Asa Lawrence (1737-1804) was a provincial army captain from Groton. In the second volume of his Groton Historical Series (1890), the indefatigable local historian Samuel Abbott Green published Lawrence’s 1779 petition to the Massachusetts General Court, asking for some compensation and support:
Humbly shewes Asa Lawrence of Groton in the County of Middlesex that he was in the Engagement of the 17th of June at Charlestown [i.e., the Battle of Bunker Hill] and there lost goods an account whereof is hereunto annexed—The Massachusetts legislature voted to grant Lawrence £100 for the “gun, knapsack, bayonet, coat, blanket, &c.” that he lost at Bunker Hill.
and that at the Battle of Chelsea he risqued his Life at the Command of general [Israel] Putnam to Burn one of the Enemies armed Vessels and after many attempts he finally effected the same whereby there was an acquisition of twelve peices of Cannon to the Public,
and also that he served seven weeks in the late Expedition against Rhode Island as a Volunteer and has never had any reward for said services or Compensation for his said Losses.
Wherefore he prays that a due allowance may be made him for his services and losses aforesd and he as in duty bound shall ever pray &c.
This petition suggests that the fight in late May 1775 had become known in Massachusetts as “the Battle of Chelsea.” Of course, Lawrence had every reason to portray that fight as an important battle since he had played an important role in it and was seeking some reward.
I can’t leave Capt. Lawrence without noting the evidence, mentioned in this article, that his twelve-year-old son Rowland (or Roland) came with him to the siege of Boston as a “waiter,” or personal servant and gofer. Later, in 1776-77, Rowland served four months in the militia at Dorchester.
TOMORROW: So what does this mean for “the Battle of Chelsea Creek”?