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Deposition of Thomas Ditson


Deposition of THOMAS DITSON.

I, Thomas Ditson, Jun˙, of Billerica, husbandman, testify and declare, that while walking in Fore-street, on the 8th of March, in the forenoon, I inquired of some townsmen who had any guns to sell? One, whom I did not know, replied he had a very fine gun to sell. The man appeared to be a Soldier, and I went with him to a house where one was, whom the Soldier called Sergeant, and seeing some old clothes about the house, I asked whether they such things. The Sergeant replied that they did frequently. I then asked his price for an old red coat, ript to pieces. He asked Three Shillings and Six Pence Sterling; but I refused to give it. Then one McClenchy, the Soldier I met with at first in the street, said he had some old clothes to sell, and sent his wife out after them to a man he called Sergeant, and she soon brought an old jacket and an old coat. I then, asked him if he had any right to sell them, and the Sergeant said that they frequently sold them, and he would give me a writing if I desired it; but said there was no occasion. I then bought the said coat and jacket, and gave Two Pistareens, and then put the clothes in a bag, which left behind. After which I went to McCIenchy' s to see his gun, which he said was a very fine piece. I asked him if he had any right to sell it. He replied he had, and that the gun was his to dispose of at any time. I then asked whether the sentry would not take it from me at the Ferry, as I had heard that some persons had had their guns taken from them, but never thought there was any law against trading with a soldier. He then told me he had stood sentry, and that they frequently let them pass. He then asked me what I would give for the gun. I told him Four Dollars, if there was no risk in carrying it over the Ferry. He said there was not, and that I might rely on his word. I then agreed to give Four Dollars for his gun, but did not take it nor pay the money. Coming away, he followed me down stairs, and said there was a Sergeant that had an old rusty piece he would sell cheap. I asked him his price. He said he would sell it for One Dollar and a Half, if I would pay the money down; and he urged me to take it. I then agreed to give him said sum. His wife, as he called her, then came down, and said, McClenchy, what are you going to do to bring that man into a scrape. I then told them that if there was any


difficulty to give me my money again; but he refused, and replied his wife made an oration about nothing, and that he had a right to sell his gun to any body. I was afraid from her speaking, that there was something not right in it, and left the gun; and coming away, he followed me, and urged the guns upon me. I told him I had rather not take them, for fear of what his wife said. He then declared there was no danger, for he had spoken to the Officer or sentry, who said he had a right to dispose of them, and urged me to pay the Four Dollars I had offered for the gun; which I then refused, and desired I might have the One and Half Dollar back which I had paid him for the gun. He refused, saying there was no danger, and damned me for a fool. I then paid him the Four Dollars for the good gun, but did not receive any one of them. After I had paid the money, he then said, take care of yourself; and the first thing I saw was some men coming up. I then stept off to go after my great coat, but they followed and seized me, and carried me to the Guard-House upon Foster' s Wharf. This was about six or seven o' clock in the evening. When I came into the Guard-house they read me a law which I never before saw nor heard of. I was detained there till about seven in the morning, when I expected I should have been obliged to pay the Five Pounds mentioned in the law read to me, and hired a Regular to carry a letter to some friends over the Ferry, which was to desire them to come to me as quick as possible, with money to pay my fine. Soon after the Sergeant came in and ordered me to strip. I then asked him what he was going to do with me. He said, damn you I am going to serve you as you have served our men; then came in a Soldier with a bucket of tar and a pillow of feathers. I was then made to strip, which I did to my breeches; they then tarred and feathered me; and while they were doing it, an Officer who stood at the door said, tar and feather his breeches, which they accordingly did, and I was then tarred and feathered from head to foot, and had a paper read to me, which was then tied round my neck, but afterwards twined behind me, with the following words wrote upon it, to the best of my remembrance: "American Liberty, or Democracy exemplified in a villian who attempted to entice one of the Soldiers of His Majesty' s Forty-Seventh Regiment to desert, and take up Arms with Rebels against his King and Country;" I was then ordered to walk out and get into a chair fastened upon trucks, which I did, when a number of the King' s Soldiers, as I imagined about forty or fifty, armed with guns, and fixed bayonets, surrounded the trucks, and they marched, with a number of Officers before them, one of whom I was told was the Colonel of the Forty-Seventh Regiment, who I have since heard was named Nesbit, together with a number of drums and fifes, from the Wharf up King-street, and down Fore-street, and then through the main street passing the Governour' s house, until they came to Liberty-tree; they then turned up Frog-lane, and made a halt, and a Sergeant, as I took him to be, said, get down. I then asked him which way I should go, and he said, where you please. Near the Governour' s house, the inhabitants pressed in upon the Soldiers; the latter appeared to me to be angry, and I was then afraid they would have fired, they being ordered to load their muskets, which they did.

Thomas Ditson, Jun.