Letter from David Phips to Colonel Jonathan Snelling regarding escort of Governor Hutchinson to Harvard Commencement, 1773 July 12

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Content Notes

David Phips wrote this letter to Colonel Jonathan Snelling from Cambridge on July 12, 1773, to inform him that Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson had requested the accompaniment of guards during his travels from Milton to Cambridge on July 21, 1773, to attend the Harvard College Commencement exercises. In the letter, Phips informs Snelling that he has issued warrants to the guards, instructing them to congregate at the Sign of the Grey Hound in Roxbury, Massachusetts at eight o'clock on the morning of the 21st. He explains that twelve other men will march, under the command of Sub-Brigadier Sumner, to the Governor's home in Milton to escort him to Roxbury, where the larger party will assemble. These heightened security measures were certainly prompted by political unrest, although this is not stated explicitly in the letter. Phips concludes by saying: "I shall order a dinner for us at Bradish's, where I hope to have the pleasure to dine with you."

Biographical Notes

Loyalist David Phips (1724-1811) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on September 25, 1724. His father, Spencer Phips, served twice as Acting Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and his mother was Elizabeth (Hutchinson) Phips; David was their only son. He attended Harvard College, receiving an A.B. in 1741 and an A.M. in 1744. He served as a captain in the Louisbourg expedition, and when the Seven Years' War was concluded he was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex County. Phips married Mary Greenleaf on September 13, 1753, and in that same year served a single term in the House of Representatives. He later served in the French and Indian War, and at that war's conclusion was appointed Sheriff of Middlesex County. In 1771, he was commissioned captain with the rank of colonel of the Middlesex County horse troop, formerly commanded by his father. He was an adamant Loyalist and was driven from his home at the outbreak of the American Revolution. He fled with his family to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and later served as master and commander in the British Navy. In 1782, his ship was captured by the French and he was held captive in Boston; he was released seven months later and returned to England, where he remained. David Phips died in Bath, England on July 7, 1811.|Little biographical information is available for Jonathan Snelling (1734-1782). It is known that he served as Commander of the Guard of the Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. He was a Loyalist and evacuated to Halifax before the outbreak of the American Revolution; he died there in 1782, having been listed in the Banishment Act of the State of Massachusetts in 1778 and thus forbidden to return. He had at least two sons, Jonathan and Samuel; his son Jonathan married a daughter of Foster Hutchinson and died in Halifax in 1809. (Information found in The memorial history of Boston, including Suffolk County, Massachusetts. 1630-1880, volume 3, edited by Justin Winsor).