Appleton's Pulpit Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission

The defiant Samuel Appleton

The Ipswich Post Office Mural portrays Reverend John Wise and Major Samuel Appleton gathered with other Ipswich men in 1687 in opposition to taxes imposed by Sir Edmund Andros.

The next time you are at the Ipswich post office, look up at the large mural which portrays the events of that first evening which led to Ipswich adopting the motto “The Birthplace of American Independence 1687.” There stands Major Samuel Appleton, who through his words and deeds bore witness to the people’s’ rights nearly a century before the Declaration of Independence.

On April 18, 1689 leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reclaimed control of the government from the crown-appointed governor, Sir Edmund Andros. Major Samuel Appleton of Ipswich was given the honor of handing Andros into the boat which conveyed him to prison on Castle Island in Boston Harbor, and was appointed to serve on the new ruling council.

Only a year earlier Major Appleton had been imprisoned by Andros. On the evening of August 23, 1687 the Rev. John Wise gathered town leaders to organize opposition against a new tax imposed by Andros. A hastily called town meeting the next day voted that “no taxes should be levied upon the subjects without consent of the Assembly chosen by the Freeholders” and refused to appoint a tax collector.

On September 19, a warrant was issued for the arrest of several Ipswich men for being “seditiously inclined and disaffected to his Majesty’s government.” Major Appleton took refuge in Saugus, where he delivered an address denouncing Andros from a rocky cliff that is known today as “Appleton’s Pulpit.” Additional warrants were issued against him for “absconding himself.” The others eventually gave bond, but the 62-year-old Major Appleton scorned the appearance of submission and refused to make any apology. He remained imprisoned in the cold Boston Jail through the winter.


Thomas Franklin Waters included this sketch in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which he identifies as the Home of Major Samuel Appleton, built by him and occupied until his death in 1696.

Samuel Appleton as a judge
Portrait of Samuel Appleton serving as judge.

Colonel/Major Samuel Appleton II and his brother John were among five children of Samuel Appleton, settler of Ipswich, who was born Aug. 13, 1586 in Waldingfield, England and died Feb. 24, 1670, buried in Rowley MA.

Colonel Appleton served as a justice of the Quarterly and General Sessions Court in Ipswich, and was a judge on the Court of Oyer and Terminer which was held in Ipswich on April 16, 1692 as the last of the witchcraft trials. At this court, unlike Salem, all were acquitted. He died on May 15, 1696.

Colonel Samuel Appleton’s grave at the Old North Burial Ground in Ipswich

Further reading:

6 thoughts on “The defiant Samuel Appleton”

  1. My middle name is Appleton. The books on the right look fascinating. I remember Ipswich as a child. I long to know more of my genealogy. Wondering what relation Samuel Appleton would be to me. We go back 13 generations I have heard.

  2. This is a copy of an email I sent the Trustees of Reservations:

    Dear Trustees,

    In the blog, Stories from Ipswich, an article, “The Defiant Samuel Appleton” by Gordon Harris which was posted on 2/18/17, included a portrait of Samuel who died in 1696.

    First I’m curious as to the color, it seems to be very green. It the actual portrait this color(s) and if so what might be the explanation for this odd tone?

    Second, is it really of Samuel Appleton who lived 1624-1696, entirely in the 17th century, or could it be of his son, also a Samuel Appleton who lived 1654-1725? The clothing looks much more like that worn in the 18th century.

    Now having done a little research on men’s eighteenth century clothing, this style of the big buttoned cuffs puts the coat in the mid-eighteenth century, after the death of the younger of the two Samuel’s mentioned above. Is this really a portrait of yet another Samuel Appleton from the next generation down?

    I am a direct descendant of both of these gentlemen and have been slowly gathering images of my ancestors, so I was very excited to come across one I hadn’t been aware of until just recently, but a closer look and a little research makes me question it’s identity.

    Any information you have to shed light on this conundrum will be welcomed.

    Many thanks,

    Nanny Osborne Almquist
    T of R Member

    1. Hello,
      I just came across your email- belatedly, I afraid! I am a volunteer docent at the Appleton Farms property in Ipswich. I don’t have specific information about the portrait of Col. Appleton (?) although we have a much better copy of it at the historic Old House, along with additional information and artifacts from the Appleton collection. At the moment, many of the family papers and portraits are on display at the Fruitlands Museum in Hartford, MA as part of the exhibit: Portraits & Penmanship: The Appletons in their Own Words, Sept 2, 2017 – March 28, 2018. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit the Old House and/or the Fruitlands exhibit. Some our docents are quite knowledgeable of Appleton Family history and may be able to help with your research. If you like, I can arrange a tour of the Old House for you to gather more information. You can contact me at:
      Lynn Grindall

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s