. Barons, appointed in 1759, had immediately begun to cause trouble, apparently because
of a long-standing vendetta with Charles Paxton, surveyor and searcher at Boston.
Barrow, Colonial Customs
261–262, 352–353. According to Paxton, Barons was behind not only the opposition
to writs of assistance but also the efforts of the merchants to alter the practice
whereby the charges of the informer in condemnations in the Court of Admiralty were
paid out of the Province share of the proceeds. Quincy, Reports (Appendix)
425–426, 542. In the latter controversy James Otis represented the merchants at legislative
hearings in Dec. 1760, which led the General Court to authorize Province Treasurer
Harrison Gray to sue Paxton for specific sums he allegedly received in this fashion.
at 541–543. See note 28130
below. Gray, with Otis as counsel, first lost on a plea in abatement upheld because
he had sued in his own person. See id.
at 541–547; 1 JA, Diary and Autobiography
172289, 172353. In a new action in the name of the Province, Paxton obtained verdict
and judgment at the Feb. 1762 term of the Superior Court. Quincy, Reports (Appendix)
100183. At the Aug. 1761 Superior Court, John Erving, a Boston merchant and councilor,
had obtained judgment against Collector George Cradock for money paid under a composition
(consent decree) of a libel brought in Admiralty for duties—despite the court's instructions
that the Admiralty decree was binding. Id.
at 553–557. In the meantime, Barons had finally been removed from his post, in June
1761. See No. 45, note 644
. Since he had brought three actions against those responsible for his removal which,
with Gray v. Paxton and Erving v. Cradock, were all pending in the Suffolk Inferior
Court in July 1761, it is little wonder that Governor Bernard saw the entire problem
as the result of a plot fomented by Barons, Erving, and Otis. Bernard to Lords of
Trade, 6 Aug. 1761, quoted in Quincy, Reports (Appendix)
426, 545, 555. It is more likely, however, that the opposition derived strong support
from all the merchants because of their resentment toward a tightening of customs
control insisted on by Pitt in Aug. 1760 as a means of halting illicit trade with
the enemy. See id.
at 407–408; Lawrence H. Gipson, The British Empire before the American Revolution,
10:111–131 (N.Y., 1961); King, “Judicial Flotsam in Massachusetts Bay,” 27 NEQ
366, 371–374 (1954); Freiberg, Prelude to Purgatory 9 note. Otis was allegedly involved
against the Crown because of wrath at the appointment of Hutchinson to the Superior
Court in lieu of Otis' father. See 11 Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates
252; note 20
above; note 26128