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Pownall, Thomas

POWNALL, THOMAS (1722-1805), British colonial statesman and soldier, was born at Saltfleetby, Lincolnshire, England, in 1722. He was educated at Lincoln and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1743. He entered the office of the lords commissioners of trade and plantations, of which his brother John was then secretary; and in 1753 he went to America as private secretary to Sir Danvers Osborn, just appointed governor of New York. Osborn committed suicide soon after reaching New York (Oct. 6), but Pownall remained in America, devoting himself to studying the condition of the American colonies. At the Albany Congress, in 1754, ha met Benjamin Franklin, and a life-long friendship between the two resulted. In 1756 he returned to England, and presented to Pitt a plan for a campaign against the French in Canada, to begin with the investment of Quebec. In 1757 Pitt appointed him governor of Massachusetts, 1 in which office he heartily supported Pitt's policy during the Seven Years' War, and in 1758 encouraged the equipment of a force of 7000 men, to be recruited and armed in New England; but the French power in America once broken, Pownall came more directly under the influence of the lords of trade, and his unwillingness to carry out the repressive policies of that body caused his transfer to the governorship of South Carolina in February 1760. This office he held nominally for about a year; but he never went to South Carolina, and in June 1760 he returned to England. In 1762-1763 he was commissary-general of the British troops in Germany. As member of parliament for Tregony in 1768-1774 and for Minehead in 1774-1780, he at first sided with the Whigs in opposing all plans to tax the American colonists, but he supported North's administration after the outbreak of the War of Independence. He died at Bath on the 25th of February 1805. In 1764 he published (at first anonymously) his famous Administration of the Colonies (other editions appeared in 1765, 1766, 1768 and 1774), in which he advocated a union of all British possessions upon the basis of community of commercial interests.

For an extended account of Pownall's career and a bibliography of his publications see Thomas Pownall, M.P., F.R.S. (London, 1908), by Charles A. W. Pownall, a distant kinsman, who attempts to prove that Pownall was the " author behind the scenes " of the " Letters of Junius " and " that Francis was his subordinate."

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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