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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Captain Samuel Dunn was one of the Gaspee Raiders that attacked the English Navy ship Gaspee in 1772.

Dr. Mawney, in his statement, identified Capt. Samuel Dunn as being a person with whom he was so well acquainted that he could recognize Dunn by voice alone, and that Dunn was present on board the Gaspee.  [Staples 1990, p 15]  So we start with the name of "Capt. Samuel Dunn", as being the name of a Gaspee Raider of 1772.

There are two Captain Samuel Dunn's in American history that are "best possibilities". The linage in Colonial Families of the United States of America, Volume 2, p. 237 credits the elder one, to wit: Captain Samuel Dunn, born about  1710,  died 1790,  as being the commander of a boat involved in the Gaspee attack. 

This Captain Dunn would have been 62 years old at the time of the Gaspee attack, and seems to have been born, raised and died in New Shoreham, RI, which is on Block Island.  (One wonders why Dr. Mawney,  who lived in Providence all his life, and who was only 21 years old, would have been so well acquainted with this Dunn as to recognize him by voice alone.) 

The family historical accounts of the Dunns are, if not totally accurate, solid, and were accepted by the DAR and a historian at times much closer to the Revolution. While Sam, Sr was 62 years old, that was not too old to have prevented him from being in the raid, particularly in a leadership capacity.  Certainly if he was a ship captain, and it was one of his longboats that John Brown had secured for the night, it would be logical that he would come along to captain his longboat and add his military experience (see below).

This elder Captain Dunn, when he was 30 years old was adventuresome enough to have gone on a 1740 attack on Carthagena, Columbia, South America as a Captain of a company of the Colonial troops of Rhode Island  His title of captain originated  from his militia command.  This expedition tell us something about Dunn.

In the struggle for control of North America, the contest between England and France was the vital one, the conflict with Spain, a declining power, important but secondary. The conflict with Spain reached its American height in the "War of Jenkins Ear," which began in 1739 and pitted the British and their American colonists against the Spanish. [The war was named after Robert Jenkins, a ship captain , who claimed Spanish guards had cut off his ear, exhibited his ear in the British House of Commons, and England declared war in 1739.]  In the colonies the war involved a seesaw struggle between the Spanish in Florida and the West Indies and the English colonists in South Carolina and Georgia. Its most notable episode, however, was a British expedition mounted against Cartagena, the main port of the Spanish colony in Colombia. The mainland colonies furnished a regiment to participate in the assault as British Regulars under British command. The expedition ended in disaster, resulting from climate, disease, and the bungling of British commanders, and only about 600 of over 3,000 Americans who participated ever returned to their homes.

What this tells us about Dunn is that his continued captaincy probably was a result of perceived military experience. Even at age 65, Dunn was still a captain of a company of Rhode Island militia which continued to serve in the Continental army during the war.  But Dunn also may have been a ship captain.  Living on Block Island, it would be a necessity for every male inhabitant to know how to handle boats well.  Block Island really only had two occupations of note: farmer or ship crew.

This elder Captain Dunn married 15 Oct 1730, Priscilla Ball of New Shorham, and had as a son Samuel  Dunn, Jr., born 1943.  This son, Captain Samuel Dunn,  Jr., b. 3d Jan. 1743; d. 15th Dec. 1787, would have been 29 years old at the time of the Gaspee raid.   He married 12 Sept. 1773, Lucy Pierce. 

The Colonial Families linage mentioned above credits this younger Captain Dunn with "[commanding]...and afterwards owned the celebrated privateer Revenge, also Prosper, during the War of the American Revolution, sailing mostly from Newport, R. I."  The problem with this statement is that there were really only two Rhode Island privateer vessels that one could call historically "celebrated" or "well-known". The first celebrated privateer Revenge was sailing in 1739 from Newport, before this Captain Dunn was born, and did not last 30 years. This Revenge was in 1741 captained by Benjamin Norton with a commission for privateering against the Spanish. (See, E.g., Hawes, Off Soundings, at 78).  The history and entire ownership of the second well-known privateer Revenge, which accomplished great feats during the American Revolution, is well documented and was never commanded or owned by a Dunn.  Second, privateers did not sail out of Newport during the Revolutionary War for the simple reason that the English held it during most of the war.  It seems more logical if the elder Captain Dunn, born about 1710, as being the captain of the Revenge sometime during the Rhode Island privatizing against Spanish and French vessels and settlements in the period from 1739 through the War of Austrian Succession (1744-48,  known in America as as King George's War). Perhaps a confusion occurred because of the father and son having the same name.

Bowen in his statement refers to a Captain Benjamin Dunn as being one of the longboat captains.  Bowen probably was mistaken in the first name. (See, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century, A History,  (Edward Field, ed.,  Boston, Mason Publishing , 1902) Vol. I, p. 467-468 for discussion re Benjamin vs. Samuel).

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