The Soldiers Trial: October 24 to 30, 1770

Images of Trial Transcript

Selected Testimony

The statements below come from The Trial of the British Soldiers, of the 29th Regiment of Foot. Boston: Published by William Emmons, 1824.

Q.  Do you know any of the prisoners?
A.  Yes, several, there is Killroy I know particularly well.
Q.  Did you ever hear Killroy make use of any threatening expressions, against the inhabitants of this town?
A.  Yes, one evening I heard him say, he would never miss an opportunity, when he had one, to fire on the inhabitants, and that he had wanted to have an opportunity ever since he landed.
Q.  How long was that before the 5th March"
A.  A week or fortnight...

Testimony of Samuel Hemmingway for the Crown

Q.  Was you Patrick Carr's surgeon?
A.  I was...
Q.  Was he [Carr] apprehensive of his danger?
A.  He told me...he was a native of Ireland, that he had frequently seen mobs, and soldiers called upon to quell them...he had seen soldiers often fire on the people in Ireland, but had never seen them bear half so much before they fired in his life...
Q.  When had you the last conversation with him?
A.  About four o'clock in the afternoon, preceeding the night on which he died, and he then particularly said, he forgave the man whoever he was that shot him, he was satisfied he had no malice, but fired to defend himself.

Testimony of Dr. John Jeffries for the Defense

"I, John Wilme, of lawful age, testify that about ten days before the late massacre, Christopher Rumbly of the 14th regiment, was at my house...[and]...did talk very much against the town, and said if there should be any interruption, that the grenadier's company was to march up King street...and that he had been in many a battle; and that he did not know but he might be soon in one here; and that if he was, he would level his piece so as not to miss; and said that the blood would soon run in the streets of Boston...."

From the deposition of John Wilme

"I, Jeffrey Richardson, of lawful age, testify and say, that on Friday, the second instant, about 11 o'clock, A.M., eight or ten soldiers of the 29th regiment, armed with clubs, came to Mr. John Gray's ropewalks [ropemaking shop], and challenged all the ropemakers to come out and fight them... ."

From the deposition of Jeffrey Richardson

"...this put me upon immediately waiting upon Col. Dalrymple, to whom I related what I understood had passed at the ropewalk days before. He replied it was much the same as he had heard from his people; but says he, 'your man was the aggressor in affronting one of my people, by asking him if he wanted to work, and then telling him to clean his little-house [outhouse].' For this expression I dismissed my journeyman on the Monday morning following; and further said, I would all in my power to prevent my people's giving them any affront in future. He then assured me, he had and should do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in order...."

From the deposition of John Gray

"Matthew Adams...testifies and says, that on Monday evening the fifth day of March instant, between the hours of seven and eight of the clock, he went to the house of Corporal Pershall...the corporal called him back, and desired him with great earnestness to go home to his master's house as soon as business was over, and not to be abroad on any account that night in particular, for the soldiers were determined to be revenged on the ropewalk people...."

From the deposition of Matthew Adams

"They stood with their pieces before them, to defend themselves; and as soon as they had placed themselves, a party, about twelve in number, with sticks in their hands, who stood in the middle of the street, gave three cheers, and immediately surrounded the soldiers, and struck upon their guns with their sticks, and passed along the front of the soldiers, toward Royal-Exchange-lane, striking the soldiers' guns as they passed...I saw the people near me on the left, strike the soldiers' guns, daring them to fire, and called them cowardly rascals, for bringing arms against naked men...."

From the testimony of Ebenezer Bridgham

Excerpt From Argument of Josiah Quincy for the Defense

"'You lobster,' 'You Bloody back,' 'You coward' and 'You dastard,' are but some of the expressions proved.--What words more galling? What more cutting and provoking to a soldier? To be reminded of the colour of his garb, by which he was distinguished from the rest of his fellow citizens; to be compared to the most despicable animal that crawls upon the earth, was touching indeed a tender point....A soldier and a coward!...Gentlemen of the jury, for heaven's sake, let us put ourselves in the same situation! Would you not spurn at that spiritless institution of society, which tells you to be a subject at the expense of your manhood?

"The expressions from one party were--'Stand off--stand off!' 'I am upon my station'--'if they molest me upon my post, I will fire.'--'By God I will fire!'--'Keep off!' These were words likely to produce reflexion and procure peace."

Summation of John Adams for the Defense

Boston Massacre Trial Page