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Boyle, Thomas (29 June 1776?–12 October 1825), shipmaster and privateer, was born reputedly at Marblehead, Massachusetts, although little else is known of his early years. His first recorded appearance was on 15 October 1792, when he registered at the Baltimore Customs House as master of the schooner ...

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Burns, Otway, Jr. (1775–25 October 1850), privateer, shipbuilder, and state legislator, was born on Queen’s Creek, Onslow County, North Carolina, the son of Otway Burns and Lisanah (maiden name unknown), farmers. Little is known of Burns’s education or youth. Apparently he went to sea at an early age and became a skilled seaman. In 1806 the Onslow County Court apprenticed an orphan lad to Burns to learn navigation. Prior to the War of 1812, Burns was master of a merchantman engaged in the coastwise trade between North Carolina and New England....

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Decatur, Stephen (1752–14 November 1808), merchant ship captain, privateersman, and naval officer, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Etienne Decatur, a French seafarer of Dutch descent, and Priscilla Hill, of Newport, where Etienne had settled about 1750. Stephen was baptized on 7 June 1752, and the family moved shortly thereafter to Philadelphia. Etienne died when Stephen was a youth, leaving the family with little money. Stephen also went to sea and was master of a sloop by 1774. On 20 December of that year he married Ann Pine, a Philadelphian of Irish and Scottish descent. Four of their five children lived to adulthood; one daughter married an officer of the Marine Corps, and three sons, the most famous of whom was ...

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Green, Nathan (1784–1825), privateer captain, was a resident of Salem, Massachusetts. Almost nothing is known of his early years, and even his lineage has not been positively identified. It seems likely, though not certain, that his parents were John Green and Patty (full name unknown) of Salem and that he was baptized in Salem on 6 October 1797 at the age of thirteen. The obscurity of his upbringing does not disappear until his activities during the War of 1812, which was the only well-documented period of his life....

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Halsey, John (01 March 1670–1716), privateer and pirate, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Halsey (occupation unknown) and Dinah (maiden name unknown). Born in North America’s principal seaport in a time of naval rivalry and consequent naval warfare, John Halsey is reported to have first gone to sea as a sailor in HMS ...

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Hunley, Horace L. (29 December 1823–15 October 1863), promoter and financier of three Confederate submarines, was born Horace Lawson Hunley in Sumner County, Tennessee, just north of Nashville, the son of John Hunley, a cotton broker, and Louise Lawson Hunley. In 1830, with his family, Horace moved, by way of Mississippi, to New Orleans, where his father had served during the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans under General ...

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Manley, John ( August 1732?–12 February 1793), naval officer and privateer, was born apparently near Torquay, England, the son of Robert Manley. His mother’s name is unknown. By 1757 he was living in Boston and was a captain in the merchant marine. In 1763 he married Hannah Cheevers. As of 1768 Manley was master of a vessel called the ...

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McNeill, Daniel (05 April 1748–1833), privateer and naval officer, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of William McNeill and Catherine Morrison. Little is known about his early life. He married Mary Cuthbertson in February 1770. She apparently died sometime before 1773. He married a second time, to Abigail Harvey of Nottingham, England. He had at least ten children with her, the first being born in July 1773....

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Newport, Christopher (1561– August 1617), privateer and sea captain, was christened at Harwich, England, on 29 December 1561, the son of Christopher Newport, a shipmaster, and Jane (maiden name unknown). Young Christopher presumably served a North Sea apprenticeship before venturing into oceanic waters. He was serving on the ...

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Olmsted, Gideon (12 February 1749–08 February 1845), seaman and privateersman, was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Jonathan Olmsted and Hannah Meakins, farmers. Little is known of his early life. Olmsted went to sea sometime in 1770 and soon became captain of a small vessel trading from Connecticut to the West Indies. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Olmsted, along with several brothers and cousins, joined the East Hartford militia company and marched to Boston to take part in the siege. With the British evacuation of Boston in March 1776 Olmsted returned home. In the spring of 1777 he married Mabel Roberts; they had no children. In July he purchased the sloop ...