Thomas Hutchinson, governor of the province of Massachusetts, born in Boston, Sept. 9, 1711, died at Brompton, near London, in June, 1780. He was the son of a merchant of Boston who was long a member of the council, and graduated at Harvard college in 1727. After engaging without success in commerce, he began the study of law. He represented Boston for ten years in the general court, of which he was for three years speaker. He became judge of probate in 1752, was a councillor from 1749 to 1766, lieutenant governor from 1758 to 1771, and was appointed chief justice in 1760, thus holding four high offices at one time. In the disputes which led to the revolution he sided with the British governor. The mansion of Hutchinson was twice attacked in consequence of a report that he had written letters in favor of the stamp act, and on the second occasion (Aug. 26, 1765) it was sacked, the furniture burned in bonfires in the street, and many manuscripts relating to the history of the province, which he had been 30 years in collecting and which could not be replaced, were lost. He received compensation for his losses, but none of the assailants were punished, although the proceedings were denounced by resolution in a public meeting.
In 1767 he took a seat in the council, claiming it ex officio as lieutenant governor; but both the house and council resisted his pretension, and he abandoned it. The legislature was inclined to restore him to the council in 1768, until it was announced by his opponent James Otis that he received an annual pension of £200 from the crown. When in 1769 Gov. Bernard was transferred to Virginia, the government of Massachusetts fell to Hutchinson. The popular excitement had already been increased by the arrival of British troops, and after the Boston massacre a committee of citizens, headed by Samuel Adams, forced him to consent to the removal of the regiments. He received his commission as governor in 1771, and his whole administration was characterized by duplicity and avarice. In 1772 Benjamin Franklin, then in London, procured some of the confidential letters of Hutchinson and his brother-in-law Andrew Oliver; these were forwarded to Massachusetts, and proved that he had been for years opposing every part of the colonial constitution, and urging measures to enforce the supremacy of parliament; and the result was a petition to the king from the assembly and the council praying for his removal from the government.
The last of his public difficulties was when the people of Boston and the neighboring towns determined to resist the taxation on teas consigned by the East India company, two of the consignees being sons of Gov. Hutchinson. The popular committees were resolved that the tea should not be landed, but should be reshipped to London. A meeting of several thousand men, held in Boston Dec. 18, 1773, demanded the return of the ships, but the governor refused a pass. On that evening a number of men disguised as Indians repaired to the wharf, and emptied 342 chests of tea, the whole quantity that had been imported, into the bay. In the following February the governor sent a message to the legislature that he had obtained his majesty's leave to return to England, and he sailed on June 1. The privy council investigated his official acts, and decided in favor of " his honor, integrity, and conduct." He was rewarded with a pension. He published the following works: "The History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, from the First Settlement thereof in 1628 until the Year 1750 " (2 vols., London, 1765-'7); "A Brief State of the Claim of the Colonies" (1764); and a "Collection of Original Papers relative to the History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay " (1769). From his manuscripts a history of Massachusetts from 1749 to 1774 was prepared by his grandson, the Rev. John H. Hutchinson, of Trentham, England (1828).