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Unpacking a Privateer’s Capture: Part One of Two
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
On Saturday, March 7, 1778, New York City’s newspaper gave the account of 15 “loyalist refugees” capturing a party of rebels that included an infamous privateer named William Smith Scudder. The story is noteworthy in that it names seven of the loyalist captors and includes the rebel privateer’s written confession. It is an incident with enough details that it can be “unpacked” and expanded, shedding light on how Connecticut Loyalists served the crown as refugees.
The story begins at Lloyd’s Neck on New York’s Long Island. Long Island Sound was not only a major shipping lane between the Atlantic Ocean and New York City, it also was a “no man’s land”, separating British held Long Island from rebel controlled Connecticut. The Sound provided a route to sanctuary for Connecticut’s loyalists, but it was also infested with Patriot privateers who preyed upon ships bound for Manhattan Island. Using whaleboats, Connecticut rebels crossed the Sound to attack refugee settlements along the Long Island shore, robbing homes and kidnapping loyalists.
The British built garrison forts along Long Island’s northern shore to guard against rebel predators. The largest of these was Fort Franklin, named in honour of William Franklin, the last royal governor of New Jersey. The fort was built on Lloyd’s Neck, a peninsula just north of present day Huntington.
By the late 1770s, hundreds of loyalist refugees had fled across Long Island Sound and found sanctuary near the garrison’s protective walls. Living in tents or huts, the loyalists no doubt saw their stay as a temporary situation. In addition to providing for their families, the refugee heads of families also served alongside the British soldiers stationed at Fort Franklin. It was one such group of Loyalists who finally captured William Smith Scudder.
New York’s Patriot governor, George Clinton, had commissioned Scudder as “a privateersman with power to seize and make prize of all goods, shipping, merchandize and effects, liable to confiscation.” He was authorized to prevent anyone to pass to Long Island “except for the purpose of gaining necessary military intelligence“, but was forbidden to plunder either Patriot or Tory inhabitants.
The sloop Ranger and its nine man crew had a captain well suited to his fulfill his commission. The Scudder family genealogy describes the New York Patriot as man who could “read the water and weather like a book”. Scudder “became familiar with many people, as well as with the problems of navigation in the Sound. It was a background which would stand him in good stead as the American Revolution would tax his expertise to the utmost.
As a privateer in Long Island Sound, Scudder was certainly an irritant. However, he went beyond the instructions of his commission and plundered various settlements along the Long Island shore. He is noted as capturing a neutral Quaker, taking valuables from the captive’s home, and seizing two sloops. As a consequence, his own government would later try Scudder for “improper plundering”.
But it was a party of 15 loyalist refugees who first brought Scudder to justice. On Tuesday, March 3, 1778, the 38 year-old privateer was captured while acting on orders from General Israel Putnam.
Based in Connecticut, Putnam received intelligence of “certain pieces of ordnance that belonged to the enemy’s shipping“(cannons and guns that remained on three burned British vessels). Although Scudder was only authorized to seize vessels in the Sound, Putnam nevertheless ordered the privateer to sail for Long Island to capture the ordnance. The fact that this raid was to occur in the middle of a snowstorm and its attendant freezing temperatures did not deter Putnam’s resolve.
In a confession that he wrote after his arrest, Scudder said, “My design now in coming over was to collect what we could from the wrecks then burnt. We got some things out of Samuel Skidmore’s cider-mill house and made his Negro get up his team and cart them down to the shore. We then attempted to go over to the other shore but the wind coming ahead and it setting in extreme cold and freezing our fingers, feet, &c., we were obliged to make for the first land before the wind, which proved to be Lloyd’s Neck.”
And of course, Lloyd’s Neck was the site of Fort Franklin and its loyalist refugee camp. The particulars of how 15 refugees captured Scudder and his men are not given, but seven of the Loyalists were later named in Rivington’s Gazette: Fyler Dibblee, David Lion, William Peck, John Cable, Jabez Cable, Jonathan Cable, and Jared Cable.
It is significant that it was Loyalists and not British soldiers from Fort Franklin who seized the privateer. Given that there was a blizzard in progress, had they drawn the short straw and been made guardians of the three burned ships that had run ashore? While that remains a mystery, it is known that one of the two boats that accompanied Scudder was able to retreat and return to the safety of the Connecticut shore “severely frostbitten”.
Scudder and his men may not have been able to put up much of a fight once they encountered the loyalist sentinels. Judging from their exposure to the elements out on the Sound, they would not have been able to manipulate pistols or even make fists. Walking would have been difficult as their feet were also frostbitten. Scudder eventually lost “two fingers and the loss of use of both hands from being frozen“. His capture — if it provided a warm fire and shelter from the wind– may have been more than welcomed.
Given that Fyler Dibblee, one of the 15 loyalist sentinels who captured Scudder, was a lawyer, it was likely his idea to have the rebel privateer dictate a confession before two witnesses. Within the next few days, Scudder and his six men were sent to New York City where they were “secured in the provost guard” (military police).
In addition to the prisoners, Scudder’s confession made it to British headquarters and was subsequently published in Rivington’s Gazette. The fact that one of its witnesses was Dibblee, prompted the paper to put his name at the head of the list of Scudder’s captors. This may have had dire consequences for the Loyalist just two months later.
On May 2, 1778, more than 50 rebels captured Dibblee and 16 other refugees while they were cutting wood near Lloyd’s Neck and carried them off in four whaleboats.
Scudder was later released from jail in New York City – perhaps in a prisoner exchange. In May of 1779, he stood before the county court in Fairfield, Connecticut to face charges of “improper plundering”. Despite General Putnam’s ordering Scudder to salvage the ordnance in 1778 and his earlier opinion that the privateer was “a brave man, has suffered much, and done considerable service in the cause of his country“, he was one of the Patriot army officers who “deemed Scudder’s action simple plundering that also violated military orders and regulations.
Scudder was found guilty as charged. His punishment is not recorded, but one of the consequences of his illegal actions was the loss of the profits from his privateering activities. However, a Continental Court of appeals later overturned the 1779 ruling and allowed Scudder the rewards of his privateering – clearing his name in the process.
Scudder returned to privateering, but remained a controversial figure. His family’s genealogical record notes that his men later robbed food and items from the home of a Dr. Anthony who was “thought” to be a Loyalist. In June of 1781, the Council of Appointments recalled his privateering commission because Scudder had “allowed {his} men to plunder the inhabitants.”
Despite his illegal activities, the privateer later received a pension from New York for disabilities sustained during the revolution.
William Smith Scudder died at the age of 64 and was buried in the Old Quaker Burying Ground in Roxbury, New York. While he made headlines only once in the winter of 1778, one of his loyalist captors in that year had his name appear a second time in Rivington’s Gazette.
The stories of Fyler Dibblee and the other Loyalists who captured an infamous rebel privateer will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Book: The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution
by Andrew M. Wehrman, Johns Hopkins University Press (December 6, 2022) 472 pages
Timely and fascinating account of the raucous public demand for smallpox inoculation during the American Revolution and the origin of vaccination in the United States.
The Revolutionary War broke out during a smallpox epidemic, and in response, General George Washington ordered the inoculation of the Continental Army. But Washington did not have to convince fearful colonists to protect themselves against smallpox; they were the ones demanding it. In The Contagion of Liberty, Andrew M. Wehrman describes a revolution within a revolution, where the violent insistence for freedom from disease ultimately helped American colonists achieve independence from Great Britain.
Inoculation, a shocking procedure introduced to America by an enslaved African, became the most sought-after medical procedure of the eighteenth century. The difficulty lay in providing it to all Americans and not just the fortunate few. Across the colonies, poor Americans rioted for equal access to medicine, while cities and towns shut down for quarantines. In Marblehead, Massachusetts, sailors burned down an expensive private hospital just weeks after the Boston Tea Party.
This thought-provoking history offers a new dimension to our understanding of both the American Revolution and the origins of public health in the United States. The miraculous discovery of vaccination in the early 1800s posed new challenges that upended the revolutionaries’ dream of disease eradication, and Wehrman reveals that the quintessentially American rejection of universal health care systems has deeper roots than previously known. During a time when some of the loudest voices in the United States are those clamoring against efforts to vaccinate, this richly documented book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of medicine and politics, or who has questioned government action (or lack thereof) during a pandemic.

Benjamin Franklin and the American Legacy in Paris
by John E. Happ 21 Nov. 2022 Journal of the American Revolution
France has an extraordinary way of commemorating the glorious past through landmarks and monuments. Benjamin Franklin had been an off and on resident of Paris living at 66 rue Raynouard, the former Hotel de Valentinoise, in Passy. He was recognized as the first official diplomat and Ambassador of the thirteen American colonies. There is a magnificent statue of the man located on the southwest corner of the Place du Trocadero, where one has an excellent view of the Eiffel Tower. The exact street where the monument is found has been, since 1791, called Rue Benjamin Franklin. When the statue was dedicated in 1906, a New York Times article declared that it represented “France’s unwavering friendship to the United States.”
Incredibly, the location of Franklin’s statue is called Le Square de Yorktown, commemorating the 1781 battle between the combined forces of George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and the French General Rochambeau. Read more…

Days of Thanksgiving
by Editors, 23 Nov. 2022, Journal of the American Revolution
Days of Thanksgiving were frequently declared in colonial and early America. We asked our contributors for their favorite proclamation of Thanksgiving between 1765 and 1805? Read more…

You are not really dressed until you are wearing a hat
by Anna M. Thane 20 Nov 2022
Dear time travelling gentleman on the way to the 18th century, please make sure to take with you one thing: a hat!
In the 18th century, a hat is not only useful in bad weather, and it is more than a fashion accessory. A hat indicates your role in society. Without a hat you are a nobody.
Follow me to a brief introduction to the history of 18th century hats. We make sure you pick the correct one for each period, and we also find out about hat etiquette.
The tricorn that wasn’t a tricorn
For most part of the 18th century, things are easy: The tricorn was the hat of choice for all – rich or poor alike, gentleman or soldier, craftsman or highwayman. Some wealthy women wore it as a part of their riding or hunting attire. There were no set rules how it should be worn: The pointed corner could either be in the middle or at the side. Read more…

Education, Education, Education – for girls in the Georgian era
By Sarah Murden 21 Nov. 2022, All Things Georgian
I have previously looked at employment for 18th century girls, so today we’re going to look at educational establishments for girls.
If you were middle or upper class, you would no doubt have been educated, but for the lower classes education may well have been carried out by the mother in the home, and in a large part, a girl would have learnt the same skills as her mother, whether that be childcare or perhaps some sort of home based work, for example framework knitting.
We know that for girls born into noble families education was often carried out home, with tutors being brought into the household or by a live in governess, rather than the girl attending a school, but for many upper class young ladies they were educated and would perhaps attend boarding school. Sending your daughter to a boarding school could also be quite risky, as it meant your daughter was no longer under your roof and it would be difficult to assess how safe she might be in such a place, despite their seemingly impeccable credentials. Read more…

Query: Survey Map of Osnabruck Township
My ancestor settled in Osnabruck Township in what is now Eastern Ontario. Osnabruck was named after a title formerly held by the King’s second son, Prince Frederick, who at one time was Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück in Lower Saxony. This area was first settled by members of Sir John Johnson’s King’s Royal Regiment of New York, and became Stormont County in 1792.
I am searching for a survey map of Osnabruck township called the “Quebec Plan”.
I have maps of 1786 McNiff and other maps for Osnabruck township, carrying the numbers 10 and 12 showing present ownership.
A concrete example is the following from the 1801 report to the Lt Governor;
“This lot on the Quebec Plan appears to be vacant”, but in actual fact this lot was petitioned for and received by Wm. Campbell in 1790/1792.
Are these “plans” available?
Thanks in advance for any assistance
Richard Poaps UE,

UELAC Loyalist Directory: New Contributions
Entries which have been added, or revised, this week, with thanks:

  • Kevin Wisener has a particular interest in Loyalists of Prince Edward Island, and has submitted these recent additions.
    • John Boyce Jr. boarded French and Revolutionary Army Officers prisoners of war during the Revolution in Gravesend, Long Island, New York and resettled at Dartmouth NS but later moved to PEI.
    • Sarah Turner was widowed, and as a refugee left Boston with her daughter in 1781 to resettled in PEI.
    • Pvt. John Hennibury served for seven years as a soldier, with the 57th Regiment of Foot. He received a 100 acre land grant at Pinette, Queens County, PEI. but in 1787 petitioned for different land.
    • Pvt. James Crockett may have been from Maine, served with in the 1st Battalion, Kings Rangers, and received a 100 acre land grant at Pownal Bay, Lot 50, Queens County, Prince Edward Island.

If you are willing to submit some information, send a note to
All help is appreciated. …doug

Music and Song in Native North America
What was music like in Early America? How did different early Americans—Native Americans, African Americans, and White Americans—integrate and use music in their daily lives?
Your questions about music inspired this 5-episode series about music in Early America.
Chad Hamill, a Professor of Applied Indigenous Studies at Northern Arizona University, is an ethnomusicologist who studies Native American and Indigenous music. Chad serves as our guide as we explore the musical landscapes of Native North America prior to the arrival of European colonists.
As we explore music and its importance to Native American and Indigenous communities, Chad reveals details about the study of ethnomusicology and how this field of study helps us understand the musical traditions of people past and present; The musical landscapes of Native North America by 1492; And the role music played and plays in Native American life past and present. Listen in…

Support the UEL Heritage Centre & Park; Replace a Tree
The UEL Heritage Centre & Park in Adolphustown has been badly hit by Emerald Ash Bore infestation and has removed over 60 trees so far and more planned over this winter.
We are in the process of replacing the lost trees with new maple trees, and to date have done over 30, but more are needed at a cost of $250 each.
If you wish to support the park and donate a tree, please click here for more information and the donation form.
Thanks for supporting our Loyalist Heritage!
Brian Tackaberry, Vice-President, Bay of Quinte Branch UEL

Upcoming Events

Nelles Manor Museum Celebrates Christmas

Christmas at the Manor Tours November 27 and December 3 and 4. This event includes a guided tour and the wonderful Manor dressed in holiday finery. Tours begin at 10:00 a.m. with the last tour starting at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children (3 to 13 years). Ticketing

Candlelight Christmas is our annual evening with food, drinks and music, Saturday December 10 at 7:00 p.m. The 1790s Upper Canada Georgian Manor is decorated for Christmas. Harpist Mary Volk will entertain. Fabulous and delicious food will be served, along with some special drinks. Tickets are $40 per person and are limited. Ticketing

Gov. Simcoe Branch, “A Biography of Charles William Jefferys” Wed 7 December

Attend this presentation by Richard Fiennes-Clinton in person or via Zoom.
Charles William Jefferys was an illustrator who is best remembered for his drawings, sketches and paintings of Canadian history. In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, he published several books of meticulously researched historical imagery. This work included information about the United Empire Loyalists.
Richard Fiennes-Clinton operates an historical walking tour company called “Muddy York Walking Tours”, is the author of a book on Toronto’s early history Muddy York: A History of Toronto Until 1834 and has presented to our branch a number of times. See details.
To register:

Lecture: a Mass Burial Discovered at Red Bank Battlefield, Wed 7 Dec. 6:30

“As long as I have served, I have not left a battlefield in such deep sorrow”: The Archaeology of a Mass Burial Discovered at Red Bank Battlefield
December 7, 2022 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
For nearly a decade, Red Bank Battlefield Park, N.J., has been the focus of a series of archaeological studies investigating the Hessian attack on Fort Mercer on October 22, 1777, during the Philadelphia campaign. During a public archaeology program conducted in the summer of 2022, a mass burial space was discovered and is thought to contain remains of Hessian soldiers who lost their lives in the attack. Wade P. Catts, lead archaeologist for the study, discusses how they made the discovery, what was found, and the analyses they’ve made so far.
Registration is required.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • 225 November 1783, the last of the British forces evacuated New York City. Historian William Fowler Jr.’s book American Crisis details the uncertain period from the surrender at Yorktown to the Treaty of Paris in the lead up to the evacuation. Read an except…
  • “Thursday, the twenty-third day of November instant, to be observed as a day of publick Thanksgiving throughout this Colony.” At the height of the siege of Boston, Thanksgiving was observed in 1775.
  • This week in History
  • Clothing and Related:
    • A disc of sunny embroidered straw might not be ideal to withstand the November downpours but it offers a round glow of warmth this Monday morning. A 1760s bergere hat exquisitely hand stitched in a floral garland
    • 18th Century dress, Robe à l’Anglaise, printed & painted Indian export fabric, c.1783
    • An 18th century Watteau pleat/sack back robe and matching petticoat, circa 1775.
    • 18th Century dress, Scottish, cream silk painted with sprays of flowers & butterflies, 1780-1785
    • 18th Century day dress of white cotton printed in purple in vertical rows of chinoiserie ornament, possibly inspired by prints of Jean Pillement. The 13 hooks and eyes on either side of the stomacher fronts appear to be original. 1770’s
    • 18th Century ensemble of quilted silk caraco jacket and skirt, the quilting was not only decorative but also added warmth to the wearer. c.1760’s
    • [dress] from the Bavarian National Museum, although it was cut and designed in France and used chintz, an Indian textile. It was originally made in 1740s but then was remade into a robe a la francaise in 1775. I also love that it has a thicker waist
    • fans of all things 18th century, this c.1790 Pierrot jacket is up for auction next month and comes with , emboirdered petticoat and fichu. The only catch? It’s estimate is a whipping £10,000-15,000!
    • Pocket detail of an 18th Century waistcoat, get a zoom in on the stunning intricate silk embroidery, 1760-1770
    • 18th Century men’s waistcoat showing the Fox & the Crow from Aesop’s fable across the bottom. Warning our wearer to beware of flattery, or perhaps warning others of the wearer’s flattery?! c.1790’s
  • Townsends:

Last Post: WERT UE, J. Leslie
Thursday, December 22nd, 1932 – Thursday, November 17th, 2022
Les grew up in Avonmore , receiving early education in the village schools where his love of sports developed. Following time spent at Queen’s University he worked as a prospector for a mining company, as a surveyor with Dept of Highways, and then underground in gold and uranium mines. He graduated from Carleton U and MacMaster and in 1963 he started teaching at CCVS, where he spent 25 years in the Phys Ed Department. A career he very much enjoyed.
In retirement he had an active life with many interests and hobbies. Some involved socializing and some were solitary. Golf, curling, hunting, fishing, travel, reading, music, photography, geneology, history, gardening, bird watching and volunteering.
Declining health precipitated a move from Williamstown to Lancaster in 2021.
Les is survived by his wife Wendy ( nee McRae), sister Marjorie Fowler( late George), children Christopher E Wert (Annette Helmer) and Susan L Sinden, stepdaughter Tamara Finch (David), stepson Todd Rozon (Wendy),.
Predeceased by the mother of his children Marlene Alice Miller (d. May 24 1985) and son Michael Bruce Wert (d. Jan 9 1986), Parents Bruce Wert (d. June 18 1988) and Bertha MacDougall (Nov 25 1984)
For service, donations and other details, visit Munro & Morris Funeral Homes.
Les was a member of the St. Lawrence Branch UELAC. He received his Loyalist Certificate in 2017 as a descendant of Conrad Wert
Michael Eamer UE

Last Post: TRIPP UE, John David
Born April 9th , 1937. Died November 24th , 2022 with his family at his side. Privileged to live in his childhood home in Trenton, Ontario until his passing. Survived by his true love Sally, his wife of 62 years, and his children Scott (Barb), Cindy (Anthony), Jennifer (Rob), and his grandchildren Annie, John, Andrew, Katie and Maggie. Predeceased by his mother Gladys, father Mark, and brother Paul.
A life well-lived, John was larger than life even when it didn’t go his way. Overcoming the loss of his leg in 1982, John moved forward with conviction. Never a complainer, often a joker – he educated many about prosthetics, sometimes with brutal humor which occasionally terrified his audience. He was proud to be featured in the Terry Fox Movie. Fishing was his passion, and while he referred to himself as an expert fisherman, he will be best remembered for his fish stories.
John lead a successful three generation family business in Trenton, that first opened in 1879. He was a life-long resident of Trenton – it was in his blood, proudly proclaiming it the “Centre of the Universe”; however, for his family, John was the centre of the universe.
A generous donor of both his money and time to many local causes including TMH Foundation, United Way, and Rotary International.
Dad was a proud Canadian; he had ethics and integrity before they were fashionable. He was incredibly proud of his family for accomplishments big and small. John’s perfect day would end with a sunset in either Barbados or Presqu’ile watching for the green flash.
A celebration of life will be held next summer. More details at the RUSHNELL FUNERAL HOME Trenton.
John was a member of the Bay of Quinte Branch, from which he received a Loyalist Certificate in 2004. He as a proven descendant of Isaac DeMille UEL.

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