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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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Life and Death of David Murray

On 10 Apr 1755, shoemaker David Murray and Mary Fitzgerald married at the New South Meetinghouse, having announced their intention the previous October.

Soon afterward, Boston employee Robert Love visited them at their home on Blowers’s Wharf in the South End, according to Cornelia Hughes Dayton and Sharon H. Salinger in their study Robert Love’s Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston.

Over the next fifteen years the Murrays had children, but David remained a journeyman, never doing well enough at making shoes to open his own shop.

Then, on 12 Aug 1771, the Boston Evening-Post carried this item:
Last Thursday Afternoon [i.e., 8 April] David Murray, a Shoemaker belonging to this Town, was found dead on the Beach near the Neck, an some Marks of Violence appearing on several Parts of his Body, and the Jury of Inquest being of Opinion that his Death was occasioned by some violent Blows, one Willson, a Tobacconist, who had been with him in  a Boat to the Castle, and came off with him from thence the Evening before, was taken up and examined, and telling many contradictory Stories relative to the Affair he was the next Day committed to Goal on a strong Suspicion of being the Means of his untimely End.
The indictment accused Willson of beating Murray to death with his fists. Within a month, Willson was on trial for murder. His attorney: Josiah Quincy, Jr.

TOMORROW: Quincy’s plea to the jury.

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