-- Dr. Robert Wickes (1746-1786)
|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 email@example.com.|
From Admiral Montagu in Staples, (p31), Montagu was apparently citing names that Aaron Briggs gave to Captain Linzee under duress:
...the surgeon that was ordered to dress the captain was a tall, thin man, called Weeks, of Warwick; very soon after we got on board the schooner, the men's hands belonging to the schooner was tied behind their backs, and put in boats and put on shore. ...Daniel Horsmanden, in writing to the Earl of Dartmouth gives some thoughts on this Dr. Weeks <http://www.gaspee.org/StaplesAppendices.htm> p125:
And thus, My Lord, this forced confession of the negro Aaron has been held up by the marine, as a hopeful and sure clue to unravel this mystery of iniquity. The fellow might probably have heard the names of the most noted and principal traders at Providence, and other trading towns in that neighborhood, though he might not know their persons; and one Dr. Weeks, inserted in his list, he might know personally, as an attendant upon his master's family.
And in the direct testimony of Aaron Briggs, (see Staples, p65) it is clear that it was his "Dr Weeks" that dressed Dudingston's wounds.
...that before they went ashore, a doctor, whom they called Weeks, from one of the boats, dressed the Captain's wounds; that when they had landed the people, they untied their hands and let them go, and the captain of the schooner they carried up to a house; ...ne
Since we know that it was actually John Mawney, a student physician, that dressed Dudingston's wounds (see Staples p14-15), it is much more likely that Briggs misidentified Mawney by the name of Weeks. From a medical hierarchy point of view, had there been an actual fully trained doctor on board during the attack, he would have been the one trusted to treat the wounds, not a student.
In reviewing Montagu's list of possible suspects, he
named a "....Doctor Weeks of Warwick, and a Richmond of
Providence." This could be interpreted that he meant
both Weeks and Richmond were doctors. In
researching Richmond, we can
find no good evidence that Dr. Benjamin Richmond of
Little Compton would be involved in the raid on the
Gaspee, but it remains a remote possibility. As a wild
postulation, it could be that Dr. Benjamin Richmond from
Little Compton (or an unknown Dr. Weeks from Warwick)
took on medical student John Mawney for some clinical
preceptorship, and that both gentlemen attended to Aaron
Briggs masters, Captain Samuel Tompkins or his elderly
father-in-law Samuel Thurston, on the not-too-distant
Prudence Island. Here, Aaron Briggs would have
seen the doctors and somehow got the idea that one of
them was a Dr. Weeks. But again, this is wildly
speculative, and is not borne out by any facts.
Another physician involved was Dr. Henry Sterling of
Providence, who tended to Dudingston's wounds while he
recuperated in the Pawtuxet home of Joseph Rhodes. But
it is doubted he was along for the actual attack;
elsewise, he would have been the one called on to
immediately treat the Lieutenant's wounds aboard the Gaspee, and not
In 2017 we discovered the following discussion while
researching Pawtuxet born Revolutionary surgeon-
physician Dr Zuriel Waterman. From: Manfred J. Waserman
Waterman: An Itinerant Surgeon in the Revolutionary
Era". Proceedings of the American Philosophical
Society, Vol. 117, No. 5 (Oct. 25, 1973), pp.
Depending on how one pronounces "Dr Weeks", this is
likely our man. He was practicing in the greater
Providence area, but we do not know if in 1772.
From: Cranston: A Historical Sketch by J. Earl Clauson, (1904), p. 23
We have that Dr. Robert Wickes was born of Robert
Wickes and Margaret Barton, married a Mary Harris
(b.1750). and died in Cranston at age 40. Dr
Wickes had a younger sister Sarah Wickes (1742-1820) who
married Thomas Greene of the prominent Greene family of
Cranston April the 28 day D 1767
Dr tofone Week Bord to Seven Shilings
lawful money Dr. Week Due in the year 1766
Don in the year 1766
What we might assume this to be is a loan note written by a Dr. Weeks of Cranston who was loaning seven schillings to a relative, also a Dr. Weeks. 1766 was six years before the burning of the Gaspee.
Per the RI Historical Cemeteries Database, there are no possible matches with a Weeks present during 1772.
On the other hand, the USGenWeb listings of the 1790 Federal Census for Warwick, RI gives us five choices:
Weeks, Barney * * * 6 *
And another four in the adjoining town of Coventry:
Weeks, Abel 1 3 3 * *
None of these are listed as physicians. One thread culled from Ancestry.com message boards is that a Francis Weeks lived as a young boy in Mass. He was kicked out of Mass. and went to RI with Roger Williams c1635. We also note that there was a series of Dr. Weeks out of New Hampshire at the time, but as far as we can tell, they stayed there.
There are no Weeks families recorded in the 1770 List of Providence Taxpayers, and there are no incidences of a Dr. Weeks in the Rhode Island newspapers of the time.
Until we get a more definitive first name to attach to a Dr. Weeks, if he ever existed, this research will remain dormant.
|In weighing all the
evidence, we conclude that a Dr. Weeks or Wickes was not
involved in the raid on the Gaspee, but that
references to Dr. Weeks were actually of John Mawney.
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