Thomas Pownall (bapt. 4 September 1722 N.S. – 25 February 1805) was a British colonial official and politician. He was governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1757 to 1760, and afterwards sat in the House of Commons from 1767 to 1780. He travelled widely in the North American colonies prior to the American Revolutionary War, opposed Parliamentary attempts to tax the colonies, and was a minority advocate of colonial positions until the Revolution.

Quick facts: Thomas Pownall, Member of the Great Britain P...
Thomas Pownall
Member of the Great Britain Parliament
for Minehead, Somerset
In office
1774–1780
Preceded byHenry Fownes-Luttrell
Succeeded byFrancis Fownes-Luttrell
Member of the Great Britain Parliament
for Tregony, Cornwall
In office
1767–1774
Serving with Sir Abraham Hume and John Grey
Preceded byWilliam Trevanion
Succeeded byGeorge Lane Parker
Governor of the Province of South Carolina
In office
1760  1760,Resigned having never assumed office
Appointed byLords of Trade
10th Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay
In office
3 August 1757  3 June 1760
Appointed byLords of Trade
Preceded byMassachusetts Governor's Council (acting)
Succeeded byThomas Hutchinson (acting)
Lieutenant Governor of the Province of New Jersey
In office
13 May 1755  23 September 1757
GovernorJonathan Belcher
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Died25 February 1805(1805-02-25) (aged 82)
Bath, Somerset, England
SpouseHarriet Fawkener
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
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Classically educated and well-connected to the colonial administration in London, Pownall first travelled to North America in 1753. He spent two years exploring the colonies before being appointed Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey in 1755. He became governor of Massachusetts in 1757 after helping engineer the recall of longtime Governor William Shirley. His administration was dominated by the French and Indian War (the Seven Years' War) in which Pownall was instrumental in raising Massachusetts provincial militia for the war effort. He opposed military interference in colonial administration, including attempts to quarter British troops in private homes, and had a generally positive relationship with the colonial assembly.

Returning to England in 1760, Pownall continued to be interested in colonial affairs, publishing widely read materials on conditions in the colonies, including several editions of The Administration of the Colonies. As a Member of Parliament he regularly advocated for colonial positions, without much success, but supported the war effort once the Revolutionary War began. In the early 19th century he became an early advocate of the reduction or removal of trade barriers, and the establishment of a solid relationship between Britain and the United States. Several writers have proposed that Pownall was Junius, a pseudonymous writer of letters critical of British governmental practices.

John Adams wrote, "Pownall was the most constitutional and national Governor, in my opinion, who ever represented the crown in this province."[1]