Authored Book

The 'Infamas Govener': Francis Bernard and the Origins of the American Revolution



Nicolson C (2000) The 'Infamas Govener': Francis Bernard and the Origins of the American Revolution. First ed. Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press.

Royal governor of New Jersey and Massachusetts, Francis Bernard (1712-1779) was one of the most controversial-and misunderstood-figures in American colonial history. In this first modern political biography of Bernard, Colin Nicolson reappraises his significant role in shaping the course of events that led to the outbreak of the American Revolution. Based on extensive documentary research, Nicolson reexamines Bernard's relations with colonial factions and the imperial elite, his attempts to enforce Parliamentary authority, and his influence on British government policy-making. He shows how Bernard undermined British-colonial relations on the eve of the Revolution and effectively set the stage for war. After reviewing the formative experiences of Bernard's life in England and describing his modest success in New Jersey, the author then focuses on Bernard's tenure in Massachusetts between 1760 and 1771. Nicolson explores his turbulent relationship with the popular party and reveals how personal ambitions for himself and his family exacerbated his disagreements with the colonists. He also discusses in detail the turning point of Bernard's administration-his failure to effectively represent provincial interests during the Stamp Act Crisis. Nicolson's research reveals facets of Bernard's governorship that are little known to most historians. He tells how Bernard was responsible for depicting Bostonians as rebellious to British ministries, but points out that discrepancies between Bernard's ideas on colonial rule and those of the British elite refute any alleged conspiracy against colonists' liberties. He also suggests the existence of a more significant pro-government faction in Massachusetts than has been recognized and proposes that Bernard's inability to cultivate the support of colonial "friends of government" eased the way for rebellious elements.

American Revolution; Imperial Crisis; Boston; Massachusetts; origins of the American Revolution; Francis Bernard; American Revolutionaries; Loyalists; Britain and the American Revolution

Publication date31/12/2000
PublisherNortheastern Univ. Press
Publisher URL…-Bernard-and-the
Place of publicationBoston

People (1)


Dr Colin Nicolson
Dr Colin Nicolson

Senior Lecturer, History