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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Friday, November 05, 2010

“Happen’d to Swallow a Silver Spoon”

This is the 5th of November, celebrated in colonial New England as Pope Night. So it’s time for my annual invitation to visit the “5th of November in Boston” website I made for the Bostonian Society a few years back. The site traces the history of the holiday, shows Pierre Eugene du Simitière’s sketches of the 1767 celebration, and describes how Pope Night dissolved and evolved during the Revolutionary War.

Here’s an additional tidbit, quoted from the 14 Nov 1749 Boston Gazette:

Pope’s Night Disaster.
Last Monday, the 6th Instant [i.e., of this month], at Night, some of the Pope’s Attendance had some Supper as well as Money given ’em at a House in Town, one of the Company happen’d to swallow a Silver Spoon with his Victuals, marked I H S. Whoever it was is desired to return it when it comes to Hand, or if offer’d to any Body for Sale, ’tis desired it may be stop’d, and Notice given to the Printer.
This is one of the earliest printed records of Pope Night in Boston, and already the celebration was getting a bad reputation. However, the celebrants were pious enough to postpone their revelry for a day when the 5th fell on the Sabbath.

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