Paul Revere Heritage Project


Early Life

Paul Revere was born in Boston’s North End, in December 1734. Sometimes his birthday is mistakenly stated as January 1st, 1735 (or December 22nd Old Style), which was actually the day when he was baptized as stated in the church records. Likely he was born few days before that in late December 1734. His father’s name was Apollos Rivoire and his mother’s Deborah Hichborn. His father was a Huguenot silversmith who had immigrated to America as a refugee from religious persecution in France. Apollos learned his trade as a gold and silversmith from John Coney. Later he anglicized his name as Paul Revere.

Young Paul Revere had 11 siblings. He was the second oldest child and the eldest surviving son. He attended the North Writing School between the ages of 7 and 13 probably because his father planned him to continue the tradition of silversmith trade.

During the days when Paul Revere Jr. was growing up in the North End neighborhood, Boston had excellent public schools. Even though the town’s population was only fifteen thousand people there were five public schools with total of just over 500 students attending them. Of course there were also top notch private schools called Grammar and Latin schools like the North Latin, where wealthy Bostonians send their children with the intent to further continue their formal education in Harvard. But for those who wanted to become artisans, local Writing Schools were a better and more affordable option.

For most lower and middle class children, typical education started from so-called Dame schools where children studied until age of eight. In such schools the emphasis was more on discipline and religion than on learning how to read and write. Being an artisan himself, Revere Sr. wanted his son to follow his steps. But to become a silversmith and to run the shop young Paul had to master reading and writing as well as math. As a result he was enrolled into the North Writing School, which was the biggest and the best public school in Boston at that time. The school was located in Love Lane, what is now Tileston Street between Unity and Hanover streets and occupied a two story wooden building. The Headmaster of the school at the time was Zacharias Hicks. To be admitted a student had to have basic reading skills and agree to pay his share of the heating bill. The salaries of Headmaster and Usher were paid by the city. This gave boys like the young Revere a rare opportunity to receive high quality education to succeed in the professions their families had chosen.

By age of thirteen, young Pal had graduated from the North Writing and started showing keen interest learning his father's occupation who taught him the secrets of his craft. Talented Paul was quickly becoming a master silversmith.

It was at that time when the young Revere found a job as a bell ringer in a church called Christ Church, also known as the Old North Church. It was on the steeple of this church the famous "One if by Land, Two if by Sea” lantern was placed during the famous Midnight Ride many years later.

In 1754 when Paul was nineteen, his father died and he took over the family business. To provide for his large family Paul had to be resourceful, he applied his knowledge to making surgical instruments, engraved printing copper plates, sold spectacles and even replaced missing teeth. He became well known in Boston for his silverware and tea sets.

Two years after his father died PR enlisted to fight the French at Lake George, New York. He served as second lieutenant in the colonial artillery.

After his return on August 1757 he married Sarah Orne with whom he had eight children. Sara died on May 1773. In October he married Rachel Walker and they had another eight children

Revere became politically active during the Stamp Act Crisis in 1765.

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