Notley Rozier Young, early settler of the National Capitol area

September 24, 2014



Of such stern and uncompromising Catholic ancestry came Notley Rozier Young, a patriarchal figure in the early days of Washington city. Born on September 24, 1738, in Prince Georges County, Maryland, he was twice married; first to Eleanor, daughter of Ignatius Digges of Melrose, and second to Mary, daughter of Daniel Carroll of Upper Marlborough. By the first alliance he became the brother of Rev. Thomas Digges, S.J., who celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the first time within the boundaries of Washington city, and by the second, of most Rev. John Carroll, first Archbishop of Baltimore.


Portrait of Notley Young. Artist information unknown.

More than thirty years before Washington came from Mt. Vernon to confer with the proprietors along the Potomac, the manor house of Notley Young was a shelter and a refuge for the Catholics in the vicinity. It stood on the high river bank on what is now G Street, between Ninth and Tenth, southwest. This area is now known as L’Enfant Plaza and Benjamin Banneker Park. A commodious chapel led from the pillared portico overlooking the Potomac and occupied the entire western wing of the dwelling…

First Southwest Residence – Notley Young inherited much of South Washington just before the federal district of Washington was established. As an indication of his exceptional wealth, Young was the third largest slaveholder in Maryland. Young’s palatial brick residence boasted a commanding view of the Potomac River.


L’Enfant Plaza today. Once the home of Notley Rozier.


Benjamin Banneker Park. Photograph by Frank Hallam Day, 2013.

Notley Young and his fellow Catholic neighbors often congregated in a custom-made chapel adjoining his residence. Catholics were prohibited from worshiping in public churches before the American Revolution. A patriarchal figurehead in early Washington, Young supported much of the Catholic church’s development in the city bequeathing lands in Rock Creek, Georgetown, and Southeast Washington. Young’s grandson, Father Nicholas Young Jr., helped establish St. Dominic Catholic Church which remains in Southwest today.

Young died on March 23, 1802, in Washington and is now buried in Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church Cemetery in Forest Glen, Maryland. We find this account of his death, burial, and subsequent relocation of the body.

….Notley Young was buried with his kindred in the stately mausoleum on the river bank. When the growing city began to encroach not only on the homes of the living but of the dead, Robert Brent, the mayor, had all the remains reverently laid in the Carroll burial ground at St. John’s on Rock Creek. It is a reproach that the exact location of the grave of this Catholic founder of the National Capital is unknown. But the memory of such men as Notley Young survives without the aid of imposing mortuary marble…


  • CATHOLIC FOUNDERS OF THE CAPITOL, By Margaret B. Downing, 1917 in “CATHOLIC WORLD”, a monthly magazine vol CV page 732-743, Apr.-Sep., 1917
  • Notley Rozier Young at Find A Grave

Battle of Flamborough Head

September 23, 2014



The Battle of Flamborough Head was a naval battle that took place on September 23, 1779, in the North Sea off the coast of Yorkshire between an American Continental Navy squadron led by John Paul Jones and the two British escort vessels protecting a large merchant convoy. It became one of the most celebrated naval actions of the American War of Independence despite its relatively small size and considerable dispute over what had actually occurred.

During September 1779, the four remaining vessels from a seven-strong squadron which had departed from the anchorage at Groix off L’Orient in France on August 14, 1779, nominally under the command of American Continental Navy captain John Paul Jones, voyaged from a brief stop off Ireland, round the north of Scotland, and down the east coast of Britain, creating havoc wherever possible. Although sailing under the American flag, all vessels were loaned or donated by France, with French captains, except the Alliance, which had been built in Amesbury, Massachusetts specifically for the Continental Navy (but still had a French captain, who was disinclined to recognize Jones’s authority). The crews included Americans, French volunteers, British sailors previously captured by the Americans and offered the chance to get out of captivity, and many others seeking glory or loot.


Defence of Captn Pearson in his Majesty’s Ship Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough Arm’d Ship Captn Piercy, against Paul Jones’s Squadron, 23 Sept 1779, by Robert Dodd

On the evening of September 22, Jones in the Bon Homme Richard (an armed East India trading vessel he had reluctantly adapted for military use), accompanied by the little brigantine Vengeance, had been off Spurn Head, hoping to catch a few prizes emerging from the Humber estuary, but he decided to head northward during the hours of darkness, and rendezvous with his frigates Alliance and Pallas, which had parted company from him further up the coast. Shortly after midnight, two vessels were seen, so signal lanterns were set- to which the strangers did not give the response that would identify them as members of his squadron. Jones’s crew was called to quarters, but when daylight approached, about 5.30 am, and a checkered flag was hoisted on the mizzen mast, the mystery vessels finally identified themselves as the Alliance and Pallas.[1] Captain Cottineau of the Pallas (in full, Denis Nicolas Cottineau de Kerloguen) later reported that Captain Pierre Landais of the Alliance had advised a rapid retreat if the approaching warship proved to be British- not a reassuring suggestion, given that his frigate, which had been acclaimed as the best warship yet made in America, was by a fair margin the faster and more maneuverable of the two.[2] [3]

Early in the afternoon, the reunited squadron sighted a brig in Bridlington Bay, so at about 3.30 pm a small schooner- captured just the previous day- was sent with a 15-man boarding party. There is a discrepancy at this point between Jones’s official report and Bon Homme Richard’s log, but the reason for sending the schooner may have been, not because the brig was in very shallow water, but because the main squadron was on its way to investigate a sighting of a ship further north, near Flamborough Head. Shortly after the schooner was dispatched, Alliance, which had been somewhat ahead of the others, hoisted a signal and set off at speed. At least two large vessels had been sighted in the distance, so the schooner was immediately recalled by firing a signal gun, and the entire squadron headed towards the potentially rich prizes.[1]

On September 15, 1779, a convoy of over 50 ships which had been trading with ports in the Baltic had set sail from a rendezvous off the Norwegian coast at the mouth of the Skagerrak channel, to cross the North Sea. Various ships left before Britain came in sight, heading for northern ports such as Leith and the River Tyne,[4] but when the Yorkshire coast was sighted early on September 23, just over 40 remained, mostly carrying timber (often in the form of planks and masts for ships) or iron, bound for ports all round the southern half of the British Isles, from Hull round to Bristol, and Waterford in Ireland.[5] Although the Baltic convoy received a warning from Scarborough that an enemy squadron was in the vicinity, some ships ignored the signals (by both flags and guns) from the 44-gun escort ship H.M.S. Serapis to stay close for protection. Early in the afternoon, as they approached Flamborough Head, the lookouts of the foremost ships saw the danger in Bridlington Bay for themselves. Hastily tacking, they attempted to run for the safety of Scarborough. Serapis put on all sail to get between the fleeing merchant vessels and the probable Americans, while the smaller Countess of Scarborough (a hired armed vessel built by private subscription and hired to the Admiralty for escort duty) shepherded the convoy. About 4 pm, with the whole convoy to his north, and the squadron of strangers clearly in sight to the south, Captain Richard Pearson of the Serapis signaled the Countess to join him. As the squadron caught up, the Royal Navy vessels made sure to position themselves so that the presumed enemy could not easily sail round them to reach the slower merchant ships.[6]

As the situation became clear, Alliance gradually slowed down, allowing the rest of Jones’s squadron to catch up (except for the little schooner carrying the boarding party, which simply could not sail fast enough). About 6 pm, Commodore Jones ordered Pallas to ride directly in his wake, to confuse the opposition about the squadron’s strength, and half an hour later he hoisted signals ordering all vessels to form a single-file line of battle, to make best use of their broadsides as they passed the two British ships. Captain Landais, who unlike Jones had a great deal of formal training in naval leadership and tactics (and was aware of the latest French battle plans, used with considerable success against the Royal Navy at this time) decided to try a different plan. He used Alliance’s superior handling to sail off to one side, against the wind.[7] In order to prevent him from sailing right past and chasing the convoy, Captain Thomas Piercy of the Countess of Scarborough had to do the same, leaving Serapis alone against the remaining three American ships. Finally, a little after 7 pm, the Bon Homme Richard was within pistol-shot of the battle-ready Serapis. In the gathering dark, Pearson then hailed the potentially hostile ship to ask some pertinent questions- its name, its nationality etc. The answer was a few evasive remarks, followed by a shot (as he recalled it, but possibly a broadside) which Serapis answered with a broadside.[6] A minute or two later, as soon as he was within range,[2] Landais fired his own broadside at the Countess of Scarborough (theoretically just over 200 pounds of shot from 18 guns).[1] Piercy soon replied[8] (his maximum broadside being about 60 lb from 10 guns).

While Commodore Jones and Captain Landais were fighting their unexpectedly separate battles, Captains Cottineau of the Pallas and Ricot of Vengeance were left wondering what to do. In a well-organized formation, they might have been able to make a contribution, but to intervene in ship-to-ship duels would be very dangerous. In theory, they could have taken advantage of the confusion to sail off after the stragglers of the convoy, but night had now fallen, and until the moon rose they would not be able to see their prey; also it quickly became clear that Bon Homme Richard would need help. Therefore, they waited until they could be useful. About this time, the little schooner caught up with them, but there was no way to transfer the potentially very useful boarding team to Bon Homme Richard or Alliance.[7]

Commodore Jones, accepting that if he could not use the 18-pounders he could not win a gun-fight, quickly adopted a policy of trying to grapple and board his opponent. Pearson’s crew spotted the change, and adapted rapidly, using the superior maneuverability of Serapis to keep out of reach, while continuing to bombard the slower ship. On one occasion though, according to the later recollection of First Lieutenant Richard Dale, the Bon Homme Richard’s bow ran into Serapis’ stern and, with neither side able to take advantage of the situation, Captain Pearson cheekily asked the punning question, “Has your ship struck?”. Dale reports Jones’s reply as, very simply, “I have not yet begun to fight!”[9]

Meanwhile, after two or three broadsides exchanged with Alliance, less than 20 minutes after the first shot, Captain Piercy was astonished to see his opponent (with just one of the little 6 pounds shots from the Countess stuck in its tough timberwork) move away to rejoin Pallas, which was still waiting for an opportunity to be useful; Landais later claimed that his opponent had sailed away under cover of smoke.[3] Piercy, his ship relatively unharmed, and out of range of any of the four Americans, headed straight for the main battle, to see if he could help Serapis, but Jones’s close-quarters policy meant that to intervene now would be madness; quite possibly, shots fired by the Countess at the Richard would hit Serapis, or worse still, massive 18 pounds shots from Serapis could accidentally hit the Countess. Instead, Piercy simply gave the impression that he was going to intervene, trying to attract the attention of Alliance and Pallas. Cottineau saw the potential danger (or responded to a request by Landais[3]) and quickly steered towards the Countess, so Piercy slowly retreated, sailing with the wind.[8]

Shortly afterwards, John Paul Jones got the opportunity he had been striving for- not a moment too soon, as his ship had been holed below the waterline, and was becoming increasingly unresponsive. Serapis’ jib-boom caught in the rigging of Bon Homme Richard’s mizzen mast, and Jones immediately led his crew in attaching the two ships together as strongly as they could. Seeing the danger, Pearson dropped anchor- because both ships were under sail, when Serapis came to an abrupt halt, Richard would keep going, and with luck tear free. Jones’s men had been very efficient, so what actually happened was that the Richard’s motion was turned into rotation, and the two ships, still firmly attached, ended up side-by-side, facing in opposite directions, their great guns touching each other’s hull planks. Better still for Jones, Serapis’ spare anchor caught in the woodwork of the Richard’s stern, locking the two ships in that extraordinary position. Making a virtue of necessity, Pearson’s crew fired broadsides straight into the Richard’s hull, tearing huge holes in its side, and doing terrible damage to the gun-decks.[6] For Jones’s boarding plan to succeed, he needed to drive all the Royal Navy sailors from Serapis’ deck before his ship was destroyed beneath him. He had prepared well for such an eventuality, and his men at stations up the masts were equipped both with small guns and with incendiary grenades. Three 9-pound guns on the quarter-deck (the rear part of the upper deck) were still usable, although one was on the wrong side, and had to be dragged round. Two of these guns were loaded with anti-personnel grapeshot to help drive Pearson’s men from the deck, but the third was used with solid bar-shot (see Naval Artillery page) aimed at Serapis’ main-mast.[7]

By this time, towards 8.30 pm, the moon had risen. Moving slowly downwind away from the anchored ships, Pallas and Countess of Scarborough began a second battle of broadsides[8] (which for Pallas meant 16 guns firing just over 130 pounds (59 kg) of shot together). Hovering in the background, still, were Vengeance and the schooner, with the boarding party which John Paul Jones really needed. Captain Landais, of the Alliance, after observing for a time, formed another plan, and set off after Pallas. On the way, Alliance passed the two locked ships, still anchored, still firing broadsides at each other. As the direction of shots was now predictable, Captain Landais could safely approach within firing range of Serapis, from the right direction- bow or stern rather than flank. This he did, firing a broadside including round-shot, bar-shot and grapeshot at Serapis’ bow. Right next to that bow, still, was Bon Homme Richard’s stern. As much lethal shot hit Jones’s men as Pearson’s, and metal also flew along Richard’s gun-deck, killing some of the remaining gunners and wrecking several gun-carriages. His good deed done, Landais continued on his way.[7]

After that, Bon Homme Richard started definitively losing the battle against Serapis. Still, efforts to make the situation too hot for the British, both figuratively and literally, continued, and just after 9.30 pm, one of these attempts succeeded in spectacular fashion. According to Jones’s published campaign report, grenade-thrower William Hamilton ventured right out along a yard-arm until he could look almost straight down on the deck of Serapis (by this time, almost cleared of men), and began trying to drop grenades, not onto the deck but down the hatches. By good fortune, one of these ignited a charge of gunpowder placed in readiness (contrary to standard fire safety practice, but Captain Pearson had encouraged his men to “fire briskly”) for loading into one of Serapis’ 18-pound guns.[10] The problem with this version of the story is that the 18-pounders were on the lower deck, so it would be a very lucky drop to reach them from high above. Captain Pearson speculated that either a grenade had been thrown through a hole in the hull, from Richard’s gun deck, or that the charge had been ignited by accident.[6] Whatever the cause, the effect was devastating: as the ignited charge blew up, it scattered burning gunpowder, setting off other charges nearby, and ultimately the chain-reaction covered the entire rear half of Serapis’ lower gun-deck, killing or severely burning many of the gunnery crewmen, forcing some to leap into the sea to extinguish their burning clothes, and putting five guns out of action. In the confusion, some of the crew clambering back on board after jumping into the sea were nearly mistaken for American boarders.[11]

Still in action, still moving with the wind away from the main fight, were Pallas and the Countess of Scarborough. Alliance was catching up fast, though, and as the near-undamaged, speedy, well-armed frigate approached, Captain Piercy understood that with seven of his own guns dismounted, four of his crew dead, twenty wounded, his rigging and sails too badly damaged to make a speedy getaway, he could neither win nor escape. With Landais hovering just beyond the range of his guns, he therefore struck his colors.[8] Alliance approached him, seeking to take the Captain’s formal surrender, but after brief exchanges with both Piercy and Cottineau, Captain Landais accepted that his colleague should take the surrender and attend to casualties, while Alliance returned to the main battle.[2] Because the return journey would be against the wind, this would, as Captain Piercy presumably intended, take a while.

The absence of any other combatants had bought Serapis a considerable amount of time. Bon Homme Richard’s gun decks were now so badly damaged that most of the British shots were passing straight through without touching anything, and the great guns were almost completely silenced. There were almost as many fires to be extinguished as there were aboard Serapis, but on the other hand, the hold was filling with water because one of the pumps was in ruins. Commodore Jones was exhausted, and apparently slumped on the chicken-coop for a brief rest. Somehow (according to his later memoirs) a rumor went around that he was dead or dying, and his gunner and carpenter, both wounded, hastily consulted with the master-at-arms. Together they decided, a little before 10 pm, to surrender by striking the ship’s colors- but the flag had already been shot away, so their only option was to shout. Captain Pearson shouted back, asking whether the Americans had really struck their colors. Possibly his Lieutenant of Marines relayed this message; certainly, Jones’s reply was firmly negative.[7] Jones himself recalled shouting something along the lines of “I have not yet thought of it, but I am determined to make you strike,” at which point, presumably, the surrendering officers realized he was still very much alive and returned to their duties.[10] A much more dramatic version appeared in newspapers within days of the event, allegedly based on the testimony of an ex-crewman who thought he heard something like “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike”, and witnessed the Captain using his pistols to shoot the three officers who were attempting to surrender[12] (but another version of the story also circulated, with the chicken-coop but without the shootings, which fits better with Jones’s memory). In all the noise, Pearson could not actually hear the reply to his question, so he decided to send a boarding team. At this point, once again, Jones’s preparation paid off. The boarders were met by a previously hidden defensive force, which swiftly drove them back to Serapis.[6] By this time, the attempts to bring down Serapis’ main mast had also borne some fruit; ironically, the only reason why it had not fallen down was because it was leaning on the Richard’s rigging. And then, perhaps about 10.15 pm, Alliance returned, and Landais delivered another of his helpful broadsides. Jones’s men yelled at him to stop, and the Commodore attempted to send orders for Alliance to help with a boarding operation. The moon was full, brightly illuminating the distinctive yellow livery of the Serapis; the Richard was clearly showing agreed lantern signals, but Landais stuck to his plan,[2] sailing round the “safe” sides of the locked ships to fire broadsides aimed, in his theory, at both bow and stern of Serapis. In reality, Bon Homme Richard, yet again, was holed below the water-line, and started settling so rapidly that the master-at-arms took it upon himself to release the hundred or so prisoners from previous captures, who had been held on the lower decks. As they had not been put in manacles, they were completely free, and could potentially have helped Serapis’ crew to overrun the American ship. Jones reacted quickly to the new crisis, successfully urging the prisoners to put all their efforts into working the three remaining pumps, to save their own lives.[7]

Captain Pearson of Serapis had only limited knowledge of the escalating chaos aboard the Richard. He too was losing many men from Alliance’s attacks, and he could not move his ship, so Alliance, still effectively undamaged, could keep firing at will. On the other hand, nearly every ship in the convoy he had been sent to protect had reached safety before the battle even began. Following the second of Alliance’s new round of broadsides, like Piercy before him, he decided that he could achieve nothing more by continuing to fight. Not long after 10.30 pm, he called for quarter[6] and struck his colors in person. Thus the Americans finally got the chance to board the Serapis, but this did not go quite as well as it should; three shots were fired by British sailors who had not got the message, and Midshipman John Mayrant, following First Lieutenant Dale aboard, got a pike stuck through his leg.[13] Pearson’s First Lieutenant was among those reluctant to believe that his captain had surrendered, and Dale made sure that he stayed with Pearson rather than leaving him to his own devices.[9] A short time later, as Captain Pearson was boarding Bon Homme Richard to hand over his ceremonial sword, the main-mast of Serapis finally fell overboard, perhaps as a result of work to separate the two ships, dragging the damaged mizzen-top-mast with it. As Bon Homme Richard got under way, Dale attempted to follow in Serapis, and learned two important facts in quick succession. First, Serapis would not move, and second, he had a very large splinter in his leg, which now caused him to fall over. The first problem was rectified by cutting the anchor cable, the second by returning Dale to the Richard for treatment.[9] Boats from both Serapis and Alliance were used to begin the evacuation of Richard’s crew- one or two of these boats went missing during the night, as ex-captive British crewmen took the opportunity to go home (hence the eyewitness newspaper stories).[14] The combatants, although they probably cared little, had been observed by thousands of onlookers, for on that clear night, with a near-full moon, the action could be seen from a long stretch of the high Yorkshire coastline, Scarborough in the north to Flamborough Head itself in the south.

There is no record of final casualty figures aboard the two main combatants. Captain Pearson, in a postscript to his battle report, stated that there were “many more than” 49 dead and 68 wounded aboard Serapis, but his figure of 300 casualties aboard Bon Homme Richard seems very high, unless it includes a great many of the captives stuck below decks during the battle. British press reports claimed 70 deaths on the Richard, which, assuming a similar ratio to the Serapis figures would give around 100 wounded.

Overnight, pumping continued in the Bon Homme Richard, and repairs began (also, the powder was removed from the magazine, which was threatened by the continued shouldering of the ship’s woodwork). With the water still getting deeper, the guns from the lower decks were reluctantly heaved overboard- not a very difficult task, as much of the hull was missing. The dead went the same way, though with rather more dignity. At 2 pm the next day, with the carpenter insisting that the ship could not be saved, Commodore Jones took the ex-Captain and Lieutenant of Serapis to safety, but returned early in the evening to check on progress. Finding that the water was still rising, he ordered the wounded, who ideally should not have been moved, to be transferred to other vessels (Richard Pearson was not aware of this nocturnal operation, and wrote in his official report that Jones had left the wounded aboard). At 10 pm, those who had been brought in from other ships to man the pumps were ordered to leave, and during the rest of the night the most important items aboard were removed; these did not include personal possessions, not even most of Jones’s. The flotilla was slowly moving east-south-east away from the coast all this time,[15] and was not seen from land again after night fell (as Flamborough Head is about 400 feet high, ships’ sails would be visible on a clear day up to 30 miles away). At 4 am the next day, September 25, pumping was abandoned, with the water almost up to the lower deck. The wind was getting stronger, so all personnel abandoned ship at 10 am, and just before 11, as a boat approached from the Commodore’s new command ship, Serapis, to try to salvage a few more items, Bon Homme Richard started to disappear beneath the waves.[1]

Several Royal Navy ships were on their way, but once again French obstinacy had a semi-beneficial effect. Jones wished to take his prizes to Dunkirk, but the French captains insisted on following the original orders from their government masters to head for the island of Texel, in the neutral United Provinces (the Netherlands). They arrived safely on 3 October, while the British ships searched for them in all the wrong places, having ignored a correct preliminary estimate by observers in Yorkshire. Jones immediately wrote a report to his own government master, Benjamin Franklin, one notable feature of which was, inevitably, the conduct of Captain Landais. Furious though he was, he wrote “I forbear to take any steps With him until I have the advice and approbation of your Excellency”. Captain Cottineau, on the other hand, placed himself under no such obligation, and called Landais a coward to his face. Landais challenged him to a duel during which Landais ran his sword through Cottineau’s chest, just missing the heart. Landais’ later history is in the Alliance article.

While the ships were being repaired, Jones had to deal with the consequences of landing in a neutral port with prizes of war. He turned on the charm for diplomatic negotiations at The Hague and networking in Amsterdam, where he was the toast of society, known as “The Terror of the English”. On October 8, the British Ambassador, Sir Joseph Yorke, wrote to the rulers of the United Provinces, claiming that under international law, Jones, not being accredited by a recognized state, was a rebel and a pirate; therefore, the two captured ships should be detained for handing back to their rightful owners. Yorke also asked that the wounded from the two ships should be taken ashore and treated at British Government expense. That request was agreed to immediately, but it was over a fortnight later, during which repair work proceeded without any hindrance, when the Dutch replied that their neutrality meant they could not judge the legality of actions between foreigners on the open sea- but that that would also apply to any attempt made by the British to retake their ships once they left port. Furthermore, Jones’s squadron was obliged to leave the Texel “as soon as possible”, and could not be supplied with arms or ammunition except “what are absolutely necessary to carry them safe to the first foreign port they can come at”. Yorke replied by quoting treaties, returning to the “pirate” theme, and pointing out that under Dutch law, commanders of foreign naval forces were obliged to present authorization from their governments when docking in Dutch ports. As the United Provinces did not officially recognize the government of the United States, that was a very tricky legal point, which the Dutch took quite a while to consider. To get round the problem, Pallas and Vengeance were declared officially French, and Captain Cottineau became Commodore of a French squadron, his flagship the captured Serapis. With Landais barred from command until the case against him could be heard, Jones became Captain of the avowedly American Alliance, not associated in any way with the newly-French squadron. Several Royal Navy ships were waiting just off the coast for the day he was obliged to leave- the Dutch authorities making a great show of trying to eject him- but as winter storms made it more and more difficult for them to keep station, John Paul Jones (after recruiting another American commander, Gustavus Conyngham, who had escaped from British captivity) slipped away among a group of Dutch ships on 27 December, and sailed to France.[16][17]

ack in England, something rather unexpected was happening. On the one hand, the overall effects of Jones’s cruise, and the activities of other raiders such as the privateer duo of Black Prince and Black Princess were reported with a sort of resentful admiration. On the other hand, although Pearson and Piercy had lost the battle, they were the only Royal Navy captains who had actually managed to engage with Jones’s squadron at all, and they had sunk his flagship- their official reports appeared in British newspapers in mid-October, forcing the Americans to leak Jones’s (some of which he definitely had not intended for publication[18]). Most importantly, they had fully achieved their mission purpose, which was to protect the convoy. When they returned home, about the beginning of November, they were honored by the towns of Kingston upon Hull and Scarborough, and were rewarded by both the Russia Company, principal owner of vessels in the convoy, and the Royal Exchange Assurance Company. Pearson even gained a knighthood. In 1780, to honor him for his actions in protecting the convoy, Pearson was presented with three Coconut Cups mounted in silver by Wakelin & Taylor. In 1782 the Royal Navy took the unusual step of naming a new ship Serapis- an acknowledgement rarely given to a vessel which lost a battle.[19]


  1. Log of the Bon Homme Richard, 1779, John Paul Jones Cottage Museum
  2. Officers of the American Squadron: Affidavit, 30 October 1779,
  3. Landais, Pierre, Point-by-point response to officers’ affidavit, November? 1779,
  4. Pearson, Richard, Letter from HMS Serapis, Scarborough, 23 September 1779,
  5. Reaveley, Peter, Ships in the Baltic Convoy, 23 September 1779 (MSWord),
  6. Pearson, Richard, Report (from captivity at Texel) 6 October 1779,
  7. Jones, John Paul, Report to Benjamin Franklin, 3 October 1779, John Paul Jones Cottage Museum
  8. Piercy, Thomas, Report (from captivity at Texel), 4 October 1779,
  9. Dale, Richard (1825), reminiscences in “Life and Character of the Chevalier John Paul Jones” by John H. Sherburne,
  10. Jones, John Paul (1785), Extracts from the Journals of My Campaigns (MSWord), John Paul Jones Cottage Museum
  11. Reaveley, Peter, transcript of British Admiralty Court Martial re battle, 10 March 1780,
  12. news item in the York Courant, 12 October 1779,
  13. pension entitlement proceedings re John Mayrant, 1832,
  14. news items in the York Courant, 28 September 1779,
  15. contemporary reports found by Peter Reaveley, used in search for wreck, Clive Cussler / Model Ship Builder
  16. transcripts of contemporary British newspaper reports,
  17. The Logs of the Serapis–Alliance–Ariel, Under the Command of John Paul Jones, Naval History Society / Internet Archive
  18. Letter from Jones to editor of the Gazette de Leyde, 11 November 1779, U.S. Naval Academy: Nimitz Library
  19. online summaries of Pearson & Piercy’s later lives,

Captain Nathan Hale is hanged …one life to lose

September 22, 2014



Nathan Hale was a soldier for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission in New York City but was captured by the British. He is probably best remembered for his purported last words before being hanged: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Hale has long been considered an American hero and, in 1985, he was officially designated the state hero of Connecticut.


Nathan Hale, City Hall Park, New York

Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut on June 6, 1755. In 1768, when he was thirteen years old, he was sent with his brother Enoch to Yale College. Nathan was a classmate of fellow patriot spy Benjamin Tallmadge. The Hale brothers belonged to the Yale literary fraternity, Linonia, which debated topics in astronomy, mathematics, literature, and the ethics of slavery. Graduating with first-class honors in 1773, Nathan became a teacher, first in East Haddam and later in New London. After the Revolutionary War began in 1775, he joined a Connecticut militia and was elected first lieutenant. When his militia unit participated in the Siege of Boston, Hale remained behind, but, on July 6, 1775, he joined the regular Continental Army’s 7th Connecticut Regiment under Colonel Charles Webb of Stamford. He was promoted to captain and in March 1776, commanded a small unit of Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton’s rangers defending New York City. They managed to rescue a ship full of provisions from the guard of a British man-of-war.

During the Battle of Long Island, which led to British victory and the capture of New York City via a flanking move from Staten Island across Long Island, Hale volunteered on September 8, 1776, to go behind enemy lines and report on British troop movements. He was ferried across on September 12. It was an act of spying that was immediately punishable by death and posed a great risk to Hale.

During his mission, New York City (then the area at the southern tip of Manhattan around Wall Street) fell to British forces on September 15 and Washington was forced to retreat to the island’s northern tip in Harlem Heights (what is now Morningside Heights). On September 21, a quarter of the lower portion of Manhattan burned in the Great New York Fire of 1776. The fire was later widely thought to have been started by American saboteurs to keep the city from falling into British hands, though Washington and Congress had already denied this idea. It has also been speculated that the fire was the work of British soldiers acting without orders, intending to punish and/or intimidate any remaining Patriots in the city — with unintended consequences, however. In the fire’s aftermath, more than 200 American partisans were rounded up by the British.


Nathan Hale statue by Bela Lyon Pratt at Fort Nathan Hale

An account of Nathan Hale’s capture was written by Consider Tiffany, a Connecticut shopkeeper and Loyalist, and obtained by the Library of Congress. In Tiffany’s account, Major Robert Rogers of the Queen’s Rangers saw Hale in a tavern and recognized him despite his disguise. After luring Hale into betraying himself by pretending to be a patriot himself, Rogers and his Rangers apprehended Hale near Flushing Bay, in Queens, New York. Another story was that his Loyalist cousin, Samuel Hale, was the one who revealed his true identity.

British General William Howe had established his headquarters in the Beekman House in a rural part of Manhattan, on a rise between 50th and 51st Streets between First and Second Avenues Hale reportedly was questioned by Howe, and physical evidence was found on him. Rogers provided information about the case. According to tradition, Hale spent the night in a greenhouse at the mansion. He requested a Bible; his request was denied. Sometime later, he requested a clergyman. Again, the request was denied.

According to the standards of the time, spies were hanged as illegal combatants. On the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale was marched along Post Road to the Park of Artillery, which was next to a public house called the Dove Tavern (at modern day 66th Street and Third Avenue), and hanged. He was 21 years old. Bill Richmond, a 13-year-old former slave and Loyalist who later became famous as an African American boxer in Europe, was reportedly one of the hangmen, “his responsibility being that of fastening the rope to a strong tree branch and securing the knot and noose.”

Nathan Hale scholar Mary Beth Baker has argued that some of Hale’s posthumous fame arose from a desire by alumni of Yale to claim a Revolutionary War hero, in addition to Yale president Naphtali Daggett, John Trumbull, and others.

By all accounts, Hale comported himself eloquently before the hanging. Over the years, there has been some speculation as to whether he specifically uttered the famous line:

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

But may be a revision of:

I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.

The story of Hale’s famous quote began with John Montresor, a British soldier who witnessed the hanging. Soon after the execution, Montresor spoke with the American officer William Hull about Hale’s death. Later, it was Hull who widely publicized Hale’s use of the phrase. Because Hull was not an eyewitness to Hale’s speech, some historians have questioned the reliability of the account.

If Hale did not give the famous quote, it is possible he instead repeated a passage from Joseph Addison’s play, Cato, an ideological inspiration to many Whigs:

How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!

Who would not be that youth? What pity is it

That we can die but once to serve our country.

No official records were kept of Hale’s speech. However, Frederick MacKensie, a British officer, wrote this diary entry for the day:

He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.


Nathan Hale as depicted in bronze (1890) by Frederick William MacMonnies at the Brooklyn Museum

It is almost certain that Nathan Hale’s last speech contained more than one sentence. Several early accounts mention different things he said. These are not necessarily contradictory, but rather, together they give us an idea of what the speech must have been like. (The following quotes are all taken from George Dudley Seymour’s book, Documentary Life of Nathan Hale, published in 1941 by the author.)

From the diary of Enoch Hale, Nathan’s brother, after he went to question people who had been present, October 26, 1776: “When at the Gallows he spoke & told them that he was a Capt in the Cont Army by name Nathan Hale.”

From the Essex Journal, February 13, 1777: “However, at the gallows, he made a sensible and spirited speech; among other things, told them they were shedding the blood of the innocent, and that if he had ten thousand lives, he would lay them all down, if called to it, in defence of his injured, bleeding Country.”

From the Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser, May 17, 1781: “I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged, that my only regret is, that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.”

From the memoirs of Captain William Hull, quoting British Captain John Montresor, who was present and who spoke to Hull under a flag of truce the next day: “‘On the morning of his execution,’ continued the officer, ‘my station was near the fatal spot, and I requested the Provost Marshal [the infamous William Cunningham] to permit the prisoner to sit in my marquee, while he was making the necessary preparations. Captain Hale entered: he was calm, and bore himself with gentle dignity, in the consciousness of rectitude and high intentions. He asked for writing materials, which I furnished him: he wrote two letters, one to his mother and one to a brother officer.’ He was shortly after summoned to the gallows. But a few persons were around him, yet his characteristic dying words were remembered. He said, ‘I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.'”

Two early ballads also attempt to recreate Hale’s last speech. They are probably more imaginative than accurate, but are included here for completeness:

From Songs and Ballads of the Revolution, collected by F. Moore (1855), “Ballad of Nathan Hale” (anonymous), dated 1776: “‘Thou pale king of terrors, thou life’s gloomy foe, Go frighten the slave; go frighten the slave; Tell tyrants, to you their allegiance they owe. No fears for the brave; no fears for the brave.'”

From “To the Memory of Capt. Nathan Hale” by Eneas Munson, Sr. written “soon after” Hale’s death:

Hate of oppression’s arbitrary plan, The love of freedom, and the rights of man; A strong desire to save from slavery’s chain The future millions of the western main, And hand down safe, from men’s invention cleared, The sacred truths which all the just revered; For ends like these, I wish to draw my breath,’ He bravely cried, ‘or dare encounter death.’ And when a cruel wretch pronounced his doom, Replied, ‘Tis well, —for all is peace to come; The sacred cause for which I drew my sword Shall yet prevail, and peace shall be restored. I’ve served with zeal the land that gave me birth, Fulfilled my course, and done my work on earth; Have ever aimed to tread that shining road That leads a mortal to the blessed God. I die resigned, and quit life’s empty stage, For brighter worlds my every wish engage; And while my body slumbers in the dust, My soul shall join the assemblies of the just.

Munson had tutored Hale before college, and knew him and his family well, so even though the particulars of this speech may be unlikely, Munson knew firsthand what Hale’s opinions were.


  • H. W. Crocker III (2006). Don’t Tread on Me. New York: Crown Forum. ISBN 978-1-4000-5363-6
  • Charles Haynes Haswell (1896). Reminiscences of New York by an octogenarian (1816 to 1860). Harper
  • Jacob K. Neff (1845). The Army and Navy of America: containing a view of the heroic adventures, battles, naval engagements, remarkable incidents, and glorious achievements in the cause of freedom, from the period of the French and Indian Wars to the close of the Florida War : independent of an account of warlike operations on land and sea: enlivened by a variety of the most interesting anecdotes, and splendidly embellished with numerous engravings. John S. Gable.
  • George D. Seymour (May 2006). Documentary Life of Nathan Hale: Comprising All Available Official and Private Documents Bearing on the Life of the Patriot. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4286-0043-0

Battle of Wahab’s Plantation

September 21, 2014



The Battle of Wahab’s Plantation was a surprise attack on a Loyalist camp, which included elements of the British Legion commanded by Banastre Tarleton (although at the time of the battle Tarleton had yellow fever and was not in command), by Patriot militia under the command of William R. Davie on September 21, 1780. The owner of the plantation was militia Captain James A. Walkup who served as a guide for Davie prior to the attack. Confusion has arisen over the spelling of the name Wahab as there are many spellings of the surname including, Walkup/Wahab/Wauchope/Waughup. The Loyalists were camped on the west side of the Catawba River while General Charles Cornwallis’ army had camped on the east side. Davie opportunistically decided to attack the Loyalist camp, and succeeded in driving them back in complete surprise and with heavy casualties. He retreated before the British regulars arrived. The latter, in revenge for the attack, burned down Captain Walkup’s house.

Pursuant to the British “southern strategy” for winning the American Revolution, British forces had captured Charleston, South Carolina early in 1780, and had driven Continental Army forces from South Carolina. Following his successful routing of a second Continental Army at Camden in August 1780, British General Lord Cornwallis paused with his army in the Waxhaws region of northern South Carolina. Believing British and Loyalist forces to be in control of Georgia and South Carolina, he decided to turn north and address the threat posed by the Continental Army remnants in North Carolina. In mid-September he began moving north toward Charlotte, North Carolina.

Cornwallis’ movements were shadowed by companies of North Carolina militia. One force under Thomas Sumter stayed back and harassed British and Loyalist outposts in the South Carolina backcountry, while another, under Major Davie, maintained fairly close contact with portions of his force as it moved northward.[1] When he learned that companies of Loyalist dragoons and British light infantry were encamped to the rear of Cornwallis’ army, he decided to attempt a surprise attack on one of those camps.


William Davie, portrait by Gilles Louis Chretien

Riding off on the evening of September 20, he located the Loyalist camp at Wahab’s Plantation, not far from the light infantry camp. Sending William Davidson and a company of men through a cornfield to take the plantation house, he began moving up the lane toward the camp. The surprise was practically complete, and the Loyalists took flight, leaving 15 dead and 40 wounded.

Davie did not linger at the Loyalist camp, as the infantry had taken notice and were beating to arms. He took away 96 horses and 120 muskets, and retreated to the north.[2] Davie again made contact with British forces a few days later when they entered Charlotte, North Carolina.


  1. Pancake (1985), p. 116
  2. Lee, p. 195
  • Memoirs of Henry Lee
  • Pancake, John (1985), This Destructive War, University of Alabama Press, ISBN 0817301917
  • Robertson, John, “Wahab’s Plantation”, Global Gazetteer of the American Revolution

The Battle of Blue Licks

September 19, 2014



The Battle of Blue Licks, fought on August 19, 1782, was one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War. The battle occurred ten months after Lord Cornwallis’s famous surrender at Yorktown, which had effectively ended the war in the east. On a hill next to the Licking River in what is now Robertson County, Kentucky (but was then in Kentucky County, Virginia), a force of about 50 American and Canadian Loyalists along with 300 American Indians ambushed and routed 182 Kentucky militiamen. It was the worst defeat for the Kentuckians during the frontier war.


“Battle of Blue Licks” by George Gray

Although the main British army under Lord Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown in October 1781, virtually ending the war in the east, fighting on the western frontier continued. Aided by the British garrison at Fort Detroit, American Indians north of the Ohio River redoubled their efforts to drive the American settlers out of western Virginia (now Kentucky and West Virginia).

In July 1782, a meeting took place at the Shawnee villages near the headwaters of the Mad River in the Ohio Country, with Shawnees, Delawares, Mingos, Wyandots, Miamis, Ottawas, Ojibwas, and Potawatomis in attendance. As a result, 150 British rangers under Captain William Caldwell (of Butler’s Rangers) and some 1,100 Indian warriors supervised by Pennsylvania Loyalists Alexander McKee, Simon Girty, and Matthew Elliott, set out to attack Wheeling, on the upper Ohio River. This was one of the largest forces sent against American settlements during the war.

The expedition was called off, however, when scouts reported that George Rogers Clark, whom the Indians feared more than any other American commander, was about to invade the Ohio Country from Kentucky. Caldwell’s army returned to the Mad River to oppose the invasion, but the attack never came. In fact, Clark did have a large armed boat patrolling the Ohio River, but he had no plans to invade. Most of the Indian warriors returned to their homes.

Caldwell and about 50 Loyalists, supported by 300 Indians, crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky. They meant to surprise and destroy the settlement of Bryan Station, but the settlers discovered them and took shelter within their stockade. Caldwell and McKee’s force laid siege to Bryan Station on August 15, 1782, killing all of the settlers’ livestock and destroying their crops, but withdrew after two days when they learned that Kentucky militiamen were on the way. Caldwell had lost 5 Indians killed and 2 wounded during his short siege.[1]

The militia arrived at Bryan Station on August 18. The force included about 47 men from Fayette County and another 135 from Lincoln County. The highest-ranking officer, Colonel John Todd of Fayette County, was in overall command. Assisting him were two lieutenant colonels, Stephen Trigg of Lincoln County and Daniel Boone of Fayette County. Benjamin Logan, colonel of the Lincoln militia, was gathering men and had not yet arrived.


1820 oil painting by Chester Harding is the only portrait of Daniel Boone made from life. Boone, 85 years old and just months away from death, had to be steadied by a friend while the artist worked.[2]

The militiamen could either pursue the enemy immediately, to keep them from escaping, or they could more safely wait for Colonel Logan to arrive with reinforcements. Daniel Boone wanted to wait for Logan and his troops to arrive. Logan was only a day away, but Major Hugh McGary urged Boone to chase after the Indians. McGary convinced others that they would be cowards if they did not follow the Indians and Boone was forced to go after them.[3] The Kentuckians decided to pursue the enemy, who had a 40 mile lead on them. They set out on horseback over an old buffalo trail before making camp at sunset.

On the morning of August 19, the Kentuckians reached the Licking River, near a spring and salt lick known as the Lower Blue Licks. A few Indian scouts were seen watching them from across the river. Behind the scouts was a hill around which the river looped. Colonel Todd called a council and asked Daniel Boone, the most experienced woodsman, what he thought. Boone said he had been growing increasingly suspicious because of the obvious trail the Indians left. He felt the Indians were trying to lead them into an ambush.

Hugh McGary, eager to prove he was no coward, urged an immediate attack. When no one listened, he mounted his horse and rode across the ford. He yelled out, “Them that ain’t cowards, follow me.” The men immediately followed McGary, as did the officers, who hoped to restore order. Boone remarked, “We are all slaughtered men,” and crossed the river.

Most of the men dismounted and formed a line of battle several rows deep. They advanced up the hill, Todd and McGary in the center, Trigg on the right, Boone on the left. As Boone had suspected, Caldwell’s force was waiting on the other side, concealed in ravines. When the Kentuckians reached the summit, the Indians opened fire at close range with devastating accuracy. After only five minutes, the center and right of the Kentucky line fell back. Only Boone’s men on the left managed to push forward. Todd and Trigg, easy targets on horseback, were shot dead.

The Kentuckians began to flee down the hill, fighting hand-to-hand with other Indians who had flanked them. McGary rode up to Boone’s company and told him everyone was retreating and that Boone was now surrounded. Boone ordered his men to retreat. He grabbed a riderless horse and ordered his 23-year-old son, Israel Boone, to mount it. He then turned to look for a horse for himself. Israel suddenly fell to the ground, shot through the neck. Boone realized his son was dead, mounted the horse and joined in the retreat.

Although he had not taken part in the battle, George Rogers Clark, as senior militia officer, was widely condemned in Kentucky for allowing the British force to cross the river and inflict the Blue Licks disaster. In response, Clark launched a retaliatory raid across the Ohio River in November 1782. His force consisted of more than 1,000 men, including Benjamin Logan and Daniel Boone. The Kentuckians destroyed five unoccupied Shawnee villages on the Great Miami River in the last major offensive of the American Revolution. No battles took place, since the Shawnees refused to stand and fell back to their villages on the Mad River.

Four years later, the Indian villages on the Mad River would be destroyed by Benjamin Logan at the outset of the Northwest Indian War. Hugh McGary confronted the Shawnee chief Moluntha and asked if he had been at Blue Licks. In fact, the Shawnees had not taken part, the Indians being Wyandots. Moluntha nodded his head in agreement. McGary killed him with a tomahawk. Moluntha had voluntarily and peacefully surrendered, waving an American flag and a copy of the peace treaty he had signed earlier that year, in the belief that these would protect him. Colonel Logan immediately relieved McGary of his command and ordered him court-martialed for killing a prisoner. McGary was stripped of his commission for a year, but was otherwise unpunished.


Monument at the Blue Licks Battlefield State Park, photographed in 2006 during a memorial service marking the 224th anniversary of the battle.

The Blue Licks battle site is commemorated at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park, on U.S. Route 68 between Paris and Maysville, just outside the town of Blue Licks Springs. The site includes a granite obelisk, burial grounds, and a museum. Every August, on the weekend closest to the 19th, a re-enactment and memorial service is held.[4]


  1. Capt. Caldwell’s Report at The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies
  2. Faragher, Daniel Boone, 317
  3. “Outline of the Battle of Blue Licks,” Carlisle Mercury, August 17th 1882, University of Kentucky Special Collections, 51W8


  • Cotterill, R. S. (October 1927). “Battle of Upper Blue Licks”. Filson Club Historical Quarterly 2 (1)
  • Faragher, John Mack. Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer. New York: Holt, 1992. ISBN 0-8050-1603-1
  • Hammon, Neal O. Daniel Boone and the Defeat at Blue Licks. Minneapolis: The Boone Society, 2005. (Local history, no ISBN)
  • Lofaro, Michael A. Daniel Boone: An American Life. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2003. ISBN 0-8131-2278-3
  • Nelson, Larry L. A Man of Distinction among Them: Alexander McKee and the Ohio Country Frontier, 1754–1799. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-87338-620-5 (hardcover)
  • Rice, Otis K. Frontier Kentucky. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1975. ISBN 0-8131-0212-X
  • Sugden, John. Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8032-4288-3

Amos Singletary, Anti-Federalist congressman

September 16, 2014



Amos Singletary, son of John and Mary Grelee Singletary, was the first white person born on September 16, 1721 in what is now the town of Millbury. Amos was born on his father’s mill lot, which is a tact of land of 116 acres lying along the shores of Singletary Lake of 600 acres.

In the old County-Bridge, or Providence street, burial place, there is a slate grave stone erected to his memory, on which there is inscribed, “Amos Singletary, died 1806.” Mr. Singletary was an important person in the early history of Sutton. All the education that he received was acquired at home. For four years he was a member of the provincial Congress. His name appears frequently in transactions between the town of Sutton and the state government during the time of the Revolutionary War. He was justice of the peace and quorum, and a bail commissioner. He was the father of two boys and seven girls and his son, Amos, was father of twelve children.

Singletary and his wife were members of the First Congregational Church. In 1743 a meeting was held in Richard Singletary’s home to start the second Congregational Church in the north part of Sutton, which became Millbury, Massachusetts, in 1813. This church then became the First Church of Millbury.

Amos Singletary was a staunch Anti-Federalist and is most remembered for his participation in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention of 1788.

When Amos Singletary, the rough-hewn farmer from Worcester County, Massachusetts, rose before the state’s elected convention gathered in 1788 to decide on whether to ratify the Constitution, he spoke without benefit of any schooling. But standing behind the plow, he had developed a wealth of feelings and political instincts. Singletary may have appreciated that a written constitution was in itself a landmark event in the Western world, and he may have celebrated the fact that conventions of delegates elected by their constituents were charged with deciding on the wisdom of the document. These, after all, were breathtaking innovations in putting the power in the people–or, as was the case in Massachusetts, to give a say in political matters to about half the white adult males who qualified through property ownership.

But gnawing at Singletary’s innards was something born of his lifelong experience with the men of wealth in western Massachusetts. He, like most debt-ridden farmers tilling marginal lands in New England, had just left behind a wrenching, blood-filled civil insurrection born out of desperation. “These lawyers, and men of learning, and moneyed men, that talk so finely, and gloss over matters so smoothly, to make us poor illiterate people swallow down the pill,” he sputtered, “expect to get into congress themselves; they expect to be managers of the Constitution and get all the power and all the money into their own hands, and then they will swallow up all of us little folks, like the great Leviathan. Mr. President; yes just as the whale swallowed up Jonah. This is what I am afraid of.”

Gravestone of Amos Singletary in Millbury Cemetery


1. Centennial history of the town of Millbury, Massachusetts, p. 36

2. Biographical notes provided by David Dunham

3. Ordinary Americans and the Constitution, by Gary B. Nash, Professor Emeritus of History, UCLA

Major General David Cobb, Massachusetts statesman

September 14, 2014



David Cobb was a Massachusetts physician, military officer, jurist, and politician who served as a U.S. Congressman for the At-large District of Massachusetts.


Born in Attleboro, Massachusetts on September 14, 1748, Cobb graduated from Harvard College in 1766. He studied medicine in Boston and afterward practiced in Taunton, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in 1775; lieutenant colonel of Jackson’s regiment in 1777 and 1778, serving in Rhode Island and New Jersey; was aide-de-camp on the staff of General George Washington; appointed major general of militia in 1786 and rendered conspicuous service during Shays’ Rebellion.

  • Judge of the Bristol County Court of Common Pleas 1784-1796; member of the State house of representatives 1789-1793, and the Massachusetts Senate and served as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and President of the Massachusetts Senate.
  • Elected to the Third United States Congress (March 4, 1793 – March 3, 1795), replacing Elbridge Gerry.

Cobb moved to Gouldsboro in the district of Maine in 1796 and engaged in agricultural pursuits; elected to the Massachusetts Senate from the eastern district of Maine in 1802 and served as president; elected to the Massachusetts Governor’s Council in 1808; Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1809; member of the board of military defense in 1812; chief justice of the Hancock County (Maine) court of common pleas; returned in 1817 to Taunton, where he died on April 17, 1830. His remains were interred in Plain Cemetery.


In 1976, David Cobb was honored by being on a postage stamp for the United States Postal Service.


  1. Porter, Joseph Whitcomb (July,–August, 1888), Bangor Historical Magazine Vol. IV Memoir of Gen. David Cobb and family of Gouldsborough, Maine, and Taunton, Mass, Bangor, ME, p. 2
  2. Porter, Joseph Whitcomb (July,–August, 1888), Bangor Historical Magazine Vol. IV Memoir of Gen. David Cobb and family of Gouldsborough, Maine, and Taunton, Mass, Bangor, ME, p. 6
  3. The Daughters of Liberty (1904), Historical researches of Gouldsboro, Maine, Gouldsboro, ME: The Daughters of Liberty, p. 22
  4. Porter, Joseph Whitcomb (July,–August, 1888), Bangor Historical Magazine Vol. IV Memoir of Gen. David Cobb and family of Gouldsborough, Maine, and Taunton, Mass, Bangor, ME, pp. 6–7



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