Who were Benjamin Edes & John Gill?
Bookseller, printer, publisher, journalist, and patriot, Benjamin Edes (1732-1803), in partnership with John Gill (1732-1785), maintained the most radical of Boston newspapers in the period leading up to the Revolution. From 1755 to 1775 they published the Boston Gazette from their press "opposite to the Prison in Queen-Street." In addition to the newspaper, the pair printed religious tracts, annual sermons, scientific lectures, almanacs, and advertising broadsides.
In the 1760s, as the local response to the Crown's efforts to tax and control her colonies intensified, Edes and Gill began to publish political works and broadsides that expressed the colonial point of view. Their spirited denunciation of the Townshend Acts led to an ineffective demand in Parliament in October 1767 that the publishers of the Boston Gazette be tried for libel. Their sympathies earned them appointments as printers to the House of Representatives in 1762 and 1770-1775. Edes, the more politically active partner, was a founding member of the Loyall Nine--the group that eventually became the Sons of Liberty.
During the Siege of Boston, Gill remained in town (where he was imprisoned for a month for treason and sedition) while Edes removed his press to Watertown. There he continued printing the Boston Gazette and Province paper currency until he returned to Queen Street in October 1776, after the British evacuated Boston. The firm Edes & Gill continued through 1779, when Edes established a new firm, Benjamin Edes & Sons (Peter and Benjamin, Jr.). Peter Edes left to set up his own firm in Connecticut in 1784, and Benjamin, Jr. left ten years later. Peter said of his father's later years:
"If my father had been like other men he might have been worth thousands on thousands of dollars, but he preferred the liberties of his country to all...by placing, like many others too much confidence in the stability of the Continental money, he died a poor man."In 1799 the elder Benjamin Edes set up a press in his home in Temple Street, and with the aid of his daughter, performed job printing until his death in 1803. His punch bowl descended to his great-grandson, Benjamin Edes, whose widow, Mary Cuming Edes, presented it to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1871.
This description is a courtesy of the Mass Historical Society.