Evan O’Brien, right, a member of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, and Jonathan Lane, a member of Revolution 250, share some of the history of two Jay men, Jonathan Parker and James Starr, who participated in the Boston Tea Party in 1773, at the Jay Hill Cemetery. Emily Marcos of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum placed the commemorative markers on both gravesites. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

JAY — Two Jay men were recognized Thursday for their contributions to one of the most significant moments in American history — the Boston Tea Party.

Jonathan Parker (1728-1801) and James Starr (1740-1830) were honored with commemorative markers near their headstones for their participation in the pivotal 1773 protest. Both men are buried at the Jay Hill Cemetery.

At the ceremony, Evan O’Brien of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum and Jonathan Lane of Revolution 250 shared that the two men were among those “who risked everything to take part in an act of protest that would ultimately define a nation.”

The two organizations are working together to commemorate the 250th anniversary of when a group of colonists called the Sons of Liberty, many dressed like Native Americans, dumped shipments of tea into Boson Harbor in protest of taxes imposed by the King. The protest, held on Dec. 16, 1773, is now known as the Boston Tea Party and was a catalyst for the Revolutionary War.

Daren Dubreuil of Jay looks over the grave of his seventh generational grandfather, Jonathan Parker, on Thursday after a ceremony placing a commemorative marker near his headstone. The marker honors Parker for his participation in the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

Attending Thursday’s ceremony was Daren Dubreuil of Jay, the seventh generational grandson of Jonathan Parker.

Parker was also the fifth generational grandfather to Parker Kinney of Jay who died at age 70 in 2007. Kinney, a former Jay selectman and interim town manager, is an uncle to Dubreuil, whose mother, the late Donna Kinney was sister to Kinney. Their mother’s maiden name was Parker, for whom Parker Kinney is named.


Starr was born in New London, Connecticut, and moved in 1802 to Jay Hill in Jay. He served as a selectman for Jay, and as town clerk for seven years, and treasurer for a number of years, O’Brien said.

According to O’Brien, the Boston Tea Party is an event that is remembered and reenacted here in New England but also around the world. A yearlong series of events, commemorations, performances, exhibits and educational initiatives leading up to the 250th anniversary have been planned, including on Dec. 16, 2023.

“John Adams would call it the most magnificent movement of all. Even Royal Gov. Thomas Hutchinson would call it the boldest stroke yet in America,” O’Brien said.

The Tea Party was prompted by the arrival of three ships carrying East India Company tea from China, amid protests and non-importation efforts, according to O’Brien.

“Several town meetings took place at Old South Meeting House and Faneuil Hall (in Boston),” he said. About 340 chests of East India Company tea ultimately stained the icy waters of Boston Harbor.

There is no official count of how many people took part, but it is believed that 100 to 150 men were involved in the protest.


At the time, no one discussed participants’ names because in the “eyes of British authority it was a treasonous act,” O’Brien said.

The term Boston Tea Party was not published until 1826.

Lane referenced Tea Leaves by Francis S. Drake, which indicated that Jonathan Parker “was a farmer, a ‘high Son of Liberty,’ who safely brought through the British lines on the Neck, and secreted in Muddy Pond Woods, the two (bronze) cannons which by a secreted clever stratagem, had been taken from the gun house, on Boston Common. … Next day, a party of Red Coats were in Roxbury searching for them in every direction, but in vain.”

Parker had hidden the cannons in the bottom of a wagon underneath a load of stable manure.

“The revolutionary spirit of both James Starr and Jonathan Parker can be found throughout Jay and in many communities across Maine as the action of the Tea Party participants reverberate as strongly today as they did in 1773,” O’Brien said.

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