The Seafaring Men of Manchester


This article is a continuation of a multipart story introduced on March 31 of Manchester’s Capt. John Lee, Jr.  This week we continue our privateering story.

This was the vessel about which a fanciful story is told, as follows.  The “Lyon” was captured by the British and sent for Halifax.  Captain Tuck, his Lieutenant, Daniel Leach, and some of their men were placed under a British prize crew.  A great talker, Tuck ingratiated himself with the prize captain and was invited ashore for some drinking at Halifax.  “During their absence, Leach, who was on deck, was watching the doings of the prize crew, who were all in the rigging making some repairs and shaking out the sails, that they might dry.  In this, Leach thought he saw his opportunity, and with him to see was to act.  Some of the (Manchester) prisoners were on deck, and soon comprehended the plan.  Leach loitered towards the arms-chest and, seizing an axe, burst the cover open; and, this being the signal agreed upon, the Americans were quickly armed and the crew in the rigging were at their mercy.  Leach and his former crew were in charge, and the English crew were his prisoners.  After a pleasant visit on shore, the prize captain and his polite friend (Tuck) were rowed alongside.  Leach received them courteously, and surprised the English captain by ordering him below as his prisoner, and Captain Tuck was informed that the ship was his again, and his old crew were awaiting his orders.  Under his direction the vessel was taken safely to Boston” (pp. 85-86, D. F. Lamson, “History of Manchester”).

Something like that actually happened.  The “Lyon” was a letter-of-marque (privateer and trader) owned by Francis Cabot of Beverly. Only one day out of Salem, she was captured by the British frigate HMS “Blonde.”  Captain Tuck and 60 men were put on board the “Blonde,” which sailed for Halifax but was wrecked off Yarmouth, NS.  They escaped to Seal Island, 3 miles off, and soon were discovered by two American privateers.  A deal was struck, and the British sailors were put ashore in a Tory part of Nova Scotia, while the prisoners were set ashore in Yankee-friendly Yarmouth, where they were given three vessels, fitted with provisions, in which about 100 men got home to Salem (Petition of William Tuck, May, 1782).

nova scotia, yarmouth, william tuck, seal island, francis cabot, john lee, daniel leach, d. f. lamson, prize captain, john lee, jr.