The extent of Colonial Boston’s town structure is quite the eye-opener to a 21st Century citizen. We have attached the town register collated by Robert Francis Seybolt. There are some well known and highly influential citizens listed on the registry.
How about John Rowe again? Listed as a “fireward” in 1769. Additional “esquires” with notable assignments were;
The title of “Esq” appears after several distinguished names. In the 20th Century, it was a suffix used to designate lawyers that passed the bar exam. It meant nothing of the same in the 18th Century. It was a very elevated acknowledgment of a person’s position in life. We could not find an exact standard for the title that permitted others to refer to you as Esquire. Paul Revere sought this acknowledgment his entire life. Often it drove him into industries and positions that he felt would elevate him, such as Coroner of Boston, printer of the currency, Grand Mason of the Freemasons, colonel of the artillery, a provider of copper to the U. S. Navy and express rider for the Continental Congress. It simply was not enough for Paul to earn the respect of the upper class.
We might suggest that the number of town citizens assigned to a function was indicative of its importance. Firewards seemed to point to the constant threat of fire on the well-fare of Boston. For an overview of Boston’s eleven major fires click here to visit our blog.
Have some fun researching the several other functions; Fence Viewers, Sealers of Leather, Informer About Deer, Clerks of the Market and Cullers of Staves. After the libel trial of John Hancock, a function of Purveyor of Madeira Wine should have been added.