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.

Subscribe thru Follow.it


Monday, June 04, 2018

Celebrating the King’s Birthday in 1768

June is so full of Sestercentennial developments that I’ve fallen behind the anniversaries already. So let’s get right to what happened in Boston 250 years ago today, on 4 June 1768.

That date was King George III’s thirtieth birthday. It was a holiday all over the British Empire, and Bostonians celebrated like the rest. Here’s the report of events in the town from the Boston Post-Boy:
About Noon his Excellency the Governor [Francis Bernard] went to the Council Chamber [in the Town House], where he received the Compliments of His Majesty’s Council, the Honourable House of Representatives, His Majesty’s Officers of all Denominations, and the principal Gentlemen of the Town, upon the happy occasion.

After which upon a Signal given the Guns of Castle-William and the Batteries of the Town were fired, and after them the Guns of the Romney Man of War. During which Time His Excellency with the Company in the Council Chamber drank the Health of his Majesty, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family, and other loyal Healths suitable to the Day.

His Excellency’s Troop of Horse Guards [under Col. David Phips], the Regiment of Militia [under Col. Joseph Jackson] and the Train of Artillery [under Capt. Adino Paddock] were paraded in King-Street upon this occasion, and made the usual Firings; after which the Artillery Company divided into two Parties, performed an Exercise representing an Engagement, much to the satisfaction of the Spectators: The Whole was conducted with decency and good order, and great Expressions of Joy.
The train, or militia artillery company, had rapidly become a great source of pride for Bostonians. All the newspapers mentioned their maneuvers on this holiday, and the Boston Gazette ran a letter to the printers singling out that unit as “a very great Military Ornament to the Town, and likewise an Honor to the Province.”

Earlier that year, the train had received two small brass cannon from Britain to supplement the two they already had. That allowed the company to divide into two squads, each with two guns, and perform that impressive mock “Engagement.” (A little more than six years later, those four cannon disappeared from the company’s armories under redcoat guard, as I relate in The Road to Concord.)

In 1768, the king’s birthday was a unifying holiday. Members of the Massachusetts General Court toasted George III alongside Bernard, even though they were at odds with the governor on many political issues. Those disputes gave rise to the rest of this month’s Sestercentennial anniversaries.

No comments: