GaspeeVirtual Archives
John or Joseph Aplin, Esq

The Gaspee Days Committee at
www.gaspee.COM is a civic-minded nonprofit organization that operates many community events in and around Pawtuxet Village, including the famous Gaspee Days Parade each June. These events are all designed to commemorate the 1772 burning of the hated British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee, by Rhode Island patriots as America's 'First Blow for Freedom' TM.  Our historical research center, the Gaspee Virtual Archives at www.gaspee.ORG , has presented these research notes as an attempt to gather further information on one who has been suspected of being associated with the the burning of the Gaspee. Please e-mail your comments or further questions to
King George
                    III reward posterEvidence implicating John Aplin, Esq.

From Old Providence: A Collection of Facts and Traditions relating to Various Buildings and Sites of Interest in Providence.  Merchants National Bank of Providence: Providence, 1918, Page 16 [In a discussion about the Old Market House in the center of Providence]:
The king's proclamation was posted on the hay-scales, on its eastern end, offering a magnificent reward for information concerning those who participated in the Gaspee plot.  There is a tradition that a well-known lawyer of the day, John Alpin, tore down the broadside, "removing the source of temptation, and possibly saving some of his townsmen from a hangman's rope."
Note the spelling variation here of Alpin rather than Aplin.

                    Market HouseLeft:  King George III reward poster for those that attacked and burned the Gaspee. Click to enlarge

Revolution in Three Acts excerpted from: Official Chronicle and Tribute Book of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.  Compiled by Lucia Hammond Wheeler, 1936.
A Mr. Joseph Aplin, a Providence lawyer, was in Market Square the morning the proclamation was tacked up on the pillar of the hay scales. He marched through the crowd, perused the royal "Whereas," sniffed at it and flicked it to the ground with his cane. The Lion and the Unicorn lay trampled in the mud.

Right:  The Providence Market House c1870 was and is the center of Downcity Providence. It was used as the Board of Trade Building when this picture was taken. It is now used by the RI School of Design.
Biographical Information:

From the Early American Newspapers Collection available through the NEHGS website we gather the following possibilities:  In the 1760s a George Brown, Silas Downer, John and Joseph Alpin were four lawyers who together took out periodic advertisements informing their clients that court fees associated with judgments had to be paid by the clients themselves. t

Genealogical Information:

A work in progress....

We conclude that John Aplin obstructed justice by deliberately pulling down a wanted poster about those that burnt the Gaspee.  He is therefore considered a friend of the American cause.
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Originally Posted to Gaspee Virtual Archives 4/2013    Last Revised 04/2013      JohnAlpinEsq.html