Dr. Samuel Prescott was a doctor, privateer, militiaman, and alarm ride during the infamous ride of Paul Revere. He was an American Patriot who served his country until his life’s end. Prescott’s name is often forgotten due to many other significant New England men involved in the midnight ride, but his contributions were as significant as Paul Revere, William Dawes, and other riders that rode throughout the night. If it had not been for him, then the Concord militia may have not been alarmed of the British movements throughout the countryside.
There is little to discuss about Dr. Samuel Prescott’s early life. He was still a young man when he met up with Paul Revere on the road to concord that night. His brief life hit its climax on 18 April, 1775.
Dr. Prescott was twenty-four years old and was courting the lovely Lydia Mulliken. Lydia had many suitors for her hand, but had settled on the young and handsome doctor. By all accounts Dr. Prescott was a handsome man and one of the more eligible bachelors of Middlesex County. He probably walked her to the door and told her goodnight. He knew that soon he would be married to the one he loved and begin building a family. What he must have felt like after seeing her that evening. He was probably riding a high and whistling a tune as he slowly rode back to Concord. Who knows what he was feeling because the records do not give us that information, but we do know that this evening would change the course of his life forever.
Paul Revere and William Dawes had met up at the Hancock-Clarke parsonage where they had alarmed Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the British movements. After a short delay that took Samuel Adams convincing John Hancock to not stay and fight, the two midnight riders started on their way to Concord. It was here they ran into the good doctor and son of liberty, Dr. Samuel Prescott. It was not long until he was informed as to what was going on and agreed to assist them in alarming the countryside. After this discussion a British sentry unity spotted the three riders and came after them. Paul Revere was captured, but William Dawes and Samuel Prescott escaped. During the escape William Dawes lost his horse and thus ended his ride. There were other riders who were already alarmed and were spreading the news, but Concord had not been alarmed. It would be up to Prescott and only him to alarm the British target.
Prescott rode into Concord around at approximately 1:30 AM to alarm Colonel Barrett and the Concord militia. Afterwards he rode to Acton and then possibly to Stow. While in Concord he triggered his brother Abel Prescott who rode to Sudbury and then Framingham. In Acton, Prescott probably triggered the midnight rider Bancroft. Bancroft alarmed Littleton, Groton, Pepperell, Townshend, and Ashby. Both Abel Prescott and Bancroft triggered other riders in the alarm system and by the time the British reached Lexington they could hear alarms going off and the galloping of horses. It was clear that the men of Massachusetts were aware of the secret British march.
After the midnight ride of Dr. Samuel Prescott there is little information about him. Oral histories suggest that he fought in the militia and then became a privateer where he was captured. While captured he died on a prison ship and never saw his sweet Lydia again.
- Fischer, David Hackett. Paul Revere’s Ride. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
- Galvin, John R. The Minute Men: The First Fight: Myths and Realities of the American Revolution. Washington D.C.: Potomac Books, 1989.
- Ryan, D. Michael “The Tale of Two Families Joined by Love, Shattered by War.” http://www.concordma.com/magazine/julaug01/samuelprescott.html/ (accessed December 3, 2012)