Aaron Goodwin, Seaman

Aaron Goodwin. Born on 18 August 1754, Aaron Goodwin was the son of Aaron Goodwin and Sarah Thompson of South Berwick in York County, Maine (then Massachusetts). According to “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution,” Aaron Goodwin enlisted in the Massachusetts militia on 5 May 1775 and served three months and four days. That source also references a company return dating from about October 1775 that includes an abstract for pay due to the last day of July 1775. While Goodwin is silent on this early service in his pension application # S-37020, a muster roll dated 1 August 1775 records Aaron Goodwin in service as private in Captain Hubbard’s Company of Colonel James Scammon’s 30th Regiment of Foot. Several Goodwin’s appear in the roll including privates Benjamin and Joseph and second-in-command, First Lieutenant Jedediah Goodwin. Commissioned on 2 June 1775, fifty-seven year old Captain Phillip Hubbard (1718-1792) was a veteran of the French and Indian Wars and led one of the two companies of Berwick men raised for duty. The activities of Hubbard’s Company are recorded in the pension testimony of William Stone, a private and acquaintance of Aaron Goodwin who enlisted on the same day. Stone places the men at “Prospect Hills & other places in the vicinity of Boston & Charlestown” for about eight months in 1775 and states the company arrived at Cambridge about a month before the Bunker Hill battle. He and others from the company, presumably also with Aaron Goodwin as suggested by his obituary “did pass over the Charlestown Neck” and “met our troops retreating” from the field of battle. According to his own testimony in the pension application, Aaron Goodwin enlisted on 1 January 1776 for one year of service in Captain Phillip Hubbard’s Massachusetts Company of Colonel Pierce Long’s New Hampshire Regiment of Continental Line, serving at Kittery Point. “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution” references Goodwin’s order for a bounty coat or its equivalent in money dated 21 December 1775 and notes his enlistment date as 22 January 1776. His service as private at Kittery Point and Old York in defense of the seacoast, about ten miles from his native South Berwick, is substantiated only to 31 May 1776 in that source. Benjamin Goodwin who knew Aaron “from childhood” and also served in the same company, notes in the pension records they served “at or near the mouth of Portsmouth Harbor” where the Piscataqua River empties her water. Aaron Goodwin’s next activities are best described by his testimony for the pension application of his friend Ephraim Clark, “sometime in November 1776 … shipped on bord the brig Dolton of Newberry, Capt. Eleazor Johnson, we sailed from Portsmouth in New Hampshire the latter part of said month. Sometime in December we was taken by a British 64 gun ship and carried into Plymouth. There we was first put on bord several ships of war in Plymouth harbor and remained on bord till sometime in June when we was carried on shoar & committed to Mill Prison where we remained till April 1779 when one hundred of us was exchanged to France. We arrived at Pimbauf sometime in April. The said Goodwin shipped on bord a ship of war commanded by Paul Jones, Esquire.” Aaron Goodwin entered on the Bon Homme Richard while his friend Clark joined the frigate Alliance under Landais and was eventually placed on a prize vessel. The privateer Dalton under the command of Captain Eleazer Johnson, mounting 18 carriage guns and 16 swivels, sailed from Newburyport on 15 November 1776. One of nine Berwick natives to join the ship, Aaron Goodwin would eventually join Thomas Hammet and Ichabod Lord in service under Jones. Altogether, including these three from Berwick, at least sixteen of the Dalton’s officers and men committed to Mill Prison would join the Continental Navy under John Paul Jones’ command. Departing from Portsmouth on 26 November, the Dalton and her crew of 120 men were taken twenty-eight days later on 24 December 1776 by HMS Raisonable. The Journal of Samuel Cutler, the Captain’s Clerk of the Dalton records her capture about three hundred miles west of Spain, “Light Breeze. At 2 P. M. saw a sail. Beat to quarters. At 10 P. M. she gave us a gun, Then another. Ordered us to surrender, which we thought best, as she proves to be the ‘Raisonable,’ of 64 guns, Thomas Fitzherbert. They boarded us sword in hand, and sent us all on board the ship without suffering us to take our cloths. All except the Captain, 2 lieutenants, master, surgeon, capt. marines, 1 prize master, myself and 2 boys were indiscriminately turned down the cable tier to sleep on the bare cables, as Capt. Fitzhertbert would not suffer them to bring their clothes, but let his own people rob us of what they thought proper.” According to his testimony in the pension application, Aaron Goodwin enlisted as a sailor on board the Bon Homme Richard under the command of John Paul Jones at a port in France in April 1779. He also recounts sailing on the Serapis to Holland under Jones and from thence on the Alliance with Jones in command to Coronna in Spain and finally to L’Orient. Goodwin testified that he next sailed on the Alliance under the command of Peter Landais on his return to America, arriving in Boston in August 1780. A list of officers and men of the Bon Homme Richard dated 26 July 1779 published in The logs of the Serapis- Alliance- Ariel edited by John Sanford Barnes (1911) notes Aaron Goodwin was entered on the ship’s roll as an inexperienced sailor or Landsman at Pimbauf on 5 April 1779. He was also entered on a list of those in the action with the Serapis. Later after the war, Goodwin is noted in French on a 1784 list of those entitled to prize monies associated with their service on the Bon Homme Richard as “Novice” or new hand, his share amounting to L 161.6.4. Aaron Goodwin appears in two crew rolls associated with John Paul Jones’ last command- an undated List of Officers & Men belonging to the American Continental Ship of War Ariel published in The logs of the Serapis- Alliance- Ariel edited by John Sanford Barnes (1911) and another List of Officers & Men belonging to the Ship of War Ariel dated 23 September 1780 located in Box XII of the Benjamin Franklin Papers at the University of Pennsylvania. He is rated in both as ordinary seaman, a rank demonstrating more experience at sea than a landsman. Despite the fact Aaron Goodwin is named in the 23 September 1780 roll of the Ariel, his own statement in the pension record indicates he returned to America on the frigate Alliance and was discharged at Boston after the ship’s landing on 19 August 1780 . Aaron Goodwin boarded yet another ship sometime after his discharge from the Alliance and was again captured. Committed to Mill Prison at Plymouth, England a second time his signature appears among many others on a 18 June 1782 letter to the President and other delegates of the Continental Congress requesting efforts be made to secure their release. According to several sources, Goodwin and seven others purportedly made their escape from this confinement or yet another unknown third imprisonment by digging under a wall, making their way to the coast where they seized a small boat and crossed the channel to freedom in France. The “Memoirs of Rev. Andrew Sherburne” appear to suggest the latter as he describes his own release from captivity at Mill Prison in the early summer of 1782, after having being carried there in November 1781. “Several weeks before this time, the prisoners had received the intelligence that shortly there was to be a general exchange of prisoners, and about the time I got upon my legs again, the Lady’s Adventure, a ship of four hundred tons, commanded by Capt. Mitchel Humble, had actually got into the sound or harbor. There was joy indescribable among the prisoners. My doctor, in order to
raise my spirits, told me the ship had arrived to take us to our own country; that she would sail in two or three weeks, and that I must take the best possible care of myself, that I might go in her. A week or ten days passed away and I mended very slowly. The ship before mentioned was bound to Boston, and in a week or two another was going to Philadelphia, and in a few weeks after a third would sail with the remainder of the prisoners for some port of the United States. The time was now come for us to embark for our native land, and the people generally were all life on the occasion. Some of them had been there more than six years. I felt quite revived on being discharged from the hospital; but after all could make out to walk but poorly, with two small canes. With difficulty I made out to get to the water side, about twenty rods, but was unable to get on board the boat without help, and when we got alongside of the ship, my friends put me on board. My Portsmouth and Kittery friends, released my good friend Lawrence, from his charge. Capt. John Seward, Capt. Mark Firnald, Ephraim Clark, Aaron Goodwin, Mr. Bodge, and Nehemiah Weymouth, having some money procured sea stores, viz: coffee, tea, sugar, &c. which together with the ship’s allowance admitted of their living very well. They very kindly took me into their mess, and promised to take care of me upon the condition that if I got able I should wait on the mess: that was to boil the tea-kettle, &c. I believe the ship did not lie in port many hours after we got on board, before we were under way for the land of liberty. My good friends took care of me, and I was Very careful of myself, and found that I gained very fast; and in the course of a week was able to wait on the mess. This was only to boil the tea-kettle night and mornings and in a fortnight I was able to get to mast head. The ship’t crew had but very little to do, for there were so many smart sailors among the prisoners, who had been so long confined, that it was diversion for them to work the ship. Officers were to inform the captain that they had command of his ship. They made no resistance, nor would it have been of any consequence for them, for they were under forty, and there was something like four hundred of us. All that we requested was full allowance. And having obtained our purpose the ship was given up to Capt. Humble again. We had rather a long, though a very pleasant passage. The ship was ordered to Boston, but having fallen in to the east of Boston, and there being a large proportion of Marblehead men on board, they insisted upon going into Marblehead and of course all to the eastward of that port, landed at Marblehead. Myself and my friend Willis among the rest.” Several years after the war, the marriage of Aaron Goodwin and Sally, or Sarah, Hubbard was solemnized by Matthew Merriam, second pastor of the Second Church in Berwick, ME on 21 March 1787. Baptized on 15 February 1756, Sarah Hubbard was the daughter of Hannah Plummer and Captain Phillip Hubbard, the groom’s commanding officer in the first years of the Revolution. The couple moved to Parsonsfield, inland about forty-five miles north of Berwick, and settled on South Road in 1797 where he pursued farming. The farmstead was located on land purchased from Moses Mighel across the valley from where a number of Benson families lived, probably in the vicinity of the intersection of present day South Road and Benson Road in South Parsonsfield. The couple’s children included: Lewis born 1787; Moses born 1789; Sally born 1795 who married Samuel Lougee and bore five grandchildren; and John born 1797. In his pension application, Aaron Goodwin lists his scant personal possessions; a “few kitchen chairs, a late chest, etc. all of which is of little value.” He notes his health is plagued by “a rheumatic disorder which has troubled me for many years.” In 1824, Goodwin states his sixty-eight year old wife Sally is also “very unwell most of the time.” Aaron Goodwin died at the age of seventy-three on 28 September 1827. A number of newspapers record his obituary, “In Parsonsfield, Me., Mr. Aaron Goodwin. He was born in 1754 at South Berwick, N. H. In 1777 he went on board a privateer and in 25 days was taken prisoner and sent to Mill Prison, Eng., about two years after was exchanged and sent- to France, from thence went on board the Bon Homme Richard, John Paul Jones, commander; was in the battle with the Serapis, which was taken and carried into France. He was absent from home nearly seven years.” His pension ceased immediately upon his death, suggesting that his wife Sally had passed between 1824 and 1827. Aaron’s oldest son Lewis Goodwin, on behalf of the Continental Navy veteran’s heirs, presented a petition to the U.S. House of Representatives on 2 February 1848 making claim to prize-money due for captures made under John Paul Jones. Aaron Goodwin’s rightful share of $130.26 prize money was paid on 27 January 1849 with no interest seventy years after it was earned and twenty-one years after his death.

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