Alphabetical List of Officers and Men of the Brig Lexington captured September 1777

The Journal of Lieutenant John Bazely, Commander of the cutter Alert, for Friday 19 September 1777 found in Volume 9 of “Naval Documents of the American Revolution” reveals details of the action and capture of the Continental brig Lexington under the command of Captain Henry Johnson of Boston. “At 5 AM saw a Sail to the Etward standing for the wtward, let the Reef out of the Mainsail and set the 1st Jib, got the Topsail Yard up, set the Topsail and Royal, cleard the Cutter for Action.” Bazely continues, “after 6 Tack’d and stood to her fird a Swivel to bring her too; she then haild us when we answerd from whitehall, we then haild him when he answerd from Guernsey he then hauld down English Colours and hoisted American Colours gave us a broadside which we returnd and an engagement ensew’d which lasted from half past 7 to 10 0 Clock when he bore up made use of his sweeps and endeavourd to get off.” The Alert then “made Sail after him… [and] at 1/2 past 1 PM came up with the Enemy (cut and let run the small Sails overboard) renew’d the Action when at 1/2 past 2 she struck found her to be the Lexington Brig Arm’d by the American Congress Henry Johnstone Master, mounting 14 four & 2 six Pounders 12 Swivels & 84 Men the Enemy had 7 Men kill’d and 11 wounded in the former was the Master & Lieutenant of Marines in the latter was the 1st Lieut & Gunner, the loss on our side was three Men wounded and two kill’d with both our Mast & Rigging very much dammag’d sent a Midn & 17 Men onboard to take charge of the Prize receiv’d 68 Prisoners from her…at 9 made Sail the Prize in Compy.” Based on Bazely’s journal, the brig Lexington’s Master Jeremiah Holden and Lieutenant of Marines James Connelly were among the dead and 1st Lieutenant Elijah Bowen who had his arm blown off and Gunner John Thompson who lost a leg among the wounded. Five days later Lieutenant Bazely officially reports Alert suffered “only two Men Killed and three Wounded, one of which is since Dead, with my Mast, Rigging and Sails much Cutt and Damaged.” In a letter to Lord Sandwich dated 29 September 1777, Sir Hugh Palliser communicates Lieutenant John Bazely’s interrogation of Captain Henry Johnson about his loss of the brig Lexington, “On conversing with him about the action and the qualities of the Alert, he told me that Johnson took him for a smuggling cutter and reckoned on taking him after the first or second fire, and intended only to take out a good sea store of brandy and tea and to give the rest and the vessel to the crew, for they do not reckon the smugglers their enemies. But after he found his mistake, he endeavoured to get off, and would have succeeded had not the cutter outsailed him.” An American perspective of the engagement and aftermath is recorded in the Journal of Charles Herbert found in Volume 9 of the “Naval Documents of the American Revolution” dated at Mill Prison on 27 September 1777. “Ten more of Captain Johnston’s men came to prison to-day. They inform us that they were taken by a ten gun cutter after almost four hours’ engagement, and having expended all their shot; they were so disabled by having their shrouds, stays, and braces shot away, and so nearly wrecked, that they were obliged to strike to their inferiors. They had six men killed and a number wounded; their first lieutenant had an arm shot off, and after they were taken they were not stripped as our company had been, but were allowed all their clothes; and Captain Johnston was allowed even to wear his hanger, which he brought to prison with him, and delivered to the agent. He had considerable money with him, which the agent took, and he is to have it in small quantities as he wants it, for immediate use.”

The Alphabetical List of 68 Officers and Men of the Brig Lexington captured on 19 September 1777 is derived from the muster of the HM cutter Alert (ADM 36/7942) transcribed at the National Archives in Kew, England by Joseph and Joshua Ross in February 2014. The list includes rate or quality if noted in the muster. Rate or quality if known by the Lexington’s muster is noted in brackets. Alternate spellings of names in parenthesis are taken from the roll of prisoners in Mill Prison belonging to the brigantine Lexington. Of the 68 officers and men of the brig Resistance taken on board HM cutter Alert, nineteen men marked with a + sign are noted as Frenchman on a list enclosed with a letter from Vice Lord Shudham to Philip Stephens dated 5 October 1777, suggesting that the forty-nine remaining officers and men were Americans. This appears to be confirmed in a letter found in Volume 10 of “Naval Documents of the American Revolution” from William McCreery at Bordeaux to John Adams dated 10 October 1777 who writes that Captain Johnson “had but forty Eight men, & they were such a Motly Crew, that people are astonishd at his Having made so Gallant a resistance.” According to Johnson’s deposition taken at Mill Prison on 30 September 1777, in addition to himself, “there were Eighty Three Marriners on board her And that they were of many different Nations.” Sir Hugh Palliser in a 29 September 1777 letter to Lord Sandwich offers a different and distinctively British take on the make-up of the crew, “there was only seven Frenchmen found on board the Lexington, but Mr Bazely thinks there was some French officers killed, but they deny it… There was not above fourteen Americans, the rest stout young Irish fellows, not one above 26 years of age.” Based on Johnson’s testimony and accounting for the 68 officers and men entered on the Alert’s muster with seven who died in action, it appears that nine of the eleven wounded were left in the care of Lexington’s Surgeon Clement Smith. This agrees with the fact that John Kennedy and Master’s Mate George Thayer, two men not entered on board HM cutter Alert’s muster, are included on the roll of Lexington men at Mill Prison. A letter from commander of the HMS Trident Captain John Elliot to Philip Stevens dated 26 September 1777 confirms that Surgeon Smith is not on HM cutter Alert, HMS Blenheim or at Mill Prison but rather on his vessel awaiting orders for disposition. Based on the brig Lexington’s muster, it is speculated that five of her twelve unnamed casualties may include Armouror James Jackson; Carpenter’s Mate Matthew Lewis; Quartermaster George Greggs; Boy William Keith and Cabin Steward Nicholas Caldwell. Finally those men marked with an asterick * also appear on a published roll of Lexington officers and men at Mill Prison. In addition to naming the city from whence these prisoners hailed, the prison roll also indicates the identity of both those who escaped confinement and those who entered into British naval service.

Jacob Aaron
John Barry [Sergeant of Marines] *
Henry Beckley (Blakeley) [Boy] *
Joseph Bonna +
Thomas Bradley [OS Seaman] *
Matthew Brannon (Nathaniel Brennon) [Boatswain’s Yeoman] *
John Bubbis +
John Chester, Carpenter *
David Clarke (Clark) [Boy] *
Matthew Clear, Acting [3rd] Mate *
Fran Colebran (Francis Colburn) [Boy] *
Josh Coleston (Joseph Coulston) [OS Seaman] *
Thomas Coleston (Choulston) [OS Seaman] *
Jacob Crawford [Boy] *
Richard Dale (Deal), [1st] Mate *
John Davis [AB Seaman] *
James Dick, Midshipman *
John Dufoe +
John Duquene (Dequeni) +
Daniel Fagan (Feagan) [Boy] *
Charles Febry +
Robert Ford *
Ralph (Raphael) Gereau, Midshipman +
Andrew Grace (Groce) [Boy] *
Auguste (Augustus) Guichard, Midshipman +
Edward Hart [Quartermaster] *
John Harvey [Boy] *
James Hayes (Haze) *
Joseph Holt (Wolt) *
John Hopes, Captain’s Clerk *
Richard (John) Howard *
Samuel Hubble (Hobble) [Quartermaster] *
Henry Johnston, Captain *
George Keith, Mate
J. Kennington (Joseph Kennigton) *
Arthur Kirk, Acting Mate *
Charles Lague (Legou) +
Henry Lawrence, [2nd] Mate *
William Lee *
William Legashrie (Lagashire) +
Frederick Lewis
Thomas Lyne (Lines), Boatswain *
Luke Maddiller (Madiller) +
Thomas Marlin (Marley) [OS Seaman] *
Charles Mauduit +
Charles McGinnis
Philip McGlaughlan (McLoughlan) [OS Seaman] *
George Morrison [Boy] *
Auguste (Augustine) Noelle +
John Parris +
Aaron Quigley (Twigley) [AB Seaman] *
Benjamin Ragland (Richardson) *
[blank] Raphaer (Raphier) +
Peter Richard +
William Riley (Ryley) [OS Seaman] *
John Rosseau (Roseau), Midshipman
John Roustant +
John Row [OS Seaman]
Nicolas Shea (Chaise) *
James Shields [Boatswain’s Mate] *
John Stewart [AB Seaman] *
Andrew Sutherland
John Vainsain (Vansan, Videan) + *
Anthony Varsaile (Antonio Versailles) +
David Welch, 2nd Lieutenant *
Thomas Welch *
John Wiggins [Steward]
Sam (Samuel) Williams [Cook] *

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