James Caldwell was only seventeen years old when he was killed during the Boston Massacre incident. By occupation Caldwell was a sailor on the brig called Hawk under the command of Capt. Thomas Morton. Between 1768 and 1770 the ship shuttled between the West Indies and Boston.
The West Indies trade was central to building the early wealth in colonial America. The system was called the Triangular Trade in which slaves in the West Indies made molasses that was shipped to Boston to be fermented into rum to be sold in England to pay to send more slaves to the West Indies. Boston actually remained a large rum producer until Prohibition. John Hancock was among those merchants who made a fortune importing molasses.
During the killing, Caldwell was not the first man who was fired upon. He was killed after Samuel Gray by the subsequent gun fire, shot with the two balls entering his back.
Caldwell was not from Boston. While serving on the ship he had no home or family in town. We know this because after the Massacre his body just like Crispus Attuck’s was placed in Fanueil Hall instead of the family home.
The little information we know about Mr. Caldwell’s family comes the archives of the New York State assembly. The records reveal a person under the name Luther Caldwell who claimed that James Caldwell who died during the Boston Massacre was his ancestor. This account mentions that the family immigrated to America in 1634 and descended from Puritan ancestry.