Some offices paid more and others less. Equally important, or
nearly so, was the matter of trouble and attendance. Normally
an office holder expected to give only part of his time, and
indeed as little as possible, to his public employment. For he was
usually a planter, often a merchant or barrister as well, and he
could hardly neglect these profitable callings. Fortunately some
few offices were sinecures, and others could be made so by
employing a deputy. There were also the questions of risk and
tenure. In a few posts, notably that of sheriff, an incumbent had
to put up money of his own and take a chance of losing it. Again
the tenure of the shrievalty was limited by law, but most other
places were tenable at pleasure, which often meant for life.
We have said that these offices were important. Politically
they were so because they were generally coveted, and because
those who obtained them became objects of envy. Such places
were in consequence bones of contention between the ins and outs
during the whole colonial period. Their revenues were on the
one hand jealously guarded and on the other repeatedly attacked.
Most political controversy arose out of them. Politically, too,
such offices were so many gifts in the hands of government, either
royal or proprietary, wherewith friends might be rewarded and
Administratively, these were the offices that most closely touched
the lives of the people; for by them were the records kept, lands
surveyed and granted, funds collected and disbursed, wills pro-
bated, and estates administered. Economically, they helped to
siphon the wealth of the people into the coffers of the gentry.
Socially, they fostered the rise of aristocracy. Culturally, they
drew upon the many that the few might purchase books, rear
great houses, and educate their children. Historically, they created,
out of controversy, political experience, and out of wealth and
ease, political leadership.
Now it is not the purpose of this book to prove anything, or to
point a moral, or to teach a useful lesson. Its only aim is to aid
those who would delve further, providing data they may need and
will not elsewhere easily obtain. Here will be found, excised
cousins, Mr. and Mrs. David Graham; after Graham's death Secretary Calvert
thought £100 a year ample for the widow (Horatio Sharpe to Cecilius Calvert,
May 3, 1754, and Cecilius Calvert to Horatio Sharpe, Dec. 2, 1754. Archives,
VI, 64; XXXI, 474).