Back
to
Massachusetts
Massachusetts Navy Trading Ship Adams




Adams

(1) Master David Brace

Prison/Trading Vessel

14 February 1777-[1 July] 1777

Massachusetts Navy Ship

(2) Captain Joseph Dobel
10 July 1777-[15] November 1777 [?]
(3) Master Thomas Mayhew
[1 February] 1778-[17] February 1778
(4) Master Luther Turner
18 February 1778-


Commissioned/First Date:

14 February 1777

Out of Service/Cause:


Tonnage:

140


Battery:

Date Reported:

Number/Caliber  Weight           Broadside


Total:

Broadside:

Swivels:


Crew:

10 July 1777: 6 [total]


Description:


Officers:


Cruises:

(1) Boston, Massachusetts to Charleston, South Carolina, [1] March 1778-


Prizes:


Actions:


Comments:

This ship was the prize bark John, captured 27 November 1776 by the Massachusetts Navy Brig Tyrannicide. She was purchased for £1120 on 14 February 1777 for the state, to be used as a trading vessel, and David Brace was assigned as her master.1 John began fitting out at Boston, but was held in port by the British blockade. On 16 May 1777 she was renamed Adams.2 By 24 June 1777 preparations were under way for a voyage to South Carolina, but she had no crew. As soon as a crew could be shipped, Adams was to proceed to France by way of South Carolina.3 On 27 June the Massachusetts Board of War suspended the voyage, because of the lack of sailors and the intense British blockade.4


On 10 July 1777 the Board appointed Joseph Dobel [Doble] (former First Lieutenant of the Continental Navy Frigate Hancock) to be captain of the Adams, which was to be converted to a prison vessel in Boston Harbor. Dobel was to receive £6 per month wages plus rations, and was to enlist a mate and four sailors.5 On 11 August the Board ordered Dobel to allow his prisoners to remain on deck until 2200 during the summer heat.6


The Massachusetts Board of War determined to use Adams as a trading vessel by 13 November 1777, when the Board of War instructed Captain Isaac Phillips to procure a captain and crew for the Adams and prepare her for sea.7 The next day Dobel was instructed to take his prisoners ashore and turn over the ship to Phillips.8 However, on 18 November the Board of War ordered the Commissary General to deliver various supplies to Dobel for the use of the prisoners on the prison ship.9


On 13 January 1778 the Massachusetts Board of War ordered the wharfage fee (£4.16.0) of the Adams paid. It is evident that she was not in use as a prison ship at this time.10 Adams was in the process of fitting out. On 27 January a bill of £19.6.6 for ironwork for the ship was paid,11 and a bill for “sundries” was paid on 5 February 1778.12


The Massachusetts Board of War intended to put Adams under the command of Thomas Mayhew, who had been sent out to Plymouth to recruit a crew in early February 1778. Mayhew had a tough time getting sailors. Inflation had driven wages high. Mayhew found a man willing to go out as his mate, but the man was quickly put into a vessel as a master by other shippers. Mayhew offered as high as $45 per month for sailors, with no takers for rumor had it that sailors in Boston were getting $60 per month. Mayhew, on 12 February, advised the Board of War that he would continue to attempt to recruit, but noted that if a master and men offered to sail in the Adams he “would not have you keep the Vessell for me . . .”13


The Board of War took Mayhew at his word. On 18 February various items were ordered delivered to the Adams by the Board of War, to be turned over to her new master, Luther Turner.14 The next day Turner was paid £90 advance wages by the Board of War.15 Tuener received his sailing orders the next day. He was to proceed to Charleston, South Carolina and deliver is cargo to John S. Cripps and Florian Charles Mey, merchants in that town. They would provide a cargo of rice which Adams was to take to Nantes, France and deliver to Morris, Pliarne, Penet & Co. The return cargo was to be brought to Boston or a convenient nearby port.16 On 21 February various articles of provisions were sent aboard the Adams.17 The Board of War furnished Turner with a letter for Morris, Pliarne, Penet & Co. with instructions for the return cargo on 25 February.18 Additional provisions were supplied the Adams on 26 February and Turner’s account with the vessel (£67.16.0) was settled.19 The next day the important article of rum was supplied and the balance of Turner’s portledge bill (£52.14.4) was paid.20


On 6 March 1778 the Board of War approved a payment of £13.10 to one Mary Reed, which was the advance wages of a sailor aboard the Adams. This is probably an indication that the Adams had sailed on her voyage.21 The payment for the ship after this date of £76.15 to Israel Turner seems to be the final settling of a bill,22 as does the payment to Gibbins Sharp on 27 March 1778.23 Adams had certainly sailed by 22 March when she is mentioned in a letter from George Williams to Timothy Pickering.24

__________

1 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” VII, 1197-1198 and 1198 note

2 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” VIII, 977 and note

3 NDAR, “Massachusetts Board of War to Emanuel Michael Pliarne,” IX, 162-163

4 NDAR, “Massachusetts Board of War to Emanuel Michael Pliarne,” IX, 181

5 NDAR, “Massachusetts Board of War to Captain Joseph Doble,” IX, 253-254

6 NDAR, “Massachusetts Board of War to Captain Joseph Doble,” IX, 733

7 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” X, 476 and note

8 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” X, 484 and note

9 NDAR, Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” X, 530

10 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 107 and note

11 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 212 and note

12 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 288 and note

13 NDAR, “Captain Thomas Mayhew to the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 325 and 326 note

14  NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 369 and 370 note

15 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 376-377 and 377 notes

16 NDAR, “ Massachusetts Board of War to Captain Luther Turner,” XI, 385 and notes

17 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 395 and notes

18 NDAR, “Massachusetts Board of War to Morris, Pliarne, Penet & Co.,” XI, 426 and notes

19 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 434-435 and 435 notes

20 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 457 and notes

21 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 529 and note

22 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 586 and notes

23 NDAR, “Minutes of the Massachusetts Board of War,” XI, 801 and note

24 NDAR, “George Williams to Colonel Timothy Pickering,” XI, 757-758 and 758 note