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Kari J. Winter

slave, sailor, soldier, and farmer, was born Boyrereau Brinch, the seventh of eight children (four boys and four girls) born to Whryn Brinch, the son of Yarrah Brinch, and of Whryn Douden Wrogan, the daughter of Grassee Youghgon. He lived in the city of Deauyah in the kingdom of Bow-woo, which was probably situated in the Niger River basin, in the area that would later become Mali. In 1758 when he was around the age of sixteen Boyrereau was abducted by slave traders transported to Barbados and sold to Captain Isaac Mills of New Haven Connecticut who trained him for British naval service Like thousands of other slaves and freed Africans in the Caribbean Brace as he would come to be called years later after his manumission This may have been an anglicized version of Brinch was forced to labor aboard ship during ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, served with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie. A native of Maryland, Brown was a free man and resident of Somerset, Pennsylvania, when he married his wife Elizabeth, also from Maryland, in April 1812. Although details are lacking, Brown may have served in a local militia unit in 1812–1813 before being sent to serve in Perry's newly formed Lake Erie squadron in the spring of 1813. When Perry arrived at Erie, Pennsylvania, to finalize the construction of the twenty-gun brigs Lawrence and Niagara the mainstays of his fleet he found that he was severely lacking in manpower and requested more men from his superior Commodore Isaac Chauncey After some dispute and delay a disappointed Perry finally received 150 men commenting that The men that came are a motley set blacks Soldiers and boys Altoff ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

a soldier and sailor during the War of 1812, was born in Pennsylvania. At the beginning of the war he likely served in a Pennsylvania militia regiment, but sometime after March 1813 he was sent for duty at sea aboard the Lake Erie squadron under the command of Oliver Hazard Perry. Short on manpower during the outfitting of his fleet at Erie, Pennsylvania, including the twenty-gun brigs Lawrence and Niagara, Perry was forced to plead with his superior, Commodore Isaac Chauncey, to send him more men. After much wrangling, Chauncey finally sent Perry 150 men in two separate drafts, including African Americans Robert Brown, Jesse Walls, and James Brown Unfortunately Perry was unhappy with the caliber of the men he received complaining to Chauncey that The men that came are a motley set blacks Soldiers and boys I cannot think that you saw them after they ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Revolutionary War sailor, is a man about whom little is known. Thought to have been a slave at some time in his life, Carlisle enlisted for service in the Continental navy aboard the sloop of war Ranger in July 1777 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This 18-gun, 318-ton craft was commanded by the famed Captain John Paul Jones. Earlier writers have erroneously stated that Carlisle, as well as another black member of Ranger's crew, Scipio Africanus, were slaves owned by Captain Jones. Though Cato Carlisle was a free black from the Piscataqua region, records do not state whether he was already a freeman or used his enlistment bounty money to buy his freedom. Just who Carlisle's former master was is open to speculation. Two possibilities include the Carlisle family of Portsmouth or Captain Daniel Carlisle of Westmoreland, New Hampshire.

Despite the meagerness of details regarding Cato Carlisle ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, fought in the Battle of Lake Erie with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Little is known about Collins's personal life although it is possible he was born into slavery in Newport, Rhode Island, or the surrounding area. As of the 1790 Census there were still over nine hundred slaves in the state, which pursued a policy of gradual emancipation after 1784. Hannibal may have been a slave for less than a decade of his life, although this is not certain. The 1810 Federal Census does detail two white Collins families in Newport that either owned slaves or had black persons residing in their household; the entry for John Collins details just one person of color in his household, whereas that of Job Collins details seven Although not specifically identified as such these individuals may have been slaves However the same census ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

sailor and prisoner of war leader, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, or vicinity and was also known as Richard Seavers. His status as a free man or slave prior to his seafaring service is unknown. In 1814 Crafus, aged twenty-three, was a sailor on the Baltimore privateer schooner Requin when she was captured by British warships off Bordeaux, France, on 6 March 1814. According to one obituary, however, Crafus had joined the British Navy at about age sixteen. When or how he returned to the United States is uncertain. While little is known about Crafus before his capture, he was likely an accomplished sailor and, at six feet three inches or six feet five inches in height, surely a dominant figure among the Requin's crew. His size and forceful personality would be traits that brought Crafus to prominence during his time as a prisoner of war.

The service ...

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Kathryn L. Beard

soldier, sailor, and shipbuilder during the War of Independence, was born free in the British colony of St. Kitts of mixed race parentage. Little is known about his early life. Prior to adulthood he became literate, fluent in French and English, and he trained as a skilled craftsman in building dwellings and ships. As a free person of color in one of the older sugar colonies, he would have benefited from an increasing emigration of whites and, by 1745, a plantation system characterized by a high level of absenteeism by white landowners. These factors contributed to the growth of a small colored elite, financed largely by credit given by white relatives but still facing legal and de facto discrimination. For example, until 1830 the laws of St Kitts prohibited free people of color from attending the colony s few public schools although they paid taxes to ...

Article

Brycchan Carey

slave, writer, and abolitionist, was, according to his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, born in the village of Essaka in Eboe, an unknown location in the Ibo-speaking region of modern Nigeria. Equiano recorded that he was the son of a chief and was also destined for that position. However, at about the age of ten, he was abducted and sold to European slave traders. In his narrative, Equiano recalls the Middle Passage in which “the shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable” (58). Despite falling ill, Equiano survived the voyage and was taken first to Barbados and then to Virginia, where in 1754 he was bought by Michael Pascal a captain in the Royal Navy Pascal s first act was to rename the ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, was a crewman aboard the brig Niagara during the Battle of Lake Erie. Little is known of Hardy's life prior to the war, except that he was a free man and resident of Philadelphia when he was married to his wife Diane by Reverend John Gloucester of the First African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia sometime between 1807 and 1813. Hardy, his name also given as “Harely,” was almost certainly working as a sailor prior to the war and probably sailed on vessels operating from the port of Philadelphia. It is unknown when Hardy enlisted in the United States Navy, but it was likely sometime in 1812 to early 1813 with the commencement of the war the merchant shipping trade in the Northeast came to a sudden halt and many sailors black and white were suddenly unemployed Driven by the necessity ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

was a sailor in the War of 1812 who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie under Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. The details of Hazard's life are largely lost, although some speculation as to his identity may be made from surviving records. That Hazard was a slave is almost certain, although whether he was born a slave or forcibly brought to America from Africa is unknown. Hazard's first name of “Newport” is a common one of the day for enslaved men in New England and is a likely indicator that he was sold as a slave at Newport, Rhode Island, a major port in the slave trade, early in his life. Two candidates present themselves as to Newport Hazard's identity: he may be the man, born sometime between 1727 and 1761, listed as a “Negro” in the 1777 Rhode Island Military Census and living in the household of Steven ...

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Barbara A. Desmarais

Revolutionary War veteran, sailor and farmer, was born in 1764 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. That year Nantucket's census counted the number of blacks for the first time. Heuston was one of only fifty African Americans on the island. Many of the blacks counted were slaves, but there was also a small free black community on Nantucket. It is unclear if Heuston was born free or enslaved.

The location and year of Heuston's birth were reported to a local newspaper by his daughter, Lydia Bowe, upon his death. She also reported that he served on an American fighting ship during the Revolutionary War when he was a boy and that he continued to work as a mariner for the next two decades.

Other information regarding the remainder of Heuston s long life is supported by many documents For instance free black mariners carried American Seaman Protection Documents certifying their ...

Article

Karen E. Sutton

free black veteran of the American Revolution, was born in Lancaster County, Virginia, to Elizabeth Nicken, a free woman, and an unnamed father. Early in life James indentured himself to Edward Ingram until his thirty-first birthday (1768). In 1776James Nickens may have moved in with his cousin, John Nickens, to establish himself. He was finally on his own when he decided to join the war effort.

Nickens served first as a seaman in the Virginia state navy. Since African Americans dominated the water professions, it was natural that many, including Nickens, chose to serve on the water during the war. Perhaps he heard about hostile British ships entering the Chesapeake Bay and threatening Virginia waters in January 1777. Enlisting in the navy on 19 July 1777, Nickens served three years on board the Revenge and the Hero There he helped perform the ...

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Sarah J. Purcell

Revolutionary War seaman, was born probably in Northumberland County, Virginia, to parents whose names are unknown. It is not known whether Ranger was a free black or a runaway slave. He probably worked as a seaman in Northumberland County and Elizabeth City County before the Revolutionary War. In the early eighteenth century Virginia's waters were sailed extensively by free blacks and slaves, who also worked in the colony's two shipyards. Despite long-standing concern among the elite in the South about arming even free blacks for fear of inciting slave revolts, the maritime experiences of Virginia's blacks made them prime candidates for enlistment in the state navy, just as many black seamen served in the Continental navy.

Ranger enlisted in the Virginia navy in 1776 one of many blacks who served on racially mixed naval crews Ranger served in the Virginia navy for eleven years the longest recorded term ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

War of 1812 privateer, was probably a free black living in Baltimore, Maryland, at the beginning of the War of 1812. Nothing is known of his origin or background. Because of his subsequent wartime service, it may be speculated that Roberts was plying the trade of a mariner, or worked in an allied trade around Baltimore's harbor district. He served aboard the Baltimore privateer Sarah Ann under Captain Richard Moon early in the war, and later on Captain Thomas Boyle'sChasseur. Aboard both these ships Roberts would experience some of the fiercest sea battles of the War of 1812.

The service of Roberts, John Davis, John Johnson, and other blacks in the War of 1812 was a major contribution in the war at sea Often recognized in their own time for their gallant and valuable service they have been largely forgotten by historians today ...

Article

Sampson  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

coastal pilot during the American Revolution, was operating in South Carolina waters when the war began in 1775. Sampson was such a skilled mariner that he was among a group of blacks, possibly slaves, utilized by the British navy—whether by force or of their own volition is not known—to help guide the frigates Syren, Sphinx, and Actaeon up the channel during the British assault on Charleston on 28 June 1776 Sampson in particular was known for his valuable knowledge of local waters so much so that when the firing began he was sent below decks to safety Whether by deception as a result of a British miscalculation or because Sampson was sent below decks is unknown but all three ships ran aground on the Middle Ground shoals Two of the ships made it off the shoals but had to withdraw for repairs The Actaeon was not so fortunate ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Revolutionary War sailor in the Virginia State Navy, was born in Africa and forcibly brought to the colonies as a boy to work as a slave. Working for a master in an area along the James River in Virginia, Starlins would eventually gain an intimate knowledge of the river and its many inlets and tributaries; in fact, “Captain” would soon become his nickname. Although nothing is known of Starlins's life other than his military service, those that remember him recall him as “a devoted patriot” who “evinced a remarkable attachment” to America (Kaplan, 61).

“Captain” Mark Starlins's only recorded service in the American Revolution was aboard the armed schooner Patriot in the Virginia State Navy. In 1779, along with five other black sailors, Caesar Tarrant, David Baker, Jack Knight, Cuffee, and Pluto, Starlins took part in the Patriot s capture of the Boston ...

Article

Nicholas Westbrook

sailor, cooper, soldier, surveyor, farmer, and innkeeper, was born in Lunenburg, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Taylor's father was probably Prince Taylor (?–1804), a slave of John Taylor of Lunenburg. It is not known if the younger Prince Taylor was born a slave or free. In occupation and location, Taylor continually reinvented himself to cope with changing circumstances. He did not marry.

Taylor served as steward on the fourteen-gun brig Diligent under Captain Brown for five months in 1779 during the failed Penobscot expedition, America's greatest naval disaster until Pearl Harbor. In his 1818 Revolutionary War pension deposition, Taylor declared, “I am by trade a Saylor” (Revolutionary War Pension Application, Massachusetts service, dossier #S.42.463, National Archives). On 6 March 1781 he accepted the bounty paid by the town of Lunenburg to enlist in the Continental Army for the next three years His enlistment ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, served under Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry during the Battle of Lake Erie. Little is known about Tiffany before his service under Commodore Perry and nothing afterward. Federal Census records indicate that he was likely the man by the same name residing in Bristol, Massachusetts, in 1790. A free man, Tiffany possibly earned a living as a sailor during peacetime like many other African Americans living in coastal New England. He likely joined the navy out of necessity; the War of 1812 extremely unpopular in New England virtually shut down merchant trade on the high seas leaving thousands of sailors black and white unemployed Perhaps motivated by a combination of patriotism and the need to make a living many of these sailors subsequently enlisted in the navy or served on privately armed merchant ships to join in the fight against Great ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor who fought in the War of 1812, was a participant in the decisive Battle of Lake Erie, serving under Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Walls, his last name also given as “Wall” in some accounts, was a native of Pennsylvania and probably freeborn, but nothing is known of his early life. He may have been a resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, when the War of 1812 began, and his military service commenced by 1813.

Although Jesse Walls's military service is not recorded in any official records, the documents for this time period, such as ship's crew and prize lists, are far from complete; indeed, it is this lack of documentation that has often served to obscure the role that African Americans played in the War of 1812 a conflict often described as America s second war for independence In fact black soldiers and sailors men like ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

was a sailor who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. He was a native of Salem, Massachusetts. If born in Massachusetts in the mid 1790s, it is most likely that he was born free. Slavery had been abolished by 1783 in Massachusetts as a result of the Quok Walker case. The 1790 Federal Densus lists no slaves in the state. It is possible that Anthony Williams made a living as a merchant sailor, given his residence in one of New England's most active seaports and his subsequent naval service.

Anthony Williams joined the navy by early 1813 likely in New England his listed rating was that of ship s boy an indicator of both his youth probably a teenager and slight experience During this time the rating of ship s boy was held by white and black youths alike their job being ...