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Thomas Melville

Major Thomas Melville was a close friend of John Hancock and participated in the famous Boston Tea Party. Thomas Melville was also the grandfather of Herman Melville, who authored “Moby Dick”. Thomas was born in Boston, Massachusetts January 16, 1751. He entered Princeton College at fifteen years old and graduated with a degree in theology. He was 23 when the Boston Tea Party occurred and, reportedly, found some of the alleged tea in his shoes after the affair was over, later showing it to General Lafayette. According to records at the St. Andrew’s Lodge, Melville was apart of the Freemason Association [who have been thought to have masterminded the whole tea party plan] and in 1773 he became a member of the Sons of Liberty. He was selected by General Warren as a personal aid and messenger for a short time before the General’s death at Bunker Hill. Melville advanced to the rank of Captain in 1776 in the Massachusetts artillery regiment, under the command of Colonel Thomas Crafts [another Boston Tea Party participant]. It has been said that Thomas Melville was the soldier that fired the first cannon with deadly aim towards the British, forcing them to retreat from the Boston harbor. As for his military career, he served under various, distinguished Revolutionary War generals and participated in 1779 at the Battle of Rhode Island. Melville’s political career began with his involvement with Boston’s Committee of Correspondence. Before the federal constitution was adopted and the creation of America’s current democratic government, one of the highest executive appointments in the port of Boston was the Navy Officer post. Melville was chosen for this post within Boston’s Committee of Correspondence by the Massachusetts legislature three years in a row. However, when the constitution was finally adopted, the task of appointment of officers was transferred to the president of the United States. When George Washington became president, he selected Thomas Melville as Surveyor and Inspector of the Boston Port. Years later, President Madison would appoint him as the Chief Naval Officer of Boston. He held this post successfully until 1829. In addition to holding these federally elected posts, Melville was also elected as state representative of the city of Boston. In 1779, he was selected as a fire warden of Boston and held this post until his death. Thomas Melville had married Priscilla Scollay in 1774; together they had eleven children. Melville died peacefully at his home in Boston, September 16th, 1832.


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