The Boston Public Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts department has just made a digitized image of its overhead view of the Boston Massacre, credited to Paul Revere, available to everyone here.
The Town House (now called the Old State House) is at the upper center. The arc of circles at the right middle represents the soldiers in front of the Customs house.
As for the victims, they are laid out and labeled, with full sketches for the first four:
- 1 (looking like a J), A – Crispus Attucks
- 2, G – Samuel Gray
- 3, C – James Caldwell
- 4, G – Samuel Maverick, apprentice to Isaac Greenwood
- 5 – no initial, and kind of crossed out, in front of the Exchange Tavern
- 6, P – Robert Patterson or David Parker
- 7, P – David Parker or Robert Patterson [Not helpful here, Paul]
- 8, P — Edward Payne, standing in his own doorway
- 9, M – Christopher Monk
It might seem to make more sense for “4, G” to be John Green and one “M” or an unlabeled circle to be Samuel Maverick, but we know Maverick was shot at the back of the crowd where that “4, G” body is shown. Revere knew the Greenwood family in the North End, so he surely heard of the apprentice’s death on the morning of 6 March. On the other hand, he used the boy’s own initials, not the master’s, when he engraved a woodcut of four coffins for the Boston Gazette a few days later.
(For Charles Bahne’s analysis of this image in 2013, see this post.)
This diagram also labels the streets and alleys leading off of King Street, plus many of the shops and houses in that part of central Boston. We can thus get a sense of this neighborhood, with the homes of some high-powered businessmen like Edward Payne and Thomas Marshall, and shops that catered to them.
One theory suggests that Revere created this picture for use in one of the trials that followed the Massacre. There’s no mention of such a map in the court records, however, and we have unusually good documentation of those proceedings. Furthermore, by the time those trials started, Patrick Carr had died, so he should have been shown as well.
Another interesting detail is that some of the sketches of dying people resemble figures in Henry Pelham’s engraving of the Massacre, which we know Revere got his hands on and copied by the end of March. Did Pelham or Revere sketch miniature versions of the those figures on this view to create more drama than circles could impart?