Connecticut Privateer Brigantine Thetis


(1) Commander William Wattles [Watters]

Armed Brig

3 July 1782-

Connecticut Privateer Brigantine [Brig]

(2) Commander Robert Colfax
[February] 1783-2 April 1783

Commissioned/First Date:

3 July 1782

Out of Service/Cause:

2 April 1783/captured by HM Sloop Duc de Chartres


Howland, Coit & Co. of Norwich, Connecticut




Date Reported: 3 July 1782

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside


Total: 6 cannon/

Broadside: 3 cannon/


Date Reported: 20 February 1783

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside


Total: 6 cannon/

Broadside: 3 cannon/



(1) 3 July 1782: 21 [total]
(2) 20 February 1783: 21 [total]


Virginia built.


(1) Second Mate William Kirtland, [February] 1782-; Prize Master Oliver Norris, [February] 1782-


(1) [Norwich], Connecticut to The Texel, Netherlands, -18 October 1782

(2) Amsterdam, Netherlands to New London, Connecticut, 12 October 1782-2 January 1783

(3) New London, Connecticut to sea, 20 February 1783-2 April 1783


(1) Schooner Honest Endeavour, 27 February 1783

(2) Schooner Trimmer, 6 March 1783, off Sandy Hook, New Jersey



Connecticut Privateer Brigantine Thetis was commissioned on 3 July 1782 under Commander William Wattles [Watters] of Norwich, Connecticut. She was listed as having a battery of six guns and a crew of twenty men. Thetis’s $20,000 bond was executed by Wattles (as Watters), Joseph Howland, and Thomas Coit, all of Norwich.1

Brigantine Thetis (Peter Robinson) was a former British vessel, measuring 100 tons, taken as prize by Connecticut Privateer Sloop Hancock. She was sold on 25 June 1781 at Norwich and was described as “. . . Virginia built, suitable either for a Privateer or Letter of Marque” in the sales announcement.2

Thetis was sent off to The Netherlands on a trading voyage and safely arrived at The Texel on 18 October 1782.3 Thetis sailed from Amsterdam on 12 October 1782 and dropped down to the Fly, where she remained until 20 October. Her voyage home was beset by heavy gales and Thetis lost her bowsprit and was damaged in other places.4 She arrived at New London on 2 January 1783, in seventy days from Amsterdam.5

Subsequent to Wattles, Thetis was evidently under the command of Robert Colfax. She was listed with the same battery and crew. Colfax sailed from New London, Connecticut on 20 February 1783. On 27 February Thetis captured the 30-ton schooner Honest Endeavour, with a cargo of salt, tobacco, coffee and beef. She was bound from New York to Halifax. She was given to Oliver Norris as prize master and he brought her into New London where she was tried and condemned. On 6 March 1783 the schooner Trimmer (Jonathan Lewis) was captured twenty-four miles south of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Trimmer had been bound for Boston, Massachusetts, when she was captured by HM Sloop Ceres and sent off for New York. Colfax sent Second Mate William Kirtland aboard as prize master and she subsequently arrived at New London.6

Thetis was captured by HM Sloop Duc de Chartres (Commander John Child Purvis) on 2 April 17837 and sent in to New York, New York, where she was tried and condemned. Thetis is described as an American vessel with a commission in the court extract.8

1 NRAR, 474;  Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During the Revolution, II, 232

2 The Connecticut Gazette and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], Friday, June 14, 1782

3  Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During the Revolution, II, 232

4 The Connecticut Journal [New Haven], Thursday, January 16, 1783, datelined New London, January 10

5 The Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer [Hartford] Tuesday, January 7, 1783

6 Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut During the Revolution, II, 232

7 The London Gazette, Tuesday, November 14 to Saturday, November 18, 1786

8 HCA 32/461/16/1-19

Posted 3 April 2016 ©