Greenwich Tea Burning


SENPA001-Greenwich001Richard Howell was one of many men who on the night of December 22, 1774, dressed as Native Americans, liberated a shipload (from the English merchant brig “Greyhound”) of Tory tea and burned it in a field adjoining the house it was stored in. This was almost exactly one year sinse the Boston Tea Party.  This event is known as the “Greenwich Tea Burning”.

This tea burning takes place in Greenwich (pronounced Green Wich), one of the largest towns in Cumberland County, New Jersey at the time. Greenwich is situated next to the Cohansey river.  It was these docks that the Greyhound found a recipient for her controversial cargo.  Just as in Boston a year before the citizens of Cumberland County were very angry with the new taxes levied but the British Parliament on their goods and trade.


Example of an English Merchant Brig

The Greyhound (Captain J. Allen her master) docked at the port of Greenwich on December 12-14 and unloaded her cargo of English tea. By diverting to Greenwich Captain Allen was probably trying to escape the inevitable troubles with his cargo of tea that was bound for Philadelphia. He procured the cellar of Dan Bowen to warehouse his cargo.

The local citizens got wind of the tea sitting in Bowen’s cellar and a group of  men including Richard Howell and his brother Lewis Howell drew plans for the destruction of this British insult to all Whigs.  After meeting a Richard and Lewis’s house the group advanced to Greenwich and broke into the cellar to remove and to burn the entire shipment.

The event had many spectators, some against the burners actions, but many for them.  There was a trial months later in which Richard and Lewis among others were named, but then the tide of the Revolution had already started in Concord and Lexington and there was not enough loyalists available in Greenwich to indict the Tea Burners.

Here is a list of the know Tea Burners:

  • Ebenezer Elmer
  • Timothy Elmer
  • James Ewing
  • Dr. Thomas Ewing
  • Joel Fithian
  • Philip Vickers Fithian
  • Lewis Howell
  • Richard Howell
  • James Booth Hunt
  • John Hunt
  • Andrew Hunter, Jr.
  • Joel Miller
  • Alexander Moore, Jr.
  • Ephriam Nemcomb
  • Silas Newcomb
  • Clarence Parvin
  • David Pierson/Pearson
  • Stephen Pierson/Pearson
  • Henry Seeley
  • Josiah Seeley
  • Abraham Sheppard
  • Henry Stacks
  • Silas Whitekar

SENPA001-Greenwich002In 1908 there was a memorial dedicated to the “Greenwich Tea Burning” and the burners.  It has a list of names associated with the event inscribed on its sides.



tea_burners_coverThe book “THE TEA-BURNERS OF CUMBERLAND COUNTY” written by Frank D. Andrews was published in 1908 and chronicles the Tea Burning the participants and and the 1908, 130th year Memorial dedication







Cumberland Patriot Spring 2009

Cumberland County Historical Society

Newsletter dated Spring 2009 – This article covers the Tea Burners Monument’s centennial 1908-2008, held in Sept. 2008







The book about the event, participants and the 130 year anniversary – “THE TEA-BURNERS OF CUMBERLAND COUNTY

The New Jersey State Government Website

The Cumberland County, New Jersey Website

The Revolutionary War New Jersey Website

Cumberland County Historical Society

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Last update February 28, 2015
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Governor Richard Howell by William Henderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.