Legal Papers of John Adams, volume 3

Josiah Quincy's Opening for the Defense


Adams’ Minutes of Defense Evidence<a xmlns="" href="#LJA03d025n1" class="note" id="LJA03d025n1a">1</a>: 29 November 1770 JA


Adams’ Minutes of Defense Evidence: 29 November 1770 Adams, John
Adams' Minutes of Defense Evidence1
29 November 1770
Prisoners Witnesses

James Crawford. At dark that night, I went home and was not out till next morning. I met Numbers of People that night as I went home, going down with sticks in their Hands. At Calefs Corner, saw a Num- 170 ber above 12 with sticks in their Hands. Heard no Declarations. In Quaker Lane I met many more than common, going towards K's Street. I was going to Bulls Wharfe where I live and met them. They were very great Sticks, not common Canes, for walking with, pretty large Cudgells. All along I met them continually, and in Greens Lane particularly.2

Archibald Gould. Coming over Swing Bridge at 8 O Clock the People were walking from all Quarters with sticks, that I was afraid to go home. I went threw Greens Lane, and met many People, the Streets in such Commotion as I hardly ever saw in my Life. Uncommon Sticks, such as a Man would pull out of an Hedge. I was just by Hancocks Warehouse3 when the Bells begun to ring.4

Archibald Wilson. I spent the Evening in Dock Square. A certain Gentleman between 8 and 9 came in and asked why we sat there when there was so much disturbance between Inhabitants and soldiers. We went to Gerrishes Vendue,5 Hunters now, and sat in the Balcony. I looked out at the Vendue Window. A good many People assembled in dock Square. A Number came from the North End and made several attempts at Murrays barracks, 30 or 40 of 'em came back suddenly. What Resistance they met with I cant tell. It was very light. They had Staves a good many, Some had not. I imagined there might be 200 People that came from the North End and went up 3 several Ways, 171 some up Cornhill some up r[oyal] exchange Lane and some up Crooked Lane. As a new Parcell came up from North End they made attempt at the Guard at Murrays Barracks and gatherd in a Cloud crowd about 30 or 40. Then made 2 or 3 Cheers for the main Guard. I went out to go up the Lane and the Guns went off. I turnd about and went home. I do remember the Bells ringing, but the Time I dont remember. But before I went up royal exchange Lane, a good many cryed for the main Guard. I heard Voices, Fire. I said it was uncommon to go to a Fire with Bludgeons. Somebody said they were uncommon Bells. Mr. Mitchelson came up and told us, there was disturbance.6

William Hunter. Mr. Mitchelson came and said there was Disturb-172ance between Inhabitants and soldiers. We went into the Balcony, and saw great Numbers coming up from the North End and in several Parties made attempts at the Lane that leads to Murrays Barracks. There was a tall Gentleman in a red Cloak. He stood in the middle of em, and they were whist7 for some time and presently they huzzayd for the main Guard. They went up royal exchange Lane. And I saw no more about it. The Gentleman had a white Wigg on. They collected round him. He stood in the Center and talkd a few Minutes.8

David Mitchelson. I came up Stairs and told the 2 Witnesses that were examind before me. I was coming Home from fore street. As I was turning into Union Street, I heard a Noise, about the Post office, and went up as far as the bottom of r. exchange Lane. I heard it was a Squabble with the soldiers. The Party engagd with the Soldiers were routed, and came down that Way. I ran into Mr. Hunters House. We went into the Balcony. I Saw a pretty large Number of People, assembled. It was proposed by several to call out Fire. Fire was called several Times, and after a While the Bells set a ringing. Many People came, some came with Bucketts, many with Sticks. Several attempts were made at the Lane to Murrays Barracks. They came back, as if driven. They assembled in several little Knotts, about several little Leaders. They cryd they would go up the main Guard. The Effect im- 173 mediately followd. Part went up by Cornhill, part up r. exchange Lane, part up crooked Lane. I could not observe who was leader up Cornhill. They huzzad for the Main Guard after the Proposal of it. The Bells were ringing. The largest Party went round Cornhill. I should suppose the greatest Number at any one time in King Street Dock Square was 200. 9


John Short. There was a Number of People in Dock Square, and I was told that a Soldier had hurt an oyster Man. After the firing there was a Proposal of taking the Arms10 out of the Hall.11

Benja. Davis. At Dock Square I heard a Noise in Cornhill. I found there was a Quarrell. I went and stoppd at Silsbeys Alley. There I saw a Number Soldiers and Inhabitants, fighting with Clubbs as I thought by the Sound. A Man 3 or 4 came and cryd, where are any Cordwood sticks or Clubbs, and cryd Fire Fire Fire. One of em left his Cloak with me. The 1st Bell I heard was the brick Meeting Bell. I Saw a general Running down the Street 8 or 9 or 10 soldiers, that ran into Kings street, with something in their Hands. I went into King Street. The Engine was out.12 Several Knotts of People were collected. I went to the South Side of the Town House. A huzzaing in King Street. I went by the South side of the Town House and stood by Prices office. The sentinel on the Custom House steps, and 175 People and Boys round him crying fire &c. He put his Piece down as if he was going to fire. 2 young Men without Hatts came to the main Guard, and said you must send Help to the sentry for I heard em say they would kill the sentinel. By and by out guard. About 7 came out their guns not shoulderd and walked right across the street to the Box. A great Noise. There I stood till the Guns were all fired. 5, 6, or 7 Guns.13


Shubael Hewes. I spent the Evening near the Dock. The Master of the House came in and said a cry of fire. I belonged to the Town House Engine.14 I was the first out of the House. I came by the Markett —saw a Number coming from the North. I stoppd at Colonel Jacksons Corner. A Man told me, no fire, but a Dispute between the soldiers at Murrays barracks. A Number of Lads came along, and tryd to pull out and break the Leggs of the Stalls. They came from the Northward some and some from Hubbards Corner. 6 or 7, I cant say exactly.15

James Selkrig. At Hunters. Mr. Mitchelson came in. 4 or 5 or 6 unsuccessfull attacks upon the Barracks. As a new Party came they made a fresh Attack. I saw nothing, but that they went up the ally and came back suddenly. A Gentleman with red Cloak and large white Wigg. He made a Speech to them. 4 or 5 minutes. They went and knockd with their Sticks and said they would do for the Soldiers. Not less than about 2 or 300. It was not the 1st Time I've seen an affair of this 177sort. I'le go to my Family. Ile do for the soldiers, was Spoke by Number at Simpsons store. 16

Archibald Bowman. At Hunters. Fire, Fire, from different Quarters. The Parties that went up the allys came down in a furious manner as if they were chased. A Gentleman with a red Cloak and white Wigg. They stood thick round the Gentleman some time and after, huzzad for the main Guard, and went up in different Ways. A great Number of People. Dont remember, their striking Simpsons Store or, saying that'd do for the soldiers.17


Wm. Dixon. At Hunters. A Party came running down the Ally as if they met with opposition there. 18

Jno. Gillespie. At 7 O Clock I went up to the South End, and met I suppose 40 or 50 People with white sticks, in Parties of 4 or 5, at Mr. Silvesters. I met Mr. Flemming's Man. He said it was only fighting with the soldiers.19


Thomas Knight. I stood at my own Door at the sign of the 3 Kings in Cornhill. About 8 or 10 passed with sticks Clubbs and one said Dn their Bloods let us go and attack the main Guard and attack the main Guard first. The Bell still ringing. One of em made a stand and said Ile go back and get my Gun or let Us go back and get our Guns. I went in and told my Wife not to be surprized if she heard any firing for I thought from what I had heard at the Door, there would be bloodshed —and soon heard Guns. 5, 6 or 7, in 12 or 14 seconds.20

John Cookson. At the Green Dragon. A Man said if the Bells were ringing it was he apprehended an Affray with the Soldiers. The story of the Pistol or Hearsay.21


William Strong. At Marstons. We heard Fire 3 or 4 times. Going out saw several People going too and fro. Somebody said a soldier had kill'd a Boy. Went to the North Corner of the Town House. Heard a huzzaing near the Post office. Saw several Persons coming about 90, many with sticks. They stopped at the Custom House. I found the People encroaching upon the Sentry. He retird to the Steps. They encroachd upon him there. He then loaded his Gun, and presented it, and said keep off or Ile fire upon you. They cryd fire d—n you why dont you fire. One Man had the But End of a Bat in his Hand, and said dam it I've a great Mind to throw it at him. I said you'd better not. Presently a Cry that the Centinel was disarmed. About 90 Persons about the sentry, before the Party came down. A great Noise, and Clamour, a few snow Balls and some things thrown, by those in front. 22


Adams Massacre Minutes, MHi MS 3, first part. See Descriptive List of Sources and Documents.


Wemms Trial 80–81:

James Crawford, Truckman, sworn.

Q. Did you observe on the evening of the 5th of March last, any of the inhabitants armed, or any commotions in the streets before the firing?

A. On the night of the 5th of March last, a little after dark, as I went home, I met uncommon numbers of people with sticks; at Calef's corner there were more than a dozen inhabitants. I met some also in Quaker-lane, and by Mr. Dalton's, going towards King-street. I looked upon it to be more than what was common. Their sticks looked not to be common walking canes, but pretty large cudgels.


It is not clear which of Hancock's warehouses this is.


Wemms Trial 81:

Archibald Gooll, Merchant, sworn.

Q. Did you observe any such commotions at that time?

A. Going over the Swing bridge, the evening of the 5th of March, I saw people running from all corners, with sticks and instruments in their hands; I being a stranger was afraid to go home; when I came to Faneuil hall I met with a young man, he said he would conduct me home: as I came to Green's lane, I met great numbers, twenty or thirty together, and the streets were as full of commotion as I ever saw in my life.

Q. What sort of sticks were they that they had?

A. Uncommon sticks, like what are pulled out of hedges.

Q. What part of the town was you in when you first noticed these commotions?

A. I was crossing the Swing bridge. This was before any bells rang.


An auction house.


Wemms Trial 81–82:

Archibald Wilson, Merchant, sworn.

Give the Court and Jury an account of the transactions in Dock-square, on the evening of the 5th March last.

A. On that evening I was in company with some gentlemen in Mr. William Hunter's house near Dock square, a certain gentleman came in, and asked how we came to be sitting there, so contented, when there was such trouble betwixt the soldiers and inhabitants; this was betwixt 8 and 9 o'clock. Some of the company went and looked out of the window at the foot of Exchange lane; I came into the Vendue-room and went to the balcony, there were so many in it I was afraid it would fall down; I withdrew from thence and looked out of the window; I saw a great number of people assembled there before the bells rung; I saw a number of people come from the north end; they made two or three sundry attacks up that lane where the barracks which are called Murray's, or Smith's barracks were.

Q. How were they armed that came from the North-end?

A. They had sticks or staves, I do not know what they are called.

Q. Was it a Moon-light night?

A. I do not remember seeing the Moon, but it was very light.

Q. What number of persons did you see in Dock square?

A. I cannot say, I judge there might be about two hundred in all; they left the square and went three different ways, some up the main street, some up Royal-exchange-lane, and some up the other lane; they gave two or three cheers for the main guard; about the space of five or six minutes after the cheers I withdrew from that house, and went up Royal-exchange-lane; and when I was about the middle of the lane the guns went off. I turned, and came down the lane, and went home.

Q. Did you hear the bells ring?

A. I heard the bells ring, but what time it was I do not know.

Q. Was it before you went up the lane? A. Yes.

Q. Did numbers cry for the main guard, or but one or two?

A. Numbers did. They also cryed fire. I said it was very odd to come to put out a fire with sticks and bludgeons.”

Samuel Quincy Massacre Minutes, MHi (the first part of Wilson's testimony is missing):

not see they rushed back 30 or 40 at a Time. A great many had staves. About 200 people went up the Three Streets from Dock Square. When they were gathered opposite Walley's and had made 3 or 4 vain Attempts to get to Murray's Barracks Gave 2 or 3 Chears for Main Guard. About the Middle of R. Ex. L. he heard the Guns go off. Bells rung before he went up R. Ex. L. Young people cried fire. Some of the Company said, it was very uncommon to come to a fire with Sticks and Bludgeons.


“Silent, quiet, still, hushed.” OED .


Wemms Trial 82–83:

William Hunter, Vendue-master, sworn.

I was in my own house, and Mr. Wilson, the former witness, with me; we heard a noise, and Mr. Mitchelson came in and told us there was a disturbance amongst the inhabitants and soldiers; I went to the Vendue balcony, and saw great numbers coming up from the North-end, with large sticks in their hands, most of them I saw went in parcels up to the barracks, and then came down in numbers. This they did several times, as they gathered from the North end.

Q. Were the bells ringing?

A. I do not remember; a gentleman came up with a red cloak, they gathered round him, and he stood in the middle of them, and they were all very quiet; he spoke to them a little while, and then he went off, and they took off their hats, and gave three cheers for the Main-guard; they went up Royal-exchange-lane as fast as they could, I went after them, and some of the company at my house went up the lane also.

Q. Was the man who spoke to these people a tall or short man?

A. Pretty tall.

Q. How was he dressed?

A. He had a white wig and red cloak, and instantly after his talking a few minutes to them, they made huzzas for the main guard.

Samuel Quincy Massacre Minutes, MHi:

Will. Hunter. At the same Place; saw a Number coming up from the North End with a sort of large Sticks. Attempted 2 or 3 Times to get up Dr. Cooper's Lane. A tall Gentleman with a Red Cloak on in the Middle of 'em. He spoke and they were all still. Then 3 Chears for Main Guard. They went up R. Ex. L. I went home.


Wemms Trial 83–84:

David Mitchelson, Seal-engraver sworn.

I am the person that came up stairs and told the witness examined before me, that there was a disturbance in the street. The whole I have to say is this. Coming home that evening from a friends house in Fore-street, I called at a house in Union street. Turning the corner of Fore-street, I heard a noise which drew my attention immediately, it seemed to come from the Post-Office, or thereabouts: Immediately I went to see what the matter was. At the bottom of Royal-exchange lane, I asked a man that was at a distance what the matter was? He said it was a squabble betwixt the inhabitants and soldiers; I then stood at the bottom of the lane, I had not stood long there, till I was obliged to go away, the party, engaged with the soldiers, having been routed as I thought, came rushing down towards where I stood. I went into Mr. Hunter's, found some gentlemen there; I told them they were very quiet indeed, considering there was such a number of people in the street. We went into the balcony and stood there, to see the transactions below; and the only thing material I can recollect, that passed, was this: I saw a pretty large number of people assembled together, drawn together, I apprehended, by the noise of them that were first engaged with the soldiers. It was proposed by several of them, to call out fire! Fire was called several times, and then the bells were set a ringing. This drew a great concourse of people, not knowing but it was fire. The greatest part had sticks of various sorts; they made several attempts to get up a lane leading to Murray's barracks, but I suppose meeting with opposition there, they came down as if they had been pursued. After making several such attempts, they assembled in various little knots, with various leaders, I suppose every party had a leader. I heard them propose, let us go up and attack the Main-Guard.

Q. Recollect the words as near as you can.

A. I cannot recollect the precise words, but they were to that very effect. Some of them went up Royal-exchange-lane, part of them through the other lane (called Boylston's-alley,) and part up Cornhill.

Q. Who led the party that went up Cornhill?

A. I cannot tell, it was not light enough, and the confusion together, I could not tell which was leader, or which was follower.

Q. Did the bells ring then? A. Yes.

Q. What bells? A. I do not know what bells they were.

Q. Did you notice if the largest party went up Cornhill?

A. Yes, they did. After they went from that place of the street which I could see from the balcony, the street was then particularly clear of them, except the people coming from Union-street and the other streets. Anxiety to know what might happen in King-street, led me to take my hat and go to see: When I was about half way up the lane, the guns were fired, and I saw the flashes of some of them. I then turned and came down.

Q. How many people do you imagine were assembled in Dock-square, when the greatest number was together? A. I imagine two hundred.

Q. Did you see a man with a red cloak and white wig?

A. Yes, he made a considerable figure there.

Q. Was he in the attitude of speaking, and they of attention? A. Yes.

Q. Could you hear what he said to them?

A. No, but after he had harrangued them about three minutes, they huzza'd for the Main-Guard.

Samuel Quincy Massacre Minutes, MHi:

Davd. Michaelson. Heard a Noise towards the Post-Office. Was told it was a Squabble between Soldiers and Inhabitants. The party engaged happened to be routed, took down towards Royal Ex. Lane where I stood. I then ran into Hunter's Balcony. From thence saw a pretty large Number of people, drawn together as I imagined by the Noise. The greater part had Weapons. Some Buckets. Some cried fire. Assembled in various little Lots, with various Leaders. Cried out let's attack the Main-guard huzza'd, and executed that proposal. The Bells rang. The largest party went round Cornhill. I went thro' Ex. Lane, and about the middle heard the Guns, and I went home. The greatest Number of people in the Square 200. Saw the Gentleman in a Red Cloak.


That is, the Town's muskets, which were normally kept in Faneuil Hall.


Wemms Trial 84–85:

John Short, Merchant, sworn.

Give the Court and Jury an account of any commotions you saw that evening.

A. The evening of the 5th March, after the nine o'clock bell had rung, I heard the bells ring again, I supposed for fire, the people in the neighbourhood asked where it was? I said, I would go see; I went up as far as Faneuil-Hall, and to Mr. Jackson's shop, there were a number of people in Cornhill at the time; I immediately came down again, and went on board an oyster-boat, staid there about a quarter of an hour, and heard the guns go off.

Q. Did you see any body at the Market, take out the feet and break the stalls?

A. No I did not.

Q. Did you see any collection of people there?

A. Yes, I asked what was the matter? I was told, a soldier had hurt an oysterman.

Q. Did you see a number of people with any body at their head?

A. I did not.

Samuel Quincy Massacre Minutes, MHi:

John Short. After the 9 o'Clock Bell rang, the Bells rung for fire. Went out. Heard in Dock-Square a Soldier had hurt an Oyster-man.


One of the Town's fire engines was ordinarily kept under the Town House. Thwing, Crooked and Narrow Streets 18.


Wemms Trial 85–86:

Benjamin Davis, Merchant, sworn.

Give the Court and Jury an account of what you saw that evening.

A. The evening of the 5th of March, I spent at the North-end; a little after nine I left the house to go home, I live in Green's lane, and my nearest way lay through Dock square; I heard a number of people and great noises. I soon found it was a quarrel, I stopped at the corner of Jenkins's-lane some time; I saw the people collected close to Boylston's alley, I learned, that it was the town's people and soldiers a quarreling, I plainly heard that the sound was like people fighting with clubs. Two young men came up to me, and said, will you go and help us to fight the soldiers? I said no, I do not intend to, one of them had a cloak, and threw it off into my arms, and then said, if you will not go, hold my cloak, and went away with the other, enquiring where were any clubs or cordwood sticks, they hollowed fire! fire! And that collected a few people, about one dozen or so, presently the little knots of people passed up the passage way by the pump, and there was a general run down the street as far as they could run, I went into Mrs. Elliot's gate, and I saw seven, eight or ten soldiers run up the alley that leads from her house to King-street, they had something in their hands, whether it was clubs or other weapons, I cannot tell; whether the bells had begun to ring before that I cannot say, it was the Brick-meeting bell I first heard; I staid in Mrs. Elliot's till the bells were done ringing, I left the cloak with her.

Q. Which way were these nine or ten soldiers going?

A. They came down from the alley by the barracks, and run up Jenkins's alley by Mrs. Elliot's house, I passed through this alley and went into King-street, and saw some with buckets, the engine was in King-street, but nobody with it; I went up by the north side of the Town house and saw several knots of people collected, some at Jackson's corner, some by the Town House, and all round in little knots, I went from one knot to another, to see if I could learn what the matter was, I walked to the south side of the Town-House, and the next thing I heard, was huzzaing in King-street, and then these little knots that were collected, answered the huzza, and went down towords King-street, I went by the south side of the Town-House and stopped at Mr. Price's office and had an opportunity of seeing what passed on the other side of the way. Col. Marshal I think, must be mistaken in what he says relative to the shade of the moon's being on the north-side, for I remember well, I went to the south-side of the Town-House, on purpose that I might be in the shade and see more clearly what was doing on the opposite side of the way. I saw the Sentinel standing with his back to the Custom house door, and a number of people round him, boys and men.

Q. Was the Sentry in the shade?

A. No, I saw him very plain standing on the Custom-house steps, I heard a considerable noise, the boys were laughing and saying fire! and why do you not fire? I saw the Sentinel bring his piece upon a level as if to fire, and the people gave back, and he put it up again. I found the numbers were encreasing, and, while I was standing there, two men without hats on, came up to the Main Guard, and said, you must send assistance directly, or the Sentry will be murdered, the officer I observed was quite a young officer, and there were a number of soldiers standing with their watch coats on, whether they or any soldiers went into the Main-Guard I cannot say, I heard very soon the word given, “Guard,” and bid take off their watch coats; there came out about seven, I think their guns were not shouldered, but they had them in their right hands, walked across the street, and took their stand near the Sentry-box, but whether in a half-moon or circle I cannot tell, the people crouded round them, I heard a great deal of confused noise, a general confusion of noises, and there I stood till the guns were fired.

Q. Did these men one of which gave you the cloak, go towards the Market?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you hear a noise like the breaking of the stalls? A. No.

Samuel Quincy Massacre Minutes, MHi:

Benjn. Davis. (as before.) The reference is probably to Davis' testimony in Rex v. Preston.


That is, a member of the volunteer company manning the fire engine.


Wemms Trial 87:

Shubal Hughes, Tallow-chandler, sworn.

Give the Court and Jury an account of what you saw in the streets, on the 5th of March last.

A. That night I spent the evening with an acquaintance near the Town-dock, sitting in the room, the master of the house came into the room, and said, fire was cried, and the bells a ringing: as I belonged to the engine, I was the first out of the door, with my surtout and stick, when I came out, I saw a man running to where the Porters stand, I thought I should meet our engine coming down the lane on Corn-hill, and when I came round by the Market, I saw a cross the Market a number of people coming from the northward; I thought the fire was out, and that it had been at the North end. I stopt by Col. Jackson's a considerable time, at last somebody came along; I asked where is the fire, they said there is no fire but a dispute betwixt the inhabitants and soldiers by Murray's barracks. I went up a little farther and saw nothing; I moved down again and stopped where I had been before; the street was middling full, as generally when fire is cryed: at last I saw a number of young people get foul of the stalls in the Market, pulling out the legs of them, I do not remember whether I said any thing to them or not: I stayed there a while, I saw no disturbance, nor heard no great noise; the man who was with me said, we have no business with the soldiers nor with their disputes, and we returned to the place we came from, and staid there till the guns were fired.

Q. Where did they come from that got foul of the stalls?

A. Some from the northward, and some by Hubbard's warehouse.

Q. How many were of them? A. Six or seven.

Samuel Quincy Massacre Minutes, MHi:

Shubael Hewes. Spent the Evening near the Town Dock. The Master House come in and said there was a cry of Fire. Went out. At the Market place a Number of people came from the North-end. Enquired where the Fire was. Heard there was a Dispute near Justice Quincy's. Saw a Number of young Lads attempt to get the Legs out of the Stalls but said Nothing to them. May be 6 or 7 of them.


Wemms Trial 87–88:

James Selkrig, Merchant, sworn.

Q. Was you at Mr. Hunter's house, the 5th of March last?

A. I was that evening there in company with some gentlemen, and to the best of my remembrance betwixt eight and nine o'clock, some of the company said there is some noise in the street; Mr. Hunter said it is an alley that there is noise enough in very often. A gentleman soon after came in and said there is something bad in the street, you had as good go and see what it is, three of the company went to the balcony, I went to the window fronting the street. I saw considerable numbers of people coming from the North-end, all armed, or the greatest part of them, in the same manner, with white sticks. They made attacks on the barracks, and were always drove hack; always as a new fresh party came from the north part of the town, they made a new attack, there were about five or six different attacks made. In the middle of the street I saw a large man, with a red cloak and white wigg, they gathered round him, and he spoke two or three minutes, and they gave some different cheers for the Main-guard, and I think for the Neck; they said they would do for the soldiers; when they turned round that corner where the stone store is, they beat the stone with their weapons, and said they would do for the soldiers. Some went up Royal exchange lane, some went up Jenkins's lane, and some by the Post-office.

Q. How many people do you think there might be in the whole?

A. Betwixt two and three hundred.

Q. Were the bells a ringing?

A. I cannot tell, I saw them all go away, I came down and found the gentlemen gone, I went into the alley and heard the first gun fired, I then went home, and know no more of it.

Q. Was that expression, we will do for the soldiers, uttered by a number or by a few?

A. By a great number, and they struct their weapons against Simpson's stone store, as they said it.


Wemms Trial 88–89:

Archibald Bowman, Auctioner, sworn.

Q. Was you at Mr. William Hunter's on the evening of the 5th of March last?

A. Yes. That evening I was at his vendue-room, at the foot of the Royal-exchange-lane, I heard some noise; I cannot say who came up; but a little after dark there came up two gentlemen, who said there was a disturbance in the street. I immediately went to the front window, some of the company into the balcony, where I afterwards went, I saw numbers of people hallowing fire, fire, in different quarters. Numbers enquiring where the fire was; they gathered in a large body; some went up by way of the Post-office, some went up the lane by the pump, and some came down forcibly as if chased: they whistled through their fingers and cried fire: Among the rest I observed a Gentleman with a red cloack and white wigg, the croud gathered round him, they staid a little while with him, and then drew off and huzzaed for the Main-Guard, they then dispersed, some went up Royal-exchange-lane, some went up Jenkin's alley, and some went up Cornhill, I saw no more of them.

Q. How many people were there when they were talking with the gentleman?

A. I cannot say how many there were, there was a great number.

Q. Where did they stand?

A. They stood opposite Mr. Lewis Deblois shop.

Q. Did you see them strike with their sticks at Mr. Simpsons store? A. No.

Q. Did you hear them say they would do for the soldiers? A. No.


Wemms Trial 89:

William Dixon, sworn.

Q. Was you of the company at Mr. Hunter's?

A. Yes, I was there that evening; a gentleman came in and said there was a disturbance in the street, I went down to the lower room, and went to the balcony, and saw people going up that alley where the barracks are.

Q. Did you hear the last witness examined, do you confirm all he mentioned?

A. No, not all of it, the people went up to the alley, and ran down quick as if they had met with opposition, they stood about the pump, they encreased from the North-end to pretty large numbers; they gathered together in a croud opposite to where I stood, and huzzaed for the Main-guard.

Q. Are you certain they huzzaed for the Main-guard?

A. I am certain of it, I went with one or two more into the lane, intending for King-street, when we heard the guns, I turned and went home.


Wemms Trial 89–90:

John Gillespie, Merchant, sworn.

Q. Did you know of any disturbance or commotion that evening?

A. On the evening of the 5th of March I went from my own house in Queen-street, about seven o'clock, to spend the evening with some company at Mr. Sylvester's at the South-end; in my way I met not less than fifty people, with white sticks in their hands, in small parcels, and the company all observed they met with numbers of people, and said they were apprehensive of the consequences. Somebody came in and said there was fire, Mr. Fleeming said he would send his man to see where the fire was, and desired us not to be uneasy, for he had heard it was only to gather people to fight the soldiers, or to this effect: I was uneasy however, and came away to go home. I met a good many people with sticks, and bags, and some other things. I met Mr. Fleeming's man coming back, and he said it was no fire, but the soldiers and inhabitants fighting: I saw two engines, and the people putting their buckets and bags in people's houses. I enquired where the fire was; I got the same answer, no fire, but the soldiers and inhabitants fighting. I heard some say come let us go back, others said no by God we will go and help them. I saw Mr. Knight standing at his own door, I stopt but very little time, left him and came to the head of King-street. I heard somebody say damn them why do not they break the glass. I imagine somebody had got into the Guard house, and that they wanted to break the glass to get them out. I went home, and in about ten minutes, I heard the guns go off.

Q. Was it soldiers or inhabitants that wanted to break the glass?

A. It was the inhabitants.


Wemms Trial 90–91:

Thomas Knight, Merchant, sworn.

On the 5th of March I came up King-street soon after the bells had rung for nine. I came by the Main-Guard, saw the Sentinel as usual, and saw no disturbance; I went home, took up the news-paper, and read about half of an hour; by and bye I heard the bells ring, which I took for fire. I run to the door, when I came there, the people were passing pretty thick, some with buckets, some with bags, and numbers with sticks and clubs; they said there was no fire, but some disturbance with the soldiers and inhabitants; I returned into the room sometime, but feeling uneasy, I went to the door again, and saw several companies of people pass, six or eight in a company; one company consisting of eight or ten, had white sticks or clubs in their hands; one of them hallowed out, damn their bloods lets go and attack the Main guard, and knock them to hell first. There was one in the same company made a stop, and either said I will go back and get my gun, or let us go back and get our guns, I cannot tell which.

Q. Was this before the firing?

A. Yes, this stopt my curiosity from going to King-street. I thought it was best to stay in the house. I shut the door and went in; I told my wife if she heard any firing not to be afraid, for I was apprehensive there would be blood shed from what I had heard. I tarried about two or three minutes in the room; I felt very uneasy, and walked to the door again, and being there about a minute or two, I heard one gun fired, in about two seconds I heard another, and so on till five, six or seven were discharged. It was all in about twelve or fourteen seconds at the fartherst.


It is not clear whether JA is here merely characterizing the testimony or noting its exclusion. See Cookson's testimony below.

Wemms Trial 91:

John Cookson, Trader, sworn.

Q. Was you at the Green Dragon, on the evening of the 5th of March, in company with some gentlemen there? A. Yes.

Q. What observation was made on the ringing of the bells, by any of the company? A. Some one in the room said it was not fire, but a rumpus.

Q. Did any particular person of that company there, say it is no fire but a rumpus with the soldiers, and I am prepared for them, and immediately take a pistol or pair of pistols out of his pocket?

A. Some one observed there was a rumpus, but I saw no pistol.


Wemms Trial 91–92:

William Strong, Clerk in the Custom-House, sworn.

Q. Was you in King-street on the evening of the 5th of March last?

A. On the evening of the 5th of March I was at Mr. Marstons, several of us were standing by the fire: we heard the cry of fire, some said we will go out and see where the fire is. I went and I saw several people running to and fro, I asked what the matter was, they said a soldier had killed a boy. I was answered in that manner by another; some people said we will go back again and get our sticks: I did not see any number of people, but a few running up to King-street, one of them struck the ground with his stick and shivered it. I then went into King-street and was coming away again, when I heard a huzza and a number of feet behind me, and I stood to let them pass; there might be about ninety; they run up King-street huzzaing. I walked after them, when they came opposite the Custom house, they stopped, and some said that is the fellow that used the inhabitants ill; another contradicted them and said it was not him; upon that the people encroached on the Sentinel; I was in the midst of the people, and he retreated back and they went forward, at last I saw him go on the steps of the Custom house, and they went closer, and he set his back to the door and loaded. I heard the ball go down distinctly.

Q. How many people were there then? A. About ninety or more.

Q. Were they boys?

A. The generality of them were young men. He presented his gun, and said keep off or I will fire upon you: the reply was, fire, God damn you fire, fire and be damn'd. I went about fifteen yards below, there was a man standing by me, he had the butt end of a bat in his hand, and said he would throw it at the Sentinel; I said do not, for he will fire at whatever place it comes from. Whether he threw it or not I do not know, for I left him and went to Mr. Sherwin's door. I was saying it was imprudent to attack a Sentinel on his post, somebody said he was disarmed; I thought so too, for I saw the glittering of arms; I walked to the Custom house steps, curiosity led me to see if they were so prudent as to fasten the Custom-house door; I tryed the latch, and it was fast; a fellow said to one of the soldiers, damn you why do you turn your bayonet this way, turn it the other way. I thought I was not safe there, but went to my old place, and stood there a few minutes; I thought I heard two guns cock, immediately I heard one go off, soon after another, and I think four more. I think six in all. The people said where I was standing, they fired nothing but powder. I thought to go up to an acquaintance's house, and went in the middle of the street, and coming opposite to the soldiers, I saw two men lay, one on the right and one on the left, on their backs; I concluded they were dead.

Q. Did you see any thing hit the Sentinel?

A. I believe there were snow balls thrown, but they fell short of him.

Q. These people that were round the Sentinel, had they clubs?

A. Yes, some of them.