General Court Response to the Petition, 1682

Magistrates' and Deputies' Response, 1682
The two houses of the General Court responded in the margins of the Farmers' petition. The picture at the left shows where the response described on this page was written. For a look at the contents, use the large buttons above.

The upper house, called the Magistrates, wrote first, reasonably proposing to put off consideration of the petition, which—dated October 11, 1682—the Court received during the last session of that year. Postponement would provide time to give Cambridge official notice of the petition's existence and an opportunity to put the town's reaction to it on record. Both town officials and petitioners would be invited to send representatives to argue their cases when the Court deliberated the issue in its next session, to be held in the coming spring,

This was the annual “Court of Election,” in which the towns’ votes for a new House of Deputies were counted, and those Deputies, once officially seated, proceeded to elect the Magistrates and governor from among their own number. Candidates officially included not only all Deputies, but also all members of the previous house of Magistrates (unless they chose to withdraw). The membership of the upper house came mostly from the colony's political leadership, and the Deputies, despite frequent differences of opinion with the Magistrates, went on reelecting the same members, with few exceptions, year after year.

Although, as we’ll see, the Deputies tended to line up on the Farmers’ side while the Magistrates showed more sympathy for Cambridge, the proposal of a postponement was reasonable and fair, and the Deputies assented without comment.