A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


Robert Treat Paine

11 March 1731 - 11 June 1814

Robert Treat Paine, an accomplished lawyer and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Boston to Rev. Thomas and Eunice (Treat) Paine. He served as a regimental chaplain during the Crown Point Expedition (1755) of the French and Indian War, and was admitted to the Suffolk County Bar in 1757. In 1770, his zeal for the patriot cause attracted leaders in Boston and he was hired by the town to prosecute the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. Following the trials, Paine served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, where he signed both the Olive Branch Petition and the Declaration of Independence. In 1777, Paine was appointed Attorney General of Massachusetts, and in 1790 he accepted a position as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, where he served until his retirement in 1804.