Friday, December 14, 2012

Boston Tea Party ~ 16 December 1773

The newly re-opened Boston Tea Party Museum

The Boston Tea Party took place on 16 December 1773, and was an act of violence and treason. There is no official list of participants, especially since the men who threw the tea into the harbor were committing a crime. There is a list at the Boston Tea Party Museum website that contains the names of men “documented” to have been at the event. There is a list of participants at this link, too:   

In various records I've found several members of my family tree who claimed to have been at the Boston Tea Party. Who knows for sure? What do you think?

Robert Hichborn was the brother in law to my 6x great grandfather Daniel Glover (1735 – abt 1790). He had several famous military brothers in law, including General John Glover (1732 – 1797). Robert Hichborn was a sailmaker and shipbuilder who lived on Anne Street in Boston’s North End, near the site of the Boston Tea Party. He was a member of the Sons of Liberty and was also an officer in the American Revolution. In the Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings Volume 20, page 11, he was listed along with 25 men, including Paul Revere, to guard the tea (guard?). This is the same bunch accused of tossing it into the harbor.

Nathaniel Frothingham (1746 – 1825) is a 2nd cousin seven generations removed, grandson of my 7x great aunt Hannah (Rand) Frothingham (1672 – 1760), great grandson of my ancestors Thomas Rand and Sarah Edenden. He was a Boston coachmaker or “chaisemaker”and is listed on the Tea Party Museum website, as well as on the SAR list.

Major Robert Davis (1747 – 1798) was a descendant of my ancestors John Gore and Rhoda Gardner. He was an officer in the American Revolution, and a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. He was said to have been a member of the Boston Tea Party in compiled genealogies, and was also a Freemason. He is on the museum list, and the SAR list has him as an “importer of groceries and liquors”. I wonder if he was involved with importing tea?

John Holyoke (1743 – 1807) was married to Elizabeth Treat (1747 – 1830) my 2nd cousin 8 generations removed. He served in the American Revolution and claimed to have participated in the Boston Tea Party. “Mr. HOLYOKE never, never confirmed the tale; the whole party was pledged to secrecy” [ Holyoke, A North American Family 1637 - 1992, John Gibbs Holyoke, Gateway Press, Inc. (Baltimore, 1993)] He is not on the lists at the museum or SAR. I’m inclined to think he was telling his grandchildren a tall tale.

Serendipity! Last year I was pleased to find out that fellow genealogy blogger, Deb Ruth, had made a “cousin connection” with me when she was researching her husband’s ancestor James Starr. She was excited to find out that James was a member of the Sons of Liberty, and he had participated in the Boston Tea Party. Starr is listed on the museum website. She wrote about our cousin connection at this link:

There was a Josiah Snelling listed on the page of participants from the Boston Tea Party museum, but there are no details about him. My 4x great grandmother, Catherine Plummer (Jones) Dominis, had a sister, Sarah Dargue Jones (1794 – 1875) who married Enoch Howes Snelling in Boston. Enoch had three cousins named Josiah Snelling, born in 1735, 1741 and 1757. The last one would have been only 16 years old in 1773. All these Snellings lived along the waterfront in Boston, mostly in the North End, where Paul Revere lived, too. I’m pretty sure that the Josiah Snelling on the list is one of these cousins, or maybe even one I don’t have in my Snelling database.


The list of participants from the Boston Tea Party Museum can be seen at this link:

A list of participants from the Old South Meetinghouse website: 

There is also a running theme at J.L. Bell's Blog "Boston 1775" about the participants at the Boston Tea Party. He writes posts every December about the possible men who were documented to be at the event, believe it or not. You can find his blog at this link

From my Christmas Ornament collection

This blog post was orginally published 16 December 2011 at this link:


To Cite/Link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Boston Tea Party ~ 16 December 1773", Nutfield Genealogy, posted December 14, 2012, ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. Thanks for all the info and links! It was timely, not just in that the Tea Party was this month, but that I recently found a tantalizing clue that one of my forebears may have been in the Tea Party: in a DAR magazine from the 'teens, reporting the death of one of its members (one of my ancestors), it mentions how proud she was to be descended from a Tea Party participant! Alas, I have yet to find his name on any of the lists, but if nothing else, it makes a good story!

  2. So refreshing to know all this. And here I thought they had staged this revolutionary act openly! Always good to err on the side of caution, though. No surnames of our family on the list (they were in NC and SC, about to fight in the Revolutionary War), but I enjoyed reading the names anyway!

  3. Heather, if I'm right, my distant Ellingwood cousin Susannah Ellingwood/Ellinwood/Ellenwood was the wife of Robert Hichborn. (she's my 2nd cousin 6x removed).

  4. Your ornaments! Love them!
    Katherine Leach