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.
John Adams Thoughts After the Trial of the British Soldiers