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Hancock-Clarke House January 18, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in History.
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I recently visited the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington. This museum is dedicated to telling the stories of the Hancock and Clarke families and recounting the events of the Battle of Lexington.

Here are three nuggets that I gleaned from my time at the museum.

1. While two of the Reverend John Hancock’s sons would later enter the ministry, Thomas Hancock chose a different path. Thomas Hancock worked as a bookbinder with the Henchman family in Boston; later, he took control of their business and become a wealthy importer-exporter. Thus, he was able to build a residence for his wife, Lydia Henchman, on Beacon Hill; he also built the Hancock House for his father. At that time, ministers could only afford modest homes, and so Thomas Hancock helped his father break that mold.

2. The town of Lexington had actually been a hotbed of anti-imperial sentiment for several years before the events of April 19, 1775. In 1769, several women staged a protest on the Town Green where they made homespun cloth; their objective was to deter their fellow colonists from purchasing imported British cloth. On December 13, 1773, the people of Lexington held their own Tea Party before the more well-known event of that name occurred three days later in Boston. The people of Lexington were clearly incensed by onerous taxes, including taxes on floorboards that had a width exceeding 24 inches – the only known source of that wood was the “King’s trees.”

3. On the evening of April 18, 1775, Lydia Henchman Hancock and Dorothy Quincy, who was engaged to be married to John Hancock the 3rd, were sleeping on the second floor of the Hancock-Clarke House. They were roused from their slumber by the arrival of Paul Revere; they quickly dressed Reverend Jonas Clarke’s eight children and prepared for the arrival of the British troops. Lydia Hancock and Dorothy Quincy remained in Lexington during the momentous events of the following day, even though John Hancock the 3rd and Samuel Adams had already escaped to Philadelphia earlier that morning. Dorothy Quincy would later marry John Hancock the 3rd in Fairfield, Connecticut.

I enjoyed standing in the room where Paul Revere first entered the Hancock-Clarke house to alert its residents of the impending arrival of the British forces. The tour guide was also friendly and informative, and she had a neat sense of humor. The museum contained some interesting artifacts, including a silk waistcoat that belonged to John Hancock the 3rd and a desk that George Washington used (albeit at a house in Medford) to sign some documents.

My only quibble with the museum is that the staff chatted loudly during the 15-minute film that marked the beginning of our tour, hampering my ability to focus on the film.

Overall I enjoyed my time at the museum, and I would definitely recommend it to history buffs who are exploring the Lexington area.

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