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Randolph, Edward 1620-

British official; born in England, about 1620; was sent to the New England colonies in 1675. He first appeared in Boston, in June, 1676, as bearer of an order from the privy council citing Massachusetts to defend her title to Maine. He reappeared in 1678 as a messenger from the privy council with a new oath of allegiance and to inquire concerning the non-observance of the navigation laws. In July, 1680, he came again, with the returning agents sent to England by Massachusetts, bearing a commission as collector of the royal customs for New England and inspector for enforcing the acts of trade. He presented his commission to the General Court. They took no [378] notice of it. He posted a notice of his appointment at the public exchange, but it was torn down by order of the magistrates. The General Court erected a naval office, at which all vessels were required to enter and clear, and so superseded Randolph's authority. But Randolph seized vessels for the violation of the acts of trade. The whole population were against him, and he was soon involved in an overwhelming number of lawsuits.

In 1682 he obtained leave to go to England, but soon returned with a royal letter complaining of these obstructions to law and demanding the immediate appointment of agents empowered to consent to a modification of the colonial charter. Disobedience was no longer safe. The King threatened a writ of quo warranto, and agents were sent to England. Randolph's commission was ordered to be enrolled, and the General Court assumed a submissive attitude. The theocratic party, with Increase Mather at their head, held out, but could not resist the tempest. Randolph was again in England, when he filed articles of high misdemeanor against Massachusetts. A writ of quo warranto was issued, and the indefatigable enemy of Massachusetts again crossed the ocean, this time in a royal frigate, and himself served the writ on the magistrates (November, 1683). There was delay, and before action was taken a default was recorded. Judgment was entered (November, 1684) pronouncing the charter void. Massachusetts became a royal province. The reign of theocracy was ended. Randolph was a member of the council during the administration of Andros, and in 1689 was imprisoned as a traitor. Released, he went to the West Indies, where he died, presumably after 1694.

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