On this day in 1764

An important document from our archival collection is currently on display in Representative's Hall. Stop by the gallery to see an official proclamation issued by Governor Francis Bernard in March 1764. The proclamation calls for an observation of a day of general fast and prayer on April 12, 1764. Citizens in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay were called upon to humble themselves before God and implore his blessing upon the business of the ensuing year. It was proclaimed that the day should be set apart for religious worship, and that no servile labour or recreation be permitted.

Governors issued proclamations for days of thanksgiving and days of prayer a few times a year, and I've written about documents of this nature before. Our archival collection includes proclamations that date into the 1900s, but the one on display now is notable because it is one of the oldest in our collection. Francis Bernard served as Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay from August 2, 1760 through August 1, 1769.

This proclamation differs from the others in our collection in another noticeable way - it is the only one that we have that was issued in Boston in pre-Revolutionary days. Note the lion and unicorn, the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, at the top, "God Save the King" printed at the bottom, and the last paragraph which reads, "Given at the Council-Chamber in Boston, the Fourteenth Day of March, 1764, in the Fourth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord GEORGE the Third, by the Grace of GOD, of Great-Britain, France and Ireland, KING, Defender of the Faith, etc."

The Bernard proclamation was printed in Boston by Richard Draper, who served as the printer to the governor and his council. Draper was a loyalist who also published the The Boston News-Letter from 1762 until his death in 1774, at which point his widow Margaret took over publication. Learn more about Margaret and the Draper family on her Revolutionary Characters page.

This proclamation will be on display through the first week of May.