Virginia Navy Schooner


Captain William Saunders


8 June 1776-[18 April 1777]

Virginia Navy Schooner

Commissioned/First Date:

8 June 1776

Out of Service/Cause:

[February] 1777/[sold out of service]



Date Reported:

Number/Caliber  Weight        Broadside







(1) First Lieutenant Richard Lightbourne, 17 June 1776-


(1) Hobb's Hole, Virginia to York, Virginia, 19 August 1776-20 September 1776

(2) York, Virginia to the West Indies, [dates unknown]




Virginia Navy Schooner Adventure was an ex-pilot boat taken up for use on the Rappahannock River as a patrol craft. She was apparently purchased from Sir John Peyton of Gloucester County.1 She was commissioned on 8 June 1776, when William Saunders was appointed as her master.2 Saunders had previously served as First Lieutenant on the Virginia Navy Galley Lewis (Captain Celey Saunders), from 1 April 1776.3 On 17 June Richard Lightbourne was appointed as Mate on the Adventure.4 Both Saunders and Lightbourne were issued commissions on 20 July 1776, as Captain and Lieutenant, respectively, by the Virginia Council of Safety.5

On 27 July Saunders drew £77.3.0 for his schooner's payroll from date of enlistment to 25 July.6 Adventure was at Hobb's Hole on 19 August 1776, when Saunders was ordered to cruise about the Virginia Capes to annoy the enemy, and then return to York to refit when the schooner was foul. The Virginia Navy Board also wished to inspect the schooner.7 Saunders evidently participated in Boucher’s fleet cruise, from 6-20 September 1776. Adventure was apparently fitting out at York by 20 September 1776, when Saunders drew a speaking trumpet, hour glass, and bunting from the storekeeper.8 He drew cordage and slops on 12 October 1776.9 The Council of Safety now had more interesting employment for the Adventure. On 29 November 1776, the Council ordered the Virginia Navy Board to send the schooner to either St. Eustatia or Martinique, consigned to the agents (Van Bibber; Harrison) there.10 A cargo of flour was procured and a cover letter written on 30 November.11

Nothing is known of this voyage, whether it took place or not, or what happened to the Adventure. Saunders was in Virginia on 18 April 1777, when he was ordered to take command of the galley Manley.12

1 Cross, A Navy for Virginia, 24

2 NDAR, “Minutes of the Virginia Committee of Safety,” V, 431

3 NDAR, “Minutes of the Virginia Committee of Safety,” IV, 621

4 NDAR, “Minutes of the Virginia Committee of Safety,” V, 593-594 and 594 note

5 NDAR, “Journal of the Virginia Council of Safety,” V, 1164

6 NDAR, “Journal of the Virginia Navy Board,” V, 1249

7 NDAR, “Virginia Navy Board to Captain William Saunders,” VI, 239

8 NDAR, “Journal of the Virginia Navy Board.” VI, 919-920

9 NDAR, “Journal of the Virginia Navy Board,” VI, 1242; “Virginia Navy Board to Captain Charles Thomas,” VI, 1242-1243

10 NDAR, “Journal of the Virginia Council of Safety,” VII, 328

11 NDAR, “Virginia Navy Board to Van Bibber & Harrison, St. Eustatius,” VII, 338

12 NDAR, “Virginia Navy Board to Captain William Saunders,” VIII, 369

Posted 21 September 2014 ©