on The Gaspee Crewmen
The Gaspee Days Committee at www.gaspee.COM is a civic-minded nonprofit organization that runs a list of many varied community events in Rhode Island, 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 a proximate cause of the American Revolution. 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 those associated with the the burning of the Gaspee. Please e-mail your comments or further questions to email@example.com.
|Trolling the Internet, we
happened on the website of
the National Archives (UK) at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.
It turns out that these people have
access to virtually any document produced by the British government
over the centuries, and for a fee (a rather large fee, we feel) can
send you a copy. So it was, we paid our 180 pounds sterling
(about US$300) and
received the master paylist for His Majesty's Schooner Gaspee,
encompassing the entire time of her existence from Dec 1763 to June
1772 (item # ADM 33/645).
The original images (30 pages of 16x20" paper) are copyrighted by the National Archives (UK), and may be used only for non-commercial research, private study, and educational purposes. It appears that this document may be a sanitized copy of the original papers, made by some clerk at the Admiralty Offices. The handwriting is uniform from one person, and neat throughout, despite that there were three or four clerks assigned to the HMS Gaspee during its years of 1764-1772. The original copy of this document was given to the Rhode Island Historical Society Library in 2005.
We can assume from records and size, that the HMS Gaspee was designed (as a sloop) to carry a compliment of 30 men, but as a refitted schooner normally carried a compliment of 25 crewmen. Over her 106 month existence, over 234 men had been variously assigned to the Gaspee at one point or another. Of interest, of her 234 crewmen, over 142 deserted the ship, and 8 died at one point or another; that's a 61% desertion rate, and a 4% death rate, and an attestation to the poor living and working conditions on the ship. The motivations for desertion were many. Some were pressed seamen (we know of nine), taken from dockyards areas or from other merchant ships and forced involuntarily to work on His Majesty's Ships. Such men were unlikely to stay when opportunity to escape presented itself. Others may have been motivated by a ticket to travel elsewhere, perhaps hoping to escape from Europe to new opportunities available in the frontier of the New World. 22% were American born. Note that most crewmen were in their early twenties (the average age was 24.3 years), full of hope for a new and exciting life, and full of hormones which could lead them astray at the very next port (and a 19% venereal disease rate). Some may have been starving and looking for room and board however temporarily. As even in more modern times, some may have been running from things in their lives, such as wives, ex-lovers, debts, and the law. Aliases could be easily taken, and most men were taken at their word. After jumping ship, they need not fear recapture; the land was too vast for most search parties. Pressment crews would rather take the first person they found that could serve as an able-bodied seaman, rather than search endlessly for someone who had deserted. Some of those who deserted undoubtedly ended up on other ships (probably at much higher pay), perhaps under different assumed names, while others may have stayed in America and assimilated into our society.
Men's wages on the ship were docked for a variety of items, including deductions for slop clathes (assumably Navy work uniforms), Venereal disease treatments, Gaol (jail) fees, tobacco, and other items. According to our mole in the Admiralty, Chris Donnithorne, Dead Mens Cloaths deductions were a custom whereby the dead man's belongings were auctioned and the proceeds given to the widow/dependants. Bed charges related to hammocks, mattresses and blankets sold by the Purser. 'Three pence' was likely a deduction which had been made over the years to all seamen to pay for such as the chaplain, the surgeon, and as support for Greenwich Hospital.
Some, but not all, of those present at the attack were discharged with the notation Captn, and frankly, we have no idea what this means. One theory proposed by fellow researcher, Leonard Bucklin, is that it means that Dudingston told the fellow he could do what he wanted to do and was discharged by him (the Captain") from further duty even though his enlistment was not up." This effeciently saved money for the Admiralty. "Supernumerary" [above the number] means an extra person above the official complement the ship was commissioned to carry without special authorization. If the Gaspee had to put several men on board captured vessals, Dudingston probably got extra money for extra men to be hired. According to Bucklin, "borne for wages" means the ship was supplied the money from the Admiralty for this fellow and the ship was responsible to see that he was paid the wages. Men in the official complement of the ship are "borne for wages" in that ship. Thus Edwards was an Able-bodied Seaman and was regularily discharged from service. Then he was hired back on even though they had a full complement at the time, so he was a supernumerary for a while before he filed in for some one of the official complement and became a Able-bodied again. These 'paper' discharges have been consolidated in presenting the following list of crewmen. A list of pay and service terms for the Royal Navy from 1913 may be of some help at http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/KR&AI/Certificates.html <Stale link 2010>
For an excellent analysis of life aboard a Royal Navy schooner in the American colonies at the time, see "Wood, Water, and Beef" by Porter detailing the travels of the HMS Sultana, and which is available on-line courtesy of the Schooner Sultana Foundation at :http://www.sultanaprojects.org
According to testimony of Bart Cheever, "the Master and four men were gone on duty to Boston with a Vessel which we had seized." on the night of the attack, which left about 19 men on board on the night of June 9/10, 1772. We have the names of 27 following men who were probably assigned to the Gaspee in the year 1772. Some may have been on the detail with Jame Dundas to Boston, and some may have been discharged or deserted between the last available entry in January 1772, and the destruction of the Gaspee in June of that year.
The following list of known crewmembers from the HMS Gaspee is culled from Staples and Robinson:, the National Archives of United Kingdom, Master Pay Records of the Gaspee purchased from the National Archives (UK), and the Gaspee Virtual Archives website. They were probably on the boat, the night of the attack, followed by their approximate age at that time. Names may be spelt phonetically as many men were illiterate. The ship's clerks from 1768 on was better than their predecessor in capturing age and place of birth data. Data from 12Apr1772 to 10June1772 may be lacking as such records presumably were lost with the ship.
There's no way to easily track the comings and goings, so here we painstakingly present the whole list from 1763 on. Click the link to see the reason we went to this effort: the Gaspee Crew list which gives us the travels of the Gaspee from 1764 on, as well as the complete crew list from the beginning to end of the Gaspee's history
Bowman (46), Appeared 31Jan1768 born in Boston, MA at age
42, Carpenter's Mate, discharged 10June1772 after the burning of the Gaspee (Captn) and, as a rated
crewman, was paid neat
wages equivalent to about 12 pence per day . He was the eldest member
of the crew to have ever served on the Gaspee.
His name appears in the written statement of Dep. Gov. Sessions, listing the crewmen he interviewed about the attack, but what, if anything, he said is not recorded. See Staples p80. The National Archives UK lists a will of Joseph Bowman, Mariner or Seaman belonging to His Majesty's Ship Princess Royal written in 1746. This may not be the same person, but if it were, Bowman would've been 20 years old at that time.
Edward Brown (21), from Orkneys, Scotland (way north in Scotland) appeared Captain in lieu, 1Dec1771, Able-bodied seaman, discharged at age 10June1772 coincident to when the Gaspee was burned. (Captn), and was paid neat wages of 10 pence per day.
William J. Caple (33), from Munster, Ireland, appeared March1771 at 32 years as a supernumary borne for wages, as an able-bodied seaman. No formal discharge date is listed, and no neat wages are recorded.
Together with John Johnson, he gave a joint statement to Dep. Gov. Darius Sessions about the attack on the Gaspee the preceding night. This was later introduced by Sessions as testimony to the Commission on Inquiry. <See Staples p19>. The statement they made that they could not identify any of the attackers ultimately helped Sessions' task of covering up the identity of any of the culprits. He was illiterate, as he signed his testimony with an 'X'. No will is listed as a Mariner or Seaman under that name for that period in the National Archives UK.
Bartholomew Cheever (36), from Boston. MA, appeared in June 1768 at the age of 32, His name was mispelt Chivers by the clerk, but since we know Cheever was illiterate and signed his name with an 'X', it was probably spelt phonetically. No formal discharge date is listed, and he is not recorded as having been paid neat wages.
He was the sentry on deck watch while the Gaspee lay aground, and who first spotted the approaching boats at the start of the attack. A sentry would be posted not only to watch for attacks, but also to prevent other crewmen from deserting the ship (some may have been pressed seamen). He gave a statement to Dep. Gov. Sessions about the attack on the Gaspee the preceding night <See Staples p18>.. This was later introduced by Sessions as testimony to the Commission on Inquiry. The statement that he made that he could not identify any of the attackers ultimately helped Sessions' task of covering up the identity of any of the culprits.
Following the attack, he was returned to England and gave testimony on October 14, 1772 at the court martial of Lt. Dudingston <Staples p134> for the loss of his ship. During these court martial hearings, Dudingston claimed that he sent Cheever along with William Dickinson down to the cabin of the Gaspee for the express intent of their being able to identify some of the attackers. Cheever and Dickinson were then sent back by the Admiralty to America in May of 1773 to not only give testimony before the Commission of Inquiry, but to be available to specifically identify any suspects brought forth. Cheever's in person testimony of June 1, 1773 appears in <Staples p88>. It is interesting that Cheever's testimony is pretty much devoid of any specific descriptions of any of the attackers, despite the fact that John Brown would've been easy to identify from his large size alone. He himself did not give any discovered testimony relating to what he saw, if anything, of those who treated the wounded Lt. Dudingston in the ship's cabin.
According to the Gaspee Pay List, this man was born in Boston c1736. We do get a genalogical hit on three individuals with this rare name as having been born in Boston, MA in 1724, 1726, 1750 and 1757. The Bart born in 1726 was described as a housewright and mariner. Possible, but unconvincing. No will is listed as a Mariner or Seaman under that name for that period in the National Archives UK.
Henry Cosgriff (24), from Dublin, Ireland, Age 20, appeared May1768, Able-bodied seaman, discharged 10June1772 at the burning of the Gaspee. (Captn). We assume he got the clap (Oh, My!), as he was charged 0.15.0 to Surgeon's Mate Barrone for "venereals" At discharge he was paid neat wages amounting to 10 pence per day served.
William Dickinson (31), Volunteer from Somerton, England (100 miles West of London) who appeared 4Jan1770 at the age of 29. He was at first an able-bodied seaman until 3August1770, when he was a Boatswain's Mate to 10October1770, then a Gunner's Mate until 21April1771, then Midshipman. No formal discharge date is entered, and he was NOT paid neat wages.
The fact that he cross-trained in different duties aboard the ship probably indicates that he was on an officer's track from the beginning. As a midshipman, Dickinson would likely have been second in command of the Gaspee on the night of the attack, since the Master of the vessel had previously been despatched to Boston.
Following the attack, Dickinson stayed with Dudingston in Pawtuxet for a couple of days and assisted in his care. He was shortly sent off by Dudingston to give the Lieutenant's report in writing to Admiral Montagu in Boston. There, Dickinson gave a sworn statement as to the event, which was later entered into evidence at the Commission of Inquiry. This statement relates that Dickinson was ordered by Dudingston back into his cabin, where he was able to fetch things such as showing the ships papers to the attackers.
Dickinson was later returned to England and gave testimony on October 14, 1772 at the court martial of Lt. Dudingston <Staples p135>. During these court martial hearings, Dudingston claimed that he sent Dickinson along with Bart Cheever down to the cabin of the Gaspee for the express intent of their being able to identify some of the attackers. Dickinson and Cheever were then sent back by the Admiralty to America in May of 1773 to not only give testimony before the Commission of Inquiry, but to be available to specifically identify any suspects brought forth. He would probably have been able to identify at least John Brown, Abraham Whipple, John Mawney, and Joseph Bucklin, Jr had he encountered any of them at the Inquiry. Interestingly, he did recognize and meet someone who was probably Joseph Bucklin, Jr in Providence upon his return from Boston, but he never got to know his name. Dickinson's in person testimony of June 1, 1773 appears in <Staples p86-87>. On 15Oct1772 he may have been reassigned to Comm. Samuel Hood.
There is one candidate for this William Dickinson in the National Archives (UK) database of wills, a William Greham Dickinson, Mariner of London written in 1770.
Lieutenant William Dudingston (31), Captain of the Gaspee see separate complete bio
Timothy Dunavan (25), (probably Donovan; the Irish tend to pronouce their ŏ as ŭ) Appeared Feb1766 as a Volunteer, at age 19, from Kinsale, Ireland, Able-bodied seaman to 17Mar1767 then Gunner's Mate to 28June1768, then Able-bodied seaman to 21April1771, then Gunner's Mate. He was discharged 10June1772 and was paid neat wages amounting to 12 pence per day as a rated seaman. He got the clap (twice), and was charged 1.10.0 by Surgeon's mate Barrone for 'Venereals'. At the time of the destruction of the Gaspee, Tim Dunavan had been with the ship the longest, some six and a quarter years, and was thus the most experienced with the ship.
James Dundas, appeared 17Apr1769 as Second Master & Pilot. No discharge Date given, and no pay records entered.
A warrant officer of the Gaspee, probably the master (in charge of seized cargo), and probably second in command to Dudingston. Dundas was the officer of the Gaspee that boarded and beat up Rufus Greene in the process of seizing his sloop and its cargo of rum (see Staples p67). He was probably not on board the Gaspee the night of its demise, as "the master and four crewmen had been previously despatched to Boston in connection with a ship they had seized", possibly Rufus Greene's sloop.
Reported in Staples as Dundass, but almost certainly spelt Dundas. There was a Treasurer of the Royal Navy named Henry Dundas, a Scotsman, who served, with some scandal, 1782-1800, and went on to become First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for the Home Department (Home Secretary), a Viscount, and a Baron. Oh my! But records indicate that this fellow would not have been stationed in America in 1772, but then, he may well have been related. Certainly Henry Dundas was probably guilty of patronage and nepotism, and once source <http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:Ij5i0N_2RCcJ:www.granta.com/books/chapters/76+Dundas+navy&hl=en> (Link broken as of 2005) even states that there was a vast and influential Dundas clan whose members permeated the navy, military and parliament at the time.
In1775, James Dundas filed a bill with the Admiralty to recoup the cost of his personal items lost when the Gaspee burned (misspelt as Gaspar). Given his background, he almost certainly had a thick Scottish accent, like Dudingston himself. One possibility is a Captain James Dundas who died in 1811, and who achieved that rank in 1790 with the Royal Navy. This James Dundas is not to be confused with Admiral Sir James Dundas who was prominent member of the Admiralty in the next (19th) Century.
By Googling our man, we find the following snippet at RootsWeb:
DUNDAS James 4th mate "Duke of Albany" 1763/4, 1765/6,
2nd Mate "Duke of Albany" 1768/9,
Captain "Prime" 1772/3, appointed 18.8.1772 age 28,1776/7, 1778/9
Captain "Earl Fitz William" 1786/7 and 1789/90
Note the convenient gap in 1769-Aug1772, during which this man could have served on the Gaspee. According to the excellent Navy List database information kindly provided by CH Donnithorne, James Dundas was given the command of the sloop-of-war St. Lucia 22Oct1782 through 23May1783. Note that this also conveniently fills in a gap in the service records above.
Patrick Earle (28), (aka Paddy Alis), pay record lists him at Patrick Earles, From Cork, Ireland, first appeared 11Apr1771 at Age 27, supernumary borne for wages, Able-bodied seaman, discharged coincident with the attack on the Gaspee 10June1772, Captn, and was paid neat wages amounting to 10 pence per day served. On the night of the attack, Earle was placed into a boat along with Aaron Briggs and the wounded Lt. Dudingston and transported to shore. He was interviewed by Dep Gov. Sessions the morning after the attack, but his statement at that time is not recorded by Sessions. After the Gaspee's demise, Earle was sent on board the HMS Beaver in Newport. His sworn deposition of July 16, 1772 appears in Staples p34. By January, he had been transferred to the HMS Lizzard. His sworn testimony of January 16, 2004 before the Commission of Inquiry appears in Staples p68. He was apparently illiterate as he signed his statements with a X. Earle probably would have been able to identify Rufus Greene as one of the attacking party had the occasion arose. Patrick Earle is also mentioned in the deposition of Aaron Briggs, under the nickname and phonetic mispronunciation of 'Paddy Alis'. A thick Irish accent would have confused the assumed spelling of the last name. No will is listed as a Mariner or Seaman under that name of Patrick Earle (or of Paddy Alis) for that period in the National Archives UK.
James Edwards (21), from Bristol, (England) first appeared 20Mar1771 at age 20 Able-bodied seaman, supernumary borne for wages, no discharge date given, nor was he paid neat wages. Records seem to indicate he was quite probably a crewmember of the Gaspee when it was burned in June1772.
Francis Hussay (21), from Lisbon, first appeared 17Mar1771 at age 20 Able-bodied seaman, deserted 19June1771, but then reappeared July1771, Able-bodied seaman, no discharge date given, records style indicate he was quite possibly a 21 year old crewmember of the Gaspee when it was burned in June1772. So, these records indicate that he had deserted the ship in June of 1771, but was recaptured and sent back to the Gaspee a couple of weeks later. If we're counting crew members on board in June of 1772, we doubt this one. He was not paid neat wages, nor formally discharged from the ship on June 10, 1772. No mention is made of him in any narratives after the burning of the Gaspee. Given his past history, he more probably jumped ship between January and June of 1772.
John Johnson, appeared 21May1767 from Gottenberg, Sweden, Able-bodied seaman to 1Oct1770, then Boatswain's Mate, and was NOT paid neat wages.
Together with William J. Caple gave joint statement to Dep. Gov. Sessions about the attack on the Gaspee the preceding night. This was later introduced by Sessions as testimony to the Commission on Inquiry. <See Staples p19>. The statement that they made that they could not identify any of the attackers ultimately helped Sessions' task of covering up the identity of any of the culprits. He apparently suffered a couple of blows in the fight to control the Gaspee, but was not severely injured. He is later found on the HMS Lizzard along with Patrick Earle. A boatswain (pronounced bō'-sŭn) is the petty officer on deck in charge of the crew and rigging of the ship. After the attack on the Gaspee, Johnson and some other crewmen attended the court martial of Lieutenant Dudingston in Portsmouth, England on October 14th, 1772 (Staples, p134). He was illiterate, as he signed his testimony with an X. National Archives UK lists 26 different wills made out during that general time period by John Johnson, mariner or seaman, a common name. But one likely candidate is the 1776 will of John Johnson, late of the the HM Schooner Halifax (a sister ship of the Gaspee), as well as the HMS Mercury.
Interestingly, we have from the Pay Lists of the Gaspee another previous entry for a John Johnson who appeared as a Volunteer, no less, June1765, Able-bodied, deserted 23Sept1765, SB 96. Probably not be the same guy, as this last one deserted. Unfortunately, the ship's clerk prior to 1768 tended to not capture much age or place of birth information.
John Keaton (25), from Cork, Ireland, appeared at age 23 on 31Mar1770 in lieu, Captn, transferred over from the HMS Mermaid, as an able-bodied seaman. He was discharged on 10June1772 coincident with the burning of the Gaspee, and was paid neat wages.equivalent to 10 pence per day.
Richard Kent (22), from Cornwall, Devonshire, first appeared 17Mar1771 at age 21, supernumary borne for wages, Able-bodied seaman, no discharge date given, and he was not paid neat wages. He got the clap, and was charged 0.15.0 by Surgeon's Mate Watson for 'Venereals". No record of him is found in any references to the burning of the Gaspee. We suspect he may have jumped ship between January and June of 1772, but records style indicate he was quite possibly a crewmember of the Gaspee when it was burned in June1772.
Robert Lane (27), from London, Appeared 15Dec1768 at Age 23, Able-bodied seaman to 9Jan1772, then Clerk. No discharge date given and was NOT paid neat wages. No record of him is found in any references to the burning of the Gaspee. Records style indicate that he was quite probably on the Gaspee on June 1772, but we don't know for sure. He may have jumped ship
Robert Masters (25), from London, appeared March1770 at age 23, Able-bodied seaman, discharged at age 25 on 10Jun1772, Captn, coincident with the burning of the Gaspee, and was paid neat wages of 10 pence per day.
Peter May (25), from London, England, appeared 9Jan1772 at 25 , Able-bodied seaman, discharged 10June1772 coincident with the burning of the Gaspee. Captn, and was paid neat wages, but at only 8 pence a day, which is less than the 10 pence per day (before deductions) usually received by an able-bodied seaman. Perhaps, the first six months were probationary at a lower rate.. It appears that Peter May was the last regularly-assigned crew member to join the Gaspee, at least that we have records of. Later records may have been destroyed with the fire that consumed her in June of 1772.
May's testimony of January 19, 1773 before the Commission of Inquiry is found in Staples p76. May had previously come across Rufus Greene back in late February 1772, when the crew of the Gaspee boarded and seized Green's sloop and its cargo of rum. He saw Greene again in the cabin of the Gaspee after the attack on June 10th, and was able to identify him as a Greene, but did not know his first name so that no specific identification of him was able to be made by the Commission of Inquiry. National Archives UK lists a 1786 will of a Peter May, Mariner of the HMS Worcester.
John Montgomery (22), from Londonderry, Ireland, Appeared Volunteer in lieu 5Mar1771at Age 21, Able-bodied seaman, no discharge date given, and he was not paid neat wages from the ship. No record of him is found in any references to the burning of the Gaspee. The records style indicate that he might have been a crewmember when the Gaspee was burned, but we more likely suspect he may have jumped ship between January and June of 1772.
Thomas Parr (24), from Lancaster, England, first appeared 20Mar1771 at age 23 supernumary borne for wages, Able-bodied seaman, no discharge date given, and he was not paid neat wages from the ship. After the attack on the Gaspee, then 24 year old Parr and some other crewmen attended the court martial of Lieutenant Dudingston in Portsmouth, England on October 14th, 1772 (Staples, p134). He apparently was not actually called to give testimony, as none is recorded other than his presence. No will is listed as a mariner under that name for that period in the National Archives UK.
Patrick Phalen (23), from Cork, Ireland appeared 10Nov1771 at age 22 , Able-bodied seaman, no discharge date given, and he was not paid neat wages from the ship. His records style indicate that he was still a 23 year old crewmember when the Gaspee was burned. He was probably one of the crew that was interviewed by Dep. Gov. Darius Sessions on the morning after the attack (Staples p80), but under the mispronounced, misspelt or mistranscribed name of Patrick Whaler, there being no one by that name in the Gaspee pay lists. A thick Irish brogue would easily have confused Sessions. No transciption of what he might have said was recorded.
John Phillips, appeared 17Nov1771, Acting Surgeon's Mate, no discharge date given, and we suspect that his records style indicate that he was possibly still a crewmember when the Gaspee was burned. Surgeon's Mates did not get their demographics or their pay records entered into the logbook. Unlike the three previous Surgeon's Mates, he was not credited for treating any of the crew for venereal disease. He was not called on to render medical assitance to the wounded Lt. Dudingston on the night of the attack, so perhaps he had been discharged prior to June 10th, or maybe he was part of James Dundas' detachment that was travelling to Boston during that time.
Edward Pullibeck (22) from Modbury, Devonshire, appeared 8Jan1770, age 20, entered as misspelt Edward Pullibank as an able-bodied seaman. He was not formally discharged from the ship, nor was he paid any neat wages. After the attack on the Gaspee, Pullibeck and some other crewmen attended the court martial of Lieutenant Dudingston in Portsmouth, England on October 14th, 1772 (Staples, p134). He was not actually called to give testimony. No will is listed as a Mariner or Seaman under that name for that period in the National Archives UK.
Patrick Reynolds (21), from Londonderry, Ireland, first appeared 26Mar1771 at age 20, supernumary borne for wages, Able bodied seaman. He was not formally discharged from the ship, nor was he paid any neat wages. He got the clap, and was charged 0.15.0 by Surgeon's mate Watson for 'Venereals". He was one of the crew that was interviewed by Dep.Gov. Darius Sessions on the morning after the attack (Staples p80). No will is listed as a Mariner or Seaman under that name for that period in the National Archives UK.
Charles Short (24), from Falmouth, MA appeared 13Dec1771 at age 23, Ab, no discharge date given, and he was not paid neat wages from the ship. We suspect that his records style indicate that he was still a crewmember when the Gaspee was burned. But we suspect moreso that he may have jumped ship between January and June of 1772.
Thomas Totten (21), from Belfast, Ireland, Appeared July1771 at Age 20, Able bodied seaman discharged 10June1772 coincident with the burning of the Gaspee. Captn, and was paid neat wages amounting to 12 pence per day, which is a higher rate than the 10 pence per day usually given to a non-rated able-bodied seaman..
select few past
crewmembers of the Gaspee,
not assigned to the Gaspee in
June of 1772.
See the Excel spreadsheet of all Gaspee crewmembers from 1764-1772
Lieutenant Thomas Allen, Lieutenant & Commander, the original captain of the Gaspee from her commissioning in December 1763 as a sloop to September 1768 when it was recommissioned as a schooner and command transferred to Dudingston on 12Sept1768. We also know that Rhode Island Governor Joseph Wanton was familiar with the ship and with Captain Thomas Allen as her commander proceeding Dudingston, so the Gaspee must've sailed in the vicinity of Newport, RI on two previous occasions in 1765 and 1767. (See Gaspee Prior to 1772). Was not assigned to the Gaspee during the time of the attack.
The National Archives UK lists several wills of Thomas Allen including HM Hospital Ship Sutherland (1751), HMS Preston (1759), His Majesty's Tender Industry (1759), and HM Sloop Swallow (1769). This is probably our guy, but the name is a common one. Such wills were likely made out and filed whenever a seaman was assigned to a new ship. According to the excellent Navy List database information kindly provided by CH Donnithorne, there were two Thomas Allens in the Royal Navy at this time with almost identical dates of seniority as Lieutenants.
Mr. (Sylvanus) Daggett, Rhode Islander, at one time a pilot of the Gaspee. The attackers wanted to take revenge upon him for working for the British. It is curious that the harbor pilot for the Gaspee was conveniently not aboard that day, as he had been discharged six weeks earlier (see Staples, p 23) and transferred to the HMS Beaver. He was referred to by William Dickinson as Doget (Staples, p22), and the original family name spelling was Doggett until the 18th century. In Bartlett, p 24 the following is quoted from the Providence Gazette of June 13, 1772:
"We hear that one Daggett, belonging to the Vineyard, who had served the aforementioned schooner, as a pilot, but at the time of her being destroyed, was on board the Beaver sloop of war, on going ashore a few days since, at Narragansett, to a sheep-shearing, was seized by the company, who cut off his hair, and performed to him the operation of shearing, in such a manner, that his ears and nose were in imminent danger."
It turns out, in The History of Martha's Vineyard by Dr. Charles Banks: Volume III Family Genealogies: pp.126-145, that the Daggett family went on to a long history of pilotage service. And we have this standout candidate to be our culprit:
SYLVANUS DAGGETT, (Samuel,4 Thomas,3-2 Johnl ), date of birth unknown; res. E., mariner; rem. to Newport, R. I. abt. 1738 and Providence abt. 1741, but ret. to the Vineyard and d. in T. 2 June 1773. He m. ALICE STEWART 2 May 1756, who was prob. dau. of Joseph and Mary (_____) Stewart of Chatham, b. 19 Feb. 1729 and d. 20 Nov. 1817.
SOLOMON,6 soldier in Revolution; lost in brig "General Arnold" 1778.
SYLVANUS, lost in brig "General Arnold" 1778.
TIMOTHY, lost in brig "General Arnold" 1778.
SAMUEL, mariner, lost at sea.
MICHAEL, b. 14 Nov. 1770.
FREEMAN, b. 1772.
Perhaps Dagget's shearing made him consider retirement in 1773, soon after the Gaspee Affair. The fact that Daggett acted as a pilot for the British in no way implicates him as a Tory. In fact, most of the Daggett family did seem to serve on the American side during the Revolution.
William Gleeson, (or Gluson) in "Mariner belonging to His Majesty's Sloop Gaspee" dated 1768 according to the wills database at National Archives UK. Appeared Sept1765, Ab, Discharged Dead, died 25Feb1767 in New York.
David Hay, reportedly helped Dudingston seize a fisherman in Chesapeake Bay in 1769. (See Gaspee prior to 1772). We have no other evidence that he was actually assigned to the Gaspee in 1772. In the National Archives UK there is the will of David Hay of the HMS Lancaster dated 1760, as well as the will of David Hay, Mariner of Tenby, Pembrokeshire dated 1821.
John Hay, "Seaman belonging to His Majesty's Schooner Gaspee" dated February 1773 according to the wills database at National Archives UK. The Gaspee he refers to was probably the schooner that had previously met its demise in Rhode Island. The subsequently named Gaspee brig was not in service until later in 1773. He appeared 5Oct1768 age21, born in New York, Able-bodied seaman, discharged dead at Sea.
James Huxland, Appeared July 1764, Able-bodied seaman, deserted 1Dec1764 to Liverpool. We seriously doubt that the Gaspee made a trans-Atlantic journey to Liverpool. While the remaining schooners, such as the Sultana, were sailed back to England prior to the Revolution to be sold off, these small ships weren't designed for the voyage. Besides, there wasn't likely time between then and the Gaspee's next appearance in Casco Bay, ME that same month. This probably indicates that either he was from Liverpool, or that they knew he'd jumped over to a ship headed for Liverpool.
John Jones, Appeared 26 July1764, Volunteer, Able-bodied seaman, deserted 12Dec1764 in Casco Bay. Another later entry was John Jones from Halifax, who appeared 13Sept1768, listed beneath and coincident with Lt. Dudingston as "his St. (servant?). No discharge date given. This may or may not be the same guy as before; it's a common enough name.
Thomas Kirby, "Seaman belonging to His Majesty's Schooner Gaspee" dated January 1771 according to the wills database at National Archives UK. Good thing, too, that he filed his will. According to Gaspee pay records he drowned 9Oct1770 (it would've taken three months for his will to be received by the Admiralty back in England). He appeared as misspelt Thomas Kirbey 22Sept1768 as a Volunteer from New York at age 20, Able-bodied to 2Sept1769, then Midshipman. to 27Mar1770, then Able bodied seaman, discharged dead.
Jonathan Newell, born in Smithfield, RI, Assigned Able-bodied seaman 14May1764 to 25Jul1764, then gunner's mate until 11Dec1765, then Midshipman to 2Sept1769, then Able-bodied, then discharged 31December1767
William Pettigrue, (or Pettigrew) appeared 1Nov1769, Surgeon's Mate, discharged 17April1770 Superceded by request To contact a researcher on this person send e-mail to: Madeleine Boivin [firstname.lastname@example.org] He was apparently the father of the surgeon to Queen Victoria.
John Smith, "otherwise Dougherty, Seaman of His Majesty's Schooner Gaspee" dated January 1772 according to the wills database at National Archives UK. There is a John Smith in the Gaspee pay lists, that appeared July 1764 from Londonderry, Ireland, at age 21, Able-bodied seaman, died 18Jan1771 at Wilmington, Delaware. Had his pay docked for 'venereals" .
John Walcot, Clerk, 1764-1765, then Midshipman to Dec1765, then Able-bodied seaman, discharged Feb1767 and was paid neat wages of about 13 pence per day. He was one of its earliest crewmembers, coming aboard in Feb1764. In 1765 his last will and testimony was entered in New York, naming his wife Mary Walcot, of New York, as heir. (See Gaspee prior to 1772). No previous will is listed as a Mariner or Seaman under that name for that period in the National Archives UK.
|Back to Top | Back to Gaspee Virtual Archives|