Timothy Ruggles

October 20, 1711–August 4, 1795

Timothy Ruggles was a lawyer, soldier, politician, and judge from Massachusetts. He participated in the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. In 1774, he was appointed by Governor Thomas Gage to be a Massachusetts Mandamus Councillor.

Early Life

  • Ruggles was born on October 21, 1711, in Rochester, Massachusetts.
  • His father was Reverend Timothy Ruggles


  • In 1732, Ruggles graduated from Harvard.


  • In 1736, he married Bathesheba Bourne Newcomb. They had seven children together.

Professional Career

  • After Ruggles graduated from Harvard, he started his own law practice in Rochester.
  • In 1737, he moved to Sandwich, where he opened and operated a tavern while he practiced law.
  • In 1753 or 1754, he moved to Hardwick.
  • In 1754, he was elected by Hardwick to the Massachusetts General Court.
  • In 1754, he was appointed as Chief Justice for Worchester, Massachusetts, a town near Hardwick.
  • He became a prominent lawyer in Massachusetts, and in his early years he frequently argued cases against James Otis, Sr. In later years, he argued against James Otis, Jr.

Political Career

  • In 1757, Ruggles was commissioned as a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Worcester County,
  • On January 21, 1762, he was named Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas of Worcester County. He held the office until the outbreak of the French and Indian War.
  • On February 23, 1762, he was also appointed as a special Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court.
  • In 1762 and 1763, he was chosen as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
  • In 1765, he represented Massachusetts at the Stamp Act Congress.
  • In 1774, he was appointed as one of the Mandamus Councillors by Governor Thomas Gage.

Delegate to the Stamp Act Congress

On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a stamp to be placed on all legal documents and many printed materials in the colonies.

In May, news of the new law reached the colonies. There was immediate opposition, including riots in Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Savannah, Georgia.

On June 8, 1765, the Massachusetts Assembly sent a circular letter to the legislatures of the other colonies, inviting them to send delegates to a congress in New York to discuss a unified response to the Stamp Act. The precedent for such a meeting had been set by the Albany Congress in 1754.

Nine of the 13 colonies, including Massachusetts, chose to send delegates to the meeting, which was held in New York City. Ruggles was elected as a delegate from Massachusetts, along with James Otis and Oliver Partridge.

The Stamp Act Congress convened on October 7, 1765.

Ruggles was elected President of the proceedings.

On October 19, the Stamp Act Congress issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Congress sent petitions to the King and both houses of Parliament and asked for the Stamp Act to be repealed.

Although Congress passed the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, Ruggles refused to sign his name to the petitions that were sent to the King and Parliament. His refusal led to an argument and may have resulted in him challenging Thomas McKean to a duel. However, Ruggles left New York early the next morning, without speaking to McKean and the other delegates.

When Ruggles returned to Massachusetts, he was censured by the legislature for refusing to sign the petitions.

On November 1, 1765, the Stamp Act took effect, but there were no stamp masters available to distribute the stamps. They had resigned or refused to perform their job due to violence and intimidation against them.

On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, primarily due to protest from British merchants who believed it would damage their prospects of doing business in the colonies. However, on that same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which declared its ability to levy taxes on the colonies.

French and Indian War

  • During the French and Indian War, Ruggles served in the first Provincial Regiment of Massachusetts.
  • From 1755 to 1765, he was in command of two battalions and Commander-In-Chief of all Massachusetts troops.
  • In 1755, he was a Colonel in the expedition led by Sir William Johnson against Crown Point.
  • He was second in command to Johnson during the Battle of Lake George and earned a promotion for capturing and defeating the French General Dieskau at the Battle of Lake George.
  • In 1758, he was commissioned as a Brigadier General under Lord Amherst and participated in the expedition against Canada.
  • In January 1764, the General Court of Massachusetts recognized him for his service in the provincial army by granting him a farm in Princeton.

Massachusetts Mandamus Councillor

  • In 1774, Ruggles was nominated by General Thomas Gage as a Mandamus Councillor. On August 16, 1774, he accepted the appointment and took the oath of office.

Loyalist and Evacuation to Nova Scotia

  • In the years leading up to the war, Ruggles supported British policy.
  • In 1776, when the British evacuated Boston, they took many Loyalists, including Ruggles, with them to Nova Scotia.
  • After he left Boston, his property was seized by the Massachusetts government.
  • When he arrived in Nova Scotia, he was given land by Britain.

American Revolutionary War

  • Ruggles served in the British army and returned to the colonies with the forces that invaded and then occupied New York. He remained there until the end of the war.

Life Nova Scotia After the War

  • Ruggles spent the rest of his life in Nova Scotia, farming and practicing law.
  • He introduced scientific methods for breeding cattle and horses and improving their stock to his neighbors.
  • He cleared land and built a home on the North Mountain in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. It was known as Ruggles Mountain.


  • Ruggles died on August 4, 1795, in Wilmot, Nova Scotia.
  • He was buried at the Old Trinity Church in Middleton, Nova Scotia.


Timothy Ruggles is important because he was a delegate from Massachusetts to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and President of the Stamp Act Congress. He was also one of the Mandamus Councillors appointed by Governor Thomas Gage after Parliament enacted the Massachusetts Government Act in 1774.