Though not as well-known as Paul Revere, Capt. John Pulling Jr. played a pivotal role in the events of April 18, 1775. A friend of Revere’s and a member of the Sons of Liberty, Pulling lived in the North End and earned a living as a sea captain transporting goods between Georgia and Boston.
By April 1775, Pulling owned several pews at Old North and was a vestryman. He likely was present when Old North’s Loyalist minister Dr. Mather Byles, Jr., resigned just hours before the church was used in Revere’s plan.
Though Revere never named the friends who helped him the night of his famous ride, Pulling’s descendants asserted that Revere asked him to display the lanterns. According to the family, after receiving word from Revere about British movements, Pulling contacted sexton Robert Newman to borrow the church keys and access the steeple.
Likely fearing arrest afterwards, Pulling and his family fled to a South Shore fishing village. They waited out the remainder of Boston’s British occupation before returning to Boston.
Pulling died in 1787 and is buried in the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.