Boston (Mass.).

A short narrative of the horrid massacre in Boston, perpetrated in the evening of the fifth day of March, 1770. By soldiers of the XXIXth regiment; which with the XIVth regiment were then quartered there: with some observations on the state of things prior to that catastrophe online

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Online LibraryBoston (Mass.)A short narrative of the horrid massacre in Boston, perpetrated in the evening of the fifth day of March, 1770. By soldiers of the XXIXth regiment; which with the XIVth regiment were then quartered there: with some observations on the state of things prior to that catastrophe → online text (page 1 of 12)
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A Shef



The horrid Maflacre in BOSTON,

In the Evening of the Fifth Day of March, 1770;

Soldiers of the XXIXth Regiment ;


The XlVth Regiment
Were then Quartered there :

W"I F-5


, o N '. T H;



Printed by Order of the Town of BOSTON,

And Sold by EDES and GILL, in Queen- Street,
AndT. &J. FLEET, IB Cornhill, 1770,

BOSTON, IE At a Meeting of the Free-
holders and other Inhabitants
of the Town ^Bofton, duly
qualified and legally warned,
in publicTo'wn-Meeting afjem-
lied at Faneuil-jfo/7, onMon-
day the 1 2th D<?y of March,
Anno Domini, 1770.
TT HAT Article in the Warrant,
for calling this Meeting, 'viz.
" What Steps may be further necef-
" fary for obtaining a particular Account
" of all Proceedings relative to the Maf-
" facre in King-Street on Monday Night
" laft, that a full and juftReprefentation
" may be made thereof/ 7 was read,


VOTED, That the Honorable James
BoivdoinJL^ Doftor Jofepb Warren, and
Samuel Temberton, Efq; be a Committee
for this important Buiinefs ; and they are
defired to report as foon as may be.
Atteft. WILLIAM COOPER, Town-Clerk.

THE following Report, containing a Nar-
rative of the late Mafacre, is fubmitted t<*
the Town. In the Name of the Committee,


AT the Town Meeting held on the I yth of
March, 1770, by Adjournment.

THE aforementioned Report was Read and
Confidered, whereupon Voted Unanimonjly>
That the fame be accepted, and that it be
immediately Printed, and the Committee are
defired to tranfmit Copies thereof as foon as
poffible to the following Gentlemen, viz. The
Right Honorable Ifaac Barre, Efq; one of his
Majefty's moft HonorablePrivy Council ; Thomas
^Poivnall, Efq; late Governor of the MafTachu-
fetts ; William Bollan, Efq; Agent for his Ma-
jefty's Council ; Dennys DeBerdt, Efq; Agent
for the Houfe of Reprefentatives ; Benjamin
Franklin, Efq; L. L.D. and Barlow Trecothick,
Efq; a Member of Parliament for the City of

William Cooper, Town-Clerk.

A iliort Narrative of the horrid

Maflacre in Boflon, perpetrated in the
Evening of the Fifth Day of March,
1 770, by Soldiers of the XXIX th Re-
giment ; which with the XIV th Regi-
ment were then quartered there : with
fome Obfervations on the State of
Things prior to that Cataltrophe.

IT may be a proper introduction to this nar-
rative, briefly to reprefent the ftate of things
for fome time previous to the faid mafTacre :
And this feems necefTary in order to the
forming a juft idea of the caufes of it.

At the end of the late war, in which this
Province bore fo diflinguifhed a part, a happy
union fubfifted between Great-Britain and the
Colonies. This was unfortunately interrupted
by the Stamp-Aft : but it was in fome meafure
reftored by the Repeal of it. It was again in-
terrupted by other acts of parliament for taxing
America ; and by the appointment of aBoard of
Commiilioners, in purfuance of an adt, which
by the face of it was made for the relief and
encouragement of commerce, but which in it's
operation, it was apprehended, would have, and
it has in fa<ft had, a contrary effect. By the faid
act the faid Ccmrniffioners were " to be refidcnt


in fome convenient part of his Majefty's do-
minions in America". This muft be underftood
to be in fome part convenient for the whole
But it does not appear, that in fixing the place
of their refidence, the convenience of the whole
\vas at all confulted, for Bofton being very far
from the centre of the colonies, could not be
the place moft convenient for the whole.
Judging by the act, it may feem this town was
intended to be favoured, by the Commiffioners
being appointed to refide here ; and that the
confequence of that refidence would be the re-
lief and encouragement of commerce : but the
reverfe has been the conftant and uniform effecl:
of it : So that the commerce of the town, from
the embarafTments in which it has been lately
involved, is greatly reduced. For the particulars
on this head, fee the ftate of the trade not long
fince drawn up and tranfmitted to England by a
committee of the merchants of Bofton.

The refidence of the Commiffioners here, has
been detrimental not only to the commerce, but:
to the political interefts of the town and pro-
vince ; and not only fo, but we can trace from
it the caufes of the late horrid mafTacre. Soon
after their arrival here in November 1767, in-
ftead of confining themfelves to the proper bufi-
nefs of their office, they became partizans of
Governor Bernard in his political fchemcs ; and
had the weaknefs and temerity to infringe upon
one of the moft cfTential rights of the houfe of
commons of this province that of giving


f. 7 1

their votes with freedom, and not being accoun-
table therefor but to their conftituents. Ons
of the members of that houfe Capt. Timothy
Folgier, having voted in fome affair contrary to ths
mind of the faidCommiffioners,was for fo doing
difmifled from the office he held under them.

Thefe proceedings of theirs, the difficulty of
accefs to them on office-bufinefs, and a fuperci-
lious behaviour, rendered them difguftful to peo-
ple in general, who in confequence thereof
treated them with neglect. This probably fti-
mulated them to refent it : and to make their
refentment felt, they and their coadjutor Gover-
nor Bernard, made fuch reprefentations to his
Majefty's miniftersas they thought beft calculated
to bring the difpleafure of the nation upon the
town and province : and in order that thofe re-
prefentations might have the more weight, they
are faid to have contrived, and executed plans
for exciting difturbances and tumults, which
otherwife would probably never have exifted ;
and when excited, to have tranfmitted to the
miniftry the moft exaggerated accounts of them.

Thefe particulars of their conduct hisMajefty's
Council of this province have fully laid open in
their proceeding in council, and in their addrefe
to General Gage, in July and October 1768 ;
and in their letter to Lord Hillfborough of the
i^th of April 1769. Unfortunately for us,
they have been too fuccefsful in their faid repre-
fentations, which in conjunction with Governor
Bernard's, have occafioned his Majefty's faithful


[ 8 ]

fubjefts of this town and province to be treated
as enemies and rebels, by an invafion of the
town by fea and land : to which the approaches
were made with all the circumfpeclion, ufual
where a vigorous oppofition is expected. While
the town was furrounded by a confiderable
number of his Majefty's fhips of war, two regi-
ments landed and took pofleffion of it ; and to
fupport thefe, two other regiments arrived fomc
time after from Ireland : one of which landed
at Caftle Ifland, and the other in the town.

Thus were we, in aggravation of our other
embarraflments, embarrafTed with troops,
forced upon us contrary to our inclination
contrary to the fpirit of Magna Ghana, -
contrary to the very letter of the Bill of
Rights, in which it is declared, that the
raifing or keeping a landing army within the
kingdom in time of peace, unlefs it be with the
confent of parliament, is againft law and with-
out the defire of the civil magiftrates, to aid
-whom was the pretence for fending the troops
hither: who were quartered in the town in direct
violation of an act of parliament for quartering
troops in America : and all this in confequence
of the rcpreftntations of the faidCommiffioners
and the faid Governor, as appears by their me-
morials and letters lately publiflied.

As they were the procuring caufe of troops
being fent hither, they muft therefore be the re-
mote and a blameable caufe of all the difturban-
ces and bloodfhed that have takeo place in con-
fequence of that Mcafure. But

( 9 )

But \ve (hall leave them to their own reflec-
tions, after obferving, that as they had lome
months before the arrival ot the troops, under
pretence of fafety to their perfons, retired from
town to the Cattle, fo after the arrival of the
troops, and their being quartered in the town,
they thought proper to return : having anfwered,
as they donbtlefs thought, the purpofe of their
voluntary flight.

We fhall next attend to the conduct of the
troops, and to fome circumftances relative to
them. Governor Bernard without confulting
the Council, having given up theState-houfe to
the troops at their landing, they took pofleflion
of the chambers, where the reprefentatives of the
province and the courts of law held their meet-
ings ; and (except the council-chamber) of all
other parts of that houfe : in which they conti-
nued a confiderable time, to the great annoyance
of thofe courts while they fat, and qf the mer-
chants and gentlemen of the town, who had al-
ways made the lower floor of it their exchange.
They had a right fo to do, as the property of it
was in the town : but they were deprived of
that right by meer powei> The faid Governor
foon after, by every ftratagem and by every me-
thod, but a forcible entry, endeavored to get
poflcjOGon of the manulaftory-houfe, to make a
birrack of it for the troops: and for that pur-
pofe caufed it to be befieged by the troops, and
the people in it to be ufed very cruelly; which
extraordinary proceedings created univerfal un-
B eafinefs,

,( 1 )

ctfinefs, arifing from the apprehenfion; that the
troops under the influence of fuch a man would
be employed to effedl the moft dangerous pur-
pofes : but failing of that, other houfes were pro-
cured, in which, contrary to aft of parliament,
be caufed the troops to be quartered. After
their quarters were fettled, the main guard was
ported at one of the faid houfes, direftly oppofite
to, and not twelve yards from, the State-houfe,
(where the General Court, and all the Law
Courts for the County were held) with two
field pieces pointed to the Mate-houfe. This
Situation of the ftiaifi guard and field pieces
feemed to indicate an attack upon the conftitu-
tion, and a defiance of law ; and to be intended
to affront the legiflative and executive authority
of the province.

The General Court, at the firft Seffion after
the arrival of the troops, viewed it in this light,
and applied to Governor Bernard to caufe fuch
a nnfance to be removed ; but to no purpofe.
Difgufted at fuch an indignity, and at the appear-
ance of being under durefle, they refufed to do
bufinefs in fuch circumftances ; and in confe-
quence thereof were adjourned to Cambridge, to
the great inconvenience of the members.

Befides this, the challenging the inhabitants
by centinels potted in all parts of the town be-
fore the lodgings of officers, which (for about
fix months, while it la(led) occafioned many
quarrels and great uncafincfs


Capt. Wilfon's, of the 59th, exciting the ne-
groes of the town to take away their matters
lives and .property, and repair to the army for
protection, which was fully proved againft him.
The attack of a party of foldiers on fome of
the magiftrates of the town- the repeated ref*
cues of foldiers from peace officers the firing
of a loaded mufket in a public ftreet, to the en-
dangering a great number of peaceable inhabi-
tants the frequent wounding of perfons by
their bayonets and cutlaflas, and the numerous
inftances of bad behaviour in the foldiery
made us early fenfible, that the troops were not
fent here for any benefit to the town or pro-
vince, and that we had no good to expect from
fuch confervators of the peace.*

It was not expecled however, that fuch an
outrage and maflacre, as happened here on the
evening of the fifth inflant, would have been
perpetrated. There were then killed and wound-
ed, by a difcharge of mufquctry, eleven of his
Majefty's fubjects, viz.

IVlr. Samuel Gray, killed on the fpot by a
ball entering his head.

Crifpus Attucks, a molatto, killed on the fpot,
two balls entering his breatt.

Mr. James Caldwell, killed on the fpot, by
two balls entering his back.

B 2 Mr.

* The inhabitants, inftead of making application to the military
officers on thefe occafions, chofe rather to oppofe the civil au-
thority and the laws of the land to fuch offenders ; and had
not the foldiery found means to evade legal puniftiments, it is
more than probable their infolence would have received a check
aad fjme of the mo-ft raelaachoJy effe&s of it been prevented.

Mr. Samuel Maverick, a youth of feventeen
years of age, mortally wounded : he died the
next morning,

Mr. Patrick Carr mortally wounded : he died
the r4th inftant.

Chriftopher Monk and Jbhn Clark, youths
about fevcnteen years of age, dangeroufly wound-
ed. It is apprehended they will die.

Mr. Edward Payne, merchant, (landing at his
door : wounded.

Meffi'rs John Green, Robert Patterfon and
David Parker : all dangeroufly wounded.

The aftors in this dreadful tragedy were a
party of foldiers commanded by Capt. Prefton
of the 29th regiment : This party, including
the Captain, confuted of eight, who arc all com-
mitted to goal.

There are depofitions in this affair which
mention, that feveral guns were fired at the fame
time from theCuftom-Houfe ; before which this
fhqcking fcene was exhibited. Into this matter
inqutfition is now making. In the mean time
it may be proper to infert here the fubftance of
fome of thofe depofitions.

Benjamin Frizell, on the evening of the jth
of March, having taken his ftation near the weft
corner of the Cuftom-Houfe in Kingftreet, be-
fore and at the time of the foldiers firing their
guns, declares (among other things) that the
firfl difcharge was only of one gun, the next
of two guns, upon which he the deponent thinks
he faw a nun fturnble : tl^c third djfchargc was

( '3 )

of three guns, upon which he thinks he faw two
men fall, and immediately after were difcharged
five guns, two of which were by foldiers on his
right hand, the other three, as appeared to the
deponent, 'were difcharged from the balcony, or
the chamber window of the CusToM-HousE,
theflafoes appearing on the left hand, and higher
than the right hand flafhes appeared to be, and
of which the deponent ivas very Jenfible, altho'
his eyes were much turned to the foldiers, who
were all on his right hand.

Gillam Bafs, being in King-flreet at the fame
time, declares that they (the party of foldiets
from the main guard) pofted themfelves between
the cuftom-houfe door, and the weft corner of
it ; and in a few minutes began to fire upon the
people : Two or three ofthejlafliesfo high above
the reft, that he the deponent verily believes they
muft have come from the CusTOM-HousE

Jeremiah Allen declares, that in the evening
of the 5th day of March current, being at about
nine o'clock in the front chamber in the houfe
occupied by Col. Ingerfollin King-ftreet,hc heard
fome guns fired, which occafioned his going in-
to the balcony of the faid houfe. That when
he was in the faid balcony in company with Mr.
William Molineux jun'r. and John Simpfon, he
heard the difcharge of four or five guns, the
flafhes of which appeared to be to the wefhvard
of the centry box, and immediately after, he the
deponent heard two qr three more guns and faw


( '4 )

thejlafhes thereof fr^m out of the houfe, now cal-
led the CUSTOM-HOUSE, as they evidently ap-
f eared to him> and which he the faid deponent
at the fame time declared to the aforefaid Moli-
peux and Simpfon being then near tiim, faying
to them, (at the fame time pointing his hand to-
wards the cuftom-houfe) there they are out of
the ciiftom-houfe.

George Cofter being in King-ftreetat the time
above mentioned, declares that in five or fix mi-
nutes after he Hopped, he heard the word of
command given to the foldiers/r^, upon which
oae gun was fired, which did no execution, as
the deponent obferved, about half a minute after
two guns, one of which killed one Samuel Gray
a ropemaker, the other a molatto man, between
which two men the deponent ftood, after this
the deponent heard the difcharge of four or five
guns more, by the foldiers ; immediately after
which the deponent heard the difcharge of two
guns or piftols,from an open 'window of the middle
Jlory oj /^CUSTOM-HOUSE, near to the place
where the centry box is placed, and being but a
fmall diftance from the window, he heard the
people from within fpeak and laugh, and foori
after few the cafement lowered down ; after
which the deponent affifted others in carrying
off one of the corps.

Cato, a Negro man, fervant to Tuthill Hub-
bart, Efq; declares, that on Monday evening the
fifth of March current, on hearing the cry of fire,
he ran into Kingftreet, where he faw a number


( .15 ),

f people afTembled before the Cuftom-Houfe,
that he flood near the centry-box and faw the
foldiers fire on the people, who flood in the
middle of faid ftreet ; direclly after which be Jaw
twojlajhes of guns, one quick upon the other, from
the chamber window, of the CUSTOM-HOUSE ;
and that after the firing was all over, while the
people were carrying away the dead and wound-
ed, he faw the Cuftom-Houfe door opened, and

federal jo idurs (one oj whom had a cutlafs) go
into the Cuftom-Hoiife and (hut the door after

Benjamin Andrews declares, that being defired
by the committee of enquiry to take the ranges
of the holes made by mnfquet balls, in twohoufes
near oppofite to the Cuftom-Houfe, he finds the
bullet hole in the entry door port of Mr. Payne's
houfe (and which graz'd the edge of the door,
before it enter'd the pofi, where it lodged, two
and a half inches deep) ranges juft under the

Jlool of the wejternmofl louver chamber window of

Samuel Drowne, towards the end of his depo-
ficion (which contains a pretty full account of
the proceedings of the foldiers on the evening of
the 5th inftant) declares, that he faw the Jlafhet
of two guns f red from the CUSTOM-HOUSE,
one of which was out of a window of the chamber
wejlward of the balcony, and the other from the
balcony ; the gun (which he clearly difcerned)
being pointed, through the ballifters, and the per-

fan who held the gun , in aftooping pojlure with-

drew himfelf into the houfe^ having a handker*
chief or fome kind of doth over his face.

Thefe depofitions fhew clearly that a number
f guns were fired from the Cuftom-Houfe.
As this affair is now enquiring into, all the no-
tice we fliall take of it is, that it diftinguifhes the
aclors in it into Street- A&ors and Houfe-A&ors;
which is neceflary to be obferved.

What gave occafion to the melancholy event
of that evening feems to have been this. A
difference having happened near Mr. Gray's
ropewalk, between a foldier and a man belong-
ing to it, the foldier challenged the ropemakers
to a boxing match. The challenge was accepted
by one of them, and the foldier worfted. He
ran to the barrack in the neighbourhood, and
returned with feveral of his companions. The
fray was renewed, and the foldiers were driven
off. They foon returned with recruits and were
again worded. This happened feveral times,
till at length a confiderable body of foldiers was
collected, and they alfo were driven off, the
ropemakers having been joined by their brethren
of the contiguous ropewalks. By this time
Mr. Gray being alarmed intcrpofed, and with
the affiftance of fome gentlemen prevented any
further difturbance. To fatisfy the foldiers and
punifh the man who had been the occafion of
the firft difference, and as an example to the reft,
he turned him out of his ferviee; and waited on
Col. Dalrymple, the commanding officer of the
troops, and with him concerted meafures for

. preventing

E '7 ]

preventing further mifchief. Though this affair
ended thus, it made a ftrong impreffion on the
minds of the foldiers in general, who thought
the honor of the regiment concerned to revenge
thofe repeated repulfes. For this purpofe they
feem to have formed a combination to commit
fome outrage upon the inhabitants of the tOwn
indifcriminately ; and this was to be done on
the evening of the th inftant or foon after : as
appears by the depofitions of the following per-
fons, viz.

William Newhall declares, that on Thurfday
night the firft of March inflant, he met four foldi-
ers of the 29th regiment 5 and that he heard them
fay there were a great many that would eat their
dinners on Monday next, that Jfjould not eat any
on Tuefday.

Daniel Calfe declares, that on Saturday even-
ing the 3d of March a camp-woman, wife to
James McDeed a grenadier of the 29th, came in-
to his father's fhop,and the people talking about
the affrays at the rope-walks, and blaming the
foldiers for the part they had afted in it, the
woman faid,the foldiers were in the right ; add-
ing that before Tuefday or Wednefday night they
r woidd wet their f word 3 or bayonets in N e'iv- En-
gland people s blood.

Mary Brailsford declares, that on Sabbath
evening the 4th March inflant a Soldier came to
the houfe of Mr. Amos Thayer where fhe then
was. He defiring to fpeak with Mr. Thayer
was told by Mrs, Mary Thayer, that her bro-

C thcr

[ r* I

ther was engage J, and could not be fpoke
He faid, your brother as you call him, is a man
I have a great regard for, and I eame on purpofe
to tell him to keep in his houfeforbeforeT'uefdqy
night next atTivehe d clock jhere -will be a great
deal of bloodfhtd, and a great many lives loft :
and added, that he came out of a particular re-
gard to her brother to advife him to keep in his
houfe, for then he would be out of harm's way.
He faid,your brother knows me very well : my
name is Charles Malonc. He thenwentaway.
Of the fame import, and in confirmation of this
declaration, are the depofitions of Mary Thayer
and Afa Copeland, who both live with the faid
Mr. Thayer, and heard what the foldier faid
as abovementioned. It is alfo confirmed by the
depofition of Nicholas Ferriter.

Jane Ulher declares, that about 9 o'clock on
monday morning the 5th of March current,
from a window fhe faw two perfons in the habit
of foldiers, one of whom being on horfe back
appeared to be an officer's fcrvant. The perfon
on the horfe firft fpoka to the other, but what
he faid, (he is not able to fay, though the win-
dow was open, and fhe not more than twenty
feet dillant : the other replied, He hoped he
Jhouldjh blood enough fpilt before morning.

Matthew Adams declares, that on monday
evening the 5th of March inftant between the
hours of 7 and 8 o'clock, he went to the houfe
of corporal Per/hall of the 2Qth regiment, near
Quaker-lane, where he faw the corporal and his


[ '9 1

Vife, with one of the fifcrs of faid regiment.
When he hid got what he went for, and was
coming away, the corporal called him back, and
defired him with great earneftnefs to go home to
his matter's houfe as foon as bufinefs was over,
and not to be abroad on any account that night
in particular, for the foldicrs w*er.e determined to
be revenged on the ropcwalk people ; and that
.much mif chief 'would be done. Upon which the
fifer (about 1 8 or 1 9 years of age) faid, he hoped
in God they 'mould burn the town down. On
this he left the houfe, and the faid corporal called
after him again, and begged he would mind
what he faid to him.

Caleb Swan declares, that on monday night
the 5th of March inftant, at the time of the
bells ringing for fire, he heard a woman's voice
whom he knew to be the fuppofed wife of one
Montgomery, a grenadier of the 29th regiment,
landing at her door, and beard her fay \ it 'was
notjire ; the town was too haughty and too proud;
and that many of their arfes. -would be laid low
before th$ morning.

Margaret Swanfborough declares, that a free
woman named Black Peg, who has kept much
with the foldiers, on hearing the difkvrbance on
monday evening the th inftant faid, the foldiers
were not to be trod upon by the inhabitants , but
would know before morning, whether they &r the
inhabitants were to be maftefs.

Jofeph Hooton, junr. declares, that coming
Irorn the Somh-ead of Bofton on monday eyen-

C z ing

ing the 5th of March inftant, againft Dr.Sewall's
meeting he heard a great noife and tumult, with
the cry of murder often repeated. Proceeding
towards the town-houfe he was pafled by feveral
foldiers running that way, with naked cutlaffes and
bayonets in their hands. He aflced one of them
what was the matter, and was anfwered by him,
by God you fliall all know what is the matter
foon. Between 9 and i o o'clock he went into

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryBoston (Mass.)A short narrative of the horrid massacre in Boston, perpetrated in the evening of the fifth day of March, 1770. By soldiers of the XXIXth regiment; which with the XIVth regiment were then quartered there: with some observations on the state of things prior to that catastrophe → online text (page 1 of 12)