Lexington and Concord — Deposition of Simon Winship

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 #3 was given by Simon Winship, who testified the British did fire first at the Battle of Lexington.

Lexington and Concord, Depositions

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

Deposition No. 3

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

Testimony of Simon Winship About the Battle of Lexington

Simon Winship of Lexington in the County of Middlesex & Province of Massachusetts Bay New England being of lawful age to testafieth and saith that on the Nineteenth of April instant about four o’clock in the Morning as he was passing the Publick Road, in said Lexington, peaceably and unarmed about two miles and an half Distant from the meeting House, in said Lexington he was met by a Body of the Kings regular Troops, and being stop’d by some Officers of said Troops, was commanded to Dismount. 

Upon asking why he must dismount he was obliged by force to Quit his Horse and ordered to march in the midst of the Body and being Examined whether he had been warning the Minute Men he answered no, but had been out, and was then returning to his fathers, said Winship further testifies that he marched with said Troops, untill he came within about half a Quarter of a mile of said meeting House where an Officer commanded the Troops to halt, and then to prime & Load, this being done the said Troops marched on till they came within a few Rods of Cap’t Parkers Company, who were partly collected on the place of parade 

When said Winship observed an officer at the head of said Troops, flourishing his Sword and with a Loud Voice giving the word fire, fire which was Instantly followed by a Discharge of Arms from said regular Troops and said Winship is possitive & in the most Solemn manner Declares that there was no Discharge of arms on either side till the word fire was given by said Officer as above.

Simon Winship

Witnesses to the Testimony

Simon Winship above named appeared and after due Caution to testify the whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth made solemn oath to the Truth of the above Deposition by him subscribed

Wm Reed
Josiah Johnson

Interesting Facts About the Deposition of Simon Winship

  • 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.
  • Simon Winship said he was about 2 and a half miles outside of Lexington at 4:00 in the morning when he was apprehended by British troops.
  • Winship was forced to dismount from his horse and march with the column.
  • The British asked if he had been out warning the Minute Men.
  • He said he had not been raising the alarm and was simply returning to his father’s house.
  • The British column stopped about a quarter mile from the Meeting House, where the commanding officer ordered his men to load their weapons.
  • Winship said the Lexington Militia was assembled, and the British officer brandished his sword and ordered his men to fire.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Lexington and Concord — Deposition of Simon Winship
  • Date April 25, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battles of Lexington and Concord, Deposition No. 2, Simon Winship
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 12, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 12, 2024