Legal Papers of John Adams, volume 2

Editorial Note

Questions Presented

Surveyor General v. Logs: 1769 Surveyor General v. Logs: 1769
Surveyor General v. Logs
John Hurd to Joshua Loring Jr.<a xmlns="" href="#LJA02d063n1" class="note" id="LJA02d063n1a">1</a>, 13 April 1769 Hurd, John Loring, Joshua Jr. John Hurd to Joshua Loring Jr., 13 April 1769 Hurd, John Loring, Joshua Jr.
John Hurd to Joshua Loring Jr.1
Dear Sir Portsmo. 13th. April 1769

The inclosd Informations were preparing by Mr. Claggett,2 and under Consideration of Mr. Parker the Deputy Judge of Admiralty, 260when he received a Letter from the Honorable Judge Auchmuty suspending him from the Office.3 Mr. Claggett returnd them to the Surveyor General, and by his directions I forward them to you, to be laid before Mr. Auchmuty, who will know best to putt them in proper order; and if he thinks the Evidence sufficient forward them for Execution, as the Governor has already advisd. There will be further and more particular Information soon collected from some of the principal people at Law which shall be immediately sent along. I am with great Esteem and regard Dear Sir Your Most hum Servt.

John Hurd

Mr. Claggett is about leaving Us and sails soon for England. We shall miss him in some of our Affairs.

P.S. You have also inclosd a Diary of Willm. Ham Assistant Deputy, which may be of some use; after shewing it to the Judge You'll please to return it to the Surveyor General's Office.


RC, presumably in Hurd's hand. Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185. Docketed by JA: “Mr. Hurd's Letter.” Enclosures not found. Hurd (1727–1809), Harvard 1747, was the son of Jacob Hurd, Boston goldsmith. After an unstable commercial career in Boston he developed New Hampshire land interests, became Wentworth's personal secretary, and held other administrative positions. He became an early settler in the upper Connecticut Valley and at the Revolution was a patriot. After losing in several political struggles, he returned to Boston in 1779, where he finished his life in the commercial community. 12 Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates 164–171. Loring (1744–1789) was Deputy Surveyor of the Woods, as well as the last royal sheriff of Suffolk County. A tory, he is best known as General Howe's Commissary of Prisoners, a post for which he has received much abuse. Stark, Loyalists of Mass. 424–425; Jones, Loyalists of Mass. 199–200.


Wyseman Clagett (1721–1784), Attorney General of New Hampshire from 1765 to 1769. Son of an English barrister, he had been admitted an attorney in the King's Bench before his emigration to Antigua in 1748. He came to Portsmouth in 1758, where he took up practice and was soon made a justice of the peace. His severity with petty offenders was such that “I'll Clagett you,” became a popular threat. In 1769, as Hurd's postscript, below, indicates, he moved to England. Upon his return in 1771, he took up the patriot cause, serving in the Provincial Congresses and later on the State Committee of Safety and Council. From 1781 to 1784 he was a special Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court and Solicitor General. DAB .


William Parker (1703–1781), Harvard A.M. (hon.) 1763, Deputy Admiralty Judge for the Province of New Hampshire. Admitted to the bar in 1732, Parker served in a variety of legislative and judicial posts, ending his active career as a Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court (1771–1775). Charles H. Bell, The Bench and Bar of New Hampshire 26–28 (Boston, 1894). Since New Hampshire was under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Vice Admiralty Judge, Parker owed his authority to a deputation from Judge Auchmuty. He was apparently also commissioned by Governor Wentworth. See Ubbelohde, Vice Admiralty Courts 153–154; Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire, 1:421 (Dover, 2d edn., 1831). The cause of his suspension has not been determined, but he was still in office in 1773. Ibid. He had also sat on a case appealed from New Hampshire to Auchmuty's new District Court of Vice Admiralty at Boston in 1772. Lawrence S. Mayo, John Langdon of New Hampshire 42 (Concord, 1937). See p. 104 above.

Adams’ Draft of the Information<a xmlns="" href="#LJA02d064n1" class="note" id="LJA02d064n1a">1</a>: Court of Vice Admiralty, Boston, 20 April 1769 JA Adams’ Draft of the Information: Court of Vice Admiralty, Boston, 20 April 1769 Adams, John
Adams' Draft of the Information1
Court of Vice Admiralty, Boston, 20 April 1769
Province of the Massachusetts Bay Court of vice Admty. 20th. April 1769 To the Honble. Robert Auchmuty Esqr. Judge of his Majestys said Court or to his lawfull Deputy Commissary Deputy and surrogate of the Court of Vice Admiralty of Boston in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay [facing 260] [facing 261] 261

John Wentworth Esqr. Surveyor General of all and singular his Majestys Woods on the Continent of North America shews that on the Twenty fourth day of March last he seized for his Majestys Use, at the several Places hereafter mentioned in said Province, the following white pine Logs; vizt at a Place called little Ossipee in the County of York in said Province Three hundred white Pine Logs from twenty four to fifty four Inches Diameter, and from Eighteen to Twenty four Feet long; at a Place called Narragansett in the County of York in said Province Three Logs from twenty five to Thirty Inches Diameter; at Faybans Mills so called in Scarborough in the County of Cumberland, Three hundred Logs.

At a Place called Dunstons Landing in Scarborough aforesaid, two Masts, vizt one of forty Inches Diameter and fifty seven Feet long, another of forty four Inches Diameter and Eighty seven feet long.

At a Place called Blue Point in Scarborough aforesaid one Mast of forty four Inches Diameter and Ninty three feet long, one of twenty Eight Inches Diameter and Eighty Eight feet and an half long; At a Place called Pepperellborough in the County of York aforesaid one Mast forty two Inches in Diameter and Sixty feet long, one of forty two Inches in Diameter and Eighty four feet long, one of Thirty Six Inches in Diameter and Eighty four feet long, one of forty two Inches in Diameter and fifty seven feet long, one of Thirty Six Inches Diameter and fifty seven feet long. At Narragansett in the County of York aforesaid Three Logs from twenty five to Thirty Inches Diameter; All cutt out of Trees growing in this Province, and not in any Township, or within the Bounds Lines or Limits thereof, or if growing within the Limits of any Town, those of twenty four Inches Diameter at twelve Inches from the Ground, not growing within any Soil or Tract of Land granted to any private Person before the Seventh Day of October Anno Domini 1690, and those under Twenty four Inches Diameter, not being the Property of any private Person or Persons, and felled by some evil minded Persons within Six Months last past, without his Majestys royal Licence first had and obtained; and by them removed to the aforesaid Places, contrary to the Laws in that Case made and provided.2

Wherefore as this matter is within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court the said John Wentworth prays sentence for the Forfeiture of said Logs to his Majestys Use, agreable to Law.


Copy in JA's hand. Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185. Docketed by JA: “Wentworth vs. Logs. Form.” The caption of the document indicates that Auchmuty sat on the case in his capacity as Judge of the Massachusetts provincial court, rather than as Judge of the new district court to which he was appointed in the fall of 1768. See No. 46, notes 41–43; p. 102, note 16, above. Compare Ubbelohde, Vice Admiralty Courts 148–155.


For the statutes, the requirements of which are neatly summarized in the foregoing sentence, see No. 55, notes 6–9 32–35 , 12–17 38–43 .

262 John Wentworth to Joshua Loring Jr.<a xmlns="" href="#LJA02d065n1" class="note" id="LJA02d065n1a">1</a>, 10 April 1769 Wentworth, John Loring, Joshua Jr. John Wentworth to Joshua Loring Jr., 10 April 1769 Wentworth, John Loring, Joshua Jr.
John Wentworth to Joshua Loring Jr.1
Portsmouth 10th April 1769 Sir

Inclosed are informations against sundry Tresspassers upon the King's woods, in the (late called) Province of Main. Which I request you will immediately in my name enter Complaint of, before the Honorable Robert Auchmuty Esq. and pray that process may immediately issue thereon, for recovery of the penalty. The Trees were not seized mentioned in the information No. 5, As the offenders by violence and menaces rendered it too dangerous for any single Officer to perform, but I am determined in May next to go myself and convince them that Threats and wicked Intents are not enough to prevent any service being done;2 that is committed to my care. Whatever may be the Event, I will assuredly attempt and persevere in my duty. As Mr. Sewall is now (I am glad for him) constituted Judge,3 I am at a Loss who to direct to as Advocate, If he does not still act, I desire you'd employ John Adams Esq. in my behalf to prosecute and aid and advise in these suits. He was my Cotemporary at Cambridge, and will I dare say oblige me by his greatest care and assiduity herein, which I hope will give me opportunity to convince him that our Friendship long since commenced is still the object of my pleasing respect. I wou'd observe to you, That these People, Vizt. Ross, Ross, Denning and particularly Thompson, have thus, trespassed in open avowed defiance and contempt of the Law, publickly declaring they have done it, will persist, and that no Officer shall come among them; it is therefore necessary that a trusty, resolute and experienced Marshal be entrusted by the Court, to execute these Precepts.4 If they fail then adieu to all public reservations to the Crown, or private property of individuals. I therefore hope they'l be properly supported by the Sheriffs and other civil officers—it is too important to bear even a thought of disappointment, in bringing them to legal trial. I am resolv'd to carry this prosecution to effect, Mr. Adams will therefore be pleased to pursue the exact rules of the Law, and on our side I'le promise him the 263most steady and vigorous support. Hitherto I have not been able to collect the additions5 to the names complain'd against, but am daily expecting them; these will be sufficient I presume to ground the respective process, and I shall be glad Mr. Adams will write me what further will be requisite to support our Complaints and informations. By the next post I shall send some further Evidence. I have this day wrote to the Judge on this subject, requesting to you, all necessary and legal Assistance. I beg you'd lose no time in these matters, for they are of the greatest consequence to the preservation of the Woods.

Have you yet heard any thing further from Albany of Colo. Bs. supposed tresspasses? We will now make a thorough business of reformation by the Vigor of Law, since these and these only are no other ways to be reclaim'd.6

I am exceedingly oblig'd by your good Father's interest to get the Young man discharg'd, it has made a Family very happy here. If this favor was asked in my name of Commodore Hood, I beg He would be so kind to make my most respectful acknowledgments for his politeness, which I shall at all times rejoice to retaliate. I was uncertain, therefore cou'd not mention anything about it, in a Letter I've lately had occasion to write to Commodore Hood.

My best regards attend your good Parents. I suppose your Father is quite a Farmer and you a Gardener—happy life indeed—and if completely so, long may it be continued to you. Pray be so good to make my Respects to Mr. Adams, I fear myself indebted to him a Letter from Worcester, but hope soon to repay him—better late than never.7

I am with great esteem my dear Sir, your very sincere friend and most hble servt., Wentworth

PS. Present the Lawyer rather a generous fee, I'le reimburse.


RC in Wentworth's hand, addressed to “Joshua Loring Junr. Esq.” Adams Papers. This letter, and that printed as Doc. IV, appear out of chronological order because they were discovered after the rest of the documents in this case had been set in type.


See p. 255, note 29 above.


That is, Jonathan Sewall, commissioned as Judge of the Vice Admiralty Court at Halifax. See No. 46, text at notes 41–43.


Libels in Wentworth's name against Robert Ross, William Ross, James Denning, and Samuel Thompson, were entered in the Vice Admiralty Court on 26 May 1769, but the respondents were not served. Vice Adm. Min. Bk., 26 May 1769.


That is, the degree or occupation and place of abode of the party, a necessary element in a pleading. See vol. 1, p. 32, note 19.


See p. 255, note 29 above.


Probably JA's letter to Wentworth from Worcester dated Sept. 1756; Photostat of FC in Adams Papers Files.

John Adams to John Wentworth<a xmlns="" href="#LJA02d066n1" class="note" id="LJA02d066n1a">1</a>, 24 April 1769 JA Wentworth, John John Adams to John Wentworth, 24 April 1769 Adams, John Wentworth, John
John Adams to John Wentworth1
Boston April 24. 1769 Sir

I have prepared Eight Libells, and shall compleat the rest immediately. Those I mean whose Additions and Abodes are made known to me. The others must remain undone till I receive Directions con-264cerning the Persons. Should be glad if any further Informations are sent, to have the Names, Occupations, and Places of Abode of the Persons, that is, the Towns and Countys they live in. The Number of Trees they have cutt, not the Number of Logs, because if we prosecute for Penalties, those Penalties are to be measured by the Number of Trees, not of Logs, according to the Statutes.2 And also the Town and County where the Trespasses were done. As to the Riot or Assault upon Mr. Ham the officer, you desired that the Rioters might be rigorously prosecuted, but this cannot be done in the Court of Admiralty, which has no Jurisdiction of such Crimes, but must be left to the Kings Attorney and the grand Jury at the next Circuit of the Court of Assize.

In the Informations against Ross, Ross, Denning, and Thompson, I have put fifty Trees for each. In the Minutes I received it is Said they had cut 400 Logs each. It is possible that 50 Trees may not make so many as 400 Logs. But I thought that 50 Trees would probably be 25 times so much as the Culprits were worth, and therefore an omission of 100 Trees or so, would be of no Consequence to the Parties nor to the Crown.

I have given this Business all the Dispatch in my Power, encumbered as I have been during the whole of it, with the Hurry and Confusion of a Court in a wild, noisy, Smoaky Town. I wonder from my Soul what Fiend possessed me, when I left the calm Tranquility of Braintree for the Fatigue and Dissipation of Boston? But, hush my murmuring Imagination! I see more and more there is no disputing with Fate and Fortune. These inexorable Deities will dragg, if they cannot lead, and therefore the best Way is to trip it along as light as you can.

You see I feel a great Inclination to be upon a Footing with your Excellency and to be chatting about my self as I used twelve years ago. But I cant conceive what Business I have with a Wife and three Children when I am conversing with your Excellency. Excuse this Freedom and believe me, with great Respect and Esteem, your Excellency's most obedient, huml Servt.,

John Adams

FC in JA's hand. Adams Papers. Addressed to “His Excellency Governor Wentworth.”


8 Geo. 1, c. 12, §5 (1722); 2 Geo. 2, c. 35, §2 (1729). See No. 55, text at notes 7 33 , 17 43 .