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Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Amsterdam




Amsterdam

Commander James Magee

Armed Brig

13 May 1779-19 October 1781

Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine [Brig]


Commissioned/First Date:

13 May 1779

Out of Service/Cause:

19 October 1781/captured by HM Frigate Amphitrite


Owners:

Paschal Nelson Smith and Isaac Sears of Boston, Massachusetts


Tonnage:

170 [modern estimate]


Battery:

Date Reported: 13 May 1779

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

10/

Total: 10 cannon/

Broadside: 5 cannon/

Swivels:


Crew:

13 May 1779: 31 [total]


Description:

88′6′′ overall length; 75′ length between perpendiculars; 24′ beam [modern estimate]


Officers:


Cruises:

(1) Boston, Massachusetts to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 23 May 1779-[June] 1779

(2) Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Boston, Massachusetts, [September] 1779-29 October 1779

(3) Boston, Massachusetts to Virginia, 23 February 1780-

(4) Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts

(5) Boston, Massachusetts to Göteborg, Sweden, [summer] 1780

(6) Göteborg, Sweden to Boston, Massachusetts, 1 October 1780-14 November 1780

(7) Boston, Massachusetts to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, -11 February 1781

(8) [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Marstrand, Sweden, Summer 1781]

(9) Marstrand, Sweden to sea, 25 August 1781-19 October 1781


Prizes:

(1) Brig Endeavour, [summer 1780]

(2) Brig John (Walter Tazard), [October] 1780

(3) Brig High Green (David M’Leod), [November] 1780

(4) Ship [Bark] St. Bee (Williamson), 2 February 1781


Actions:


Comments:


Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Amsterdam was commissioned on 13 May 1779 under Commander James Magee of Boston, Massachusetts. She was listed as having a battery of ten guns and a crew of thirty men. Her $10000 Continental bond and her £4000 Massachusetts bond were signed by Magee and by Leonard Jarvis and Paschal Nelson Smith of Boston. Smith and Isaac Sears of Boston were listed as the owners.1


A modern reconstruction of Amsterdam’s lines. From Millar’s American Ships of the Colonial & Revolutionary Periods. He estimates her 75' long on the deck, and as 170 tons. She is a generic privateer/merchant vessel as reconstructed.

 


Amsterdam sailed from Boston on 23 May 1779, bound for The Netherlands.2 Amsterdam arrived at Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in time to assist the Americans there in celebrating the Fourth of July. A banquet was held at the Arms of Amsterdam, with many toasts being drunk. The Amsterdam “frigate, lately from Boston . . .” closed the day by firing a thirteen gun salute.3 On 24 August 1779, still anchored in the Stee, the Amsterdam was visited by officers of a Holland Admiralty vessel. The American flag was saluted on this occasion.4 Amsterdam arrived back at Boston on 29 October 1779, from Amsterdam. One of her owners, Isaac Sears, returned aboard her as a passenger.5


Amsterdam was re-commissioned on 22 February 1780, again under Magee.6 Amsterdam was at sea on 10 March 1780, at 38°20'N, 71°30'W. Magee was fifteen days out of Boston, bound for Virginia, and was spoken by a sloop commanded by one Loring.7


Perhaps in the summer of 1780 she sailed for Göteborg [Gothenburg], Sweden. During her passage Amsterdam captured a British vessel and took her into Göteborg, where she was sold.8 It is possible that this was the brig Endeavour, known to have been captured by Magee, and sailing out of Poole, England.9


Magee sailed for home on 1 October 1780. On the return voyage another British vessel, bound to Newfoundland with provisions and dry goods, was captured.10 This was probably the 100-ton brig John (William Tazard).11 She was said to be a valuable prize.12 John had arrived at Boston by 21 November.13 A second prize, the 100-ton brig High Green (David M’Leod) was also captured and arrived in Boston. Both prizes were libeled on 7 December 1780 in the Massachusetts Maritime Court of the Middle District, with trial set for 2 January 1781.14 Amsterdam arrived in Boston on 14 November.15


Amsterdam sailed from Boston for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, arriving in the latter port on 11 February 1781. En route Magee captured the ship St. Bee (Williamson), bound from New York, New York to Whitehaven, England. Williamson had sailed from New York on 2 February, expecting to overtake the convoy that had sailed the day before.16 This is probably the “light bark” that arrived in Boston on 4 February, captured by the Amsterdam. She was bound for Whitehaven out of New York.17


Photograph of James Magee's Protest. From the Early American History Store, at http://www.earlyamerican.com/HistoryStore/pages/item.php?itemID=69031. Used by permission of John Ingle of www.earlyamerican.com.


Detail of HM Armed Brig Observer from “A view of His Majesty's Brigg Observer, commanded by Lieutenant John Crymes engaging the American Privateer ship Jack, John Ropes Commander, on the 29th of May 1782, off the Harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia handcoloured aquatint, published by Robert Dodd, London, 1784.”. Observer was formerly the Amsterdam

Amsterdam made one more voyage to Sweden. She sailed from Marstrand, Sweden18 on 25 August 1781,  bound for Boston with a cargo of dry goods, iron, steel, copper, tea and other merchandise.19 in the fall of 1781.20 Amsterdam was captured on 19 October 1781 by HM Frigate Amphitrite (Captain Robert Biggs)21 off Cape Ann, Massachusetts22 (42°46'N).23 She was taken in to the Penobscot River. The crew was well treated and arrived at Boston in a cartel vessel24 on 6 November 1781.25 The brigantine was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she was tried and condemned.26


Amsterdam was taken into the Royal Navy as HM Brig Observer at Halifax.27


















1 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 74

2 The Massachusetts Spy: Or, American Oracle of Liberty [Worcester], Thursday, May 27, 1779, datelined Boston, May 23

3 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Thursday, September 9, 1779, quoting an extract of a letter from Amsterdam, dated 4 July 1779

4 The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], Thursday, December 9, 1779

5 The New Jersey Gazette [Burlington], Wednesday, November 24, 1779, datelined Boston, November 6

6 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 74

7 The American Journal And General Advertiser [Providence], Thursday, April 6, 1780, datelined New London, March 16, 1780

8 The Newport Mercury, Thursday, November 23, 1780, datelined Boston, November 16

9 The Connecticut Courant [Hartford], Tuesday, November 28, 1780

10 The Newport Mercury, Thursday, November 23, 1780, datelined Boston, November 16

11 The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser [Boston], Thursday, December 7, 1780

12 The Newport Mercury, Thursday, November 23, 1780, datelined Boston, November 16

13 The Connecticut Gazette and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Tuesday, November 28, 1780, datelined Boston, November 23

14 The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser [Boston], Thursday, December 7, 1780

15 The Newport Mercury, Thursday, November 23, 1780, datelined Boston, November 16

16 The Connecticut Courant [Hartford], Tuesday, February 27, 1781, datelined Philadelphia, February 14

17 The New Jersey Gazette [Burlington], Wednesday, February 28, 1781, datelined Boston, February 5

18 AVCR, 7

19 “Protest of James Magee,” 7 November 1781, at http://www.earlyamerican.com/HistoryStore/pages/item.php?itemID=69031, accessed 15 March 2010.

20 AVCR, 7

21 The Boston Gazette, and the Country Journal, Monday, November 12, 1781

22 AVCR, 7

23 “Protest of James Magee”

24 The Boston Gazette, and the Country Journal, Monday, November 12, 1781

25 “Protest of James Magee;” The Boston Gazette, and the Country Journal, Monday, November 12, 1781

26 AVCR, 7

27 The Salem Gazette, Thursday, July 11, 1782


Posted 21 September 2014 © awiatsea.com