One of the documents on display is a 1762 petition submitted by William Price to the Boston Town Selectmen. In the petition, Price references a fire that broke out in Williams’ Court on June 11, 1761. As a means of preventing the fire from spreading to nearby dwelling houses and buildings, Honorable Judge Hutchinson, Colonel Joseph Jackson, and Captain Thomas Marshall ordered the “pulling down” (destruction) of a building in the court. William Price owned said building, and petitioned the court to reimburse him for the cost of it. The two-story building, which measured 47 feet long by 16 feet wide, was valued at around 100 pounds.
A second page of this document indicates that the petition was acted upon on April 13, 1763, but unfortunately, there was not a notation or a follow-up document that provided the outcome of the petition. I was curious to find out if Price received his reimbursement, so I turned to our library collection and located the Records of Boston Selectmen, which included meetings minutes from 1763. In the April 13 session, I found an entry for William Price. From the meeting minutes, I learned that after debate and questioning, the Justices of the Peace and the Town Selectmen did not grant the petition and William Price did not receive compensation for his property loss.
The Old State House is closed the first week of February, so be sure to stop by when we re-open on Saturday, February 6 to take a close look at this document. These fire materials will be on display through April, but if you can't visit, follow along on our blog as we explore more of Boston's fire history.
By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager