previous next

Burnet, William, 1688-

Colonial governor; born at The Hague, Holland, in March, 1688, when William of Orange (afterwards William III. of England) became his godfather at baptism; was a son of Bishop Burnet; became engaged in the South Sea speculations, which involved him pecuniarily, and, to retrieve his fortune, he received the appointment of governor of the colonies of New York and New Jersey. He arrived in New York in September, 1720. Becoming unpopular there, he was transferred to the governments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He arrived at Boston in July, 1728, and was received with unusual pomp. This show he urged in his speech as a proof of their ability to give a liberal support to his government, and acquainted them with the King's instructions to him to insist upon an established salary, and his intention to adhere to it. The Assembly at once took an attitude of opposition to the governor. They voted him £ 1,700 to enable him to manage public affairs, and to defray his expenses in going there. The governor declared himself dissatisfied, and would not consent to their resolve, as it was “contrary to his Majesty's instructions.” The Assembly appealed to their charter, granted by King William, and refused to vote a fixed salary. A spirited contest in writing ensued. In one of his communications the governor threatened the colony with the loss of their charter. They remained firm, “because,” they said, “it is the undoubted right of all Englishmen, by Magna Charta, to raise and dispose of money for the public service of their own free accord, without compulsion.” At a town meeting in Boston, during the controversy, a unanimous declaration was made that the people of the town were opposed to settling a fixed salary on the governor. That official then adjourned the legislature to Salem, remarking, in his message for that purpose, that the interposition of towns was “a needless and officious step, better adapted to the republic of Holland than to a British constitution.” The Assembly adhered to their determination, and the governor was compelled to yield. In person he was very commanding; frank in manner, and of ready wit. He died Sept. 7, 1729.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
William Burnet (2)
Josiah Gilbert Holland (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
September 7th, 1729 AD (1)
July, 1728 AD (1)
September, 1720 AD (1)
March, 1688 AD (1)
1688 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: