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Incidents
A Thirty Hour Fight





Massachusetts Privateer Brig Lyon Captures British Ship Maesgywn
28/29 September 1777



Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Lyon (Lion) was commissioned on 19 August 1777 under Commander Ishmael Hardy of Salem, Massachusetts. She was listed as being armed with eighteen guns and as having a crew of 130 men.1 Lyon sailed soon after.


On 28 September 1777 Lyon was at 39°N, 59°W2 where she fell in with the 200-ton3 ship Maesgwyn4 [Masegwyn]5 (William Room). Maesgwym was bound from Bristol, England to New York, New York with a cargo of rum, liquor, salt, cheese,6 clothing, and other items.7 Maesgwyn was armed with ten 4-pounders and four 6-pounders8 (or sixteen 6-pounders)9 and had a crew of thirty-nine10 or forty men aboard.11 The two vessels closed to within musket shot and began a hot engagement, which lasted five hours. At the end of that time both vessels were “greatly shattered,” with Maesgwyn’s rigging mostly shot away. The two commanders agreed to stay by one another while they refit, which took the rest of the afternoon and all night.


At dawn the fight was renewed, this time at pistol shot range. In a two hour fight, Maesgwyn fired over eighty broadsides. Lyon was firing just as hard: after two hours Room’s crew had ten12 (or thirteen)13 killed and wounded, had been hulled forty times, and there was four feet of water in the hold, well mixed with liquor from broken bottles and rum from shattered casks. The newly repaired rigging was again shot up. Room surrendered. Lyon was heavily damaged too: at the first good wind after the fight both her lower masts carried away. The prize was taken into Salem, Massachusetts,14 where she arrived on 3 October 1777.15 Room later reported that Lyon was armed with sixteen 4-pounders and 6-pounders, over twenty swivel guns, and had 125 men aboard.16

Summary Table

Vessel

Tons

Guns

Broadside

Men

Killed

%

Wounded

%

Total

%

Lyon

16

[38]

125

Maesgywn

200

14

32

40

[3]

8%

[10]

25%

13

33%

Time: 30 hours
Note: No American casualties reported.



1 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 206

2 NDAR, “The New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 8, 1777,” X, 686 and note

3 NDAR, “Libels Filed in the Massachusetts Maritime Court of the Middle District,” X, 354-355 and 355 note

4 NDAR, “The New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 8, 1777,” X, 686 and note

5 NDAR, “Libels Filed in the Massachusetts Maritime Court of the Middle District,” X, 354-355 and 355 note

6 NDAR, “The New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 8, 1777,” X, 686 and note

7 The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, October 20, 1777, datelined Boston, October 6

8 NDAR, “The New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 8, 1777,” X, 686 and note

9 The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, October 20, 1777, datelined Boston, October 6

10 NDAR, “The New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 8, 1777,” X, 686 and note

11 The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, October 20, 1777, datelined Boston, October 6

12 NDAR, “The New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 8, 1777,” X, 686 and note

13 The Royal Gazette [New York], December 13, 1777

14 NDAR, “The New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 8, 1777,” X, 686 and note

15 The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, October 20, 1777, datelined Boston, October 6

16 NDAR, “The New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 8, 1777,” X, 686 and note


Posted 22 July 2010 © awiatsea.com