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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-05-02-02-0006-0003-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1768-03

Adams' Minutes of the Testimony1

Court of Vice Admiralty, Boston, March 1768

Folger vs. Tea
James Athern Esqr.
Joshua Gardiner. 2 Folger has entered and cleared Vessell I am concerned in to and from London. Commonly reputed a Custom House Officer at Nantucket. Have seen a Plantation Certificate signed by him, the Governor and Peleg Gardiner Naval Officer.3
{ 158 }
Jno. Handcock Esqr. 4 Cleared two Vessells that Deponent is concernd in for London, since the arrival of the Commissioners.5 And has acted in all Respects, with the Regard to my Navigation at Nantucket, as the officers of the Customs do here. Commonly reputed an officer of the Customs. I know of his Acting, by his clearing my Vessells. I cant say I ever saw a Clearance of his signing, or saw him sign one. I know of his Clearing my Vessells by the Consequences for that the Vessells were admitted to an Entry in London. And others here by the Officers here.
Thos. Gray. Dep. vide
Mr. Sheaf. Have seen Papers of his signing, as Searcher and preventive Officer at Nantucket. Coasting Clearances. I acted under Sir H. Frankland, as Deputy Collector for this Port, for some Years.6 Mr. Harrison the present Collector, wrote a Letter to Mr. Folger giving him Instructions about a Vessell with sugars at Nantucket.7
Captn. Partridge. Used [to] London Trade. Made many Voyages there. Papers are demanded of Us, on our Arrival by the Custom House Officers. Clearance from the Customs demanded. Once admitted to an Entry without producing my Clearance, but was soon sent for by the Clerk and told by the Clerk that he had done wrong, and that the Clearance was his only Security, for Entering me. Never { 159 } admitted upon Producing Manifest and Register, except in the above Instance.
1. In JA 's hand. Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185.
2. The deponent may have been the junior partner in Folger & Gardner, Folger's whale oil business. See sources in note 8 above.
3. The term “Plantation Certificate” may here refer to the certificate of registry, required for every vessel by the statute 7 & 8 Will. 3, c. 22, §§17, 18 (1696), in which the governor and collector attested that oath of the vessel's place of construction and ownership had been made by the master or owner before them. Although there was no requirement that the naval officer join in this procedure, that official was the governor's appointee charged with general responsibility for maritime matters and oath was often actually taken before him, the governor's name probably being affixed to certificates in blank beforehand. See Register of the Lusanna, 28 June 1773, cited in No. 58, note 16; compare 3 Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 311–312; Instructions by the Commissioners, Form I (1764). As to the naval officer, see generally, 4 Andrews, Colonial Period 187–189. It is perhaps more likely that the reference is to one of the certificates that bond had been given or other export requirements complied with, issued as part of the vessel's clearance. 7 & 8 Will. 3, c. 22, §13; 4 Geo. 3, c. 15, §24 (1764). The term seems to have been so used on occasion. See Instructions by the Commissioners for Managing and Causing to Be Levyed and Collected His Majesty's Customs, Subsidies, and other Duties in England, to [] who is established Collector of His Majesty's Customs at [] in America 13 (London, ca. 1733). The signature of the governor was required only on the certificates attesting that pig iron, hemp and flax, and hewn timber were the produce of the colonies. 23 Geo. 2, c. 29, §5 (1750); 4 Geo. 3, c. 26, §3 (1764); 5 Geo. 3, c. 45, §2 (1765); Instructions by the Commissioners, Forms XXVII, XXIX (1764). In the more usual certificates the collector and naval officer alone seem to have signed. See certificates of the Lusanna, cited in No. 58, note 17; compare certificates of the Rebecca, Pensacola, 28 Feb. 1765, SF 101107.
4. For Hancock's business relations with Folger, see note 8 above.
5. The American Board of Customs Commissioners, who landed on 5 Nov. 1767 and took office on 16 November. See text and note 14 above.
6. William Sheaffe (1706–1771), Harvard 1723, a familiar figure in the Boston customs office since 1731. Not only had he served as Frankland's deputy, but after the latter's dismissal in 1759 he acted as collector until Benjamin Barons was appointed to the post by the English Commissioners. In Jan. 1762, in the aftermath of Barons' dismissal (note 6 44 below), Sheaffe was again made acting collector, this time by John Temple. This tenure was also brief, Roger Hale taking office under an appointment from the Commissioners in July. Sheaffe served as deputy to both Hale and his successor, Joseph Harrison. He was also appointed a port waiter by Temple sometime before Oct. 1766 and was acting in both capacities at the time of this proceeding. In 1769, he was placed upon the establishment as an “Officer of the Customs,” and remained deputy collector until his death. See Quincy, Reports (Appendix) 424–429; Stark, Loyalists of Mass. 439; Wolkins, “Boston Customs District,” 58 MHS, Procs. 431, 436; PRO, Treas. 1:471, fol. 161, 461–463; 7 Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates 253.
7. Perhaps a reference to an episode in April 1767 in which Folger sought to collect the duties on a vessel arrived at Nantucket from the Spanish sugar port of Monti Christi, which had not entered at Boston. When Harrison asked Temple for guidance, the latter replied,
“Capt. Folger has no Authority to Enter or clear any Goods that are Dutiable and the Vessel he mentions I think ought to be Entered at Boston before anything is discharged; after she is so Entered, I have no objection to her unloading at Nantucket under the Inspection of Mr. Folger, or if you think necessary send an Officer from Boston to inspect her unlading, which Officer they must pay.” Letters of Harrison and Temple, both dated 13 April 1767, PRO, Treas. 1:471, fols. 185, 188.