Privateers and Sailors of the Revolution

The Rosters of privateers and enlisted sailors serving from the State of New York were the result of a four-year project carried out by the New York State Comptroller's Office from 1895-1898. As you read these reconstructed rosters you will observe peculiar spellings due to handwriting interpretation, literacy or the soldier or document condition; obvious counting of the same man twice; absence of ancestors you know or believe were in this regiment, etc. As I am unable to answer your questions about these rosters or individual men, let me interject some commentary written in 1897 by James A. Roberts, at that time State Comptroller. The italics are mine.

"During my first term of office as comptroller, the work of putting the old records of the comptroller's department in systematic order for purposes of easy reference was undertaken. This work in its progress brought to light quantities of forgotten papers relating to the services performed by New York in the Revolutionary War. These papers, long since detached from their original file packages, were promiscuously scattered through great masses of old vouchers and files....Competent men were, therefore, set at work searching out and arranging these papers, and this task, though slow and laborious, is believed to have been thoroughly and intelligently done....These papers contain the muster and pay-rolls of different organizations, and the historic value and importance of the papers is clearly proved by the fact that they alone show New York to have furnished nearly one and a half times the number of troops with which she is usually credited, and adding to these the names obtained from other reliable sources, the aggregate is more than twice the number usually credited....I therefore submit the following pages containing the names, rank and organization of these 41,633 men, whose services can be shown beyond question, with the greater satisfaction for believing that a great historical injustice, reflecting in many minds on New York's patriotic spirit in the Revolutionary struggle, will hereby be rectified, and she take her place, second only to the Massachusetts in number of troops furnished, and, under the circumstances surrounding her, second to none in lofty patriotism....It is true that lists of names of New York's Revolutionary soldiers have been heretofore published, but these were derived almost entirely from other than original sources, the state treasurer's books of account being the chief source, and their accuracy, for this reason, has been a matter of grave doubt, and therefore the results could not be accepted in historical works. The names published in this volume are derived from that highest of sources, the original muster and pay-rolls, and thus the services of the individual and the aggregate are conclusively shown....Nor do the names contained in this volume in all probability comprise all of those from New York who performed service in that great struggle....As it is, there can be little reasonable doubt that in some cases records of service have been lost, and that New York can never show the full number of troops furnished by her in the struggle. This is almost conclusively shown by the fact that the papers relating to pensions granted by the state for injuries received while in service in the Revolutionary War disclose many names which do not appear upon any roster in our possession." - James A. Roberts, "New York in the Revolution as Colony and State" Albany, N.Y., Press of Brandow Printing Company, 1898.

he muster rolls, payroll records, family or soldiers' letters, etc. that were organized to reconstruct all of the regiments of the State of New York are held by the State Archives in Albany, other historical societies, or are in the private hands of descendants of the officers. It would be extremely difficult a hundred years later to determine what specific record served as proof of your ancestor's service, how these records are archived today, or if any are accessible to the non-academic public. The recreated Tryon County rosters are being posted as a service to visitors to the Herkimer/ Montgomery Counties GenWeb. Most of them are being digitally transcribed by descendants of men in the various regiments and militias. We have no further information about the men below or the type of back-up documentation by which any individual's inclusion was merited.

Of course, this list is obviously not a Tryon County militia list. We thought it was a good idea to include it in our project as the naval service attracted people with marine skills, and men and boys who wanted adventure, regardless of where they lived. We have no way of knowing how many of these men were actually from the Mohawk Valley, although there are recognizable Mohawk Valley surnames on the list. All of these men were New York State residents at the time of enlistment.

A privateer was an armed private ship, commissioned and authorized to raid or seize any ship or vessel that was hostile or potentially antagonistic towards the Patriot cause. The men who owned or fitted out such vessels were given "letters of marque", or licenses granting them the right to fit out armed ships in order to plunder or capture the enemy. The official letter of marque gave legitimacy - otherwise they would be considered pirates, and beholden to no authority. A further definition of a privateer is a commander or crew member of a privateer.

Capt. Anthony Rutgers
Capt. Samuel Tudor
Sloop "Camden"
Capt. Robert Castle
Sloop "Montgomery"
Capt. William Mercier
Capt. William Rogers
1st Lieut. Thenius Thew
2nd Lieut. John Leaycraft

Sloop "Nancy"
(Formerly the "Charlotte")
Capt. John Harrison
Sloop "Patty"
Capt. Christopher Leffingwell
Sloop "Polly"
Capt. Matthew Van Alstyne
Capt. Christopher Leffingwell
Master Squire Geer

Sloop "Hudson"
Pay Master Henry Benton
Sloop "Sally"
Capt. Wilkie Dodge
Sloop "Schuyler"
Capt. James Smith

Frigate "Congress"
Capt. Thomas Grenell
Capt. William Rogers
Lt. Capt. Mar. Victor Bicker, Jr.
Capt. William Mercier
Schooner "General Putnam"
(Formerly the "Betsy")
Capt. Thomas Cregier
Capt. William Mercier
1st Lieut. Thomas Quigley
2nd Lieut. David Walker
Master Eleakim Littell
Surg. John Boyd
Sloop "James"
Capt. Richard Puller

Allen Ebenezer
Anthony Benjamin
Armstrong Jonathan
Baker Lionel S.
Baker Lionel S., Jr.
Barkiss Thomas
Barres Timothy
Basset Henry
Beebe Eliphelet
Bell William
Billett John
Bolay Joseph
Bricket John
Bryan Henry
Burns Timothy
Burress James
Butler Thomas
Cambell Archible
Chichester James
Clinton James
Conklang Ebenezer
Conklin Richard
Conkling Titus
Cook James
Damerell Peter
Darcy Augustine
Davies Nathaniel
Davis Ebenezer
Davis Josiah
Denton Stephen
Donaldson Frederick
Donaldson Souevin
Donaldson Subbrine
Dorsey Augustus
French Cornelius
Fritchet Isaac
Ghit Abraham
Gildersleeve Richard
Goodale Jonathan
Griffis John
Griffith John
Hardy John
Hazen Ezekiel
Hencock Thomas
Hyeat Abraham
Jackson John
Jamison Robert
Kellay Robert
Ketcham Solomond
Knight Burchard
Knight Richard
Lahy Morgan
Latley Morgan
Laurance Nathaniel
Leayted William
Licit William
Lomberd Thomas
McDonald Alexander
McDonald Duncom
McGray John
Markins Thomas
May Elias
Morrell Benjamin
Morrell Jacob
Myer John
Negro Andrew
Noblit John
Parcels John
Parsons Zachariah
Peters Thomas
Platt Daniel
Powel William
Purkinss Thomas
Purkiss Thomas
Purwagnor Solomon
Radley William
Read Thomas
Reeve Elias
Reeve Elisha
Richard John
Roberds Elias
Rogers Jacob
Rogers Joshua
Rosman Samuel
Ruland Thomas
Shaards Thomas
Shelle George
Shells George
Shine John
Shourds Joseph
Simmonds Solomond
Smith Ebenezer
Smith Nathaniel
Steele Thomas
Stelle Thomas
Still Thomas
Swing Peter
Tarbosh Isaac
Taylor John
Taylor William
Ten Eyck Graney
Ter Boss Isaac
Thayer John
Thines John
Thomas John
Titus Timothy
Tolkenton Joseph
Trail John
Turner Samuel
Waer Joseph
Weekes Isaac
Weeks Ebenetus
Westcott Jabez
White James
Willasey William
Wood Elias
Wood Eliphelet
Woodruff Benjamin
Wyer John

Our thanks for preparing this special 4th of July list of sailors and privateers go to Jeanette Shiel, whose ancestors hailed from Montgomery County. "John Black, born ca. 1815, was from Amsterdam, about 1830. John married Janet Carter from Galway, ca. 1835. Most of the family, ten children, settled in the area and near Perth. Their son, Thomas Carter Black, lived in Hagaman Mills to his death at the ripe age of 93 in 1933! At this stage, I'm searching for collateral lines (William H., James, Peter, John) and when John came to America from Scotland, ca. 1820-1835. Was it as a child with family or alone?!?!?!"

The site coordinators have no further information about the men listed above, nor knowledge about privateering during the Revolution. Please use a search engine to find further information.

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Last Updated: 6/30/98
Copyright ©1998 - 2008 M. Magill/ Jeanette Shiel
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