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In this section of
Gaspee HistoryPage Up


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Go to
Gaspee Raiders
for biographical information on the Americans in the boats attacking the Royal Navy ship Gaspee.

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Books: American Colonial and Revolutionary War history or the people involved. We have suggestions for you.

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Admiral Montague's request for civil authorities to arrest John Brown and others.

Further evidence of what Biggs told the English sea captain who had questioned him (Captain Linzee) comes from a letter of Admiral Monague.  Closely following the attack, Montague wrote Governon Wanton the following letter.

BOSTON, 8th July, 1772 [To: His Excellency GOV. WANTON.]

SIR:By express last night from Capt. Linzee, of his Majesty's sloop Beaver, I received the enclosed account; and, although it comes from a negro man, it carries with it the appearance of truth, as it agrees in many circumstances with Lieutenant Dudingston's letter, (to me,) and also with the deposition of the midshipman of the Gaspee; add to this, a man belonging to the Gaspee, swears to this negro's being in the boat that put him ashore, and challenged him as soon as he saw him on board the Beaver. These corroborating circumstances put it out of all doubt with me that he was actually concerned in taking and burning the King's schooner. And as he has impeached several others that were concerned in that piratical act, I am to beg your Excellency, will get the people mentioned in the enclosed account apprehended, that they may be examined before you, in the presence of Lieutenant Dudingston, who, I dare say, will remember the person of the surgeon that dressed his wounds, and may possibly recollect the persons of Potter and Brown, who appear to me to have been the ringleaders in destroying his Majesty's schooner. As this affair was transacted in your Excellency's government, I must totally rely on you to have these people secured and (if there is sufficient proof against them) brought to justice. I doubt not but that you will exert yourself as much as in your power, and I flatter myself, that, with your assistance, the King will have justice done him, and the offenders brought to punishment, which I hope will in future prevent the King's officers from being upon all occasions insulted, and check the lawless and piratical behavior of the people of Rhode Island.

I am, sir, your Excellency's most obedient servant,

J. MONTAGU.

 

P.S.I shall be glad your Excellency would inform me whether this act was committed on the high seas or in the body of the county; if, on the former, I doubt not but, as one of the commissioners, you will use every proper method to get them apprehended, that they may be tried. If you should think it proper to take the negro's deposition on oath, I should be glad you would suffer a proper person to go on board the Swan to take it, and that you will favor me with a copy of it.


The enclosure Montague sent Wanton, with the above letter, reads as follows:

Aaron, a negro man, has declared that he rowed from Providence, the evening his Majesty's schooner Gaspee was burnt, towards Warren, where he met a man called Potter, of Bristol, in a rowing boat, with eight men, armed with pistols, guns, and clubs; the said Potter desired him to go with him. In consequence of Potter's desire, I rowed by his boat until I came within a quarter of a mile of the King's schooner, that was on shore on a spite of sand. I then got into Potter's boat by his desire; he told me with others, that he was to join other boats that was coming down from Providence, in order to burn the King's schooner that lay on shore. In about half an hour after, we joined seventeen boats from Providence, commanded, as they informed me, by John Brown. Immediately after the boats joined company, we rowed towards the schooner; before we came close to the schooner, they hailed the boats, and forbid them coming on board; but notwithstanding the officer of the schooner forbidding the boats to come on board, we had orders to row up to the schooner, which we did immediately, and boarded her. I saw Brown fire a musket when in the boat under the bows; the captain of the schooner immediately fell from the place he was standing on; the surgeon that was ordered to dress the captain was a tall, thin man, called Weeks, of Warwick; very soon after we got on board the schooner, the men's hands belonging to the schooner was tied behind their backs, and put in boats and put on shore. I rowed the bow oar in the boat that the captain came on shore in; I think there was five people belonging to the schooner in the boat. The captain lay abaft all the oars; Potter, of Bristol, was in the boat, and John Brown, of Providence; Brown steered the boat on shore; I had on a red and white spotted handkerchief tied on my head, and two frocks on my body. A list of five men's names, that was concerned in destroying his Majesty's schooner Gaspee:

John Brown and Joseph Brown, principal men of the town of Providence; Simeon Potter of Bristol; Doctor Weeks, of Warwick; Richmond, of Providence.