Lexington and Concord — Deposition of William Draper

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. Deposition #11 was given by William Draper, who testified the British fired first at the Battle of Lexington.

Lexington and Concord, Depositions

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

Deposition No. 11

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

Testimony of William Draper About the Battle of Lexington

Lexington, April 25th, 1775

I William Draper of lawful age and Inhabitant of Colrain in the county of Hampshire of Colony of Massachusetts Bay in New England do testify and declare that being on the Parade of Lexington April 19th Insant about half hour before Sunrise the Kings Regular Troops appeared at the meeting house of Lexington. 

Capt Parker’s Company who were drawn up back of meeting house on the Parade turned from sd. Troops making their escape by dispersing, in the mean time the Regular Troops made an huzza and ran towards Capt Parkers Company who were dispersing, and immediately after the huzza was made the Commanding Officer of the troops (as I took him) gave the command to the troops to “fire! Fire! Dam you fire!” and immediately they fired before any of Capt Parkers Company fired. 

I then being within three or four rods of Regular Troops. further say not

William Draper

Witnesses to the Testimony

Middlesex, April 25th, 1775

William Draper above named being duly caution to testify the whole truth made Solemn Oath to the truth of the above Deposition by him subscribed

Coram

William Reed
Josiah Johnson 
William Stickney

{ Justices of the Peace

Certification of the Testimony

Province of Massachusetts Bay, Charleston

I Nathaniel Gorham Notary and Tabillion publick by Lawful Authority duly admitted and sworn, hereby certify to all whom it doth or may concern that Wm Reed, Josiah Johnson and Wm Stickney Esqrs are three of his Majesties Justices 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 and seal this twenty fifth day of April one thousand seven hundred and seventy five.

Nathaniel Gorham, Noty Pubk

the foregoing instruments are true copies as in Witness whereof I hereunto set my name & seal

Interesting Facts About the Deposition of William Draper

  • 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.
  • William Draper was a resident of Colrain and was in Lexington on April 19.
  • Draper said the Lexington Militia was dispersing when the commanding officer of the British troops ordered his men to fire.
  • Draper indicates the militia returned fire.
  • Draper believed he was somewhere between 50 and 65 feet from the British troops.
  • 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 William Draper
  • Date April 25, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battles of Lexington and Concord, Deposition No. 11, William Draper, Battle of Lexington eyewitness
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 18, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 12, 2024

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