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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 3

This note contained in document ADMS-05-03-02-0001-0004-0012
5. Thus in MS. The reference is probably to Thomas Crafts, the Suffolk County Coroner, and is presumably JA's note, not the witness' testimony.
Wemms Trial 93–96:
Doctor Richard Hirons, sworn.
Q. Do you know any thing of the proceedings at Murray's barracks on the evening of the 5th March last, previous to the firing in King-street?
A. I live opposite the barrack-house, and was at home that evening. A little after eight I heard a noise and disturbance in the street, I went out to know what it was, and was told there was a difference between the towns people and soldiers. I saw several soldiers pass and repass, some with bayonets, some with clubs and one thing and another. I stood at my own door; I observed the noise seemed to come from towards the market; I saw a number of people running to and fro across the bottom of the street. I shut my door and went in about eight or ten minutes. I heard a noise like a single person running thro' Boylston's alley with great violence; he ran as I took it towards the barrack gate, and cried out, town born turn out, town born turn out, then turned to the side of the lane, and said town born turn out, town born turn out. I heard this repeated twenty or thirty times, I believe, it was the constant cry. I remember after coming out the second time, to hear the voice of a person which I took to be Ensign Maul, say, who is this fellow, lay hold of him. I did not hear a word pass betwixt the people that passed backwards and forwards, and the Sentinel at the barrack gate, nor from the Sentinel to them; this cry of town born turn out, was repeated for seven or eight minutes, when I heard the voice of a great many more.
Q. Were they soldiers?
A. I do not know, they might be soldiers; from the first of that cry it might be a quarter of an hour or more, they seemed to retreat and come on again, and struck their sticks very hard against the corner of the house. The collection of such a number, with the noise of the clubs, induced me to lock my door, put out my light in the fore part of my house, and to go upstairs into the chamber fronting the barracks; when there, I observed four or five officers of the 29th, standing on their own steps, and there might be betwixt twenty or thirty of the town's people surrounding the steps. About that time came a little man, who he was I do not know; he said, why do you not keep your soldiers in their barracks, they said they had done every thing they possibly could, and would do every thing in their power, to keep them in their barracks, on which he said, are the inhabitants to be knocked down in the street, are they to be murdered in this manner; the officers still insisted they had done their utmost, and would do it, to keep the soldiers in their barracks; the same person then said, you know the country has been used ill, you know the town has been used ill, we did not send for you, we will not have you here, we will get rid of you, or we will drive you away; which of the last expressions I cannot say, but it was one or the other: the officers still insisted they had done their utmost, and would do it, to keep the soldiers in their barracks, and begged the person to use his interest to disperse the people, that no mischief might happen; whether he did address the people or not, I cannot say, for the confusion was so great I could not distinguish.
Q. How was that man dressed?
A. He was a little man, I think in a surtout; immediately the cry of home, home, was mentioned; I don't recollect seeing any person go away at the first cry, and there was such confusion I could not tell what was said, but in five minutes afterwards the cry home, home was repeated, on which the greatest part of them, possibly two thirds, went up Boylston's alley towards the Town-house, huzzaing for the Main Guard.
Q. What number were there?
A. A considerable number. I then observed more of the towns people come from towards the Market; there was a good deal of squabble and noise betwixt the people and the officers, but what was said I could not hear. The next thing I recollect in the affair was, a little boy came down the alley, clapping his hand to his head, and cried he was killed, he was killed; on which one of the officers took hold of him, and damned him for a little rascal, asking him what business he had out of doors; the boy seemed to be about seven or eight year old. Some little time after that, I saw a soldier come out of the barrack gate with his musket, he went directly facing the alley, in the middle of the street, and kneeled down on one knee, and said now damn your bloods, I will make a lane through you all; while he was presenting, Mr. Maul an Ensign, with either Mr. Dixon or Mr. Minchin, I do not know which, came after him, immediately laid hold of him, and took the musket from him, shoved him towards the barrack, and I think gave him the musket again, and charged him at his peril to come out again. I do not recollect any discourse that passed between the towns people and officers, there was still such clamour and confusion, that I could not hear what passed; but in a little time either the soldier who came out before, or another, came out again, he repeated much the same words as the other, he had his gun in his hand, he did not offer to kneel down, but used the same expressions.
Q. Did he present his firelock?
A. He was presenting when Mr. Maul knocked him down, took his musket from him, drove him into the barracks, and I think the barrack gate was then shut; about this time I recollect I heard Dr. Cooper's bell ring, I heard some officer say, go and stop that bell from ringing, whether any body went or not, I cannot say, but it did not ring a great while: About this time I saw Capt. Goldfinch of the fourteenth, on the steps with the officers of the twenty-ninth; there came up another little man, who he was I do not know, but in a much different manner from what the other did.
Q. How was he dressed?
A. He had on a great coat or surtout of a light brown, he requested the soldiers might be kept in their barracks, and that the officers would do every thing in their power to keep them there, the officers said, they had, and would do so; and as the soldiers were in their barracks, begged the people might go away; this little man said to the people, gentlemen, you hear what the officers say, that the soldiers are all in their barracks, and you had better go home; on which the cry was, home, home, home.
Q. Do you suppose this was after you heard the bell ring?
A. Yes; on which a great many went up the alley again, and I heard the expression, Let us go to the Main-Guard: Capt. Goldfinch was still on the steps, and I heard his voice still talking, and I think he desired every person would go away; while he was talking, I heard the report of a musket.
Q. How long was that after the cry of home, home?
A. It was not many minutes; in a few seconds I heard the report of a second gun, presently after that a third; upon the firing of the first gun, I heard Capt. Goldfinch say, I thought it would come to this, it is time for me to go. I then saw a soldier come down the alley from Cornhill, and went up to the steps where the officers stood, and said, they fired from or upon the Main guard. I then heard the drum at the Main-Guard beat to arms, I came down stairs and did not go out till I was sent for to some of the wounded people.
Q. At the time when the first soldier came out, were there a body of people in the street before the barracks?
A. There were some, but I suppose the most part were in the alley, there were several about the meeting-house.
Q. Did they say or do any thing to the soldiers who came out with their muskets?
A. The officers immediately took hold of them and turned them in.
Q. Was you sent for to Maverick?[]A. Yes.
Q. Did he say any thing to you?
A. Yes, about two hours before his death, I asked him concerning the affair, he went he said up the lane, and just as he got to the corner, he heard a gun, he did not retreat back, but went to the Town-House, as he was going along, he was shot: It seems strange by the direction of the ball, how he could be killed by the firing at the Custom-House; it wounded a portion of the liver, stomach and intestines, and lodged betwixt the lower ribs, where I cut it out, the ball must have struck some wall or something else, before it struck him.
Q. Where did he say he was when he was wounded?
A. He was betwixt Royal exchange-lane and the Town-house going up towards the Town house.
Samuel Quincy Massacre Minutes, MHi:
Dr. Hyrons. A little after 8 heard a confused Noise not far off, went out, was told Soldiers and people were quarrelling, saw a Number of Soldiers pass and repass with Swords. Saw a Number of people cross the Street. Went in and in a few Minutes after heard a person run thro' the Alley with great Violence towards the Barrack Gate crying Town-born turn out, Two or Three Times he did this. Ensign Mall cried, Whose that Fellow? After the Repetition of Town born turn out 7 or 8 Times, I heard the Footsteps of several more and in a very short Time a great many more. Soon a great Clashing of sticks against The Fence &c. A little Man, I don't know who, came and addressed the Officer why don't You keep your Men in. I have done all I can, and shall do all I can. Upon which says the little Man, are the people to be knock'd down and murdered, upon which the Officer, We have done the Utmost we can. Then the little Man, you know the Country has been used ill, you know the Town has been used ill, We did not send for you, We won't have you, We'll get rid of you or drive you away, I don't know which. The Officer still replied They had done their utmost, and beg'd The Man to use his Influence to disperse the people that no mischief might be done. Whether he did so or not I can't say, as I could not distinguish Voices He had a Surtout on. Immediately the Cry home, home. I don't recollect seeing any go at first, but This Cry was repeated, and The greatest part about 2 Thirds ran up Boylstone's Alley and huzza'd for the Main Guard; Then observed some more of the Town's people come up from towards the Market. There was upon This a great Squable and Noise between the people and officers no Blows. A little Boy with his hand on his Head cried I am kill'd, I am kill'd! Upon which an Officer damn'd him for a Rascal and asked him What Business he had out of Doors. The Boy not more than 6 or 7 years old. Not long after observed a Soldier come out of his Mess-house, down upon his knee before Boylst. Alley, presented his musket and said now God damn your Blood I'll make a Lane thro' you all. While he was presenting Minchin or Dixon laid hold of him and turn'd him in to the Barracks telling him to come out again at his peril. Not long before the same Soldier or another came out again with his Gun. He repeated much the same Words as the other, was presenting and one of the officers knock'd him down, and after This Thinks the Gates were shut. About This Time heard Dr. Cooper's Bell ring, had heard the 9 o'clock Bell before as he thought. One officer said go and stop that Bell. About This Time recollects seeing Capt. Goldfinch of the 14th on the Steps. There came up a little Man but in a quite different Manner from the Other, desired 'em to keep their Men in; They said it should be done, and beg'd he would get the People away. The little Man said, you hear what the Officers say, you had better go home, upon which the Cry was Home, home, home again; on which a great many of them went up the Alley, and said let's go to the Main G[uard] a Second Time. Not many minutes after This before he heard the Report of a Musket, and in few Seconds a 2d Muskets, and then a Third. I heard Capt. G[oldfinch] say then, I tho't it would come to This, it's Time for me to go. A Soldier came, and told the Officers, as I tho't, that They had fir'd upon the Main-guard.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.