Digital Commonwealth

Boston Massacre trial notes

Item Information

Boston Massacre trial notes
One portion of John Adams' notes from the trial of the eight British soldiers accused of murder for their role in the Boston Massacre (Rex v. Wemms, et al.). This fragment is comprised of twenty pages, thirteen of which contain writing, along with seven blank pages, and is part of a larger extant body of Adams' Boston Massacre trial notes. Those pages of notes not held by the BPL are held by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Adams, John, 1735-1826
Former owner:
Kidder, Frederic, 1804-1885
Boston Public Library
Rare Books Department
Collection (local):
Manuscripts (America)
Boston Massacre, 1770
Trials (Murder)
United States--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
Wemms, William
MassachusettsSuffolk (county)Boston
10 leaves ; 16 cm.
Terms of Use:
No known copyright restrictions.
No known restrictions on use.
Notes (acquisition):
Acquired by the Boston Public Library ca. 1870. Prior to that date, the notes had been in the possession of Frederic Kidder, who published a transcription of them in 1870.
Title devised by cataloger.
This manuscript has been filed under several call numbers, including: MS G.38.24 and MS Am. 229 (23). It is currently filed under MS Adams 307.
For further information, consult The Adams Papers, Digital Editions: Legal Papers of John Adams, vol. 3.
After the Boston Massacre on March 5th, 1770, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson ordered the arrest of Captain Thomas Preston and eight of his soldiers for the crime of murder. Unable to acquire legal representation, Preston and the eight soldiers eventually petitioned John Adams to act on their behalf. A prominent Boston lawyer already active in the patriot cause, Adams agreed to represent the defendants, forming a legal team comprised of Sampson Salter Blowers, Robert Auchmuty, and Josiah Quincy (younger brother of the prosecutor in the case). Preston was tried separately from his men, and all but two of them (Hugh Montgomery and Matthew Kilroy) were acquitted, while Montgomery and Kilroy were convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Published in: Historical Manuscripts in the Public Library in the City of Boston, No. 2 (1902). pp. 13-20; Kidder, Frederic. History of the Boston Massacre. Albany: Munsell, 1870. p. 10.
Notes (object):
Written in ink on individual sheets watermarked with a crown, all were apparently bound together at one time. Currently encapsulated in polyester and housed in a tan cloth box.
06_01_000710-06_01_000728, 06_01_000761
Call #:
MS Adams 307
MS Am. 229 (23)
MS G.38.24