Case Study



Boston Tea Party Historical Society

George Robert Twelves Hewes

Robert Hewes was born in Boston, on September 5th 1742. When the Boston Tea Party occurred he was 31 years old. In his early life Robert was not fortunate to get a good education and his main employment was farming, fishing and shoe-making, which also was his father's trade. In 1758 he attempted to enlist in the army to serve against the French, but did not “pass muster”. He was later unsuccessful in his attempt to join the navy and then resumed shoe-making.

Mr. Hewes’ character was both excitable and patriotic which drove him to participate in various disturbances in Boston from the time of the passage of the Stamp Act. One of the most famous of such disturbances was the Boston Massacre of 1770. On March 5th Hews was among the crowd of Bostonian involved in the confrontation with British Soldiers. He received a shoulder injury from being stricken by a soldier’s rifle.

According to his official biography, Hewes involvement in the patriotic movement was inspired by a meeting with John Hancock that occurred when he came to Hancock's house to deliver fixed shoes.

He was among the foremost in the destruction of the tea at Boston on December 16, 1773. The patriots organized themselves in three groups to climb the three different tea ships and Hewes was selected to lead one of the groups. As a leader he was the one to go to the ship captain to demand the keys to the tea storage. He also distinguished himself by confronting and threatening a fellow protester who attempted to take some tea for himself.

After British clampdown on protests in 1775 and the introduction of martial law in Boston many patriots found themselves under the vigilant eyes of the British officers, Hewes was among them. He managed to escape and fled the city. He later entered the naval service of the colonies as a privateer.

After the war of 1812 Hewes and his family moved to Richfield Springs in Ostego County, New York. He continued to rely on his shoemaking trade to support his family until older age. Although he never became wealthy, Hewes was well respected in the community for his contribution to the cause of the American Revolution and for his personal character. Being one of the last survivors of the American Revolution made him a desired participant in memorial ceremonies.

Robert Hewes passed away on November 5, 1840 hen he was 98 years old.

< Read about other participants of the Boston Tea Party



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The Location

The Ships

Origin of the Tea


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Samuel Adams Biography

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Top 10 preceding historic events

Triangular trade in the colonies

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The Tea Act of 1773

Debate Arguments for the British

The Actual Tea Chest

The Ballad

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