. This detached entry appears to be out of place chronologically, since it reports part
of Benjamin Prat’s plea in abatement of the writ in the case of Gray v.
Paxton, tried in Suffolk Inferior Court, July 1761. This was a famous case, with
marked political overtones. Harrison Gray (1711–1794) was provincial treasurer and receiver-general; Charles Paxton (1707–1788) was a commissioner of customs in Boston (Stark, Loyalists of Mass.
, p. 34–336, 318–319). The action grew out of Paxton’s practice of charging his costs
for secret informers entirely against the King’s (that is to say, the Province’s)
one-third share of the value of goods forfeited under admiralty court decisions, while
the Governor and the informer each got their full thirds. As a result of a petition
from a number of merchants and after much bickering between the House of Representatives
and Governor Bernard, the General Court in Jan. 1761 authorized Treasurer Gray to
sue Paxton for the alleged deficiencies (more than £357). Much discussed during the
spring, the case came on in the Inferior Court in July, and Paxton lost. The Superior
Court in its August term supported Prat’s plea in abatement and reversed the decision.
A new action, Province v.
Paxton, was thereupon brought in the Inferior Court, Jan. 1762, and judgment was
again rendered against Paxton. He again appealed, and, to use Bernard’s words, “pursuant
to the direction of all the Judges the jury found for the defendant [Paxton],” Feb.
1762. The records of the two cases, with full commentary, are printed by Samuel M.
Quincy in Appendix II to Quincy, Reports
, p. 541–552. It is to Chief Justice Hutchinson’s role in the two cases on appeal
refers so bitterly in his Diary for 30 Dec. 1765
: “Who has made it his constant Endeavor to discountenance the Odium in which Informers
are held?” &c.