The Intolerable Acts of 1774

Author: British Parliament


Passed by the British Parliament in response to the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773.

1. THE BOSTON PORT ACT March 31, 1774

An Act to discontinue, in such manner, and for such time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discarging, lading or shipping of goods, wares and merchandise, at the town and within the harbour, of Boston, in the province of Massachuset's Bay, in North America.

WHEREAS dangerous commotions and insurrections have been fomented and raised in the town of Boston, in the province of Massachuset's Bay, in New England, by divers ill-affected persons, to the subversion of his Majesty's government, and to the utter destruction of the publick peace, and good order of the said town,. in which commotions and insurrections certain valuable cargoes of teas , being the property of the East India Company, and on board certain vessels lying within the bay and harbour of Boston, were seized and destroyed..

And whereas, in the present condition of the said town and harbour, the commerce of his Majesty's subjects cannot be safely carried on there, nor the customs payable to his Majesty duly collected, and it is therefore expedient that the officers of his Majesty s customs should be forthwith removed from the said town.. . . .

Be it enacted . . . , that from and after June 1, 1774, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons whatsoever to lade, put, . . . of or from any quay, wharf, or other place, within the said town of Boston, or in or upon any part of the bay, commonly called The Harbour of Boston, between a certain headland or point called Nahant Point, . . . and a certain other headland or point called Alderton Point, . . . or in or upon any island, creek, landingplace, bank, or other place, within the said bay or headlands, into any ship, vessel, lighter, boat, or bottom, any goods, wares, or merchandise whatsoever, to be transported or carried into any other country, province, or place whatsoever, or into any other part of the said province of the Massachuset's Bay, in New England,. or to take up, . . . within the said town, or in or upon any of the places aforesaid, out of any boat, . . . any goods, . . . to be brought from any other country, province, or place, or any other part of the said province, of the Massachuset's Bay in New England, upon pain of the forfeiture of the said goods, . . . and of the said boat, . . . and of the guns, ammunition, tackle, furniture, and stores, in or belonging to the same : And if any such goods, . . . shall, within the said town, or in any the places aforesaid, be 1aden or taken in from the shore into any barge, . . . to be carried on board any ship or vessel outward-bound to any other country or province or to be laden into such barge, . . . from or out of any ship or vessel coming in . . . from any other country , such barge, . . . shall be forfeited and lost. . . .

lV Provided always, That nothing in this act contained shall extend . . . to any military or other stores of his Majesty's use, or to the ships . . . whereon the same shall be laden, which shall be commissioned by, and in the immediate pay of, his Majesty . . . ; nor to any fuel or victual brought coastwise from any part of the continent of America, for the necessary use and sustenance of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, provided the vessels wherein the same are to be carried shall be duly furnished with a cocket and letpass, after having been duly searched by the proper officers . . . at Marblehead, in the port of Salem, . . . ; and that some officer of his Majesty's customs be also there put on board the same vessel, who is hereby authorized to go on board, and proceed with the said vessel, together with a sufficient number of persons properly armed, for his defence to the said harbour of Boston; nor in any ships . . . which may happen to be within the said harbour of Boston on or before the first day of June (1774) and may have either 1aden or taken on board, or be there with intent to load or take on board, or to land or discharge any goods, wares . . . Provided the said ships . . . do depart . . . within fourteen days after (1 June 1774)

X. Provided also, . . . That nothing herein contained . . be construed, to enable his Majesty to appoint such port, . . . or officers, in the said town of Boston, or in the said bay or islands, until it shall sufficiently appear to his Majesty that full satisfaction hath been made by or on behalf of the inhabitants of the said town of Boston to the united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, for the damage sustained by the said company for the destruction of their goods sent to the said town of Boston, . . . and until it shall be certified to his Majesty, in council, by the governor, . . . of the said province, that reasonable satisfaction hath been made to the officers of his Majesty's revenue, and others, who suffered by the riots and insurrections above mentioned, in 1773 and 1774.


An act for the better regulating the government of the province of the Massachuset's Bay, in New England.

And whereas the method of electing such counsellors or assistants, . . . hath, by repeated experience, been found to be extremely ill adapted to the plan of government established in the province of the Massachusets Bay . . . , and hath . . . for some time past, been such as had the most manifest tendency to obstruct, and, in great measure, defeat, the execution of the laws: . . . : And it hath accordingly happened, that an open resistance to the execution of the laws hath actually taken place in the town of Boston, and the neighbourhood thereof, . . . And whereas it is, under these circumstances, become absolutely necessary, . . . that the appointment of the said counsellors or assistants should henceforth be put upon the like footing as is established in such other of his Majesty's colonies . . . in America, the governors whereof are appointed by his Majesty's commission, under the great seal of Great Britain: Be it therefore enacted . . . , that from and after August 1, 1774, so much of the charter . . . [of 1691] which relates to the time and manner of electing the assistants or counsellors for the said province, be revoked, . . . and that the offices of all counsellors and assistants, elected and appointed in pursuance thereof, shall from thenceforth cease and determine : And that, from and after the said August l, 1774, the council, or court of assistants of the said province for the time being, shall be composed of such of the inhabitants or proprietors of land within the same as bb shall be thereunto nominated and appointed by his majesty . . . . , provided, that the number of the said assistants or counsellors shall not, at any one time, exceed thirty six, nor be less than twelve,

lI, And it is hereby further enacted, That the Said assistants or counsellors, so to be appointed as aforesa1d, shall hold their offices respectively, for and during the pleasure of his Majesty. . .

III. And be it further enacted . . . . . That from and after July 1, 1774, it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty as governor for the time being of the said province, or, in his absence, for the lieutenant governor, to nominate and appoint, under the seal of thc provInce, from time to time, and also to remove, Without the consent of the council, all judges of thc inferior courts of common Pleas, commissioners of Oyer and Terminer, the attorney general, provosts, marshals, Justices of the peace, and other officers to the Council or courts of justice belonging,

VI. And be it further enacted . . . . That, upon every vacancy of the offices of chief Justice and judges of the superior court of the said province, from and after July 1, 1774, the governor for the time being, or. in his absence, the lieutenant governor, without the consent of the council, shall have full power er and authority to nominate and appoint the persons to succeed to the said offices, who shall hold their commissions during the Pleasure Of his Majesty

VII. And whereas, by several acts of the general court. . . . the freeholders and inhabitants of the several townships, districts, and precincts, qualified, as is therein expressed, are authorized to assemble together, annually, occasionally, upon notice given, in such manner as the acts direct, for the choice of selectmen, constables and other officers, and for the making and agreeing upon such necessary rules, orders and byelaws for the directing, managing, and ordering, the prudential affairs of such townships, districts and precincts, and for other purposes; and whereas a great abuse has been made of the power of calling such meetings, and the inhabitants have, contrary to the design of their institution, been misled to treat upon matters of the most general concern, and to pass many dangerous and unwarrantable resolves: for remedy whereof, be it enacted, that from and after August l, 1774, no meeting shall be called by the select men, or at the request of any number of freeholders of any township, district, or precinct, without the leave of the governor, or, in his absence, of the lieutenant,, governor, in writing, expressing the special business of the said meeting, except the annual meeting in the months of March Or May, for the choice of select men, constables, and other officers, or except for the choice of persons to fill op the Offices aforesaid, on the death or removal of any of the persons first elected to such offices, and also, except any meeting for the election of a representative or representatives, as in the general court; and that no other matter shall be treated of at such meetings.


An act for the impartial administration of Justice in the cases of Persons Questioned for any acts done by them in the execution of the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in the province of the Massachuset's Bay, in New England.

WHEREAS in his Majesty's province of Massachuset's Bay, in New England, an attempt hath lately been made to throw off the authority of the parliamemt of Great Britain over the said province, and an actual and avowed resistance, by open force, to the execution of certain acts of parliament, hath been suffered to take place, uncontrolled and unpunished, . . . : and whereas, in the present disordered state of the said province, it is of the utmost importance . . . to the re-establishment of lawful authority throughout the same, that neither the magistrates acting in support of the laws, nor any of his Majesty's subjects aiding and assisting them therein, or in the suppression of riots and tumults, . . . should be discouraged from the proper discharge of their duty, by an apprehension that in case of their being questioned for any acts done therein, they may be liable to be brought to trial for the same before persons who do not acknowledge the validity of the laws, in the execution thereof, of whom, such acts had been done: in order therefore to remove every such discouragement from the minds of his Majesty's subjects, and to induce theM, upon all proper occasions, to exert themselves in support of the public peace of the province, and of the authority of the King and Parliament of Great Britain over the Same, be it enacted . . . , That if any inquisition or indictment shall be found, or if any appeal shall be sued or preferred, as aforesaid either in the execution of his duty as a m magistrate, for the suppression of riots, or the support of the laws of revenue, or acting in his duty as an officer of revenue or in acting under the direction and order any magistrate, for the suppression of rights or the carrying into effect the laws revenue, or in aiding and assisting in any the cases aforesaid; and if it shall also Pear, to the satisfaction of the said governor . . that an indifferent trial cannot be within the said province, in that case, it s and may be lawful for the governor . . . , direct, with the advice and consent of council, that the inquisition, indictment, appeal, shall be tried in some other of Majesty's colonies, or in Great Britain, for that purpose, to order the person against whom such inquisition or indictment s be found, . . . to be sent, under such custody, to the place appointed for his trial or to admit such person to bail, taking recognizance . . . from such person, with sufficient sureties, . . ln such sums money as the said governor . . shall be reasonable, for the personal appearance such person, if the trial shall be appointed to be had in any other colony, before the governor, . . . of such colony; and if the trial shall be appointed to be had in Great Britain, then before his Majesty's court of King's Bench, at a time to be mentioned in such recognizances; and the governor, . . . or court of King's Bench, where the trial is appointed to be had in Great Britain, upon the appearance of such person, according to such recognizance, or in custody , shall either commit such person, or admit him to bail, until such trial. . . .

II. And, to prevent a failure of justice, from the wont of evidence on the trial of any such inquisition, indictment or appeal, be it further enacted, That the governor . . . is hereby authorised and required, to bind in recognizances to his Majesty all such witnesses as the prosecutor or person against whom such inquisition or indictment shall be found, or appeal sued and preferred, shall desire to attend the trial of the said inquisition, . . . for their personal appearance, at the time and place of such trial, to give evidence : and the said governor . . . shall thereupon appoint a reasonable sum to be allowed for the expences of every such witness...

VI- [Persons brought before justices etc. accused of any capital crime in the execution of their duty, to be admitted to bail.]

VII. And be it further enacted . . . That this act . . . shall . . . be, and continue in force, for and during the term of three years.

4. THE QUEBEC ACT June 22, 1774

. . . May it therefore please Your most Excellent Majesty,

That it may be enacted: [Boundaries defined, Boundaries of Proclamation of 1763 extended to include territory West to the Mississippi, north to the frontiers of the Hudson's Bay territory, and the islands in the mouth of the St. Lawrence.] . . .

And whereas the Provisions made by the said Proclamation, in respect to the Civil Government of the said Province of Quebec, and the Powers and Authorities given to the Governor and other Civil Officers of the said Province, by the Grants and Commissions issued in consequence thereof, have been found. upon Experience, to be inapplicable to the State and Circumstances of the said Province, the Inhabitants whereof amounted at the Conquest, to above Sixty five thousand persons, professing the Religion of the Church of Rome. . . .

It is hereby declared, That His Majesty's Subjects professing the Religion of the Church of Rome, of, and in the said Province of Quebec, may have, hold, and enjoy, the free Exercise of the Religion of the Church of Rome, Subject to the King's Supremacy, declared and established by an Act made in the First Year of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, over all the Dominions and Countries which then did, or thereafter should, belong to the Imperial Crown of this Realm and that the Clergy of the said Church may hold, receive, and enjoy their accustomed Dues and Rights, with respect to such Persons only as shall profess the said Religion.

Provided nevertheless, That it shall be lawful for His Majesty, His Heirs or Successors to make such Provisions out of the rest of said accustomed Dues and Rights, for the Encouragement of the Protestant Religion, and for the Maintenance and Support of a Protestant Clergy within the said province, as he or they shall, from Time to Time, think necessary or expedient

And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all His Majesty's Canadian Subjects within the Province of Quebec, the Religious Orders and Communities only excepted, may also hold and enjoy their Property and Possessions, together with all Customs and Usages relative thereto, and all other their Civil Rights, in as large, ample, and beneficial manner, as if the said Proclamation, Commissions, Ordinances, and other Acts and Instruments, had not been made, and as may consist with their Allegiance to His Majesty, and Subjection to the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain, and that in all matters of Controversy relative to Property and civil Rights, Resort shall be made to the Laws of Canada, as the Rule for the Decision of the same; and all Causes that shall hereafter be instituted in any of the Courts of Justice. to be appointed within and for the said Province by His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors, shall, with respect to such Property and Rights, be determined agreeably to the said Laws and Customs of Canada . . .

And whereas the Certainty and Lenity of the Criminal Law of England, and the Benefits and Advantages resulting from the Use of it, have been sensibly felt by the Inhabitants from an Experience of more than Nine Years, during which it has been uniformly administered; be it therefore further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the same shall continue to be administered, and shall be Observed as Law, in the Province of Quebec, as well in the Description and Quality of the Offense, as in the Method of Prosecution and Trial, and the Punishment and forfeitures thereby inflicted, to the Exclusion of every other Rule of Criminal Law, or Mode of Proceeding thereon, which did or might prevail in the said Province before the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty four; any Thing in this Act to the contrary thereof in any Respect notwithstanding; . .

And whereas it may be necessary to ordain many Regulations, for the future Welfare and good Government of the Province of Quebec, the Occasions of which cannot now be foreseen, nor without much Delay and Inconvenience be provided for, without entrusting that Authority for a certain Time, and upon proper Restrictions to Persons resident there:

And whereas it is at present inexpedient to call an Assembly; be it therefore enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for His Majesty, . . . and with the Advice of the Privy Council, to constitute and appoint a Council for the Affairs of the Province of Quebec, to consist of such persons resident there, not exceeding Twenty-three, nor less than Seventeen, as His Majesty, . . . shall be pleased to appoint, . . . which Council, so appointed and nominated, or the major Part thereof, shall have Power and Authority to make Ordinances for the Peace, Welfare, and good Government of the said Province with the Consent of His Majesty's Governor, or in his Absence, of the Lieutenant Governor, or Commander in Chief for the Time being . .