Gaspee Raider who attacked the English Navy ship in 1772.">


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Ephraim Bowen
Aaron Briggs
Abial Brown
John Brown
Joseph Brown
Joseph Bucklin
Abel Easterbrooks
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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
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"Richmond, of Providence": the English Admiral wanted him arrested. Was he Ebenezer Richmond or his father Barzillai Richmond?  We are betting on Barzillai.

Our discussion of this "Richmond, of Providence" is left open for further thought and research, but here is what we have to date. The evidence for naming a Richmond as being in the Gaspee attacking group comes from the first dispatch by Admiral Montague to Governor Wanton after the capture of Briggs.  Montague asks Wanton to secure the arrest of five men, including "Richmond, of Providence." 

[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. . . .  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,


The enclosure to this letter appears to be a synopsis by Captain Linzee of what he had been told by Aaron Briggs.  The only place the name of "Richmond" appears is suddenly at the end where there is the statement:

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.

[Staples, p. 31]

A formal legal deposition of Briggs was taken.  Contrary to Captain Linzee's synopsis, in that record there is no mention of a "Richmond". On the other hand, we have to remember that a recorded "deposition" in 1772 was not the accurate word for word court reporter transcript that we are used to today. In 1772, a "deposition" simply meant that it was a summary of answers given.  The summary was not by the person asking the questions, and the summary did not include the questions asked.   The format of the questions and answers could range from a process we would think of as an affidavit statement ("what do you want written down?") through a friendly conversation ("Henry, what happened next?") to a frightening interrogation under torture ("I'll pull your foot out of the boiling oil if you tell me Henry stabbed Joe in the back, three times, yesterday, in the courtyard; just say "Yes" and we will write out the full details for you to sign.").  The scribe recorded not word for word, but rather only (1) "what the answers meant" not the words used, (2) what the scribe thought was worthwhile to record, and (3) what the scribe had time to write down as a conversation occurred. Shorthand was not used, so until you got to the most formal and high of courts or commissions or military court martials (where greatly experienced scribes were used) more was not written down than was written down in the deposition record.

Assuming that Linzee was trying to send correct military intelligence to his commander, it would seem that either inside the deposition or outside the deposition, perhaps under more questioning, Briggs mentioned hearing the name "Richmond" among the men from Providence.

We agree with those who point out that the accuracy of  Briggs  is suspect.  He was young, an indentured servant from the lowest class of the society, and under great pressure to be helpful to Captain Linzee. For example, e.g., his recorded deposition says:

 "....Potter and two men, called Brown by the people, whom his deponent did not know, talked about how they should board the schooner. One of these persons, called Brown, got into Potter's boat, on which they were hailed from the Gaspee, and told to stand off; upon which Brown said row up. .  . .That this deponent did not know the Browns, nor hear them called by their Christian names; and further declares, that it was John Brown, who shot the captain; and that he hath never seen either of the Browns since..."

If one does "not know the Browns, nor hear them called by their Christian names", it would be impossible to know it was John and Joseph Brown in the attacking party.   However, again, do the mental exercise of thinking of the passage above being notes of answers  given in a fifteen minute period, with many questions being asked,  and the phrase "nor hear them called by their Christian names and further declares" in the above passage as representing a period of five minutes and four questions occurring while the scribe was finishing writing down the previous material, then stopped to sharpen his quill pen just as Linzee started to ask if Briggs knew the Browns, and then the scribe had to ask someone next to him to quiet down so he could hear what Linzee was asking Briggs better.  That sort of mental exercise will give you a better feeling for the accuracy of a the recorded deposition of a questioning session.

Now, assuming that Linzee did have something indicating there was a "Richmond, of Providence" involved, who would it be?  Our best surmise (and it is little more than that) is that it  probably was the Richmond who joined with John and Joseph Brown in requesting that something be done about Briggs.  In a  subsequent letter from Gaspee co-conspirator, Lt. Gov. Darius Sessions, to Gov. Joseph Wanton [ Staples, p79] we find:

SIR:—In consequence of an application made unto me in writing, signed by Barzillai Richmond, Joseph Brown and John Brown, I summoned Daniel Vaughan and took his deposition relative to what he knew respecting the treatment of the mulatto Aaron on board the Beaver, and I herewith enclose it to your honor.

As far as we can determine, there was no Dr. Weeks in the area, so that left four real people that Admiral Montague wanted arrested. Potter was not in Providence, but Joseph Brown, John Brown, and "Richmond" were in Providence, able to quickly sign an application for immediate protective action against this communication by Montague. 

Apparently Barzillai thought he was the suspect "Richmond", for it is he who joined in the application. Indeed, the 1770 List of Providence Taxpayers lists only one property owner in Providence at the time with the last name of Richmond, namely Barzillai Richmond, who owned two properties off of Broad Street, and another one at the intersection of Richmond Lane and Broad Street. The amount of property and locations, indicate this Barzillai Richmond who signed the application was a substantial merchant of Providence. 

Barzillia was born on 13 Apr 1721 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island.  That would make him 51 years old at the time of the Gaspee attack.  Most of the raiders we know of were under 30.  Only the sea captains and the Browns were older. The age of Barzillia would indicate that if he was involved (and since not a sea captain) his involvement would have been as a principal in the plan to attack.

Brasilia's father was William Richmond, b. 694, and his mother was Anna Gray, b. 1702. Barzillai married Sarah Knight about 1743. Sarah was born about 1725. They had the following children, all born in Providence:  William, b. 17 Aug 1744;  Ebenezer, b. 5 Feb 1746;  Mehitable, b. 21 Jun 1749; Anna, b. 1 Oct 1750; Sarah, b. 28 Sep 1758.  See at the Alden Geneology Site the Descendants of Elizabeth Pabodie--Sixth Generation, for more information.

Barzillai's sons William and Ebenezer Richmond (1747-1788) are secondary possibilities.  We do not know anything about William.

At the time of the 1772 Gaspee attack, Ebenezer was 26 years old and a medical doctor. The evidence for this is an advertisement in the Providence Gazette of 17April1773. His office was in his father's house on the West Side nearby the Great Bridge. The ad stated that Dr. Ebenezer Richmond  had been attending patients for several years . There is a reference in the Providence Gazette that he later moved from Providence to South Carolina, where he died in November 1788 at the age of 41.

Again, think of how communications were done in 1772.  Quill pen and expensive paper and no way to erase.  So when we see Linzee's letter stating:

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

this could mean that Linzee was indicating that both Weeks and Richmond were called Doctors.  Dr. Mawney was informally asked by friends to go along for the raid, and others in the group might have asked their friend Dr. Richmond to go along also. But if Dr Richmond did go along for the raid, one would assume that both he and Dr. Mawney would have been called to assist in first-aid efforts. Or if he was there, perhaps the attack leaders did not realize Dr. Ebenezer Richmond was with them on the raid.

John Concannon at the Gaspee Virtual Archives is trying to run down an illusive reference that Dr. Richmond was at the Sabin Tavern the night when men from Providence met there to discuss attacking the Gaspee.  If it is found, that might elevate Ebenezer above his father Barzillia as being the best choice for which "Richmond, of Providence" was the raider or involved in the planning of the raid.

There are a number of other possibilities for the "Richmond" discussed by John Concannon at but we settle on Barzillai.