Though no evidence has been found to show that such a remonstrance was presented, yet the well known character of the committee forbids the supposition, that they may have omitted to remonstrate. Possibly, there was then no occasion for a formal assertion of their right to a quiet and peaceable possession of their lands. The time for disturbing them in their possession had not come, though the commissioners were preparing the way for it. The first step towards this result was to sever the New Hampshire towns from the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. This the commissioners assumed the right to do, but they failed to accomplish their purpose immediately.
They made some inquiries, and took the testimony of several persons, concerning the bounds of Mason's patent and the northern line of Massachusetts, according to the construction formerly given to the charter. They called together the inhabitants of Portsmouth on the 10th of October, and told them that "they would release them from the government of Massachusetts, whose jurisdiction should come no farther than the bound-house."
This determination, if carried out, would take away all power from the officers who had derived their authority from Massachusetts, and leave the people almost, or quite, in a state of anarchy. To provide against this, the commissioners, in the plenitude of their power, appointed justices of the peace and other officers, with authority "to act according to the laws of England and such laws of their own as were not repugnant thereto, until the King's pleasure should be farther known."
These proceedings were not regarded with favor, by the better portion of the people, who, in general, were strongly attached to the government of Massachusetts; but there were not a few, in some of the towns, who were highly gratified. Some were disaffected towards Massachusetts, on account of the ill-concealed design of those in authority, to extend her jurisdiction beyond the limits evidently intended in the charter; and a few restless spirits were eager for some change of government, which might bring them into notice and confer upon them offices and honors.