HMS Emerald Muster Roll of Virginia Men (April 1778)

This List of 75 Officers and Men of the Frigate Virginia captured on 31 March 1778 and entered on the muster of HMS Emerald (ADM 36/7830) was transcribed at the National Archives in Kew, England by Joseph and Joshua Ross in February 2014. Seventy-two of the men were entered on the Emerald on 31 March with three more marked with + sign entered on 1 April. A total of 26 officers and men marked with an * asterick were exchanged on 11 April 1778. All others were subsequently entered on the muster of HMS St. Albans on 12 April 1778 which carried the remaining prisoners not exchanged to New York City where they were distributed among the prison ships Judith, Preston and Thunder Bomb.

The 30-gun Continental frigate Virginia was taken without a fight on Tuesday 31 March 1778 by British frigates Emerald and Richmond after losing her rudder and running aground in the Chesapeake Bay while attempting to evade the enemy. According to Emerald’s Captain Benjamin Caldwell, the frigate Richmond joined the Emerald at ten in the morning and “at Noon employed bringing the Prisoners onboard.” The afternoon was spent boarding the American prisoners but before Emerald “weigh’d and made Sail with the Prize” that evening, crewman Bartholomew Kelly was punished “with 12 Lashes, for quarreling and fighting”.

The circumstances and details of the 11 April 1778 exchange of 26 officers and men belonging to the frigate Virginia is not entirely clear. It appears that fourteen of that number were presented by Lieutenant Joshua Barney for exchange prior to the St. Albans departure for New York on 14 April 1778 based on a letter from Emerald’s Captain Benjamin Caldwell to the Virginia’s former commander Captain James Nicholson dated 30 April 1778. “I this evening received your letter to Captn: Onslow, of the 25th. instant, who left this the 14th, and carried with him to New York, all the officers and Crew of the Virginia you left behind;—having waited, (as he informed me,) more than a reasonable time for an answer, to his letters, relative to a general exchange of them. Mr: Burney has brought fourteen people, to be exchanged, and as we have but two prisoners at present on board, the remaining twelve, I give a receipt for, and shall write to New York, to have that number of your people Returned immediately, which no doubt will be done.” Another later letter from Caldwell to British Commodore William Hotham dated 14 May also speaks about an exchange, although it is not certain if it is the same one. “I have received twelve men from Baltimore in exchange for twelve of the Virginia’s Crew, and promissed that twelve should be exchanged for them, as per list inclosed.” Interestingly the fourteen of the first letter and the twelve of the second result in a sum of 26, the precise number of men exchanged on 11 April 1778.

John Sleymaker
Joshua Barney
Thomas Pownal
William Barney *
David Murron *
Charles Chelton *
Liven Langret *
Thomas Jennings
James Fulton
Samuel Murron *
Peter Sharp *
Alexander Duffy *
Thomas James
James Ragan
John Grimes
Stephen Burn *
Thomas Seymour *
Jacob Tycen *
John Walter *
Benjamin Thompson *
John Young
Jacob Long *
John Radley *
Joseph Halston *
Denis Larken
Shed’k Davis *
David Brenan
Robert Lambert
Sim’n Benjamin
John Dick
Denis Coleman
Edward Bolf
John McKew
James Stackaball
Michael Carney
Henry Lawrence
Richard Clarke
Thomas Eunich
Lau’e Molten
James Stephenson
Anthony Higgins
John Grant
George Teague *
Will Guthrie *
Richard Foster *
Andrew Moor
Richard Jones *
Michael Neigle
Alexander Burrell *
George Clark *
John Killen
John Herring
Patrick Lynch
John McFerline
George Gilles
Henry Mills
William Anderson
James Wallace
David Spring *
Clement Cannon *
Samuel Ropkins *
Jervis Boswell
Matthew Richards
Hampton Round *
Henry Spencer
Joseph Newton
James Lynch
Joseph Griffiths
John Power
Will Rice
Anthony Hanson
Anthony Remey
Thomas Nelson +
Joshua Tull +
Anthony Bell +

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