Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Governor Thomas Hutchinson's home, Boston, MA

Governor Thomas Hutchinson was the last civilian governor of the royal government of Massachusetts. A descendant of Anne Hutchinson, the brilliant preacher and inadvertant proponent of religious freedom, Hutchinson was graduated from Harvard at 16, and served in all branches (executive, legislative and judicial) of the colonial government. He was undoubtedly a brilliant, but conservative, public figure with strong Loyalist sentiments.

Hutchinson had one of the finest homes in Boston in the 1760s when he served as the lieutenant Governor. In August 1765, a mob, incensed by the Stamp Act, turned their fury toward Hutchinson - who thought the Stamp Act was unwise and privately opposed the tax. Forewarned that the mob was headed to his home, Hutchinson sent his family away and stood to confront the mob alone. However, his eldest daughter refused to leave him and he quit the home to ensure her safety.

Hutchinson made the following report of the event:
And, in the evening of the 26th of August, such a mob was collected in King street, drawn there by a bonfire, and well supplied with strong drink. After some annoyance to the house of the registrar of the admiralty, and somewhat greater to that of the comptroller of the customs, whose cellars they plundered of the wine and spirits in them, they came, with intoxicated rage, upon the house of the lieutenant-governor. The doors were immediately split to pieces with broad axes, and a way made there, and at the windows, for the entry of the mob; which poured in, and filled, in an instant, every room in the house.

The lieutenant-governor had very short notice of the approach of the mob. He directed his children, and the rest of his family, to leave the house immediately, determining to keep possession himself. His eldest daughter, after going a little way from the house, returned, and refused to quit it, unless her father would do the like.

This caused him to depart from his resolutions, a few minutes before the mob entered. They continued their possession until day-light; destroyed, carried away, or cast into the street, every thing that was in the house; demolished every part of it, except the walls, as far as lay in their power; and had begun to break away the brickwork.

The damage was estimated at about twenty-five hundred pounds sterling, without any regard to a great collection of publick as well as private papers, in the possession and custody of the lieutenant-governor.

Hutchinson fled Boston in 1775. Although he often thought of returning to his native community, he died in London in 1780. He was able to publish a seminal study, a three volume History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay; the first two volumes were published in his lifetime.

I have found two dates for the house's construction; one states 1692 and another says 1711. The home was built by John and Abigail Foster - and eventually was inherited by a nephew, Thomas Hutchinson, the father of the governor. As Thomas Hutchinson the younger was born at the house in 1711, I think the 1692 date sounds more accurate. Having fallen into disrepair after the mob attack in 1765, the home was torn down in 1833.

The plaque is located on Garden Court Street. It is not on Boston's Freedom Trail, although various walking tours do point out the site.

Just across the street is another monument pointing out that the address for the home of legendary Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, the first Irish Catholic mayor of Boston and the father of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Neither site is particularly well kept and both of these monuments could use a serious cleaning and/or upgrade.

It's Boston; parking is available at exorbitant prices.


  1. I came upon your blog while searching "Thomas Hutchinson's home." (I am currently copyediting a history textbook.) Thank you for the photo and the wonderful information. I look forward to reading the other posts!

  2. This is such a amazing news.I'm really exited to found this house.