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Richard Gridley

Page history last edited by John Healey 7 years, 6 months ago


Richard Gridley's grave in the Canton Corner Cemetery (2005, photograph taken by Matt


 Richard Gridley1


Richard Gridley was born in Boston on January 3, 1710, to Richard and Rebecca Gridley; he was the youngest of twelve children. As a young man, he was apprenticed to a Boston merchant; later, he became a surveyor and civil engineer, as well as the chief architect of Boston's Long Wharf.


In 1745 and 1746, he commanded the artillery of His Majesty's army at the siege of Louisburg; a year later, he was listed as holding the Master Mason Degree. He supervised the 1752 erection of Fort Halifax on the Kennebec River; three years later, he served as colonel of the regiment at Crown Point during the French and Indian War, commander-in-chief of the Provincial Artillery, and colonel of the infantry at Fort William Henry. The fortifications around Lake George were constructed under his supervision. He was the 1756 Right Worshipful Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge, and served as Paul Revere's commander at Crown Point that year. During the second siege of Louisburg, Gridley so distinguished himself that, according to Daniel TV Huntoon, "on the evacuation of the city by the French, Lord Amherst offered him the valuable furniture of the French Governor's residence, which offer [Gridley], with chivalrous delicacy, declined, ever unwilling to appropriate to his private use spoils taken from an enemy." In 1759, he is mentioned as having stood with Wolfe at the Fall of Quebec. In 1760, he received a gift of Canada's Magdalen Islands, which were home to an extensive seal and cod fishery, and half-pay as a British officer, in recognition of his work.


In 1770, Gridley purchased half interest in Massapoag Lake from Edmund Quincy; here he either purchased or erected a furnace for smelting iron ore. In 1772, he bought Leonard's Forge; that same year, he began "The New Forge" in the Hardware section of Canton, though it was not until the following year that he began to live in Canton. In 1773, he received a land-grant of 3000 acres in Jackson, New Hampshire, in recognition for his Canada service.


At the Provincial Congress in Concord on April 23, 1775, it was resolved that Gridley be appointed chief engineer of the army needed for the country's defense. His regiment included Ezra and Stephen Badlam, as well as Gridley's brother Samuel, all of whom were from Canton. He planned the fortifications at Cape Ann, Boston Harbor, and Bunker Hill, at which he was wounded. He was then succeeded by Henry Knox in command of the Artillery. He cast the country's first cannon and mortars at Massapoag Pond, some of which were placed at Dorchester Heights. In 1776, he was entrusted with the duty of demolishing the British entrenchments on the Boston Neck. Later that year, Gridley served as a pallbearer for the April 8, 1776 funeral of his friend Dr. Joseph Warren, who had fallen at Bunker Hill. The following year, 40 of Gridley's eight-inch howitzers were contracted for Fort Ticonderoga by Robert Treat Paine. In 1778, Gridley was listed as a partial or full owner of a tan-yard. In 1781, he served as a colonel in the Canton Militia. In 1783, he was excluded from inviting guests to a peace celebration at the First Parish Meetinghouse because as a Unitarian, he was not considered a Christian. That same year, he was granted an annual pension of £121.13.4 by Congress. In 1795, he assisted in laying the corner-stone for the State House; that same year, he signed a petition for the incorporation of Canton.


Gridley died on June 21, 1796 of blood poisoning induced by cutting dogwood bushes. He was initally buried in the Gridley Family Graveyard near his wife and child; 80 years later, he was reinterred at Canton Corner Cemetery. During the exhumation, part of Gridley's queue was removed by Elijah Morse, who later donated it to the Canton Historical Society.




History of Town of Canton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, by Daniel T. V. Huntoon. 

8, 151, 153, 163, 198, 204, 318, 320, 355-356, 360-379, 436, 539, 584, 587, 650, 653 

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