Friday, July 4, 2014

James Starr ~ Son of Liberty

To celebrate 4th of July I am reposting about James Starr. James was a Boston Tea Party rebel and member of the Sons of Liberty.

[Originally published November 11, 2011]

We had no idea how deep my husband's roots ran in this country. During the course of research, it became clear that every line of his family had immigrated to the United States by the mid to late 1600's.

In fact, our daughter could apply for membership to the Daughters of the American Revolution, through no less than four different lines.

Wondering if she would be interested in this particular part of her heritage, I brought up the subject one evening. Surprisingly, Starr became excited about the entire process and wanted to see where it would lead.

With that in mind I decided to focus my research on the family with the earliest links to the nation. That is when I stumbled upon James Starr, my husband's 3rd cousin 6x removed.

While reading about this ancestor, the terms "Sons of Liberty" and "Boston Tea Party" kept appearing in the hit list.

Sites referring to James Starr being a participant in this historic event are Boston Tea Party Ships & MuseumBoston Tea Party Historical Society and Old South Meeting House.

The most significant piece of information about James soon came to light. The following expert is from the Google Books title The Historic Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773 by Caleb A. Wall, published 1896.

James Starr was a descendant in the sixth generation from Dr. Comfort Starr, one of the first settlers in Dedham in 1635. James was born in New London, Ct., May 2, 1740, being two years older than Hewes and twenty years older than Peter Slater.

He was a cooper by trade, of a strong healthy physical constitution, well qualified to endure hardships. He enlisted at 18 in the army, was in the French and Indian war in 1758, and was at Montreal when it surrendered to the British. After the war he returned to his native town of New London, Ct., went then to Boston, and then settled in Bridgewater.

Inspired by the battle cry of "freedom" as one of the Sons of Liberty, he was one of the party of "Mohawks" who threw over-board the tea in Boston Harbor on the night of Dec. 16, 1773, and loved in after years to tell the story of how, with his cooper's axe, he helped to knock open the tea chests and tip their contents into the water. At the opening of hostilities with the mother country, he enlisted for the naval service, and was taken prisoner and carried to New York, where he remained eleven months.

At the close of the war he returned to Bridgewater, sold out there in 1802 and went to Jay, Franklin Co., Me., where he remained until his death, Nov. 20, 1830, aged over 90 years.

He was grandfather of the late Wm. A.S. and Rufus L. Smythe of Worcester, their mother being his daughter. Our venerable fellow citizen Wm. E. Starr, now in his 83rd year, is a descendant of Dr. Comfort Starr through another line. A daughter of Wm. A.S. Smythe is wife of A.L.D. Buxton, residing at 50 Cedar street, Worcester.

Sounds like James was quite the rebel!

I would like to thank The Massachusetts Historical Society for allowing usage of the broadsheet  used in the post. When I emailed the society to ask for permission they quickly replied:

"The Massachusetts Historical Society is always pleased when bloggers are interested in the material made available on our website. Whether you quote the document or use the image available online, we only ask that you link back to the image/text quotation on the MHS web page so that readers of your blog will be able to source the material correctly."

Happy 4th of July!


  1. Happy 4th of July! Quite an Adventure you just took me on....Loved the piece and the graphics.

  2. Absolutely love that shared "possibilities" for those of us with deep early Massachusetts (and northeast) projects. Guess I we'll have to continue this research project!

  3. Although considered heroic and brave by many, the names of participants in the Boston Tea Party remained a secret for years in order to protect them from persecution by the British government.
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