Virginia Privateer Brigantine Grand Turk

Grand Turk

Commander Cornelius Schmerhorn

Armed Brig

1 October 1781-20 April 1782

Virginia Privateer Brigantine

Commissioned/First Date:

1 October 1781

Out of Service/Cause:

20 April 1782/captured by HM Sloops Vulture and Savage, and HM Frigate Narcissus


James Brade and Thomas Walker & Co. [of Virginia]



Date Reported: 1 October 1781

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside


Total: 14 cannon/

Broadside: 7 cannon/


Date Reported: 20 April 1782

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside


Total: 12 cannon/

Broadside: 6 cannon/



(1) 1 October 1781: 61 [total]
(2) 20 April 1782: 75 [total]


“Fine new vessel.”



(1) Edenton, North Carolina to sea, 2 April 1782-20 April 1782


(1) Schooner Three Friends, 29 February 1782, in Edenton Harbor, North Carolina, with Virginia Privateer Brig Dolphin



Virginia Privateer Brigantine Grand Turk was commissioned on 1 October 1781 under Commander Cornelius Schermerhorn. She was listed as being armed with fourteen guns and as having a crew of sixty men. Her $20000 bond was signed by Walker, Brade & Co. of Virginia and by Richard Baker.1

In late February 1782, the schooner Three Friends put into Edenton, North Carolina2 from Charlestown, South Carolina. She had several North Carolina Tory merchants aboard, former residents, who were hoping to return to that state. In addition to the returnees, there was a cargo of goods aboard worth about *8000.3 She came in under a flag of truce, granted by the proper British authorities. The schooner anchored and an officer went ashore to the local naval officer to report the schooner’s arrival and report that she was a “flag of truce” vessel.4

There happened then to be in the harbor the Grand Turk, as well as the Virginia Privateer Brig Dolphin (Commander Madet Engs). Both Schermerhorn and Engs saw an opportunity and both took it. Schermerhorn’s men boarded the schooner and announced that she was his prize,5 announcing the seizure was because of illicit commerce.6 A short time later Dolphin’s men also boarded her, claiming their share. The Three Friends was hastily taken out of Edenton and sent up to South Quay, in Virginia. She was quickly libeled before Virginia’s Court of Admiralty in Williamsburg, Virginia.7

The Governor of North Carolina protested vigorously and vowed to retrieve the “flag” by armed force, if necessary. Awkward attempts at explanation followed, and “finally the way was paved for adjustments.”8

Grand Turk sailed from Edenton on a cruise about 2 April 1782, steering for the British traffic off the port of New York. For eighteen days Schermerhorn cruised there, taking nothing. On 20 April Grand Turk met HM Sloop Vulture (Lieutenant John Laugharne),9 HM Sloop Savage (Lieutenant Edmund Crawley) and HM Frigate Narcissus (Captain Edward Edwards).10 She was easily captured. The British reported that she was a “fine new vessel” of twelve guns, with a crew of seventy-five men aboard. The prize arrived in New York on 22 April.11

1 NRAR, 321


3 The Pennsylvania Evening Post [Philadelphia], Tuesday, March 12, 1782



6 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 121


8 Stewart, Virginia’s Navy of the Revolution, 121

9 Almon’s Remembrancer, 14:67

10 The London Gazette, Tuesday, August 2 to Saturday, August 6, 1785

11 Almon’s Remembrancer, 14:67

Posted 21 September 2014 ©

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