Bernard, Sir Francis

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Bernard, Sir Francis

BERNARD, SIR FRANCIS. (1712–1779). Royal governor of New Jersey and Massachusetts. Born in Brightwell, England, on July 1712, Bernard studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1737. His good friend, Viscount Barrington secured him an appointment as governor of New Jersey in 1758. Accounted a great success as governor, he was promoted in 1760 to governor of Massachusetts, which proved a less happy posting. His first error was to appoint Thomas Hutchinson, who was not a lawyer, to the office of chief justice in preference to James Otis. The Stamp Act crisis brought him into conflict with the province he governed, while the refusal of the colonial assembly to revoke its circular letter calling on the other colonies to join in resistance to the Townshend duties led to his dissolving the assembly and calling for British troops to restore order. After a number of his letters to the Colonial Secretary Lord Hillsborough containing unflattering characterizations of the people of Massachusetts were published by the Boston Gazette in April 1769, Bernard's legitimacy plummeted to the point that his own council called for his removal from office. The Crown agreed with the council's action, and on 1 August 1769, Bernard left Boston amid cheers from the crowd. The government consoled Bernard by making him a baronet. He died in Aylesbury on 16 June 1779.

SEE ALSO Stamp Act; Townshend Acts.


Channing, Edward, and Archibald Cary Coolidge, eds. The Barrington-Bernard Correspondence. New York: Da Capo Press, 1912.

                               revised by Michael Bellesiles

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Bernard, Sir Francis

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