Who Participated in the Boston Tea Party?

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.

Destroying the tea was considered an act of treason by the British government and was punishable by death so it is not surprising they tried to hide their identities.

Theses rebellious tea party participants were mostly members of the Sons of Liberty, but some were random citizens who had joined the group en route to the harbor while others were men from distinguished families who did not want their names to be publicly associated with such illegal activity.

To protect their identities, the participants disguised themselves as Native Americans complete with ragged clothes, makeup and mohawks and refrained from acknowledging each other during the act.

Destruction of tea at Boston Harbor lithograph by N. Currier circa 1846
“Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor” lithograph by N. Currier circa 1846

How Many People Participated in the Boston Tea Party?

Through oral tradition, old family stories and some documentation, an incomplete list of 175 names was pieced together and published in a book titled, Tea Leaves, by Francis Drake in 1884 as well as in the 1973 Boston Globe 200th Anniversary Boston Tea Party Special Section:

Francis Akeley (or Eckley)
Nathaniel Barber
Samuel Barnard
Henry Bass
Joseph Bassett
Edward Bates
Adam Beals Jr.
Thomas Bolter
David Bradlee
Josiah Bradlee
Nathaniel Bradlee
Thomas Bradlee
James Brewer
John Brown
Seth Ingersoll Browne
Stephen Bruce
Benjamin Burton
Nicholas Campbell
George Carleton
Thomas Chase
Nathaniel Child
Benjamin Clark
Jonathan Clark
John Cochran
Gilbert Colesworthy
Gersham Collier
Adam Collson
James Foster Condy
Daniel Coolidge
Joseph Coolidge
Samuel Coolidge
Samuel Cooper
William Cox
Thomas Crafts
John Crane
Obadiah Curtis
Thomas Dana, Jr.
Amasa Davis
Robert Davis
John DeCarteret
David Decker
John Dickman
Edward Dolbeare
Samuel Dolbeare
John Dyar, Jr.
Joseph Eaton
Joseph Eayres
Benjamin Edes
William Etheridge
Samuel Fenno
Samuel Foster
Thomas Fracker
Nathaniel Frothingham, Jr.
John Fulton
John Gammell
Eleazer Gay
Thomas Gerrish
Samuel Gore
Moses Grant
Nathaniel Greene
Timothy Guy
Samuel Hammond
Peter Harrington
William Haskins
William Hendley
George Robert Twelves Hewes
John Hicks
Samuel Hobbs
John Hooton
Elisha Horton
Elijah Houghton
Samuel Howard
Edward Compton Howe
Jonathan Hunnewell
Richard Hunnewell
Richard Hunnewell, Jr.
Thomas Hunstable
Abraham Hunt
Daniel Ingersoll
Daniel Ingoldson
Charles Jameson
Robert Jameson
Jared Joy
Robert Lash
Amariah Learned
Joseph Lee
Nathaniel Lee
Amos Lincoln
John Locke
Matthew Loring
Joseph Lovering
Joseph Ludden
David Lyon
Thomas Machin
Ebenezer MacIntosh
Peter McIntosh
Archibald MacNeil
John Marston
Martin, probably Wm.
Thompson Maxwell
John May
Mead, probably John
Henry Mellius
Thomas Melville
Aaron John Miller
James Mills
William Molineaux
Francis Moore
Thomas Moore
Anthony Morse
Joseph Mountfort
Eliphalet Newell
Joseph Nicholls
Samuel Nowell
Joseph Pearse Palmer
Jonathan Parker
Joseph Payson
Samuel Peck
John Peters
William Pierce
Isaac Pitman
Lendall Pitts
Samuel Pitts
Thomas Porter
Henry Prentiss
Nathaniel Prentiss
Rev. John Prince
Edward Procter
Henry Purkitt
Seth Putnam
John Randall
Joseph Reed
Paul Revere
Benjamin Rice
Jonathan Dorby Robins
Joseph Roby
John Russell
William Russell
John Sawtelle
George Sayward
Edmund Sears
Robert Sessions
Joseph Shed
Benjamin Simpson
Peter Slater, Jr.
Samuel Sloper
Ephriam Smith
Josiah Snelling
Thomas Spear
Samuel Sprague
John Spurr
James Starr
Phineas Stearns
Ebeneezer Stevens
James Stoddard
Elisha Story
James Swan
Abraham Tower
Bartholomew Trow
John Truman
Benjamin Tucker Jr.
Thomas Urann
James Watson
Henry Wells
Thomas Wells
Josiah Wheeler
John Whitehead
David Williams
Isaac Williams
Jeremiah Williams
Thomas Williams
Nathaniel Willis
Joshua Wyeth
Thomas Young

Other people have also been suspected of taking part in the Boston Tea Party but have never been officially listed, such as my ancestor Captain Edward Burbeck, brother of Henry Burbeck.

Numerous documents list Burbeck as a possible participant of the event and suggest that he had to flee Boston to avoid persecution from the British government who had placed a price on his head. The author of the History of Plymouth, New Hampshire states:

“Edward Burbeck, son of Col. William and Abigail (Tuttle) Burbeck…He was a wood carver in Boston, a captain of artillery, 1775, and, by tradition, one of the ‘Boston Tea Party.”

Boston Tea Party, engraving, WD Cooper, circa 1789
Boston Tea Party, engraving by W.D. Cooper, circa 1789

A book written by the Sons of the American Revolution in 1896 also states Edward Burbeck was:

“suspected of being a member of the Boston tea party. When Boston was in the hands of the British, Edward managed to send his family from the city and then escaped himself, disguised as a fisherman. He was reunited to his family at Newburyport.”

Historians are not sure why the tea participants chose Native American disguises but Daughter of Liberty leader Sarah Bradlee Fulton, who has since been nicknamed the “Mother of the Tea Party,” has since been credited with coming up with the idea of the disguises and many historians speculate it is probably because “playing Indian” was a popular American tradition back then just as it is now.

Due to the secrecy, most of the tea party participants escaped punishment, except for Francis Akeley who was the only person imprisoned for his role in the tea party.

If you want to learn more about the Boston Tea Party, check out this timeline of the Boston Tea Party.

Year Book of the Wisconsin Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Swain & Tate Company, 1896
Stearns, Ezra Scollay and Moses Thurston Runnels. History of Plymouth, New Hampshire. Vol. I, University Press, 1906
“Frequently Asked Questions About the Boston Tea Party.” Old South Meeting House, osmh1.drupalgardens.com/history/boston-tea-party/frequently-asked-questions-about-boston-tea-party
“Complete List of Participants.” Boston Tea Party Historical Society, www.boston-tea-party.org/participants/participants.html


About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the author and publisher of the History of Massachusetts Blog. Rebecca is a freelance journalist and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Visit this site's About page to find out more about Rebecca.

3 thoughts on “Who Participated in the Boston Tea Party?

  1. Marilyn J. Powers

    My g.g.g. grandfather, Douglass Davidson participated in the Boston Tea Party. He was dressed up as an Indian. He was born in Massachusetts, died in Vermont Jan 1, 1825. Married twice, Second wife, Aseneth Ives is my g.g.g grandmother. Douglass also participated in Wyoming, PA battle. I am unable to get into my Ancestry.com files right now.

    ~ Marilyn Wright Powers

  2. Patrick Guy

    My GGGGG Grandfather Timothy Guy was a partisapent in the throwing of the Britsh tea into the houbour of Boston on the 16th of December (Boston Tea Party). He was of Irish desent and lived in Massachusetts.

  3. Gloria R Baragona

    I believe Thomas Wells and Henry Wells, who participated, were the brothers of my 4th great grandfather, Andrew Elton Wells, son of Francis Wells. According to a couple of resources I discovered in my research, Francis Wells and Samuel Adams were very good friends.

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