An Interesting Old Document.
Mr Editor: -- Possibly the following petition may be of sufficient local interest to warrant publication. It certainly is a reminder of one of the causes which led to the war of 1812. For several years prior to the above mentioned date American seamen in a foreign port, and in some instances, I believe, while on American soil, were liable to be seized and forcibly carried on board British ships of war to serve during the king's pleasure. For this purpose British war ships, when lying in port, organized bands of sailors under command of some petty officer, and known at that time as the "press gang," whose duty it was to patrol the streets after night fall and pick up any straggling sailor who might fall in their way. To obviate this wholesale kidnapping of her citizens the United States government through its proper officers issued to each American seaman a certificate of citizenship to be used in case he was apprehended by the press gang. This soon became known, and was always spoken of as a protection; hence the term used in the petition. The Admiral Cockrane to whom it is address is, I think, the same one who a few years later commanded the fleet which conveyed Napoleon Bonaparte to St Helena:
To the Hon Admir'l Cockrane, commander of his Britannic Majesty's fleet on the West india station near Barbadoes: --
May it please your hon'r, I Samuel Moore of Brattleboro' in the county of Windham and state of Vermont now residing in said Brattleboro' as I have done for 19 years ending in June last, beg leave to state that Benjamin Moore a son of mine on Board his Majesty's Brigg, the Swaggerer now under Your command, was impressed at Barbadoes, in the month of March last he being so unfortunate as not to have his protection with him at the time of his impressment nor suffered to go on shore (as he writes me) to procure it, -- having no doubt on my mind but his statement is correct, and averring him to be a natural born American and Son of mine, would hereby intercede with Your hon'r for his release from his Majesty's service that he may return to his Country and friends particularly to his affectionate Parents.
Your Compliance with this my humble request will very much contribute to our peace of mind & the consolation of his friends.
I am S'r with due respect Your most Obed't & very H'ble serv't
Brattleboro' Febr 1, 1810.
Windham County Reformer, September 26, 1884.
Article "An Interesting Old Document".
The initial "C" may indicate the considerable antiquarian collector, Dr. James Conland, or possibly Maj. Frederick W. Childs.
When Benjamin Moore was captured to the Swaggerer, he served under Captain George James Evelyn. Born on Barbadoes on June 7, 1783, Evelyn commanded the sixteen-gun brig from February 8, 1809 until invaliding out in October 1812. In the Swaggerer he assisted in the capture of Martinique, the Saintes, and Guadeloupe.
His Majesty's Ship Swaggerer is typed as a "ship of the line", that "also appears as a brig". Another source describes Swaggerer as a "late French privateer" that was captured by the British in 1809. Laden with sixteen armaments, HMS Swaggerer served the Royal Navy from February 18, 1809 until its disposal on January 31, 1815.
The traveller Nathan Lucas records sighting the Swaggerer in his Diary---
November 9th Saturday,
Squally & moderate - many small Flying Fish & Porpoises. Lat 15:5. Therm 80. Saw 75 Coblers. Saw a Brig; which proved to be HM Swaggerer, cruising to windward of the Island; much haze over the Land; which we saw at 3 pm. Lay too all night; & on Sunday the 10th came ashore at Barbodos at 9 am. Found there had been a very rainy year there to this day.
This sighting by Nathan Lucas was in 1811---
Captain Thomas Boyle of Marblehead, Massachusetts, commanding the Comet on February 6, 1813, two leagues north-northwest from St. John Island, encountered the Swaggerer at 8 am, the British ship being sighted to the south-east. The Swaggerer was protecting a nine-ship convoy sailing from St. John to St. Thomas Island. This "man-of-war brig", soon identified from the masthead, and described by a later chronicler as "the lumbering Swaggerer", could not overtake the Comet, which escaped to the windward.
Benjamin Moore may have served in any, none, or all of these actions.
Samuel Moore was born on July 3, 1752 in Lancaster, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Moore and Zerish Houghton. Abigail Hastings became Samuel's wife on January 6, 1776. Samuel is said to have served in the Revolution as a quartermaster. In 1790 he is living in Marlboro, Vermont, as the head of a household of eight. Samuel took the Marlboro Freeman's Oath on September 2, 1794. His son Benjamin also took this oath on September 3, 1805.
Samuel Moore had a younger brother---Rufus, born August 28, 1761 in Bolton, Massachusetts. Rufus married Rachel Moore on November 24, 1785 in Bolton. He was a Revolutionary War soldier, and a gunsmith who came to Dummerston, Vermont in 1796.
Mrs. Abigail Moore died on December 20, 1818, aged seventy-two. Samuel Moore died in Dummerston on July 31, 1829, aged seventy-seven, according to the Baptist church records.