A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


Thomas Hutchinson

9 September 1711 - 3 June 1780

Thomas Hutchinson, historian, chief justice, and royal governor of Massachusetts, was born in Boston to a wealthy merchant family. Always an advocate for Massachusetts, Hutchinson disapproved of the tax legislation Parliament imposed on the colonies, but once the laws were enacted, he believed that they should be enforced and obeyed. Hutchinson served in the Massachusetts Assembly almost continuously from 1737 until 1749 and as speaker from 1746 to 1748. In 1758 he became lieutenant governor, and in 1760 he was appointed chief justice of Massachusetts. He became acting governor in 1769 and received his official commission from the king in 1771. While royal governor, Hutchinson maintained that if British authority were reaffirmed and strengthened, peace would be restored to Massachusetts. When his home was ransacked by a mob on 26 August 1765, in the midst of the Stamp Act crisis, his position hardened. After the Boston Tea Party, Hutchinson was summoned to London to consult with the king about the state of the province. Hutchinson hoped to return to his beloved Massachusetts, but he never did. In 1776, living as an exile in England, he wrote a rebuttal to the Declaration of Independence. Four years later, he died of a stroke in London.