JOHN PAUL JONES OFF IRELAND, 1778
News items (a little confused in places) relating to John Paul Jones's exploits off Ireland in the Ranger, reported in the Cumberland Chronicle newspaper, 9 May 1778, but the source was:
From JOYS' BELFAST NEWS LETTER.
Belfast, April 28. On Monday sennight a vessel of 250 tons burthen, supposed to be an American privateer, had that night sailed round the Drake sloop of war lying in this harbour, and afterwards sheered off. She again appeared in the harbour upon Friday morning last, and dropt an anchor at a small distance from the Drake with intention of sailing along side of her, in which being disappointed by the topsails backing, they thought proper to cut their cable and sheer off. The Drake thereon gave her chase, and engaged her about mid-channel betwen Donaghadee and the Scotch shore- but after an obstinate engagement of forty three minutes the sloop was obliged to strike, being of much inferior force to the privateer, as she mounted only 20 guns, 4 pounders, and the privateer 18 guns,6 pounders; and a considerable part of her crew consisting of newly impressed men.
It having been apprehended that the principal object of the privateer was to take the brig Draper, lying in the pool of Garmoyle, with a very valuable cargo of linen cloth, a number of soldiers were sent down to her, and every other necessary precaution taken.
The spirited conduct of Mr. Dobbs, First Lieutenant of the defiance man of war, merits a much higher encomium than the nature of this publication will admit of; and will, it is hoped, meet that reward it is so well entitled to. This gentleman knowing the infirm state of the Captain's health, and also the want of occicers on board the Drake, (the First Lieutenant and Boatswain having died some days before) went on board after she was under way, and assisted in fighting her until he was disabled by a dangerous wound.
For the further satisfaction of our readers we insert the underneath copy of an affidavit made before the Rev. Richard Dobbs:
JOHN Marks, of George's Quay, Dublin, seamen, came before me this day and made oath, that he belonged to the ship Lord Chatham of Dublin, and was taken near Wicklow, on Thursday the 16th inst by the Ranger privateer, Capt. Jones, of Portsmouth in Piscataqua, America, mounting 18 six-pounders:- Deponent also sayeth, they took a sloop and a schooner and sunk them both; and was informed on board, they had before taken a brig belonging to Waterford, which they sunk also: --- Deponent also sayeth, that on Friday the 24th instant, about six in the evening, they were engaged by hi Majesty's sloop Drake, Capt. Burdon, mounting 20 four-pounders, which, after a hot and incessant fire for above half an hour, was obliged to strike, being so much damaged in her masts and rigging that they could not work her, and having her Capt. and his Clerk killed, and Lieut. Dobbs and 21 others wounded.
Deponent also sayeth, that on Saturday the 25th inst. they took a brig from Dublin, belonging to Whitehaven; and then resolving to make the best of their way to Brest (their place of rendezvous) with their prizes, they permitted deponent and nine others to get on shore in the county of Antrim, and then stood away northward, with all the sail they could make: But deponent thinks they will be greatly delayed by the slow sailing of the Drake, being so much damaged. --- Deponent also sayeth, that the said privateer plundered a Lord's house in Scotland; and also confirms the account of burning a ship at Whitehaven, and spiking the cannon there --- And further sayeth not.
Taken and sworn before me, the 26th April, 1778.
Beside the information contained above, we have collected the following particulars from the deponent in the affidavit, as he came yesterday into this town on his road to Dublin.
The ship Lord Chatham is a vessel of 350 tons burtherm was bound from London to Dublin with porter, hops, iron and hemp. After being manned with ten of the privateers crew she was sent off to France.
The seaman who made the affidavit, with nine others, (including the 6 fishermen taken on board,) were put on shore at the Black-head, about four miles northward from Carrickfergus.
The Drake did not strike till Lieut. Dobbs was dangerously wounded; whose gallant behaviour he heard much spoken of after the engagement. He further says, that Capt. Jones paid the utmost attention to him, and offered to put him on shore, if his surgeon thought it prudent to remove him.
The Captain of the Drake was early in the action entreated by one of the officers to strike, on account of the great superiority of the privateer, but he declared that at all events he would never strike; shortly after which he was killed by a musket shot.