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Gaston, William, 1820-1894



The twentieth mayor, William Gaston, was one of Boston's potent forces at a time when strong men were needed at the helm of administration; nor can we wonder that he was a forceful character. In his veins flowed the blood of the French Huguenots, a strain of the Mayflower Pilgrims, and also the blood of one of the followers of Roger Williams. One of his ancestors was Jean Gaston, a French Huguenot who, banished from France in the seventeenth century, sought refuge in Scotland, where his sons in turn were driven by religious persecution, and found refuge in the north of Ireland. John Gaston, one of their descendants and the great-grandfather of Mayor Gaston, joined the Separatist colony in America, and was a freeman of Voluntown when the town was organized in 1736-37. It is said that he originally landed at Marblehead, Mass. Alexander Gaston, the mayor's father (who brother, William Gaston, was afterwards United States Senator from North Carolina), had as his second wife Kezia Arnold, of Brownville, Rhode Island, and lived at Killingly, Connecticut, where their child, William Gaston, was born October 3, 1820. William, who family crest was an owl, the bird of wisdom, studied at Plainfield Academy and entered Brown University when he was but fifteen. He graduated with honors in 1840, and went to Boston, where he entered the law office of Judge Francis Hillard, of Roxbury, and when he completed his law studies, entered political life. He was elected mayor of Boston in 1871, and served one term.

Taken from "Boston's 45 Mayors from John Phillips to Kevin H. White," City Record, Boston, 1979.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

A memorial of William Gaston, from the City of Boston., 1894

 Item — Volume 32
Scope and Contents note

Compiled by James L. Hillard. The eulogy was by Thomas J. Gargan. With portrait of Gaston.

Dates: 1894

City Council Committees on Celebrations records

Identifier: 0140.013
Scope and Contents

Records of committees appointed to oversee public celebrations for primarily the Fourth of July but also including Bunker Hill Day, Patriots' Day, Labor Day, Eulogies, etc. Includes correspondence, applications, programs, tickets, entertainment applications, etc.

Dates: 1859-1896

Mayor William Gaston, 1871-1872, undated

Identifier: 5210004_015_020
Scope and Contents From the Collection:

Photographs and other images collected by the Boston Landmarks Commission for reference use and for publications as well as photographs taken by the Landmarks Commission documenting their work and city neighborhoods.

Dates: undated

Mayoral addresses

Identifier: 0200.001
Scope and Contents

Includes two compilation volumes of addresses from 1822-1867 and printed copies of annual and inaugural addresses of the Mayor from 1824-1980 with gaps.

Dates: 1822-1980 with gaps