Notes on the Boston Massacre trials, by John Adams, 1770, "Captn. Prestons Case"
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These are some of John Adams's legal notes, made while he worked as the defense attorney for the British soldiers accused of the murder of Crispus Attucks and four other colonists. This set of notes consists of eight pages and relates to the case against Capt. Thomas Preston (Rex v. Preston), in which Preston was eventually found not guilty.
- Pages 1, 2, 3: Adams's Notes of Authorities for His Argument for the Defense, October 1770. Transcription available.
- Pages 3 (cont'd), 4: Adams's Minutes of Trowbridge's and Oliver's Charges to the Jury, 29 October 1770. Transcription available.
- Page 5: Adams's Notes of Authorities For the Preliminary Argument, 24 October 1770. Transcription available.
- Page 6: Adams's Minutes of Paine's Authorities, 29 October 1770. Transcription available.
- Pages 6 (con't), 7, 8: Adams's Minutes of Trowbridge's and Oliver's Charges to the Jury, 29 October 1770. Transcription available.
John Adams kept numerous sets of legal notes during his career. The Massachusetts Historical Society has three sets of these notes from his work as a defense attorney during the Boston Massacre trials. The first set of notes (described above) is made up of eight pages relating to the trial of Captain Preston. The second set of notes consists of ten pages and includes testimony of witnesses for the Crown during the trial of the eight soldiers. The third set, also ten pages in length, contains Adams' notes on the testimony of the first twenty defense witnesses from Rex v. Wemms, the trial of the soldiers. Please note that the Boston Public Library's manuscript collection also has a set of Adams's legal notes which continues where MHS's second set leaves off, and includes the end of Burdick's testimony and that of six other witnesses.
Transcriptions for all of Adams's trial notes are available via the Adams Papers Digital Editions in the Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 3. See also the description of Adams' Massacre Minutes from the same volume.