Hugh Montgomery (British Army soldier)

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Hugh Montgomery
Nationality British
Occupation Soldier
Criminal penalty Branded on the thumb
Spouse(s) Isabella
Children 3
Conviction(s) Manslaughter
(March 5, 1770)
Date March 5, 1770
Location(s) Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British America
Killed 5
Injured 6
Weapons Flintlock musket

Private Hugh Montgomery was a soldier of the 29th Regiment of Foot who was present at the Boston Massacre. He killed one man and was found guilty of manslaughter.

The Boston Massacre[edit]

On March 5, 1770, seven British soldiers, including Montgomery, were dispatched to King Street in Boston, Massachusetts to relieve Private Hugh White. A large crowd soon gathered around them. Montgomery was then struck by a thrown piece of ice and fell down. He got back up and fired into the crowd in response and was then struck by a club or a stick wielded by Richard Palmes, a merchant. Montgomery fell again and his gun went off as soon as it hit the ground. The Sons of Liberty from behind the soldiers, yelled the word "FIRE!" and then all the british soldiers fired by accident; by popular myth, Cpt. Preston gave the command to fire, which is deemed untrue, as he stood in front of his men during the incident.

On 27 March, Montgomery was indicted for murder. He was held in prison pending trial,[1] which took place in November–December 1770, in Boston. John Adams, who would later become President of the United States, was his attorney.

Montgomery and fellow soldier Matthew Kilroy were both found guilty of manslaughter on 5 December. They returned to court nine days later and "prayed clergy" to avoid the death sentence. Instead, they were branded on the thumb, with a hot iron, the letter "M" for murder.[2] The two reportedly burst into tears before receiving the punishment.[3]

Montgomery had a wife and three children staying with him in Boston.[4]


  1. ^ "The Boston Massacre - 1770". Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  2. ^ "The Summary of the Boston Massacre Trial". Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  3. ^ Fleming, Thomas J. "Verdicts of History I: The Boston Massacre". Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Private Hugh Montgomery was the First Man to Fire". Retrieved 10 November 2010.