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Colonel Elisha Jones of Weston and the crisis of colonial government in Massachusetts, 1773-1776

Jones-Baker, DW; (1979) Colonel Elisha Jones of Weston and the crisis of colonial government in Massachusetts, 1773-1776. Doctoral thesis, University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper contends that without the Tory dimension no factual account of the Civil War in 1774 and the beginning of the Revolution in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay is possible, and that there is no better way of demonstrating actuality in this, as in other historic problems, than by direct examination of events through the lives of those who shaped them. This paper is the first historic study of the last and most crucial crisis of Colonial Government in Massachusetts - that is, from the setting up of the Committees of Correspondence in 1772-3 (the Whig extension from Boston of single-party rule by caucus to supplant the Constitution-Charter of 1691 and political pluralism in Town Meetings) to the strategic and military victory in the Siege of Boston of rebellion, created and manipulated by a dedicated Radical minority, and the enforced withdrawal of the Loyalists, the Loyal Militia(including Brig. Timothy Ruggles' corps of Loyal Associators) with the Regular forcer, to Halifax, I. arch 17,1776-as it happened, and from the experience of one of the most active and prominent of the largely Tory soldier-Representative-magistrates that since the Mayflower Compact served as the leaders of Massachusetts: Col. Elisha Jones (1710-1776), the "famous" Tory squire of Weston, on Charles River in Middlesex County and less than a day's walk from Boston. None more than Col. Jones stood for one of the two main Tory political groups in Massachusetts in the 1770's, the "Reformers, " so often at cross-purposes with the Hutchinson- Sewall-0liver faction that supported the status quo and the undivided sovereignty of Parliament, and who when the Civil War began at the time of the Powder Alarm,Sept.1,1774, left their homes for Boston, and the fighting of the Whig political mobs with their weapons of assault and violence to property to men like Col. Jones, Brig. Ruggles, and Col. Thomas Gilbert and the Regulars, and who became the early "refugees"in England. Col. Jones was a leader of the "Reformist" Tories that supported the Constitution-Charter of 1691, and government by law and precedent in the manner of Blackstone(a best-seller in the Colonies) and who worked for the greatest measure of "home rule" and needed reforms(such as adequate pay for judges)initiated whenever possible by the General Court. Their "Charter" was the Middlesex Magistrates' Address to Gov. Hutchinson of May, 1774(signed by Col. Jones and possibly drafted by him) which looked toward an association with Britain based upon mutual economic and political interest: concepts so forward-looking as not to he fully accepted until the 20th century, and so dangerous in their own time as to merit oblivion by the Whigs and vetoes for such measures as the "Prevention of Bribery and Corruption" bill by Hutchinson. It was the "Reformers"that carried the burden of resisting the Whig assault upon the rule of law and maintenance of public order. One of fewer than a dozen Tories elected to the House in 1773 and 1774, Col. Jones opposed all the unconstitutional Whig measures, including Committees of Correspondence, impeachment of Chief Justice Oliver and the Continental Congress. One of the last magistrates to hold court he raised (Nov 1774) one of the first military Tory Corps of the War. Driven to Boston (Dec 1774) by the mobs, he served under Gage and Howe as Forage Commissioner, and three of his sons with Ruggles' Associators. Col. Jones died in Boston just before the Evacuation, but the ideas he fought for were taken to Nova Scotia and Upper Canada by five of his Tory sons, who with their descendants took a distinguished part of the foundation of a new Empire and independent nation of Canada.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Colonel Elisha Jones of Weston and the crisis of colonial government in Massachusetts, 1773-1776
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS.
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > History

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