Odds & Ends
A Newsletter of Eagles Byte Historical Research
March 1997 No. 18
The Bull in New England's China Shop
The northern colonies were in an uproar. Committees of Safety were being
formed. Many people would have called the talk in Massachusetts seditious.
The King's agents had cause to be very uneasy as they waited, under arrest,
Don't start humming Yankee Doodle or The World Turned Upside Down.
Forget the names Adams, Jefferson, Paine, and Hancock. Ben Franklin was
not even a gleam in his parents' eyes. And the official American Revolution
was nine decades in the future.
One of the men under arrest in April of 1689 was New England's Governor-General
Sir Edmund Andros. He may have reflected that this was not the sort of career's
end he'd ever have contemplated when he first arrived in North America.
England had good reason for concern back in 1674. Launching the beginnings
of Empire was messier than it looked on parchment.
Officers of His Majesty's Customs were vastly under-worked. "New Foundland"
was considered locally as one of the Royal "plantations", a legal
recipient of imported goods. But it was no such thing. What James, back
in England, described as, "great quantities of wine, brandy and other
European goods" were being shipped to Newfoundland, traded for fish
and warehoused there until they could be smuggled south of the St. Lawrence.
The English government was loosing thousands of pounds of revenue as untaxed
goods poured into Canada from France, Holland, Ireland, and Scotland. Forged
coquets (certificates) were the nuclei of many colonial fortunes. There
were numerous purses fattened back in the mother country as well.
For these and other legal and administrative reasons (not to mention the
ever present threat of the French and their Indian allies), it became obvious
to the Duke of York that a royal troubleshooter on the scene was a necessity.
Edmund Andros was born in London on December 6, 1637, to Amice Andros, a
bailiff of Guernsey, in the Channel Islands. One of the lesser nobility,
the father held the title Seigneur of Sausmarez, and young Edmund soon became
a page in the household of Charles I. At some point during this early phase
of his career he became a member of the circle surrounding James, Duke of
York. Destined for the military, Edmund then served as a major of foot in
India, where England was defending her outposts against the Dutch.
1674 turned out to be a pivotal year for the 37-year-old officer. Amice
Andros died that year and Edmund inherited the post of bailiff and the Sausmarez
title. Later he would also become the Seigneur of Aldererney. And James,
now one step away from the restored throne, decided Andros was the best
choice to straighten out some of the vexing problems in the North American
colonies. On July 1st he made his old friend governor of New York. Toward
the end of the year the Royal governor stepped ashore in the New World.
He wasted little time.
Today's executive, with her or his corporate jet, might well marvel at Andros'
travel schedule. Being a military man, the safety of his charges was his
foremost concern and February of 1675 found him well to the north at Albany,
where he convened a Board of Indian Commissioners. He would keep these men
busy. King Philip's War had been raging in New England and retaliatory raids
against Philip's Indians by whites lead to a great dispersal of the Maine
tribes. Only 4,000 Indians now remained in southern New England. Andros,
seeking to gain tribal allies, offered some of the refugees sanctuary among
the Mahican at Schaghticook, on the Hudson River.
By June Andros was at Saybrook, Connecticut, claiming all land to the west
of the Connecticut River for New York. King Philip's death on August 12th
did not give the colonial governors even a brief respite, as war broke out
again, this time among the Maine tribes. Andros was not a man to stick to
his own bailiwick and in August of 1677 he was overseeing the construction
of a fort in Pemaquid, then negotiating the release of prisoners and concluding
a peace treaty with the tribes, in April of 1678. The peace would not last,
but Andros would not play a major role in subsequent Indian affairs in the
region. He'd be busy elsewhere.
We'll fast forward through the next few years. In June of 1680 Andros attended
a session of the East Jersey assembly, under the control of New York at
the time, then dissolved it. The Duke of York became King James II on February
6th, 1685. His brother Charles had decided to enforce the Navigation Acts
before he died and had abrogated the charter of Massachusetts, the chief
offender against the acts. Joseph Dudley was made interim "president"
until a new Royal governor could be appointed and arrive to take over. To
James, now king, the choice was obvious. On June 3rd of 1686, the new Governor-General
of New England, now Sir Edmund Andros, was commissioned and arrived in Boston
on December 20th. Problems were not long in following.
James had nullified most of the Royal Charters, done away with the borders
between the individual colonies and diminished even further their small
amount of legislative and political independence. The new Governor was instructed
to demand the surrender of the charters of Rhode Island and Connecticut
and to crack down on the illicit trade in "New Foundland". He
began by dissolving Rhode Island's government, on January 12, 1687, conferring
on the former colony the status of a county. He then wrote to the officials
of Connecticut, at Hartford, requesting the return of the colony's Royal
Connecticut knew what to expect. They also knew that to give up the Charter
was to lose any semblance of self-rule. They stalled. Stalled for nine months
and almost gave birth to armed rebellion. On October 31, Andros, "Mounted
on a steel gray horse with tapering ears and crested neck," along with
somewhere between thirty and sixty troops (accounts vary) crossed the Connecticut
River and appeared at the local tavern to meet with the colony's governor
Robert Treat and his council. Andros highhandedly demanded the Charter.
It was produced. In the room lit by a single candle, Treat unrolled it.
If Agatha Christie had been Clio, Muse of History, she could have written
the script. Council member Andrew Leete, of Guildford, gestured, and knocked
the candle over, plunging the room into total darkness. When, after much
confusion, the light was restored, a Captain Wadsworth of Hartford was missing.
And so, of course, was the Charter. A search by the Governor-General and
his troops failed to turn up the document. It was not until well after the
intruders had returned to Boston that the document was removed from inside
a large hollow oak tree, in front of the home of Samuel Wyllys. The Charter
Oak would remain an icon of New England resistance to tyranny until it fell
on August 21, 1856, a victim of old age.
The whole exercise turned out to be symbolic. Andros dissolved the Connecticut
government as soon as he reached Boston.
He had not been instructed to alienate the people of Boston, but he proceeded
to do just that. With a military man's disdain for civilians, and the aristocrat's
complete lack of patience for the "rabble", he was autocratic
and imperial. Boston might put up with that from their own people of position,
but not from a foreigner. He levied heavy taxes on the inhabitants, including
the local farmers, who had been used to bartering for what they needed (two
sheep would get you a year at Harvard.) He also abolished all town meetings
except for annual ones to elect officers. Taxation without representation
had made its debut in Boston.
Perhaps the Governor-General's' greatest influence was on the Puritan theocracy,
for which he had small patience. He proceeded to destroy it. This may endear
him to many of us today, looking back on the Puritans, but it didn't endear
him to the local establishment of the time. The decree went out that only
ordained ministers of the English Episcopal Church could perform marriages
in King's Chapel. Dissenters from the Puritan church were excused from contributing
to the maintenance of the minister, which also resulted in diminishing the
funds for education. Puritans gathering for the Sabbath in the Old South
Church had to wait outside in all weathers, until after Anglican services
were completed. He even allowed Saturday night festivities, a Puritan no-no.
(It was considered part of the Sabbath.)
Andros was completely inept at public relations (to use today's term) and
so was James II. Rumors began reaching the colonies that the Monarchy was
threatened with revolution. Puritan leaders Cotton and Increase Mather began
organizing opposition to Andros. And when the rumors were confirmed, on
April 18th of 1689, Andros and several of his followers were placed under
arrest and held in custody for a few months.
It might seem at this point that Sir Edmund Andros had a brilliant future
behind him. But England's new king, William of Orange, was not about give
North America back to the Indians, or the Colonials. "We do hereby
will and require, that the said Sir Edmund Andros, Edward Randolph, John
Trefrey, and others our subjects, that have been in like manner seized by
the said people of Boston, and ...detained there under confinement, be forthwith
sent on board the first shipp bound hither, to answer before us what may
be objected against them: and that you take care that they be civilly used
in their passage from New England, and safely conveyed to our royal presence."
His will was done. (He did back away from Andros' actions somewhat; Connecticut's
Charter was declared still in effect.) Andros continued his service to the
Crown, becoming Royal Governor to Virginia in 1692. He retired from Royal
service in 1697, returning to Guernsey where he carried out his local duties
until 1706, then moved to London. It was there, in he city of his birth,
that Sir Edmund Andros died on the 24th of February, 1714, at the age of
76. The drama in which he had portrayed Prologue, would open sixty years
A search of Eagles Byte chronologies for "England" turns up the
following events for 1688 and 1689.
Mar 7 1689
Major Samuel Appleton is released from Boston jail, where he had been imprisoned
by Governor Andros for rebellion.
The Massachusetts churches send Increase Mather to England to petition for
the renewal of the Massachusetts charter. ** Sir Edmund Andros is given
a new commission by James II, making him governor of New England, New York
and New Jersey.
East Jersey proprietors surrender their authority to the Crown.
Poet Alexander Pope is born in London.
Andros annexes the governments of New York and the Jerseys to the Dominion
of New England.
Author John Bunyan dies in Holborn, London.
The West Jersey proprietors surrender their government to the Crown.
Prince William of Orange lands at Tor Bay, off the English Channel.
James II flees to France.
James is captured by William of Orange's troops.
Thomas Shadwell is named Poet Laureate.
Princess Anne deserts her father, James II, takes refuge in London House
in Aldersgate Street.
James II escapes from William of Orange.
Parliament declares William and Mary king and queen of England.
William and Mary appoint a new Committee of Privy Council on Trade and Foreign
The Viscount Dundee leaves Edinburgh to raise a Highland army to fight for
the deposed James II.
Boston receives the news of William of Orange's landing in England.
Novelist-playwright Aphra Behn, the first professional female British author,
dies in London.
The citizens of Boston overthrow Governor Andros.
Virginia acknowledges William and Mary as its new sovereigns.
Parliament protects the religious liberties of Dissenters by passing the
John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount Dundee, and 2500 Scots troops attack
the 3400-man force of William of Orange, lead by General Mackay, at the
battle of Killiecrankie, completely routing the Royalist forces. Dundee
is killed and legend says his ghost appears this night to his captured Jacobite
friend Lord Balcarres.
Author Samuel Richardson is baptized in Mackworth, England.
Parliament enacts a Bill of Rights.
English dancing master Joseph Priest of the Chelsea boarding school for
girls presents Henry Purcell and Nathum Tate's opera Dido and Aneas.
PEARL OF AN URL
It was necessary to greatly simplify (almost to the point of oblivion) the
long and complex history of New England and its Native American tribes.
Those curious to know more would do well to visit Lee Sultzman's website,
First Nations Histories,
which contains detailed descriptions of 40 North American tribes (histories
of over 200 are planned):
EB SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY (more detailed versions available)
- Besant, Walter - London in the Days of the Stuarts (London, Adam &
Charles Black, 1903)
- Bridenbaugh, Carl - Vexed and Troubled Englishmen (Clarenden Press,
- Cowie, L. W. - Seventeenth Century Europe (G. Bell & Sons, Ltd.,
- Fischer, David Hackett - Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America
(New York, Oxford University Press, 1989)
- Langdon, George D., Jr. - Pilgrim Colony (Yale University Press, 1966)
- Miller, John C. - The First Frontier: Life in Colonial America (New
York, Dell, 1966)
- Morgan, Forest, ed. - Connecticut As A Colony And As A State (Hartford,
Publishing Society of Connecticut, 1904)
- Ogg, David - England in the Reign of Charles II (Oxford, Clarendon Press,
- Palmer, Alan and Victoria - The Chronology of British History (London,
- Tunis, Edwin - Colonial Living (Cleveland, World Publishing, 1957)
- Usher, Roland - The Pilgrims and Their History (New York, Macmillan,
- Vaughan, Alden T. - New England Frontier Pilgrims and Indians, 1620-1675
(Boston, Little, Brown, 1965)
- Wish, Harvey - Society and Thought in Early America (New York, Longmans,
Copyright 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte
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I hope you've enjoyed this issue of Odds & Ends.
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now up through the 1820s. Each Monday I send out a new 4-year section. If
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