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GOVERNOR BERNARDíS GRANT OF MOUNT DESERT ISLAND
In 1760 and 1761 many families emigrated to the Maine Coast and land was given to them. Francis Bernard, Governor of Massachusetts, who came here in 1760, showed a great interest in the movement. He was interested not only in the lands as an investment but wished to hold the province of Maine for his State. He was not well off, had many expenses at that time in the service of the government, and so petitioned the Massachusetts legislature for some of the lands of Maine to cover expenses. In 1762 he was granted one-half of the island of Mount Desert for ďhis extraordinary services.Ē This suited well his desires as it gave him part of the lands which he wanted to unite into a new township east of the Penobscot. In September of this same year the Governor visited his new possessions, with the idea of trying to promote the settlement of the island. He set sail with a large suite and sent ahead his two surveyors, Nathan Jones and Borachias Mason, whose maps and data are still in existence. Governor Bernardís diary gives an exact record of his trip and describes how he first saw the mountains of Mount Desert as he sailed past Fox Island. They anchored in South West Harbour. He describes also how they discovered Somesís log house at the head of the Sound by the same name. Somes was one of the pioneer settlers of Mount Desert, coming from Gloucester. On his return voyage Bernard mentions passing Isle au Haut and Matinicus, landing at Portsmouth. His papers in the Harvard College Library give a detailed description of Mount Desert.
He tried to encourage settlements in every way and laid out plots of land in South West Harbour, which he offered for sale. Here he also made his quarters, built some houses, and started a mill.
He had not yet received a confirmation of his grant by the authorities in England, and he therefore resolved in 1764 to appeal to the King in a very complete document. He received a favorable reply and immediately sent his agent, Joseph Chadwick, who mapped the island and gave accurate descriptions, all but the map having been preserved. Bernardís plans were, however, interrupted by the Stamp Act riots just before the Revolution. His recall came the following year, and he departed amid the pealing of bells and the roar of artillery. The Liberty Tree was also decked with flags, and midnight bonfires were kindled on Fort Hill. On his return to England he was knighted.
Bernard was a benefactor of Harvard College and a country gentleman. Although he lived opposite Jamaica Pond it is said he attended services in Brookline because they were shorter than at Roxbury. In his will he bequeathed his property in Mount Desert to trustees, for his son John, who after a long contest, owing to the fact that his fatherís property had been confiscated, finally obtained title to it.
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