Mob Rule in New England
Rivington's Gazette, March 9 1775

In August last, a mob in Berkshire forced the justices of the Court of Common Pleas from their seats, and shut up the court-house. They also drove David Ingersoll from his house, and damaged the same, and he was obliged to leave his estate; after which his enclosures were laid waste. At Taunton, Daniel Leonard was driven from his house, and bullets fired into it by the mob, and he obliged to take refuge in Boston, for the supposed crime of obeying his Majesty's requisition as one of his council for this province.

Colonel Gilbert, of Freetown, a firm friend to government, in August last being at Dartmouth, was attacked at midnight by a mob of about an hundred, but by his bravery, with the assistance of the family where he lodged, they were beaten off. The same night, Brigadier Ruggles was also attacked by another party, who were routed after having painted and cut the hair off of one of his horse's mane and tail. Afterwards he had his arms taken from his dwelling-house in Hardwick, all of which are not yet returned. He had at another time a very valuable English horse, which was kept as a stallion, poisoned, his family disturbed, and himself obliged to take reguge in Boston, after having been insulted in his own house, and twice on his way, by a mob.

The chief justice of the province in Middleborough, was threatened to be stopped on the highway in going to Boston court, but his firmness and known resolutin, supporting government in this as well as many other instances, intimidated the mob from laying hands on him; he was also threatened with opposition in going into court, but the terror of the troops prevented. The whole bench were hissed by a mob as they came out of court.

In September, Mr. Sewall, his Majesty's Attorney-General for Massachusetts Bay, was obliged to repair to Boston for refuge. His house at Cambridge was attacked by a mob, and his windows were broken, but the mob was beaten off by the gallant behavior and bravery of some young gentlemen of his family. About the same time the Lieutenant-Governor Oliver, president of his Majesty's council, was attacked at Cambridge, by a mob of about four thousand, and was compelled to resign his seat at the board, since which, upon further threats, he has been obliged to leave his estate, and take refuge with his family in Boston.

At Worcester, a mob of about five thousand collected, prevented the Court of Common Pleas from sitting, (about one thousand of them had fire-arms,) and all drawn up in two files, compelled the judges, sheriffs, and gentlemen of the bar, to pass them with cap in hand, and read their disavowal of holding courts under the new acts of parliament, not less than thirty times in their procession.

Daniel Oliver, Esq., of Hardwick, was disarmed by a mob, and has been obliged to take refuge in Boston, to the total loss of his business. Colonel Phips, the very reputable and highly esteemed sheriff of the county of Middlesex, by a large mob was obliged to promise not to serve any processes of courts, and to retire to Boston for protection from further insults. Colonel Saltonstall, the very humane sheriff of the county of Essex, has been obliged to take refuge in Boston, to screen himself from the violence of the mob.

The Court of Common Pleas was forbidden to sit at Taunton, by a large mob, with a justice acting as one of their committee. At Middleborough, Peter Oliver, Esq., was obliged to sign a paper, not to execute his office, under the new acts. At Springfield, the Courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace, were prevented sitting by a large mob, who kept the justices from entering the court-house, and obliged them, the sheriff, and gentlemen of the bar, to desist, with their hats off, from holding any courts. Colonel Edson, one of his Majesty's council, has been driven from his house in Bridgewater, and kept from it ever since last August, for being a friend to government, and accepting his Majesty's appointment as counsellor.

The Courts of General Session of the Peace and inferior Courts of Common Pleas for the County of Plymouth, have been shut up. In August, Colonel Putnam of Worcester, a firm friend to Government, had two fat cows stolen and taken from him, and a very valuable grist-mill burnt, and was obliged to leave a fair estate in Worcester, and retire to Boston, where he has been ever since, for his protesting against riots, &c. Colonel Murray, of Rutland, one of his Majesty's council, has been obliged to leave a large estate in the country, and repair to Boston to save himself from being handled by the mob, and compelled to resign his seat at council board. His house has been attacked, his family put in fear.

Colonel Vassall, of Cambridge, from intolerable threats, and insolent treatment by mobs, of his friends and himself, has left his elegant seat there, and retired to Boston, with his amiable family, for protection. John Borland, Esq., is in the same predicament with Colonel Vassall. Honorable John Chandler, Esq., judge of probate, &c., for the county of Worcester, has been obliged to retreat to Boston for protection, and leave his business, and a numerous family of hopeful youths behind him, with great reluctance, and who, before he came away, was ordered by the mob to hold his office till further orders.

The Plymouth protesters, addressers, and military officers, were compelled by a mob of two thousand, collected from Plymouth and Barnstable counties, to recant and resign their military commissions. Thomas Foster, Esq., an ancient gentleman, was obliged to run into the woods, and had like to have been lost, and the mob, although the justices, with Mr. Foster, were sitting in the town, ransacked his house, and damaged his furniture. he was obnoxious as a friend to government, and for that reason they endeavored to deprive him of his business, and to prevent even his taking the acknowledgment of a deed.

Richard Clark, Esq., a consignee of the tea, was obliged to retire from Salem to Boston, as an asylum; and his son Isaac went to Plymouth to collect debts, but in the night was assaulted by a mob and obliged to get out of town at midnight. Jesse Dunbar, of Halifax, in Plymouth County, bought some fat cattle of Mr. Thomas the counsellor, and drove them to Plymouth for sale; one of the oxen being skinned and hung up, the committee came to him, and finding he bought it of Mr. Thomas, they put the ox into a cart, and fixing Dunbar in his belly, carted him four miles, and there made him pay a dollar, after taking three more cattle and a horse from him. The Plymouth mob delivered him to the Kingston mob, which carted him four miles further, and forced from him another dollar, then delivered him to the Duxborough mob, who abused him by throwing the tripe in his face, and endeavoring to cover him with it to the endangering his life. They then threw dirt at him, and after other abuses caried him to said Thomas's house, and made him pay another sum of money, and he not taking the beef, they flung it in the road and quitted him.


The Diary of the American Revolution compiled by Frank Moore, pages 7-10
Washington Square Press, New York, 1967