Christopher Snyder (Seider) Was Killed 246 Years Ago By Ebenezer Richardson Eleven days before the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770
Christopher Seider, the son of poor German immigrants, was 11 years of age on the day a customs informant shot and killed him during a non-importation riot. He wandered by Ebenezer Richardson’s home in the North End as a radical mob began pelting Richardsons home with rocks and excrements. Seider reached down to pick up a rock and join in, just as Richardson unleashed a load of his blunderbuss[i] on the crowd. Seider died two hours later in his mother’s arms with eleven pieces of shrapnel in his body. Richardson and his accomplice were nearly hanged but for the intervention of the mob’s leader, purported to be William Mullineaux.
The non-importation riot was planned. Richardson’s neighbor, Theophilus Lillie, had signed an agreement with the Sons of Liberty not to sell any product imported from England for nine months or until the Townshend Acts were repealed. On this day Lillie was accused of violating that agreement. The mob arrived with Lillie as the target but intervention by Richardson changed their focus.
Richardson, the customs informer, was hated by most of the merchants that supported the Sons of Liberty. He and the loyalist newspapers did their best to identify those radical merchants that violated their non-importation agreement. Suddenly, the merchant was on the cross-hairs of the Sons of Liberty. He was additionally loathed for identifying the location of smuggled merchandise to the customs officials.
All of the above built on months of physical, emotional and legal confrontations since the arrival of the British occupying army on October 1, 1768. Leave it to Sam Adams to politicize Seider’s murder. He arranged a funeral estimated to be 2,000 strong, with many limousines followed by the Sons of Liberty marching in military precision. The entire town was draped in black to show their sympathy and solidarity with the radicals[ii].
Today Seider appears to be buried with the five victims of the Boston Massacre. A snow hurricane adds some doubt to his final resting place. The Granary burial Ground was nearly washed away by the October 1804 disaster.
As Seider was buried, Richardson waited in jail for his manslaughter trial. Five days later over the weekend, three large brawls broke out between ropewalkers and British soldiers. Boston was on fire emotionally. The evening of March 5, 1770, exploded with the bloody riot on King Street, known today as the Boston Massacre. It isn’t much of a reach to suggest the killing of Seider was the first spark that set in motion our independence.
If you wish to tour with us, we do a post-mortem on all the Boston Massacre victims, Richardson and those directly involved in the several trials that followed.
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Bell, John. "Boston 1775." : http://boston1775.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-talks.html. Accessed 2/23/2017. http://boston1775.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-talks.html. Seider.
Zobel, Hiller B. The Boston massacre. New York: W.W. Norton, 1970.
Allison, Robert J. The Boston Massacre. Beverly, Mass., MA: Commonwealth Editions, 2006.
Forbes, Esther. Paul Revere & the world he lived in. Vol. 1. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942.
[i] An early form of shotgun with a flared muzzle
[ii] Radical was the name given to those opposed to Parliamentary rule.