J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Looking in on the Loyalists in London

I had a fine time talking about Capt. John Gore and his family at Old South Meeting House yesterday afternoon. I want to thank the folks from Old South, the Bostonian Society, the Friends of the Longfellow House, Boston by Foot, and Loyalty & Liberty who came to listen, as well as all the individuals and the poor folks who just wandered in.

Next Thursday at 12:15 P.M., Prof. Brendan McConville of Boston University will wrap up Old South’s series of talks on Loyalists. Eventually all four of the month’s presentations will be available on the web.

The handout I created for that program offered a look at this item from Isaiah Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy for 25 Dec 1777 (though it might have appeared in a Boston newspaper two days before). It shows how bitter New Englanders felt about Loyalist absentees at that difficult stage of the war:

By a gentleman lately arrived from London, (Old-England) we learn, that a number of those miserable devils called tories, who fled with the British troops from this town, have received a pension from the English King, for their firm attachment to his crown and dignity.

Among this despicable class, are, Capt. Adino Paddock, and John Gore, late of this town, (who our informant very well remembers) with a large train of etcaetera’s. The tyrant’s pension settled on these wretched creatures, is, one hundred pounds sterling only per annum.
Just to rub it in, the paper referred to Paddock with the title captain even though he’d been promoted to major in the Massachusetts militia before the war, and I think to colonel during the siege.

Who, I wondered, was the gentleman arriving from London in the middle of the war between Britain and America? He must have come from Boston originally since the paper said he “very well remembers” Paddock and Gore, a coachmaker and a paint merchant who were sharing a house in London to save expenses.

Gore had a nephew and apprentice named George Searle. In September 1777, Searle had recently arrived in London, according to Samuel Cutler’s diary about being a prisoner of war at Plymouth. Searle’s address during his visit was “Mr. Paddock’s, No. 8 Charlotte Street, Buckingham Gate, London.” The editor of that diary suspected Searle as having supplied the money Cutler used to bribe his guards and escape on 26 September.

So did Searle visit his uncle John Gore in London, use the occasion to smuggle money to Cutler, and then return to Boston with the news of Loyalists receiving a “pension”? (It was really more like a welfare allowance.) I didn’t have enough hard facts about this situation to gossip about it yesterday, but I hope to uncover more.

Eventually Paddock got a royal appointment on the Isle of Jersey, Gore returned to his family in Boston, and Searle went mad. But that’s another story.

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