questioning, he was asked, "Which will establish the Independency soonest--The enforcing the Stamp Act or repealing it."
Trecothick answered, "The enforcing
it. ,,96 The examination had lasted four hours and Trecothick gave a "full clear and satisfactory account of the distress at home and abroad," James West reported to the Duke of Newcastle. 97
Newcastle planned for Trecothick to repeat his
performance in the House of Lords.
He drew up a series of questions to ask Trecothick but they were never used. 98
Capel Hanbury, another London merchant and a member of Parliament for Monmouthshire, followed Trecothick and generally conflrmed what had already been stated.
headed a company in Virginia and also dealt with Maryland in such goods as wool and iron and was on the London Merchants Committee headed by Trecothick.
To Trecothick's testimony
he added that, "Virginia had a large well-disciplined militia who with the country, If force was tried to establish the Act, would usEe] in it by force.,,99
When asked what he felt
the remedy for the evils would be, he replied, "A Repeal of the Act--Anything short of a total repeal will be inadequate- a modification would not answer.,,100 Daniel Mildred followed.
Mildred was a London
merchant and a Quaker with connections of his faith in Pennyslvania.
He too confirmed Trecothick's statements and
told the Members of Parliament he would not comply with orders until the Stamp Act was repealed.
He stated, "if it
is repealed [l] shall comply with the orders." 101 Dr. John Fothergill wrote to a friend in America stating that: Barlow Trecothick, Esq., Alderman of London, Chairman to the Committee of Merchants, stood a three hours exami nation at the Bar of the House of Commons; Capel Hanbury near two, D. Mil~b~d a shorter space, but all came off with reputation. The impressive parade of witnesses continued.
merchants were given a hearing as well as Visiting Americans and colonial agents.
Probably the most influential per
former was Benjamin Franklin, who made a lasting impression
with his skillful performance.
His answers were mainly
devoted to the political side of the discussion.
championed the colonial claim to exemption from internal taxation by Parliament.
"B. Franklin has served you ably and uprightly," Dr. Fothergill reported. 103 A record of
his spectacular performance was published in London and in America. Many pressures were applied to Parliament to secure the repeal of the Act.
Newspapers bombarded their readers
with predictions of the consequences to the cohesion of the Empire and to the economy of Britain should the Stamp Act not be repealed.
The petition from British merchants and
politicians had their effect as well as the petitions from the colonial representatives, which were not officially introduced in Parliament.
But the evidence supports the
theory that it was the outcry of the British merchants which produced the repeal.
Certainly the consideration of colonial
rights was not the deciding factor.
The actual economic ills
and the effective enlightenment of Parliament to these serious problems along with the graphic explanation of the consequences should they not be accommodated, gained the repeal of the Stamp Act. Trecothick's work in repealing the Stamp Act was recognized in the colonies.
Franklin wrote, "Great honour
and thanks are due to the British Merchants • • • our zealous and indefatigable Friends particularly Mr. Trecothick and
Mr. Capel Hanbury.,,104
Another letter said, "America owes
the Repeal of the Stamp Act to the assidious Endeavours of Alderman Trecothick, Capel Hanbury and Dr. Franklin.,,105 Yet another said, "we are again beholden to the merchants, with Mr. Trecothick at their head, for their kind inter position on our behalf.,,106 Dr. John Fothergill wrote to his Philadelphia friend, James Pemberton: It may justly be thought that the North America Merchants here would bestir themselves zealously for their own interest's sake, but they have done more; they have so effectively served the whole British Empire that their diligence, their indefatigable, united, efficacious endeavours to serve the whole community at the juncture ought never to be forgot. 107 In another letter he said that Trecothick, Hanbury, Mildred and David Barclay, "have been incessantly laborious and successful," that they supported the Ministry with "proper and just evidence, and have acted as became Friends to England, to America, to themselves, to their country and posterity.1I10B
At a dinner in New York given to cele
brate the repeal, Trecothick was offered a toast. 109
province of New Hampshire recognized his services and honored him by naming a township after him. 110 The resolution to repeal the Stamp Act was detailed in the Commons on Friday, February 21.
Repeal was finally
carried at two o'clock Saturday morning by a vote of 275 to 167.
Although it had to undergo three more votes, thJs was
the signal of the repeal of the odious Stamp Act.
was spread immediately throughout Britain and ships rushed
44 to America to spread the news.
throughout the mercantile and shipping communities. When it became clear that the Act would be repealed, Trecothick and his allies began to write letters to prominent colonists trying to assure that Parliament's action would be seen in its proper light.
We think ourselves entitled, from the pains we have taken to serve you, to the privilege of imparting our sentiments on your past and future conduct, with that freedom and impartiality which observation and experience dictate. 111 Trecothick admonished the Americans for their unlawful be havior stating "You must know better than to imagine any well regulated government will suffer laws, enacted with a view to public good, to be disputed by lawless rioters, with impunity.,,112
He asked the leaders to:
Exort your utmost endeavours to cancel the remem brance of such flagrant breaches of public order, and to manifest ~Qur gratitude and affection to your mother country.1 5 Trecothick claimed that by repealing the Stamp Act, Britain had proved her moderation in colonial affairs.
told the colonists that they were indebted to British leaders and he assured them that any measures which were seemingly oppressive to any British subjects would receive consider ation and redress.
He further stated, "your relief would
have been more speedy, and we should have avoided many difficulties," had they endeavoured to acquiesce with the law and had "dutifully represented the hardships as they arose.,,114
45 In spite of the intolerable actions of some colonists and strenuous efforts of some in Britain to prevent repeal, he concluded, the act was repealed by leniancy and indulgence toward America by the representatives in Parliament.
stated: On your parts we hope that nothing will be wanting to obliterate the remembrance of what is passed by setting the example yourselves, and promoting the like sentiments in others, of a dutiful attachment to your sovereign, and the interests of your mother country, a just submission to the laws, and respect to the legis lature: for in this you are most effectually promoting your own happiness and security.115 Nothing was left to question as to what was expected of them. The preservation of Parliament's legislative power in all cases whatsoever had been in the Declaratory Act recorded prior to the actual repeal.
But the joy of victory for the
colonists and mercantilists drowned out these warnings.
Stamp Act Repeal was given the reading in the House of Lords on March 5, 11 and 17, and received the royal assent on March 18.
Letters of thanks and congratulations were ex
changed between the agents and their colonial legislatures. Trecothick and his committee received letters of gratitude from various colonial assemblies.
In one letter from the
New York merchants to Trecothick, they returned their "hearty thanks to all our Friends in Great Britain whether in or out of Parliament. ,,116
The letter promised the recognition of
British supremacy with "utmost cheerfulness and confidence. ,~17 Ironically, the letter ended saying that the Americans, "will forever manifest, a most willing and ready obedience,
46 under a Dominion so evidently founded in Love.,,118
Hampshire legislature sent their gratitude to Trecothick too. "Accept our grateful thanks for your spirited and kind assistance in the affair of the repeal,,,119 the letter stated. Lord Rockingham received letters of gratitude and was im mensely popular in mercantile communities.
An address was
delivered to him on August 4, 1766, when he was no longer Prime Minister when the merchants felt they were exempt from "even the suspicion of Flattery.,,120
Trecothick, Hanbury, and several other merchants delivered it. 121 In the address the merchants of London trading to North America and the West Indies thanked Rockingham for exertions "in favor of the Civil and Commercial Interests of these Kingdoms, happily dispelling the threatening Clouds which hung over us.,,122 They credited him with having "at a most critical conjuncture, Effectually served your Country.,,123
The address of thanks
was signed by Trecothick and fifty other prominent merchants. When Rockingham visited various merchant towns he received a grand welcome.
"The Marquis of Rockingham, attended by near
200 gentlemen, entered the City of York, and next day an address was presented to his Lordship.,,124
received similar addresses from many British towns expressing their gratitude.
He also received notes of thanks from the
One such letter was delivered through
DeBerdt from the House of Representatives of Massachusetts in June of 1766.
It was a note "for sincere thanks to Lord
Rockingham," and was signed by "Sam~ Adams, Cler.,,125
47 On April 23 a large celebration was held at the
Drapers Hall in London.
Trecothick, now the Sheriff of
London, was the chairman of the party: It is said there were 240 who dined, amongst whom were nine Dukes and a considerable number more of the nobility and members of the House of Commons, who honoured the American Merchants with their company.126 Trecothick persuaded the Duke of Newcastle to attend though he appeared a little hesitant. avoid attending it.,,127
Newcastle wrote, "I cannot
In any event, the party was "the
most brilliant almost ever seen in the city of London.,,128 According to contemporary reports "many loyal and constitu tional toasts were drank.
There was a band of music which
performed in the hall during dinner-time, and until late in the evening.,,129 Trecothick had greatly enhanced his position as leader of the London mercantile community.
He emerged as an
influential leader of some expertise in British-American trade.
In the meantime, he had also become joint agent for
the colony of New Hampshire.
The contacts he made at this
time put him in a better position for a Parliamentary career and enhanced his standing in the city of London as well.
was also acknowledged in America as the person to contact in Britain when soliciting for colonial interests.
had contributed significantly toward smoothing the ruffled feelings of those involved in British-American affairs and had benefited while doing so.
NOTES 1Item in Annual Register 1764 (London: J. Dodsley, 1767), p. 30. 2Ibid.
4D. H. Watson, "Barlow Trecothick and Other Associates of Lord Rockingham During the Stamp Act Crisis, 1765-1766" (Unpublished Masters Thesis, Sheffield University Library, Sheffield, England, 1956), p. 25. 5Edmund S. Morgan and Helen M. Morgan, The Stamp Act Crisis Prologue to Revolution (New York: Collier Books, 1967), pp. 96-97. 6Ibid., p. 98.
7Item in Annual Register 1766, pp. 32-33.
8Rockingham Papers, Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments
(MSS in Sheffield City Library, Sheffield, England), R24-43a. 9Ibid. 10Ibid. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid .
15Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R81-181.
19News item in New York Gazette or Weekly Post Boy, February 20, 1766, cited in D. H. Watson "Barlow Trecothick and Other Associates of Lord Rockingham • • • "
49 20Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R56-1 to 8. 21Jack Sosin, Agents and Merchants, (Lincoln: University Press, 1965), p. 73. 22Lawrence Henry Gi~son, Jared Ingersoll (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1920), p. 174. 23William Franklin to Benjamin Franklin, June 10, 1767, printed in The Pa ers of Ben amin Franklin, Leonard W. Labaree (ed.), Vol. XIV New Haven: American hilosophical Society and Yale University, 1970), pp. 175-177. 24Sosin, Agents and Merchants, p. 62. 25Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R43-9, R43-11. 26News item in The Public Ledger, December 2, 3 and 4, 1765. 27News item in The London Evening Post, December 5, 6 and 7, 1765. 28News item in The London Chronicle, December 5, 6 and 7, 1765. 29Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R1-537. 30News item in The London Chronicle and The Public Ledger, December 5 and 5; 1755.
33News item in The New York Gazette or Weekly Post
50 37Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R1-537. 38News item in The London Chronicle, December 5, 6 and 7, 1765. 39Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R27. 40Ibid., R1-537. 41 Ibid. 42Ibid. 43Ibid. 44Ibid., R27. 45News item in The Public Ledger, December 5, 1765. 46News item in The New Gazatteer and New Daily Advertiser, December 4, 5 and 6, 1765. 6, 1765.
47News item in The Public Ledger, December 4, 5 and
48News item in The st. James Chronicle or British Evening Post, December 5, 6 and 7, 1765. 49News item in The Public Advertiser, December 14, 1765. 1765.
50News item in The London Evening Post, December 14, 51Item in The Gentlemans Magazine, May 1765, p. 588. 52Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R1-537.
53"If there is to be a meeting this week, I hope," he requested, "it is not much to ask to have it on Saturday evening," (British Museum, MSS 32972). 54"If this upon Parliamentary hope your Lordship Conduct, I pursue, MSS 32973, f3-4).
coolness, silence and reservedness, even Points should continue," he wrote, "I will not blame me, if in my Parliamentary as I must do, my own opinion," (ibid.,
55"Trecothick, Hanbury and a great number of mer chants with the agents full of thanks in the lobby," Newcastle's secretary, James West, noted. When Newcastle retired in 1768, he encouraged Trecothick to remain in the Rockingham camp. (Ibid.).
51 56Namier and Brooke, History of Parliament, p. 559. 57Rockingham to Newcastle, December 31, 1765, British Museum MSS 32972. 58Rockingham to Newcastle, January 2, 1766, British Museum MSS 32973, f12-4. 59Ibid., MSS 32973. 60Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R58-2. 61Ibid., R57-2. 62Ibid., R57-5 and R57-8. 63Ibid., R57-2. 64Ibid. 65Ibid. 66 Ibid • 67Ibid., R537. 68Dennys DeBerdt to Samuel White, December 14, 1765, published in Albert Matthews (ed.), Letters of Dennxs DeBerdt 1757-1770 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: John W~lson and Son, University Press, 1911), p. 308 (Reprinted from The Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Vol. XIII). 69News item in The Gazatteer and New Daily Adver tiser, January 14, 1766. 70Ibid., January 15, 1766. 71Item in Annual Register, 1766, p. 35. 72Item in The Gentlemans Magazine, April 1766, p. 155. 73Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R1-537. 74Gerrit P. Judd, Members of Parliament 1734-1834, Vol. IV (Oxford: University Press, 1955), p. 56. 75Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R27, pp. 21-57. 76Ibid. 77Ibid.
86 Ibid •
92 Ibid •
94James Harris to George Grenville, February 10-12,
1766, British Museum Add. MSS 32972, f384. 95Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R27, pp. 21-57. 96Ibid. 97James West to Newcastle, February 11, 1766, British Museum Add. MSS 32973. 98British Museum Add. MSS. 33001, f125-126. 99Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R27, pp. 57-58 and West to Newcastle, February 11, 1766, British Museum Add., MSS 32973. 100Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R27, p. 64. 101Ibid., R27, p. 65.
53 102Dr. John Fothergill to James Pemberton, February 25, 1766, printed in Chain of Friendshi* Letters of John Fothergill, eds., Betsy Corner and C ristopher C. Booth (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), p. 253.
105Ibid., p. 255. 106William Samuel Johnson to William Pitkins, May 16, 1767, printed in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Societ~, Vol IX (Boston: Published by the Society, 1884), pp. 22 -229. 107Dr. John Fothergill to James Pemberton, February 25, 1766, printed in Chain of Friendship, pp. 252-253. 108Ibid., May 10, 1766, p. 263. 109Theodore D. Jervey, "Barlow Trecothick," The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vol. XXXII (July, 1931), p. 59. 110Ibid., p. 162. Also cited in New Hampshire State Papers, Vol. 24, p. 717. This township bore Trecothick's name until 1802, when it was renamed Ellsworth County. 111Item in the Political Register p Review of New Books, Vol. X (London: J. Almon, February 1768),
112Ibid. 113Ibid. 114Ibid. 115Ibid. 116Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R55. (Letter from New York merchants to Barlow Trecothick, May 6, 1766). 117Ibid. 118Ibid.
54 119Theodore Atkinson to John Wentworth and Barlow Trecothick, July 12, 1766, printed in Province of New Hampshire, Journal of the House (in possession of State of New Hampshire, Division of Records, Management and Archives, Concord, New Hampshire), p. 106. Copied from MS. Belknap Papers, p. 184. 120Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R59-22 (petition of London Merchants Trading to North America to Lord Rockingham August 4, 1766). 121Ibid., R59-23. 122Ibid., R59-22. 123Ibid. 124Annual Register 1766, p. 126. 125Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R55. 126Thomas Copeland (ed.), The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, Vol. 1 (Chicago: University Press, 1958), p. 251. 127Newcastle to Mr. Onslow, April 21, 1766, British Museum Add. MSS 33069. 128Annual Register 1766, p. 87. 129Ibid.
Chapter 3 LONDON CITY POLITICS London politics was one of Barlow Trecothick's most successful ventures.
Participation in public affairs began
in March of 1761 when his name was among those candidates proposed for nomination as a member of Parliament for London. According to newspaper accounts his name was withdrawn because he was not a member of a guild. 1 The Clothmakers qUickly admitted him to their guild.
On March 20, 1761
Trecothick "was admitted to the Livery of the worshipful company of Clothiers or Drapers and it is said, still intends to stand a candidate for this city.,,2
He did not seek
election to a city office until 1764. Members of a guild were automatically members of the Livery of London.
Businessmen, merchants and financiers were
also a part of this governing body.
On January 2, 1764
Trecothick was elected alderman of Vintry Ward to replace Richard
had died the previous month.
10, the Court of Common Council ordered that "notice of the said Election be given to the Said Barlow Trecothick, and that he be desired to attend at the next Court to take upon him the said office.,,3
Trecothick was sworn in as Alderman
of Vintry Ward on January 19, "and also took and subscribed the oaths, and made and subscribed the Declaration according
to the several laws made for those purposes.,,4
Trecothick's participation in London city politics. London in 1764 was a sprawling congestion of mercan tile concerns and red brick dwellings.
Within the city were 124,000 dwelling houses making it twice the size of Paris. 5
The population was placed by contemporary accounts at just under one million. 6 London in the latter half of the eighteenth century was the area of modern London now called the City, the eastern central portion of London, north of the River Thames.
The City is a rectangularly shaped area
of nearly two miles in length and a half to a mile wide, the base being parallel to the river.
It is from this
small area that Greater London has grown.
London was connected to the world by the River Thames. The only passable roads were to Bristol, the second largest city in Great Britain,and on to the nearby fashionable resort of Bath.
Excluding this exception enjoyed mainly by the
wealthy, most of the people lived and died in or quite near the area where they had been born. 7 The City has gained a unique position in Great Britain throughout the centuries of its existence.
been called the Sovereign City and at times has virtually been autonomous, enjoying great influence over Parliament and Crown.
Even today the Queen asks permission for entry
into this part of London.
Its reputation as a champion of
liberty and of constitutional rights often placed the City in direct opposition to Parliament and to the King.
57 these lengthy struggles was beginning in 1764.
political leaders were stubbornly resisting Parliament and George III over constitutional rights and mercantile inter ests.
Since this was essentially the same battle the
Americans were waging, America found an ally in the City of London.
Coincidentally, qUite a number of London politicians
had personal and business interests in America and were concerned with the economic stability of the colonies.
Parliament, London had four members and they often led the pro-American clique. The form of the governmental structure of the City of London is very old.
Like the origin of the City itself,
it goes back to a remote period of antiquity.
By the time
Trecothick emerged into London politics, the machinery of government had developed into the form which is much as it is today.
In a contemporary account, A New and Universal
History, Description and Survey of the Cities of London and Westminister,8 published in 1775, the structure of the government was described.
The following description is
primarily based on this source. Aldermen were the elected officials of a ward. London there were twenty-five wards.
There was no residence
requirement though aldermen were required to be residents of the City.9
Aldermen were the representatives of the elect
orate who were described as the free inhabitants, which meant they were members of a guild.
Each ward met in a wardmote
for the selection of its alderman, the free men's choice
being expressed by either a voice vote or a show of hands. Aldermen were the subordinate governors of their respective wards under the Lord Mayor's jurisdiction.
They kept a roll
of the inhabitants, containing their names, dwellings, places of abode and trades; they regulated inns and other places of public resort, tried weights and measures, and inquired after suspected persons, superintended the cleansing of the high ways and water courses, and in short, had the constant superintendence of the police of the district. 10 Generally, the alderman held his position for life but could be re placed if the electorate so desired.
Aldermen exercised an
executive power in their wards and for assistance the ward chose ward officers and a deputy.
Aldermen were justices of
the quorum if they had passed the chair, which meant they had passed a qualification examination.
If they had not passed
the examination, they were justices of the peace.
aldermen all other city officials were chosen. The office of sheriff was held by an alderman who was elected for a term of one year.
The City of London elected
two sheriffs who held equal responsibility to London and the county of Middlesex, which is the county west of London. The office of sheriff was ministerial and judicial.
sheriffs were described as the eyes of the Lord Mayor. 11 Their business was to collect public revenue and fines for the Crown, serve the various writs of the King, attend judges and execute their orders, choose juries, and assure that criminals were punished in the proper manner.
59 over Sheriff Courts which dealt with debts, covenants and trespass judgements.
They carried out the orders of the
Common Council, made arrests and officiated at executions. When an alderman had served one term as sheriff, he was eligible to stand for Lord Mayor. It was said that by 1764 the Lord Mayor was the most important government official in the most consequential city of a major power.
"There is no public officer of any city
in Europe that may compare in port and countenance with the Lord Mayor of London during his year of office.,,12
regarded more or less as a ruling prince of state within a state.
Upon his inauguration a great deal of pageantry took
place as he journeyed to the palace to seek the King's assent. In the election of Lord Mayor, all the aldermen who had been sheriffs were proposed in rotation to the Common Hall, two being referred from there to the Court of Aldermen. This court decided upon the Lord Mayor by a majority vote. It was generally awarded to the senior alderman unless the aldermen wished to deviate from the pattern. At the time of Trecothick's participation, the Lord Mayor became the principal officer of the Kingdom in the event of the King's death.
He was officially the King's representa
tive in the government of the city, though in practical terms seldom was, and he was titled with various offices such as First Commissioner of the Lieutenancy, Perpetual Coroner, Chief Justice of Newgate Prison, Judge of the Court of Ward mote for the election of aldermen, Conservator of the River
Thames and Medway, and Chief Butler of the Kingdom at all coronations.
Along with these assignments, the Lord Mayor
functioned through various courts and councils. The lower court was the Court of Common Council which was made up of the Lord Mayor, the Aldermen and representa tives of several wards.
This was the oldest municipal body in the country predating 1285. 13 There were 236 representa tives in total. request.
The Court was convened at the Lord Mayor's
From this group, a committee of twelve aldermen
and twenty-four commoners were selected to govern the renting of public land.
They also appointed other committees, one
being empowered by royal grant to manage Ireland and to choose the Governor Deputy and his assistants; a remarkable authority.
Also various minor city officials held their
positions at the discretion of the Court of Common Council. The next court in importance was the Court of Lord Mayor and Aldermen.
A great part of the executive power
resided in this court.
All leases and enactments of this
nature which required the City seal were dealt with here.
seemingly minor but potentially important duty was the fixing of the price of bread. city officers.
This court could dismiss and punish
It could also grant the freedom of the city
to a person without the formal apprenticeship of a guild. The court had the extraordinary right to refuse the accept ance of an alderman despite his lawful election.
electorate persisted, the court might appoint a person of their choosing after the third rejection, "This right was
exercised so recently as 1912, and curiously enough is pre cisely the right which the City proved, in the case of John Wilkes, that the House of Commons does not possess.,,14 The Lord Mayor's Court was a court of the Lord Mayor, aldermen and a Recorder who made judgments in action of debt, trespassing, and legal problems concerning the liberties of citizens.
Foreign attachments were tried in this court.
This was an important function since it placed the ports of London within the court's jurisdiction.
Also, various suits
such as disputes between masters and apprentices were brought before this court. other courts were important to the function of the city government, such as the Common Hall Court where the Livery chose sheriffs, along with auditors, bridgemasters, and minor officials. Lord Mayor.
They also chose the two candidates for
The court was made up of the entire Livery, the
freemen of the city. The Court of Hustings decided upon rents, services, and property judgments.
This court was considered the
supreme court of London and was held by the Lord Mayor, sheriffs and the Recorder. other courts existed for minor purposes.
court, the Court of Conservacy met four times a year before the Lord Mayor to hear cases regarding the preservation of fishing in the Thames.
Another, the Court of Requests or
Court of Conscience dealt with disputes under forty shillings and was held before such aldermen and commoners as the Lord
It was a busy court for it offered an
The Court of Orphans held before
the Lord Mayor and aldermen dealt with the problems of orphans in the city.
Pre-Powder Court was held before the
Lord Mayor for judgments between buyers and sellers at the several fairs in the city.
The Justice Hall Court held in
the old Bailey was held eight times a year by the King's Commissioner for crimes committed within the city of London or in Middlesex.
The Lord Mayor, three aldermen who had
passed the chair, and the Recorder were the officials, with the sheriffs attending.
Crimes tried in this court were
more serious such as treason, murder, burglary or forgery. Punishments handed down could result in penalties of corporal punishment, transportation, or loss of life. Throughout Trecothick's climb through the political structure of London, he worked in all facets of the govern ment.
He was an active participant and attended the various
courts and meetings regularly, with the exception of his last year in politics, 1774.
Besides the regular duties of govern
ing the Vintry Ward, Trecothick was appointed to various committees and appears to have been conscientious about them. In the Common Council records it seems he participated in a substantial portion of the work done by the City Land Committee.
He participated in the inquiry concerning the
building of a new bridge to be sited at Blackfriars and across the Thames to Surrey and also in the effort to find a replacement for one of the London prisons.
signed a petition to the House of Commons requesting the extension of Public Wharfs in 1765.
As an alderman he
participated in the usual court proceedings and handed down the customary severe punishments. 15 Trecothick's entry into political life was at a rather volatile time. of the London scene.
Barely controlled mobs were a fixture
An account of a spirited election pro
ceeding which took place in the Guildhall was written by Edmund Burke to Lord Rockingham upon the election of the sheriffs in 1769.
It was accompanied by such "hissing,
groaning and shouting, and hallooing as I never heard upon any occasion or in any place.,,16
He had left the Guildhall
barely alive, he said. Trecothick spoke of disruptions in 1771 during the election of Lord Mayor. rrownshen~
"The Livery would not suffer Mr. T.
to rejoin for more than half an hour but pelted
him with off-hisses and c.--he however persevered till they did hear him.,,17 On one occasion when the mobs disagreed with a Lord Mayor's actions, "the people broke his head and all his windows.,,18
Some years later during the burning of Wilkes'
North Briton No. 45, "a young fellow was so impudent as to throw one of them [sticks], which hit the present chief magistrate.,,19
Contemporary newspapers provide many accounts
of these risky times. By this time George III had begun his inflexible move to enhance the power of the Crown.
Some of the aldermen
favored the King's policy, many did not.
and remonstrances were sent up by the Common Council to the King and the strained relations culminated in the violation of precedent and it may be added of common decency.,,20 Trecothick had aligned himself with the Rockingham faction which opposed many of George Ill's policies.
He had assisted
Rockingham since their collaboration to repeal the Stamp Act in 1765.
When Trecothick became Lord Mayor he and Rockingham
continued to keep in close touch.
In a letter from Burke to
Rockingham, Burke wrote, "Lord Mayor wishes to see me.
take it for granted, it is to know whether you would have anything done in the City.,,21
Trecothick and Rockingham
cooperated with each other in national and city politics. On the same scene appeared John Wilkes of "Wilkes and Liberty" fame.
Wilkes, a member of Parliament, Violently
attacked the government of Lord Bute.
By November of 1762,
Britain had successfully concluded the Seven Years' War, the French and Indian War in America.
Bute represented an end-
the-war movement but to accomplish this it was necessary to get rid of the very popular Prime Minister, William Pitt. Pitt was eventually humiliated and resigned.
political hatred and Bute's opponents concentrated their attacks on something he could not do much about, his being Scottish.
Many people thought Bute had made too many con
cessions to the French, their defeated enemies.
Some of the
many attacks accused Bute of packing government posts with north Britons.
One of Bute's appointees, Tobias Smollett,
another Scot, published a paper entitled The Briton.
Wilkes retorted with the North Briton and assailed the administration, playing upon the prejudices of his English readers.
Wilkes' attacks were bitter and they were deeply
resented by the government and the King.
became a champion of the common man, particularly in London. Wilkes' culminating act was the pUblication of the North Briton No. 45 which, "insinuated that the King • • • had countenanced a deliberate lie.,,22
This defiance so out
raged the government and King that they swore out a general warrant for the apprehension of the authors.
had written it anonymously, a more normal proceeding was impossible.
Wilkes was taken into custody on April 30 but
after a short session in the Tower, was released since the warrant was not enforceable on a member of Parliament.
his dismissal on May 6, he was "followed to his house in Great George Street by an immense mob who saluted him with loud hussas while he stood bowing from his windows.,,23 Riding on a crest of success, Wilkes successfully prosecuted those who had originally arrested him.
House of Commons, not easily beaten, passed a resolution which stated that a member's freedom from arrest did not include cases of libel, ordered the North Briton No. 45 to be burnt publicly, and declared Wilkes an outlaw.
December 3, 1763 the assembly met at the London Royal Ex change to publicly burn the publication.
"A riot ensued,
the paper was forced from the hangman, the constables were
pelted and beaten.,,24
Mr. Marley, one of the sheriffs, had
the glass of his coach broken and was wounded in the face by a piece of kindling.
"The cry was, 'Wilkes and Liberty!'
Jackboot and a petticoat--the mob's symbols for Lord Bute and the Princess--were burned with great triumph and accla mation.,,25
For the time being Wilkes fled to France.
returned five years later. Due to the death of Benjamin Charleswood, one of the sheriffs of London and Middlesex, Trecothick became sheriff on April 15, 1766, to serve with Brackley Kennett, the other sheriff, for the remainder of the term.
Trecothick had been
elected by the other aldermen against such competition as Sir William Baker and Sir Joseph Hanley.
He was declared the law
fully elected sheriff in the presence of the Righ Honorable George Nelson Esq., the Lord Mayor.
By this time Trecothick
had established himself as the leader of the merchants dealing with America.
In the Gentlemans Magazine of 1766, the article
which announced his election as sheriff commented that, "This gentleman was president of the committee of merchants appointed to manage American affairs, and acquitted himself to the general satisfaction of all concerned.,,26 Trecothick's actions as sheriff were functional. His term was brief, from April to September, and no crisis occurred.
A comment in the Annual Register of 1766 compli
mented the two sheriffs, Trecothick and Kennett: We are assured that the place of Head-keeper of Woodstreet Compter, to which Mr. John Kirbey was lately appointed by sheriffs Trecothick and Kennett, was to
67 those gentlemen's great honour, given entirely gratis, although they might, as their predecessors were hereto fore accustomed, have sold the same for 1500 pounds. A noble example, and worthy invitation in the disposal of all city-places, but especially such as are connected with the administration of justice. 27 Trecothick objected to the custom of selling political positions. 28 (In 1770, during his Mayoralty, Trecothick called a Common Council to take into consideration whether or not the office of City Marshall should be given away instead of being sold as was customary.) On September 23 the sheriffs presented an address protesting the high cost of provisions to the King.
address complained that wheat was scarce since the crop of the present year had failed.
It stated that:
If the exportation be not immediately stopped, there is great cause to foresee that very shortly there will not remain in the Kingdom a quantity suffic ent for the necessary supply of his Majesty's subjects. ~
This was probably the first time George III and Trecothick had met and on this occasion the King took the action re quested.
Two new sheriffs were elected in September and
Trecothick turned his attention to other matters.
retained his position as alderman of Vintry Ward.
position of sheriff had not enhanced him markedly in politics but more importantly he was now entitled to be considered for the Lord Mayoralty. He continued to be active in City politics and in 1768 demonstrated a rather liberal attitude toward voting procedures.
After the Parliamentary election the two sherrifs
proceeded towards printing the record of how all the free men
This was a method used by the rival faction to
gain revenge on those who had voted "incorrectly".
intervened and by offering to reimburse the printer for his efforts, effectively discredited the complaint that the printer was already due his pay.
His offer helped to preserve
the confidential nature of the Livery's vote and in so doing eliminated possibilities of intimidation.
Register of 1768 complimented Trecothick, saying that he: • • • had used his utmost endeavours to get the
publication surpressed • • • and generously offered, in
case of the surpression to bear his proportion of any
expense that might have been previously incurred on that
The first time Trecothick's name was placed into nomi nation for Lord Mayor was on September 29, 1766.
His name was again put in nomination in 1767, 1768 and 1769. 31 Each time the number of votes he cornered increased.
October 1769 election William Beckford was named as the first
d" ~;IIt: I'-":';'Iil~
choice of the Livery for the position of Lord Mayor by a margin of 56 votes. 32 Although the Court of Aldermen made the final decision, the Livery's nomination was usually honoured.
Customarily the alderman with the most seniority
became the Lord Mayor.
Seldom was a Lord Mayor re-elected
and seldom was a Lord Mayor of previous years re-called for another term, but this election was an exceptional one. William Beckford was a very popular politician in London.
He had served as Lord Mayor for the 1762-1763 term.
His wealth and hospitality were well known.
Beckford had a
private income of i100,000 per year and extensive property,
69 particularly in the Caribbean. 33
He owned 1,800 slaves in the West Indies at the time of his death. 34 On one occasion
while he was Lord Mayor, Beckford held a banquet attended by six dukes, twenty-three earls and fourteen barons.
guests went in procession to the Mansion House, and were so numerous that the feast was spread in every available room. It cost £10,000.,,35 Besides his well known generosity, the unparalleled popularity of William Beckford was achieved by an impromptu statement to the King, George III.
It was customary to
express opposition to the government's policies by a remon strance, which was a protest, delivered to the monarch by the Lord Mayor and accompanying city officials. bitter one was delivered on March 9, 1767.
One particularly It accused the
King's ministers of corrupt principles, the destruction of trial by jury, issuing general warrants, imprisonment without
trial, evil appointments, using pretenses for calling in ,I
military power, screening murderers and rewarding them, establishing unconstitutional regulations and taxations on our colonies, taking away the right of election, and even embezzlement of public treasure. 36 During the remonstrance of July 5, 1769, which the city officials, including Trecothick, made to the monarch, the King reacted with a distinct coolness. group.
In fact, he even turned his back on the
According to the Annual Register of 1769, the event
went as such:
70 The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Sir Robert
Ladbroke, alderman Beckford and alderman Trecothick, with
the two sheriffs, accompanied by Peter Roberts, esq., the
city remembrancer, proceeded in state to St. James', with
the petition of the livery of London; where, after wait
ing a short time in the anti-chamber, his lordship sent
a messenger to the lord in waiting, to acquaint him with
his business, and to know the King's pleasure. After
much interruption, his lordship was told with some marks
of disrespect, that the levee was begun, and the gentlemen
might walk in. The King being near the door, the lord
mayor addressed him to the following effect:
Most gracious sovereign, We, the lord mayor, the representatives in parliament,
together with the sheriffs, of your Majesty's ancient
and loyal city of London, presume to approach your royal
person, and beg leave to present, with all humility, to
your majesty, the dutiful and most humble petition of
your majesty's faithful and loyal subjects the livery of
London in common-hall assembled, complaining of griev
ances; and from your majesty's unbounded goodness, and
paternal regard and affection for your subjects, they
humbly presume to hope, that your majesty will graciously
condescend to listen to their just complaints, and to
grant them such relief as in your maj'esty's known wisdom
and justice shall seem met.
After which his lordship presented the petition to
his majesty; but the King made no answer, and immediately
turned about to baron Dreden, the Danish minister, and
delivered the petition to the lord in waiting. 37
The Common Sergeant immediately began to read the address but was "abashed and terrified in his progress by a dire consider ation of the insolence of its contents, was unable to proceed; the Common Clerk laboured under no such difficulties, he took the paper and read it to an end.,,38
Their complaint had
attacked the general conduct of the King's ministers and called for their removal.
The King's lack of courtesy
prompted Beckford to remark to his colleagues, "If we have only this treatment, we have no business here.,,39 behavior assured Beckford's popularity in the city.
This He was
71 closely aligned with William Pitt and his policies, American business interests, and the freedom of citizens.
served as one of London's four members of Parliament.
the second term he was in league with Trecothick and worked with him closely on American affairs. When the election for Lord Mayor of 1769-1770 came, the contest was between Beckford, Bankes, and Trecothick. Beckford had served before but had enormous popularity with the Whigs and the King's supporters as well.
The Whigs did
not want the mayoralty to be lost to Bankes, the next alder man in rotation, who was known as a "Kings man."
"incurred the displeasures of the livery • • • in opposing • • • a petition to the throne.,,40
Trecothick was the next
Whig in position but his voting strength was uncertain.
the poll of the Livery, which nominated candidates, he showed considerable strength; Beckford 1,967, Trecothick 1,911, Bankes 676. 41 Within the Court of Aldermen, the final choice was made from the three candidates and Beckford was chosen by a 16 to 6 vote after a four hour debate. 42 He genuinely did not want the job a second time. Mr. Beckford earnestly desired his brother aldermen to appoint Mr. Trecothick to the office on account of his age and infirmities, he being then 70 years of age; and when this request had no effect he on the same plea refused to take the office upon him. 43 Indeed, Beckford held out for several days pleading that he was "not compellable to serve the Office of Lord Mayor on account of my age and infirmities.,,44 adamant about the refusal.
"I do refuse to take upon me the
He was under great pressure to accept the
position and when the Livery was told that he would not accept the mayoralty again, they gave him a noisy reception, "the general cry was, 'None but Beckford,.,,46
Cryer tried to adjourn the Common Hall, but was prevented by the Livery.
The meeting was finally adjourned at the late
hour of 7:30 P.M., after nine hours duration. For two days Beckford was visited by officials plead ing for him to accept the results of the election and requesting him not to decline at a time of such great crisis. Finally, he yielded and on October 12, 1769 a letter of acceptance was sent by him to the Lord Mayor.
stated: I cannot resist the importunate request of my fellow citizens: their desires have overcome resolutions that I once thought were fixed and determined. The feeble efforts of a worn-out man to serve them can never answer their sanquine expectations. I will do my best, and will sacrifice ease and retirement, the chief comforts of old age'4to their wishes; I will accept the office of Lord Mayor. 7 Thus, London was to be led by William Beckford, not Barlow Trecothick, for the term of November 1769 to November 1770.
Bankes had again been by-passed and now London had a
leader of high repute, known for his stand against the en croaching strength of the monarchy. would be next in line. socially and
Beckford and Trecothick were friends,
for several years.
had been allies in Parliament
Trecothick was probably happy with the
decision for he had good reason to believe he would be the next Lord Mayor.
73 Duties of the Lord Mayor of London were strenuous in the eighteenth century and Beckford's health was waning, even before the office was pushed upon him in November.
been involved in the abusive March 9th remonstrance to Parlia ment and the King's ministers when he and the city officials, Trecothick included, had presented their bitter criticism to the King.
The consequential abuse which some Parliamentary
members gave the prominent city authorities, mainly Beckford and Trecothick, within the House of Commons was very telling on the weakened Beckford.
The regular functions required of
a Parliamentary member were tiring too. On April 30 Beckford and the city group went to Westminster to deliver a friendly address to congratulate the royal family on the birth of a new child.
The mobs were
particularly difficult, and after waiting for a considerable time in the King's anti chamber , Beckford was given a message On
from the King directing him to stop the remonstrances.
the trip back to the city, Beckford was bitterly attacked by the City Marshall for not controlling the mobs after stones had been thrown at some of the officials. 48 The next day Beckford continued with his official duties.
He laid the cornerstone of a new jail and then went
on to preside over the Sessions-House Court.
The pace of
his duties was unrelenting and finally the strain became too much and he became ill.
On June 15 Dowdeswell mentioned to
Rockingham that Beckford was ill but getting better.
Beckford contacted a heavy cold on June 19 while at his
country home in Fonthill, Wiltshire.
attentive was he to discharge the important duty committed to his trust, as chief magistrate of this city, that he traveled a hundred miles in one day, which increased his cold to a rheumatic fever.,,49 The Gazetter and New Daily Advertiser of June 1770 reported that: The Right Hon. The Lord Mayor was on Monday seized with convulsions in his head; at night his Lordship took some nourishment and had tolerable rest. His Lordship has since had a blister laid on him, which rose very kindly, and affords some hopes of his recovery.50 On
the next day the same newspaper stated that "The Right
Hon. the Lord Mayor was very bad all Tuesday night and yesterday was so extremely ill that his life was despaired of. ,,51
On the following day, his death was announced:
"Yesterday morning, exactly at a quarter past five, died in the fifty-fifth year of his age at his house in Soho Square, the Right Honourable William Beckford, Esq.,,5 2 The fever that killed Beckford also took the lives of his physician and servant who attended him. 53 Two of his friends also contracted the disease, but recovered. 54 A very popular political figure, as well as a powerful ally of Trecothick and of pro-American sentiment was gone. Immediately, the aldermen met in the Inner Chamber of the Guildhall and called for an election to fill the vacancy.
The next day, June 22, 1770, after appropriate
laments for Beckford, an election was held for Lord Mayor.
75 The names of several aldermen who have served the
office of sheriff were then put in nomination. The
majority of hands was greatly for the two aldermen
Trecothic~5and Crosby, and was so declared by the
As usually happened in those rowdy times, a poll, which was a registration of votes cast, was called for by the Livery, mainly those who were supporters of Bankes.
The vote was
tallied at Guildhall on June 29, a cloudy day with some little rain. 56 Trecothick gathered the most votes, 1,601, Crosby tallied 1,434 and Bankes 437.
The Court of Aldermen
met and made the election official when they voted for Trecothick 17 to 2, Trecothick voting for himself.
therefore immediately invested with the gold chain.,,57 Barlow Trecothick had achieved the pinnacle of London politi cal life, Lord Mayor of London.
But, "It was no easy matter for the successor of one of the wealthiest and most hospitable of mayors to avoid invidious comparison.,,58 cult seas.
Trecothick was embarking on diffi
One pro-Wilkes sentiment was that Trecothick
"brought out by contrast the merits of the lamented Chief Magistrate (Beckford).,,59 on June 29, 1770.
Trecothick assumed his new office
At a quarter before two, according to
newspaper accounts, he proceeded to the Hustings, "that is to say, a place raised some steps at one end of the room,,,60 was declared Lord Mayor by the Recorder, and advanced to the front where he made "a very nervous speech.,,61
was to defend comments made in his acceptance speech through out his term in office.
His method of delivery was lampooned
in the press and his simultaneous compliments to both Beckford and Bankes, who were on different sides of the political fence, were criticized as well. The address to the Livery was printed in the London newspapers of July 2, 1770. Gentlemen, Whilst I return my thanks to you for the honour you have conferred upon me, I cannot forget the mournful occasion of it. My own particular loss is great but I know not where you will be able to repair yours. b2 The late Lord Mayor had great natural and great acquired abilities; he had a very ample fortune, with a spirit and firmness which enabled him to render your services, which I scarcely know from whom to look for now. I think his memory and his actions will ever be dear to the Citizens of London. I am obliged to you for chusing me your Lord Mayor; but I could wish you had not gone out of the usual course to elect me for these three or four months. b 3 I think Sir Henry Bankes is a very worthy gentleman, and wish he had been chosen. I shall be careful and impartial in the administration of the economy and laws and functions of my office as chief magistrate. Whoever has any property or connexions, or any-thing of that sort, ought to be very careful to have the laws observed; for my part, I shall do my duty, without any regard to political reasons, or anything of that sort. I shall do my endeavour to observe strictly the laws but it will be in your powe only , my fellow-citizens, that I may do it with effect.
It was reported that the speech was delivered with great energy and with some difficulty but his remarks about Bankes were criticized by Beckford supporters who complained that "The Livery was not reconciled for compliments to Beckford and Bankes, enemies of the same time.,,65
supporters thought him luke warm in his praise of the late Lord Mayor but despite these problems "The address was re ceived with great applause.,,66
77 Apparently some of the newspaper accounts of Trecothick's address were incomplete because he was attacked for criticizing a dead man when he said, "He had many vir tues, perhaps some failings. forgotten them.,,67
But he is now dead and I have
This sentence was not included in the
newspaper accounts of the address.
Critics thought that if
the failings of Beckford had been forgotten they would not have been mentioned at all. Trecothick complained to Edmund Burke late in Sep tember about the poor effects of his speech.
In a letter to
Lord Rockingham of September 23, Burke wrote that he had seen Lord Mayor Trecothick and that: He seemed strongly convinced of the Necessity of doing something to remove the ill impressions which were made by the unfortunate Candour of an ill timed speech. 68 Burke complimented Trecothick saying that "He is certainly a man of strong principles, and good natural Sense, but his experiences in the world is but moderate.,,69
Even , 'Ii
in October the speech still haunted him.
In a statement
defending his avowal of participating in the delivery of the remonstrances to the King in July 1769, he was accused of admitting to his participation in a "faint and forced decla ration.,,70
Trecothick said that "The Lord Mayor sets up no
pretensions to the character of a great speaker, but always has, and ever will, speak and act with that firmness and integrity, which are essential to the truth reposed in him.,7 1
After Trecothick's address to the Livery, the entourage called upon Mr. Baron Smythe, who was one of the Commissioners of the Great Seal, for his authorization and he immediately gave his approval.
The trip to Westminster
was marred by an accident when a coach broke down, injuring two passengers.
After a return to the Guildhall, a party
was given for the aldermen. On Saturday, June 30, the new Lord Mayor traveled up the Thames to Westminster Hall on the Lord Mayor's barge to be sworn in by the Baron of Exchequer.
He was accompanied
by the aldermen, sheriffs, Recorder, and other city officials and many from the Clothworkers Guild.
After being sworn in,
he paid his respects to the several courts and then returned to the Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor, for an elegant entertainment given for his guild, the Clothworkers. An interesting incident occurred to Trecothick's
entourage while on the trip.
When they came to Westminster,
they were to pass through the Hall-gates according to custom but found it closed.
The group passed and re-passed the
gates several times and then proceeded to the Westminster Hall.
Some accounts imagined this to be a deliberate snub
to Trecothick, and the City newspapers called for a reprimand to the inattentive officer. 72 Whether this was intentional or not, Trecothick was not a favorite of the Court due to his actions as a City official and as a member of the oppo sition in Parliament.
79 The Reverend East Apthorp, who was a younger brother of Grizzell, Trecothick's first wife who died in 1769, was appointed by the new Lord Mayor as the official Civic Chaplain.
Apthorp was one of eighteen children of Charles
and Grizzell Apthorp of Boston.
The Trecothick and Apthorp
families were also business associates.
had been a vicar in Boston but moved to England and became the vicar of Croydon, a town near the Addington estate of Trecothick's.73 the London area.
He became a prominent religious leader in Apthorp had an opportunity of acknowledging
the public character of his brother-in-law in a sermon preached at Guildhall Chapel on September 29, 1770 on the election of the new Lord Mayor.
In the sermon Apthorp stated:
If there be a Man, in whom the greatest probity and honour have been inherent and conspicuous in every station and period of his life: who, to a fund of natural and clear good sense prudence and judgment, has added the experience of business, the commerce of the world, and the most honorable functions of the Senate and Magistracy: who, undazzled by the lustre of power, reveres the constitutional exercise of it in every d~ partment of government; loyal to the King yet independent on administration; a friend to the people, yet unin-' fluenced by party-spirit or the breach of popular: ever attentive, not to the fluctuations and changes of the times, but to those laws, which are as permanent as the constitution itself: if there be a Man, who in principle and manners most firmly attached to the Christian Religion, and to the Civil Establishment of it in these Kingdoms; together with its enlarged principles of ,Toleration to all, whose descent from it is consistent with the public safety!--of such an One, my near affinity gratitude, and personal attachment forbids me to say more, than that you have had some experience of these eminent qualities in your present Chief Magistrate and Representative. None of those, who honour and revere his virtues, would wish them to be farther engaged in these trying times, in the arduous province of the Chief Magistracy, on any other consideration than that of the public good: and, I am persuaded, no other consideration
would induce him to engage any farther in so difficult a province. 74
The sermon was printed at the expense of the City and respect
fully inscribed to Barlow Trecothick. 75
The position of Lord Mayor brought with it an active social life.
Entertainment in the Mansion House for political
leaders, merchants, guild members, influential people, and friends was a necessity.
This was a rather expensive duty.
In fact, Trecothick, who was a conservative man, was called stingy by critics.
satirized him for not main
taining the City's reputation for hospitality.
One of the
criticisms concerned a function which was planned at the Mansion House for the aldermen and members of the Common Council.
An invitation was sent to all members which re
quested their acknowledgements of attendance.
"As a much
greater number of Gentlemen went to dine" than had answered the invitation, "the provisions laid out for them were. • • scanty and some grumbling altercation happened. ,,76
extra guests received an apology from Trecothick and were told they would have had better accommodation, "if some of the gentlemen then present had been polite enough to have returned an answer to his card, as was requested.,,77 Thereafter,
of being stingy and inhospitable were
frequently aimed at Trecothick.
Compared to a lavish
entertainer such as Beckford he appeared to many as being too thrifty.
81 Trecothick's social life accelerated considerably throughout his tenure as the chief magistrate of the world's largest city.78
When possible, he went to his estate at
Addington in the county of Surrey for relaxation.
return trip from Addington he went on board a Russian Man of War and received a warm reception.
He invited the Captain
and his officers to the Mansion House for the next evening where they dined on turtle and venison. On July 5, 1770 Trecothick and his new wife, Ann Meredith, were presented to King George at St. James's Palace.
He was politely and graciously received.
day the procedure to erect a statue in tribute to William Beckford was begun.
The monument was eventually commissioned
and stands today in the Guildhall with an inscription of Beckford's famous statement to the King. As Lord Mayor, Trecothick entertained several evenings each week.
In addition to his usual business transactions,
he presided over the customary court sessions and performed the other required functions of the mayoralty.
served as colonial agent for New Hampshire and acted as the representative of the merchants who dealt with America. Considering he was recently remarried and in the midst of constructing a manor house at his estate in Addington, he was a very active person, even though his health had begun to wane.
Since Parliament was not in session throughout his
short term as Lord Mayor, he was relieved of carrying both duties at once.
It seems fair to state that Trecothick did not get off to a good start as Lord Mayor.
His acceptance speech
had been criticized in the press for its manner of delivery and the reference to Bankes and Beckford.
He forgot the
customary practice of sending out notices of an election to find Beckford's replacement in Parliament.
This error caused
some of the Livery to wait over four hours because they came to the Guildhall early and he was assailed for inattentive ness.
In October Trecothick was accused of not being forceful
enough with another remonstrance.
He retorted in a press
statement that he set up no pretensions and would "speak and act with that firmness and integrity which are essential to the trust imposed in him. 1l79
He stated that he would act
from his own experienced opinion and with men he judged upright. The October 6-9, 1770 London Chronicle printed this scathing attack: Permit me to ask your Lordship, in what political affair have you ever shown the least spirit of revolution? Where have you defended the rights of your Fellow Citi zens, becoming their Representative? Or when did you ever act independently for the welfare of your country? These my Lord, are questions you cannot answer, accu sations you are unable to contradict. I allow that in imitation of your worthy predecessor (Mr. Beckford) you did declare in the House of Commons that you would abide by the contents of the City Remonstrance; this was a faint, forced declaration, and your future conduct has not been consonant with it. SO Trecothick was even asked if he was afraid on the occasion of the remonstrance. did not fear for his safety:
He replied angrily that he
I declare that I had no more fear nor anxiety upon my mind at that time than I have now. I did what I thought was my duty, and I am sure I acted accordingly to law. I was very well satisfied to share the fate of the late Lord Mayor and Sheriffs. I had not a thought about my own personal safety; but was willing, if it must be so, to become a victim in common with them. 81 In 1771 Burke wrote to Sir William Baker supporting his stand against newspaper abuse. Trecothick had done.
He told Baker to act as
They made an attempt of a similar nature upon Trecothick; and he defeated them by standing up like a man in strong avowal without colours or apologies of his conduct, his principles, and his connections. B2 Several issues demanded action in his tenure of office.
One such issue which he confronted was that of the
impressment of seamen.
London was a prime area for press
gangs and had been for many years.
On September 25 the Lord
Mayor was briefed by the Ministry concerning the critical situation with Spain.
By September 30 the newspapers were
carrying articles that "war would certainly be declared against Spain that day. ,,83
Lord North, the Prime Minister, needed 16,000 men, 9,000 at once. 84 Pressure was on to man the ships of the navy. At the Court of Aldermen on September 27, Trecothick read a letter from the Lords of the Admiralty requesting his backing of press warrants.
His approval as Lord Mayor was
required to make impressment legal in the City though it had been going on surreptitiously. he had made to the Admiralty.
He read to the Court the reply He had told the Admiralty that
it was not usual to approve press warrants unless the Privy
84 Council applied to him requesting his backing of them.
situation was fanned into an emotional issue by John Wilkes, now a London alderman, who strenuously opposed the backing of press warrants. Impressment was a major news item and the newspapers reported many incidents throughout Britain.
Barges were not
running regularly in the Thames because the men feared the
An informant for a press gang had been mortally
press gangs. beaten.
In Diss, Norfolk, a report came that men escaping
press gangs were rampaging around the area looting and abusing people.
The press gangs carried off scores of men
to man the ships of the navy. men in one swoop.
In Westminster they took fifty
The occupations of captured men did not
seem to matter, though the gangs preferred to take seamen. On board one boat, which was carrying 110 impressed men, they over-powered the boat and ran it aground, the only casualty being black eyes for the officers. a scuffle broke out on board the impressed men.
A few days later was transporting
The ship's captain asked for assistance from
a nearby Man of War but when it pulled alongside, one man was killed.
The naval ship then retreated and the impressed
seamen were put ashore.
Feeling against impressment was
running high indeed. By early October Trecothick had received an official request from the Privy Council to sign press warrants, which he did.
The Lord Mayor informed the Court of Aldermen of
his action on October 11.
85 He had received a Requisition in Form from the Privy Council to give his utmost assistance in the services of Press Warrants and that in consequence he had backed those warrants and sent to the several constables and other Civil Officers to be assistant to the military in execution of them. 8 5 In his compliance with the request he stressed that no freemen (guild members) were to be impressed, nor servants of freemen.
No press gang would be allowed to impress with
out a constable being present.
The intent, he said, was to
"clear the streets and disorderly houses of pickpockets, vagrants, and other idle fellows, who have no visible way of livelihood.,,86
He issued orders that any Lieutenant of a
press gang who violated these stipulations was to be brought before him, and on one occasion he severely reprimanded an officer for this reason.
Lord Chatham (William Pitt)
expressed his disapproval of Trecothick's action but said he admired his firmness. John Wilkes was immediately on the attack, as he so often was on issues of freedom for the lower classes.
Common Council he accused Trecothick of suspending the Magna Charta in the City.
Signing the press warrants was an out
right violation of the British Constitution and was clearly illegal, Wilkes charged. Trecothick was in accord with Wilkes concerning the illegality of press warrants but declared, "that in that emergency, the fleet must be manned and he could not risque the danger of delay.,,8?
Wilkes agreed with Trecothick's
reasoning but wanted another method of acquiring seamen, such
86 as giving an incentive for them to join voluntarily.
that better wages or a larger bounty was a more suitable way. Trecothick said he felt that the occasion justified his con duct and the matter was left at that. Several days later Trecothick refused to sign an affidavit for James Cock which would have proven he was a freeholder.
Wilkes began dismissing men brought before him
for impressment and indeed Trecothick dismissed men whose cases he felt justified dismissal.
On October 29 Trecothick
released six of nine men brought before him because they were not taken under the rules he had laid down.
Once again he
ordered the press gangs to adhere strictly to the rules which he had given them.
Previously he had written to the
Admiralty complaining that some men were buying immunity from impressment for a guinea by purchasing signed papers from Admiralty officials.
He was assured the practice would be
stopped. When the Livery was addressed by the outgoing Lord Mayor on November 7, he justified his decision to sign the press warrants.
He remarked that all former Lord Mayors had
acted as he had done.
At a time when the whole nation was alarmed with the great preparations making for war, he should have thought himself very inexcusable, as Chief Magistrate of the City of London, if he had thrown any obstruction in the way which might retard the speedy mannings of the fleet. 88 He felt that press warrants were illegal but as an individual, "thought it too weighty a matter for him singly to determine
Since Parliament was due to meet soon he would
leave the decision to that body. The disagreement over impressment caused the Wilkes faction to work against Trecothick in his bid to gain a term as Lord Mayor on his own.
Some time before Beckford's death,
Trecothick had been maneuvering with some allies, including Beckford, for a term as Lord Mayor.
On June 15, 1770, before
Beckford's death, Rockingham wrote to Dowdeswell and discussed Trecothick's ideas.
He concluded that Trecothick had managed
his political tactics very cleverly.90
Lord Cavendish, an
ally of the Rockingham faction, also discussed the possibility of Trecothick's becoming Lord Mayor with Rockingham, but since the two sheriffs who had been elected were of the opposite camp, he wondered if "two sheriffs under a Mayor of different principles won't be in a very awkward situation.,,91
circumstances may have altered Trecothick's keenness for a term of his own. Trecothick was not elected to the next term due to Wilkes' active opposition and was succeeded by Brass Crosby, a supporter of Wilkes.
Edmund Burke, in a letter to Lord
Rockingham, wrote that this was "a fine opportunity lost (the finest in the world), of taking the city out of the worst hands in the world and putting it into good ones.,,92
the following Lord Mayor's term, the Common Council called for the prosecution of magistrates backing press warrants and constables executing them, and declared the backing as
obnoxious to the Common Council.
The furor continued for
some years with Wilkes fighting against impressment of seamen. Wilkes and Trecothick were at variance on another issue which resulted in Trecothick's being pressured into more drastic action than he probably would have desired.
the issue of the City Recorder's conduct which occurred during Beckford's term as Lord Mayor in 1769.
During the Remon
strance delivered to the King by Beckford a few months before his death, the Recorder refused to accompany the officials to see the King at Buckingham House.
He was charged in the
Court of Common Council with neglect in discharging his
"The Recorder of London having greatly offended the
corporation, by refusing to attend the late lord-mayor on his presenting the city remonstrance to the King,,,93 official charge.
In anticipation of a full-blown scandal,
the newspapers reported: The Court of Common Council is expected to be very full tomorrow on account of the conduct of the Recorder being to be then considered; and some masterly speeches, Q4 it is said, are prepared to be delivered on the occasion~ The spectators were not disappointed, nor was the principal character repentent. So peremptory was the Recorder in the propriety of his conduct (one report stated) that he not only en deavoured to exculpate himself from having in the least transgressed, but also declared that he should conduct 9 himself in a like manner on any such occasion in future. 5 The conflict was another duel between "popular" and "King's" men.
With John Wilkes in the lead, a Common Council was held
in the Guildhall on October 27 to discuss the issue.
89 considerable debating, the Recorder, James Eyre, Esq., was eventually dismissed.
Trecothick supported the dismissal
and according to the Lord Mayor's records, officially fired him, "James Eyre Esq. the present recorder be no more advised with, retained, or employed in any of the affairs of this Corporation he being deemed by this Court unworthy of their future trust or confidence.,,96 Trecothick was also involved in a struggle with the bakers of London during his term as Lord Mayor.
By law, the
Lord Mayor determined the size of a penny loaf of bread and was constantly lobbied by the bakers to decrease the size of the loaf and by the populace to increase it.
insisted that the bread remain the same size and sent in spectors throughout the City to enforce the rUling. occasion the bakers were fined for cheating.
the bakers pleaded that the price of grain had risen, Trecothick disputed their justification.
His Lordship said
that: As the crops of corn were in general reported to be good, he thought there was no reason for such a request; and that he would never give his consent for distressing the poor.97 Trecothick was determined that bakers were to be fined the maximum penalty of five shillings per ounce of underweight bread and administered these fines himself.
He received a
letter accusing some collusion in the price of corn and pUblicly requested the informant to call on him with his evidence.
He did lower the size of bread later when it was
proven to him that a substantial increase in the price of corn had taken place. On October 11, 1770 the first stone for the City of London Lying-In Hospital was laid by Lord Mayor Trecothick. "After the ceremony the building committee and officers, together with the architect and the contractors for the bUilding, were elegantly and politely entertained at dinner by his lordship at the Mansion House. ,,98
As Lord Mayor,
Trecothick was involved in minor decisions too, such as ordering the City Marshall to "take care that the drovers do not bring their cattle to Smith-field Market, till after twelve o'clock on Sunday night. ,,99
He likewise ordered that
the Marshalls "prevent the owners of country pea-carts from trafficing in the markets of this city on a Sunday.,,100 After a stormy four months as London's Lord Mayor, Barlow Trecothick stepped down on November 8 and the new Lord Mayor, Brass Crosby, became the chief magistrate of the City.
On this occasion at the Guildhall Trecothick addressed
He discussed his reasons for backing the Press
Warrants and told them he despised the: • • • low and illiberal means that had been made use of to prejudice him in the minds of the public; and as he had, in every respect, executed the business of Chief Magistrate, to the best of his judgment and abilities, his conscience was perfectly easy and he did not doubt but he should meet with the approbation of all his im partial fellow citizens. 101 Published the previous day was a slashing attack upon Trecothick by John Wilkes.
Since Trecothick had not acted as
Wilkes desired on the impressment issue, Wilkes was indignant.
Wilkes' Annals of the Mayoralty of the Right Hon. Barlow Trecothick. Esg. was a savage attack even by eighteenth century standards.
He resurrected embarrassing events of
Trecothick's past such as the issue of his loyalties to Boston, used in the Parliamentary election of 1768, and the episode of the Mansion House party which did not have enough refreshments to go around. 102 Wilkes said: His Lordship from the greatness of his soul, invited to the Mansion House the whole Common Council, and pro vided an entertainment for half of them • • • Of the fragments which were taken up and sent to the various persons of the City (there were) baskets 000,000,000. 103 Most severe was the attack concerning press gangs.
claimed that on October 24 Trecothick had: • • • admitted into the City the whole bands of ruffians, under the name of press gangs, caressed their chiefs, gave the sanction of his name and authority for all the constables, and let loose against the lawe, the peace, the liberties, and franchised of London. 104 He concluded, "God be praised, this day is November 8.,,105 Horace Walpole later said that Trecothick had supported Wilkes with less warmth but more judgment than the other prominent city patriots.
He felt that Trecothick
probably had the penetration to see deeper into Wilkes' character and views.
Wilkes did not live on any intimate
footing with Trecothick.
Walpole concluded, "Beckford and
Trecothick behaved towards Wilkes with much ciVility.,,106 Evidently Trecothick's encounters with Wilkes did not provoke him to any degree outside the political arena.
did support Wilkes on some issues but with less passion than ardent Wilkesites.
92 The Common Council officially thanked Trecothick for his work as Lord Mayor on November 15.
Their opinion varied
from Wilkes: • • • for his constant attendance to and judicious and faithful discharge of the Duties of that important office--for his steady and impartial administration of Justice--for the easy access given to his Fellow Citi zens--for his Readiness to convene Courts of Common Council whenever applied for, or the Public good required; for determining on every occasion during his presiding in this Court with candour, Ability and Integrity--for his attention in preserving the good order and Dignity of this great Metropolis; and support ing the Rights and Privileges thereof. 10 7 Throughout his mayoralty, the position of Alderman of Vintry Ward was still held by Trecothick as was the custom. By virtue of this position, which was held for life, he continued to be active in the administration of the City of London until his retirement in 1774. On November 21, 1770 the city officials paid a visit to the King to deliver another abusive remonstrance which complained of the King's violation of the constitution. Trecothick went along for the delivery.
He was also active
in the affair concerning Brass Crosby, who was the Lord Mayor after Trecothick.
Crosby was imprisoned in the Tower for
offences against Parliament.
In March, while Crosby was in the Tower, Trecothick served as Acting Lord Mayor. 108
Trecothick's involvement in the political affairs of London diminished steadily after his mayoralty ended. In October of 1772 Lord Rockingham wrote of his disappointment in Trecothick's vote for William Nash, a King's man for Lord Mayor:
93 I am vexed that Trecothick voted for these shabby fellows. His known and well grounded aversion to Wilkes and Townsend might prevent his voting for either of the~; but there was no necessity of voting for the Courtiers~09 Trecothick had explained to Burke a year before why he had voted for Nash in 1771: My vote in the Court has been in favor of Mr. Nash- differing as I do from his political Principles I still consider him as having done nothing worthy of degradation from his Turn--and I am besides of long Acquaintance and friendship with him and have had constant commercial Connections--besides that at the general Election when his Situation as Sheriff did not allow him to give me personally the Assistance he was inclined to. 110 Nash had defeated an attempt by Wilkes to re-elect Crosby. In June of 1773 Trecothick opposed an address to George III concerning the birth of a daughter to the Duke of Gloucester on grounds that the King might see it as an affront to him.
He continued to press for what he felt were
proper relations with the monarchy.
In October of 1773 he
voted for Fred Bull as Lord Mayor, voting against John Wilkes again, and helped re-elect Bull in November of 1774. Trecothick had been qUite ill since January of 1774.
On November 1, 1774 he resigned from the alderman position which he had held for ten years.
At the Court of Aldermen
held at the Guildhall: Alderman Trecothick desired leave to resign his gown as Alderman of Vintry Ward, on account of his ill state of health, which the court accepted and Nathaniel Newnham, Esq. has since been chosen in his room. 111 Trecothick's political participation in the City of London had ended.
In late 1771 he had expressed his dismay with the
political situation in London and threatened to Withdraw. stated:
Should this state of things 'so nearly approaching to Anarchy continue to another Election sure I am that I shall take to close Quarters. I never have meant nor I am sure shall ever mean more than to do any little good I can to my Country collectively and to commerce in which I have spent my life--it will be too much to give up the remainder of my short life to fruitless Efforts after what the degeneracy of Mankind renders hopeless. 112 Perhaps his retirement was due in part to his disgust at "this state of things." Gone from London politics was the man who Walpole had called, "by far the ablest man of the party (Whig) that ruled the City of that day.,,113
Gone too were his compromising
abilities and balanced judgment.
At a crucial juncture of
British-American relations a major spokesman for restraint and moderation had departed.
1News item in the Read's Weekly Journal, March 7, 1761. 2News item in the British Chronicle, March 20-23, 1761. 3Minute Books of the Court of Aldermen 1 64 (Un published journa 0 on on i your 0 ermen, Corpor ation of London Records Office, Guildhall, London), p. 34. 4Ibid ., p. 53. 5Robert J. Blackham, London Forever the soverei~ Cit; (London: Sampson, Marston and Company Limited, 193 , p.
6J. Botherton, The Present State of Great Britain and Ireland (9th ed.; London: J. Botherton, 1764), p. 102. 7G. D. H. Cole and Raymond Postgate, The Common People 1746-1838 (London: Methuen and Company Limited, 1938), pp. 8-9. 8Walter Harrison, A Survey of the Cities of Lo~n~~~~~~~~~~~~~--~.--Cooke, 1775), pp. 420-425. 9John James Baddeley, The Aldermen of Cri~plegate Ward from A.D. 1276 to A.D. 1900 (London: Chapel WOrks, 1900), p.
10Ibid., p. 164. 11Ibid., p. 236. 12Blackham, London Forever, p. 22. 13Ibid., p. 17. 14Ibid.
96 17Barlow Trecothick to Edmund Burke, October 8, 1771 (Fitzwilliam MSS Sheffield, England), published in Thomas W. Copeland, Correspondence of Edmund Burke (Cambridge: Cam bridge UniversitY Press, 1958), pp. 245-246. New
20Rev. Alfred B. Beaven, The Aldermen of the City of London, Vol. II (London: Eden Fisher and Company LImIted, 1913), p • 199 . 21Edmund Burke to Lord Rockingham, September 18, 1770 (Reprinted in The Correspondence of Edmund Burke Vol. II, Lucy S. Sutherland (ed.) Cambridge: Cambridge university Press, 1960), p. 157. 22Frederick A. Pottle (ed.), Boswell's London Journal (London: William Heinemann Limited, 1951), pp. 250
23 Ibid ., p. 253. 24Horace Walpole (re-edited by G. F. Russell Baker), Memoirs of the Rei of Kin Geor e III Vol. III (London: , pp. • awrence and u en, 25Ibid. 26News item in Gentlemans Magazine, Vol. XXXVI (1766), p. 196. 27News item in the Annual Register, 1766, p. 115. 28News item in The Gazatteer and New Daily Advertiser, September 24, 1770. 1766, p. 227. of London on
31Minute Books of the Court of Common Council, pp. 134, 138, 143, 148. 32Ibid., p. 148. Trecothick 1,911.
Rockford received 1,967 votes,
33Gerrit P. Judd, IV, Members of Parliament 1734 1834 (Oxford: Oxford University ~ress, 1955), p. 76. 34A news item in The Gazatteer and New Daily Adver tiser, June 30, 1770. 35Percy Fitzgerald, The Life of John Wllkes l M. P., Vol. II (London: Ward and Do . AkAA, AAA AA 36John Wilkes, English Libert* Collection of Private Corres ondence Public Letters S eec es Addresses from to 17 9 Lon on: T. Baldwin, 17 ,pp. 3 5 7 37Article in the Annual Register, 1769, pp. 112-113. 38T. C. Hansard, The Parliamentary History of England 1768-1771 (London: T. C. Hansard, 1813), p. 875. 39George Rude, Wilkes and Liberty: A Social StUdt of 1763 to 1774 (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1962), p. 109.150 British Museum, MSS 35609, ff8-9. 40News item in Annual Register 1769, p. 133. 41 Ibid • 42Alfred B. Beaven, The Aldermen of the Cit, of London, p. 199; also news item in Annual Register 1 69, p.
43John Noorthouch, A New History of London (London: R. Baldwin, 1773), p. 468. (Beckford was actually 55, not 70 as stated here. See footnote 52.) 44Minute Books of the Common Council, p. 149. 45Ibid. 46News item in Annual Register 1770, p. 139. 47Ibid., p. 140. 48News item in Annual Register 1770, p. 112. 49News item in Annual Register 1770, p. 119. 50News item in The Gazatteer and New Daily Adver tiser, June 20, 1770. 51Ibid., June 21, 1770.
52Ibid., June 22, 1770. Beckford was probably born in Jamaica in 1709 as recorded in The centu~ CYCIO~edia of Names, Benjamin E. Smith (ed.) published by he Lon on TImes in 1905. This would make his age 61 at death, not 70 as stated in J. Noorthouch, A New History of London, published in 1773, not 55, as stated here. 53Ibid., July 9, 1770. 54Ibid. 55News item in Annual Register 1770, p. 120. 56Gentlemans Magazine, Vol. XL (1770), p. 270. 57News item in Annual Register 1770, p. 122. 58Reginald R. Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, Vol. III (London: Longmans and Green Company, 1895), p. 106. 59Percy Fitzgerald, The Life of John Wilkes, p. 119. 60Frank Brady (ed.) and Frederick A. Pottle (ed.), Boswell in Search of A Wife 1 66-1 6 (London: William einemann iml e , 1 61News item in The Gazatteer and New Daily Advertiser, June 30, 1770. 62Ibid., This was spoken with great emotion, the account stated. 63Ibid., At this point, the article apologized, the remainder of the address was an accident. It stated that "if there appears something inconsistent or improper it was from accident and hurry rather than by design." 64News item in The Public Advertiser, July 2, 1770. 65News item in Gentlemans Magazine, Vol. XL., July 1770, p. 341. 66Ibid. 67News item in The London Chronicle, June 30-July 3, 1770. 68Edmund Burke to Lord Rockingham, September 23, 1770. Lucy S. Sutherland (ed.) The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, Vol. II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960), p. 159. 69Ibid.
99 70News item in The London Chronicle, October 6-9, 1770. 7 1News item in The Public Advertiser, October 8, 1770. 7 2News item in The Gazatteer and New Daily Adver tiser, July 2, 1770. 73Frederick Lewis Weis, Colonial Clergy of New England (Dorchester, Massachusetts, Underhill, 1936). Privately printed book in the possession of The Society of the Descendants of the Colonial Clergy, Dedham, Massachusetts. 74East Apthorp, A Sermon at Guildhall Church on Election of a Lord Mayor (London: B. White, 1770), pp. 13-14. This pamphlet was inscribed by Apthorp "most respectfully" to Trecothick. 75Ibid. 76News item in The London Chronicle, September 20-22, 1770. 77Ibid. 78This position traditionally cost the person who held the position of Lord Mayor many thousands of pounds. 79News item in The Public Advertiser, October 8, 1770. 80News item in The London Chronicle, October 6-9, 1770. 81Ibid., October 13, 1770. 82Edmund Burke to Sir William Baker, September 26, 1771, Sutherland (ed.), The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, Vol. II, p. 241. 83News item in The London Chronicle, September 30, 1770. 84William Hunt, The History of England 1~60-1801 (London: Longman Green and Company, 1930), p. 11 • 85News item in The London Chronicle, October 13, 1770. 86Ibid., October 18, 1770. 87Ibid., October 13, 1770. 88Ibid., November 7, 1770.
100 89Ibid. 90Lord Rockingham to William Dowdeswell, June 15, Wentworth-Woodhouse Muniments, R1-1304. 9 1Lord Cavendish to Lord Rockingham, June 1770, Ibid., R1-1303. 1770.
The London Chronicle, October 11, 1770.
95Ibid., September 29 to October 2, 1770.
96Minutes of Court of Common Council, p. 122 A.
97News item in The London Chronicle, August 29, 1770.
98Walter Harrison, p. 671.
99News item in The London Chronicle, August 2, 1770.
100 Ibid •
101News item in Annual Register 1770, pp. 161-162. 102John Wilkes, "Annals of the Mayoralty of the Right Hon. Barlow Trecothick, Esq." reprinted in Percy Fitzgerald's, The Life of John Wilkes, M. P. (London: Ward and Downey, 1888), p. 121. 103Ibid. 104 Ibid •
106Horace Walpole, Memoirs of Kin~ George the Third, Vol. III (London: Lawrence and Bullen, 18 4), p. 127. 107Minutes of the Court of Common Council, p. 152 A. 108This event is discussed in the Parliament Chapter of this thesis.
111News item in Gentlemans Magazine, Vol. XLIV, 1774,
112Barlow Trecothick to Edmund Burke, October 8, 1771, Copeland, Ibid., p. 246. 113Horace Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of King George III, p. 127.
Chapter 4 MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT Barlow Trecothick's first effort to become a Member of Parliament was an unsuccessful attempt in March of 1761 to stand for the City of London.
At the meeting held in the
Guildhall on March 6, "Barlow Trecothick, Esq., was proposed, but not being free of the City, was not put in nomination.,,1 At this time he had not held any elective position and in fact was not eligible until he became a member of a guild. This was done within the month and it was reported that he still intended to become a Parliamentary candidate for Londonf The next election would not occur until 1768. In September of 1765 the Duke of Newcastle wrote to Trecothick asking him to stand as the Member of Parliament for a vacancy in Shoreham, a town south of London.
could guarantee the parliamentary position as it was a borough under his patronage.
He told Trecothick that "the election
is sure, and that there can be no opposition.,,3
would be over a thousand pounds and, "it would be of great service, if the merchant who was to be recommended would con tract with the local shipbuilder for a ship.,,4
decided not to accept the offer. I must decline it--being determined not to increase
any considerable Expense in a matter of that sort-
especially as it may rather check the purpose of standing
for London at the next election, in case things should then wear a promising aspect in my favour. 5 The Duke replied the same day.
He tried to persuade
Trecothick to accept the Shoreham offer, assuring him that should he be chosen as a London candidate for the next election, he would be released by the Shoreham constituency. "I dare say," he told Trecothick, "the town of Shoreham will readily choose anyone whom you shall recommend.,,6 Newcastle then described Trecothick's attributes: My friends at Shoreham are very desirous that you should be their Member. You must know what an honour and pleasure it would be to me to contribute to bring into Parliament a gentleman of your known principles, ability, and integrity; and one so able, and so willing to serve his country; and so capable to do it, particularly at this time, when things must come before Parliament, which perhaps no one man knows or understand so well as yourself.? Trecothick persisted in declining the Shoreham con stituency, declaring that the sum mentioned was "too great for a man who has no lucrative views from a seat in Parliament as I really have not."B
This type of representation was not
uncommon in eighteenth century England but it was unpopular with the democratic electorate of the City.
own views were similar, as he exhibited throughout his public life.
Also, he was probably genuinely concerned over the
expenditure the Shoreham constituency would require since he had recently assumed a large debt. 9 A great deal of valuable experience in political affairs was gained by Trecothick during the period of time he awaited the next Parliamentary election.
He was involved
104 in London city politics, becoming an alderman in 1764 and a sheriff in 1766, and was nominated for Lord Mayor twice.
also gained very important allies during his efforts to repeal the Stamp Act, particularly in the Rockingham camp and among the powerful merchant-shipping group of London.
rose sWiftly through the ranks of city politics too, indi cating crucial support among the guild members who formed the bulk of voting strength in London. Parliament was dissolved on March 31, 1768, and the new Parliament was summoned to meet at Westminster on the tenth day of May.
The selection of the four London members
was a disruptive affair and placed Trecothick in the midst of a very turbulent event.
The election was essentially between
those favoring a dominance of Parliamentary and monarchial power and those of the political-mercantile conglomerate of the City of London who fought the established powers.
latter, to which Trecothick belonged, won the election after the electorate rejected their most radical advocate, John
Wilkes' continued efforts to gain a seat in Parlia
ment created a provocative situation in Middlesex and in the whole of England. From the beginning of the campaign, Trecothick was assailed for his American interests and his business connec tions.
He was, "unfit to represent his fellow citizens,,,10
his critics claimed.
The agent for Connecticut, W. S.
Johnson, wrote to Governor William Pitkin that Trecothick "is almost every day violently abused in the papers as an
enemy to his country.,,11
He was put on the defensive from
the beginning since he was a known defender of America and was considered a Bostonian by many.
spoke with an accent acquired in America which differed enough from his associates to be commented upon. 12
to his American education also infers that his manner of speech was somewhat different. In February of 1768 a meeting was held at the Kings Arms Tavern where the livery was recommended to select Trecothick as one of their Parliamentary members.
in the Political Register of February 1768 helped to launch the attack on Trecothick, the writer observed.
"I see it
has been recommended to us, to chuse for a representative for the City of London, a gentleman from Boston.,,13
what obligation the City of London owed Boston that a Boston man should represent London in Parliament, particularly at a time when:
• • • they are openly avowing the most unfriendly dispositions towards us, and endeavouring, as far as is in their power to ruin almost every branch of the trade of this city.1 4 The article accused Trecothick of being a spy from Boston sent in the guise of a merchant, "to watch for, and give notice of any public calamities, and to instruct their countrymen how to take advantage of these.,,15 The liverymen of London listed several reasons why Barlow Trecothick should not be elected.
These reasons given
were that he sent too many goods abroad, he helped to increase
106 a dependence on trade, that the large sums of money owed him in New England encouraged rebellion, that his votes would not be with the court, that he was not obnoxious to the Ministry, and finally, that the money connected with being a Member of Parliament should be given to someone who was not as rich as Trecothick. 16 Other critics called upon Trecothick to acknowledge the right of the King and Parliament to enact laws binding on America.
This was considered necessary in view of the large
amount of business he conducted with the colonies.
disclosed that Trecothick annually sent fifteen ships to North America to the value of l130,000.17
Such was the criticism
of Trecothick's suitability to serve in Parliament. Some of Trecothick's supporters defended him in other letters published in the London newspapers.
One such defender
called Trecothick a "great promoter of trade.,,18
stated their support was due to Trecothick's integrity and ,~
timely experience, particularly in American affairs.
I~~~I ',1 1;11
fact that he was elected after his American extraction had been made an issue," Sir Lewis Namier wrote, "renders the fact even more significant.,,19 The polls were open for seven days for the nearly five thousand eligible voters who were the livery of London. Due to the candidacy of John Wilkes, who was becoming a known character to many, various details of the election are re corded.
Wilkes faired poorly in this try, being placed last
of the seven candidates, but won a good deal of publicity for
107 himself besides inspiring bitter emotional criticism of his opponents and their tactics. On the opening day of the election all the candidates presented themselves at the Guildhall.
The seven prospective
Parliamentary members were Wilkes, Trecothick, William Beckford, Sir Richard Glyn, Sir Robert Ladbroke, John Paterson, and Thomas Harley, Lord Mayor.
Each of the candidates spoke
to the gathered audiences, presenting themselves and their positions on various issues to the voters. Trecothick was not a flamboyant speaker and he did not enjoy making speeches in such conditions, as they made him nervous.
He promised to exert his "Utmost endeavours to
support the present happy constitution both in Church and State, and promote the commercial interests of the Kingdom in general and of this city in particular. ,,20 John Wilkes' manner of delivery was in marked con trast.
He was dressed in a dark blue suit with metal buttons liiill·
and responded to the cheers of the crowd by claiming:
I stand here, Gentlemen, a private man, unconnected
with the Great, and unsupported by any Party. I have no
support but you, I wish no other support. I can have
none more certain, none more honourable. 21
Letters supporting Wilkes were circulated to "rela tives, friends, almost every housekeeper in London and Westminster.,,22
Some newspapers thought Wilkes would be
elected; one declared, "Mr. Wilkes will be certainly chosen. ,~3 He was promised many votes, according to one report, but these voters changed their minds because they were "restrained or
intimidated by the powerful influence of the other candi dates.,,24
Had the electors been free from the "different
interests arising from trade (which) set so many secret springs in motion," and had "the electors been as free in Guildhall as they are interested in their commerce," the results would have differed, the writer felt, in Wilkes' favour. 25 After a week of registration, the eligible voters gathered in the Guildhall to vote on their four members of Parliament.
James Boswell, author of Dr. Samuel Johnson's
biography, recorded the event in his diary: We went to the Guildhall to see the ~oll for members.
It was really grand. Harley (Lord Mayor), Beckford,
Trecothick, Sir Richard Glyn, Mr. Deputy Paterson and
Mr. Wilkes all stood upon the hustings, that is to say,
a place raised by some steps at one end of the room.
They had true London countenances. I cannot describe
them. • • • The confusion and the noise of the mob
roaring "Wilkes and Liberty" were prodigious. 26
After a show of hands for each candidate, the sheriffs declared Ladbroke, Beckford and Wilkes to have the majority but could not decide which candidate had the fourth seat.
second round of hands was called for to decide between Harley, Glyn, Trecothick and Paterson. clusive.
It was too incon
A poll was then demanded in favour of the defeated
This was a normal procedure which resulted in a
more definative registration of votes. As the Lord Mayor, Harley was a dedicated enemy of John Wilkes and his refusal to accept the selection of hands was expected.
Harley was so unhappy with either the apparent
109 decision, Wilkes in Parliament, or with the crowds' behaviour, that he seemed to have forgotten himself.
He began arresting
unruly members of the crowd with his own hands, hand-cuffed them and charged them with a breach of the peace.
haviour was unconstitutional as Harley was himself one of the candidates and: Had not Mr. Wilkes gone away immediately on closing the poll, and his Lordship sheltered himself by Mr. Beckford's presence, he would have certainly felt the resentment of an enraged and insulted populace. 27 "By far the greatest show of hands of any of those who were put in nomination," was cast for John Wilkes. 28 However, as the final results demonstrate, Wilkes was "vociferously supported by the mob many of whom were not entitled to vote.,,29 When the final count was disclosed, the results excluded Wilkes and included Trecothick.
The tally gave
Harley 3729 votes, Ladbroke 3678, Beckford 3402, Trecothick 2957, Glyn 2823, Paterson 1769 and Wilkes 1247. 30 As Harley and Ladbroke were considered court supporters, the members of Parliament were divided, though the opposition members, Beckford and Trecothick, were less radical than was Wilkes. "Perhaps the Livery of London was never more divided than at the last election; or the interests of the several candidates supported with more animosity and zeal.,,31 was the contemporary view of the election.
So it was through
a controversial contest and a narrow margin that Trecothick achieved entry into the House of Commons as a representative for the City of London.
Immediately after losing the London election, Wilkes declared himself a candidate for Middlesex, the county West of London, and on March 28 was chosen by a heavy majority.
On April 3, 1769, he was expelled from the House, another election was held and he won heavily again.
Again he was
expelled from the House and declared incapable of being elected to serve in that Parliament.
At the third election,
which he also won easily, the House declared his opponent to have been elected and Wilkes had no redress.
apparently never spoke in any debate about him or the Middlesex election.
He did vote for Wilkes in a similar
situation in April of 1769 when Wilkes was elected to an alderman position in London.
The Court of Aldermen voted
not to accept Wilkes although Trecothick with five others voted in Wilkes' favour. The new Parliament was summoned to meet at Westminster on the tenth of May.
One of Trecothick's first actions as a
Member of Parliament occurred on May 12, 1768.
On that day 1:11 III1
he spoke to George Grenville "with much respect and said he desired to be thought an Englishman and act the part of one. ,32 Trecothick had been in Parliament three days when he was criticized with the other London officials for their conduct concerning a strike of seamen.
Riots had taken place
in the ports and there was some concern about keeping the ports of London open.
The London magistrates were accused of
neglect and Trecothick responded:
As yet I consider myself scarcely within the doors of this House: when, however, I find myself included in a censure, I cannot sit still without attempting to justify my conduct, as a magistrate of the city." He then justified the behaviour of the London officials and explained why they did not intercede forcefully in the riots and in the strike itself. By May 19 the strike of the seamen had increased to an alarming state.
Some members pressed for naval inter
vention, others for an adjournment so as not to give the sailors any prospect of redress.
Trecothick then gave an
account of a meeting held between the leaders of the strikers and some London merchants, including himself.
was made as the strikers would not go to work until their demands were met, and "We came to a general determinate not to comply with those demands and argued with them on the impropriety of their conduct.,,34
To ease the situation some
what Trecothick assured the sailors that whenever possible, the merchants would reduce the prices of provisions as much as they could.
Since this was the general complaint of the
striking sailors, he thought this would placate them but the leaders replied that this would only irritate the sailors. Trecothick stated that, "Many of the merchants went with them, and did consent to raise their wages.,,35 merchants' ships were left alone.
The difficulty seems rather to be suspended than removed. Unless something can be done to intimidate these people, the port of London will continue under an embargo as much as i t possibly can be. 3o
112 More discussion took place pertaining to adjournment and the strike.
Then Colonel Onslow criticized Trecothick for not
apprehending the leader of the strike when he had the leaders in sight.
Trecothick retorted, "The leader of the sailors
came to the meeting under a safe conduct.,,37 The Parliament was then adjourned several times and finally porogued on June 21, it did not meet again until November 8.
By that date the strike had been settled.
It was not until November 15 that Trecothick joined in the debate in Parliament.
He did not speak often and then
only on issues which concerned him a great deal.
particular occasion he supported the proposal to place papers relative to Massachusetts Bay before Parliament.
Beckford, a close ally of Trecothick in London politics, told the House that he intended to move for the formation of a committee to consider American affairs.
that we will not listen to her grievances. • • • You know very little of the state of America, but from one side.
Americans contribute more by living in America and taking your manufactures, than if they lived here.
You ought to be
the monopolists of America. ,,38 Trecothick emphatically agreed: What the honourable Alderman has said is of the highest importance. No word shall fall from my tongue, that my heart will not avow. I look upon America as deluded. There may be a few factious individuals in the colonies; but Sir, have we not factions here? The town of Boston does not contain a thirtieth part of the in habitants of the colony of Massachusetts Bay.39 Discussion on this subject then ended.
Several weeks later, on December 5, a discussion ensued regarding a petition from Pennsylvania which questioned the justice of the Declaratory Act of 1766, an act which claimed the Parliamentary right to tax America in all cases whatsoever.
Trecothick and Beckford were active in the de
fence of the colonial position. In the course of the discussion Lord North commented that Pennsylvania had behaved with more moderation than the other colonies.
But he added, "I am surprised, in that colony
particularly, that the right of taxing should be questioned; seeing that its charter reserves that authority to this country. ,,40 At this point George Grenville said that if Parliament did not exercise their taxation powers over the colonies, they did not have the right to bind them in other things: It is all or none. If you are not the representative, you have no right to bind. If you mean to give way, give way universally, give way at once. Put an end to the questions one way or another. 41 This precipitated an argument as to whether or not the petition should be heard.
One faction said America should
be heard since they had no other way of presenting grievances. The other opinion was that if the petition was to be heard, the Declaratory Act would have to be repealed first. Lord North emphasized his conviction that the act was just.
He urged Grenville to use his authority.
possess the whole authority or no part of it,,,42 he declared. This particular motion was then withdrawn only to be replaced by a similar motion of William Beckford.
Beckford, who was a leader of pro-American sentiment in Parliament was immediately on the offense.
to America," he charged, "the House has this day shown such an unfriendly spirit towards her • • • • ,,43 He would not ask for repeal, only explanations of the act. He continued: Where can the Americans look to for redress, if not to this House? We have a right to all the papers; those sent from hence, as well as those received from America. No doubt there are faults on both sides • • • • They see acts of Parliament passed, establishing principles contrary to thzir understandings, contrary to their senses. • • .4 He then moved that an humble address he presented to the King asking him to give directions that copies of all royal letters, patents, charters and commissions relating to America be given to the House. This motion occasioned one of Trecothick's longest speeches in Parliament.
He seldom spoke out and indeed did
not do so again for many months.
But his expertise of
American affairs stirred him to strongly support an inquiry into the entire question of the relationship between the American colonies and their mother country. Trecothick proclaimed his reluctance to speak but he said "to be silent upon the present occasion would be criminal.,,45
He pointed out that anyone acquainted with
America knew: That it amazingly abounds with every thing for the great purposes of supporting a commercial nation; manu facturers, commerce, navigation; in short, with everY thing to increase the power of the mother country.4o
115 America had the resources which could, "deliver us from servile dependence upon our northern neighbours.,,47
ment should encourage the production of naval stores and maybe other commodities too.
"Without vanity, I would put
the success of the experiment upon the test of my own assertion, my own experience.,,48 In general, America was submissive to Great Britain for all regulation of trade, he declared. own knowledge, from facts, and from belief.
He spoke from his He stated that
he "did not wonder that they should set their heads at work to find ways and means to extricate themselves out of their distresses.,,49
He differed with them only in the manner in
which they did so. Trecothick reminded the House that until the passing of the Stamp Act, Great Britain was reaping all the produce of American land and industry.
By obliging the colonies to
buy from Britain "in that restriction you had a tax far above all taxes.,,50
He stressed that America should be taxed, she
should bear a part of the public burden but this should be done by claiming exclusive trade with America: I would not have a paper of pins admitted into America that was not made in this country. We should monopolise the trade of America, so far as it would be useful to us to do so; otherwise we should act against our own interest.51 Trade with America should be stimulated because this would increase manufacture and thus employment.
really rejecting and giving up real and solid advantages for
We may get a trifling tax now!, but we shall
also get tax-gathers and custom-house officers innumerable.,~2 This anticipated increase in crown officials would in effect transfer Parliament's power to America, he said. Trecothick showed his insight and understanding of the problem facing both peoples when he stated: The regulations of the Parliament at large would have been religiously observed by the sober part of the people; but now, unfortunately, men's minds are agitated and unsettled. The English Parliament, they say, mean to lay a tax this year; next year they will extend it. This is what is supposed in America. The utmost degree of affection for us has subsisted in the colonies: it has been esteemed an honour to have sprung from the mother-country. They have assisted us, in peace and in war. Experience will show that, without any exception, in all cases of requisition~ they have gone to the utmost extent of their abilities. 5J Trecothick believed that reconciliation was of the utmost importance.
He wanted the House to be enlightened in
all aspects of the dispute.
He urged the Parliament to in
quire into the larger problem, not restricted to the "little, trifling, though dangerous commotions at Boston.,,54
Bernard had aggravated the matter, he said, by getting in volved in the dispute when he should have used "soothing, conciliating arts.,,55
Americans are a high-spirited people,
he said, easily led by "the arts of designing men; men who are of no consequence, but by being concerned in public commotions. ,,56 In conclusion, Trecothick urged the gentlemen in the administration to bring all information available to the House so that every part of the problem could be examined:
I beseech the House to allow the inquiry to be taken up upon an extensive plan, and not to suffer the wound between the two countries to continue rankling, until it became a gangrene. 57 The House did not, however, accept the motion, nor the advice of Beckford and Trecothick. As Trecothick gained experience in the House of Parliament his attitude towards his fellow law-makers seemed to stiffen, particularly with regard to American affairs. On Wednesday, January 25, 1769, a petition from Massachusetts attempting to repeal the Townshend revenue acts was presented by William Beckford.
He asked for someone to read it and
Trecothick did so.58
A discussion ensued with Lord North over
the legality of the signature on the petition.
was indignant: The practice of refusing to receive petitions from America, it seems, is to be continued. Small things ought to give way to great. Shall we stickle at a little want of form, in a matter where substance is so materi ally concerned? You throw out of doors the first movement made towards a reconciliation with our colonies. 59 The petition was heard but only as an individual petition, not from a legal colonial assembly. By February 8, resolutions pertaining to America were passed on by the House of Lords to the House of Commons.
illegality of the acts passed by Massachusetts Bay's House of Representatives was at issue: Notwithstanding the powerful majority by which these resolutions and the address were carried through, no measures were ever opposed with more firmness, nor no subject more ably discussed, than this was through the long course of debate with which it was attended. 50
A part of this firm and able opposition was Barlow Trecothick's defense of the Americans. could not remain silent.
He told the House he
After careful consideration he
believed the address would produce fatal effects. his points struck from economic grounds.
should send its manufactures to market as cheap as they possibly can.
But how, Sir, can this be done without raw
materials?,,61 He said he would not be discouraged in claiming him self to be a merchant; he gloried in it because "my interest is bound up in the interest of my country.,,62
stated that this class of men, importers of raw materials, were unparalleled in importance.
If their trade declines so
also the economy of the country declines.
"I see disad
vantages about to arise in the nation, which I am afraid to mention. ,,63 The Townshend Ministry was warned by the merchants years before that the taxation measures were likely to involve America in disputes with Britain, he asserted.
America was to be taxed, at the expense of the commerce of Great Britain, as well as the colonies,,,64 he stated with bitterness. The commissioners who were sent out to enforce the tax acted, "haughtily, offensively, strangely; instead of softening the people and endeavouring to persuade them to adopt them.,,65
They discharged the trusted Crown Officers
and Governor Bernard approved because it suited his purposes.
Trecothick claimed that at the same time the tax officers had "expressed their fears of being insulted by the populace, the whole continent remained steady in paying these duties.,,66 Smugglers were in America as they were in Britain, "But, Sir, are a whole people to be punished on that account?,,67 The citizens of Massachusetts, he said in summary, have been deprived of their assembly, mortified and chastized: I think we stand upon the best ground for relaxing our conduct towards the colonies, that we ever shall stand upon; and I hope we shall be wise enough to get back again to our former good feeling. b8 He concluded by moving to recommit the address. Immediately after Trecothick finished, Mr. Thomas Townshend, Jr. jumped to his relative's defense saying the Americans had misled Charles Townshend.
"I know he had remonstrance made to him against the measure by British merchants and was told what the consequence of it would certainly be.,,69
He said that the British merchants
had offered to pay the taxes themselves.
He appealed to the
House to recommit the address because it, " •• • was lodging a sword over the heads of the North Americans, which might drive them to immediate despair.,,70 Several weeks later, on February 28, the King asked for the House to defray a debt of i500,OOO by which he had exceeded his budget.
Trecothick was the next speaker to
comment after Beckford.
Considering the system of economy established in his Majesty's domestic concerns, he ought not to be in this situation. It will be greatly to the honour of the Crown
120 and the satisfaction of the public, to have these accounts laid before the House. 71 A representation from New York which denied Parlia ment's right to tax them was presented on March 14, 1769 by Trecothick.
He was seconded by Beckford "who says that he
did his utmost, after it had been read in the motion, to have it brought up and laid upon the table so that it might be publish'd in the votes • • • ,,,72 but the matter was rejected. In the petition the New York Assembly said: • • • that it is a fundamental principle in the English constitution, that no tax can be imposed, or any property be taken from the subject, without his consent, given by himself or his representative in Parliament.73 Since the colony had always cheerfully complied with requi sitions of the crown they felt the present act showed distrust toward New York subjects.
The assembly was therefore
prevailing upon the wisdom of Parliament to grant them relief and maintain equal participation of rights among faithful subjects.
It was opposed immediately by Lord North because
it denied Parliament's right to tax them.
observed: It was a strange piece of policy to expend £500,000 a year, to assist the Custom-house officers in collect ing £295 which was the whole net produce of the taxes there; that the army ~~traordinaries for this year had amounted to £170,000.'( An
attempt to repeal parts of the Townshend Revenue
Act was made on April 19, 1769.
The motion would have
repealed taxes on British manufacturers. failure before it was introduced.
It was doomed to
"Before the intended
motion was consider'd in the House, I was well apprized of
its intended rejection by the Ministry, with their manner of doing it, ,,75 William Bollan wrote to his friends in Massachusetts. Trecothick seconded it in a very spirited manner. In any misunderstanding with America, we have, be assured, nothing to gain, but much to lose. 76 Parliament was listen ing to the views of revenue officers with vested interests, they were enacting laws, "diametrically opposite to the real interest of those colonies; and we are now driving them to the necessity of supplying themselves with their own manu facturers.,,77
The colonists were rapidly advancing in
manufacturing articles needed and British soldiers were deserting by the hundred, taking their military skills and arts and trades along with them. Be assured, Sir, that every measure of severity resorted to by Great Britain against her colonies will recoil upon ourselves. Every sound principle of policy in whatsoever relates to America appears to have forsaken our councils. The hearts of its subjects are assuredly the surest hold that any government can have on their fidelity and obedience. We are daily alienating those hearts from us: even the very children are taught to lisp the hardships they endure from the mother country. The evils that must inevitably result from such a §tate of things can only be averted by lenient measures. '(8 The subject of American discontent disappeared from the floor of Parliament for several years after a short debate on April 25, 1770.
Trecothick commented on March 5
of 1770, during an attempt to repeal part of the Revenue Act of 1767.
"Although in very ill health, I should be
sorry to give a silent vote upon this occasion. upon tea is uncommercial.,,79
Trecothick urged the members
to repeal the tea tax.
He said repeal would stimulate a
half million pounds purchase of tea by the Americans.
ment repealed the Act except for the tax on tea however. On April 9 he made a motion to repeal the tea duty but had his motion thrown out since it had been discussed previously.
Trecothick attempted to impress upon the members
the dire effects of the tax.
• • • that there were ten ships now in the river, whose orders for New York alone ammounted to three hundred thousand pounds, which must go out in ballast if the duty on tea was not repealed; and therefore finally moved for liberty to bring in a bill for that purpose. BO He then made the motion, "without regarding any discourage ment, and it was better supported than many expected, but upon a division it was rejected by 80 against 52.,,81 Intelligence had reached England by April 1770 of a serious dispute in Boston which resulted in several Bostonians being shot by British troops. as the Boston Massacre.
This scuffle has become known
On the 25th of April, Trecothick
spoke on this subject, the last time he spoke on America's behalf in Parliament.
Trecothick told the House:
The Stamp Act was passed; it was found unpracticable, and repealed: the declaratory law was passed; this occasioned uneasiness in America; redress was held out; the people were dissatisfied with the mode of redress • • • the merchants have petitioned this House without effect: we have lost the whole export trade of this part of the year. To the dissatisfaction this has pro duced is now added shame and indignation. No man can, for a moment think without honor of the tragedy enacted in one town of America: no man can, for a moment, think without shame, of what the King's troops have been reduced to. We have acted the part of bullies to America. • • • We have shown the Americans, that we are not incapable of adopting ideas, and even systems of despotism. They think it is in the will of this country,
if it were in the power, to enslave them: but at the same time, they know it is not in the power. The poor, wretched figure we now make is a proof of it. For, what can be so disgraceful as to reduce a country to the necessity of throwing off its allegiance, for I know not what. 82 Throughout Trecothick's life he viewed the world through the eyes of a businessman, a merchant.
nation of Parliament's' actions against the Americans was based, along with his concept of English freedom, on the commercial disaster at hand. Every foot of land in this kingdom depends on its commerce. Your councils are ignorant of the principals of commerce. You have taken every step to destroy the advantages put into your hands by a kind providence, to bring wealth, grandeur, and happiness to the mother country. You spurn at these advantages, and have chosen to govern by will, rather than be reason. 83 Trecothick hoped, however, that the collision course on which the two countries had set out could be changed.
absurd to think of raising a revenue upon America. ,,84
monopoly would be tax enough, mutually beneficial enough. The late events at Boston should be striking enough to call attention to the necessity of a workable remedy.
part, Sir, I know of none, but going back to the period when happiness and good order prevailed throughout the colonies.,~5 After praising the character of Captain Preston, the command ing officer involved in the Boston Massacre, he moved that all information relative to this incident be brought before the House. Later on, on May 16, 1770 Trecothick wrote to the Committee of the Town of Boston telling them of a concilatory gesture he felt would restore cordial relations:
The idea is this: That in case Capt. Preston and the soldiers, or any of them, should be sentenced to death, the inhabitants do in a public meeting agree on an address to the Govr. to suspend their execution, and to convey to his Majesty their humble request that he will be pleased to extend his Royal mercy and pardon them. 86 Being immersed in the internal politics of London brought Trecothick into three emotional issues inside the Parliament. in 1768.
He voted against the expulsion of John Wilkes
In that issue he was criticized for his role in the
presentations of a remonstrance to the King and he was also involved in Parliament's action against Brass Crosby, Lord Mayor of London in 1771. The numerous criticisms presented by the officials of London to King George III must have been wearing on the monarch for on one occasion he turned his back on the presenters. 87 A similar incident occurred in early 1770 when the company of over two-hundred London citizens presented a scathing remonstrance: When his Majesty had done reading his speech, the Lord Mayor and company had the honour of kissing his Majesty's hand; after which, as they were withdrawing, his Majesty instantly turned round to his courtiers, and burst out a-laughing. 88 William Beckford made a stirring defence of the remonstrance: I beg leave, in the face of the House, to declare that there was a remonstrance to the King, and that I was the man who presented it • • • • I thought it was a proper one. It is a matter of right to petition the Throne. 89 He then went on to tell his fellow members of Parliament about the complaints against the ministers of the King.
125 Remonstrance claimed that Parliament was corruptly sub servient and Beckford added that he would like to be allowed to prove it.
In fact he felt this Parliament should be
dissolved by the King.
Beckford claimed that, "No man would
go farther in the support of his Majesty's family than I would.,,9 0 Also, "More loyal subjects than the citizens of London, the King has not in his dominions. I have shown it: they will shew it.,,9 1 There were gentlemen in the House, he charged, who enjoy profitable sinecure positions whereas his public office caused him considerable expense.
"Yet we are
attacked; and the citizens of London attacked.
Every man who
has had the disposal of the public money ought to be called to account.,,92
If an accusation was true it could not be
called ingenious, it was justice, he said.
"As for the
Remonstrance yesterday presented to the King, I avow it.,,93 Trecothick then claimed his part in the presentation. It was brief and some critics said it was "faint and forced. ,e4 He said, "I remonstrated, from a consciousness that it was my duty to do so.
I went upon no partial ground.
would prevent fatal consequences.,,95
I thought it
When the proposal was
first initiated in the Common Council he voted against the presentation.
Another account of the Parliamentary discussion
It said that Trecothick, Townshend and
Sawbridge had: • • • professed themselves satisfied with no less regard to the justice than the expediency of the measure, and declared they were so far from wishing to conceal their part in the transaction, that they considered it the most fortunate trait in their characters.96
126 Horace Walpole told of the occasion when he wrote to Sir Horace Mann on March 16, 1770: Alderman Trecothick avowed the hand they had in that outrageous paper. Fortunately, no more members took the same part, and some of the best condemned it. The House, you may imagine was full of resentment, and at eleven at night the address was carried by 271 to 108.97 This censure of the remonstrance occasioned discussion of prison.
"Think of the three first magistrates of the City
in prison, ,,98 Walpole commented.
This dire forecast did not
materialize. On January 29, 1770, Trecothick supported an investi gation into bribery and corruption charges at Shoreham, Sussex, the constituency offered him by the Duke of Newcastle in 1765.
"The matter of context was, that the returning
officer for that borough had returned a candidate with only 37 votes in prejudice to another who had 87 • • • • ,,99
officer had sold the position to the highest bidder, it was charged.
Trecothick said, "I am extremely happy that, in
the midst of these cloudy objections, there is a ray of hope that no man will be able to put down this inquiry.Il100 The right of newspapers to publish reports of Parlia mentary debates became a highly charged issue in February of 1771 when two newspapers printed Parliamentary accounts and thus defied a House of Commons resolution of 1661.
House, George Onslow objected and on February 8, an offensive article about his motion was printed.
When one of the
printers, John Wheble of the Middlesex Journal was brought before the magistrates of London, John Wilkes happened to be
the sitting magistrate as he was an alderman by this time. Wilkes promptly dismissed Wheble.
Then alderman Richard
Oliver did the same with the other printer, Roger Thompson of the Gazetteer and the Lord Mayor, Brass Crosby upheld their decision.
The result was a short term at the Tower
for both Oliver and Crosby.101
Trecothick served as Lord
Mayor during Crosby's detention.
In the House of Parliament
he became embroiled in the debates centering on this issue. From the beginning Trecothick battled against the punishment of those publishing Parliamentary debates: I wish every man in England could hear what passes in this House. I very much doubt whether we have a right to punish publication relating to public proceed ings. If they be falsely stated, the writer is subject to censure. 102 After Crosby had asked to defer his appearance before the Parliamentary Committee because of poor health, some members hinted that his reason for postponement was untrue. Trecothick attacked the members who doubted Crosby's integrity and witnessed that the Lord Mayor "for ten days past, has, I know, not been able to go through the functions of his office.,,103
He therefore pressed for a postponement
to retain the dignity of the House of Commons.
presented the motion to allow Crosby's counsel to be heard by Parliament two days later. 104 On March 22, he defended Alderman Oliver in the
House, "This business has impressed my mind with grief, astonishment and indignation.
Nothing ever distressed me
more than to see such a matter brought into the House.,,105
He objected strenuously to the manner of the proceedings, that of hearing Oliver before they questioned Crosby or Wilkes, since Crosby's role had been secondary.
felt it was unfair that Oliver would not get the same legal aid Crosby would enjoy.
Trecothick had presided over a
Common Council the day before in the Guildhall, when a sum 106 of up to t500 was provided for the Lord Mayor's defence. Oliver was heard on this day despite Trecothick's objection. Several days later he called the hearing inquisitional. 107 On the same day, March 25, he told the House, liThe Lord Mayor is very much fatigued • • • and hopes the House will disperse with his further attendance at present, and that the matter may go in his absence. II108 Crosby was in the House at the time and vowed he was extremely ill. "I shall submit myself to every thing the House shall do. II109 He then withdrew and was accompanied by a • • • vast concourse of people, who took his horses from his coach and drew it to the Mansion House; testi fying all the way their a~~robation of his conduct by the loudest acclamations. "O After Crosby's exit, Colonel Barre spoke out sharply and heatedly: You have done all this in so shameful, so preposterous, so impious a manner, that I for one will not be a witness of your infamous conduct. I will leave the House, and I call upon every gentleman who thinks with me to follow my example. 111 Barre left and was followed by Trecothick, Townshend, Sawbridge and about ten others.
On the last day of the hearings, March 27, 1771, the day the Lord Mayor followed Alderman Oliver to the Tower for a token imprisonment, Trecothick spoke out again.
was my detestation of this business • • • I am compelled to give every occupation to it to the last.,,112
He went on to
compliment Crosby and Oliver's integrity, then said: I must have been as insensible as a stone if I could have heard what fell from the learned gentleman, and remained silent • • • I profess myself a lover of peace and good order; but so long as I have life, so long shall that life be employed in maintaining the just rights of my fellow citizens. 11 3 The motion to commit Crosby passed 202 to 39, after he refused clemency which was offered because of his poor health. 114 During the course of the debate, the members from London and Middlesex were asked to go outside to quiet a tumultous crowd which had assembeld in Palace Yard.
members of Parliament had been assaulted and injured upon entry to the House of Commons.
Lord North had lost his hat
and had been in great danger; some carriages were also damaged. After Trecothick, Beckford, Wilkes and their col leagues returned they reported to the House: And being returned; they in their Places informed the House that they had been amongst the People, and persuaded several of them to go away • • • that at present the crowd were considerably dispersed; and what remained seemed exceedingly quiet; and that they were of opinion, that the House need not any longer defer proceeding upon Business~15 After the issue of the printing of Parliamentary de bates was resolved, and the American discontent issue faded from view for a time, Trecothick did not participate in House
He spoke for a shorter Parliament, an issue resur
rected periodically by London members, this time by Sawbridge, on April 26, 1771.
On February 6, 1772, he voted for a
motion supporting a petition of clergymen, presented by his borther-in-law, William Meredith. The last debate in which Trecothick participated was over human rights.
At issue was the group of natives called
Caribbs, who lived on St. Vincents Island in the West Indies. The jurisdiction of the island had been ceded to Britain by France in the Treaty of 1764 but no mention was made of the Caribbs.
Since that time, the whites on the island grew
envious of the excellent land the Caribbs held and through devious efforts incited and inflamed the island's populace. Some skirmishes occurred but the weather claimed more troops than did fighting the natives.
Parliament heard the issue
in December of 1772. Trecothick demanded an inquiry: There was a time when the British [nam~ stood high for humanity. To all the enormities in the West Indies we are about to add another • • • I doubt the justice of the cause. I doubt the justice to dispossess poor, defenceless, innocent, some of them aborigines, inhabi tants. Are we to take example from the Spaniards?116 He believed the honour of the British nation was at stake. The whole event was one of cruelty and iniquity: The poor Caribbs! The last remains of the Aborigines from South America are to be extirpated! Regiment after regiment is sent upon this disgraceful service, and those regiments unprovided. Let us know the cause of these hostilities against a defenceless, innocent and in offensive people • • • Sir, I hope this business will be enquired into in a serious manner, as I think it materi ally affects the honour of the British flag. 11 7
The problem was finally resolved in favour of the Caribbs, they were allowed to remain.
"The Caribbs on their
part acknowledged his Majesty's sovereignity without reserve .,,118 and were left to their own domestic regulation. Trecothick did not speak nor vote on the Massachu setts Bill of May 6, 1774.
He wrote to Rockingham on August
10, 1774. I have been long on the confines of the grave, from whence if anything can the cries of my agonizing country would call me. . . . Can anything equal their beginning at Boston--it is a beginning only. Great Britain is the ultimate object--plainly is it, and a fixed plan of despotism fixed upon . . . I will certainly attend Parlia ment when it meets for the last time if alive. 119 When Parliament was dissolved on September 30 of that year, he did not stand for Parliament again. On November 22, 1770, Lord Chatham (William Pitt) complimented Trecothick's character in the House of Lords. Political friends and foes expressed their respect as well at various times.
His integrity was always respected,
Chatham said: Let me do justice to a man whose character and conduct have been most infamously traduced. I mean the late Lord Mayor, Mr. Trecothick. In the midst of reproach and clamour he had firmness enough to persevere in doing his duty. I do not know in office a more upright magistrate, nor in private life a worthier man. 120
NOTES 1News item in the Read's Weekly Journal, March 7, 1761. 2News item in the British Chronicle, March 20-23, 1761. 3British Museum, MSS 32970 f54. 4Ibid., MSS 32969 f446. 5Ibid., MSS 32970 f50. 6Ibid., MSS 32969 f446. 7Ibid. 8Ibid., MSS 32970 f50. 9In partnership with John Tomlinson, Trecothick had borrowed i27,000 from John Apthorp in April of 1763 for their business. The Last Will and Testament of Barlow Trecothick, dated June 25, 1774, a copy in the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, London (Ref: P. R. D. PROB/11/253 Alexander); original copy in the Lambeth Palace Library, London Tempo ralities: Addington Park title deeds. 10W. S. Johnson to Governor William Pitkin, March 12, 1768, Trumbull Papers, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Societ~, 5th Series t Vol. IX, p. 267 (Boston: Published by the ociety, 1884), p. 267. 11Ibid. 12In a conversation with John Wilkes some years later, Dr. Samuel Johnson asked, "Where did Beckford and Trecothick learn English?" James Boswell, who reported the conversation, added that both Trecothick and Beckford could both speak and write good English. Beckford was born in the West Indies. Johnson's intent was to 'criticize these two slave owners, a position he abhorred, and imply that they were not English. See James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D., (London: George Bell and Sons, York Street, Covent Garden, 1892), pp. 222-223. 13An article entitled, "An of London," The Political Register New Books, Vol. XIV, February, 176 p.
133 14Ibid., p. 124. 15Ibid., p. 126. 16News item in The Gazatteer and New Daily Advertiser, March 15, 1768. 17Ibid., March 12, 1768. 18Ibid., March 16, 1768. 19Sir Lewis Namier, England in the Age of the American Revolution (London: MacMillan and Company, 1961), p. 233. 20News item in The Gazatteer and New Daily Advertiser, March 16, 1768. 21George Rude, Wilkes and Liberty: A Social Study of 1763 to 1774 (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1962), p. 40. 22An Alderman of London, A Letter to the Right Hon. Thomas Hardy; Esq., Lord Mayor of the City of London (London: Bingley, May, 1768), pp. 4-5.
23Item in the Gloucester Journal, March 17, 1768. 24Almon, Political Register, May 1768, p. 334. 25Ibid., pp. 332-334. 26Frank Brady and Frederick A. Pottle (eds.), Boswell in Search of A Wife 1766-1769 (London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1957), pp. 151-152. 27Almon, Political Register, May 1768, p. 328. p. 22.
28An Alderman, Letter to the Right Hon., Thomas Hardy,
29Brady and Pottle, Boswell In Search of A Wife, pp. 151-152.
Political Register, May 1768, p. 375. p. 559.
and Brooke, History of Parliament, Vol. III,
134 33Henry Cavendish and John Wright (ed.), Debates of the House of Commons 1768-1771, Vol. I (London: John Nichols,
34Ibid., p. 29.
37Ibid., p. 30.
38Ibid., p. 50.
40Ibid., p. 84.
43Ibid., p. 85.
47Ibid., pp. 85-86.
48Ibid., p. 86.
51 Ibid •
54 I bid.
55Ibid., pp. 86-87.
56Ibid., p. 87.
----------_._."-,, ... _-
135 58"'Mr. AId' Trecothick read it with such an audible voice that it is supposed every member in the House clearly understood it • . • • " William Bollan to Samuel Danforth, January 27, 1769, The Bowdoin and Temle Pa ers Massachusetts Historical Society 0 lection os s eye Society, 1897), p. 123. 59Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 185. 60Annual Register, 1769, p. 55. 61Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 212. 62Ibid. 63Ibid. 64Ibid. 65Ibid. 66Ibid. 67Ibid. p. 213. p. 214. William Cobbert (eds.), The 13), p. 507.
71Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 268. 72William Bollan to Samuel Danforth, March 18, 1769. The Bowdoin and Temple Papers, p. 131. 73Hansard and Cobbert (eds.), Parliamentary History of England, pp. 603-604. 74Ibid., p. 605. 135.
75Bollan to Danforth, Bowdoin and Temple Papers, p.
76Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 396. 77Ibid.
78Ibid., p. 397.
79Ibid., p. 497.
80William S. Johnson to William Pitkins, March 12,
1768, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th Series, Vol. IX, p. 257. 81William Bollan to Samuel Danforth, Bowdoin and Temple Papers, pp. 72-73. 82Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 548. 83Ibid., pp. 548-549. 84Ibid. 85Ibid. 86Barlow Trecothick to the Committee of the Town of Boston, May 16, 1770, Bowdoin and Temple Papers, p. 183. 87See London Politics, Chapter III. 88Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 520. A prosecution was initiated against the printer of this information, Mr. Lome of The Public Adver tiser, but it was dropped later. 89Ibid. 90Ibid., p. 521. 91Ibid. 92Ibid. 93Ibid. 94News item in the London Chronicle, October 9, 1770. 95Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 521. 96Hansard and Cobbert (eds.), Parliamentary History of England, p. 876. wal~ole,
97Peter Cunningham (ed.), The Letters of Horace Vol. V (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1891), 98Ibid., p. 231.
137 99Annual Register, 1771, p. 54. 100Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 320. 101Crosby was in the Tower from March 25 to May 8, 1771. B. B. Orridge, The Citizens of London and their Rulers from 1060 to 1867 (London: William Tegg, Pancras Lane Cheapside, 1867). 102Cavendish and Wright (eds.), Debates of the House of Commons, p. 258. 103Ibid., p. 420. 104Ibid., p. 428. 105Ibid., p. 439. 106Ibid., p. 440. 107Ibid., p. 448. 108Ibid., p. 456. 109Ibid. 110Ibid. 111Ibid., p. 462. 112Ibid., p. 477. 113Ibid. 114Ibid. 115Annual Register, 1771, p. 85. 116Gentleman's Magazine 1772, p. 494. 117Hansard and Cobbert (eds.), Parliamentary History of England, pp. 568-569. 118Annual Register, 1773, p. 92. 119Namier and Brooke, Members of Parliament, p. 560. 120Hansard and Cobbert (eds.~ Parliamentary History of England, Vol. XVI, p. 1101.
Chapter 5 COLONIAL AGENT The position of colonial agent for New Hampshire was held by Barlow Trecothick for a short period from 1766 to 1774.
As a merchant dealing primarily with America, his
business acumen caused him to desire a peaceful America. But his concern was more than this.
He had been reared in
Massachusetts, his wife was a Bostonian and his relatives, many of his business partners, and friends were American. Since he was simultaneously a member of Parliament, a London politician opposed to monarchial encroachment, and a merchant dealing with the colonial trade, he quite naturally was avidly interested and concerned with the colonial problems. Trecothick saw no conflict in being an agent for a colony, in fact he regarded his roles as complementary. The earliest record of Trecothick's involvement with colonial agency matters is a letter written in 1756 on behalf of John Handbury and Major John Tomlinson, the agent for New Hampshire.
Trecothick had been a friend and partner of
Tomlinson's son, John Tomlinson Jr. for many years.
Tomlinson Jr. were joint owners of a plantation in Grenada. 1 Trecothick had been an agent for the Apthorp-Tomlinson firm in the West Indies in the 1740's.2
By 1758 the firm of
Tomlinson-Apthorp-Trecothick was established in London. 3 138
Presumably, Trecothick joined this firm as a co-partner when he moved to London.
Trecothick signed the letter for
Tomlinson and Handbury in response to a government grant of £115,000 to the New England colonies as a "free gift of Reward for their past services and an encouragement to them to continue to exert themselves with Vigour in defence of our just Rights and Possessions.,,4 On April 5, 1756 a letter of reply and acceptance was written from Handbury and Tomlinson to Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire. Trecothick signed the reply for John Tomlinson. 5 Whether this was done as agent for New Hampshire or for the firm is unclear.
The government paid the money
into the merchants' firm to be distributed to the other colonies by them.
The money was sent in Spanish milled
dollars and Portugal gold to Boston.
"We pray you will ex
ecute the Receipts for the full sum in the form now sent to our Agents Messieur's Charles Apthorp and Son. ,,6 The Massachusetts Bay assembly empowered Trecothick to receive £200,000 for troop expenses in the event of William Bollan's being incapacitated on June 20, 1760. 7
similar provision was made in April of 1762 but on this occasion Trecothick was to be appointed as acting agent should Bollan die. 8 Also on December 18, 1760 the House of Representatives of Massachusetts considered a letter from Barlow Trecothick dated September 18, 1760. 9 After 1762, however, the colonial duties of New Hampshire monopolized Trecothick's efforts in agency affairs.
140 Trecothick had a hand in gaining modifications of the Mutiny Bill in April of 1764.
He met with members of the
Ministry along with Franklin and other agents and they suc cessfully persuaded the Secretary of War, Welbore Ellis, to assure that no troops would be billetted in private houses. 10 Whether or not Trecothick was acting on behalf of New Hampshire or Massachusetts, or as leader of the London Merchants, is difficult to ascertain.
The London merchants
trading to America did approve the alteration soon there after. 11 Trecothick was appointed to be a special agent for New Hampshire in November of 1765 with John Wentworth to present Stamp Act petitions to Parliament.
stated: Barlow Trecothick and John Wentworth Esqrs. at London, who or either of them are appointed Special Agents for this House and are hereby fUlly Impowered and earnestly Desired to present the said Petitions to employ Council if need be and use their utmost Endeavours to obtain the favour and Compassion of our most Gracious Sovereign and the Parliament towards his Majesty's Distressed but still most faithfull and Dutiful Subjects of his American Colonies. 12 The appointment of these two men as agents to work for the repeal of the Stamp Act was shrewd as they were friends and allies of Lord Rockingham, the new Prime Minister. Wentworth and Rockingham were also distantly related.
alliance worked very well as experienced by the successful efforts to repeal the Stamp Act. Due in part to Trecothick's success in helping to gain the repeal, he was appointed joint agent with John
Tomlinson and John Tomlinson Jr., in July of 1766.
resolution in the New Hampshire House stated that Tomlinson Jr. had been appointed joint agent in February of 1763 to assist his aged and infirm father who had to spend a great deal of time in the country, too far away to effectively lobby the Court.
Therefore the House voted:
• • • that Barlow Trecothick in London and John Wentworth now residing in London, Esqrs., be and hereby are Nominated and appointed JOYnt Agents in this Province with the said John Thomlinson and John Thomlinson Jr. Esqrs., and that they have full power for and in behalf of this Province to do and transact any and every affair Proper for an agent or agents to transact agreeable to such Instruction and advice as they shall or may from time to time Receive from the Province • • • • 13 When the letter was sent to inform Trecothick and Wentworth of their appointments they were called "joYnt and separate agents with or without Messrs. Thomlinson.,,14
was not long before Trecothick replaced John Tomlinson Jr. as standing agent. 15 The time of Trecothick's appointment as colonial agent for New Hampshire coincided with the decline of the effectiveness of the London agencies.
In Lawrence Henry
Gipson's The British Empire Before the American Revolution he discusses this situation.
Gipson quotes M. G. Kammen's
opinion that: After the high-water mark of the effectiveness of the London agencies in 1765-6 in connection with the Stamp Act crisis, there was a steady decline of their influence, chiefly as the result of the instability in English politics • • • • 16 The colony of New Hampshire was probably the least rebellious colony at this time.
There was "no aggressive mercantile
class to disturb the general complacency.,,17
The province was small with a population of about 63,000 in 1770. 18 Relatives of Governor Wentworth occupied most of the seats of power. 19
In marked contrast to Boston's tea party, when
the first ship loaded with tea entered the port of Portsmouth, the town committee asked the Captain, "to export the tea to any market he chose at the town's expense.,,20
was always, "laggard in entering into extra-legal organi zation.,,21
The financial position of New Hampshire was
unusual in that they were all but free of debts by 1768. 22 This must have met with Trecothick's approval. Since Trecothick's colonial agent position was repre sentative of a quiet colony of limited importance, actions on behalf of the colony were likewise limited.
It is difficult
to separate his actions however, and to specify his motives. As a member of Parliament and a merchant dealing with America, his participation in debates and lobbying served colonial interests as well as his own political and economical aspirations.
His functions in these capacities constantly
overlapped. In November of 1768 the Secretary of State for America Department, the Earl of Hillsborough wrote to Governor John Wentworth expressing his desire that New Hampshire dispatch an agent to London, "to answer for the Colony on all occasions in which Its Interest may be concerned.,,23 "In response the lower House of New Hampshire stated that Trecothick had already been appointed, was perfectly acceptable to them, and
they saw no need to pursue the matter any further.
borough did not know of Trecothick's appointment and accepted this accordingly.
Since the House Journal of the New
Hampshire House of Representatives shows that as late as June 1768 they were seeking confirmation of Trecothick's acceptance of the appointment of agent, this error is understandable. 24 A complaint of the burdens and hardships the Townshend Acts were having on New Hampshire was sent to Trecothick on November 17, 1768.
He was told to use his discretion as to
whether he presented it to the King and if so he should use his judgement as to the timing of its presentation, "as you know the Temper of the Parliamentary Ministry and of his Majesty also at the present much better than we at this distance. ,,25 Another letter stating the problem caused by the Acts of Parliament which succeeded the Stamp Act was sent to Trecothick on April 11, 1770 with instructions to use every method to obtain the desired relief. On the 17th of April, 1771 Trecothick presented a petition to the House of Commons requesting reimbursements for an expedition against Crown Point in 1756.
claimed, "that the cost of Provisions and Stores borne by the Province of New Hampshire exclusive of the charge of raising, paying and cloathing, their Quota of troops, amounted to the sum of £6,009.13s 3d Sterling, as by the Accounts ready to be produced. ,,26
Delay in seeking reimbursement was caused by
the illness of the agent, which prevented proper application
for its payment. on April 22.
Payment was ordered by the House promptly
"For reimbursing to the province of New
Hampshire their expenses in furnishing provisions and stores to the troops raised by them for his Majesty's service, for the campaign in the year 1756--£6,009-13-3.,,27 An
interesting incident involving Trecothick and
Governor John Wentworth took place in 1772.
involved in a dispute with Peter Livius, a member of the advisory Board of Benning Wentworth's will, who was Governor Wentworth's uncle. land grants.
The dispute concerned the dispersal of
In the summer of 1772 Livius went to London and
presented an indictment against Wentworth to the Board of Trade.
The Board of Trade sent the accusation to Wentworth
and he compiled a rebuttal which he sent to London by his private secretary, Thomas MacDonogh.
When he arrived in
London he sought the help of the colonial agent, Barlow Trecothick.
Trecothick arranged for MacDonogh to have a
meeting with Lord Dartmouth, the Colonial assistance.
MacDonogh then delivered the papers to the
Secretary of the Board of Trade and awaited developments. Had MacDonogh and Wentworth's lawyer had a free hand, probably all would have gone well, but for some unaccount able reason Trecothick insisted that they should not use the 'cloud of authentic testimonies' which vouched for the Governor's character. 28 On May 10, 1773 the Lords of Trade decided Wentworth was guilty on four counts and nearly asked for his dismissal. Finally, the Privy Council was persuaded by Sir Thomas Went worth, a very rich Baronet from Yorkshire and Paul Wentworth,
both relatives of the Governor, to institute an independent investigation which exonerated Wentworth completely: To this moment I have never learned the reason that induced Mr. Trecothick to direct Mr. Holland and Skinner, in the first hearing to leave my reputation at the mercy of mine enemy Wentworth wrote in 1775. injure me very much. ,,29 difficult.
"This strange conduct must naturally An answer for this behaviour is
Wentworth's son Samuel was a partner and friend
of Trecothick until 1755 when he sued Samuel Wentworth for debt and won. 30 Perhaps this incident clouded Trecothick's judgement, perhaps his poor health brought on this problem, one cannot tell. Any effort Barlow Trecothick made in Parliament on behalf of the colonies was made as a member of Parliament as well as in performance of his colonial agency duties. two roles were inseparable and overlapping.
He retained a
strong tie with the Americans in the political arena, in economics, in private business and also through his family. By December of 1774 Trecothick had withdrawn from all business because of poor health though he nominally retained the position of colonial agent for New Hampshire. 31
NOTES Jamaica and Hampton
3Ibid. 4COpy of the King's Warrant on ye Treasury for
f115,000, Friday March 3, 1756, pUblished in Province of New
Hampshire Journal of the House, 1756 (Concord: State of New Hampshire, 1867-1943), pp. 543-544.
5Ibid., Hanbury and Tomlinson to Governor Wentworth, April 15, 1756, p. 544. 6Ibid ., p. 545.
9Journal of the House of Representatives, p. 103.
11Ibid. 12province of New Hampshire, Journal of the House, 1756, p. 92. 13Ibid., pp. 105-106. 14Ibid., p. 106. p. 68.
147 17Arthur Schlesinger, The Colonial Merchants and the American Revolution 1763-1t~6 (New York: FrederIck Ungar Publishing Co., 1957), p. 5. 18Bernard Knollenberg, Growth of the American Revo lution 1766-1775 (London: Collier MacMIllan, 1975), p. 5. 19Schlesinger, Colonial Merchants and the American Revolution, p. 155. 20Ibid., p. 303. 21Ibid., p. 442. 22Gipson, British Empire Before American Revolution, Vol. X, p. 67. 23Sosin, Agents and Merchants, p. 146. 24province of New Hampshire, Journal of the House, 1768, p. 180. 25Ibid., p. 188.
26province of New Hampshire, Journal of the House, p.
27Annual Register, 1771, p. 226. 28Lawrence Shaw Mayo, John Wentworth Governor of New Hampshire 1~67-1771 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard unIversIty ress, 921), p. 81. 29Province of New Hampshire, Journal of the House, .112.§, p. 344. 30Jervey, Barlow Trecothick, p. 158. 31Sosin, Agents and Merchants, p. 195.
Chapter 6 PERSONAL LIFE Barlow Trecothick's participation and achievements in the public affairs of Britain and her American colonies during the pre-Revolutionary period were affected considerably by the man's character, his family ties, and by his connec tions in his business and social life.
This aspect was
involved in everything he did. It was while living in Boston in 1747 that Trecothick married Grizzel Apthorp, the eldest daughter of his business partner Charles Apthorp.
They were married on March 2 in
Boston; he was 27 and she was 19.
The couple had no children.
'J'hrolJ/-:';hout. 'l'l'ocoLhlck'lJ "publIc" J.lfn, no ffifmtt.on \'1 rnndo of
his wife in any way; thus her contribution and support is impossible to measure.
She died on July 31, 1769 at the age
of 41 after having been married to Trecothick for 22 years. She was buried on August 6, 1769 in Addington, Surrey's St. Mary's Church. 1 Against the south wall of the Chancel Trecothick dedicated a monument made of white marble to her memory.
The inscription reads, "In memory of Mrs. Grizzell
Trecothick, who, to an elegant form and mind, united a virtuous and religious disposition, her affectionate husband Barlow Trecothick hath placed this monument. ,,2
The Apthorp family was quite large and Trecothick was intimately associated with them in business.
Several of his
brothers-in-law lived in England and were involved in the Apthorp-Trecothick business. near Trecothick in England. by Trecothick in 1770.
Reverend East Apthorp lived He was appointed Civic Chaplain
Apthorp had gone to Cambridge,
Massachusetts for his education and later moved to England where he was a vicar at Croydon, Surrey, which was about three miles from Addington.
On June 9, 1770 Ann Meredith became Barlow Trecothick's second wife.
She was from Henbury in Cheshire and was the
sister of Sir William Meredith, a fellow Member of Parliament who shared similar political convictions with Trecothick. The second Mrs. Trecothick was treated generously by her new husband.
"Mr. Alderman Trecothick has settled a fortune of
per annum upon his new-married lady, and, immediately
after the celebration of their nuptials, he presented her with i1500.,,3 Sir Joshua Reynolds painted a portrait of Ann Trecothick in July and August of 1770, although the painting was not completely finished until after March of 1771.
August 2, 1770 Reynolds next sitter was ironically King George III.
"Had George III known who was the President's
last sitter on that Thursday before his visit to Buckingham House, it would not have tended to further him in the royal favour.,,4
This was at a time when Trecothick was in flagrant
dispute with the King.
The painting cost Trecothick over
In 1838 it was put up for auction mistakenly as Lady Montague, at Christies in London and then withdrawn. 6 The painting today is in the possession of the Earl of Ellesmere at Bridgewater House. remarried.
After Trecothick's death Ann Trecothick
She married Viscount Assheton Curzon becoming his
third wife. 7
She died in 1804 on June 13.
In January of 1768 Trecothick bought a 5,000 acre estate at Addington, Surrey for £38,500.
He borrowed £16,000
from Reverend Roger Pettiwood of Putney, Surrey for this pur chase. 8 The estate had been in the Leigh family for hundreds of years.
In the transaction Trecothick bought a mansion
house, a Manor, a Rectory, various farms of about 3,500 acres, 500 acres of woods and 1,000 acres of waste. 9 Trecothick began the construction of a very large manor house in 1772.
Robert Mylne was the architect employed.
It was not finished until 1779, after Trecothick's death.
1807 it was purchased as a summer residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and served this function until 1896.
Today it is the headquarters of the Royal School of Church Music. 10 Extensive repairs were also initiated by Trecothick upon the church, St. Mary's, which was on his estate.
paid for repairs to the walls, tower, and nave and also pro vided a new set of pews for the congregation.
He also built
the two gate houses which still stand east of the church on Spout Hill. At about this time two incidents involving Trecothick are worthy of mention.
One such incident was the assistance
151 he gave General Pascal Paoli of Corsica in 1768 and 1769. His efforts to collect money was in aid of the families: • • • of those patriots • • • who • • • have abandoned their houses and estates in that part of the country held by the enemy (the French) • • • and of all those who may in future find themselves involved in the same fate. 11 Paoli was entertained throughtout Britain during his stay to solicit friends and funds and on at least one occasion met Trecothick in London. 12 Trecothick and S. Vaughan solicited £3,000 for the Corsican Cause. 13 On another occasion Trecothick attempted to help John Temple in regaining a government position he had lost. Trecothick had Temple as his guest at Addington and at his home in Bucklesbury, Cheapside, in London for some time and wrote to Lord North on his behalf on November 8, 1771. 14 It appears that he was Trecothick's guest for nearly a year. Temple and Trecothick may have been distantly related through Trecothick's first wife. By 1774 Trecothick's health was failing.
stated several years earlier in Parliament that he was ill. On January 30, 1774 Rockingham wrote to Edmund Burke about his health: I am most exceedingly grieved for poor Trecothick. I thought him ill in Health when I last saw him in London, and his spirits were much sunk, but the appear ances of friendship and affection towards me, were too warm for me to forget so soon. 15 On March 15, 1774 John Temple wrote that "Mr. Trecothick had a touch of the palsey.,,16
152 Trecothick resigned his position as alderman of Vintry Ward in London in November of 1774: At a Court of Aldermen held at Guildhall, Alderman Trecothick desired leave to resign his gown as alderman of Vintry Ward on account of his ill state of health, which the court accepted; and Nathaniel Newnham, Esq., has since been chosen in his room. 17 His condition was reported as being serious by January 31, 1775 and "gave rise to grave apprehension.,,18 Trecothick died on May 31, 1775 at his home in Addington, Surrey, aged 55.
The obituary column in the Annual Register
reported: Barlow Trecothick, Esq., who sometime ago resigned his gown as alderman of the ward of Vintry, at his country house, near Croydon in Surrey.19 In Trecothick's will, which was dated January 25, 1774 and proved on June 8, 1775, he appointed Lord Frederick Campbell, Frederick Vane, Esq., Reverend East Apthorp and Laurence Hollier of St. Thomas's in London, as executors. Trecothick's wife Ann was given £200 per year during her natural life in addition to a sum of £800 by a previous settlement, his sister Hannah Ivers received £100 per year, Reverend East Apthorp £50 per year, and £50 per year for the two daughters of Hannah, until they were either twenty-one or married, at which time they received £1,000.
his nephew and Hannah's son,was given £200 per year until he became twenty-one, and to his servant Thomas Pain, Trecothick left £10 per year.
Also, Reverend Apthorp's children were to
receive £200 when they were married or were twenty-one years· of age and the daughters of Thomas Plumer of John Street,
153 Bedford, received £1,000 each at marriage or the age of twenty-one.
All of his household servants were given £10 if
they had been employed by Trecothick for at least one year. The church wardens of Addington were given a yearly sum derived from interest obtained on an £800 trust, to be distributed to the poor of the parish at Christmas.
In Hospital of London was given £500, the Society for Propo gating the Gospel in Foreign Parts received £2,000, Christ's Hospital, St. Bartholomew's Hospital and St. Thomas' Hospital of London each received £200.
Each trustee received £500,
George Apthorp was given all profits from sugar consignments from Trecothick's West Indies plantation as well as £100 per year for the rest of his life. 20 Trecothick made an unusual stipulation that if James Ivers, his nephew, would take upon himself the Trecothick name, he would then inherit Trecothick's real estate. 21 James Ivers was the son of James Ivers of Boston.
Trecothick, Barlow's sister, married James Ivers on Sep tember 23, 1753.
Their son James Ivers, later James Ivers
Trecothick, was born on July 7, 1754.
He graduated from
Harvard in 1773 and was married in England on February 21, 1777 to "Miss Susanna Edmonstone, eldest daughter of Sir Archibald Edmonstone.,,22
They had six children, one named
Barlow, who was the eldest son. on October 14, 1814.
He married Eliza Strachey
She was the second daughter of Reverend Dr. John Strachey, archdeacon of Suffolk. 23 They had at
least one child, a daughter Eliza, who married Leonard M. Strachey, Esq.24 She was living in England in 1881. 25 Ivers did take Trecothick's name and became James Ivers Trecothick and is sometimes confused as being a son of Barlow Trecothick.
He inherited the considerable estate,
sold it in different lots at various times and died in 1843 in his ninetieth year at Broadstairs in Kent after having lived in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 26 He sold the Addington estate in 1803 and by 1808 it was in the hands of the Arch bishop of Canterbury, who governs the Church of England in Britain. 27 During Trecothick's political career Benjamin Franklin had said of him: I know little of Alderman Trecothick, but as I judge better of a man by what his Enemies say against him than by what his Friends say for him. I suspect from their being reduced to the necessity of railing at Boston in order to disparage him, I suspect that he must be other wise rather unexceptionable. 28 Franklin had met Trecothick in London during the Stamp Act crisis but the two were not close friends.
guide of how to measure a man's worth merits thought.
acquaintances and historians have made interesting comments on Trecothick.
Edmund Burke called him a man "of strong
principles and good natured sense," but he said, "his experi ence in the world is but moderate. ,,29
John Hancock said, "I
can't say they (Trecothick's business) have us'd me well.,,30 Horace Walpole said all of Trecothick's political associates were "utterly contemptible, except Trecothick who was a
decent man. ,,31
Henry Gipson called Trecothick "the great
merchant prince. ,,32 William Pitt (Lord Chatham) said, "I do not know in office a more upright magistrate, nor in private life a worthier man. ,,33
Even Dr. Samuel Johnson, who disliked
Americans and slave owners, was impressed with Trecothick's efforts for General Paoli and the Corsicans. 34 Contempo raries and historians overwhelmingly spoke well of him. Trecothick's life may be summed up by two statements, one he made by himself, the other is the message inscribed on his tombstone.
Trecothick said in 1771, "I never have
meant, nor I am sure shall ever mean more, than to do any little good I can to my Country collectively and to commerce in which I have spent my life.,,35 The inscription on Trecothick's tombstone reads: In memory of Barlow Trecothick Esq., Merchant, Alderman and Lord Mayor of the City of London, much esteemed by the Merchants for his integrity and know ledge of commerce, truly beloved by his fellow citizens, who chose him their Representative in Parliament, and sincerely lamented by his friends and ~elations, who looked up to and admired his virtues. 3b
1Reverend Owen Manning, The Histor and Antiruities of the County of Surrey, Vol. II (London:ohri Nicho sand Son, Red Lion Passage, Fleet Street, 1809), p. 565.
2Ibid., a portrait of her was made by Robert Feke and was in Boston in 1878. 3Item in the Gazatteer and New Daily Advertiser, June 27, 1770. 4Charles R. Leslie and Tom Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Vol. I (London: John Murray, 1865), p.
5Algernon Graves and William Vine Cronin, The History of the Works of Sir Joshua Re~olds, Vol. III (London: Henry Graves and Co. Ltd., 6 Pall M~i, 1899), p. 986. 6Ibid. 7Reverend Alfred B. Beaven, Alderman of the Cit of London, Vol. II (London: Eden Disher and Co. Ltd., 1913 , p.
8Last Will and Testament of Barlow Trecothick 9Manning, History of Surrey, p. 557. 10Ibid. 11General Paoli to Barlow Trecothick and S. Vaughan, March 20, 1769, Gentlemans MagaZine, 1770, Vol. 39, p. 215. 12Item in London Chronicle, August 17, 1770. 13Frederick A. Pottle, James Boswell The Earlier Years, June 1769 (London: Heinemann, 1966). 14Barlow Trecothick to Lord North, November 5, 1771, published in The Bowdoin and Temple Papers, p. 279. 15Lord Rockingham to Edmund Burke, January 30, 1774, published by Lucy S. Sutherland (ed.), The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, Vol. II (Cambridge: University Press, 1960), p.
16John Temple to James Bowdoin Jr., March 15, 1774, published in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. IX (Boston: Published by the Society, 1897), p.
17Gentlemans Magazine, Vol. XLIV, p. 538.
18Item in The Public Advertiser, January 31, 1775.
19Item in the Annual Register, 1775, p. 210.
20Last Will and Testament of Barlow Trecothick.
22The London Chronicle, February 20-22, 1777.
23Gentlemans Magazine, November 1814, p. 496.
24Notes and Queries, January 7, 1911, p. 12.
26Gentlemans Magazine, 1843, p. 444.
27Trecothick's will is located in the Lambeth Palace
Library, London because of this transaction. Lambeth Palace is the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 28 1. Minus Hays (ed.), pa~ers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III (Philadelphia: Americanhilosophical Society, 1908), p. 472. These notes are referred to here but are expanded in the actual notes in possession of the American Philo sophical Society in Philadelphia. 29Sunderland, Correspondence of Edmund Burke, p. 159. 30J. Hancock to T. Hancock, Jan. 14, 1761, Massachu setts Historical Society Proceedings, Vol. XLVII, p. 198. wal~ole,
31peter Cunningham (ed.), The Letters of Horace Vol. V (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1891),
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