GaspeeVirtual Archives
Daniel Vaughan
The Gaspee Days Committee at www.gaspee.COM is a civic-minded nonprofit organization that operates many community events in and around Pawtuxet Village, including the famous Gaspee Days Parade each June. These events are all designed to commemorate the 1772 burning of the hated British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee, by Rhode Island patriots as America's 'First Blow for Freedom' TM.  Our historical research center, the Gaspee Virtual Archives at www.gaspee.ORG , has presented these research notes as an attempt to gather further information on one who has been suspected of being associated with the the burning of the Gaspee. Please e-mail your comments or further questions to
Evidence implicating Daniel Vaughan:
Well, of course, there is no information whatsoever implicating Daniel Vaughan in the burning of the Gaspee in 1772.  He was apparently serving on a Rhode Island based cargo sloop shortly after the attack, and came to be involved in the subsequent investigation based on his testimony about what he saw of the treatment of the indentured servant Aaron Briggs aboard the Beaver. Excerpted from Staples' Documentary History of the Destruction of the Gaspee. p 79:

I, Daniel Vaughan, of Newport, in the colony of Rhode Island, being of lawful age, do depose and say: That sometime in the summer last past, being in a sloop taking out some old iron from the wreck of the Gaspee, and afterwards going down to Newport in said sloop in company with Capt. Linzee, in his Majesty's ship the Beaver, one morning, not far from the island of Prudence, I saw a small boat alongside the Beaver, and immediately told the people on board the sloop, that somebody had gone on board the Beaver that night; A few days afterwards, as the Beaver lay at Newport, near the fort, I was ordered to haul the sloop I was in alongside a schooner, which then lay alongside the Beaver, in order to take out some sugar; and going on board the Beaver, I saw a mulatto fellow under the forecastle in irons. I said unto him, "so you are one of the rogues that have been burning the Gaspee;" he replied, "he never saw her, nor knew anything about her;'' I then asked him what he came there for; he answered, ' 'his master had used him badly, and he was determined to leave him." Two or three days afterwards, being on board said schooner, I heard Capt. Linzee order said mulatto to be carried out of the Beaver on board said schooner, and then to be tied up to the mast and whipped; and after he was laid hold on, and they were about to tie him up to the mast, he began to declare he knew some of the people that burnt the Gaspee, and that Simeon Potter, John Brown and others, (whose names I have forgot,) were concerned therein. Upon this confession, he was released from a whipping, sent on board the Beaver, where I afterwards saw him in irons on the quarter deck.
PROVIDENCE, Jan. 16th, 1773.
Daniel Vaughan appeared in person and made solemn oath to the truth of the foregoing declaration, unto which he has subscribed, before
Deputy Governor.
PROVIDENCE, Jan. 18, 1773.
SIR:—In consequence of an application made unto me in writing, signed by Barzillai Richmond, Joseph Brown and John Brown, I summoned Daniel Vaughan and took his deposition relative to what he knew respecting the treatment of the mulatto Aaron on board the Beaver, and I herewith inclose it to your honor.

I had not done it but our river is fast shut up, and it is very uncertain when Mr. Vaughan will reach Newport. I choose Mr. Vaughan should give his deposition before the commissioners, if he arrives in season for that purpose; but if he doth not, and you think proper to make use of what I now send, you have liberty to improve it in any way you think it may promote truth and justice.

I am, sir, your humble servant,
In summarizing the effect of the above, Robinson states in Revolutionary Fire that:
Aaron Briggs appeared and gave his testimony. Previously refuted by the Tompkins family and their servants, further doubt was now cast upon it in a deposition given to Governor Wanton by Daniel Vaughan. Vaughan was a witness to the fact that Aaron claimed knowledge of the Gaspee burning only after being whipped by Captain Linzee.

Thus, Daniel Vaughan was the pre-eminent witness to discredit the testimony of Aaron Briggs.  It is very much of interest that Vaughan was discovered, perhaps recruited, as a material witness by none other than Dep. Gov. Darius Sessions, who led a deliberate effort to deceive and obstifrucate the Commission of Inquiry. We also note that while Daniel Vaughan lived in Newport, his business on the sloop probably often brought him up Narragansett Bay to Providence, where he most probably was well acquainted with many of those that took part in the attack on the Gaspee.  It was also likely, then, that Darius Sessions recruited his testimony while he was in Providence.

We first run into the name of Daniel Vaughan as testifying in a maritime case related to his service as a Lieutenant aboard the Prince Charles of Lorraine, commanded by Simeon Potter c1746-1748. He testified that Simeon Potter took seven Indians and three negroes from the Jesuit missionery, and intimidated over 20 crewmen to leave the ship before collected their share of the profits from privateering, which Potter then pocketed. [Howe, M. A. De Wolfe Bristol, Rhode Island :  T own Biography (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1930)]

It is also very interesting that we next run across the name of Daniel Vaughan to be associated with an important insurrection in Newport.  From the website of the Artillery Company of Newport:

With the conclusion of the War in 1763, Britain began enforcing restrictions on trade and levying direct taxes on the Colonies. These were intended to pay for the cost of defending the Colonies, but nevertheless these actions were unpopular and were resisted.

In 1764 crewmembers from HMS St. John got into trouble in Newport after they had stolen some chickens and hogs from the townsfolk. Others, while trying to apprehend a deserter, were assaulted by citizens of Newport. The ship attempted to sail, but two members of the Governor's Council ordered the Company to fire the guns at Fort George in an attempt to stop its departure. A gun under the command of Daniel Vaughan fired eight shots damaging the main sail. When asked why he did not sink the St. John, Vaughan replied that his orders did not allow him to do such an act, but that he could only fire to disable.

We note that one of the Gaspee Commissioners, Frederick Smythe, attempted in vain to broaden the scope of the inquiry to included this shelling of the customs sloop St. John, but was turned back by Governor Wanton saying that the gunner of the fort "was in town and could fully explain the affair." (see Staples, p96). Perhaps, had he been subpoenaed to appear before the Commission, they would have recognized that Vaughan's previous testimony regarding Briggs would be more suspect, coming as it were from one who had previously fired on one of His Majesty's ships.

Daniel Vaughan's name, however, reappears in a very curious place at the start of the Revolution. From: Congress and the Continental Navy, 1775-1783: Chronology and Documents at:
22 December 1775 The Marine Committee appointed the following officers, with the approval of Congress:
Commander-in-Chief: Esek Hopkins
Captains: Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle, John B. Hopkins
First Lieutenants: John Paul Jones, Rhodes Arnold, Eli Stansbury, Hoysted Hacker, Jonathan Pitcher
Second Lieutenants: Benjamin Seabury, Joseph Olney, Elisha Warner, Thomas Weaver, James McDougall
Third Lieutenants: John Fanning, Ezekiel Burroughs, Daniel Vaughan
Thus, we see that the chief counterwitness to the potentially damaging testimony of Aaron Briggs had previous personal experience in attacking the British, and went on to distinguished service in the American cause during the Revolution, in the company of such notables as John Paul Jones. Was this definitely the same Daniel Vaughan? Probably.  We know that all three instances were in Rhode Island, in the same decade, involved in maritime pursuits, and seemed to be playing on the same side.
Genealogical Information:
We're not quite sure where to turn in this case.  The following candidates are extracted from LDS,, and Google searches on Daniel Vaughan. We know he considered himself to be from Newport, but that doesn't tell us if he was born there.
  • Daniel Vaughan b1743 in East Greenwich or Newport, RI married a Sarah Sabin (d1802) of Newport in  1769. His parents were Samuel Vaughan and Anna Bailey.  He died in March of 1800. In an e-mail sent in 2014 Bill Pitts asserts that this Daniel Vaughan's wife was a cousin of James Sabin, where the plot was set to destroy the Gaspee.
  • We do note that a Daniel Vaughan (1704-1787) <> (link broken as of 2005) was born in Newport, RI, married a Martha Throop from Bristol, RI, but they shortly moved to Lebanon, CT by 1726 to raise their kids.  One child of this couple was a Daniel Vaughan born in 1748 in Lebanon, CT
  • And a Daniel Vaughan (1712-1812: if you believe that he lived to be 100) married on 08/12/1735 to Sarah Cushman. She was born on 11/08/1717. They both were born in Middleboro, Mass
  • There was a Daniel Vaughan born in Newport in 1716 of Daniel Vaughan and Abigail Moon, and who married in Newport in 1744.
  • We also note a Daniel Vaughan born 14Apr1722 in East Greenwich, RI, who died in 1803.  He was the son of Robert Vaughan (NOT the Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and Johannah Sweet, and he may have married a Mary/Marcy Bailey in 1742.
  • There was a Daniel Vaughan born in 1731 in North Kingstown, RI to an Isaac Vaughan and Mary Cornell.  He married  Sarah Harris c1765 and died in 1806.
  • As well as a Daniel Vaughan b1735 in Newport married a Hannah Gorton in Westerly, RI  in 1773.
  • We also have from the Descendants of John Vaughan website:  <Stale link 2010>
    Daniel Vaughan, born February 21, 1747 in Scituate, Providence, RI/Colony.; died Unknown (after 1808).  He was the son of David Vaughan and Dinah BakerHe married 1. Lydia Mosher (Mosier) Abt. February 21, 1768 in NY; and 2. Lydia Harrington, died Unknown in Nova Scotia.
    We cast doubt on this latter one being our guy, as Tories were known to have resettled in Nova Scotia. We also received an e-mail in May 2005 from Bill Tufts of Ontario who related that this Daniel Vaughan moved with his parents to Duchess County, NY c1761, then to Nova Scotia c1766.  We also received e-mail from a John Bartram who tells tales that this particular Daniel Vaughan may have been involved in gold divining scams in the Oak Island area of Nova Scotia at the close of the 18th century (See
  • There was a Daniel Vaughan born c1748-1752 in Newport, RI who married a Hannah Gorton in 1773. Hannah's father owned land in Warwick.
  • Finally, there was a Daniel Vaughan b1748 in Newport of Daniel Vaughan and Freelove Gorton, married a Elizabeth Potter of Newport in 1772, and died in 1779.  This may be the same Daniel Vaughan as listed immediately above. This guy is probably our favorite candidate as loose evidence would indicate that he was of age and location to have been in command of the battery in Newport in 1764, could likely have had family connections with known Gaspee raider, Simeon Potter, likely was involved in maritime pursuits, and may even have died in service during the American revolution.  We also see his estate notice published in December 1779 noting he was from Newport but listing a Francis Anderson as Administrator in Warwick, RI.
For his role in giving questionable counter-testimony about Aaron Briggs, we recognize Daniel Vaughan as a co-conspiritor in the Gaspee Affair
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Originally Posted to Gaspee Virtual Archives 10/2004    Last Revised 06/2014    DanielVaughan.html