The heavy military presence in the town that
lead to the incident was the result of British
enforcement of the Townshend Acts of 1767
The British soldiers (redcoats) had arrived in
Boston on September 28, 1768
There were 4,000 British troops and about 20,000
residents at the time of the incident.
Two famous men led the different factions.
Thomas Hutchinson was the royal governor and
Samuel Adams was a patriot and the man of the
The day before the incident on March 4, 1770
dozens of Bostonians had clashed with British
troops at John Gray's Ropewalk in the Fort Hill
Private Matthew Kilroy had argued with Samuel
Gray at Gray's Ropewalks. Private Kilroy would
later be convicted of manslaughter of Samuel
On the snowy evening of March 5, 1770 a British
soldier called Hugh White became involved in a
confrontation with some citizens. Hugh White
struck a young boy called Edward Garrick with
the butt of his rifle for insulting a British
officer called Captain Goldfinch
Private White called for assistance which was
answered by Captain Thomas Preston and 8 British
A redcoat called Private Montgomery was hit in
the face by a stick and fired into the crowd
killing a black man called Crispus Attucks
Other shots were fired. Private Kilroy shot and
killed a man called Samuel Gray
Altogether 5 civilians were killed. Their names
were Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, Patrick Carr,
Samuel Maverick and James Caldwell
Six other civilians were wounded during the
The soldiers involved were arrested - all
pleaded not guilty
The victims were hailed as heroes and buried
together in the Granary Burying Ground
12,000 Bostonians joined the funeral procession
that made symbolic trip to the Liberty Tree
The Governor William Hutchison instigated an
investigation and reported his findings to
A town meeting held at Faneuil Hall appointed
their own committee to investigate the incident.
Samuel Adams was the chairman of the committee
who insisted that the British troops left the
The British troops left the town and stayed at
Castle William which was an old fort in Boston
The term 'Boston Massacre' was coined by Samuel
John Adams, the cousin of Samuel Adams who would
become the second American President, was
appointed to defend the Soldiers at the trial
together with Josiah Quincy Jr.
The prosecutors were Robert Treat Paine and
Captain Thomas Preston and eight of his men were
brought to trial on November 27, 1770.
The 8 British soldiers accused of murder were
tried separately from their officer Captain
The names of the 8 soldiers were Corporal
William Wemms, Private Hugh Montgomery, Private
James Hartigan, Private William McCauley,
Private Hugh White, Private Matthew Kilroy,
Private William Warren and Private John Carroll.
Captain Thomas Preston was found not guilty and
returned to England on December 2, 1770. He
awarded £200 in compensation for the troubles he
had endured during the incident
Two of the troops, Kilroy and Montgomery, were
found guilty of manslaughter.
9 days after their trial, on December 14, 1770,
they returned to court for sentencing - which
should have been the mandatory death penalty.
They both entered a claim, and were granted, the
'benefit of clergy' to avoid the death sentence.
They were released but were first branded on
their thumb with the letter "M" for
Samuel Adams and Paul Revere used the incident
as political propaganda to stir the patriots in
the other colonies
The incident was followed by the Tea Act in 1773
followed by the Boston Tea Party in 1774.