Lexington and Concord — Deposition of John Robins

April 24, 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 #5 was given by John Robins, 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. 5

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

Testimony of John Robins About the Battle of Lexington

I John Robins being of lawfull age, do Testify & say that on the nineteenth Inst. the Company under the Command of Capn. John Parker, being drawn up, (sometime before sun Rise) on the Green or Common, And, I being in the front Rank, there suddenly appear’d a Number of the Kings Troops, About a Thousand as I thought, at the distance of about 60, or 70 yards from us Hazzaring and on a quick pace toward us, with three officers in their front, on Horse Back and on full Gallop towards us, the foremost of which cryed, throw down your Arms ye Villains, ye Rebels, upon which said Company Dispercing.

The foremost of the three Officers orderd their Men, saying fire, by God fire, at which Moment we Received a very heavy & close fire from them, at which Instant, being wounded I fell, 

Several of our men were shot Dead by one, Capn. Parkers men, I believe had not then fired a Gun and further the Deponant saith not —

John Robins

Witnesses to the Testimony

Middlesex, April

I John Robins within named appeared and being duely cautioned to testifye the truth & Nothing but the truth made Solemn Oath to the truth of the within Deposition subscribed by his Special order, he being so maim’d & wounded, that he thought he could neither write his Name nor Make his Mark.

Coram

Wm Reed
Josiah Johnson

} Justices of Peace

Certification of the Testimony

Province of Massachusetts Bay, Charlestown SS

I Nathaniel Gorham Notary & Tabellion Public by lawful authority Duly admitted & sworn hereby Certify all whom it Doth or may concern that William Reed & Josiah Johnson Esqrs. are two of his Majesty’s Justices for the County of Middlesex and that full faith & Credit is to be given to their transactions as such, in witness whereof I have hereunto affixed my name and seal this twenty sixth Day of April Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred & seventy five

Natthaniel Gorham, Not. Pubk.

the foregoing instruments are true copies

Interesting Facts About the Deposition of John Robins

  • 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.
  • In some accounts of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Robins’ last name is spelled Robbins.
  • John Robins was a member of the Lexington Militia and was one of the men assembled on Lexington Green, under the command of Captain John Parker, when the British marched into Lexington.
  • Robins believed there were around 1,000 British troops, with three officers at the front of the column.
  • The British stopped within 60-70 of the Lexington Militia and one of the officers ordered the Lexington Militia to disperse.
  • As the Lexington Militia dispersed, the officer closest to them ordered the British to fire.
  • The British opened fire, starting the Battle of Lexington.
  • Robins was wounded and fell to the ground.
  • 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 John Robins
  • Date April 24, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battles of Lexington and Concord, Deposition No. 5, John Robins, 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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