A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 4

Grand Jury notes
October 1786 Sup. Jud Court Cambridge1

Coram Grand Jury2

vs. Job Shattuck of Groton, Gentn: Nathan Smith3 of Shirley Gentn. Joseph Hinds4 of Greenwich Gentn: Adam Wheeler5 of Hubbardston Gentn: Abraham Gale6 of Princeton Gentn. Benjamin Convers7 of 374 Hardwick Peter Butterfeild8 of Westf Townsend Gent, Benja. Page9 of Groton yeo Asa Lawrence,10 of sd. Groton yeoman

Joshua Farrington 11 Joseph Hosmer Esq. 12 Col. John Robinson 13 of Westford & Job Shattuck of Groton, they said the CP.14 shouldnt set till their Greivances were redressed, & they shd. be made known to next Genl. Ct.; he sd. the Court must not set at any rate. Col. Robinson was chose as a Comtte from Westford but he declined & said he would go on the other side. I saw Hinds Job Shattuck, Nathan Smith. Peter Barret 15 of Concord I saw Nathan Smith & his Conduct, that CP shd. be anihilated. Capt. Job Shattuck as Cmdr by numbers at Hand, Convers of Hardwick are of Comte from Worc; Adam Wheeler a head, they sd. they came to stop Courts, & Col. Robinson, he came into Town & over the Hill to see if any Common pleas there, Stephen Rae of Groton & his Brother of Carlisle were in the mobb. James Barret Capt. Smith befor Court House Door with a party wch. he sd. he wd. keep the Ground at risk of life I saw Hinds, Convers went by name of Adjut. Danl. Wood I saw Smith Shattuck Wheeler, Gale, Convers, Hinds, Robinson William Hunt Esq. I arrived abt. 12 oClock on Tuesday. Shattuck & Smith there as cmdrs: Smith Paraded abt. & proclaimed that if they did not join him they wd. force em to it by the point of Bayonet Convers, Wheeler there from Worcester Moses Smith of Barre & Simeon Hazeltine. Seth Hastings Convers, Wheeler, Simeon Hazelton Gale; Moses Smith of Barre, a tall man damd the Constitution; James Winthrop Esqr. Hinds said he was said to be the Rogue that stop’d the Court at Hampshire, Col. Robinson came in as one of the Cmttee from the mobb Mr. Shff. Baldwin Wheeler, Convers, Gale were shewn me; Shattuck came into the Ct. Chamber with his Gun & Side Arms & sd. his men were impatient & would wait no longer: Shattuck signd a paper & dd. it. Judge Savage 375 Zacheus Wright of Westford, I saw Peter Butterfeild of Towns., Jona. Holman of Templeton; I had conversaton with Butterfeild, my determination is to have the Constitution destroyed, I saw Col. John Robinson at Concord, John Conant of Westford. Amos Bryant of Concord Majr. Robt. Davis 16 I was at Concord Tuesday 8 oClock AM found 70 or 80 men under Arms before Ct. House under Cmnd. of Nathan Smith, his extraordinary threats; I saw Wheeler, Convers, & Hinds, Hinds tarried over night, I saw Gale, Converse Hinds Shattuck, Robinson & Gale were a Cmttee from Mob. Robinson had side Arms Oliver Fairbanks Joshua Farrington I was present with Majr. Davis & confirm what he had said Lt. Oliver Fairbanks of Princeton was there as Lt. to Gale. Shattuck said he had Cattle at home & he would drive em down to support the mobb & would tarry till summer Came. Pepperell Tyler I was in Co. with the two last Gale told me had 2/3 of the People in Cmlth. to support him, he was determined the Ct. shd. be dissolved shd. not set, every creature on his Farm should be killed to Support them, had 2000 men back, ready to march in Ebenezer Battels I was there abt. 11 oClock, Smith bid defiance to the government, it shd. be dissolved in 2 hours, Hinds exerted himself said he came 60 mils to serve them & prevent the Court sitting Jonas Lee I saw Convers, Gale, Wheeler, I saw John Conant armd, Col: Robinson there with side arms. Joshua Read of Westford I saw Peter Butterfeild there in Arms, & Jona. Holman, Ebenezer Champney Esq. I saw Benja. Page of Groton at Concord with the mobb who told me he had stop’d the Courts. I saw Capt. Asa Lawrence; Jonathan Johnson of Groton Sunday night before Court I saw Benja. Page he said he was going to stop Court I saw him coming back, he said people must exert themselves or be ruind we could not live under the present Govermt. Stephen Munroe very inimical Joseph Russell of Waltham. I saw Asa Lawrence there. 376 blank Bartlet of Concord I saw Stephen Munroe Stephen Barret Concord: Capt. Oliver Parker 17 the day Tuesday the C.P. sat Cambridge Novr. marched by my house with abt. 50 men Armed at the head of them. he had Gun a Waggon behind for baggage, they halted at Major Browns: Wyle Hall Groton I saw Oliver Parker at Ezl. Fletcher in Groton with 50 od men in Arms I saw him the same day as I saw Col. Woods with his men going to support Govt.: OP at their head in Arms: Aaron Biggelow & George Marsdon assisted in drawing up the men. I saw Job Shattuck at sd. Fletchers that day had arms, he went off alone: Samuel Bartlet Concord. the day the Court sat at Cambridge Oliver Parker came to Concord with a Company of men Armed, he was Armed he halted them against my Shop: I afterwards saw Shattuck come down on horse back and joined them & appeared to have Command. Parker active. James Hildreth was there an officer Ezekiel Fletcher Groton. Monday before Cambridge C:P: I saw a No. of men before my house: Lt. blank Kelsey, & als from Shirley. Jona. Wallace, Spofford & 2 more from Townsend Capt. John Ford from Chelmsford: Shattuck & als from Groton blank Hutchinson, John Nutting from Pepperell, were Cmttees for stopping Ct. & Job Fletcher from Westford.: Shattuck was among the Co. the Monday morning Benja. Page was at some of their meetings. Shattuck asked me if I would let his Son go to Cambridge, said I was a stronger name: Shattuck said the Ct. at Cambridge should not sit Emerson Cogswell Concord I saw Shattuck on Tuesday morning with a Co. here & Ol. Parker I talked with them Shattuck sd. the Ct. had not done eno., he cd. not bear the burdens nor wd. not. Parker sd. they wd. make him come & lead them down, Shattuck sd. they was going to stop Camb. Ct. expected a large No. of men on the other road: Parker said he had been up 2 or 3 nts. fatiging abt: Levi Kemp Groton Shattuck came down to Concord; Thursday evning before Camb. CP. a No. of Cmttee John Kelsey, Jona. Wallis David Spofford blank Baldwin blank Adams, John Ford, they talked the matter abt. going to Cambridge & they wd. agree if Genl. Prsct18 wd. engage no man shd. go on past of Govt. they wd. engage none shd. go to oppose, after 377 Genl. Prescot came & they agreed not to go on either side. Shattuck agreed. Parker was one of them he was Cmttee to go to Genl. Prescot: Friday evning Capt. Holman & Capt. Smith of Barre & Lt. Tolman of Hubbard came to Groton & a No. met but they could not agree we went to Fletchers, the Cmttee went by though the 3 men aforsd. from Worcester there Asa Lawrence persuaded me & Page to carry a Letter to Capt. John Prat. James Fletcher gave me the Letter I & Benja. Page Saturday evning went to sd. Prat in Mansfield, We got to Concord on Wednesday: Benja. Page came down with Pistols to Concord Court but did not join them: he went into Pepperel to raise men. Joseph Shipley Groton: Shattuck was at my house after & said the CP shd. not sit, & was anxious to get people to come. I saw him going to Cambridge with side Arms Oliver Prescot Esq. Shattuck would often say he wd. bring abt. a Revolution raise forces &c: Sunday before Concord Ct. Shattuck at noon made Procln. that he wd. know where the Powder was & would have it: at night he said he should have an army collected to see wt. was come of it: Sunday night Shattuck came to my house with a Cutlass in his hand & demanded the Powder, a No. crowded round the Door 20 or 30: the Week before CP Camb. I was sent for by Cmttee to Mr. Fletcher I saw Capt. Job Shattuck, John Ford, John Kelsey: Jona. Wallis from Townsend they told me if I wd. use my influence that Govr. would send no Troops they would agree no Troops should go as mobb. Capt. Ford respond for Chelmsford. Friday night the 3 Worcester leaders came there I sent Amos Eames to them. he brot. back an acct. of their conduct; on Saturday noon they came to my house. Ford came with them. Shattuck sent me word by Eames that if I wanted to see him I might come. Mr. Pearson & Champney heard Shattuck say he wd. be minister of this Cmnlth: Abraham Shattuck confessed that he was with Shays19 & carried colours Joseph Shed voted Col. Henry Woods latter End Octr. or 1 Novr. at Simon Greens in Pepperell Shattuck there, he sd. the people at Camb. is the mobb. many Govt. Troops, afterwd he sd. he was not going to drop the matter so Abraham Shattuck confessed he went to Shays: Col. Jos: B: Varnum 20 Dracut. I saw a Letter Signd. John Ford in Novr. wn. CP to set Camb: in the hands of Obadiah Barker now of Methuen: it was 378 dated Groton Saturday preceding CP Camb Novr. Capt. Mellone sd. it is the desire of the People &c. Signed James Fletcher, J. Shattuck, John Ford, to give informn. to John Barnard of Andover the Letter carried by Benja. Melvin of Andover I took the signature to be Fords. I told him that I see the Letter & the Contents & he did not deny it but answrd & said he was not an enemy to Govt. Solomon Russel. Groton after Septr. Concord Court Benja. Page sd. we have stopd the Ct. and if we don’t back up the Ct. I hope we shall stop the Lawyers going to felony. Stephen Munroe Groton. I saw Shattuck come to Concord CP at the head of Armed was Armed; John Ford was at Groton wn. the Cmttee was there Jonas Blood Groton. I have hear Page say he was willing to support Govt. but it cost too much thought it was time something was done, this was on Monday Sunday night before Concord Ct. he askd me if I would come, with the rest of them, I came with Arms, he influenced me to come. I came down in Shattuck Co. Page on Monday came as far as Westford on Tuesday night I saw him:

MS .


RTP was more expansive in his diary during the period of Shays’s Rebellion than before or afterwards. His scenario of the events of the summer and autumn of 1786 follows. Aug. 29 (at Boston): “Sup. Jud. Court set Boston. the Court of C Pleas at Northampton prevented sitting by armed Insurgents”; Sept. 1: “attended private Council of Govr. respecting the Insurgents”; Sept. 2: “dind at the Govr. with Court and Barr”; Sept. 5: “CC Pleas at Worcester stop’d by armed Insurgents”; Sept. 7: “attended private Council of Govr. respecting the Insurgents”; Sept. 8: “dind at Govr. with a private Council & sat till 10 at night”; Sept. 9: “Evning at Govr. in private Council”; Sept. 10: “PM at Govr. in private Council”; Sept. 11: “this morning at Govr. in private Council”; Sept. 12: “the Commn. Pleas stop’d by a Riot at Concord attempted at Taunton but the Court was supported by Majr. Genl. Cobb.”

Sept. 19: “this morning rode to Worcester Sup. Jud. Court sat there without any appearance of disturbance as was expected”; Sept. 25: “rode to Springfeild, found a body of Militia Troops Collected to Support the Court from the Insurgents who was expected. the militia took possn. of the Courthouse on Thursday night”; Sept. 26: “this morning the Insurgents made their appearance & took Post on the Upper End of the Street. Command by Capt. Shais a Capt. in the late army & the militia increased continually, the Court opened a Grand Jury not appearing they impannelled two Petit Jurys & adjourned to next morning. The Insurgents by leave of the Genl. Sheppard marched down street and back again”; Sept. 27: “the Court met and Adjd. to three oClock PM not able to make a Grand Jury PM the Grand Jury that appeared were dismissed being 9, some business was done but the minds of all were so engaged in the military appearance of the day that no business could be done; this Evning there was the greatest expectation of a Battle & at 9 oClock an Alarm was made: fine day: Genl. Court met by Govr. Proclamation on acct. of the disturbances”; Sept. 28: “this morning a great Expectation of a Battle; the Court met and finding no business could be attended to adjd. witht. day, a Cmttee of the two Parties agreed that as the Ground by the Court House was now no Object that the Mi­379litia Should march up the Hill to the Arsenal, & the Insurgents march off down the Street & back and then disband and go home, this was done about 1 oClock; on Tuesday Evning the mobb sent in their Comttee to the Court with their Votes that the Court might do business if they confined themselves to Criminal Causes & the Grand Jury did not find Bills agt. the Persons Concerned in the affair of at No. Hampton or at this time, that the Judges should go out of Town & not Return till Greivances were redressed the militia should immediately disband without pay: the Court gave a very sensible answer: 3 oClock I Set out with Mr. Tucker (the Court being determined not to go to Great Barrington).”

Oct. 1: “waited on Govr. with Judges Seargeant & Sewall”; Oct. 2: “dind at Govrs.” Oct. 23; “rode to Taunton on horse back, found a Party of Volunteers had taken possn. of the Court House”; Oct. 24: “Sup. Jud. Court Taunton, Court all there, the Militia came from Raynham Bridgwater & other parts, the mobb is collecting round about to stop the Court”; Oct. 25: “abt. noon the mob came on the Green headed by David Volentine in No. abt. 140 armed, the paraded on the side of the Green, & PM put in a Petition to the Court finding the Militia Commanded by Genl. Cobb, to be abt. 380 well armed & officerd & a field piece, Wheeler with his party marched off & disbanded & we heard no more of them.”

Nov. 1: “this day was a Review of the Militia of this County & Independent Companies from Boston Dorchester & other places assembled here on the call of the Govr. on an apprehension of the mobb attempting to molest the sitting of the Court, but there was no mobb nor rumour of any: the No. of Troops amounted to abt. 2000 & made a very fine appearance”; Nov. 7: “I rode to Salem in Sulkey: Sup. Jud. Court sat there”; Nov. 28: “Report of Insurgents coming to stop Cambridge Cmn Pleas wch. sitts to day a Company of Volunteer horse sett out on secret Expedition.”

Dec. 1: “abt. noon the said Co. of Horse returned having been to Groton & taken Job Shattuck Oliver Parker and Benja. Page who were heads of the Insurgents in those Parts.”

As part of his year-end summary: “The Year is now ended, very gloomy times, uneasiness, Commotions, no money.”


The trial testimony for this case, dated May 1787, appears in vol. 5.


Nathan Smith (1738–1834) of Shirley, Mass., served in the Revolution and was the most outspoken of the insurgents at the Concord courthouse, where it is said that his “language was offensive even to his own party.” The local history remembers him as a “rough, unlearned man” and “coarse in habit and undisciplined in temper.” He remained in Shirley after the rebellion (Seth Chandler, History of the Town of Shirley, Massachusetts [Shirley, Mass., 1883], 129–132, 620).


Joseph Hinds (1743–1799) of Greenwich, Mass., was a minuteman at the Lexington Alarm and served as a corporal and sergeant in various companies (1775–1777). He later moved to New York State (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Rev. War, 7:939; Albert Henry Hinds, History and Genealogy of the Hinds Family [Portland, Maine, 1899), 55).


Adam Wheeler (1732–1802) was a prominent resident of Hubbardston, Mass., and a deacon of the church. He served in the French and Indian Wars, as a minuteman at the Lexington Alarm, and then as captain in two different Massachusetts regiments, serving until 1779. He was one of the leaders at the closure of the Worcester courthouse and at the end of the rebellion fled to Canada, where he remained until granted amnesty in 1791 when he returned to Hubbardston (John M. Stowe, History of the Town of Hubbardston, Worcester County, Mass. [Hubbardston, Mass., 1881], 57–62, 113; Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Rev. War, 16:959).


Abraham Gale (1745–1829) was a minuteman from Princeton, Mass., at the Lexington Alarm and during the war was commissioned as second lieutenant in three different regiments. He was captain of the insurgents at the closure of the Worcester courthouse in 1786. After the rebellion, he moved to Alstead, N.H., where he died. His brother Henry (1752–1836) was also heavily involved in Shays’s Rebellion and afterwards moved to New York State (George Gale, The Gale Family Records in England and the United States [Galesville, Wisc., 1866], 76–83).


Benjamin Convers was a landowner and retailer at Hardwick, Mass., and became an “adjutant” in the insurrection as part of the court stoppages at Concord and Worcester. To avoid capture he absconded, and his later history is unknown (Lucius R. Paige, History of Hardwick, Massachusetts [Boston, 1883], 127–128, 354).


Peter Butterfield (1739–1811) of Townsend, Mass., was a minuteman at the Lexington Alarm and served in various military capacities during the Revolution, most pertinently as first lieutenant of Capt. Job Shattuck’s company in Col. John Robinson’s regiment. He remained in Townsend for the rest of his life (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Rev. War, 2:964).


Benjamin Page (b. 1753) was one of the Groton minutemen at the Lexington Alarm in 1775 and may have had other military service. He was still living in Groton at the time of the 1820 census, but his later history is unknown (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Rev. War, 11:755).


Asa Lawrence (1737–1804) was captain of one of the two minutemen companies which marched from Groton at the Lexington Alarm in 1775. He was later a captain in Col. William Prescott’s regiment, with which he served at Bunker Hill (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Rev. War, 9:562).


Joshua Farrington (1749–1792), a brother-in-law of Maj. Robert Davis, was a West Indies merchant in Boston. He served as lieutenant colonel of the Boston Regiment of Militia but was court-martialed and “displaced” in 1786 (Roberts, History of the Military Company of Massachusetts, 2:204).


Joseph Hosmer (1735–1821) was captain of the Concord minutemen and fought with them at the 1775 Lexington Alarm. He served as commissary with the army during the remainder of the war. Hosmer was a representative to the General Court for five years, a senator for nine years, and finally high sheriff of Middlesex County for about fourteen years (George Leonard Hosmer, Hosmer Genealogy [Cambridge, Mass., 1928], 31–32).


Col. John Robinson (1735–1805) of Westford, Mass., led three companies of minutemen at the Lexington Alarm as lieutenant colonel under Col. William Prescott and also served with him at Bunker Hill. Robinson was later colonel in the 3d Hampshire County regiment (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Rev. War, 13:451). He was not prosecuted for his support of Job Shattuck at the Concord courthouse and continued on his farm in Westford for the remainder of his life.


Court of Common Pleas.


Brothers James (1733/4–1799), Stephen (1750–1824), and Peter Barrett (1755–1808), all of Concord, Mass., each testified on behalf of the state. They were sons of Col. James Barrett, who commanded the provincial troops at the North Bridge in Concord in Apr. 1775 (William Barrett, Genealogy of Some of the Descendants of Thomas Barrett, Sen., of Braintree, Mass. [St. Paul, Minn., 1883], 266–267).


Robert Davis (1747–1798) was a participant in the Boston Tea Party, an officer in Col. Crafts’s artillery company, and later major in the Suffolk County Brigade of Artillery. After the war he returned to his retail business in Boston (Roberts, History of the Military Company of Massachusetts, 2:204).


Oliver Parker (1733–1790) served at the Lexington Alarm with the Groton minutemen and later as a captain in Col. William Prescott’s regiment. In 1786 he led the company of insurgents which marched on the Concord courthouse. At his death, Parker’s extensive estate was declared insolvent due to the level of debt, and among the notes were debts owed both to and by Job Shattuck. In his estate papers Captain Parker was called a gentleman of Groton (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Rev. War, 11:893; Middlesex Probate, file 16764).


Oliver Prescott (1731–1804) of Groton, Mass., graduated from Harvard in 1750 and became a physician in his native town, which he also served as selectman and town clerk over the years. He cared for the wounded after the Lexington Alarm and Bunker Hill, where his brother Col. William Prescott commanded the American troops. He was appointed brigadier general of the Middlesex County Militia, while also serving as a justice of the peace and judge of probate, as well as a member of the Massachusetts Executive Council. Along with RTP and others, Prescott was a charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 12:569–573; American National Biography).


Daniel Shays (1747?–1825) was a farmer from Pelham, Mass., who served as a captain in the Continental Army. Affected by post-war economic straits, Shays was among the many taken to court for debt. From the time of the insurrectionists’ gathering at Springfield courthouse (Sept. 26), Shays became a leader 381 of the rebellion which took his name. At the end of the revolt, Shays hid and avoided arrest and trial. He was pardoned in 1788 and spent his last years in New York State (American National Biography).


Joseph B. Varnum (1750–1821), a farmer from Dracut, Mass., served with the local minutemen during the Revolution and was eventually commissioned as captain. He became a colonel in the Massachusetts militia and marched with them in the suppression of Shays’s Rebellion. Varnum served in the Massachusetts General Court and then in the federal House of Representatives (1795–1811), including two terms as Speaker of the House, and finally in the U.S. Senate (1811–1817) (American National Biography).