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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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Massachusetts's First State Seal

A Boston 1775 reader named Barry kindly shared this image from from a Massachusetts commission for Edward Procter (1733-1811), as major of the Boston militia regiment under Col. Jabez Hatch.

This commission, dated 18 July 1777, bears the imprint of the Massachusetts seal—but the seal that the new state used only for a few years during the Revolutionary War. It featured a man in contemporary clothes carrying a sword in his right hand and a scroll labeled “Magna Carta” in his left. The image had been engraved for the Massachusetts Provincial Congress by Paul Revere.

In 1780, Massachusetts adopted a seal more like the one used in colonial times, with a picture of a peaceful Native American. That has remained the content of the seal ever since, though it’s undergone many graphic changes.

As for Edward Procter, he was a merchant in Boston who politicked with the Whigs. In February 1770, he argued with Customs officer Ebenezer Richardson at the start of the confrontation that resulted in the death of young Christopher Seider. In November 1773, Procter volunteered to lead a squad guarding the first tea ships to ensure that no East India Company tea was unloaded, and he was on the first published list of men who destroyed that tea the next month. He was a captain in Boston’s militia in late 1774, as well as a master of the St. Andrew’s Lodge of Freemasons. Thus, Procter was a natural person for the new government to commission as a militia officer. By 1779, he held the rank of colonel, and he later served in important town offices.


Alan Proctor said...

I would like to know more on Col Procter for the House of Proctor Genealogy web site

J. L. Bell said...

Edward Procter’s name shows up in a lot of records from Revolutionary Boston, but I don’t recall a profile about him or a source of his papers.