Peter Masuere, Quartermaster

Peter Masuere (Massuere, Massure or Meserve) was born on 13 June 1742 in Kittery, York County, ME to Peter Massure and Sarah Loud who were married five years earlier on 3 March 1737. He married Hannah Card prior to the baptism of their oldest son James at St. John’s Church on 19 August 1770 at Portsmouth, NH. Like her husband, Hannah Card was born in York County, ME on 12 November 1748 to Joseph Card and Hannah Simpson. Their son James Massure married Hannah Blake (1770-1836) in Percy, NH in 1794 and fathered seven children. He died on 29 February 1856 in Stark, NH. Prior to the War for Independence, Peter and Hannah also bore a daughter Frances in 1772 of whom little more is known except that she married John Marden on 5 May 1798 in Percy, NH. According to his pension application # S. 44,996; Peter Masuere first entered service in Captain Ebenezer Dearing’s company of artillery in Colonel David Gilman’s regiment of New Hampshire militia for an enlistment of four months and was stationed at New Castle, NH. Captain Dearing of New Durham, NH was commissioned on 1 April 1776 to command one of the six artillery companies raised to defend Portsmouth, the home of Peter Masuere. Dearing served in this capacity until 7 August 1776 when his regiment was reorganized under the command of Colonel Pierce Long. A muster roll dated 1 April 1776 includes the name of Henry Meserve, suggesting that Peter may have enlisted under his middle name. A glimpse of this time can be sensed from a petition from Masuere’s comrade John Griffith, who five days after enlisting, on Sunday 24 March 1776 “stood sentry 4 hours at the Powder House at the Northwest end of Portsmouth. The weather being extremely cold, he froze the great toe of his right foot.” Captain Dearing and his men were ordered by Col. Gilman to a location near Seavey’s Island in May 1776; however, the reorganized unit was stationed across the river at New Castle on 23 November 1776 when the regiment was ordered to Fort Ticonderoga. Many of the men were reluctant to march to Ticonderoga and it was not difficult for Captain of Marines George Jerry Osborne to recruit men for service on the frigate Raleigh nearing completion in the harbor. Colonel Long complained in a 4 February 1777 letter to the Committee of Safety that Osborne had already “enlisted eleven of Captain Dearing’s men” for naval service. At least seven of Osborne’s eleven recruits appear on both the 1 April 1776 muster roll of Captain Dearing’s company of artillery and the alphabetical list of Officers and Men of the Frigate Raleigh (1777) including Nicholas Bouffard, William Cambridge, Joseph Clark, Theodore Fernald, Joseph Gerrish, George Loud and Thomas Passmore. Peter Masuere’s pension application indicates that he also entered on board the “Rolla” as quartermaster for eight months during her first voyage to France and then to the coast of Africa before retuning home. Oliver P. Remick in “A record of the services of the commissioned officers and enlisted men of Kittery and Eliot, Maine: who served their country on land and sea in the American Revolution, from 1775 to 1783” (1901) indicates that Peter Meserve of Portsmouth, enlisted with the ship on 20 June 1777 for the term of one year. Under the command of Captain Thomas Thompson, the frigate Raleigh sailed from Portsmouth on 12 August 1777, joining the Alfred for the cruise to France. On 15 August, the two ships captured a schooner carrying counterfeit Massachusetts currency, burning the ship and her cargo. On 2 September 1777, they captured the British brig Nancy. Two days later, the Raleigh engaged the HMS Druid and damaged the enemy warship before escaping from the British fleet to resume her voyage to France. After taking on stores at L’Orient, the Raleigh sailed along the African coast, capturing a British vessel off of Senegal. Masuere then sailed back across the Atlantic in the Raleigh to the West Indies where the accompanying Alfred was taken in an engagement with the HMS Ariadne and HMS Ceres in the Lesser Antilles on 9 March 1778. The Raleigh returned to Boston in early April 1778, where Thompson was court martialed after being accused of cowardice and dereliction of duty in the affair and John Barry replacing him as captain. According to his pension application, Peter Masuere then entered on board the Ranger in early 1779 at Portsmouth as quartermaster for about three months duration for the vessel’s second voyage. This cruise under Captain Thomas Simpson was made in company with the Warren and the Queen of France and captured “what was called the Georgia Fleet.” Previously under the command of John Paul Jones, the ship was given over to his trusted Lieutenant Simpson when Jones took command of the Bonhomme Richard in France. Simpson had arrived in Portsmouth on 15 October 1778. Masuere no doubt departed with the ship on 13 March 1779. The Ranger with her two companions captured eight prizes in the North Atlantic on 7 and 8 April 1779 before returning to Portsmouth on 22 April 1779. The captured ships included the privateer schooner Hibernia, ship Jason, ship Maria, brigantine Patriot, brigantine Prince Frederick, brigantine Bachelor, brigantine John and schooner Chance; all “loaded with provisions, stores and dry goods for Georgia.” Also captured were Hessian Colonel Campbell, two additional field officers and twenty-one other commissioned officers along with “compleat accoutriments for mounting a Regiment of Light Dragoons, they expected to raise in the Southern States.” The pension application notes that Peter Masuere then entered on board the Ranger under Simpson in Portsmouth a second time as Captain’s Coxswain of the Barge. The coxswain (cox-an) or cockswain was a petty officer who commanded one of the three smaller boats of varying size and purpose usually found on eighteenth century warships, including the larger barge often used to convey the captain ashore. The name is derived from the cock boat, a smaller rowboat used as ship’s tender, in conjunction with the suffix “swain” meaning keeper. Masuere recalled that the Ranger sailed to Boston and joined company with Commodore Whipple of the Providence and Captain (John Peek) Rathburn of the Queen of France before falling in with and taking “part of the Jamaica Fleet.” Sailing from Portsmouth on 7 June 1779, the Ranger and her companions captured two Jamaicamen during July and nine more enemy vessels off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Although only eight of the eleven prizes were brought into Boston, they sold for over one million dollars. Peter Masuere was discharged in Boston after three or four months service on this cruise and prior to the Ranger’s departure for the defense of Charleston, SC on 23 November 1779. The ship would be captured there on 11 May 1780 when the city fell and taken into the British Navy as the HMS Halifax. Peter’s third child Hannah was born on 8 July 1780, about nine months after Masuere left service on the Ranger. It is believed Hannah married Lufkin Heath and after the death of her first husband in the War of 1812, was remarried in 1814 to John Griswold III with whom she had six children. A fourth child, Lewis H. was born at Portsmouth on 22 May 1787. Lewis H. Massure married Rachel Page (1786-1853) on 10 August 1806 and fathered nine children. Lewis died at Lancaster, NH on 14 April 1874. Peter and Hannah Masuere’s youngest child, Lois or Louisa, was born on 11 June 1788, also in Portsmouth. Lois would marry John Blake (1782-1840), the half-brother of her oldest sibling James’ wife, in October 1803 and bore fifteen children. Lois died on 20 October 1875 in Stark, NH. In his pension application dated 1818, Peter Masuere indicates that he was residing in Percy, Coos County, NH at that time. The family data suggests that the Masuere family moved to Percy or Piercy, NH between the birth of the youngest child in 1788 and the marriage of the oldest son in 1794. The timing of the move can likely be further narrowed to between 1788 and 1791 as James, along with his father-in-law Elisha Blake and others, petitioned for incorporation of the town in 1791. Peter and James are noted as settlers in January 1803. Peter and sons James and Lewis H. all appear on the 1809 inventory of polls and personal property for the town, which was renamed Stark, NH. Peter’s meager estate was valued at $20.56 in 1818 and the naval veteran testified that he was not able to pursue his occupation as “labourer”. Masuere was granted the Revolutionary War pension of eight dollars per month beginning 9 April 1818. Peter Masuere died on 7 March 1828 in Stark, Coos County, NH. He is buried in the Blake Cemetery in Stark, NH. Peter’s death was followed by his wife Hannah’s on 13 October 1831, one unlikely source suggesting that she died in Portsmouth.

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