Samuel Holt, Lieutenant of Marines

Samuel Holt. According to his widow Margaret’s pension application #W-3141, Samuel Holt was born in New London on 27 February 1754. Samuel was the son of William Holt (1709-1769) and Sarah Way (1716-1775). Holt’s obituary in the 12 May 1818 edition of the Boston Patriot & Chronicle suggests his birth date as 1761. According to the testimonies of William Ashcroft and James Chapman, Jr. who was the captain’s son and the future husband of his niece, Holt enlisted as a Private in Captain James Chapman’s Company in 1775 serving at Roxbury, MA. After his re-enlistment, the Army marched to New York in relief of Colonel Samuel Holden Parsons. Samuel Holt was a drummer and drum major when he became acquainted with Ashcroft at this time. Holt was sick in the Hospital when the British landed on Long Island and marched to New York City. Chapman, recently promoted to Major, was killed in the capture of the city. Holt was discharged in Westchester County in 1776. According to the pension application of Andrew Palmes, early in 1777 Palmes “enlisted into the sea service, under Lieut. Holt, of the marines, with the promise of sergeant’s berth, on board the ship Warren.” Palmes, who also served with Holt in Chapman’s Company, then “proceeded to Boston to join the vessel, but she being unfinished, he was transferred to the Confederacy” at New London. As that ship also was unprepared for sea, “Mr. Palmes, at his own request was allowed to enter a privateer vessel of 16 guns under Captain Hezekiah Perkins.” While himself waiting for a Continental ship, Holt appears to have served under Seth Harding on the Connecticut state ship Oliver Cromwell from May to September 1777 as Sergeant although this is not mentioned in the pension records. Later in 1777, Samuel Holt and William Ashcroft traveled from New London to Providence and went on board the Warren under Captain John Hopkins. Holt was Lieutenant of Marines and sailed 2 or 3 cruises on the Warren. Although listed as Ensign of Marines on the Confederacy in Silas Cleveland’s pension file #S-12486, according to his own pension records, Samuel Holt was transferred to the Confederacy in 1779 as Lieutenant of Marines. Holt sailed with the ship to Philadelphia in 1779, where he met and married Margaret Warnack in the Gloria Dei Swedish Church on 19 August 1780 after returning from Martinique. Margaret was born on 6 December 1764 in Philadelphia. She lived with her mother on Penn Street near the wharf where the ship docked, neighbors to the home of Captain Samuel Martin (1730-1786) and his wife Mary (1738-1819) where two midshipman from the Confederacy were boarded while recuperating from smallpox. Captain Martin’s daughter Mary recounts “Lieutenant Samuel Holt was at her mother’s house almost every day to see them. He wore a green coat turned up with buff and metal buttons with his sword at his side. The officers of the ship and the Captain whose name was Harding were in the habit of calling almost every day to see the sick with the smallpox.” She further remembered that one died and one named Moore (Morey) recovered. Samuel Holt left with the Confederacy on her final cruise and was captured with the ship on 14 April 1781, just months before his first child was born in August. The child died the same month. Holt was not promptly paroled to New London with Captain Harding as From the Revolution A History of Continental Marines in the American Revolution 1775 – 1783 by Charles R. Smith suggests, but rather was placed on board the Jersey prison ship until he was reunited with his young bride living at her mother’s home in Philadelphia on a “Parole of Honor.” Several months later when his parole was almost up, he said to his wife, “Peggy…I must go to the War Office and see if they have any officer to be exchanged in his place, if not he must return to the prison ship. On his return from the War Office, he said they had sent an English Officer in his place and he remained at home and was not called out again.” After the war, Holt moved with his wife back to New London, taking up residency with his brother William Holt. Their oldest two surviving children were born in New London, Samuel, Jr. in 1784 and Robert W. in 1786. A newspaper advertisement for the sale of the schooner Betsey lying at Capt. Packwood’s wharf and associated with Samuel Holt in New London during October 1786, suggests the timing of a change in the Holt residency. The family moved back to Philadelphia sometime before the birth of Elizabeth (Elizabeth Young) in 1789. Other children would follow; Margaret born 1791 (died 1792), Sarah born 1793, William born 1797, Jacob born 1800, Margaret born 1803 (died 1808), Abigail born 1805 (drowned 1809) and Edward born 1807 (died 1809). Samuel Holt’s maritime career after 1794 is suggested by Philadelphia and New York newspaper sources. With the British capture of his ship Minerva, Holt was imprisoned in St. Pierre, Martinique while his ship was condemned on 30 April 1794. Later that year in September, he is listed as Master of the brig Active sailing from Philadelphia for Havana and Savannah. Holt made at least two more round trips between Philadelphia and Charleston on the Active between December 1794 and May 1795. It is possible he is the Samuel Holt who purchased real estate on the Edisto River in South Carolina during this decade. In October 1796, Samuel Holt is identified as Master of the brigantine Betsey in Jamaica in early October 1796. Holt is noted as Master of the boat Dolphin of Philadelphia taken by the French in October 1797 and ultimately released by “le Conceil des Prises.” In January 1800, he is listed as Master of the sloop Mary sailing from New York and later that year during November in command of the schooner Delaware traveling from New York to Philadelphia. In April 1802, Holt is captain of the brig Julia sailing from Philadelphia to Charleston. In January of the previous year Captain Holt, the brig Julia owned by B.F. Garrigues, and her cargo of 7,000 lbs. of coffee belonging to Eleazer Cohen and other Philadelphia merchants; were seized by the French between Cape Francois and Baltimore- resulting in a spoilation court case that lasted years. The Holt residence in Philadelphia in 1801-1802 appears to be 20 Shippen Street and between 1808-1810 at 435 South Front Street. At the time of the 1810 Census, Samuel Holt is living in East Southwark with his wife and sons Jacob and William. In January 1808, Captain Holt is recorded as Master of the brig Molly in Curracoa, reporting that his 1st Officer Thomas Norris was impressed by the British sloop Lark. He is in command of the New York to Philadelphia bound sloop Guinea Hen in November 1815. One source suggests a China voyage sometime during the year just before his death of pleurisy in Philadelphia on 19 April 1818. According to his obituary, Samuel Holt was “an honest man & worthy citizen.” His widow Margaret lived in Northern Liberties late in life and her death on the morning of Friday 9 March 1849 is recorded in the Philadelphia Inquirer three days later.

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