image of barnstable county courthouse

For Immediate Release August 31, 2018 : Barnstable County Commissioners Announce Barnstable County Independence Day

Media Contact: Sonja Sheasley | Phone: 508-375-6896 | Email:

BARNSTABLE COUNTY, MA – Barnstable County Commissioners announced today that Barnstable County would annually recognize September 27th as Barnstable County Independence Day. By signing a reconstructed document that had been destroyed by fire in the early 1800’s, the Commissioners will reaffirm an act of protest taken by ordinary citizens of Barnstable County on September 27, 1774. Tales of Cape Cod, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and disseminating Cape Cod’s history, initially proposed recognition of Barnstable County Independence Day.

About September 27, 1774

Tales of Cape Cod estimates as many as 1,500 ordinary citizens from across Cape Cod gathered in front of Barnstable’s Olde Colonial Courthouse on September 27, 1774 – nearly two years earlier than when America declared independence from Great Britain – to protest the Intolerable Acts decreed by the British to punish Colonists for the Boston Tea Party. Until then the Province of Massachusetts enjoyed nearly complete local autonomy under its 1691 royal charter. The Intolerable Acts changed this by taking away the colonists’ rights to elect their government officials, choose jurors locally and hold town meetings.

Counties across Massachusetts moved to shut down their courthouses before the new Crown-controlled courts could sit for the fall session in 1774. In Barnstable County, protesters demanded that the County desist from all government business until “the mind of the continental, or of a provincial, Congress shall be obtained” and ended with County officials signing a document that conceded to the cancellation of the court’s fall session.

By the end of that week in September, Cape Cod was in every respect rid of British control, and by the end of that year, British control had ended in all of Massachusetts except Boston. In response, the next April, British dispatched troops to Concord to secure munitions stored there — and with the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the Revolutionary War began.

Commissioners to Sign Document at Regular Meeting on September 27, 2018

The first Barnstable County Independence Day will be celebrated on September 27, 2018, when the Barnstable County Commissioners will convene for their regular weekly meeting, open to the public, at the Olde Colonial Courthouse, 3046 Main St., at 4:00 PM. A reconstructed document listing the 13 original signatories will be signed by the three County Commissioners, with plans to later circulate the scroll to every town on Cape Cod to add official signatures. During the meeting, Phineas Fiske, a member of Tales of Cape Cod Board of Directors, will present the history of September 27, 1774. A reception will immediately follow and is also open to the public.

Barnstable County Commissioner Leo Cakounes says, “Commemorating September 27th as Barnstable County Independence Day is important because it raises awareness of the role our region played leading up to American Independence. It is yet another reason to be proud of where we live.”

The County Commissioners expressly invite descendants of the 13 original signatories to this event. Original signatories are James Otis, Thomas Smith, Joseph Otis, Nymphas Marston, Shearjashub Bourne, David Thacher, Daniel Davis, Melatiah Bourne, Edward Bacon, Isaac Hinkley, Solo Otis, Kenelm Winslow, and Richard Bourne.