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Reasons of the Grand Jurors for refusing to be sworn



The Freemen who were returned to serve as Grand Jurors at the Superiour Court, for this term, made their appearance in the Court House yesterday; and, before a numerous assembly, (Peter Oliver, Edmund Trowbridge, Foster Hutchinson, William Cushing, and Wm˙ Brown, Esquires, sitting on the bench as Judges,) they all, to the number of twenty-two, declined acting as Jurors, for reasons which they had previously drawn up in writing, and signed, and appointed to be read there by their Chairman; but the above said Judges, refusing to hear the same openly read, desired to have the reading of it to themselves, which being complied with, the Jurymen withdrew from the Court House to the Exchange Tavern, where they unanimously voted that, in order to justify their refusal to the world, their aforementioned reasons should be printed in the publick papers.

Boston, August 30, 1774.

County of SUFFOLK:

We, who are returned by the several towns in this county, to serve as Grand Jurors at the Superiour Court, for this present term, being actuated by a zealous regard for peace and good order, and a sincere desire to promote justice, righteousness, and good government, as being essential to the happiness of the community, would now most gladly proceed to the discharge of the important duty required in that department, could we persuade ourselves that by doing thus it would tend to our reputation, or promote the welfare of our country; but when we consider the dangerous inroads that have been made upon our civil Constitution; the violent attempts now making to alter and annul the most essential part of our Charter, granted by the most solemn faith of Kings, and repeatedly recognised by British Kings and Parliament; while we see the open and avowed design of establishing the most complete system of despotism in this Province, and thereby reducing the freeborn inhabitants thereof to the most abject state of slavery and bondage; we feel ourselves necessarily constrained to decline being empannelled, for reasons that we are ready to offer to the Court, if permitted, which are as follows:

First. Because Peter Oliver, Esquire, who sits as Chief Judge of this Court, has been charged with high crimes and misdemeanors, by the late honourable House of Representatives, the grand inquest of this Province, of which crimes he has never been legally acquitted, but has been declared by that House to be unqualified to act as Judge of that Court.

Secondly. Because, by a late Act of the British Parliament, for altering the Constitution of this Province, the continuance of the present Judges of this Court, as well as the appointment of others, from the first day of July last, is made to depend solely on the King' s pleasure, vastly different from the tenure of the British Judges; and as we apprehend they now hold their places, only in consequence of that Act, all the judicial proceedings of the Court will be taken as concessions to the validity of the same, to which we dare not consent.

Thirdly. Because three of the Judges, being the major part of the Court, namely: the said Peter Oliver, Esquire, Foster Hutchinson, Esquire, and Wm˙ Brown, Esquire, by taking the oath of Counsellors, under the authority of the


aforesaid Act, are (as we are informed) sworn to carry into execution all the late grievous Acts of the British Parliament, among the last of which is one, made ostensibly for the impartial administration of justice in this Province, but as we fear, really for the impunity of such persons as shall, under pretext of executing those acts, murder any of the inhabitants thereof; which Acts appear to us to be utterly repugnant to every idea of justice and common humanity, and are justly complained of, throughout America, as highly injurious and oppressive to the good people of this Province, and manifestly destructive of their natural, as well as constitutional rights.

Fourthly. Because we believe, in our consciences, that our acting in concert with a Court so constituted, and under such circumstances, would be so far betraying the just and sacred rights of our native lands, which were not the gift of Kings, but were purchased solely with the toil, the blood and treasure of our worthy and revered ancestors; and which we look upon ourselves as under the most sacred and inviolable obligations, to maintain, and to transmit, whole and entire, to our posterity.

Therefore we, the subscribers, unanimously decline serving as Grand Jurors at this Court.

Ebenezer Hancock, Boston.
Peter Boyer, Do.
Joseph Hall, Do.
Thomas Craft, Jun˙ Do.
James Ivers, Do.
Paul Revere, Do.
Robert Williams, Roxbury.
Wm˙ Thompson, Brookline.
Abraham Wheeler, Dorchester.
Joseph Jones, Milton.
Nathaniel Belcher, Braintree.
Samuel Hobart, Hingham.
Joseph Poole, Weymouth.
William Bullard, Dedham.
Jonathan Day, Needham.
Abijah Upham, Stoughton.
Moses Richardson, Medway.
Henry Plympton, Medfield.
Lemuel Hallock, Wrentham.
Joseph Willet, Walpole.
Thomas Pratt, Chelsea.
Nicholas Book, Bellingham.