Philippe Dumaresq, privateer

From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search


Philippe Dumaresq, privateer

Philippe Dumaresq was the son of a Jersey Jurat and Seigneur but after emigrating to Boston he became an American privateer.


Born in Jersey in 1684 he was the son of Jurat Elie Dumaresq, Seigneur of Augres, and Francoise de Carteret of St Ouen. He emigrated to Boston, and on 12 June 1716 married Susanne Ferry in the Free Church there. He became one of the first Vestrymen of Trinity Church.

In 1739 the War of the Austrian Succession broke out, and the King by proclamation offered Letters of Marque to all who would fight the Spaniard. John Jones, a Boston merchant, fitted out a two-masted bilander, the Young Eagle, with 30 guns as a privateer, and gave the command to Dumaresq.

On 21 and 22 August he beat up for volunteers in Boston, and secured 120. Michael Dumaresq was his second lieutenant, William Dumaresq was one of the crew.


But men who enlisted on privateers were not an easy crowd to handle. On the eve of sailing he learnt of a plot to seize the ship and launch out as pirates. He summoned all hands on deck by beating the drum, made his clerk read aloud the Articles which every man had signed, with special emphasis on the Mutiny Article. He then ordered the three ringleaders to be stripped and fastened to the guns to receive 59 lashes.

Jones, however, intervened for them, so he merely sent them ashore, "the company hissing them all the time they were getting into the boat in token of their satisfaction of being rid of such villains".

Then Dumaresq made a speech: "Brother sailors, we are going against our enemies the Spaniards. Therefore I will have no quarrelling or fighting but against them. If any man will not comply with my commands, or thinks he shall be afraid when he comes to action, here is a boat to put him on shore".

He crossed the Atlantic, and between Madeira and Tenerife attacked a large Spanish vessel. Just as she was about to strike her colours, a Spanish man-of-war appeared, and the Young Eagle had to fly. But she captured a Swedish ship laden with wheat, heading for Tenerife, which was an enemy port, and took her to Madeira.

Violent quarrel

Here Dumaresq had a violent quarrel with Rous, his lieutenant. During the Captain's absence from the ship, Rous took her out of the harbour to chase a passing vessel, though Dumaresq from a rowing boat shouted to him to stop. On his return there was a scene. Rous threw his sword on the roundhouse, leaped to the main deck, "using many vile expressions, and then drawing his pistols went forward and fired them off, saying he would carry no further command on that ship".


This caused a division in the crew, and Rous was imprisoned at Madeira for nine days, but then allowed to enlist on HMS Ruby as Master's Mate. At Gibraltar there was more trouble, and Dumaresq's mate became so mutinous that he, too, was transferred to one of His Majesty's ships.

Capture ordered

The Spanish Government now fitted out a special cruiser with 280 men to capture the Young Eagle, but it failed to find her. Meanwhile Dumaresq captured the Amsterdam Post, a sloop laden with beef, butter, pilchards, and hats, and Michael Dumaresq was put in command of the prize crew. This capture led to a long, complicated lawsuit, for the Amsterdam Post carried two sets of papers, one Spanish, to be used if she was overhauled by a Spanish warship, and one Dutch, to he used if she fell into British hands. (The Dutch were neutral.) But the Boston Admiralty Court eventually adjudged her to Dumaresq.

The two boats next met a heavily armed Dutch fly-boat with a cargo of wheat, which surrendered without firing a shot, thinking that the Amsterdam Post was a second privateer. Before returning to Madeira they also seized a Spanish sloop. These three prizes were valued at £20,000, and up to this point the surgeon was the only one of the crew who had died.

On 7 August 1740 Dumaresq captured a Spanish barque with a cargo of charcoal, and on the 12th a French polacca laden with Malaga wine. On 1 September he took a French tartan carrying gold lace, rings, jewellery, tapestry, books, and clothes (this was valued at £5,000), and on the 13th a settee flying the colours of the Pope. This put up an hour's fight, but, when captured, was found to contain nothing but four barrels of wine.

In October a Captain Willis wrote from Gibraltar: "Off St Paare two Spanish privateers engaged Captain Dumaresq, but after a smart engagement the Don thought proper to make the best of his way to Cadiz".

Escort duties

But he was not only taking prizes. He was doing a lot of voluntary work in escorting British merchantmen. In December he wrote to his owner: "Your sloop has done as much service to King and Country as any fitted out in a warlike manner. Many vessels have escaped falling into the hands of the Spaniards by our means".

In January 1741 the Spanish Government sent out another ship specially to hunt down Dumaresq. They met, and fought, and in the battle 52 Spaniards were killed, and 40, including the captain, wounded; and then the Spaniard, the faster vessel, fled. Dumaresq himself was wounded, and his ship so damaged that he had to put in to Lisbon for repairs.

In the Spring he captured his last prize, a French ship, off Seville. In January 1744 his wife was described as a widow, and the Court granted her the guardianship of their youngest son. By her he had five children, Edward, Philip, who later was a Loyalist in the War of Independence and Aide-de-camp to Lord Dunmore, and three daughters who all married Channel Islanders. Susan married Matthew Saumarez, the father of the Admiral; Douce married George Bandinel; and Anne married Nicolas Mallet.

From A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey by George Balleine

Family tree


Descendants of Elias Dumaresq (1648)

Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs