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Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Wilkes




Wilkes

(1) Commander William Pearce

Sloop-of-War [Brig/Sloop]

28 December 1779-

Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine

(2) Commander Job Knight
11 April 1780-11 June 1780


Commissioned/First Date:

28 December 1779

Out of Service/Cause:

11 June 1780/captured by HM Sloop Fairy


Owners:

(1) William Pearce et al of Boston, Massachusetts; (2) John Stevens et al of Cape Ann, Massachusetts


Tonnage:

140, 160


Battery:

Date Reported: 28 December 1779

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

12/

Total: 12 cannon/

Broadside: 6 cannon/

Swivels:


Date Reported: 21 April 1780

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

14/

Total: 14 cannon/

Broadside: 7 cannon/

Swivels:


Date Reported: 12 June 1780

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside

14/4 pounder      56 pounds   28 pounds

Total: 14 cannon/56 pounds

Broadside: 7 cannon/28 pounds

Swivels:


Crew:

(1) 28 December 1779: 31 [total]
(2) 21 April 1780: 71 [total]
(3) 11 June 1780: 65 [total]
(4) 12 June 1780: 75 [total]


Description:


Officers:


Cruises:

(1) Gloucester, Massachusetts to sea, [25] April 1780-11 June 1780


Prizes:

(1) [unknown], [May] 1780

(2) [unknown], [May] 1780


Actions:


Comments:

Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Wilkes was commissioned on 28 December 1779 under Commander William Pearce of Boston, Massachusetts. She was listed as being armed with twelve guns and as having a crew of thirty men. Her $10000 Continental and £4000 Massachusetts bonds were signed by Pearce and by Samuel Allyne Otis and Nehemiah Ingersoll, both of Boston.1


Wilkes was re-commissioned on 21 April 1780 under Commander Job Knight, presumably of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Her battery was now listed as fourteen guns and her crew as seventy men. Her new $10000 Continental and £4000 Massachusetts bonds were signed by Knight and by David Pearce and John Stevens, both of Cape Ann.2


Within a few days of her commissioning Wilkes was out at sea. Two prizes were captured and sent off to Massachusetts.3


On 9 or 10 June 1780 she was off Newfoundland, where she met HM Sloop Fairy. Wilkes ran for it but Fairy gave chase and stayed on the trail for forty-one hours before Wilkes was captured on the 11th.4 The British reported she was sailing out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, was 140 tons, and had fourteen guns and sixty-five5 or seventy-five men aboard. She was brought into St. Johns on 12 June.6


Wilkes was taken into British service as HM Brig Prince Edward. She was armed with fourteen 4-pounders in British service and this is probably her battery as a privateer.7


The prisoners were placed on a prison ship at St. Johns. Isaac Trask recalled being  “forced from the prison ship at the point of the bayonet on board the Vestal frigate and compelled to do duty until the arrival of Admiral Edwards, whose humanity, at the instances of a pathetic petition, ordered that I with fourteen others be returned to the prison ship.” The crew was exchanged soon after.8



1 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 326

2 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 326

3 Dann, John C., The Revolution Remembered: Eyewitness Accounts of the War for Independence, Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1999, citing the Journal of Isaac Trask, 413

4Proteus, St. John’s, Newfoundland, August 13, 1780” [Letter, Edwards to Stephens], in The London Gazette, Saturday, September 30, to Tuesday, October 3, 1780

5Names,. &c. of Ships and Vessels taken by His Majesty’s Squadron under the Command of Rear-Admiral Edwards, at Newfoundland.” [Edward’s Prize List 16 September 1780], in The London Gazette, Saturday, September 30, to Tuesday, October 3, 1780

6Proteus, St. John’s, Newfoundland, August 13, 1780” [Letter, Edwards to Stephens], in The London Gazette, Saturday, September 30, to Tuesday, October 3, 1780

7 Winfield, British Warships In the Age of Sail 1714-1792, 318. On 5 September 1782, Prince Edward was seized by twenty-nine American prisoners while at Spear Harbour, Labrador. [Ibid]

8 Dann, The Revolution Remembered, 413


Posted 21 September 2014 © awiatsea.com