J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Escaping Tories Captured at Sea

While the British army and navy sailed away from Boston on 17 Mar 1776, they didn’t go far at first. Capt. John Barker reported the long departure in his diary:

After remaining 2 or 3 days at King Road and blowing up the Castle, the fleet fell down the Harbour to Nantasket; the Centurion left at King Road, the Rebels brought Guns [and fire]d at her without effect. The Fleet preparing for Sea, taking in Water, &c.
A naval officer patrolling the area wrote on 23 March:
The bay swarms with American privateers, but we hope to protect the transports, which are daily expected from the West Indies, and to send them safe to Halifax.
Inevitably, some of the evacuating merchant ships became separated from the main fleet and vulnerable to those New England privateers. Boston businessman and court official Ezekiel Price, still at his refuge in Stoughton, recorded this news on 6 April:
Ed. Quincy…came from Boston, and says that Captain [John] Manley was in Boston, and told there that he had taken out of the fleet a brig laden with Tories and Tory goods, and other effects, which they plundered in Boston. Among the Tories is Bill Jackson.
According to the 8 April Boston Gazette, William Jackson was the new owner of the ship Manly had captured, a prize estimated to be worth £35,000 with the goods aboard. A brazier, or maker and seller of brass goods, Jackson had become notorious for defying the Whigs’ nonimportation boycott in 1769-70. He may have been unpopular even before then since the fire that destroyed the center of town in 1760 had started in his store, the sign of the Brazen Head. However, Jackson had not held appointments under the royal government, and therefore the new authorities couldn’t convict him of anything. After getting out of jail, he tried to settle back into life in Boston.

Three days later, Price added:
At noon, a traveller from below says that he heard Captain [Adino] Paddock and Captain [John] Gore were among the Tories taken in the transport brig by Captain Manley. Afterwards several other travellers from below passed; but they did not hear of Paddock or Gore being in that vessel, and no other of note but Bill Jackson and Crane Brush.

Yesterday the remains of Dr. [Joseph] Warren were re-interred in Boston with every mark of honor and respect that was possible to be exhibited.
Paddock and Gore, two militia officers who had sided with the king, indeed avoided capture. They landed safely at Halifax, then sailed on to London, where they roomed together. Paddock eventually settled on the Isle of Jersey while Gore came back to Boston in the late 1780s.

Also on board that ship, according to the Gazette, were “a number of others, women and children,...besides a Serjeant and 12 privates of the king’s own [4th] regiment, who are made prisoners.”

But the really big prize was Crean Brush, who had been appointed by Gen. Thomas Gage to take charge of goods that might be useful to the military. The Patriot authorities clapped him in Boston jail and kept him there over a year, even though they were unable to convict him for looting because he’d had government authority.

I’ll have more to say on Jackson and Brush’s ultimate fates. You can track the story of Dr. Warren’s remains here. The engraving of Capt. Manly above comes from the Surface Navy Association’s Hall of Fame.

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