Post image for Dr. Joseph Warren’s Participation in the Christopher Seider Incident

Dr. Joseph Warren’s Participation in the Christopher Seider Incident

in about Warren

Date: February 26, 1770

“Last Thursday Morning [i.e. February 22nd] about 10 o ‘Clock, some Boys & Children set up a large wooden Head, with a Board faced with paper, on which was painted the figures of four of the Importers, who had entered into, and violated the Merchants agreement, in the middle of the street before Theophilus Lillie’s door, who was one of them.  Soon after it was set up, Ebenezer Richardson, the famous Informer, came by, and endeavored to persuade a countryman to overturn it with his wagon; which he refusing, he applied to a Charcoal man to drive his Cart against it; but he said he had no business with it, and would not concern himself about it.  Richardson (as the Boys say) pressed him to it, saying he was a magistrate in the town, and would bear him out in it: The man still denying to meddle there-with, Richardson laid hold on the horse & oxen and endeavored to shove them upon the pole which supported the pageantry; the cart however passed without disturbing it.  Richardson then left the place and came towards his own house at about 50 or 60 paces distant and meeting with Messrs.  Edward Proctor, Thomas Knox, Capts. Riordan and Skillings, faced them in a very impudent manner, & cry’d out, perjury! perjury! perjury! often repeating it as he passed them.  The Gentlemen halted in the street, till getting within his door, he turned about and again repeated the insult. Mr. Proctor with the other Gentlemen step’d towards the door, and asked him what he meant by perjury?  He said, I don’t mean you Mr. Proctor, but looking spitefully on Mr. Knox, said d-mn you, perjury, villains!  Mr. Knox retorted the abuse; on which Richardson said, by the eternal G-d, I will make it too hot for some of you before night!  The Boys on hearing the words began to gather round, and call him informer; on which both he and his wife, or woman, went out and talked to them in a very provoking manner, flourishing their arms, and advancing out into the street, with high threatening; on which the children would retreat, and on their return, advance, with the squeeling and noise they usually make on such occasions.  This farce soon made a notable diversion in favor of Mr. Lillie, Mr. Richardson and Lady having drawn the whole attention on themselves.  The Boys at length began to throw light rubbish of one kind or other, as if to drive them into the house; this the woman often returned, till the matter became earnest.  They then retreated into the house, and speedily Richardson opened the door, and snapp’d a gun presented upon the people indiscriminately.  This raised them so much that they then pelted the house, and broke some of the windows.-  In a few minutes after this, Richardson fired out of one of the windows among the people and wounded Mr. Sammy Gore, son of Capt. John Gore, thro’ both thighs and two fingers of his right hand, besides which, drove (one would think) a moderate charge into the breast and abdomen of Christopher Snider, a boy about 11 years of age, who lived with Madam Apthorp.  The child fell, but was taken up and carried into a neighboring house, where all the surgeons within call were assembled, & speedily determined the wounds mortal, as they indeed proved about 9 ‘clock that evening.  The people on hearing the report of the gun, seeing one wounded and another as they thought killed, got into the new brick meeting and rang the bell, on which they soon had company enough to beset the house front and rear; by the latter of which they entered, and notwithstanding the menaces of Richardson & his faithful aider and abettor George Wilmot, seized on both, and wrenched a gun from the latter; heavily charged with powder, and cram’d with 179 goose and buck shot.

‘Tis said that some Persons went into Richardson before he fired, and dissuaded him from it, but the event shewed he was not to be diverted from his design. The criminals were first carried before Mr. Justice Ruddock, who was pleased to send them to Faneuil-Hall, under sufficient guard, where three other magistrates, Richard Dana, Edmund Quincy, and Samuel Pemberton, Esqrs.  With Mr. Ruddock, took their examination before at least a thousand people, and committed them.  The numberless affronts and abuses both these persons had heaped on the inhabitants, exasperated them to such a pitch, that had not Gentlemen of influence interposed, they never would have reached the prison; but to the satisfaction of every good man, they are now in safe custody, where we leave them to observe that soon after the child’s decease, his body was opened by Dr. Warren and others, and in it were found 11 shot or slugs, about the bigness of large peas, one of which pierced his breast about an inch and a half above the midriff, and passing clear thro’ the right lobe of the lungs, lodged in the his back. This, three of the surgeons: deposed before the jury of Inquest, was the cause of his death; on which they brought in their verdict wilful murder by said Richardson.  The right hand of the boy was also cruelly torn, whence it seems to have been across his breast, and to have deaden’d the force of the shot, which might otherwise pierced the stomach.

Dr. Warren likewise cut slugs out of young Mr. Gore’s thighs, but pronounced him in no danger of death, tho’ in all probability he will lose the use of the right fore finger, by the wound received there; much important to a youth of his dexterity in drawing and painting.”

“Messrs Fleets.

The general sympathy and concern for the murder of the Lad by the base and infamous Richardson, on the 22d inst. will be a sufficient reason for your notifying the Public that he will be buried from his Father’s house in Frog Lane, opposite the Liberty-Tree, this Afternoon; when all the Friends of Liberty may have an opportunity of paying their last respects to the remains of this little hero and first martyr to the noble cause – whose manly spirit (after this accident happened) appear’d in his discreet answers to his Doctor, his thanks to the Clergymen who prayed with him, & the firmness of mind the shewed when he first saw his parents, and while he underwent the greatest distress of bodily pain, & with which he met the king of terrors. These things, together with several heroick pieces fund in his pocket, particularly Wolfe’s Summit of human Glory, give reason to think he had a martial Genius, and would have made a clever man.

A Mourner”

Source: Boston Evening-Post, February 26, 1770;  Essex Gazette, February 27, 1770, Vol. II, iss. 83, p. 122;  Boston News-Letter, March 1, 1770, iss. 3465, p. 3;  New Hampshire Gazette, March 2, 1770, Vol. XIV, iss. 698, p. 2;  The Newport Mercury, March 5, 1770, iss. 600, p. 3;  New York Gazette, March 12, 1770, iss. 1419, p. 3.

Commentary:  Joseph Warren “and other” physicians treated the mortally wounded Christopher Seider, here called Snider in this newspaper account.  It is unknown whether those physicians included Dr. Warren’s first medical apprentice – Lemuel Hayward, Harvard BA 1768, who may have been a Spunker resurrectionist.  Dr. Warren may have had the affecting conversation, related by ‘A Mourner,’ with the dying boy, whose “manly spirit…appeared in his dicreet answers to his Doctor…”  The graphic and anatomically correct account of the autopsy, possibly written by Warren himself, probably added to the public outrage over the youth’s death.  An abstract of the article appearing in the New York Gazette greatly condensed this Boston Evening-Post story, but related in full the portion about the autopsy.

The injuries sustained by Samuel Gore must have healed well under the care of Dr. Warren.  Gore remained active as a painter and, by most accounts, impersonated a Mohawk Indian as a destroyer of East India Company taxed tea in December of 1773.

Joseph Warren was a co-author of the Town of Boston’s official account of the Boston Massacre, which occurred 11 days after the fatal Seider incident.

Entertaining and authoritative blogster J.L. Bell has posted several pieces on the unfortunate Seider as well as the context and significance of this incident.  While reported here in a contemporary Boston newspaper from a strongly sympathetic Whig perspective, poignant details like the publication about General Wolfe found in Seider’s pocket have proven accurate.  This observation lends credence to other details as literal truth versus florid propaganda, such as pea-sized fatal musket slugs and Seider’s deportment in extremis with his physician and family.

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