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, September 27, 2011

The Death of John Raymond

Part of the Munroe Tavern’s formal reopening on Sunday was the dedication of a memorial marker for John Raymond, killed on the grounds on 19 Apr 1775. That’s the stone to the left of the thick white archway in Ray Boas’s photograph above.

Immediately after the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts provincial authorities listed Raymond among the men from Lexington who had died that day. Their broadsides and newspaper dispatches put no asterisk beside his name to indicate that he was killed on the common in the morning—so he must have died in the afternoon battle.

But otherwise, I found nothing published in 1775 about the circumstances of John Raymond’s death. The Provincial Congress made as big a deal as possible of certain British army “atrocities”—the deaths of two men in a Menotomy tavern, the invasion of Hannah Adams’s house in that same village. The Rev. Jonas Clarke of Lexington highlighted those same events in his sermon on the first anniversary of the battle. But he didn’t mention Raymond.

The earliest description of how Raymond died that I’ve come across appeared in William Munroe’s deposition about the battle from 1825:
On the return of the British troops from Concord, they stopped at my tavern house in Lexington, and dressed their wounded. I had left my house in the care of a lame man, by the name of Raymond, who supplied them with whatever the house afforded, and afterward, when he was leaving the house, he was shot by the regulars, and found dead within a few rods of the house.
Two years later, Munroe’s death notice (quoted here in full, and referring to him by his later militia rank) stated:
Col. M. participated with his company in the events of the day, leaving the care of his public house in the superintendance of a neighbor, whom the British killed on their retreat.
Those sources established several details about Raymond: he was one of Munroe’s neighbors, and he was “lame”—whether permanently or temporarily is unclear. Munroe left him in charge of the tavern, he served the British troops, and they shot him a short distance from the house “when he was leaving.”

TOMORROW: The story grows new details.


John L. Smith said...

Who really knows, but perhaps John Raymond's "leaving" was really running away, which may have prompted a musket shot from one of the King's troops? Otherwise I wonder why the bullet would have given the 'thank you' message to Raymond after having attended to British wounds and supplies? Unless it was continued retribution?

J. L. Bell said...

Those are good questions, and another one is how the people of Lexington knew that Raymond was killed by a British soldier’s deliberate shot as opposed to one from a provincial militiaman or in confused crossfire. As this posting suggests, in 1775 and for half a century afterward Raymond was listed as one of the men killed by the British army, but not in an atrocious way.

Jari Backman said...

Interesting to read what all was going around the Munroe tavern.

Regarding the last part in the story, the "rod" seems to be a much used measure of distance two centuries ago.

For a person born to use meters this is not a difficult to comprehend as it is very close to five meters.

Charles Bahne said...

For those uninitiated in the English system of surveyor's measures, a rod is 5.5 yards, or 16.5 feet, which comes to exactly 5.0292 meters. There are 320 rods in a mile.