Thomas Preston (British Army officer)

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Thomas Preston (c.1722c.1798) [1] was a British officer, a captain who served in Boston in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. He commanded troops in the Boston Massacre in 1770 and was tried for murder, but he was acquitted. Historians have never settled whether he ordered his men to fire on the colonists. Preston was originally from Ireland; his people were among the Protestants settled there. [2]

Kingdom of Great Britain constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

Province of Massachusetts Bay English/British possession in North America (1691–1776)

The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in British North America and one of the thirteen original states of the United States from 1776. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William III and Mary II, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The charter took effect on May 14, 1692 and included the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of Maine, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the direct successor. Maine has been a separate state since 1820, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are now Canadian provinces, having been part of the colony only until 1697.

Boston Massacre Incident on March 5, 1770

The Boston Massacre, known to the British as the Incident on King Street, was a confrontation on March 5, 1770 in which British soldiers shot and killed several people while being harassed by a mob. It occurred in the city of Boston in what was then the British crown colony of Province of Massachusetts Bay. The event was heavily publicized by leading Patriots such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation.

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Boston Massacre

Thomas Preston was an officer of the 29th Regiment of Foot, part of the British garrison in Boston under the overall command of Thomas Gage. He was present at the Boston Massacre on 5 March 1770, when British troops fired on colonists of the city, after an aggressive mob had confronted the troops and thrown snowballs, clubs, and rocks at them. [3] [4]

Thomas Gage British general

General Thomas Gage was a British Army general officer and colonial official best known for his many years of service in North America, including his role as British commander-in-chief in the early days of the American Revolution.

Charges were brought against him and other soldiers, but he was acquitted in a trial held in Boston, Massachusetts. Future United States President John Adams was his attorney. It is still unknown whether or not Preston gave the order to fire; many historians believe that he did not. Two of his men, Hugh Montgomery and Matthew Kilroy, were found guilty of manslaughter. They "prayed clergy" to avoid the death sentence. Instead, they were branded on the thumb with a hot iron, the letter "M" for murder. [5] Captain Preston was found not guilty.

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

John Adams 2nd president of the United States

John Adams was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Before his presidency he was a leader of the American Revolution that achieved independence from Great Britain, and also served as the first vice president of the United States. Adams was a dedicated diarist and regularly corresponded with many important figures in early American history including his wife and adviser, Abigail, and his letters and other papers are an important source of historical information about the era.

Private Hugh Montgomery was a soldier of the 29th Regiment of Foot who was present at the Boston Massacre. He killed one man and was found guilty of manslaughter.

After his trial, Preston retired from the army. He reportedly settled in Ireland. Adams later recalled seeing him in London in the 1780s, when Adams was serving there as US Minister to Britain.

Legacy and honors

The communities of East Preston and North Preston, Nova Scotia may have been named for him.

North Preston Community in Nova Scotia, Canada

North Preston is a community in Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Nova Scotia Province of Canada

Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces, and one of the four provinces that form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest of Canada's ten provinces, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2016, the population was 923,598. Nova Scotia is Canada's second-most-densely populated province, after Prince Edward Island, with 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (45/sq mi).

An actor performing as Preston during a re-enactment of the Boston Massacre in 2007. Captain Preston addresses the troops.jpg
An actor performing as Preston during a re-enactment of the Boston Massacre in 2007.
<i>John Adams</i> (miniseries) 2008 American television miniseries chronicling US President John Adamss political life

John Adams is a 2008 American television miniseries chronicling most of U.S. President John Adams's political life and his role in the founding of the United States. Paul Giamatti portrays John Adams. The miniseries was directed by Tom Hooper. Kirk Ellis wrote the screenplay based on the book John Adams by David McCullough. The biopic of John Adams and the story of the first 50 years of the United States was broadcast in seven parts by HBO between March 16 and April 20, 2008. John Adams received widespread critical acclaim and many prestigious awards. The show won four Golden Globe awards and 13 Emmy awards, more than any other miniseries in history.

Ritchie Coster is an English actor. He is best known for playing the roles of Dietrich Banning in The Tuxedo (2002), Chechen in The Dark Knight (2008), Elias Kassar in Blackhat (2015), Mayor Austin Chessani on the second season of the HBO anthology television series True Detective and Francisco Scaramucci / Mr. Blue on the SyFy television series Happy!.

<i>Sons of Liberty</i> (miniseries) 2015 American TV miniseries

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Bibliography

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

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References

  1. Captain Preston's Unknown Biography, Boston Massacre Historical Society
  2. Hibbert p.13
  3. Captain Thomas Preston's Account of the Boston Massacre
  4. Zobel, Hiller B (1970). The Boston Massacre, p. 197
  5. "The Summary of the Boston Massacre Trial". bostonmassacre.net. Retrieved 9 November 2010.