The Loyalist Gunboats of Staten Island

American gunboat of Revolution found at bottom of New York Lake

The Gunboat. — Throughout the Revolution the British employed
a small sailing vessel, upon the deck of which were mounted two small
cannons. Its mission was to perform patrol duty, principally along
the Kills, sometimes running up the creek to Richmond Village. It
prevented intercourse between neighbors on both sides of the Kills,
and caused a great deal of annoyance. This boat was supported by
the taxpayers of Staten Island, and its claims were paid out of the
“contingencies” account, as the old records show. John Bedell was
the County Treasurer. The following items of expense appear:

“Last Wednesday night, Captain Randall, from Elizabeth Town, came over to Staten Island with a Party of about Fourteen men and fired upon some of the Militia that were on Guard , wounded Mr. Richard Conner in the Arm and one Asher Tappen in the Leg, but neither dangerously.  The Militia pursued the Party, but got into their Boat in a great Hurry and made for the Jersey shore with all expedition.”- Gaines’s Mercury, June 24th, 1778

“Richmond County Sept. the 29 1779

“Received of John Bedel Esq the sum of Fifty one Pound Six shill:
for the use of the Gun boat as appears by the following receipt &
Fifty one Pound 5-9, gained by Exchanging one hundred of the Loan
office monny for Loan office Bill, to replace it.”

“Richmond County Sept. the 28 1779

“Received of Messrs. Richard Conner, Christian Jacobson, Henry
Perine, Cornells Corson suppervisors for Said County the Sum of
Eighty four Pound, being in full for my Selfe & Eight men, belonging
to the Gun boat commencing the fourteenth of August last and con-
tinued for one month” by me James Stewart Capt N J V.”


“Richmond County Sept. the 28 1779

“Received of Messrs. Richard Conner, Christian Jacobson, Henry
Perine, Cornells Corson the sum of Five Pound Fourteen Shilling in
full for My Selfe and Joshuah Wilson for servis done onboard the
gunboat being 19 days.

“£ 15.14.” by me William Scobey.”

“Richmond County Sept. the 28 1779

“Received of the Suppervisers the Sum of Six Pound four Shilling
being for Planks for repair of the gunboat.

“£6.4.0.”  by me Richard Conner.”

“Richmond County Sept. the 29 1779

“Rc’vd of the Suppervisors for said County the Sum Five
Pound Seven Shill: & 9d being in full for Carpenters Nails & Smiths
work done for the use of the gunboat.

“£5.7.9.”  by me Stephen Bedell.”

This paragraph follows the above, in the official records, and is of
interest in connection with this subject:

“At a Meeting of us, the Suppervisors for the County of Richmond,
Did examen the accounts of our late Treasurer, John Bedell Esqr De-
ceased, and found in the hands of the Executors of said Treasurer
Fourtyseven Pound in Continental, Pensulvany, Jersey, Newyork &
Conecticute Bills, and Two Pound three shill & 7d in silver, for which
sum a recipt was given by us to the above executor and the monuey
for the present put into the hand of Christian Jacobson til such time
and other Treasurer can be Chosen.”

There is no record, so far as we are aware, to show what became of
the gunboat. Tradition says it was surrendered to the Americans
after peace was declared; also, that it was captured and destroyed.

The men who were employed on the gunboat were Captain James
Stewart, Lieutenant Bornt G. Randall, Mate William Scobey, Quartermaster Stephen Bedell, and privates Joel Simonson, Ebenezer Conner, Robert Stewart, Obadiah Bedell, Paul Latourette, Asher Jacobson, Alonzo Latourette, and Peter Laforge. It is said that the original crew were from Elizabeth, and that they were finally superseded by Staten Islanders. Those named in this list, with the exception of Captain Stewart, were natives.



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