Loyalist Collection, Piracy and Privateering Guide

Essential Information

Why Use This Guide?

This guide seeks to provide a sample of the wide variety of materials relating to pirates and privateering in The Loyalist Collection at the Harriet Irving Library, with an overview of what they contain and how to search them. Though the study of Loyalists is the primary focus of the collection, the selected materials transcend beyond the American Revolution to provide a range of material on pirates and privateering in the British Atlantic world c. 1680 to 1830. With geographic coverage spanning present-day eastern Canada and the United States, England, and the West Indies, the sources provide a first-hand view of the role of privateers and pirates in warfare and commerce; privateer ownership; the process of acquiring a letter of marque in Britain, its colonies, and America; the functioning of prize courts; and the approach of government bodies in dealing with pirates.

Types of Materials: Primary and Secondary

Primary materials are sources usually created at the time of an event and involve first-hand accounts of historical events without secondary analysis or interpretation. These include personal journals, original correspondence, and applications for a letter of marque, to name a few. Secondary sources offer an analysis, description, or interpretation of a primary resource; and often provide the historical context. For example, if a diary were the primary resource, the secondary resource could be an article explaining the significance and context of the diary; or if a personal letter during the American Revolution were the primary resource, the secondary resource could be a book or encyclopedia article about the American Revolution. These sources provide insights such as social context and military backdrops to piracy and privateering activities. 

Understanding Key Concepts

Courts of Vice-Admiralty:  These are courts in the British colonies with jurisdiction over shipping and maritime law cases; High Courts of Admiralty are the courts in Britain.

Letters of Marque:  This is a license given to an individual by government to legally capture enemy ships in times of war.

Piracy:  This is the act of attacking and robbing at sea.  The Atlantic British colonies in the early days welcomed pirate ships as it was beneficial to their economies - the pirates brought in cheap and valuable commodities and in return the pirates purchased supplies which enriched merchants.  But as they spread their reach across the Pacific and effected trade at a greater scale, Britain unleashed its Navy and by 1730 large-scale piracy was at an end.

Privateering:  Before the end of the 16th century it was not clear where piracy began and privateering ended; thereafter, privateering was understood to be the legal seizure of enemy ships in wartime while operating under a license of a letter of marque.  The British Atlantic colonies were adversely affected by Britain's many European conflicts, especially with France, but these wars provided opportunities for privateers.  Merchants's ships from coastal ports, for example, were armed and manned and scoured the seas from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to the waters of the Caribbean where the prizes were rich and numerous.  As of the War of 1812, privateering was still a pursuit.

Prize:  This is a ship or goods legally captured during war.

 

The Liverpool Packet, a Nova Scotia privateer vessel active during the War of 1812 by Thomas Hayhust.

(Image courtesy of the Queens County Museum)

 

Background Research

Background Research

The following reference sources act as a starting point for researchers looking to familiarize themselves with piracy and privateering in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the socio-economic conditions of the Atlantic world.  Reference sources, such as subject-specific encyclopedias, dictionaries, and bibliographies provide an overview of a topic and its related issues, help define unfamiliar terms, and contain key secondary sources. Aside from the selected sources below, researchers may wish to consult Reference Universe as well, which will provide links to reference books in print and online in the library system.

Search Reference Universe:

Due to system limitations, Reference Universe is not available to off-campus students at UNBSJ.

 

*Note: Books are organised by author.

 

American naval history : a guide

Author:  Coletta, Paolo Enrico

Abstract:  See chapters 3 and 4 for relevant bibliographies.

Call Number: HIL-REF E182 .C69 2000

 

Encyclopedia of the North American colonies

Author:  Cooke, Jacob Ernest

Abstract:  Chapter on Maritime Enterprises.  Use index for terms such as privateering.

Call Number:  HIL-REF E45 .E53 1993 v. 1-3

 

An Universal Dictionary of the Marine

Author:  Falconer, William

Abstract:  First published in 1769.  A copious explanation of the technical terms and phrases employed in the construction, equipment, furniture, machinery, movements, and military operations of a ship.  Illustrated with variety of original designs of shipping, together with separate views of their masts, sails, yards, and rigging; and a translation of the French sea terms and phrases.

 

The Oxford encyclopedia of maritime history

Author:  Hattendorf, John B.

Abstract:  Entries on piracy, privateering, and prizes in volume 3.  Brief bibliographies included.

Call Number: HIL-REF VK15 .O84 2007 vol. 1-4

 

Encyclopedia of the War of 1812

Authors: Heidler, David Stephen and Jeanne T Heidler

Abstract:  Sections on privateers (focuses on American privateering during the War of 1812) and letters of marque.  Includes "further reading".

Call Number:  HIL-REF E354 .H46 1997

 

Sailing ships of war, 1400-1860

Author:  Howard, Frank

Abstract:  Technical reference on types of ships.

Call Number: HIL-STACKS V795 .H98

 

The Oxford companion to ships & the sea

Author:  Kemp, Peter

Abstract:  Useful dictionary for relevant terms.

Call Number:  HIL-REF V23 .O9 1976

 

Merchant sailing ships, 1775-1815 : their design and construction

Author:  MacGregor, David R.

Abstract:  Technical reference on types of ships.

Call Number:  HIL-STACKS VM145 .M323

 

English/British naval history to 1815 : a guide to the literature

Author: Rasor, Eugene L.

Abtract:  See Chapter 12 "Piracy, Plunder, and Privateering" for bibliography, covers the 16th to 19th centuries.

Call Number: MICGDL DA70 .R374 2004

Primary Material

These primary sources provide a sample of materials relating to piracy and privateering found in The Loyalist Collection. A range of conflicts, time periods, and geographic areas are coved in the sources.  Click on the title links for further information pertaining to a specific collection, particularly the Finding Aid sections within for any indexes, etc. that may be available to assist research.

 

Materials are listed alphabetically by call number within subsections.  The sections relate to time periods and conflicts for which relevant material on piracy and privateering is found.  Please note, many items listed hold material from a variety of times and conflicts.  The sections are as follows:

 

"The Golden Age of Piracy" (broadly c. 1680s-1730)

Anglo-French Wars:  King George's War (1744-1748); French and Indian War or Seven Years' War (1756-1763)

American Revolutionary Period (1765-1783)

Anglo-French Wars (1793-1812)

War of 1812

 

"THE GOLDEN AGE OF PIRACY" (BROADLY C. 1680s-1730)

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Records in the British Public Record Office Relating to South Carolina:  1663-1782

MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6R4

Keywords:  pirates – Edward Teach, Steade Bonnet; piracy – laws, justice, harbouring and abetting, merchants, Spanish and French roles, personal accounts, trade and traders; Charleston [Charles Town]; West Indies – Jamaica, New Providence, Bahamas; St. Augustine, Florida; Havana, Cuba

This is a collection of selected documents pertaining to British administration of the colony of South Carolina, including its early period controlled by Lords Proprietors in the Propriety of Carolina (of which North Carolina was part); and comprises correspondence and other types of documentation between the Board of Trade and the Secretaries of State in England and its counterpart in Carolina, the governor; but also other officials and departments, such as the Lords Proprietors.   Using the era broadly commonly known as the “golden age of piracy” from the 1680s to the 1720s, Charleston, as a major trading port, was very affected by the thriving business of piracy.  These records document aspects of this activity:  laws and protocols to seize, try, and pardon; the urgency of enforcement directed by colonial officials in Britain; colonial officials’ concerns about the reception and assistance at Carolina by local officials; concerns by locals for more protection; relationships between merchants, French and Spanish with pirates– trade and protection; effect and importance of trade; brief personal accounts of interactions, activities, and engagements with pirates, such as by Col. William Rhett and Jeremiah Basse; the attractiveness of piracy; and the jurisdictions of the court, such as the Vice-Admiralty Court.   Within is a picture of the general state of piracy and privateering along the Carolina coast and as it relates to Carolina in the West Indies, giving a sense of its nature, personnel, motivation and responses to it.

*See also the companion collection relating to North Carolina.

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Original Correspondence: America and West Indies: Selections (CO 5/115-266): 1702-1794

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6A4C6S4

Keywords:  privateering and piracy – impact, security, complaints captures, prizes, prisoners; West Indies, Nova Scotia, Massachusetts (including present-day Maine), Prince Edward Island

Colonial Office contains the records of the British officials who had responsibilities for North American colonial matters (including the West Indies) and its communications with its counterparts in the colonies.  This usually involved the Secretaries of State or Board of Trade in England with the governors or military commanders, but also included documentation from other departments and officials on associated matters.  Due to its emphasis on Canadian interests, geographic coverage focuses on eastern Canada; but as a by-product, also includes areas that had direct connections or relations, such as the eastern United States and the West Indies.  Relating to privateering during the American revolutionary period as an illustration, the following topics are covered:  requests for military aid to protect trade, goods and people; requests for compensation for vessels taken; lists or accounts sent of captures such as of British ships, Englishmen, Germans and rebel armed vessels at Charles Town [Charleston]; prizes by Commander Parker; accounts and reports of privateering activities such as the Eagle Packet and the American privateer Vengeance(1778), and of complaints of privateering against France, Britain and America; concerns for trade, prices of goods, and impressment of seamen; protocol for prisoners taken and the division of prizes by the military; and French relations or obstructions in the West Indies.

*See also the companion CO 5 collection of selections of American interest (CO 5/111-245) covering 1770-84.  Nine documents discuss:  legalizing captures (1779), pirate activities in the West Indies protected by foreign colonies (1777), authorization by governors to grant commissions for seizing ships and cargo of the enemy (1777), regulations re. captures of seamen by privateers (1778), legalizing possession of captures (1779, situation of agents and prizes in New York (1778), duties on prize goods at New York (1779-80), captures off the coast of Delaware (1777), and a license form for exportation of prized goods, (New York, 1778).

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Original Correspondence: Nova Scotia and Cape Breton (CO 217): 1710-1867)

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6N6C6

Keywords: Nova Scotia, Acadia, Cape Breton, New England (example: Machias in present-day Maine), Sweden, French relations, Acadians, natives (Indians), privateering-prizes, piracy, letters of marque, defence and security, economics, fishery, coal, trade, inhabitants, merchants

Colonial Office contains the records of the British officials who had responsibilities for colonial matters and its communications with its counterparts in the colonies. Privateering references have been pulled and can be found in two finding aids, and from these it appears much of the time period relating to privateering issues ran between the very early 18th and 19th centuries. Previous to the years of the American Revolution, much of the concern both by the government and citizenry noted in mainland Nova Scotia appeared to surround seizures committed by natives and the French Acadians.  The years of Britain’s wars with America and France effected Nova Scotia (1783-1815), and concerns related to privateering included: necessity for security, the effect on communities and its citizenry, trade and the economy, and the government’s frustration at not being able to distribute letters of marque or arrest perpetrators. Reports and accounts herein provide evidence of the effect privateering had on Nova Scotia.

ANGLO-FRENCH WARS: KING GEORGE'S WAR (1744-1748); FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR OR SEVEN YEARS' WAR (1756-1763)

American Manuscripts in the Gage Papers: 1731-1874

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .A4G3P3

Keywords: British Royal Navy, colonial government of New England and Nova Scotia, international finances and investments, military strategy, prize money, privateers

Peter Warren, originally from Ireland, was an officer in the British Navy and spent most of his career in America and the Caribbean. He was appointed Governor of Louisbourg in 1745 after its capture, and his land acquisitions, internal finances, and prize captures, from which he gained his capital, are demonstrated in the Gage Papers.

John Porteous.  Papers: 1764-1862

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .P6J6P3

Keywords: privateering-narratives, engagements, financial accounts, vessels and crew, prizes; merchants; New York, Montreal, Atlantic

John Porteous was a merchant and a trader in the Detroit and New York areas. The Papers include correspondence and papers documenting the business activities and relationships of Porteous, focusing on the period from the British conquest of Quebec to the decade after the American Revolution. Porteous was a part owner of the British privateer Vengeance and within the Papers is found a published article written (using primary documents from the Papers) pertaining to her adventures, with many first-hand accounts from its crew.

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Original Correspondence: America and West Indies: Selections (CO 5/115-266): 1702-1794

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6A4C6S4

Keywords:  privateering and piracy – impact, security, complaints captures, prizes, prisoners; West Indies, Nova Scotia, Massachusetts (including present-day Maine), Prince Edward Island

Colonial Office contains the records of the British officials who had responsibilities for North American colonial matters (including the West Indies) and its communications with its counterparts in the colonies.  This usually involved the Secretaries of State or Board of Trade in England with the governors or military commanders, but also included documentation from other departments and officials on associated matters.  Due to its emphasis on Canadian interests, geographic coverage focuses on eastern Canada; but as a by-product, also includes areas that had direct connections or relations, such as the eastern United States and the West Indies.  Relating to privateering during the American revolutionary period as an illustration, the following topics are covered:  requests for military aid to protect trade, goods and people; requests for compensation for vessels taken; lists or accounts sent of captures such as of British ships, Englishmen, Germans and rebel armed vessels at Charles Town [Charleston]; prizes by Commander Parker; accounts and reports of privateering activities such as the Eagle Packet and the American privateer Vengeance(1778), and of complaints of privateering against France, Britain and America; concerns for trade, prices of goods, and impressment of seamen; protocol for prisoners taken and the division of prizes by the military; and French relations or obstructions in the West Indies.

*See also the companion CO 5 collection of selections of American interest (CO 5/111-245) covering 1770-84.  Nine documents discuss:  legalizing captures (1779), pirate activities in the West Indies protected by foreign colonies (1777), authorization by governors to grant commissions for seizing ships and cargo of the enemy (1777), regulations re. captures of seamen by privateers (1778), legalizing possession of captures (1779, situation of agents and prizes in New York (1778), duties on prize goods at New York (1779-80), captures off the coast of Delaware (1777), and a license form for exportation of prized goods, (New York, 1778).

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Original Correspondence: Nova Scotia and Cape Breton (CO 217): 1710-1867)

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6N6C6

Keywords: Nova Scotia, Acadia, Cape Breton, New England (example: Machias in present-day Maine), Sweden, French relations, Acadians, natives (Indians), privateering-prizes, piracy, letters of marque, defence and security, economics, fishery, coal, trade, inhabitants, merchants

Colonial Office contains the records of the British officials who had responsibilities for colonial matters and its communications with its counterparts in the colonies. Privateering references have been pulled and can be found in two finding aids, and from these it appears much of the time period relating to privateering issues ran between the very early 18th and 19th centuries. Previous to the years of the American Revolution, much of the concern both by the government and citizenry noted in mainland Nova Scotia appeared to surround seizures committed by natives and the French Acadians.  The years of Britain’s wars with America and France effected Nova Scotia (1783-1815), and concerns related to privateering included: necessity for security, the effect on communities and its citizenry, trade and the economy, and the government’s frustration at not being able to distribute letters of marque or arrest perpetrators. Reports and accounts herein provide evidence of the effect privateering had on Nova Scotia.

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Records in the British Public Record Office Relating to South Carolina:  1663-1782

MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6R4

Keywords:  pirates – Edward Teach, Steade Bonnet; piracy – laws, justice, harbouring and abetting, merchants, Spanish and French roles, personal accounts, trade and traders; Charleston [Charles Town]; West Indies – Jamaica, New Providence, Bahamas; St. Augustine, Florida; Havana, Cuba

This is a collection of selected documents pertaining to British administration of the colony of South Carolina, including its early period controlled by Lords Proprietors in the Propriety of Carolina (of which North Carolina was part); and comprises correspondence and other types of documentation between the Board of Trade and the Secretaries of State in England and its counterpart in Carolina, the governor; but also other officials and departments, such as the Lords Proprietors.   Using the era broadly commonly known as the “golden age of piracy” from the 1680s to the 1720s, Charleston, as a major trading port, was very affected by the thriving business of piracy.  These records document aspects of this activity:  laws and protocols to seize, try, and pardon; the urgency of enforcement directed by colonial officials in Britain; colonial officials’ concerns about the reception and assistance at Carolina by local officials; concerns by locals for more protection; relationships between merchants, French and Spanish with pirates– trade and protection; effect and importance of trade; brief personal accounts of interactions, activities, and engagements with pirates, such as by Col. William Rhett and Jeremiah Basse; the attractiveness of piracy; and the jurisdictions of the court, such as the Vice-Admiralty Court.   Within is a picture of the general state of piracy and privateering along the Carolina coast and as it relates to Carolina in the West Indies, giving a sense of its nature, personnel, motivation and responses to it.

*See also the companion collection relating to North Carolina.

 

AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD(1765-1783)

Sampson Blowers Letter: 1785

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .B5S3L4

Keywords: prize-ships, Vice-Admiralty Court, captured ships

Sampson Slater Blowers was a Loyalist lawyer who became (among other positions) a judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1821 to 1833. This letter to Ward Chipman, Solicitor-General of New Brunswick, discusses prize ships and other Admiralty cases dealing with captured shipping and gives an inside view of the functioning of prize courts.

Joseph and William Senhouse.  Materials Relating to the West Indies from the Senhouse Papers: 1762-1831

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .S4J6P3

Keywords: ships, commerce, trade, privateering, agriculture, slavery, geography, natural history

William and Joseph Senhouse were British customs officials in the West Indies during the period surrounding the American Revolution. The Joseph Senhouse memoirs include discussion of privateering activity within the notes from “Observations of Barbados.”

Jarvis Family. Collection: 1763-1922.

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .J3F3C6

Keywords: insurance, cargo, privateer

Munson Jarvis was a Loyalist from Connecticut who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick and established himself as merchant and trader. The Collection mainly consists of correspondence and business documents, but also includes a memorandum book kept from July 1788 to December 1796 which records the insurance of vessels and cargoes; also among the Collection is a record of a sale to Munson Jarvis and William Jarvis of a one-half interest in a privateer called the “General Smyth.”

John Porteous.  Papers: 1764-1862

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .P6J6P3

Keywords: privateering-narratives, engagements, financial accounts, vessels and crew, prizes; merchants; New York, Montreal, Atlantic

John Porteous was a merchant and a trader in the Detroit and New York areas. The Papers include correspondence and papers documenting the business activities and relationships of Porteous, focusing on the period from the British conquest of Quebec to the decade after the American Revolution. Porteous was a part owner of the British privateer Vengeance and within the Papers is found a published article written (using primary documents from the Papers) pertaining to her adventures, with many first-hand accounts from its crew.

Gideon White.  Family Collection:  1762-1920

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .W5G5C6

Keywords:  Nova Scotia (Shelburne and Halifax), West Indies, privateering –prizes, Nelson, merchants and agents, business enterprise, crew, shareholders, captures, personal narratives

Gideon White was a loyalist from Massachusetts who came to settle at Shelburne, Nova Scotia after the American Revolution.  The Collection contains family, business, and official correspondence of Gideon White and family; official records made by Gideon White in his various community roles, such as deputy registrar of the Vice-Admiralty Court; business accounts and records; and personal accounts.  The focus of the Collection is very much on Shelburne and its people, but also pertains to privateering.  White’s records document many aspects of the privateering enterprise covering the periods of the American Revolution (1775-83), Britain at war with France (1793-1815), and the War of 1812 in America (1812-15).  Material related to privateering includes the effect on business; relationships between merchants, agents and owners; personal experiences; and information pertaining to administrative processes and hurdles, supplies required for cruising, shareholders, and crew.  One particular vessel, the Nelson, has enough documentation alone to provide a good overview of the business of privateering out of Nova Scotia.

Great Britain. High Court of Admiralty. Letters of Marque: Declarations Against America: 1777-1783

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .G7A3L4A4

Keywords: ship owners, ship types, commanders, cargoes, supplies, armaments, crews, voyage plans

Letters of marque were commissions issued during the American Revolution by the British Lord High Admiral or Commissioners acting on his behalf, permitting privately owned vessels out of Great Britain to be operated as privateers or as armed merchantmen. Each declaration for a letter of marque contained a detailed description of the vessel including the master’s name, the tonnage, place of ownership, names of the owner or owners, number of crew members and frequently the names of the officers, the number of guns, amount and kind of ammunition, quantity of equipment, cargo.  Ports where bound which can be utilized in a variety of ways to examine overall patterns or research particular ships and commanders.

Great Britain. High Court of Admiralty. Letters of Marque: Declarations Against France, Spain, and the United Provinces: 1777-1783

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .G7A3L4F7

Keywords: ship owners, ship types, commanders, cargoes, supplies, armaments, voyage plans

Letters of Marque were commissions issued during wartime by the British Lord High Admiral or Commissioners acting on his behalf, permitting privately owned vessels out of Great Britain to be operated as privateers or as armed merchantmen against the allies of the Americans (the French, Spanish, and Dutch) during the Revolution.  Each declaration for a letter of marque contained a detailed description of the vessel including the master’s name, the tonnage, place of ownership, names of the owner or owners, number of crew members and frequently the names of the officers, the number of guns, amount and kind of ammunition, quantity of equipment, cargo.  Ports where bound which can be utilized in a variety of ways to examine overall patterns or research particular ships and commanders.

Massachusetts Archives Collection: 1772-1789

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .A4P8C6M5C6

Keywords: privateering and prizes, vessels, maritime trade and commerce, insurance, finances, Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, Portugal, Maritime Court

The Collection contains records of the various governing bodies of Massachusetts during the years of controversy leading to the American Revolution, and therefore cover a wide range of topics of concern to the area. Pertaining to privateering specifically, there are four discrete sections that are clearly related in volumes 139 and 157 to 159: bonds, between government and invested interests in a vessel, to proceed upon a cruise against enemy vessels (1776-1781); maritime records related mostly to prizes taken by Massachusetts privateers (1777-1783); international controversy surrounding the Portuguese prizes seized unlawfully by the Americans (1776-1779); and records relating to prize vessels captured by American privateers: cases of vessels heard before the Prize Court of the Middle District; prize accounts (1776-1777); and War Office accounts relating to prizes (1777-1780). Taken together, this varied Collection provides a good overview of the business of privateering, and its effects on trade, insurance, and government finances.

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Original Correspondence: America and West Indies: Selections (CO 5/115-266): 1702-1794

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6A4C6S4

Keywords:  privateering and piracy – impact, security, complaints captures, prizes, prisoners; West Indies, Nova Scotia, Massachusetts (including present-day Maine), Prince Edward Island

Colonial Office contains the records of the British officials who had responsibilities for North American colonial matters (including the West Indies) and its communications with its counterparts in the colonies.  This usually involved the Secretaries of State or Board of Trade in England with the governors or military commanders, but also included documentation from other departments and officials on associated matters.  Due to its emphasis on Canadian interests, geographic coverage focuses on eastern Canada; but as a by-product, also includes areas that had direct connections or relations, such as the eastern United States and the West Indies.  Relating to privateering during the American revolutionary period as an illustration, the following topics are covered:  requests for military aid to protect trade, goods and people; requests for compensation for vessels taken; lists or accounts sent of captures such as of British ships, Englishmen, Germans and rebel armed vessels at Charles Town [Charleston]; prizes by Commander Parker; accounts and reports of privateering activities such as the Eagle Packet and the American privateer Vengeance(1778), and of complaints of privateering against France, Britain and America; concerns for trade, prices of goods, and impressment of seamen; protocol for prisoners taken and the division of prizes by the military; and French relations or obstructions in the West Indies.

*See also the companion CO 5 collection of selections of American interest (CO 5/111-245) covering 1770-84.  Nine documents discuss:  legalizing captures (1779), pirate activities in the West Indies protected by foreign colonies (1777), authorization by governors to grant commissions for seizing ships and cargo of the enemy (1777), regulations re. captures of seamen by privateers (1778), legalizing possession of captures (1779, situation of agents and prizes in New York (1778), duties on prize goods at New York (1779-80), captures off the coast of Delaware (1777), and a license form for exportation of prized goods, (New York, 1778).

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Original Correspondence: Nova Scotia and Cape Breton (CO 217): 1710-1867)

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6N6C6

Keywords: Nova Scotia, Acadia, Cape Breton, New England (example: Machias in present-day Maine), Sweden, French relations, Acadians, natives (Indians), privateering-prizes, piracy, letters of marque, defence and security, economics, fishery, coal, trade, inhabitants, merchants

Colonial Office contains the records of the British officials who had responsibilities for colonial matters and its communications with its counterparts in the colonies. Privateering references have been pulled and can be found in two finding aids, and from these it appears much of the time period relating to privateering issues ran between the very early 18th and 19th centuries. Previous to the years of the American Revolution, much of the concern both by the government and citizenry noted in mainland Nova Scotia appeared to surround seizures committed by natives and the French Acadians.  The years of Britain’s wars with America and France effected Nova Scotia (1783-1815), and concerns related to privateering included: necessity for security, the effect on communities and its citizenry, trade and the economy, and the government’s frustration at not being able to distribute letters of marque or arrest perpetrators. Reports and accounts herein provide evidence of the effect privateering had on Nova Scotia.

ANGLO-FRENCH WARS (1793-1812)

Jarvis Family.  Collection: 1763-1922.

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .J3F3C6

Keywords: insurance, cargo, privateer

Munson Jarvis was a Loyalist from Connecticut who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick and established himself as merchant and trader. The Collection mainly consists of correspondence and business documents, but also includes a memorandum book kept from July 1788 to December 1796 which records the insurance of vessels and cargoes; also among the Collection is a record of a sale to Munson Jarvis and William Jarvis of a one-half interest in a privateer called the “General Smyth.”

Gideon White. Family Collection:  1762-1920

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .W5G5C6

Keywords:  Nova Scotia (Shelburne and Halifax), West Indies, privateering –prizes, Nelson, merchants and agents, business enterprise, crew, shareholders, captures, personal narratives

Gideon White was a loyalist from Massachusetts who came to settle at Shelburne, Nova Scotia after the American Revolution.  The Collection contains family, business, and official correspondence of Gideon White and family; official records made by Gideon White in his various community roles, such as deputy registrar of the Vice-Admiralty Court; business accounts and records; and personal accounts.  The focus of the Collection is very much on Shelburne and its people, but also pertains to privateering.  White’s records document many aspects of the privateering enterprise covering the periods of the American Revolution (1775-83), Britain at war with France (1793-1815), and the War of 1812 in America (1812-15).  Material related to privateering includes the effect on business; relationships between merchants, agents and owners; personal experiences; and information pertaining to administrative processes and hurdles, supplies required for cruising, shareholders, and crew.  One particular vessel, the Nelson, has enough documentation alone to provide a good overview of the business of privateering out of Nova Scotia.

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Original Correspondence: Nova Scotia and Cape Breton (CO 217): 1710-1867)

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6N6C6

Keywords: Nova Scotia, Acadia, Cape Breton, New England (example: Machias in present-day Maine), Sweden, French relations, Acadians, natives (Indians), privateering-prizes, piracy, letters of marque, defence and security, economics, fishery, coal, trade, inhabitants, merchants

Colonial Office contains the records of the British officials who had responsibilities for colonial matters and its communications with its counterparts in the colonies. Privateering references have been pulled and can be found in two finding aids, and from these it appears much of the time period relating to privateering issues ran between the very early 18th and 19th centuries. Previous to the years of the American Revolution, much of the concern both by the government and citizenry noted in mainland Nova Scotia appeared to surround seizures committed by natives and the French Acadians.  The years of Britain’s wars with America and France effected Nova Scotia (1783-1815), and concerns related to privateering included: necessity for security, the effect on communities and its citizenry, trade and the economy, and the government’s frustration at not being able to distribute letters of marque or arrest perpetrators. Reports and accounts herein provide evidence of the effect privateering had on Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia.  Court of Vice-Admiralty.  Records: 1763-1867.

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .N6C6V5R4

Keywords: vessel types, privateers, captures, ship seizures, letters of marque

Courts of the Vice-Admiralty dealt with cases of piracy, privateering, shipping, and local maritime matters. The Nova Scotia Court of the Vice-Admiralty was founded in 1749 and located in Halifax. This record consists of a listing of documents associated with the Court of the Vice-Admiralty compiled in 1881.  Types of documents listed included prize causes, instance causes, droits, recaptures, appeal causes, condemnations jure corone (by right of the Crown), and letters of marque most of which include ship names and dates.

WAR OF 1812

Gideon White.  Family Collection:  1762-1920

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .W5G5C6

Keywords:  Nova Scotia (Shelburne and Halifax), West Indies, privateering –prizes, Nelson, merchants and agents, business enterprise, crew, shareholders, captures, personal narratives

Gideon White was a loyalist from Massachusetts who came to settle at Shelburne, Nova Scotia after the American Revolution.  The Collection contains family, business, and official correspondence of Gideon White and family; official records made by Gideon White in his various community roles, such as deputy registrar of the Vice-Admiralty Court; business accounts and records; and personal accounts.  The focus of the Collection is very much on Shelburne and its people, but also pertains to privateering.  White’s records document many aspects of the privateering enterprise covering the periods of the American Revolution (1775-83), Britain at war with France (1793-1815), and the War of 1812 in America (1812-15).  Material related to privateering includes the effect on business; relationships between merchants, agents and owners; personal experiences; and information pertaining to administrative processes and hurdles, supplies required for cruising, shareholders, and crew.  One particular vessel, the Nelson, has enough documentation alone to provide a good overview of the business of privateering out of Nova Scotia.

 United States. Department of State. War of 1812 Papers: 1789-1815.

MIC-Loyalist FC LMR .U5S7W3P3

Keywords: letters of marque, privateering, enemy aliens, prisoners of war, espionage

During the War of 1812, the American Secretary of State issued letters of marque to privately owned armed vessels permitting privateering. Types of documents included applications for letters of marque to the State Department and Collectors of Customs, letters from Collectors of Customs in American ports, abstract of letters of marque given by Collectors during a given time period, and instructions for privateers.

Great Britain. Colonial Office. Original Correspondence: Nova Scotia and Cape Breton (CO 217): 1710-1867)

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7C6N6C6

Keywords: Nova Scotia, Acadia, Cape Breton, New England (example: Machias in present-day Maine), Sweden, French relations, Acadians, natives (Indians), privateering-prizes, piracy, letters of marque, defence and security, economics, fishery, coal, trade, inhabitants, merchants

Colonial Office contains the records of the British officials who had responsibilities for colonial matters and its communications with its counterparts in the colonies. Privateering references have been pulled and can be found in two finding aids, and from these it appears much of the time period relating to privateering issues ran between the very early 18th and 19th centuries. Previous to the years of the American Revolution, much of the concern both by the government and citizenry noted in mainland Nova Scotia appeared to surround seizures committed by natives and the French Acadians.  The years of Britain’s wars with America and France effected Nova Scotia (1783-1815), and concerns related to privateering included: necessity for security, the effect on communities and its citizenry, trade and the economy, and the government’s frustration at not being able to distribute letters of marque or arrest perpetrators. Reports and accounts herein provide evidence of the effect privateering had on Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia.  Court of Vice-Admiralty.  Records: 1763-1867.

Call Number:  MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .N6C6V5R4

Keywords: vessel types, privateers, captures, ship seizures, letters of marque

Courts of the Vice-Admiralty dealt with cases of piracy, privateering, shipping, and local maritime matters. The Nova Scotia Court of the Vice-Admiralty was founded in 1749 and located in Halifax. This record consists of a listing of documents associated with the Court of the Vice-Admiralty compiled in 1881.  Types of documents listed included prize causes, instance causes, droits, recaptures, appeal causes, condemnations jure corone (by right of the Crown), and letters of marque most of which include ship names and dates.

 

Catalogue Searching

Catalogue Searching:  WorldCat and The Loyalist Collection

When searching by keyword in WorldCat for books, journals, articles, etc., or in The Loyalist Collection catalogue for primary sources, depending on your topic, you can search, for example, by a particular ship, place, or person.

The Loyalist Collection

Remember you are searching the summaries of each of the titles typically, often with no subject search fields as in WorldCat; consequently, you are advised to check the Finding Aid fields within a record for any detailed content.

Suggested Loyalist Collection search terms include:

  • Admiralty
  • letters of marque
  • merchant
  • prize
  • vessel
  • War of 1812
  • maritime

Finding microfilm:  The Loyalist Collection is on the 3rd floor of the Harriet Irving Library and shelved into 5 sections: Church (LCR), Family (LFR), Military (LMR), Public (government) (LPR), and Special Collections (LSC). See floor plan.

Reading call numbers:  MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .B7E3L4 is located in the Loyalist Collection on microfilm, in the Family Records section (LFR). “.B7E3L4” represents the call number within that section.

WorldCat

The Libraries' catalogue, WorldCat, includes the holdings for all the UNB Libraries, including our campus at Saint John; and can also be searched for holdings beyond our collections and for types of material that includes journal articles and electronic books (ebooks).

In the Libraries' catalogue you can combine your search terms, for example,

suggested WorldCat searches include:

  • Admiralty
  • Buccaneers
  • Canada - History - 1775-1783
  • Canada - History - War of 1812
  • Caribbean area - Commerce - History
  • Great Britain - Admiralty
  • Great Britain - Colonies - History
  • Great Britain - Commerce - History
  • Guerre de course
  • Maritime Law
  • Naval art and science
  • Naval history
  • Piracy
  • Pirates - History
  • Privateering - Great Britain
  • Privateering - United States - History - 18th century
  • United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783
  • United States - History - War of 1812
  • War of American Independence
  • Warships

See how to search UNB WorldCat to find relevant books in this short video

Further Reading

These further reading sources seek to provide researchers with more information on topics relating to piracy and privateering in The Loyalist Collection.  Some items on the list are additional primary sources available in print at UNB Libraries.  For more options, researchers may want to perform a title, subject or keyword search in the Library's catalogue, WorldCat, to find books, journals, articles, etc.

Hint:  Remember to utilise the footnotes and bibliographies within your secondary sources, books for example, to point you in the direction of key sources on your topic.

Inter-library Loan:  Books and other materials not available at UNB may be available for loan from another institution through our Document Delivery service.  To search for these materials, use UNB's catalogue, WorldCat, and select "Libraries Worldwide".  Once you have found a title not locally held, select the "Request Item" link.

Browse the book shelves for material relating to religion either in the Library's main collection (Stacks) or in The Loyalist Collection (HIL-MICGDL):

  • E 182 - America, Naval History
  • E 183.7 to 183.9 - America, Diplomatic History
  • E 186-199 - America, Colonial History
  • E 201-298 - The Revolution 1775-1763
  • E 300 - 453 - Revolution to the Civil War 1775/ 1783-1861
  • F 1-15 - United States local history, New England
  • F 106 - Atlantic Coast, Middle Atlantic States
  • F 206 -220 - The South, South Atlantic States
  • F 1001-1145.2 - British America
  • F1035.8 - Maritime Provinces
  • V - Naval Science

Search UNB WorldCat:     

Advanced Search | Locations Guide | Other Catalogues | Help/FAQ

Books

*Note:  Books are arranged alphabetically by author.

 

American Privateers in the War of 1812: The Vessels and Their Prizes as Recorded in Niles' Weekly Register
Author: Good, Timothy, ed.
Call Number: HIL-STACKS E360 .A64 2012

Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period: Illustrative Documents
Author: Jameson, J. Franklin, ed.
Call Number: HIL-STACKS E195 .J32 1970

Prize and Prejudice: Privateering and Naval Prize in Atlantic Canada in the War of 1812
Author: Kert, Faye Margaret
Call Number: HIL-STACKS FC 2322.3 .K47 1997

Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution
Author: Patton, Robert H.
Call Number: HIL-STACKS E271 .P27

The Diary of Simeon Perkins
Author: Perkins, Simeon; Fergusson, Charles Bruce
Call Number: HIL-STACKS FC 231 .P48 A32 v. 1-5

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seaman, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750
Author: Rediker, Marcus
Call Number: HIL-STACKS VK57 .R43 1987

Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age
Author: Rediker, Marcus
Call Number: HIL-STACKS F106 .R42 2004

Instruction for the Commanders of Such Merchant Ships or Vessels Who Shall have Letters of Marque and Reprizals
Author:  Royal Navy Britain
Call Number: eBook

History of the Liverpool Privateers and Letters of Marque With an Account of the Liverpool Slave Trade
Author: Williams, Gomer
Call Number: eBook

"Wealth and Honour": Portsmouth During the Golden Age of Privateering, 1775-1815
Author: Winslow, Richard Elliott
Call Number: HIL-STACKS F44 .P8 W55 1988

  

External Resources

External Resources

The following list of external resources was compiled to provide relevant electronic research tools to compliment the other materials referenced within this guide.

Websites

"Spoils of War: Privateering in Nova Scotia" is a site hosted by the Nova Scotia Archives featuring digital primary material and list of secondary sources.

The Canadian Nautical Research Society site includes an index for their journal The Northern Mariner which features articles related to piracy and privateering.  Some PDF copies of articles are available freely on the site.

Memorial University's Maritime History Archive includes a searchable catalogue and online material.  A particular feature of the Archive is The Lester Diaries (1761-1802) which was written by two brothers engaged in trans-Atlantic trade.

The Royal Museums Greenwich (England) website features numerous images and objects related to pirates and privateers in its collection.  As well, a research guide to pirates and privateers is available and a blog series on British piracy.

Reports of Cases in the Vice Admiralty of the Province of New York and the Court of Admiralty of the State of New York, 1715-1788, edited by Charles Merrill is available digitally and contains primary source material with an emphasis on prize cases.

War of 1812:  Privateers contains useful indexes of British and American privateer vessels as well as background information.

A digital version of Lloyd's List, a wealth of historical information on ships on the Atlantic, is available online, and the Guildhall Library has created an index of the "Marine News" section.  As well, the online version of Lloyd's Register may be of use to researchers.

Queen Anne's Revenge Shipwreck Project explores the conservation of Edward Teach's (Blackbeard) ship sunk in North Carolina and includes links to theses and articles related to the project.

An online transcription of Notes on Nova Scotia Privateers  by George E. E. Nichols and read before the Nova Scotia Historical Society  in 1904 is found on Fort Havoc via the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website.

More Information


Subject Specialties:
Atlantic Provinces History, New Brunswick History, Loyalists, Genealogy, Palaeography, Working With Primary Sources, Newspapers

Last modified on October 17, 2017 09:31