Major Thomas Melville

Male 1752 -


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  • Name Thomas Melville 
    Title Major 
    Born 27 Jan 1751/1752  Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Notes 
    • Boston Tea Party:
      Major Thomas (3), only son of Allan and Jean (Cargill) Melvill, was
      born in Boston, Massachusetts, January 16, 1751. Losing his mother at
      the early age of eight years, his care and education devolved upon his
      maternal grandmother, Mary (Abernethy) Cargill. She was a sister of
      the noted Dr. Abernethy, and was a woman of great intelligence. Her
      memory was ever warmly cherished by her grandson during life. At the
      age of fifteen he entered Princeton College, where he was graduated in
      1769. He was destined for the ministry and devoted more than a year to
      the study of theology, but finding his health impaired and his
      constitution too frail for that arduous profession, he changed his
      plan of life. In 1771 he visited Scotland, the home of his ancestors,
      on business as heir-at-law to his cousin, General Roland Melvil, and
      was received with marked attention, receiving a degree from the St.
      Andrews College, Edinburg, together with the freedom of the city. He
      remained in Scotland and England two years, returning to Boston in
      1773. From this period the cause of civil liberty engaged his
      attention and its progress was marked with deep interest to the
      termination of his life. He took part in many of the important and
      stirring events preceding the revolution. He was one of the youthful
      disciples and confidential associates of Samuel and John Hancock,
      whose friendship and intimacy he ever retained. He was one of the band
      of Indians, who, on the night of December 16, 1773, held the famous
      "Tea Party" in Boston Harbor. Some of the tea that he found in his
      shoes after his return home that night he preserved, and in after
      years exhibited it to such a distinguished visitor as General
      Lafayette as a precious souvenir of that memorable party. He was
      selected by General Warren as one of his aides a short time previous
      to the death of the latter at the battle of Bunker Hill. In 1776 he
      was commissioned captain by the state of Massachusetts in an artillery
      regiment commanded by Colonel Thomas Crafts, and in 1777 was promoted
      major of the same regiment. For a time he was on garrison in and about
      Boston. When the British evacuated that city in 1776, a portion of
      their fleet was left in Nantasket Roads to prevent any British vessels
      from entering the harbor and falling into the hands of the patriots.
      Major Melvill commanded a detachment of artillery sent to drive them
      from their station. A battery was erected under heavy fire from the
      British ships and Major Melvill aimed and fired the first gun which,
      followed by others equally well aimed, soon drove the enemy to sea. He
      served with Colonel Craft's regiment in 1777 in Rhode Island, under
      General Spencer, and was with the regiment in 1779 at the battle of
      Rhode Island under General Sullivan. He also served on the committee
      of correspondence and on the town committee to obtain its quota of
      troops for the continental army. Prior to the organizations of the
      general government, Major Melvill, in 1787, was chosen, three years in
      succession by the Massachusetts legislature as naval officer of the
      port of Boston. His first election was from fifteen candidates, one of
      them, Mr. Otis, being a member of the legislature, and brother of the
      speaker. Upon the adoption of the federal constitution the appointment
      of custom house officers was transferred to the president of the
      United States. For the port of Boston President Washington appointed
      General Lincoln, collector; James Lowell, naval officer; and Major
      Melvill, surveyor and inspector. He held this office until the death
      of James Lowell, when he was appointed naval officer by President
      Madison. This office he continued to hold under successive presidents
      until 1829, when he fell a victim to the pernicious doctrine "To the
      victors belong the spoils," and was removed from office by President
      Andrew Jackson. There was no pretence that he was incapable or
      unfaithful to the duties of his office. The victorious party wanted
      the office and took it. The old hero bitterly resented his removal and
      often referred to it as the "bitterest insult" of his long life. At
      the first state election held after his removal from office he was
      chosen one of the representatives from Boston in the state
      legislature, and held by successive reelections during the remainder
      of his life. In 1779 he was chosen one of the fire wardens of Boston
      and continued to be reelected until the reorganization of the fire
      department in 1825, a period of forty-seven years. For twenty-five
      years he was chairman of the board. On his retirement he was presented
      with a silver pitcher as a token of personal respect and a public
      testimonial of his faithful services. One of the engines and companies
      bore his name and ever honored his memory. The Massachusetts
      legislature appointed him a director of the State Bank and other
      public institutions, and he was chosen as delegate to the convention
      that revised the state constitution. He had many warm friends among
      the military and public men of his day. He was known among these as
      "the last of the cocked hats," from the fact that until his death he
      always wore a three-cornered cocked hat and knee breeches. Being once
      asked why he did not add a final e. to his name, the reply was: "My
      father did not." The leading and prominent traits of his character
      were a sound judgment, a quick discernment, firmness and decision in
      time of danger and pressing emergency; a strong sense of justice; the
      strictest fidelity to engagements, public and private; an ardent
      attachment to personal friends; great tenderness and the most
      considerate regard for his family and those depending on him.
      Notwithstanding an intense aversion to the disclosure of religious
      feeling, it was manifest to his intimate friends that the highest of
      all obligations were daily and habitually remembered. He died
      peacefully at his home in Boston, September, 16, 1832, in his
      eighty-second year.
      He married, in Boston, August 20, 1774, Priscilla, daughter of John
      Scollay, granddaughter of James Scollay, who came from Orkney Island
      to America, and great-granddaughter of Malcolm Scollay, of Scotland,
      born 1648, died 1746, at the great age of ninety-eight years. The name
      is perpetuated in Boston by "Scollay Square" and other memorials.
      Priscilla (Scollay) Melvill survived her husband with whom she spent a
      congenial, happy life, continuing fifty-eight years. Children:
      Thomas (2), born June 26, 1776, educated at Boston Academy, was a
      merchant in Boston, was sent to Paris by his employers at the age of
      eighteen, became a banker of note, and remained in France fourteen
      years, except two years spent in Spain; married a French girl of
      Spanish mother, Fran
    Person ID I25671  OurNorthernRoots | Andrew Burdett Ancestry
    Last Modified 30 Oct 2011 

    Family Priscilla Scollay,   b. 15 Aug 1755, Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 30 Aug 1774  Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    +1. Allan Melville,   b. 7 Apr 1782, Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID F7736  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

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    Link to Google MapsBorn - 27 Jan 1751/1752 - Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 30 Aug 1774 - Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, USA Link to Google Earth
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