Case Study



Boston Tea Party Historical Society

Henry Prentiss

Cap. Henry Prentiss participated in the Tea Party at the age of 24.

He was born on March 7th, 1749 and died on August 31, 1821 when he was 73 years old. Other than his role in the destruction of tea, it is known that Henry Prentiss fought in the Revolutionary war and earned the rank of Captain.

During the time of the famous tea protest Mr. Prentiss like many other patriots, belonged to one of Boston’s Masonic organizations.

Before the revolution he was an established Boston merchant, a large cotton manufacturer, and a successful horticulturist. In historic document he described being “a man whose name brings to old residents of Boston and Cambridge the memory of many a story of his shrewdness and intelligence.”

Mr. Prentiss was known to reside on Hanover St. in Boston’s historic North End where Paul Revere and other patriots also lived at that time. His residence once belonged to Benjamin Hallowell’s who was a distinguished merchant and shop-owner in Boston. It was later destroyed by the same mob that destroyed Lieutenant-Governors Hutchinson’s house in August 1765. The main reason for such act was that Mr. Hallowell was a comptroller of customs and as such regarded with special hatred by the Sons of Liberty and patriotic Bostonians.

Surprisingly few personal belonging of Henry Prentiss survived until our days. One is a beautiful pitcher, bearing the motto, "Success to Henry Prentiss and his Employ, 1789”. The other item is a portrait of Mr. Prentiss painted by an unknown painter. The latter is now in the collection of the Smithsonian museum.

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