Lexington and Concord — Deposition of Solomon Brown, Jonathan Loring, and Elijah Sanderson

April 25, 1775

In the aftermath of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress ordered depositions to be taken from eyewitnesses. The Congress was trying to prove the British fired first at Lexington. The first deposition was given by Solomon Brown, Jonathan Loring, and Elijah Sanderson. According to Sanderson, the British fired first.

Lexington and Concord, Depositions

The Battle of Lexington by William Barnes Wollen (1910). Image Source: Wikimedia.

Deposition No. 1

Please note that section headings and spacing have been added to make the text easier to scan and comprehend.

Testimony of Solomon Brown, Jonathan Loring, Elijah Sanderson About the Battle of Lexington

We Solomon Brown Jonathan Loring & Elijah Sanderson All of Lawful Age and of Lexington in the County of Middlesex and Colony of the Massachusett Bay in New England do testifie & declare that on the Evening of the Eighteenth of April Instant being on the Road between Concord & Lexington and All of us mounted on Horses we were about ten of the Clock suddenly surprized by Nine Persons whom we took to be Regular Officers who Rode up to us Mounted and Armed each having a Pistol in His Hand, and after Putting, Pistols to our Breasts and seizing the Bridles of Our Horses, they swore that if we Stirred another Step We should be all Dead Men, upon which we surrender ed Our Selves they Detained us untill Two o clock the Next morning in which time they searched and Greatly abused us, having first Enquired about the Magazine at Concord, whether any Guards were posted there and whether the Bridges were up and said Four or Five Regiments of Regulars would be in Possession of the Stores Soon they then brought us back to Lexington, cut the Horses Bridles and girt[h]s turned them Loose and then left us 

Lexington April 25, 1775

Solomon Brown
Jonathan Loring
Elijah Sanderson

Witnesses to the Testimony

Jona. Loring Solomon Brown and Elijah Sanderson being duly Cautioned to Testify the whole Truth, made Solemn Oath to the Truth of the above Deposition by them subscribed

Coram
Wm Reed
Josiah Johnson } Just.
Wm Stickney } Pacix

Additional Testimony of Elijah Sanderson about the Battle of Lexington

I Elijah Saunderson above named do further testifie & declare that I was on Lexington Common the morning of the Nineteenth of April afore said having been dismissed by the Officers abovementioned & saw a Large Body of Regular Troops advancing toward Lexington Company, many of whom were then dispersing — I heard one of the Regulars whom I took to be an officer Say Damn Them we will have them, & immediately the Regulars shouted aloud, Run and fired on the Lexington Company which did not fire a gun before the Regulars Discharged on them.

Eight of the Lexington Company were killed while they were dispersing and at considerable Distance from Each other, and many wounded, & altho a spectator I narrowly Escaped with my Life

Lexington April 25 1775 

Elijah Saunderson

Witnesses to the Testimony

Middlesex SS April 25 1775

Elijah Saunderson above named being Duly cautioned to Testify the whole Truth made Solemn Oath to the Truth of the above Deposition by them subscribed

Coram

Wm Reed
Josiah Johnson
Wm Stickney

} Justices of Peace

Certification of the Testimony

Province of the Massachusetts Bay Charlestown ss

I Nathaniel Gorham Notary & Tabellion Puplic by Lawful authority duly admitted and Sworn hereby certify all of whom it doth or may concern that William Reed Josiah Johnson & William Stickney Esqrs are three of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex and that full faith and credit is to be given to their transactions as such in Witness whereof I have hereunto affixed my Name & Seal this Twenty Six Day of April Anno Domini one Thousand Seven Hundred & Seventy five the foregoing are true copies attest

Nathaniel Gorham Noy Pubc

Background and Context

On April 18, 1775, around 9:00 p.m., approximately 30 members of the Lexington Militia, mostly Minutemen, were gathered at Buckman’s Tavern. As word spread that a British Patrol had passed through town, more members arrived. They met with Reverend Jonas Clarke and decided to send a scouting party out to observe the British patrol. Three men volunteered — Solomon Brown, Jonathan Loring, and Elijah Sanderson.

Interesting Facts About the Deposition of Solomon Brown, Jonathan Loring, and Elijah Sanderson

  • Joseph Warren of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress wanted the depositions gathered as quickly as possible, so he could send them to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and Benjamin Franklin in London.
  • Franklin was the Agent for Massachusetts and acted as its representative. Warren wanted Franklin to have eyewitness accounts that could be used to help gain sympathy for the Patriot Cause.
  • Elijah Sanderson’s last name is spelled “Saunderson” in this deposition, which is incorrect. 50 years later, he gave another deposition, which accurately spells his last name.
  • Brown, Loring, and Sanderson were held by the British, along with Paul Revere.
  • According to Sanderson, British soldiers were the only ones who fired shots during the Battle of Lexington.
  • Sanderson says he barely escaped with his life.
  • Elijah Sanderson served under Captain John Parker and others during the Siege of Boston.
  • Solomon Brown served under Captain Parker and others during the Siege of Boston and then served in the Continental Army from April 1777 to April 1780.
  • Very little is known about Jonathan Loring, however, he appears to have been involved in the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga (1777).
  • The notary public, Nathaniel Gorham, went on to serve as the 8th President of the Continental Congress (June 6, 1786–February 2, 1787).

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Lexington and Concord — Deposition of Solomon Brown, Jonathan Loring, and Elijah Sanderson
  • Date April 25, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battles of Lexington and Concord, Deposition No. 1, Solomon Brown, Jonathan Loring, Elijah Sanderson, Nathaniel Gorham
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 20, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 12, 2024

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