Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BERNARD, Sir Francis, governor of 5Iassa-chusetts Bay, born in Nettleham, Lincoln County, England, in 1714; died in Aylesbury, England, 16 June 1779. He was graduated at Oxford in 1736, studied law, and admitted to the bar at the Middle Temple, of which he afterward became a bencher. He was elected steward of the city of Lincoln, and recorder of the city of Boston in England. In 1768 he was appointed governor of the province of New Jersey, whence after two years of successful rule he was transferred to the colony of Massachusetts Bay, arriving on 5 Aug:, 1760. The earlier part of his administration of rune years was successful, as was shown by the salary of £1,300 voted to him, and the grant of the island of Mount Desert, off the coast of Maine, both of which were confirmed by the king. In 1764 the library of Harvard was destroyed by fire, and about 6,000 volumes were lost. Governor Bernard took a special interest in the College, and successfully exerted himself in raising funds in its behalf. When two parties arose*the advocates for the crown, and the defenders of the rights of the people*Bernard determined to strengthen the royal authority in the colonies, and he probably did more than any other one man toward precipitating the war of the revolution. He manifested an unhappy facility for wounding the amour-propre of the colonists. One of his first acts that aroused indignation was the appointment of Mr. Hutchinson as chief justice, instead of Colonel Otis, of Barnstable, to whom the office had been pledged. This breach of faith drew on him the hostility of James Otis, the son of Colonel Otis, who soon became a popular leader. Governor Bernard also gave special offence by refusing to confirm the nomination of several members of the council. He seemed to have no talent for conciliation, and, failing in his preliminary measures of attempted coercion to his views, he made such representations to the government that troops were ordered to Boston. He intended to overawe the people, and the act greatly excited the entire population of Massachusetts Bay, and gave an enormous impetus to the growing disaffection. The assembly requested the removal of the king's ships and troops, but Bernard refused, and business was brought to a stand-still. His con-duet drew on him the indignation of the province, but procured him, in 1769, a baronetcy in England as a reward for his "firmness and administrative ability." He had little command of his temper, could not conceal his resentments, nor restrain his censures. One of his last public measures was to prorogue the general court in July in consequence of their refusal to make provision for the support of the king's troops. But before his decree had gone into effect the general court had drafted resolutions and petitioned the king for his removal. The English government deemed it wise to recall him, although claiming that it was only on the plea of consulting him in reference to the general condition of the province. He continued nominally governor for two years longer, but never returned to America. He published "Letters to the Ministry" (1769); "Letters to the Earl of Hills-borough" (1769); and "Select Letters on the Trade and Government of America, and the Principles of Law and Polity applied to the American Colonies" (2d ed., 1774). He also edited "Antonii Alsopi Edis Christi olim Alumni Odarum libri duo" (1752). His "Letter Books" were bought by Dr. Jared Sparks in 1848, and by his will bequeathed to the library of Harvard.*His son, Sir John, Hart., was born in England in 1744; died in the West Indies in 1809. At the close of the war of independence, his sympathies having been with the colonists in their struggle with the mother country, he did not return to England. After suffering the extremes of poverty for some time, the legislature of Massachusetts, in consideration of his conduct during the war, restored to him half of the island of Mount Desert, part of his father's property, which had been confiscated. Little is known of his subsequent career in the United States. Afterward he held offices under the British government at Barbadoes and St. Vincent. At the death of his father, in 1'779, he succeeded to the title.*Sir Thomas, bart., third son of Sir Francis Bernard, was born in England about 1746; died there in 1818. When his father was appointed governor of New Jersey, he accompanied the family to America, and was graduated at Harvard in 1767. Subsequently he went to England and married a lady of fortune. On the death of his brother, Sir John, he succeeded to the title. He was the author of several essays, written to improve the condition of the humbler classes, and was noted for his benevolence.
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