Legal Papers of John Adams, volume 3

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence<a xmlns="" href="#LJA03d007n1" class="note" id="LJA03d007n1a">1</a>: 25–27 October 1770 UNKNOWN Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence: 25–27 October 1770 UNKNOWN
Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence1
25–27 October 1770
Witnesses for the Prisoner2

William Jackson. On the 5 of March I went to Capt. Preston's lodging. Heard the bell. Ran out. Came down to my shop. Met a man who told me the People and Soldiers were fighting at my corner and he hoped in God would see it out. I returnd to Capt. Preston and told him. A Corporal and private came to Preston's lodgings and told him the Town's People were abusing them. Capt. Preston took his Sword and went with them.3

Edward Hill. A little after 9 I heard the Bells. Came down as far as the Town House. Asked where the fire was. Was told there was none but the Soldiers were killing the Towns People. Some of them said they would take the Centinel off his Post at the Custom house. Capt. Preston went to the Guard house. Took off a Guard. The People came from the Barracks. Some were for going to the Main Guard. Others said no don't disturb them, we will take the Centinel at the Custom house off his Post. I went and told this to a Centinel at the Main Guard. They sent an Officer and Party to the Captain who came down 63with Mr. Basset.4 I was going down towards the Post Office and heard one or two Guns fired. I turnd back. When I got to Jacksons Corner heard two more. Went down towards the Centinel. Saw one Gun fired and the bullet struck on the Stone Wall. After all the firing Captain Preston put up the Gun of a Soldier who was going to fire and said fire no more you have done mischief enough.5

Benjamin Davis. I came into King Street. Saw people about in knots. Some at the bottom of the Town House, some at Jackson's corner. Heard a noise down the Street and saw about 20 or 30 people round the Centinel who stood on the Custom House steps, they crying fire, damn you fire. I saw the Centinels Gun sometimes level and sometimes up. When his Gun was up they closed in, when down retreated. When I was up by the Guard two young men Inhabitants came up. One said you must send a party to the Centinel for I heard some of the People say they would kill him. In about 1/2 a minute somebody within said, out Guard and about seven came out and marched down Street and posted themselves round the Centry Box. There were then about 100 People near the Custom house about the Party. I stood about 6 minutes after this, hearing great noise and huzzaing but could distinguish no words, being up at Price's Office. When I was near the Barracks a young Gentleman came to me and asked me to go help be at the Soldiers. I stood at Price's office during all the firing. I never saw the Captain till all was over. There was about six seconds between the first and second firing. I saw about 9 Soldiers running up Silsbys Alley into the Street. I went into the Street but did not see them there.6

64 Friday 26 October 1770.

Joseph Edwards. I heard the Bells. Came down King street. Saw some Boys about the Centinel abusing him. Advised them to go off. They told me they would. They were calling for others and gave three cheers. There were about 12 or 15 who abused the Centinel. Presently the Guard came and I heard the word prime and load given. I took it the Grenadier on the left hand gave the word. He was dressed in red and had a Gun in his hand for I saw him prime. I stood below the steps on the flat stones and he stood below me. There was a large number of People in the Streets and were gathering.7

John Frost. I heard the Bells and came out. The People in Cornhill said the Soldiers and People were fighting and they had drove the Soldiers into the Barracks. They huzza'd up the Street. I went up and saw two boys and some men about the Centinel. One of the Boys said to the Centinel this is the dog that knockd me down. The body of the People were about two yards off looking at the 2 boys and the Centinel who went to the steps and loaded and struck his Gun against the door, as I took it, to get in. He did not touch the latch. The people in general seem'd to cry damn him he dare not fire. I did not hear the Centinel call for help but saw the Guard come and a man who I took to be the Captain. He had a thing or Plate upon his breast—a Sash on—a Sword in his hand—and Regimentals.8 He stood in the rank three Soldiers on his right. I did not see the Party till drawn up.9


Benjamin Lee. I heard the Bells ring. Ran out. Came to Dock-square. The People about 30, told me the Soldiers and Inhabitants were fighting. We all ran up into King street and there I saw the two Barbers boys. One of 'em said thats the dog that knock'd me down. Thereupon the People generally cried kill him, kill him, knock him down. Some of them had walking Sticks but not Clubs as Mobs have. There were about 60 People about the Centinel. He ran to the steps and knock'd at the door. After he found he could not get in he Primed and loaded and rested his Gun on his hip. They press'd on. He bad them stand off. They said Damn him he durst not fire. The Centinel then called turn out main Guard. They came and posted themselves about him. I saw Capt. Preston as soon as the Soldiers were ranged. A man went and asked him if he was going to fire. No Sir upon my honor if I can any way avoid it. I knew the Captain by sight and name. He stood to the left of the whole rather behind with his back towards the long Wharfe.10 He had his Regimentals, a hat on, his breast plate and Sash round his body and Sword in his hand. I saw no Snow balls. I went away as soon as the Man spoke to the Captain.11

Richard Palmes. Being at the Coffee House after 9 heard the Bells. Went up King Street. Saw the Centinel walking quietly. Went up by the Town House. People told me the Soldiers at Murrays barracks were abusing the People. I went there saw a number of Officers at the Gate with Guns and People before them about 20 or 30. I ask'd the Officer why they suffered the Men to be out after eight oClock. Do you mean to teach me my duty. No but to remind of it. One of the Officers said the Soldiers are gone into the Barracks, let the People go home. Mr. Lamb said home, home. They went off. I came through the alley with Mr. Hickling. I saw Mr. Pool Spear. I walked with him to the Pump. Somebody there said there was a Rumpus in King Street. I went down. 66When I had got there I saw Capt. Preston at the head of 7 or 8 Soldiers at the Custom house drawn up, their Guns breast high and Bayonets fixed. Found Theodore Bliss talking with the Captain. I heard him say why don't you fire or words to that effect. The Captain answered I know not what and Bliss said God damn you why don't you fire. I was close behind Bliss. They were both in the front. Then I step'd immediately between them and put my left hand in a familiar manner on the Captains right shoulder to speak to him. Mr. John Hickling then looking over my shoulder I said to Preston are your Soldiers Guns loaded. He answered with powder and ball. Sir I hope you dont intend the Soldiers shall fire on the Inhabitants. He said by no means. The instant he spoke I saw something resembling Snow or Ice strike the Grenadier on the Captains right hand being the only one then at his right. He instantly stepd one foot back and fired the first Gun. I had then my hand on the Captains shoulder. After the Gun went off I heard the word fire. The Captain and I stood in front about half between the breech and muzzle of the Guns. I dont know who gave the word fire. I was then looking on the Soldier who fired. The word was given loud. The Captain might have given the word and I not distinguish it. After the word fire in about 6 or 7 seconds the Grenadier on the Captains left fired and then the others one after another. The Captain stood still till the second Gun was fired. After that I turned and saw the Grenadier who fired first attempting to prick me by the side of the Captain with his Bayonet. I had a large Stick in my hand. I struck over hand and hit him in his left arm. Knocked his hand from his Gun. The Bayonet struck the Snow and jarr'd the breech out of his hand. I had not before struck at any body. Upon that I turnd, thinking the other would do the same and struck at any body at first and hit Preston. In striking him my foot slip'd and my blow fell short and hit him, as he afterwards told me, on the arm. When I heard the word fire the Captains back was to the Soldiers and face to me. Before I recovered the Soldier who fired the first Gun was attempting again to push me through. I tossed my Stick in his face. He fell back and I jump'd towards the lane. He push'd at me there and fell down. I turn'd to catch his Gun. Another Soldier push'd at me and I ran off. Returnd soon and saw the dead carrying off and the party was gone. The Gun which went off first had scorched the nap of my Surtout at the elbow. I did not hear the Captain speak after he answered me. Was there but about 3/4 of a minute in the whole. There was time enough between the first and second Gun for the Captain to have spoke to his Men. He stood leaning on the dagger in the scabbard. At the time of the firing 67there was between 50 and 80 People at some distance not crowding upon the Soldiers and thin before them.12


Theodore Bliss called again. I related an account of the affair to John Coffin.13

[facing 68] [facing 69] 69

Matthew Murray. Heard the Bells and ran out and heard what was in King street. I went in and got the handle of a Broom. Went to King Street. Saw no Soldiers. Went to Murrays Barracks. The Soldiers were gone. They bid me go home. Went into King Street, heard the Barbers boy say this is the man struck me with the breech of his Gun. The Centinel went to the steps and loaded. They dared him to fire. The Guard came down. I saw 'em load. Somebody spoke to the Captain and told him he had best withdraw none of the People would interrupt him. I stood next to the Grenadier. Saw a stick or piece of Ice strike him upon his right side. On which he instantly fired and I went off. I heard no order given. I stood within two yards of the Captain. He was in the front talking with a Person, I dont know who. I was looking at the Captain when the Gun was fired. The Soldier stood on the Captains right. I saw two or three Snow balls thrown at the Soldiers before the Gun was fired, but none after for I went off immediately. The Captain had a Sword in his hand. I know not whether he had a Surtout on but believe he had. I know Capt. Preston by sight. The Prisoner is the Man. A Woman crowded by and spoke to the second 70Soldier on the right. I think if the Captain had given orders anything loud I should have heard.14

Andrew a Negro Servant. Hearing the bells ring came out. I met one of my acquaintance at the bottom of School Street holding his Arm. He said the Soldiers had begun to fight and were killing every body. One had struck him with a Cutlass and almost cut his arm off. He advised me not to go. I told him a good club was as good as a Cutlass and he had better go and see if he could not cut too. Went to the Main Guard. Saw two Centinels much enraged with the People who were crying who buys Lobsters. I stood two or three minutes, saw the People, about 20, some with sticks run down by Jacksons corner. We went on towards the whipping Post. Some threw Snow balls at the People round the Custom house. They returnd none. Some boys who stood near the middle of the street said they have got his Gun away and now we will have him. I then heard them give 3 cheers round the Custom house. Then run up to the Town house to see if the Main Guard would not turn out. I went to the corner and 7 or 8 Men came out. Were in a line with an Officer before 'em, with a Sword in his hand, a laced hat on, and a red Coat, and I remember Silver on his Shoulder. They then filed and went to the Custom house. The Men seemed to be in great rage. The Officer was either on the Northerly side of 'em or else before 'em. I was behind them. I did not see the Officer after he passed the corner of the Town house. I stood at Peck's corner. The Soldiers had got down. The People gave 3 cheers. The Boys at Pecks corner kept pelting snow balls over that way. I jumped off a Post on which I stood. Went over. Crowded through. Heard the people halloo here comes Murray with the Riot Act.15 They turned about and pelted 71somebody who ran thro' Pudding lane. I ran to Phillips's corner. I went from thence to try to get to the Custom house and get through the People. When I was at the head of Royal Exchange I heard the Grenadier who stood next the corner say damn your blood stand off, or back. The People without were crowding in to see those within forcing themselves from the Grenadier who was pushing his Bayonet at 'em. A young fellow said Damn you, you bloody back Lobster are you going to stab me. He said by God will 1. A number said come away, let 'em alone, you have nothing to do with 'em. Turning round to see who there was I saw the Officer and two Men were talking with him. Some jumping upon their backs to hear what was said. I heard somebody I took to be the Officer say stand off and something I could not understand. I then heard somebody say Damn him he is going to fire and then they all began to shout, gave three cheers, clapd hands and said Damn them they dare not fire and began to pelt Snow balls at the Soldiers. I saw Snow balls thrown and saw the Soldiers dodging and pushing their Bayonets. I saw several Snow balls hit them. I was crowding to get as near to the Officer as I could. A Person who stood near behind me with trowsers on as the Grenadier pushed at him in his station struck the Gun aside with a long stick. The Grenadier told 'em to draw back. If he had stepd from his Station he might have killed me. I was just out of his reach. Some that stood round me endeavoured to go back. Some people came from Jacksons corner Damn 'em, knock over we are not afraid of 'em. A stout man forced his way through came up between me and the Grenadier. He had a stick in his hand. I saw him strike at the Officer. Persons were talking with him. I saw him dodge and try to fend off the blow with his arm. He then began to strike on the Grenadiers Gun who stood about a yard and a half from the Officer on the right. I saw the Grenadier attempt to stick him with his Bayonet. He put it aside with his left hand, step'd in and gave a lick upon the Grenadiers neck or Shoulder with his Club. It was a cord Wood stick not very long. As he struck I turnd about, looked at the Officer. There was a bustle. The stout man had still hold of the Bayonet. After the Molatto was killed I took him to be the man. While 72I was looking at the Captain the People crowded me on between the Soldiers, upon the Mans having the advantage of the Grenadier, crying kill 'em, kill 'em, knock 'em over. Thereupon the Grenadier step'd back relieved himself and began to pay on the people with his Gun to beat them back. They rush'd back very quick making a great noise or screeching huzzaing and bid the Soldiers fire damn you, you dare not fire. I jump'd back and heard a voise cry fire and immediately the first Gun fired. It seemd to come from the left wing from the second or third man on the left. The Officer was standing before me with his face towards the People. I am certain the voice came from beyond him. The Officer stood before the Soldiers at a sort of a corner. I turned round and saw a Grenadier who stood on the Captain's right swing his Gun and fire. I took it to be Killeroy. I look'd a little to the right and saw a Man drop. The Molatto was killed by the first Gun by the Grenadier on the Captains Right. I was so frightened, after, I did not know where I was. The first place I found myself in was Dehone's entry.16


Mr. Wendall Master of the Black was Sworn and examined to his Character for the satisfaction of the Court tho' no exception had been taken to it. He has lived with me ten years. His character for truth, integrity and understanding is good.17

Andrew the Black re-examined. The time from my seeing the Guard planted at the Custom house to the 2d gun did not exceed 5 or 6 minutes.18

John Coffin. Theodore Bliss a few days after the affair told me he was in the Street and at the time of the Soldiers firing he spoke to the Captain and asked him if his men were going to fire. The Capt. said no by no means.19

Theodore Bliss again. I do not now remember those words but I gave Coffin an account.20

Jack Negro Servant to Doctr. Lloyd. Hearing the Bells ring I ran 74out and went down to a great many Men by the Custom house. A Snow ball hit me on the head. I went to Stone's door. Heard a gun and saw one man dead.21

Daniel Cornwall. Hearing the Bells ring I ran to King street. Saw a lad who told me a damnd Rascal of a Soldier had struck a Man with a Cutlass. I said where is the damnd villain gone. They gave three Cheers and went to Murrays Barracks. They were not there. Some the People had sticks. I went into a number round the Custom house. Some of them flinging Snow balls and Oyster Shells at the Centinel. Some were for killing him. Some for taking the Sentry Box and burning it. Some for throwing over board. Standing in the middle of the Street saw the Soldiers by the Sentry box. Capt. Preston before 'em. Saw a young man talking with him. I went within two yards of him. He seemed much concerned, but I could not hear any thing. Presently heard a stick come against a Gun—immediately—about 1/4 of a minute a Gun went off. I know not who fired it. Capt. Preston was within 2 yards of me—before the Men—nearest to the right—facing the Street. I was looking at him. Did not hear any order. He faced me. I think I should have heard him. I directly heard a voice say Damn you why do you fire. Dont fire. I thought it was the Captains then. I now believe it but dont know. I then ran away.22

William Sawyer of Bolton a Country Town. Hearing the Bells ring for fire I ran towards the Town house. Came to the Guard. Saw some Soldiers fixing their Bayonets. Saw people down Street. Went. The Soldiers came and faced about. The people closed upon them. They 75stood dallying. I was first on the left Wing but crowded to the right at Exchange lane. The Soldiers were pushing to keep the people off. They came as close as they could. The people kept huzzaing. Damn 'em. Daring 'em to fire. Threw Snow balls. I think they hit 'em. As soon as the Snow balls were thrown and a club a Soldier fired. I heard the Club strike upon the Gun and the corner man next the lane said fire and immediately fired. This was the first Gun. As soon as he had fired he said Damn you fire. I am so sure that I thought it was he spoke. The next Gun fired and so they fired through pretty quick. I ran off as soon as they had fired. Heard a clattering on the pavements and saw a Soldier down. I was in a fright and cant say. I was looking on the man that first fired. I do believe it was the man on the right who had a Gun and am satisfied of it. Others might have said the same but I did not hear them. The people were crying fire. I dont believe the Soldiers did.23

Jane Whitehouse. I live nigh the Centinel. Heard a noise. Went out. Ask'd the Centinel whats the matter. He didn't know. Some people came and said there's the Centinel, the bloody back Rascall, let's go kill him. They kept gathering throwing Snow balls, Oyster Shells and chunks of Wood at the Centinel. Beat him from out of his Box to the steps. A space after saw a party coming from the Main Guard, an Officer which proved to be Capt. Preston with them. He desired his Men to halt and the Centinel to recover his Arm, fall into his Rank and march up to the Main Guard. The Centinel fell in and the men wanted to move forward to the Guard house but could not for the Riot. The people called out fire, damn you why dont you fire, you cant kill us. I steppd to the Party. Heard a Gentleman ask the Capt. if he was going to order his men to fire. He said no Sir by no means, by no means. A Man—the Centinel—then pushed me back. I step'd back to 76the corner. He bid me go away for I should be killed. A Man came behind the Soldiers walkd backwards and forwards, encouraging them to fire. The Captain stood on the left about three yards. The man touched one of the Soldiers upon the back and said fire, by God I'll stand by you. He was dressed in dark coloured Cloaths. I don't remember he had a Surtout or any lace about him. He did not look like an Officer. The man fired directly on the word and clap on the Shoulder. I am positive the man was not the Captain. My attention was fixed on him, for the people said there's the Officer damn him lets kill him. I am sure he gave no orders. I saw the People throw at them. I saw one man take a chunk of wood from under his Coat, throw at a Soldier and knocked him. He fell on his face. His firelock out of his hand. Near the little run of water by the Sentry box. He was the right hand Soldier. This was before any firing. The man recovered himself and took up his firelock. The chunk was thrown a few minutes before the man clap'd the Soldier on the back. The second gun went off about a minute after the first. I didn't hear any body say fire between the first and second Gun.24

It being said that Jane Whitehouse thought there was no obligation from Oaths administred by holding up the hand she was Sworn upon the Bible. 25


Newton Prince a Negro a Member of the South Church. Heard the Bell ring. Ran out. Came to the Chapple. Was told there was no fire but something better, there was going to be a fight. Some had buckets and bags and some Clubs. I went to the west end of the Town House where were a number of people. I saw some Soldiers coming out of the Guard house with their Guns and running down one after another to the Custom house. Some of the people said let's attack the Main guard, or the Centinel who is gone to King street. Some said for Gods sake don't lets touch the main Guard. I went down. Saw the Soldiers planted by the Custom house two deep. The People were calling them Lobsters, daring 'em to fire saying damn you why don't you fire. I saw Capt. Preston out from behind the Soldiers. In the front at the right. He spoke to some people. The Capt. stood between the Soldiers and the Gutter about two yards from the Gutter. I saw two or three strike with sticks on the Guns. I was going off to the west of the Soldiers and heard the Guns fire and saw the dead carried off. Soon after the Guard Drums beat to arms. The People whilst striking on the Guns cried fire, damn you fire. I heard no Orders given to fire, only the people in general cried fire.26

James Woodall was Sworn on the Bible. I came into King Street, saw a great number of People there and a party of Soldiers and an Officer at the Main guard and followed them to the Custom house. The Sentry box was in the Gutter and the Centinel fell in with the Soldiers. They were drawn up. I saw one Soldier knock'd down. His Gun fell from him. I saw a great many sticks and pieces of sticks and Ice thrown at the Soldiers. The Soldier who was knock'd down took up his Gun and fired directly. Soon after the first Gun I saw a Gentleman behind the Soldiers in velvet or blue or black plush trimd with gold. He put his 78hand towards their backs. Whether he touched them I know not and said by God I'll stand by you whilst I have a drop of blood and then said fire and two went off and then the rest to 7 or 8. I stood between Capt. Preston and the Lane. The Captain, after, seemed shocked and looked upon the Soldiers. I am very certain he did not give the word fire. I did not hear the word but once till after all the firing. They said 'twas only Powder and bid them fire. I saw one Person speak to the Captain when the first gun was fired. The people at the time of firing were about 4 yards distant. The Soldiers were in a single rank. The Gentleman behind had a Wigg.27

Joseph Helyer. Hearing the bell ring I repaired to the middle Town. Passed up Cornhill. The Street was still. Went down to the Custom house. Saw some people about the Centinel who was on the steps. Heard some young voices say fire if you dare. Some people came along and told the Boys not to molest the Centinel. I went up King street near the foot of the Town house. Met 8 or 10 Soldiers coming down. I observed a Commission officer with them. I heard a Person say to the Officer you need not or you won't fire upon them, you have nothing to do but to keep them off. The Soldiers went to the Custom house. As soon as they got there I heard a confused noise and went down and found them in a rank intire. Whether 1/2 moon or strait I know not, with their Bayonets charged. Just after I passed the last Man on the left a gun was fired on the right. In about 20 seconds a second. In about 10 seconds a third. The last man but one fired on the left last. I heard no orders. It appeared to me the Soldiers who fired acted pure nature. I mean they acted and fired by themselves because of their being disciplined and fired without orders. I saw no contest between the Soldiers and Inhabitants that could justify their firing and when I saw the men lying in the Street I could not believe they were dead. After the firing the Captain said dont fire upon the Inhabitants. When 79I went to the Custom house there were but about 30. At least about 100 or 60. The Sentry box was not in the Gutter.28

Captain James Gifford. 29 About 10 OClock went to the Main Guard and found Capt. Preston. He told me he had sent a Party to Protect the Centinel. That the Mob attacked them so furiously that they fired upon them.

The Prisoner asked did you ever know an Officer order Men to fire with their Bayonets charged: answer no.30

Thomas Handaside Peck. 31 I was at home when the Guns were fired. I heard 'em distinct. I went up to the main guard and addressed my-80self to the Captain and said to him What have you done? He said, Sir it was none of my doings, the Soldiers fired of their own accord, I was in the Street and might have been shot. His character is good as a Gentleman and Soldier. I think it exceeds any of the Corps.32

Harrison Gray junr. About 1/4 after 9 went into the Street and saw about 60 Persons round the Centinel insulting him. I advised 'em to let him alone and told 'em if he had offended 'em that was not the place to resent it. They continued noisy and said damn him let him fire he has but one Gun. I told 'em he was so near the Guard he could have a party presently. They continued very noisy and I went in to Mr. Paine's.33

John Gillespie. About 7 o'Clock, in the forestreet, towards the South end met a number of Inhabitants coming down with Sticks and Clubs. After, was told the Bell rang for fire, but was told by Mr. Freeman there was no fire but the People were fighting somewhere with the Soldiers. Some people said by God lets go to their assistance. Came to the Guard House. Saw a great many People there. Went home and heard the Guns fired.34

Saturday 27 October 1770

Lieutenant Governor. I suppose I need not mention any thing which preceded my coming into King Street.35 I was pressed by the people 81almost upon the Bayonets. The People cried the Governor. I called for the Officer. He came from between the Ranks. I did not know him by Moon light. I had heard no circumstances. I inquired with some emotion, How came you to fire without Orders from a Civil Magistrate? I am not certain of every word. I cannot recollect his answer. It now appears to me that it was imperfect. As if he had more to say. I remember by what he said or his actions I thought he was offended at being questioned. Before I could have his full answer the people cried to the Town house, to the Town house. A Gentleman by me (Mr. Belknap) was extremely civil. I thought he press'd my going into the Town house from a concern for my safety. I was carried by the crowd into the Council Chamber. After some hours Capt. Preston was brought there to be examined. I heard him deny giving Orders. I am very sure it did not occur to me that he had said anything in answer to my question in the Street which would not consist with this denial. My intention in going up was to enquire into the affair. I have no particular intimacy with Capt. Preston. His general character is extremely good. Had I wanted an Officer to guard against a precipitate action I should have pitched upon him as soon as any in the Regiment.36

The Evidence was ended.


In an unidentified hand. PRO, C.O. 5:759, p. 720–736. See Descriptive List of Sources and Documents.


At the corresponding point in the Paine Massacre Notes, preceding Paine's minutes of the defense evidence, appears the single word “Adams,” suggesting that it was JA himself who opened for the prisoner, and perhaps even examined the witnesses.


Paine Massacre Notes:

Wm. Jackson. I went to house after Store Shut up. I went to my mothers where Capt. Preston lodged. Fire Cry'd. I run, left Prisoner. Inhabitants of Town told me they were fighting. I wish'd to God they might see it out. Corporal with 5 or 6 Soldiers came and told Prisoner the Town People were abusing the Centry. Prisoner put on his Sword and went out.”


James Basset, lieutenant in the 29th Regiment, who was officer of the guard on 5 March 1770, was 20 years old. Everard, History of the 29th Regiment 63, 72. See Rex v. Wemms, text at note 4 107 .


Paine Massacre Notes:

Edwd. Hill. I was in a house by Mr. Deblois, 3 or 4 Soldiers of 29 Regiment. Fire cry'd, I run out. They said no fire but Soldiers killing Town's People. South Side of Town House. I told Guard Some said they would go and take Centry off Posts. They Sent a Corporal and men for Lt. Basset.

“The Party of Inhabitants said they would go and attack main Guard. Some said better not. Better take Centry off his Posts. This Parry was coming from Murrays Barracks. Capt. Preston was engaged with Some Body when the first Bullet was fired. Some Body Soldier Attempted to fire at a Boy. Prisoner took him by the Arm and bid him not fire, no more Guns fired.

“I was going to Post office heard Guns fired and turnd about heard two more Guns then I went down.”


Paine Massacre Notes:

Benja Davis. 10 minutes after nine coming from No. people Engaged by Justice Quincy. Thus in MS. I could not see if Soldiers or Towns people, Some body clap'd me on sholder and asked me if I would go and help fight the Soldiers. I said no, he bid me note the Clock, he was down to Conduit and Cry'd fire. Presently the Bells rung. Then 7 or 8 Soldiers run thro Alley by Elliots with Something in hands. I went into King Street. No disturbance, people in Knots 5 or 6 together, at Jacksons Corner. Hear huzzaing in King Street, Went by Price. Saw 20 or 30 by Custom House and huzzaing. People hallowed to him fire, you dare not fire. A young officer walking before Guard House. 2 young men came without Hatts, and said to the Guard they must send Relief to the Centry for he heard some say they would murder him. Soon I heard Some Body from within Say out Guards. There came out I think 7. I saw no Officer. They marchd down to Centry Box and people closing near them, I think near 100. 6 or 7 min. before firing 1st Gun. Various Sorts of Noises.

“6 seconds between 1st Gun and 2d. 4 seconds between 2 and 3d then the rest fired quick.”


Paine Massacre Notes:

Jos. Edwards. Heard bells ring, cry of fire, got to Brick Meeting house, they said affray was over. I went below King street. Saw 4 or 5. They grew to 12 Boys insulting Centry. They promised me to go away. I thought they were going till Party came from Main Guard. I thought that stopt. Order to prime and load. I see 'em prime and load. I went away. I did not see Capt. Preston.

“I thought the Order to load came from Man on left hand. He had a Red Coat on dress'd in Regimentals, had a Muskett. I see him prime and load. Had Tare i.e. tear on Arm. I Stood to East of Steps, Officer below me. I saw no Body I took to be a Capt.”


The officers of the 29th wore silver gorgets and crimson silk sashes. Everard, History of the 29th Regiment 59.


Paine Massacre Notes:

John Frost. Bells ringing for fire. Said they had drove Soldiers into Barracks. About 50 in Dock Square. Huzza for King Street. Barbers boy said of Centry this is the Son of Bitch that struck me. Centry went on the Steps and loaded his Gun, I took it he wanted to get in. They said damn you fire. Party came down. Capt. with them had Sash and Gorget and Sword in his hand. I went away. Heard Guns go off. The Capt. 3d man from Right. I did not hear Word to prime and load.”


That is, facing west, toward the Town House.


Paine Massacre Notes:

Benja. Leigh. Bells ring for fire. Came to Dock Square, said Inhabitants fighting, they huzzad for King street. Barber Boy said there the Son of Bitch that Struck me. People cry'd kill him, kill him knock him down. 30 in Dock Square, about 50 or 60 before Centry at this time. No clubs, but some had Walking Sticks. Centry Struck Custom House door with but of Gun. Then loaded, and charg'd Bayonet, and called out turn out Main Guard. People cry'd fire fire damn you durst not fire. Then they fell off a little. The Party came down. I saw Capt. Preston after Soldiers ranged. A man went up to Capt. and said are you going to fire. He said no Sir on my Honor if I can avoid it. I did not hear desire People to stand of f nor people hallow. Capt. Preston stood at left of whole, rather behind 'em. He had Regimental Sash, Sword in hand, hat. I then went away, saw no Snow Balls.”


Paine Massacre Notes:

Richard Palmes. At Coffee House. Bells rang as for fire. I pass'd by Centry. No Body with him. Said Soldiers were abusing Towns People. I passd by Justice Quincy's thro' Alley. I Saw 3–4 Soldiers at Gate with Guns at Gate of Barracks. 2 Officers. I asked Officers I was Surprised they let 'em be out at that time. They answerd do you mean to teach us our duty. I said no but only to remind 'em of it. Officer said you see Soldiers gone into Barracks why dont you go home. James Lamb and I said let us go home and they went off, 20 or 30, crying home home. I came thro Little Alley, I went thro Alley back with Mr. Hickling. I ask'd if he was going home, I saw Mr. Pool Spear, I went as far as Town Pump. Some Body said there was a Noise in King Street, I turn'd to go into King Street. He said better not, afraid Something would happen. I went to make peace. I went saw Capt. Preston at head of 7. 8. Soldiers by Custom House drawn up Bayonet breast high. I found T. Bliss talking with Prisoner. T. Bliss ask'd him why dont you fire. Prisoner made some answer, T. Bliss said G oddamn you why dont you fire. Then I stept between Prisoner and T. Bliss in front of Soldiers. I put my left Hand on Prisoner's Right Sholdier in a familiar manner to Speak to him. J. Hickling was looking over my Sholder, I askd Prisoner are your Soldiers Guns loaded. He said yes with Powder and Ball, I said I hope you dont intend Soldiers shall fire on Inhabitants. His Answer was by no means. That Instant I saw a peice of Snow or Ice not large Strike the Gun of Grenadier Montgomery at Prisoner's right Hand, who was only Soldier on his Right Hand. As soon as that he stept one foot back and fired. I then had my hand on Capt. Preston's Sholdier. After this firing I heard the Word fire. (At firing 1st Gun Prisoner stood half way between Breach and Muzzle of the Gun fired.) Who gave the word fire I dont know, whether from before behind or one side of me. On firing the 1st Gun I took my hand off, I did not think who gave the Word fire. It was Spoke Loud. Gun going off frightd me and scorched my Surtot on Shoulder and Prisoner might have given the Word I not have heard it. After Word fire in 6 or 7 seconds. The next Grenadier to Prisoner's left fired and then it went through the Party. Prisoner stood still till the 2d and 3d Guns fired after 2d Gun fired I saw 1st Grenadier trying to prick me. Prisoner then by me with his hand on head of Sword not drawn. I struck him with a Stick on left Arm and dropt it and his Gun fell. I had not before that Struck at any Person. Then I turnd. I struck at 1st I could hit which was Capt. Preston. Guns then all fired. His face turn'd down Street towards Soldiers. My right foot slipt, and my Blow fell short. When I first heard word fire Prisoner's face Back to Soldiers and face towards me. Before I recovered, the 1st Grenadier recovered and was making at me to push. I threw my Stick in his face which made him jump back and I jump'd toward lane, and he push'd at me again and fell. Prisoner said nothing since his answer to me. On firing People run. I had on a Cloath Colored Surtot.

“1/2 a minute from I was there.

“60 or 70 people at time of firing. No disturbance. I saw no Stick.”

In March 1771, Palmes published his own version of his testimony, Boston Gazette, 25 March 1771, p. 2, col. 1:

Court. Please to relate to the Court what you know concerning the 5th of March.

A. Between the hours of nine and ten o'clock, &c. as per Narrative, p. 38. No. 53. This refers to Palmes' deposition, which the editors have set out at the end of this note.

Q. Did you hear Mr. Bliss say any thing to Captain Preston? A. I did.

Q. Inform the Court what he said to him.

A. He said to Capt. Preston, 'Why don't you fire?' Capt. Preston made him some answer, but what it was, I cannot say. Then Mr. Bliss returned, God damn you, why don't you fire? Upon this, I stept in between him and Capt. Preston, as related above that is, in the deposition.

Q. At the time the soldiers fired, did you see a number of things thrown at them?

A. I saw nothing thrown, or touch them, excepting that which struck Montgomery. Here the printers of the Gazette added the following note: 'Mr. Palmes and Mr. John Hickling both say, that the Piece of ice or frozen snow, which struck Montgomery fell perpendicular—probably from the roof of the Custom-House.'

Q. Did you situate yourself before Capt. Preston, in order that you might be out of danger, in case they fired?

A. I did not apprehend myself in any danger.

Q. Did you hear Captain Preston give the word Fire?

A. I have told your Honors, that after the first gun was fired, I heard the word, fire, but who gave it, I know not.

Q. Do you think it was possible Capt. Preston should give the word fire, and you not be certain he gave it? A. I think it was.”

Palmes' deposition, reprinted from A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston (Boston, 1770), where it appears at pages 38–40 of the Depositions, is as follows:

“(No. 53)

“I Richard Palmes of Boston, of lawful age, testify and say, that between the hours of nine and ten o'clock of the 5th instant, I heard one of the bells ring, which I supposed was occasioned by fire, and enquiring where the fire was, was answered that the soldiers were abusing the inhabitants; I asked where, was first answered at Murray's barracks, I went there and spoke to some officers that were standing at the door, I told them I was surprized they suffered the soldiers to go out of the barrack after eight o'clock; I was answered by one of the officers pray do you mean to teach us our duty; I answered I did not, only to remind them of it; one of them said you see that the soldiers are all in their barracks, and why do not you go to your homes; Mr. James Lamb and I said, Gentlemen let us go home, and were answered by some, home, home; accordingly I asked Mr. William Hickling if he was going home, he said he was, I walked with him as far as the post-office, upon my stopping to talk with two or three people, Mr. Hickling left me; I then saw Mr. Pool Spear going towards the town-house, he asked me if I was going home, I told him I was; I asked him where he was going that way, he said he was going to his brother David's. But when I got to the town-pump, we were told there was a rumpus at the custom-house door; Mr. Spear said to me you had better not go, I told him I would go and try to make peace; I immediately went there and saw Capt. Preston at the head of six or eight soldiers in a circular form, with guns breast high and bayonets fixed; the said Captain stood almost to the end of their guns. I went immediately to Capt. Preston (as soon as Mr. Bliss had left him) and asked him if their guns were loaded, his answer was they are loaded with powder and ball; I then said to him I hope you do not intend they shall fire upon the inhabitants; his reply was, by no means. When I was asking him these questions my left hand was on his right shoulder; Mr. John Hickling had that instant taken his hand off my shoulder, and stept to my left, then instantly I saw a piece of snow or ice fall among the soldiers, on which the soldier at the officer's right hand stept back and discharged his gun, at the space of some seconds the soldier at his left fired next, and the others one after the other. After the first gun was fired, I heard the word Fire, but who said it I know not; after the first gun was fired the said officer had full time to forbid the other soldiers not to fire, but I did not hear him speak to them at all; then turning myself to the left I saw one man dead, distant about six feet; I having a stick in my hand made a stroke at the soldier who fired, and struck the gun out of his hand. I then made a stroke at the officer, my right foot slipt, that brought me on my knee, the blow falling short, he says I hit his arm; when I was recovering myself from the fall I saw the soldier that fired the first gun endeavoring to push me through with his bayonet, on which I threw my stick at his head, the soldier starting back, gave me opportunity to jump from him into exchange-lane, or I must been inevitably run thro' my body. I looked back and saw three persons laying on the ground, and perceiving a soldier stepping round the corner as I thought to shoot me, I ran down Exchange lane, and so up the next into King-street, and followed Mr. Gridley with several other persons with the body of Capt. Morton's apprentice up to the prison house, and saw he had a ball shot through his breast; at my return I found that the officer and soldiers were gone to the main guard. To my best observation there were not seventy people in King street at the time of their firing, and them very scattering, but in a few minutes after the firing there were upwards of a thousand; finding the soldiers were gone I went up to the main-guard and saw there the soldiers were formed into three divisions, the front division in the posture of platoon firing, and I expected they would fire. Hearing that his Honor the Lieutenant Governor was going to the Council-chamber, I went there, his Honor looking out of the door desired the people to hear him speak; he desired them to go home and he would enquire into the affair in the morning, and that the law should take its course, and said, I will live and die by the law. A gentleman desired his Honor to order the soldiers to their barracks, he answered it was not in his power, and that he had no command over the troops and that it lay with Col. Dalrymple and not with him, but that he would send for him, which after some time he did; upon that a gentleman desired his Honor to look out of the window facing the main-guard, to see the position the soldiers were in, ready to fire on the inhabitants, which he did after a good deal of perswasion, and called for Col. Carr and desired him to order the troops to their barracks in the same order they were in; accordingly they were ordered to shoulder their guns, and were marched off by some officers, and further saith not.

RICH. PALMES. “Suffolk, ss. Boston, March 17. 1770. Richard Palmes, above named, after due examination, made oath to the truth of the above affidavit, taken to perpetuate the remembrance of the thing. “Before Ri. Dana, Just. of Peace and of the Quorum. John Hill. Just. Peace.”


Not in Paine Massacre Notes.


Paine Massacre Notes:

Mathew Murray. Bells ring. I went out and ran and got handle of Broom. They said Soldiers by Murrays Barracks. Barbers Boy said Soldiers knoct me down with but of Gun. I saw Centry on Custom House door landing. People said fire damn you fire, they were at little distance.

“I went Royal Exchange alley Prisoner and Party came down. I see 'em load.

“I see a man come to Capt. Preston and said he had best withdraw his Men for no Body was going to do any hurt. I stood 2 or 3 minutes, by Grenadier. A Stick or piece of Ice came from Stones and struck Gren adier. in Side and immediately, he fired, and I went off. I heard no body bid him fire. 2 yd. of Prisoner nearer the Soldier, looking towards Capt. Preston who Stood talking with Man when Gun went off. He was in front. 2 or 3 Snow Balls before firing thrown at Soldiers. Prisoner had Sword in hand, I dont know if drawn. I dont know if Surtot. or Regimental, I think Surtot. I knew him by Sight before. I saw him in fore noon When going on Guard. Many People, great talking. Did not hear fire. Seem'd in Anger.

“A Woman crowded in by me and talked by the Soldier on right hand.

“If Prisoner had given Order. load I should have heard it.”


James Murray (1713–1781), the owner of Murray's Barracks, was also a justice of the peace. Whitmore, Mass. Civil List 131. The Riot Act was copied from the English original, 1 Geo. 1, Stat. 2, c. 5 (1714). “It makes it felony for twelve rioters to continue together for an hour after the reading of a proclamation by a magistrate ordering them to disperse. It then requires the magistrates to seize and apprehend all persons so continuing together, and it provides that if any of them happen to be killed, maimed or hurt in dispersing, seizing, or apprehending them, the magistrates and those who act under their orders shall be held guiltless.” F. W. Maitland, The Constitutional History of England 489 (Cambridge, 1908). See Act of 14 Feb. 1751, 3 A&R 544–546. If Murray, or some other authorized person, had succeeded in “reading the Riot Act” early enough, the actions of Captain Preston and the soldiers would have been much easier to justify.


Paine Massacre Notes:

Andrew Servant to Oliver Wendell. Cry of fire. Bells rang. I met one of my Acquaintance bottom of School House Lane. Told me Soldiers were fighting and killing every Body. that one had struck him on Arm with Cutlass and most cut it off. and I had better not go down. I said a good Club was as good as a Cutlass, and he had better get one and go back and see if he could not cut too. He turnd back and went with me and see 2 Centrys at M ain G uard . Some Boys throwing Snow Balls at them who seemed enraged. Swearing at People. A few people talking with them and some laughing at them and Calling them Lobsters. My Acquaintance said they were trying to get them out of Murry Barracks.

“People from that way turnd down King Street in haste. Heard 3 cheers in King Street. We went down by Whipping Post. Some by us threw Snow Balls and Cinders of Seacoal at people. Some returned by Custom House. Most of 'em had Sticks, a small Huddle round Centry Box.

“Boys hallowed they had got his Gun away and now they'd have him. I heard 3 cheers round Custom House. I went by Main Guard to Town House Steps to see if Main Guard would turn out. I see 7 or 8 men turn out and officer with a lace Hat and Sword in hand Red Coat Silver on Shoulder.

“Officer said something to 'em and they march'd. He lead them he did not go behind em. They seem'd in great Rage.

“I stood by Pecks Corner Party got down and planted themselves. People by Custom House gave 3 cheers. Boys by Pecks Corner kept pelting Snow Ball. that way. I jump'd off Post and run over to see what Soldiers were about. As I got a glimpse of Soldiers I heard people hallow here comes Murray and the Riot Act. They turn'd about and began to pelt a Man that run thro P udding Lane. I try'd to get again to Soldiers in front. I got to Royal Exchange lane and heard a Grenadier next Corner say damn ye stand back. They that were before were trying to get back. A person went to crowd between me and the Bayonet and Grenadier made a push at him. The Lad said damn ye blood back'd Lobster are ye going to Stab me. Grenadier said By G od will 1. Turning round I saw the Officer. Two talking with him, and others jumping on their Backs to hear what was saying. Some Body that I took to be the officer said Stand off. Some Body said come away let the Guard alone. Some Body said in great hurry damn him he is going to fire. They began to shout and 3 cheers and cry damn him he durst not fire, fire and be dam'd, and began to throw Snow Balls and things at Soldiers, I saw the Soldiers dodging their Heads as they were pushing. I saw Several hit their Hatts. I was crowding to get as near officer as I could. People struck Guns with Sticks, and hit Grenadier's Fingers. A person stood near behind me with a long stick and Trowsers Struck at Gren adier's Gun who was pushing as I thought endeavoring to kill the person and to be turning off. Then saw Some people coming from Jacksons who huzzad and said dam em they durst not fire. We ant afraid of them. Knock em over. One of em pretty short man. He push'd his way thro people and came between me and Grenadier close to officer. He had Stick in his hand which he swing strike at officer people still talking the officer. Officer dodged and try'd to fend off to i.e. the blow with his Arm. Then he began to thump on Gren adier' s. Gun who was next to officer about 1 1/2 yd. off. I saw the Grenadier attempt to stick him, after he struck on his Gun. He started and put by Bayonets and struck the Gren adier on head with Club Stick. A Small Cord wood Stick. Just then I turnd to look tother Way to look at Officer. There seemed a bustle. The Man kept hold of Bayonet. I took it to be the Molatto man. There seem'd to be a rush behind me. Crowding me as they rush'd in. The Genral cry was by me kill em kill em knock em over. On this the Grenadier stept back and relieved himself from him that had hold of his Bayonet, and began Lay on with his Gun. People then give a jump back very quick and made great noise, or Schreeching, and some huzzaing and saying fire dam him durst not fire. I heard a Voice distinguished from rest Say fire, and that instant a Gun went off. Came from before me. I took it to be a man 2 or 3 below me from left. Officers back then before me. Voice came from below soldier Capt. I did not think it to be him. I took it to be a Soldier. Officer made a Corner. On Gun going off Grenadier I think Kilroy who stood on Capt. left Swung his Gun and it went off. I looked round and saw the Molatto fall, 1st Gun was down lower and sounded like a Pistol.

“5 or 6 seconds from my 1st glimpse to 2d Gun.

“Next I remember I was in Dehon Entry.”


Paine Massacre Notes: “Oliver Wendell. Andrew my Servant, his Character is good for Truth Integrity and understanding. Can Read and write.”


Not in Paine Massacre Notes.


Paine Massacre Notes: “John Coffin. T. Bliss at my home a few days after the firing. He did not think Capt. gave order to fire. Preston said no by no means. They could not fire without my leave.”


Not in Paine Massacre Notes.


Paine Massacre Notes:

Jack Servant of Dr. Lloyd. 19 yrs. in Country all time with Dr. Lloyd. Cant read.

“Heard Bells ring, met Andrew, I got to Whipping Post, Saw men and Soldiers by Custom House. I went among. Snow Ball hit me. I went to Stones Door. I heard voice fire. I stood back by Barbers Shop. Presently fired. I see a man drop.”


Paine Massacre Notes:

Danl. Cornwall. Bells ring. I run to Town House. Man said a Rascal of Soldier had Cut a Boy on Arm. I ask'd where is the damn'd Rascall gone. Heard 3 cheers, and then run to alley by Murrays Barracks. Then 3 cheers. I went to Town House and heard 3 cheers by Custom House and one advising em to go off. I believe they would if Soldiers had not gone off come down. I saw 'em throw Snow Balls and Oyster shells at Centry by Custom House door. Some for killing him, taking him burning Centry Box, but did neither. I stood in middle of King Street. I saw Soldiers by Centry Box and Capt. Preston stood before 2 soldiers. I was in Crowd and did not see them down. I saw a young Man talking with Capt. Preston. I could not see Capt. say any Thing. He seem'd concern'd. Presently I heard a Stick or Something hard come against one of Soldiers Guns. Immediately I heard Gun go off but from what Soldier I could not tell. Not 1/2 minute. I think I was then within 2 yds. of Capt. He was before them. I don't think he was then talking with any Body. I was looking at him, I think I should have heard him if he had given word to fire. I heard a voice Say damn you why do you fire dont fire. I think it was Capt. Preston. I stood at head of Royal Exchange Lane.”


Paine Massacre Notes:

Wm. Sawyer. Of Bolton. Bells rung. I went to Town House. Cry of fire kept up. Soldiers before Guard House fixing Bayonets. I passed by and see people by Custom House. Soldiers challenged people to move out of Way. They faced about. People closed. I got to head of Royal Exchange Lane. They stood pushing to keep off Inhabitants. They came as close on them as they could. Inhabitants challenged crying fire, huzza. Snow Balls. I think they hit Soldiers. A club hit one of their Guns and they fired. The Corner man I think said fire and fired. As soon as he fired he said again damn you fire. I was 10 feet off. I think it was not the man whose Gun was struck with a Club. In 6 seconds next Gun fired and so thro. I was in a fright. When 1st Gun fired I cant say I was looking on Soldier who fired 1st.

I think it was he, it look'd reasonable for he was the 1st who fired. I did not see Capt. What other witnesses say do not make me doubt. I was on a line with 'em.”

The following testimony appears only in the Paine Massacre Notes:

Joseph Williams. I know nothing about firing.”


Paine Massacre Notes:

Jane Whitehouse. I living near head of Royal Exchange Lane. I ask'd Centry what noise was. People coming from Town House said there is the Centry there is the bloody hacked Son of a Bitch let us go kill him. They keep coming along throw Oyster Shells chunks of Wood and Snow Balls at Centry, and beat him from Box to Custom House Steps. Then I saw a Party coming down from Main Guard. I did not hear him call and an Officer with them which proved to be Capt. Preston. He bid em halt. He bid his Centry recover his Arms—fall in and march up to G uard H ouse . The Soldiers offered to move forward but could not for the Riot for they called out damn you Sons of Bitches fire you cant kill us all. I stept a little advancing and heard a Gentleman ask Capt. if he was going to fire, he said no Sir by no means by no means. Then Centry push'd me back and bid me go home or I should he killed. I stopt at end of Custom House where Centry put me. A man walked between C ustom H ouse and Soldiers and encouraged the Men to fire. Capt. Preston was to left of Soldiers when he said by no means, near in a line about 3 yd. from Lane. The man that encouraged the men to fire clap'd one Man on back and said fire by God I'll stand by you. Dressed in dark coulored Cloaths. Did not look like an Officer. Upon that the man fired directly, it was not Capt. Preston, he did not give word to fire. I was in 1 1/2 yd. of him. I must have heard if he gave orders to fire, for my attention was on him by People saying Their is their Officer dam Son of Bitch let us go kill him. I see one Man take a Stick from under Coat and throw at a Soldier and knock'd him down, a thick Chunk of Wood, he fell across the Gutter and his firelock fell out of his hand, the right hand Soldier, before Gun were fired. Between first Gun and 2d did not hear word fire nor see any Body speak with Capt.


A statute specified, as to “Tryals in Civil Causes,” that “no person serving as a justice, juror, witness or otherwise, shall be required to use any other ceremony in takeing of their respective oaths than lifting up the hand, as has been accustomed.” Act of 12 June 1702, I A&R 464, 465. Apparently the same rule applied in criminal causes.


Paine Massacre Notes:

Newtown Prince. From in West Indies. Church member, free Negro.

“I heard Bells ring, people said something better than fire. I got as far as Town House. Number of People by West Door of Town House. I see Soldiers come out of Guard House and run down to Custom House Bayonets fixed. Co. Company by Town House said let us tack attack Main Guard or Centry down to Custom House. Others said no dont let us, let us Attack the Centry gone down into King Street.

“They went down King Street. I went after em. Soldiers round Custom House 2 deep. Number in front of Soldiers calling 'em Lobsters, dam you why dont you fire. Capt. Preston came out of Rear and stood in front. I knew him and that he was Capt. of Guard this day. I see him talk with some people, some had Clubbs, and struck the Guns with sticks. Capt. Preston was to the Right 1 1/2 yds. from Corner. I thought the Guns would go off accidentally. I stepd out of the way and then Guns went off. I heard no Body give word to fire only general Cry of Fire.


Paine Massacre Notes:

James Waddel. Sworn on Bible. People said it was fire. I followed down to King Street. Standing at Main Guard door I saw party of Soldiers. They went to Centry who fell in with them. They drawed up in a Circle. First thing I saw was a Soldier knock'd down and his Gun flew out of his hand. They threw Sticks and every thing else thrown at Soldiers. When knocked down he gets his firelock up and fires directly. I saw a person like a Gentleman walking behind the Soldiers, dress'd in blue or black Velvet or plush mounted, trimmed with Gold or Silver Lace. Bag wigg on. He offered his hand on a Soldiers back and said he would stand by them while he had a drop of Blood in his Body and said Fire. The first Gun went off before and immediately after his so speaking they fired. I was between Capt. Preston and End of a lane 2 yds. from him. I am certain and sure Capt. Preston did not give the word fire. He looked shock'd and lifted up his hand on their firing. A person speaking with Capt. at firing of 1st Gun. People 12 or 14 yds. from Capt. Preston at 1st firing. Capt. Preston at End of their left.”


Paine Massacre Notes:

Joseph Helyer. Bells rang. People at Conduit. People said a fight, dangerous to pass up. Street was still, people at Custom House, Soldier on Custom House Steps in threatning posture, heard Voice from Small people fire if you dare. People of more years told Boys not to molest Centry. It seem'd to Subside. I was about going off for I went to prevent mischief: a Gentleman came up Royal Exchange lane, was opposed by a Soldier, the point of Bayonet touch'd his Hat. I think it was Hurd the Engraver. Nathaniel Hurd (1730–1777); subject of a Copley portrait. DAB . About 1/2 way between Custom House and Town House I met 8 Soldiers coming down. I saw a Commissioned officer with 'em. Heard Some Body addressing the officer in this Manner you wont fire upon them you have nothing to do but to keep em off. No answer. I thought at 1st sight it was one of the Men of Custom House and that he had been to call em. They went to Centry Box, confused Noise. I went to Custom House found Soldiers drawn up charged Bayonets. As I pass'd the last man on left a Gun was fired on the right about 20 seconds another 10 seconds another 3 seconds or 4 seconds, 3 or 4 Gun 20 seconds more another, last Gun fired on an Angle. No Body before him he seem'd to fire at People on other Side of the Way. No Orders given to fire. The Soldiers seem'd to act pure Nature i.e. no Body coming towards 'em; I thought no order because they fired Scattering. I saw no Contest that could Occasion such an Action. After they were dead I could hardly believe it, because there was a Commissioned Officer. I heard noise like locking firelocks. Capt. stept before them and said dont fire on Inhabitants. I was nearly connected with one that was killed vizt. Maverick. Firing began at Right, last Gun, last man but one on left. No Crowding nor any thing that could occasion it. Confusion of Tempers. Watch Box just above Gutter, about Corner. People Covered Soldiers, but clear in the front.”

Following this in the Paine Massacre Notes appears the notation: “Sargt. Jos. Keys. Not sworn.” The Sergeant's regiment is not known.


14th Regiment. Army List 1770 68. Gifford (1740?–1813) was later to become a noted Unitarian writer; his son was Admiral James Gifford (1768–1853). DNB .


Paine Massacre Notes:

Jas. Gifford. A short Conversation with Prisoner after the affair. At Guard House I found Prisoner who said Centry attack'd by Mob. He carried down a party. Had rec eive d a blow on his Arm, that they had fired. He gave 'em no Orders and they must take the Consequence.

“I have known him 3 yrs. mild Temper'd, prudent, discreet. Officers never give Order to fire from charged Bayonet. They would all have fired together, or most of them.”


The “leading fur exporter of the province,” and grandfather of Thomas Handasyd Perkins, who became “the first of Boston merchants, both in fortune and in public spirit.” S. E. Morison, The Maritime History of Massachusetts 49 (Boston, 1921). T. H. Perkins remembered viewing the bodies of the men killed in King Street. See T. G. Cary, Memoir of Thomas Handasyd Perkins 7 (Boston, 1856).


Paine Massacre Notes: “Thos. H. Peck. Lt. Governor in Council Chamber. Capt. Preston said to me it was none of my doings the Soldiers fired without my Orders. I might have been shot as well as the Men, his Character good as a Gentleman and a Soldier.”


Paine Massacre Notes: “Har. Gray junr. I saw Centry Surrounded, noise and confusion. I think I saw a Snow Ball. They hallowed let em fire he has but one Gun. I went to Paynes.” “Payne” was Edward Paine, “a Merchant of the Town” who was shortly thereafter “shot in his arm and the bone splintered as he stood at his door,” across King Street from the Custom House. Hutchinson to Gage, 6 March 1770, Adams, New Light 14.


Paine Massacre Notes:

John Gallispe. Going up to South End. I saw people coming down with Swords and Sticks 7 oClock.

“We were told Bell rung for fire. Landlord said it was not.

“I went down. 100 people just above Guard.”

The following testimony appears only in the Paine Massacre Notes:

Capt.Brabazon OHara14th Regiment. Army List 1770 68. Commanding Officer appoints the place of Centry. One placed at Custom House. Officer of day cant move the Centry from place. Centry placed at Custom House for its safety.”


“[J]ust before ten o'clock, the bells of the town were rung as is usual in case of fire, but I soon found there was another cause and one upon another came running to my house to inform me that, unless I went out immediately, the whole Town would be in arms and the most bloody scene would follow that had ever been known in America. I went immediately abroad, and met vast crowds of People running for their arms and prevailed on them to turn back and follow me to King street, promising them justice should be done.” Hutchinson to Gage, 6 March 1770, Adams, New Light 14.

See also 3 Hutchinson, Massachusetts Bay, ed. Mayo, 194–196; C. B. Mayo, ed., “Additions to Hutchinson's History” 18.


See text at note 4 134 below.