Colonial Connecticut

Governor Griswold 1728 Letter on Boundary Dispute

Connecticut Governor Griswold Copies Letter by Rhode Island Governor Sent to His Predecessor about Boundary Dispute


MATTHEW GRISWOLD, Autograph Document Signed, Copy of a letter from Governor Joseph Jenckes to Connecticut Governor Joseph Talcott, April 12, 1728, ca. 1780s. 2 pp., 8" x 12"  Expected folds; repaired tear on center fold; 2" tear on another fold; 0.25" x 0.5" hole near top affecting four words.


Complete Transcript

Copy of a Letter from Govr Jencks former Govr of the State of Rhode Island &c

viz Sir                                                               Newport: 12th of April 1728

            Yours of the 19th of March came safe to my hands but not till the 6th Current  I have also had the sight of a Letter Directed to Mr Richard Ward in Newport Dated Hartford January: 15th: 1727/8: But from whom it came I am not Certain there being no name Subscribed to it but conclude that to be only a forgetful omition. The said Letter Informs that at that time you had not receivd any account from Great Brittain of the Settlement of the line between the Colonies &c yet nevertheless at the session of our assembly in February last many of the members thereof being Desirous that the said line might be settled according to his Majesties Determination as well for Preventing for the Future such unreasonable Destruction made upon their Timber as for more than Twenty years past has been made by Connecticut men: as for Quieting mens Possessions bounded by that line Did obtain an act for the Proceeding on that work on the 15th of this Instant April (as Mr Secretary Ward has Informed Your Honour)  hoping that before the said time you might Receive from Great Brittain a full account of his Majesties Determination: Indeed I must acknowledge that your Goverment not being in a Capacity without much trouble & Charge to Choose a Committee to Join with ours until May next was not so timely Considered as it ought to have been; But that your Honour and the Rest of the Gentlemen in your Government may be Sensible that wee have no Desire that a matter of such Consequence as the ascertaining the Boundary line between the two Goverments is Should be Done Ex Parte: I had by with the advice of the Gentn of Council of this Colony before your Letter came to hand I put a Stop to our Committees Proceeding thereon in order to give you the opportunity of Joining with us in that affair as also hoping that your Government will have a greater Regard to the Determination of his Majesty in Council then they had to their own agreement made with ours in the year 1703. I can heartily Join with your Honour in Saying a final Issue of the unhappy Controversie is that which I very much Desire, and that such Measures may be taken as may End in the most Amicable and Friendly Manner and I think may with great Modesty say that had our Government been the aggressor in so unhappy a Controversie they would have had Just Cause to Reflect Blame upon themselves: Sir as to what you say about sending some Gents with the account we have Recd I Dare not Promise such a thing it being what will lye with the assembly to order: and to send you a full Copy now of their Lordships Proceedings in that affair with the figure thereto annexed as Presented to his Majesty will Require Considerable time as well as [? ?] But a Copy of his Majesties Determination I send you herewith Enclosd and Remain

                                                                        Your Honrs very humble Servt

                                                                        J: Jencks

To the Honble Joseph Talcott

Esqr Govr of Connect

The foregoing is a True Copy Extracted from the original

                                                                        ? Matthew Griswold


Copy of Letter from Govr J. Jencks / Apri 12th 1728.


Historical Background

Commissioners from Connecticut and Rhode Island met at Stonington, Connecticut in 1703 to establish the boundary between the two colonies. However, Connecticut refused to observe the line. In 1721-1722, Joseph Jenckes traveled to England to obtain royal intervention in the dispute. He was successful in protecting Rhode Island from encroachments by both Connecticut and Massachusetts. In 1726, Jenckes was one of four commissioners from Rhode Island who met with Connecticut commissioners to settle the line of partition between the two colonies.


The controversy that began in the seventeenth century over the 41-mile border between Rhode Island and Connecticut continued for centuries. An 1839 survey established a border, and in 1840, the states ratified and erected granite markers. A century later, a 1941 report commissioned by both states determined that the survey was “highly inaccurate” and many markers had been misplaced.


In the early twenty-first century, Geographic Information System mapping technology revealed that some border markings were out of place, while others had been destroyed or stolen. A new commission in 2004 determined that 22 acres and 37 properties in Hopkinson, Rhode Island, should have been in North Stonington, Connecticut. The two states agreed to pay $1 million on a plan to “finalize” the historic border.


This ca. 1780s copy of the 1728 letter may have been a part a Matthew Griswold’s effort to finalize the boundary dispute with Rhode Island during his term as Connecticut Governor (May 1784-May 1786). William Greene Jr. (1731-1809) was governor of Rhode Island when Griswold was governor of Connecticut.



Matthew Griswold (1714-1799) was born in Connecticut, studied law, and gained admission to the bar in 1742. He opened a practice in Lyme and became King’s Attorney for New London County. He served in the Connecticut General Assembly in 1748 and from 1751 to 1759. From 1769 to 1784, he won annual elections as Deputy Governor of Connecticut. In that office, he was a strong supporter of the Patriot cause in the Revolutionary War. After failing to obtain a majority of votes for Governor in 1784, Griswold was the choice of the General Assembly and won reelection in 1785. He lost to Samuel Huntington in 1786. Two years later, he served as president of the state convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution.


Joseph Jenckes (1656-1740) was born in Massachusetts but came to Rhode Island with his family as a child. From 1691 to 1708, he was a Deputy from Providence in the colony’s House of Deputies. From 1707 to 1712, he was Major for the towns of Providence and Warwick. From 1715 to 1727, he held the position of Deputy Governor for every year but one. From 1727 to 1732, he won successive annual elections as Governor.


Joseph Talcott (1669-1741) was born in Connecticut and became a major in the 1st regiment of the Colony of Connecticut in 1710 and a member of the governor’s council in 1711. In 1714, he was appointed a judge of the Hartford County Court and became judge of the Superior Court of Hartford in 1721. In 1723, he was elected Deputy Governor and became Governor upon the death of Gurdon Saltonstall in 1724. Reelected annually, he served as Governor until his death in 1741.



Ex-Sigety, Ex-Christie’s.





Item: 65928

Price: $2,000.00
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