Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Participants of the Boston Tea Party

Although considered heroic and brave by many, the names of participants in the Boston Tea Party remained a secret for years in order to protect them from persecution by the British government. Destroying the tea was an act of treason punishable by death. Some of the men were also from distinguished families who did not want to be associated with such illegal activity. Theses rebellious colonists were mostly members of the Sons of Liberty, but some were random citizens who had joined the group en route to the harbor. To protect their identities, tea party participants disguised themselves as Native Americans complete with ragged clothes, makeup and mohawks and refrained from acknowledging each other during the act.

Through oral tradition, old family stories and some documentation, an incomplete list of 175 names was pieced together and published in a book titled, Tea Leaves, by Francis Drake in 1884 as well as in the 1973 Boston Globe 200th Anniversary Boston Tea Party Special Section:

    Nathaniel Barber / Francis Akeley (Eckley) 
    Samuel Barnard / Henry Bass
    Joseph Bassett / Edward Bates
    Adam Beals Jr. / Thomas Bolter
    David Bradlee / Josiah Bradlee
    Nathaniel Bradlee / Thomas Bradlee
    James Brewer / John Brown
    Seth Ingersoll Browne / Stephen Bruce
    Benjamin Burton / Nicholas Campbell
    George Carleton / Thomas Chase
    Nathaniel Child / Benjamin Clark
    Jonathan Clark / John Cochran
    Gilbert Colesworthy / Gersham Collier
    Adam Collson / James Foster Condy
    Daniel Coolidge / Joseph Coolidge
    Samuel Coolidge / Samuel Cooper
    William Cox / Thomas Crafts
    John Crane / Obadiah Curtis
    Thomas Dana, Jr. / Amasa Davis
    Robert Davis / John DeCarteret
    David Decker / John Dickman
    Edward Dolbeare / Samuel Dolbeare
    John Dyar, Jr. / Joseph Eaton
    Joseph Eayres / Francis Eckley (or Akeley) 
    Benjamin Edes / William Etheridge
    Samuel Fenno / Samuel Foster
    Thomas Fracker / Nathaniel Frothingham, Jr.
    John Fulton / John Gammell
    Eleazer Gay / Thomas Gerrish
    Samuel Gore / Moses Grant
    Nathaniel Greene / Timothy Guy
    Samuel Hammond / Peter Harrington
    William Haskins / William Hendley
    George Robert Twelves Hewes / John Hicks
    Samuel Hobbs / John Hooton
    Elisha Horton / Elijah Houghton
    Samuel Howard / Edward Compton Howe
    Jonathan Hunnewell / Richard Hunnewell
    Richard Hunnewell, Jr. / Thomas Hunstable
    Abraham Hunt / Daniel Ingersoll
    Daniel Ingoldson / Charles Jameson 
    Robert Jameson / Jared Joy
    Robert Lash / Amariah Learned
    Joseph Lee / Nathaniel Lee
    Amos Lincoln / John Locke
    Matthew Loring / Joseph Lovering
    Joseph Ludden / David Lyon
    Thomas Machin / Ebenezer MacIntosh
    Peter McIntosh / Archibald MacNeil 
    John Marston / Martin, probably Wm.
    Thompson Maxwell / John May
    Mead, probably John / Henry Mellius
    Thomas Melville / Aaron John Miller
    James Mills / William Molineaux
    Francis Moore / Thomas Moore
    Anthony Morse / Joseph Mountfort
    Eliphalet Newell / Joseph Nicholls
    Samuel Nowell / Joseph Pearse Palmer
    Jonathan Parker / Joseph Payson
    Samuel Peck / John Peters
    William Pierce / Isaac Pitman
    Lendall Pitts / Samuel Pitts
    Thomas Porter / Henry Prentiss
    Nathaniel Prentiss / Rev. John Prince
    Edward Procter / Henry Purkitt
    Seth Putnam / John Randall
    Joseph Reed / Paul Revere
    Benjamin Rice / Jonathan Dorby Robins
    Joseph Roby / John Russell
    William Russell / John Sawtelle
    George Sayward / Edmund Sears
    Robert Sessions / Joseph Shed
    Benjamin Simpson / Peter Slater, Jr.
    Samuel Sloper / Ephriam Smith
    Josiah Snelling / Thomas Spear
    Samuel Sprague / John Spurr
    James Starr / Phineas Stearns
    Ebeneezer Stevens / James Stoddard
    Elisha Story / James Swan 
    Abraham Tower / Bartholomew Trow
    John Truman / Benjamin Tucker Jr.
    Thomas Urann / James Watson
    Henry Wells / Thomas Wells
    Josiah Wheeler / John Whitehead
    David Williams / Isaac Williams
    Jeremiah Williams / Thomas Williams
    Nathaniel Willis / Joshua Wyeth
    Thomas Young
Other people have also been suspected of taking part in the Boston Tea Party but have never been officially listed, such as my ancestor Captain Edward Burbeck. Numerous documents list Burbeck as a possible participant of the event and suggest that he had to flee Boston to avoid persecution from the British government who had placed a price on his head. The author of the “History of Plymouth, New Hampshire” states:

Edward Burbeck, son of Col. William and Abigail (Tuttle) Burbeck...He was a wood carver in Boston, a captain of artillery, 1775, and, by tradition, one of the 'Boston Tea Party.”

A book written by the Sons of the American Revolution in 1896 also states Edward Burbeck was:

suspected of being a member of the Boston tea party. When Boston was in the hands of the British, Edward managed to send his family from the city and then escaped himself, disguised as a fisherman. He was reunited to his family at Newburyport.”

Historians are not sure why the tea participants chose Native American disguises, especially considering they used different disguises on other occasions, such as during Burbeck's escape from Boston, but they speculate that “playing Indian” has been a popular tradition in America for centuries.

Due to the secrecy, most of the tea party participants escaped punishment, except for Francis Akeley who was the only person imprisoned for his role in the tea party.
Paul Revere took part in the Boston Tea Party

Year Book of the Wisconsin Society of the Sons of the American Revolution”; Sons of the American Revolution; Wisconsin Society; 1896

History of Plymouth, New Hampshire: Vol. I. Narrative--vol. II ..., Volume 2”; Ezra Scollay Stearns; Moses Thurston Runnels, Plymouth (N.H.). Town History Committee; 1906

Old South Meetinghouse: FAQ About the Boston Tea Party

Wells 1: Boston's Copp's Hill Burying Ground Guide

The Boston Tea Party: Only One Man Was Imprisoned for Destruction of Tea

The Boston Tea Party: The Complete List of Participants

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