Born in Worcester in 1739, blacksmith Timothy Bigelow became not only a local leader of the Whig resistance to British rule but took on a larger role on the provincial and national levels. He was a member of the Worcester Committee of Correspondence, of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, and a founding member of Worcester’s American Political Society.
In September 1774, shortly after the court was closed by the Worcester County militia, Bigelow was given an important assignment. While his cousin Joshua was selected to be Worcester’s representative to the House of Representatives, Timothy became Worcester’s delegate to the proposed Provincial Congress, a body organized by the Patriots to govern the province. He was given specific instructions, which included the direction that if the Royal Government was not prepared to restore the old Charter he was to consider that the people of Massachusetts were free of any commitment to Britain. In essence, Worcester advocated independence and Timothy Bigelow was selected to deliver that message to the rest of the province.
Bigelow was more than a political leader. As captain of the Worcester militia, he led his men to join the fighting at Lexington and Concord. Bigelow later served in the unsuccessful campaign to capture Quebec, where he was taken prisoner. Upon his release in 1776 he commanded the 15th Massachusetts Regiment and then served as a staff officer in the Continental Army. He was present at the battles of Monmouth and Saratoga and stayed with the army at Valley Forge.
Bigelow had a difficult time both personally and financially after returning from his military service. Although he was awarded a large grant of land in Vermont that eventually became the city of Montpelier, he could not regain his earlier economic status. He was imprisoned for debt on Feb. 15, 1790, dying in prison six weeks later at the age of 51.
In 1861 Bigelow’s descendants erected the monument on Worcester Common that honors his memory.