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LORD DARTMOUTH's Manuscripts, in so far as they were at the time known to exist, were calendared by the Royal Commission in their Eleventh Report, 1887, Appendix, Part V.
Several years after the publication of that Report I had the opportunity, through the courtesy of the then Lord Lewisham, to examine those original manuscripts for the purpose of making such notes and memoranda as I should like to include in my own manuscript Catalogue Index of papers relating to America from 1763 to 1783 in the public and private archives of England, France, Holland, and Spain. .
After the present Earl had succeeded to the title and estates several boxes of additional Manuscripts were found. These were placed at the disposal of the Royal Historical Commission, with the intimation that I might be allowed to consult them for my own Catalogue Index as before, and perhaps calendar the American portion for the Royal Commission. I had thus the honour of sorting this great mass of papers, of separating all that related to North America, and of cataloguing them for my own use. Many bundles appeared to have never been touched since they left the hands of the second Earl of Dartmouth and his Secretary in the last century, and some letters, curiously enough, had never been opened, the seals still remaining intact.
The Secretary of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts having asked me to furnish the Commission with a report on these additional American papers my compliance with his request here follows in 544 pages. As my own field of research is mostly limited to what is now the United States, I requested the assistance of my friend, Mr. Douglas Brymner, Archivist, who has devoted himself to forming the official collection of Canadian Manuscripts at Ottawa, to report on the papers relating to Canada, Nova Scotia, &c. Mr. Brymner's work extends from page 545 to 606. The copious Index to the whole volume is my own.
E 82140. Wt. 21255.
These additional American papers have been arranged and subdivided into—(i.) Those relating to the original thirteen American Colonies and the War of Independence by which these Colonies became the United States ; (ii.) Those relating in a more limited sense to the West India Islands ; and (ii.) Those referring to the Colonies immediately north of the United States, as Canada, Labrador, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and St. John's Island.
The bulk of these Manuscripts come within the term of office of the second Earl of Dartmouth as Secretary of State for the American Department, though the dates actually range from 1676 to 1839. It is presumed that the few earlier papers are copies used as precedents in his official life ; amongst them, however, is an original deed of sale of land by the Stockbridge Indians bearing seals and Indian totems. The later documents, that is, in the present century, relate to the portrait of Lord Dartmouth presented to Dartmouth College in America by his grandson.
The painstaking student of the American phase of English history will find it convenient to use the former Report of the Royal Commission upon Lord Dartmouth's Manuscripts in conjunction with this volume, in order to appreciate the very great historical and biographical importance of the entire collection. If these Calendars are compared with the Documents relating to the Colonial History of New York, the New Jersey Archives, the New Hampshire Records, Force's American Archives, and other American and English publications, the student will be gratified with the great number and value of connecting links, facts, incidents, and explanations here disclosed."
William, second Earl of Dartmouth, grandson of the first Earl, was born 20th June 1731. His father died the following year, and his mother subsequently (1736) married the Earl of Guilford, thus bringing into the same household the young Lord Dartinouth and Frederick (afterwards Lord) North, who was about two years older. Lord Dartmouth was educated at Marylebone, then at Westminster School, finally at Oxford, whence he and Frederick North accomplished the tour of the Continent. He had, meanwhile, on the death of his grandfather, 15th December 1750, succeeded to the earldom. He took his seat in the House of Lords 31st May 1754, Mr. North about the same time being elected member for Banbury, for which borough he sat continuously till called to the House of Lords in December 1790 as Earl of Guilford. Lord Dartmouth married in 1755 Frances Catherine, daughter of Sir Charles Gunter Nicholl. Though we find him acting as Recorder of Sheffield, and occasionally speaking in Parliament, a contemporary sketch of his life says that from this period to 1765 his attachment to letters and to domestic life, together with a pious turn of mind, secluded him from the bustle of public affairs. High offices of State, however, had been filled by his grandfather, who was in his time Secretary of State, Lord Privy Seal, and Lord Justice, by his uncle Heneage, Baron of the Exchequer, and by Henry Bilson Legge, Chancellor. On the formation of Lord Rockingham's Ministry in 1765, which Mr. Lecky alludes to as a “ Ministry of great families but of “. young men, inexperienced, with two or three worn-out “ veterans," and Lord Chesterfield as an “arch without its keystone” (Pitt), Lord Dartmouth, then thirty-four years old, was urged by the Duke of Newcastle to take office, and, like Grafton and Rockingham, get the better of his own inclination for the sake of the King and the public (see previous Calendar of Lord Dartmouth's Manuscripts, 11th Report, Appendix, Part V., p. 331). Lord Shelburne having been offered in the new Ministry his old place at the head of the Board of Trade, and, declining it in a pompous letter (Walpole), the post was conferred on Lord Dartmouth. He was at the same time sworn one of the Lords of Privy Council. The historian Bancroft, who seems to favour Shelburne, says, “ the “ refusal of Shelburne to act under Rockingham as President of " the Board of Trade left this important office to the young and “ inexperienced Lord Dartmouth.”
The new Ministry opened its career with meetings and measures to carry out in the fullest degree the Stamp Act passed in the previous February, but the utter opposition and resentment of the Colonies soon led to its abandonment and repeal (pp. 15-46). The feeling of the American provinces against the Act is here embodied in the formal resolutions of the Chambers of Virginia, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts,