This "raiders" division of the Gaspee. Info website is devoted to information about the Raiders as individuals.

In this section of
Gaspee Raiders
Paul Allen
Ephraim Bowen
Aaron Briggs
Abial Brown
John Brown
Joseph Brown
Joseph Bucklin
Abel Easterbrooks
Nath. Easterbrooks
Capt. Samuel Dunn
Capt. Rufus Greene
Capt. Greenwood
Benjamin Hammond
Joseph Harris
Capt. John Hopkins
Justin Jacobs
Joseph Jencks
Hezekiah Kinnicut
John Kilton
Abner Luther
John Mawney
Simeon Olney
Ezra Ormsbee
Benjamin Page
Capt. S. Potter
Barzilla Richmond
Nath. Salisbury
Capt. Chris. Sheldon
Capt. Shepard
James Smith
Turpin Smith
Capt Swan
Robert Sutton
Capt. Jos.Tillinghast
Capt. Abr.Whipple
Qualification for List
Boat Captains
Raider Connections

Go to
Gaspee History
for history, overall facts, background, results, and analysis of the  1772 attack itself.


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



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This 18 year old black indentured servant from Prudence Island gave told the English the names of several participants in the attack.

What we know about Brigg' s involvement in the Gaspee attack comes from the statement he gave to the English. Aaron is commonly identified by the last name of Briggs, because the proceedings of the investigating commission so identified him. However, when the Rhode Island civil authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, in an attempt to obtain him from the Royal Navy (which refused to surrender the prisoner) the warrant for the arrest of Aaron Briggs identified him as Aaron Bowler, alias Briggs. 

In the deposition recorded by the English, he is described by them as a mulatto..  If the English were correct and Briggs was a mulatto, then he was the son of one black parent and one white parent. Almost always, it was the case where a white male had relations with a black woman.

We assume Briggs  was illiterate since he signed his sworn statement to investigators with an 'X'.

Briggs described his age as eighteen years or thereabouts.  His master, Tompkins ,gave Briggs age as 16 at the time of the attack.

Briggs said  that at the age of five years, he was bound by the town of Portsmouth to be an apprentice to Capt. Samuel Tompkins, of Prudence Island, (Prudence Island was a part of the town of Portsmouth) until he should arrive at the age of twenty-four years.  He said he had always been employed by Tompkins as a farm laborer.  

Briggs being "bound by the town of Portsmouth" suggests that he was under the care of the town and not treated as a slave, but instead was "indentured" to work, be supported,  and learn a trade to be self sufficient and "free" after the age of 24.

There is one Briggs listed in the Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Database with no dates and no first name buried in Bristol, of which Prudence Island was a part.

The masters of Aaron Briggs were Captain Samuel Tompkins and his father-in-law Samuel Thurston. These were probably the persons buried in a cemetery on Prudence Island, described in their headstones as Capt. Samuel Tompkins (b. ca.1726) died 29 May 1789, and Samuel Thurston (b. ca. 1700) died 16 Aug 1792. {RI Hist Cemeteries Index}

The statement of Briggs was the key piece of evidence that the English had at their disposal, and the Americans quickly and firmly moved to impeach his testimony. For example, Samuel Tompkins testified that Aaron was in his quarters asleep and being that the only available boat was in disrepair (belonging to Tompkins and his father-in-law, Samuel Thurston), he could not have gotten off the island.