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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 2

This note contained in document ADMS-05-02-02-0007-0001
6. The question reached the Board of Trade on the petition of John Bridger, Surveyor General of the Woods, whom Cooke had personally attacked as part of his campaign (note 5 above). The House had approved these strictures against Bridger in Dec. 1718, Cooke having spent the session on the sidelines as a result of the Governor's negative of his election to the Council. See Bridger to Board of Trade, 14 July 1718, Cal. State Papers (Col.), 1717–1718, §616; 1 Mass., House Jour. 272; 2 id. at 3, 47, 52, 53, 108–109. By this time, however, Richard West's opinion, adopted by the Board of Trade, had destroyed the legal foundation of the Province arguments, since it meant that any conveyance of the Gorges lands from the Province General Court after 1691 could have been made only by virtue of a title derived from the 1691 Charter and must be subject to the reservation in that instrument. Opinion of Richard West, 12 Nov. 1718, Chalmers, Opinions 133–137; Cal. State Papers (Col.), 1717–1718, §§744, 755. See generally, Albion, Forests and Sea Power 256–257; Knollenberg, Origin of the American Revolution 132–133. Knollenberg argues that on a strict construction of the Charter language, West's opinion is unsound; since the only requirement was that the lands have been granted previously to private persons, the subsequent history of the title was irrelevant. Ibid. West's ruling that the Bay Colony title was revested in the Crown in 1684 had some sanction in English corporate law, however, and it was supported by a decision of the Privy Council on Gorges' application in 1691. See 9 Holdsworth, History of English Law 67–68; 9 Maine Hist. Soc., Colls. (2d ser.) 390–392; Cal. State Papers (Col.), 1689–1692, §1677. The 1691 Charter confirmed titles under previous grants in language which limited the confirmation to grantees actually holding title at the time of the Charter, thus excluding the Bay Colony. See No. 55, note 1622. When the Charter's exception of lands previously granted to private persons is read with this confirmation clause, it would seem that the Crown could not have intended to save private rights in trees growing on lands to which it did not at the same time confirm the title. The problem raised by the Gorges patent is thus to be distinguished from the case of the Kennebec Company's claims, which were based on a title that had not revested in the Crown in 1684 and was thus confirmed in r6gi. See text and notes 33–41, below.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.