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Thorn Captures Lord Hyde





Massachusetts Privateer Ship Thorn Captures Lord Hyde
[5] March 1781



About early March 1781 Massachusetts Privateer Ship Thorn (Commander Samuel Tucker) sighted a ship which was clearly armed and not running from the privateer. Tucker called his men on deck, and harangued them, pointing out the ship: “She means to fight us and if we go alongside like men she is ours in thirty minutes; but if we can’t go as men, we have no business here!” He then invited cowards to stand at the port gangway. It is hardly surprising to learn that all the men rushed to the starboard.1


The ships closed and both captains hailed.2 The British vessel was the 200-ton ship Lord Hyde (William Lake),3 eighteen guns,4 a packet, bound from Jamaica to London.5 Lord Hyde had a coppered bottom.6 Other sources indicate she was armed with twenty guns, eighteen of which were 4-pounders.7 Both skippers threatened to sink the other and maneuvered for position. When Thorn swung toward Lord Hyde, the British fired off a harmless broadside. Thorn replied with cannon and musketry, sweeping the enemy deck.8 Lord Hyde engaged the Thorn for two glasses (an hour).9 Finally, the British called for “Quarter. For God’s sake! Our ship is sinking! Our men are dying of their wounds!” Since the British flag was still flying, Tucker answered “How can you expect quarter while that British flag is flying?” The British called out that their halliards were shot away. Tucker answered, and to the point: “Then cut away your ensign staff or ye’ll all be dead men!” The flag came down.10 The British had four killed and fourteen men wounded; the Thorn none. On 23 March 1781 this prize to the Thorn arrived at Salem.11 She was advertised for sale on 29 March, with the sale to be held at Newburyport on 5 April 1781.12


Summary Table

Vessel

Tons

Guns

Broadside

Men

Killed

%

Wounded

%

Total

%

Thorn

305

18

54

[100]

Lord Hyde

200

18

[36]

4

14

18

Time: 1 hour



1 Smith, Tucker, 78

2 Smith, Tucker, 78

3 Smith, Tucker, 105

4 Smith, Tucker, 78

5 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 301, from the Salem Gazette of 27 March 1781

6 The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser [Boston], March 29, 1781

7 The New Jersey Gazette [Burlington], March 31, 1779

8 Smith, Tucker, 78

9 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 301, from the Salem Gazette of 27 March 1781

10 Smith, Tucker, 78

11 Allen, Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, 301, from the Salem Gazette of 27 March 1781

12 The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser [Boston], March 29, 1781


Posted 30 January 2009 © awiatsea.com