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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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

“Imprisoned some time past”

In 2007-08, I transcribed the diary of selectman Timothy Newell during the siege of Boston, but somehow I managed to miss this entry:

14th [July 1775]. Last night was awoke by the discharge of cannon on the lines—

Master James Lovell, Master [John] Leach, John—Hunt, have been imprisoned some time past—all they know why it is so is they are charged with free speaking on the public measures.

Dorrington his son and daughter and the nurse for blowing up flies in the evening, they are charged with giving signals in this way to the army without.
John Hunt was charged on 19 July with “speaking treason,” and five days later the prison provost—William Cunningham may already have held that post—added that “Mr. Hunt had hurt his puppy dog and by God he should be confined a month longer.” But that apparently didn’t sway the military authorities, and Hunt was freed on 25 July.

Lovell and Leach were schoolteachers. British officers found some letters on Dr. Joseph Warren’s body that appeared to come from a teacher inside Boston, perhaps signed with the initials “J.L.” The army arrested both men on 29 June. Leach was set free in October, but Lovell (who had in fact sent those letters) was shipped to Halifax as a prisoner in March 1776.

TOMORROW: The Dorrington family.

(Irresistible puppy courtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Animal Health.)

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