Lexington and Concord — Deposition of Hannah Adams

May 19, 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 #22 was given by Hannah Adams, who testified that British troops threatened her during the Battle of Menotomy.

Lexington and Concord, Depositions

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

Deposition No. 22

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

Testimony of Hannah Adams About the Battle of Menotomy

Hannah Adams, wife of Deacon Joseph Adams, of the second Precinct in Cambridge, testifieth and saith, that on the nineteenth day of April last past, upon the return of the King’s Troops from Concord, divers of them entered our house by bursting open the doors, and three of the soldiers broke into the room in which I then was laid on my bed, being scarcely able to walk from my bed to the fire, and not having been to my chamber door from my being delivered in child-birth to that time. 

One of said soldiers immediately opened my curtains with his bayonet fixed, and pointing the same to my breast. I immediately cried out, “for the Lord’s sake don’t kill me.”

He replied, “damn you.” 

One that stood near, said, “we will not hurt the woman if she will go out of the house, but we will surely burn it.” 

I immediately arose, threw a blanket over me, went out, and crawled into a corn-house near the door, with my infant in my arms, where I remained until they were gone. 

They immediately set the house on fire, in which I had left five children and no other person; but the fire was happily extinguished when the house was in the utmost danger of being utterly consumed.

Hannah Adams

Witnesses to the Testimony

Middlesex, Cambridge, Second Precinct

May 17, 1775

Hannah Adams, the subscriber of the above deposition, personally appeared and made oath to the truth of the same. Before me,

Jona. Hastings, Justice of the Peace

Interesting Facts About the Deposition of Hannah Adams

  • 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.
  • Hannah Adams was the wife of Deacon John Adams. They lived in Menotomy.
  • During the Battle of Menotomy, British troops broke into their home.
  • Adams had recently given birth and was in her bedroom when a British soldier threatened her with a bayonet.
  • The troops let her take the baby and leave the house and then set it on fire — with her other five children inside.
  • The fire was put out before the house was destroyed.
  • 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

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  • Article Title Lexington and Concord — Deposition of Hannah Adams
  • Date May 19, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battles of Lexington and Concord, Deposition No. 22, Hannah Adams, Battle of Menotomy 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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