Undoubtedly the greatest catastrophic loss for the Continental Navy during the War for Independence was the total destruction of the frigate Randolph and the loss of Captain Nicholas Biddle and over three hundred of her officers, “picked seamen” and “gentlemen volunteers” on 7 March 1778. Only four of her reported crew of 315 survived the explosion of her magazine during an engagement with the 64-gun HMS Yarmouth under the command of Captain Nicholas Vincent. The tragic loss of life surpasses even the loss of the 18-gun Continental sloop Saratoga three years later which disappeared from sight in an instant during a particularly severe squall on 18 March 1781 with all hands lost.
No muster is known to have survived the tragic loss and no concentrated effort appears to have been made in the last 237 years to reconstruct a list of the officers and men who gave their lives as the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of a nation yet to survive infancy. This site will periodically be updated with very short bios on those known or believed to have been lost in Randolph’s action with HMS Yarmouth. Only about ten percent of her compliment of 315 men have been identified by this writer. An attempt to identify power of attorney records for some or most of her crew in Exemplification Book 11 of the early deed books of the City of Philadelphia where a number of crew lists of Revolutionary War private armed ships were unsuccessful. The frigate Randolph left Philadelphia in February 1777 over one year before her total loss and just months before Power of Attorney records were first organised into what would later become Exemplification Book 11. It would be considered a great service if a South Carolina researcher would immerse themselves into such records in that place, as well as, wills and muster records of the unknown forty-seven men of the 1st SC Continental Regiment lost on the frigate Randolph. This post will continue to be a work in progress for many years and I invite additions and corrections to the list as well as offers of research assistance.
William Barnes, 1st Lieutenant
Nicholas Biddle, Captain
Joseph Caufman, Surgeon
Timothy Cremer, 1st SC Continental Regiment
Joshua Fanning, 3rd Lieutenant
Lieutenant Grey, 1st SC Continental Regiment
Joseph Ioor, Captain of 1st SC Continental Regiment
Dyer La Roche, Sergeant of 1st SC Continental Regiment
Mordecai Matlack, Midshipman
John McDougall, 2nd Lieutenant
James McGill, Sergeant of 1st SC Continental Regiment
James Parsons, 1st SC Continental Regiment
Thomas Saunders Pascho
Solomon Proby, Corporal of 1st SC Continental Regiment
Franklin Reid, 1st Lieutenant of Marines
Samuel Shaw, Captain of Marines
Luke Shield, Jr.
Ebenezer Simmons, Lieutenant of 1st SC Continental Regiment