Col. Thomas Crafts Jr. (1740-1799)


Thomas Crafts Jr. was very active in the American Revolution and was one of "The Sons of Liberty" of Boston. He participated in the Boston Tea Party. Thomas (and his younger brother Edward) joined Paddock's Artillery Co. before the war. Later he was a Colonel in the army and commanded an artillery unit, (Massachusetts State Train of Artillery) that included Paul Revere, Thomas Melville, and his brother Edward. He read the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House in Boston in 1776. He was a Freemason and a vegetarian. The Crafts family (Croft) had an English title with ties to English royalty.

A biography by James and William Crafts 1897

In January 1741, his father, Thomas Crafts Sr., purchased the house and estate on Back St. (now Salem St.), Boston, and it was in this house that the boy Thomas passed all the earlier years of his life. Following the custom of the period he learned a trade, choosing that of a painter and japanner. When a young man he became greatly interested in the militia, and soon became a prominent actor in the exicting events of the early days of the Revoulution. Brought up in the midst of the stirring scenes of that period, the companion of Paul Revere, Thomas Melville, and other patriots, the story of his life presents the most brilliant records of our (family) history.

Mention is made of him in "Bancroft's History of the U.S." (Vol. III p. 493, Centennary edition). He was one of the famous "Sons of Liberty," and referring to the leaders of the party who hung Oliver in effigy from the Liberty Tree, Aug. 14, 1765, we read "The pagent had been secretly prepared by Boston mechanics, true-born Sons of Liberty, Benj. Edes the printer, Thomas Crafts the painter, John Smith and Stephen Coleverly the braziers, and the younger Avery, Thomas Chase, a hater of Kings, Henry Bass, and Henry Welles." In a work called "Tea Leaves of 1773," by Francis S. Drake, reference is made to them in an extract from the "Diary of President John Adams." He says, under date of June 15, "I spent the evening with the Sons of Liberty at their own appointment, in Hanover Square, near the 'Tree of Liberty.' It is a counting-room in Chase and Speakman's distillery. A very small room it is. There were present Jon Avery a distiller, of liberal education, John Smith the brazier, Thomas Crafts the painter, Benj. Edes the printer, Stephen Cleverly brazier, Thomas Chase distiller, Joseph Field master of a vessel, Henry Bass, Geo. Trott jeweler, and Hernry Wells. I was very cordially and respectfully treated by all present. We had punch, wine, pipes and tobacco, biscuit and cheese, etc. they chose a committee to make preparation for a grand rejoicing upon the arrival of the news of the repeal of the stamp act." A foot note reads "Thomas Crafts was a painter and japanner, opposite the site of the great tree." (Now the corner of Boylston and Washington Sts.)

At this time he was twenty-six years of age, and his life from that period was one of untiring activity. He was then a member of "Padock's Artillery Co." of which he was a lieutenant, and in which his brother Edward was a private. Paddock's Artillery Co. was organized in 1763, and two of the guns which belonged to the company are now to be seen at the base of Bunker Hill Monument. They bear the names "Hancock" and "Adams." Also, he married in Boston 30 June, 1763, Frances Pickeny Gore, daughter of John and Frances (Pinkney) Gore of Boston, and sister of Governor Christopher Gore. She was born in Boston 3 Feb. 1744, and died there in 1788. Æ. 59.

"The Sons of Liberty" was an organization which pervaded nearly all of the colonies. It was first known in Boston as the "Union Club" which was formed in Boston in 1765, and had among its members most of the leading patriots of the day. Their orgainization was secret, with private passwords to protect them form Tory spies. Their public meetings in Boston were held under the "Liberty Tree," in the open space, know as "Liberty Hall," at the junction of Newbury, Orange and Essex Sts. (now Washington and Essex Sts.) The Sons of Liberty issued warrants for the arrest of suspected persons; arranged in secret causcus the preliminaries of elections, and the programmes for pubilic celebrations; and in fact were the main spring, under the guidance of the popular leaders, of public demonstration against the government. In Boston they numbered about three hundred. Local organizations included in this larger and more important one were "The North End Caucus," and the "Long-room club." it was probably to the former one that Thomas Crafts belonged, being a member of one of the most prominent families of that section of the town. He was one of the famous "Boston Tea Party," and took part in the destruction of the tea in Boston harbor Dec. 16, 1773. To Fredreric W. Lincoln, Mayor of Boston for seven years, we are indebted for the statement that his grandfather, Capt. Amos Lincoln, who also took part in the "Tea Party," obtainded his disguise as a Mohawk Indian from Thomas Crafts (Sr.), father of the subject of this sketch. Amos Lincoln, when a young man, was apprenticed to him to learn the carpenter's trade, and stated that on the night in question he obtained his dress from his master, Thomas Crafts, who at family devotions that night, prayed, as did doubtless many others, for "the young men out on their perilous errand." The account of the destruction of the tea is too familiar a matter of history to call for extended notice here, but to show the temper of the men who planned it, and the peril in which the ring-leaders stood, we will state that the the meeting of the "North End Caucus" of Oct. 23 preceeding, it was voted that they would oppose with their lives and fortunes the vending of any tea that might be sent to the town for sale by the East India Company. "We were so careful," says Paul Revere, "that our meetings should be kept secret, that every time we met, every person swore upon the Bible not to discover any of our transactions but to Hancock, Warren, or Church, or one or two more leaders."

But it is as Colonel fo Regiment of Artillery that he achived most distinction. this regiment was raised for the defence of the State, and took an active part in the earlier history of the Revolution, and during the latter part of the war was stationed in Boston harbor for the defence of the town. At the State House in Boston is a large collection of this military orders and papers relating to his regiment, which was called the "Masachusetts State Train." (artillery regiment)

From the pay-rolls at the State House we give the following pay-roll of one month's wages of the Field and Staff Officers of his regiment in 1777:

Col. Thomas Crafts
Lieut. Paul Revere
Major Thomas Melville
John Pulling, Conductor of Ordinace
Increase Newhall, Adjutant
Joseph Gardner, Surgeon
Joseph Whipple, Surgeons's Mate
John Chalone, Quartermaster
Samuel Eddes, Conductor
William Russell, Sergeant Major
James Ross, Drum Major
Henry Sibley, Quartermaster Sergeant

The following is a list of the officers in Col. Crafts' regiment from 1777 to 1778
(an incomplete list)


David Bradley Winthrop Gray Phillip Turner
John Bussey Hohn Ingersoll Benj. Scollay
Jonathan W. Edes Phillip Merritt William Todd
John Gill John Pullling Phillip Turner


Daniel Bell Joshua Chase
William Menzies
Ellis Baker
Benj. Edes
John Menzies
Josiah Audbert
John Grant
Thomas Prindce
John Armstrong
Daniel Ingersoll
Samuel Wales

In "Sumner's History of East Boston," p. 396, mention is made of Col. Crafts' regiment, as follows: " On the 13th of June, 1776, in accordance with a plan proposed by Gen. Benj. Lincoln for freeing the harbor of the British vessels, detachments from the regiments of Cols. Marshall and Whitney, and a battalion of train under Col. Crafts, provided with cannon, ammunition and stores, were mustered on Long Wharf, at the beating of drums. Embarking in boats, they went down the harbor to Pettick's Island and Hull, where they were joined by more troops and sea-coast companies, so as to make nearly 600 men at each place. Militia from the towns, with a detachment form the train, and some field-pieces, took stations on Moon Island, Hoff's Neck, and Point Alderton, while a detachement commanded by Col. Whitcomb form the regular troops under Gen. Ward, stood post at Long Island. The morning of the 14th nearly dawned before the troops were all stationed. In a few hours defences were thrown up on Long Island and
at Nantasket, cannon mounted, and they began to play upon the ships. Commodore Banks was soon compelled to leave, and the last vessel left the harbor. Soon after several English store-ships came in, being ignorant of the leaving of the fleet, and thus several ships were captured, (including Lieut. Col. Cambell's) and 700 men were made prisoners." During the closing years of the war his regiment was stationed at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor.

Prince Hall

Prince Hall, one of Boston's most prominent black citizens during the revolutionary period, was the founder of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons of Boston, the world's first lodge of black Freemasonry and the first society in American history devoted to the social, political, and economic improvement of African-Americans. He participated in the battle at Bunker Hill.

Hall made his living as a huckster (peddler), caterer and leather dresser, and was listed as a voter and a taxpayer. He owned a small house and leather workshop in Boston. A bill he sent to Colonel Crafts that shows that he crafted five leather drumheads for the Boston Regiment of Artillery in April, 1777 still exists today:
Prince Hall Document

Reading of Declaration of Indepencence

This account is taken from the N.E. Chronicle of July 25, 1776. It reads as follows: "Thursday last, pursuant to the order of the honorable council, was proclaimed from the balcony of the State House in this town, the Declaration of the American Congress, absolving the United Colonies from their allegiance to the British crown, and declaring them free and independent states. There were present on the occasion in the council chamber, a committee of council, a number of the honorable house of representatives, the magitrates, selectmen and other gentlemen of Boston and the neighboring towns, also the comission officers of the Continental regiments stationed here, and other officers. Two of these regiments were under arms in King street, formed into three lines on the north side of the street and in thirteen divisions, and a detachment from the Massachusetts regiment of artillery, with two pieces of cannnon, was on their right wing. At one o'clock, the Declaration was proclaimed by Col. Thomas Crafts, which was received with great joy expressed by three huzzas from a great concourse of people, assembled on the occasion. After which, on a signal given, thirteen pieces of cannon were fired from the fort on Fort-hill; the forts at Dorchester Neck, the Castle, Nantasket, and Point Alderton likewise discharged their cannon. Then the detachment of artillery fired their cannon thirteen times, which was followd by the two regiments giving their fire from the thireen divisions in succession. These firings corresponded to the number of the American states united. The ceremony was closed with a proper collation to the gentlemen in the Council Chamber; during which the following toasts were given by the president of the council and heartly pleaged by the company, viz.:

'Prosperity and perpetuity to the United States of Amercia.'

'The American Congress.''

'General Washington, and success to the arms of the United States.'

'The downfall of tyrants and tyranny.'

'The universal prevalence of civil and religious liberty.'

'The friends of the United States in all quarters of the globe.'

The bells in town were rung on the occasion, and festivity cheered and brightened evey face. On the same evening, the King's arms and every sign with any resemblance of it, whether Lion and Crown, Pestle and Mortar, and Crown, Heart and Crown, etc., together with every sign that belonged to a Tory, were taken down, and the latter made a general conflagration of in King street."

Col. Thomas Crafts also took an active intrest in Masonic matters. He became a member of St. Andrew's Lodge F. and A. M. in 1762, and afterwards became a member of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. His name appears also, as S. G. D., on the charter of Essex Lodge, March. 10, 1779…
…He was for many years a Justice of the Peace, and during the latter part of his life served as acting Justice.

From the "Columbian Centinel" of Jan. 16, 1799, we copy the following notice of the death of Col. Thomas Crafts: "Died in this town, Thomas Crafts, Esq., Æ 59. His funeral will be from his dwelling-house, north side of the the Old Brick Meeeting-house, this afternoon, at four o'clock, which the friends and relatives are requested to attend."


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