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Randolph, Edward

Edward Randolph, c.1632–1703, English colonial agent in America. In 1676 he carried royal instructions to Massachusetts Bay that required the colony to send representatives to England to satisfy complaints of the heirs of John Mason (1586–1635) and Sir Ferdinando Gorges; he also had orders to make a complete report on the colony. Rebuffed by the Massachusetts authorities, he made a personal investigation and upon his return to England wrote a denunciatory report based on facts but colored by his dislike for the Puritans. His attack on the legality of the Massachusetts Bay charter helped bring about the withdrawal (1679) of New Hampshire from the colony's administration as well as the order that the colony repeal all laws unfavorable to England and enforce the Navigation Acts. In 1679, Randolph settled in Boston as collector of customs for New England. His relations with the colonials were extremely bitter. After the annulment (1684) of the Massachusetts charter, an act to which he had devoted much energy, he became secretary and register for the Dominion of New England and also acted as a councilor under Joseph Dudley and Sir Edmund Andros. With the collapse (1689) of the Andros regime, Randolph was imprisoned for a time. In 1691 he became surveyor general of customs for North America. His letters and papers have been edited with a biographical commentary by R. N. Toppan and A. T. S. Goodrick (7 vol., 1898–1909, repr. 1967).

See biography by M. G. Hall (1960, repr. 1969).

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