Who's Who in Colonial Boston
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.
January 31, 1769, John Rowe’s Diary Entry Mostly About Yesterday’s Fire at the Jail 398 days before the Boston Massacre
John Rowe, of Rowe’s Wharf fame, was an avid tea drinker and owned one of the three tea ships, the Eleanor. He is quoted by several participants at the Old South Meeting House the night of the Party, “perhaps salt water and tea will mix tonight”. John Rowe kept an extensive diary with 2,294 entries. Here is his entry for the night of the tea party; perhaps intentionally defensive.
Dec. 16. — I being a little unwell staid at home all day and all the
evening. The Body meeting in the forenoon adjourn'd untill afternoon.
Broke up at dark. Several things passed between JNIr. Rotch^ and them.
A number of people appearing in Indian dresses went on board the three
ships Hall, Bruce, and Coffin (sic); they opened the hatches, hoisted out the
tea, and flung it overboard ; this might, I believe, have been prevented.
I am sincerely sorry for the event. Tis said near two thousand people
were present at this affair.[iv] (See an image of the original entry below.)
Other estimates suggest 7,000 people surrounded the three tea ships that night while 100-125 Colonial Mohawks did their deed.
John Rotch, owner of the other two ships and contents, attended the Old South Meeting House, rode to Governor Hutchinson at his Milton home and tried desperately to save his tea. The Governor did not act. Sam Adams did.
January 11, 1769, Wednesday, the British Soldier is Offered Meat in Lieu of Hard Currency 418 days to the Boston Massacre
January 10, 1769, Tuesday, The British Army Seems to Have Run Out of Hard Currency 418 Days before the Boston Massacre
January 7, 1769, The Admiralty Court Case Against John Hancock Closed the Court Room from the Public. 422 Days before the Boston Massacre
Samuel Gridley Howe: A Very Complex Member of the Secret Six that financed John Brown
Fifth of Six Articles about those that Financed John Brown - Samuel Gridley Howe
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