Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution


"Set forth in a warlike Manner and by Force of Arms, to attack, seize, and take the Ships and other Vessels belonging to the inhabitants of Great Britain, or any of them, with their Tackle, Apparel, Furniture, and Ladings, on the High Seas, or between high-water and low-water Marks." Such were the instructions of the Continental Congress to the bonded privateers that bolstered the strength of the fledgling American Navy during the War of Independence. Lacking a maritime force comparable in size, strength or discipline to the Royal Navy, the American colonies were dependent on the skill and daring of the privateers in harassing English shipping and defending allied supply lines from France and abroad. Although the line between patriot and pirate was often blurred, it is unquestioned that privateers made a considerable contribution to the winning of American independence, and Gardner Allen's work (originally published in 1927) acknowledges that fact by providing a historical overview of Congressionally sanctioned privateering and a comprehensive list of privateers operating out of Massachusetts. The information for each vessel includes: name and class of the ship; commanding officer and owners of the ship; number of guns and crew onboard; date of issue of Congressional bond and names of persons bonded; monetary value of bond in both Continental and British currency; and witnesses to the bond. Some entries contain accounts of engagements with enemy vessels, ships and cargo seized, prisoners taken, crewman lost or captured, and vessels lost to the Royal Navy. Listings for each privateer are alphabetical by ship names and indexed with the names of commanders, crew, owners, bondsmen, and others. This work was originally published as Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, Volume 77.

Gardner Weld Allen

(1927, 1987), 2010, 5½x8½, paper, index, 400 pp.

ISBN: 9780788409653