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Unpacking a Privateer’s Capture: Part Two of Two
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
Loyalist refugees in New York City who opened their copy of Rivington’s Gazette on Saturday, March 7, 1778, could read an account of 15 “loyalist refugees” who had captured the infamous privateer William Smith Scudder. The story is noteworthy in that it includes the names of seven of the loyalist captors: Fyler Dibblee, David Lion, William Peck, John Cable, Jabez Cable, Jonathan Cable, and Jared Cable. Having “unpacked” the story of the rebel privateer in Part One, we can now consider the stories of his captors in years following their moment of fame.
While nothing more is known of David Lion (Lyon?), Fyler Dibblee’s biography is by far the most detailed of the men who captured William Scudder. A lawyer who was once based in Stamford, Connecticut, Dibblee had served his town as the leader of its militia and its representative in the colonial general assembly. In 1776, his loyalist convictions brought down the wrath of local Patriots, compelling him to seek refuge on Long Island. His wife Polly and their five children joined him the following year.
But the loyalist refugee camp was anything but a haven for the Dibblee family. On at least three separate occasions, Fyler suffered violence at hands of rebels. His fortunes improved when he was made a deputy agent for the Union, the flagship of the first fleet of evacuation vessels that took Loyalists to the mouth of the St. John River.
After arriving in Parrtown, Dibblee was appointed a magistrate, an agent to oversee refugee settlement, and a member of a four-man commission to enumerate the occupants of the St. John River Valley. In October, Fyler wrote his father to say that his family was settled “to their unspeakable satisfaction“.
However, over the winter, the calls for Fyler’s services gradually diminished, forcing him to borrow a great sums of money from more prosperous Loyalists. The Connecticut lawyer fell into a depression brought on by debt and his inability to find gainful employment.
On the evening of Thursday, May 6, 1784 as his family sat down for their meal, Fyler took out his razor, drew the curtains of his four-poster bed, lay down, and slit his throat. It was a tragic end to a man who had once helped in the capture of a rebel privateer 6 years earlier.
The last five captors of Scudder who are listed by name were all relatives. The four Cables were brothers who hailed from Fairfield, Connecticut; William Peck was their brother-in-law by marriage to their sister Sarah.
Following the capture of the privateer Scudder, William Peck remained on Long Island until Loyalist refugees began to board evacuation vessels for other parts of the British Empire. Peck (sometimes given as “Pack”) came to New Brunswick as a member of Sylvanus Whitney’s company with his wife and four children on board the Two Sisters. He was listed as being a carpenter. Although he was granted land in what became Saint John, Peck settled in the parish of Wickham in Queen’s County.
In March 1787, Peck was noted as being a witness for the widow of John Cable when the loyalist compensation board held its hearings in Saint John. John Cable was Peck’s brother-in-law as well as one of the men who had captured William Scudder.
In Peck’s testimony, he revealed that he had built a 25-ton sloop called Sally that was taken by “the mob” in December of 1776. Peck got possession of Sally a month later, but rebels seized it again and unloaded its cargo of 754 bushels of flax seed. The seed, which had been put into a warehouse at Horseneck, Connecticut, was destroyed by fire during General Tryon’s raid on the town. Although he appeared as a witness before the compensation board, Peck did not make a claim on his own behalf.
According to the colony’s probate records, Peck died in 1826, leaving widow Rebeccah, two sons (James W. and Caleb) and four daughters (Syble, Mary, Elizabeth, and Catherine) to grieve his passing. (Another source gives his children’s names as Henry, Anna, William, Sarah, Rhoda, and Polly.) He left an estate valued at £296. Peck’s first wife Sarah died at age 39 on August 9, 1785.
The family of John Cable had mourned his death in December of 1779, four years before they sought refuge in New Brunswick. Whether John died of natural causes or in a battle with rebels is not recorded. Nine years after her husband had helped to capture William Scudder, Ann Cable recounted more of John’s wartime service.
Before the disruption of the revolution, the Cable family had lived in Glastonbury, Connecticut. John joined the British in December of 1776, allowing his vessel to be used as a “tender” (or ferry) by Captain James Ayscough of the Swan. He also served as a pilot and was remembered as “very active and zealous and served as a volunteer”.
John’s wartime journal revealed that he ferried loyalist refugees to Long Island and went to “great expense to keep people faithful” to the crown. He bought the sloop Sally from William Peck, but before he could unload its cargo, he was brought before a “Commission on Suspicion” in Fairfield, Connecticut. Despite being acquitted of the charges against him, “a mob collected again” to do Cable harm. He escaped town with his friend James Callahan. According to the latter, this was when Cable found sanctuary at Fort Franklin’s refugee camp on Long Island.
Ann and their children remained in Glastonbury for a year and a half, staying with her parents. Patriots seized the family’s furniture, books, and –eventually –”her all”. The Cables had owned 25 acres of land, a house, stores, three vessels and a mill.
As part of her testimony, Ann listed the names and ages of her children at the time of the compensation board hearings in 1787. She listed John (29), James (24), Peter (22), Anthony (21), Daniel (17), Jane (25), and Marianna (15). James spoke on his mother’s behalf at the compensation hearings saying that he and “all his brothers and sisters” wished any money granted by the board to be given to their mother. In an 1816 New Brunswick probate record, James is described as a grocer; two years later he was listed as a cooper. His brother Daniel died in Saint John in 1818; brother James died in 1826; Peter Cable is only mentioned in the press when his wife Mary died at 24 in 1799.
John Cable’s brother Jabez also found refuge in New Brunswick. He and his wife Mary, one child, and four servants were members of the Bay of Fundy Adventurers. (Another source lists 7 children: Jared, Molly, Ruth, Salathiel, Denbo, Hannah, and Sarah). They sailed to the mouth of the St. John River on the transport Symmetry. The 50 year-old Jabez was listed as a shoemaker from Connecticut.
His only appearance in New Brunswick documents of the era are as a witness at his sister-in-law’s hearing before the 1787 loyalist compensation board and as a signer of two petitions. In January of 1786, Jabez signed the Petition of Dissident Electors (along with 320 others), and in March of that year he signed the Seditious Election petition. Both dealt with an election that many Saint John Loyalists believed had been rigged in favour of the colony’s governing elite.
Very little is known regarding Jabez and his other Loyalist brother Jonathan. The latter came to New Brunswick with his wife Sarah (Ludlow), two young children, and a servant. He was listed as a farmer. However, by 1789 he was in Hartford, New York marrying his second wife, Apphia Brown. As Jonathan died in Athens, Ohio at 74 on January 22, 1826, it would appear that this Loyalist only spent a few years as a refugee in New Brunswick.
After “unpacking” the details in a 1778 news story, we now have a better appreciation of the Loyalists who, in capturing a notorious privateer, had their all-too-brief moment of fame.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Thomas Paine on Popular Government in America: Evolution of a Radical’s Thinking
by Jett Conner 29 Nov. 2022, Journal of th4 Americcan Revolution
It would be hard to find a more strident, vocal supporter of popular government during America’s founding period than Thomas Paine. The proposals put forth in his January 1776 pamphlet Common Sense for an “unmixed” and unchecked democratic scheme for America, designed to replace the British arrangement of balanced and mixed powers of King, Lords and Commons, were radical. Remarkably, the pamphlet appeared just over a year after Paine had immigrated to America from England. But while his ideas helped push the colonies toward separating from British rule, they rattled at least one leading voice for independence in the Second Continental Congress. John Adams asserted that Paine’s ideas were too “democratical.” A decade later Paine agreed, at least on several important points. Read more…

Charles Lee—The Continental Army’s Most Prolific Essayist General
by Gene Procknow 1 Dec. 2022 Journal of the American Revolution
Maj. Gen. Charles Lee’s substantial literary contributions to the American independence movement have been overshadowed by his challenging Gen. George Washington for Continental Army leadership and the 1860 discovery of a potentially treasonous document. Initially, Revolutionary Era Americans viewed Charles Lee as a highly accomplished military officer and a learned scholar and admired his ardently-argued republican political beliefs. Don Higginbotham, a twentieth-century historian, asserts that Lee was a “genuinely talented soldier” whose “star shown brighter than Washington” during the first year of the war. However, after his 1778 clash with Washington on the Monmouth battlefield, Lee’s reputation nosedived, and Congress cashiered him from the Continental Army. As a result, historians focus on Lee’s fall from grace, uncouth social manners, and undesirable personal affectations, thereby underestimating his discerning political insights and highly cultivated intellect.
A few months before hostilities broke out at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, Lee wrote two prominent “page one” newspaper articles. The first vociferously attacked Gen. Thomas Gage’s Boston occupation policies. The second cleverly used the colonial example of the Mediterranean island of Minorca to demonstrate that King George III would unjustly use physical force to subdue American colonists. Read more…

Book: Misinformation Nation: Foreign News and the Politics of Truth in Revolutionary America
By Jordan E. Taylor, ‎ Johns Hopkins University Press (October 11, 2022)
Fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the causes of the American Revolution and the pivotal role foreign news and misinformation played in driving colonists to revolt.
“Fake news” is not new. Just like millions of Americans today, the revolutionaries of the eighteenth century worried that they were entering a “post-truth” era. Their fears, however, were not fixated on social media or clickbait, but rather on peoples’ increasing reliance on reading news gathered from foreign newspapers. In Misinformation Nation, Jordan E. Taylor reveals how foreign news defined the boundaries of American politics and ultimately drove colonists to revolt against Britain and create a new nation.
News was the lifeblood of early American politics, but newspaper printers had few reliable sources to report on events from abroad. Accounts of battles and beheadings, as well as declarations and constitutions, often arrived alongside contradictory intelligence. Though frequently false, the information that Americans encountered in newspapers, letters, and conversations framed their sense of reality, leading them to respond with protests, boycotts, violence, and the creation of new political institutions. Fearing that their enemies were spreading fake news, American colonists fought for control of the news media. As their basic perceptions of reality diverged, Loyalists separated from Patriots and, in the new nation created by the revolution, Republicans inhabited a political reality quite distinct from that of their Federalist rivals.
The American Revolution was not only a political contest for liberty, equality, and independence (for white men, at least); it was also a contest to define certain accounts of reality to be truthful while defining others as false and dangerous. Misinformation Nation argues that we must also conceive of the American Revolution as a series of misperceptions, misunderstandings, and uninformed overreactions. In addition to making a striking and original argument about the founding of the United States, Misinformation Nation will be a valuable prehistory to our current political moment.

Music in British North America
Ben Franklin’s World, podcast, 30 Nov 2022
David Hildebrand is an instructor of Musicology at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He’s a well-regarded expert on music in Early America who has written several articles and books on the subject. He joins us to answer your questions about music in Early America.
During our conversation, David reveals what the European musical landscape was like by 1492; The ways religious or “church music” shaped early American musical tastes; And the different places and circumstances where you would have heard early Americans singing and playing music outside of a church. Listen in…

Phillis Wheatley’s Writing Desk
Massachusetts Historicak Society
This folding mahogany table may have been used by Phillis Wheatley while composing Poems on Various Subjects, Religous and Moral, the first book of poetry by a Black American, published in London in 1773. The frontispiece of Wheatley’s Poems, engraved by Scipio Moorhead (the slave of Rev. John Moorhead) while Wheatley was visiting London, shows Wheatley writing at a round table. Our table, in a classic Chippendale style, was possibly given to Phillis by the family of John Wheatley of Boston, who purchased her as a slave in 1761 and then taught her to read English, Greek, and Latin. Following Wheatley’s death in 1784, her possessions, including this writing desk, were sold at auction to pay her debts. Read more about the desk, and a biography of Phyllis…

List of Loyalist Certificates Updated with those issued in 2022 until October 30
The list of UE Certificates issued since late in 2012 — showing the Loyalist ancestor, name of descendant (when permission is granted), branch and date — has been updated with the certificates issued in October 2022.
The list can be seen at Loyalist Certificates Issued
These have also been added to the appropriate Loyalist in the Loyalist Directory.

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.
    • Lieut. William Hales of the Kings Rangers in 1784 was settled, or preparing to settle, in the island of St. John (PEI).
    • Pvt. John McGregor of the 1st Battalion, 42nd Regiment of Foot married Margaret and they had a child Janet, born 1792, baptized in 1793 in St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Charlottetown, PEI
    • Thomas Page of the 84th Regiment of Foot arrived in Prince Edward Island Sept 1784, with possible land grant at Pinette, Queens County, PEI.

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

‘Changing my slave name allowed me to find myself’
Chaka Artwell 8 Aug 2022 The Voice,
WHEN MILLIONS of the black diaspora were forced to start a new life from the shores of Africa and under the hands of slave owners, it left behind a diaspora of people centuries later that are still in search of the heritage and names that were taken from them.
In the Caribbean, enslaved black people worked across plantations in British colonies and built the homes of slaves owners on the grounds that many of them would live and die upon. As they were separated from family, and divided by the hue of their skin, their often given “slave names” are the only reminisce of their existence.
Jendayi Serwah, Co-chair of the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee, is a descendant of those very people who still hold connections to the names forced upon them by slave masters. Read more…

In the News:

Book sales support Rockport Rec Centre (50km east of Kingston)
By Lorraine Payette For Postmedia Network 28 Nov 2022
When you want to learn about the people in a local community, who better to turn to than one of their own. For years, Rockport had Tom Massey – who appeared on the CTV’s show Regional Contact as the Elf of Rockport and over his 77 years of life was well established in the village as a tour boat captain, fisherman and tugboat skipper. But for all of that, perhaps his biggest renown came from his abilities as a storyteller.
“Tom Massey was a local Rockport resident who has his roots firmly grounded in the settling of Grenadier Island and Rockport,” said Wendy Merkley, Rockport resident. “His family ancestors were united empire loyalists who settled on Grenadier Island. (Massey), like his ancestors, made his living on and around the river working on boats, fishing, guiding, and building boats. He had River Rat heritage in his blood and was a modern day River Rat. Read more…

Upcoming Events

Nelles Manor Museum Celebrates Christmas

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.

For Members: Recordings and Newsletters for You to Enjoy

Branch newsletters added since summer include:

  • Bicentennial (Windsor ON area),
  • Chilliwack BC,
  • Gov. Simcoe (in Toronto),
  • Grand River (Simcoe ON),
  • Kawartha (Peterborough ON),
  • Kingston ON,
  • Nova Scotia,
  • Saskatchewan,
  • Sir Guy Carleton (Ottawa ON),
  • St. Lawrence (Cornwall ON),
  • Toronto ON,
  • Vancouver BC,
  • Victoria BC

Recent presentations to Branches which have been recorded and contributed to this collection:

  • “Early North American Beer: Brewing and the Development of Ontario” Grand River Branch
  • “The English Language Goes To War”, Gov. Simcoe Branch
  • “Subversive Canada: Uncovering Narratives of Family, Slavery, and Self-Emancipation” Grand River Branch
  • “The Price Of Loyalty”, Gov. Simcoe Branch

At, members who log in can watch those Presentations and read those Newsletters. Prior newsletters and meeting recordings continue to be available.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Oldest Loyalist gravestone in western Nova Scotia is in Digby at Trinity Church Cemetery for Mary Getcheus. She died November 17, 1785. Her husband Capt. Jacob Getcheus transported Black Loyalists to Annapolis Royal aboard the Sloop Lydia. Read more…
  • Monument to Adm. William Wolseley (1756 – 1842) of British Navy, native of Annapolis Royal, NS at Fort Anne National Historic Site. Background not mentioned is also interesting. He was 2nd son of Capt. Wm. Wolseley of 47th regiment, & Anne Cosby, both had connections to Ireland. In the 1760s went to live in Ireland and schooled in Kilkenny before joining British Navy. Married Jane Moore of Clough House, County Down in 1795. In June 1798 commanded company of loyalist Protestant volunteers against United Irishmen at Battle of Ballynahinch in County Down. Brian McConnell UE
  • The Coronation of King George III and Queen Charlotte took place on 22 September 1761 at Westminster Abbey. This admission ticket for the Upper Gallery depicts the crowned King and Queen, under the Abbey’s vaulted dome.
  • This week in History
    • Nov 29 1773: It has been determined that the tea must be returned to England on board the same vessel that it arrived. Ship owner Francis Rotch was requested to ensure that no tea is unloaded from the Dartmouth at his own peril. A guard of 25 volunteers watch the cargo to ensure this.
    • 1 Dec 1773: Broadside describing Boston’s public meeting about the first shipload of East India Company tea, printed #OTD in 1773. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson ordered “each of you thus unlawfully assembled forthwith to disperse.” No one obeyed. Read more…
    • 2 Dec 1773: The 2nd of 4 Boston-bound ships, the Eleanor, captained by James Bruce, arrives in Boston Harbor with 114 chests of tea on board. Also starting this day, the crew of the Dartmouth begins to unload all of the other cargo, leaving the tea onboard.
    • 2 Dec 1774, Gen. Thomas Gage sent soldiers onto Boston Common “to fill up the cellars and holes that were made by the troops when encamp’d there, as well as to level the banks flung up by them.” Nonetheless, locals didn’t appreciate this effort.
    • 28 Nov 1775 “The pork and fish will serve twelve thousand men ninety-nine days, ending the 26th February next.” With winter approaching and the siege lines tightening, the British took stock of their supplies in Boston
    • 28 Nov 1775, Congress adopts “Rules for the Regulation of the Navy,” the first set of guidelines governing the navy. Congress established the Navy on 13 Oct, calling for the arming of 2 vessels for intercepting British ships.
    • 28 Nov 1775 Samuel Nicholas, a Philadelphia tavern owner, receives a commission as commander of the new Continental Marines only 18 days after Congress passed a resolution to form2 battalions to support the Continental Navy.
    • 29 Nov 1775 Congress establishes a Committee of Secret Correspondence to seek assistance from European nations.
    • 28 Nov 1776, The Declaration of Dependence to King George III signing ended. Signed by 547 Loyalists who wanted to stay under the King’s dominion. It put forth the concerns and faith of Loyalists as a counter to the Independence Declaration.
    • 28 Nov 1776 The British “blitz” thru Jersey begins to roll as Gen Charles Lord Cornwallis’s flying column occupied Newark while the remnants of the Continental Army retreated to Brunswick.
    • 1 Dec 1775 Gen. Montgomery’s forces join Gen. Arnold’s outside Quebec, preparing to besiege British there.
    • 2 Dec 1776 Jefferson proposes resolution in Congress for exchange of Ethan Allan, captured by British at Montreal.
    • 25 Nov 1777 Marquis de Lafayette defeats larger Hessian force at Gloucester NJ in his first battlefield command.
    • 27 Nov 1777 Congress suggests to states that Loyalists’ estates be confiscated; “forfeited the right to protection.”
    • 28 Nov 1777 John Adams replaces Silas Dean as commissioner to France.
    • 30 Nov 1782 Draft of Treaty of Paris, ending Revolutionary War, finalized.
    • 25 Nov 1783 British depart New York City, defiantly leaving one last flag on a greased pole.
    • 26 Nov 1783 Final text of Treaty of Paris first published in America.
  • Clothing and Related:
  • Townsends:
  • Miscellaneous
    • Ancient curse tablet made of lead, dating to c. 100 BCE. Found in Morgantina, Sicily. This curse tablet was one of ten found in a pit in a cthonian sanctuary; four of which, (including this one) wish death upon a slave-girl named Venusta. The tablet reads “Gaia, Hermes, Gods of the Underworld, receive Venusta, slave of Rufus.” More information about curse tablets in this fascinating article (also the source of the photograph). Read more…

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