Four times a year the Courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace were held in the town of Worcester. By the summer of 1774 the Whig Party (Patriots) in the western counties of Massachusetts had created a solid resistance to royal rule. Whigs in Hampshire and Berkshire counties had succeeded in closing the courts. Now it was Worcester’s turn. When the officers of the court attempted to convene they were prevented by more than 4,600 militiamen from 37 towns in Worcester County.
Retiring to Heywood’s tavern, a Tory stronghold, judges, justices of the peace, lawyers and the county sheriff tried to find a solution. They drafted a document acknowledging that the courts would not open and that they would resign their positions. Not satisfied with that document, the Worcester Patriots demanded that they publicly renounce their positions as well as recant their June Protest against the Patriot non-importation covenant that had been approved in town meeting. The court officers then walked down Main Street from Heywood’s tavern to the Court House between the lines of Worcester militia and offered their public statements.