The Gaspee Days Committee at www.gaspee.COM is a civic-minded nonprofit organization that operates many community events in and around Pawtuxet Village, including the famous Gaspee Days Parade each June. These events are all designed to commemorate the 1772 burning of the hated British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee, by Rhode Island patriots as America's 'First Blow for Freedom' TM. Our historical research center, the Gaspee Virtual Archives at www.gaspee.ORG , has presented these research notes as an attempt to gather further information on one who has been suspected of being associated with the the burning of the Gaspee. Please e-mail your comments or further questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Per Staples <http://gaspee.org/StaplesGaspee.htm > p15, Dr. John Mawney identifies Captain Samuel Dunn at being at the attack, and he was in the longboat with him, and Mawney claimed a very well aquaintance with him.
Per Staples p 12, Ephraim Bowen identifies a Benjamin Dunn, though this was, in all probability, actually Samuel Dunn (see State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century, A History , edited by Edward Field, Boston, Mason Publishing Co., 1902 Vol. I, p. 467-468 for the discourse on Benjamin vs. Samuel Dunn). Bowen identifies Dunn as one of the sea captains assigned to command one of the longboats that, together with seven other such boats, attacked the Gaspee in 1772:
....and a sea captain acted as steersman of each boat, of whom I recollect Capt. Abraham Whipple, Capt. John B. Hopkins, (with whom I embarked,) and Capt. Samuel Dunn. A line from right to left was soon formed, with Capt. Whipple on the right and Capt. Hopkins on the right of the left wing.
Left: This hat up for auction on Martha's Vinyard in 2009 carries the label inside of Capt. Samuel Dunn.
According to the RI Historical Cemetery Database at http://www.rootsweb.com/~rigenweb/cemetery/cemetery113.html there are two possibilities here. Captain Samuel Dunn does not have his birth or death dates listed on the grave in St. John's Cemetery in Providence. There is also a Samuel Dunn born c1743 and died December 15, 1785, and buried in the Knightsville Meeting House Lot in Cranston. This latter Samuel Dunn would've been 29 years old at the time of the Gaspee attack. Of course, it is also possible that there were other Dunns to be implicated, but there are no other male Dunns (including any Benjamin) that were of the appropriate age at the time of the Gaspee attack listed in the RI Historical Cemetery Database. The Index to Providence, RI Probate does list a 1790 will of Samuel Dunn.
An ad appearing in the Providence Gazette of January 11, 1772. lists a Samuel Dunn as advertizing a lease for a large house in the North End of Providence.
From the Providence Gazette of 30Jan1773 comes a report from Capt. Samuel Dunn who had arrived in Providence from Cape Francois (Haiti) on the political instabilities there.
According to Field, Edward, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century: A History. Boston, Mason Publishing Co. 1902, Vol II, p424 Samuel Dunn, Jr. served as master, then owner, of the privateersman Revenge in 1776. We have discovered that there were several Samuel Dunns in America at the time, several who had served in the Revolution, notably from Virginia, New York, and New Jersey. There was also a Samuel Dunn from Providence who married an Esther Tourtellot and had several children, including a Samuel Dunn, Jr. born in 1747. And there was a Samuel Dunn from Newport who had children with a Sarah Bailey in the 1720s. This all may create some genealogical confusion.
From DAR records we have some definitive clues: The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Volume 50, page 250:
DAR ID Number: 49568
Born in Nashua, N. H.
Wife of Frank A. Andrews.
Descendant of Capt. Samuel Dunn, of Rhode Island.
Daughter of Josephus Baldwin and Lucy Stone, his 2nd wife.
Granddaughter of Daniel Stone and Mary Ann Cole, his wife.
Gr-granddaughter of Thomas Cole and Desire Dunn, his wife.
Gr-gr-granddaughter of Samuel Dunn, Jr., and Lucy Pierce, his wife.
Gr-gr-gr-granddaughter of Samuel Dunn and Priscilla Ball, his wife.
[p.250] Samuel Dunn (1710-87) was captain in the Continental army and assisted in blowing up the British ship “Gaspee,” off Gaspee Point, which was one of the events leading up to the Revolution. He was born and died in New Shoreham, R. I.
The American family of DUNN traces its ancestry to Capt. Richard DUNN, a descendant of Robert DE DUNN, Lord of Breadsall, temp. Henry I, 1100-1135, who came from England to America about the middle of the 17th century and who settled at Newport, R. I., in 1647, and d. circa 1712. He was a Deputy to the Colonial Legislature in 1681, 1705, 1707-8, -9 and -11. He held the rank of Lieutenant and Captain in the “Train Band,” of the Colonial Forces of the Colony. m. (name unknown).I. Richard, b. circa 1669.
This newsclip is especially interesting and ironic, per the Newport Mercury of 15August1774 under "Shipping News", arrived from Hispaniola (Haiti) the ship Admiral Montagu, captained by Samuel Dunn, Jr. Admiral Montagu, of course, would've been distained by the Dunns. Perhaps this was a ruse to get the cooperation of British Naval vessels that had interfered with their trade.
In December 2004, we received two more bits of information from a descendant, Charlie Hathaway.
1.) From Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 by James N. Arnold:
1790 DUNN: DUNN Capt. Samuel, a nautical commander from this port, at Cape St. Francois, W.I., in 66th year. Chronicle of May 20, 1790 more Death Providence
2.) Extract of modified register for Samuel Dunn courtesy of Charlie Hathaway:
Samuel married Priscilla BALL, daughter of John BALL and Sarah RATHBONE (to Samuel Dunn), on 15Oct1730 in New Shoreham, Newport, RI. Priscilla was born 10Aug1711 in New Shoreham, Newport, RI. They had the following children all born in New Shoreham (Block Island), RI.http://searches.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ifetch2?/u1/data/ri+index+1472648522+F A check of the Dunn Genealogy site is negative at < http://genforum.genealogy.com/dunn/all.html >
There's no Priscilla Dunn in the cemetery records, and we can't find offspring data other than the reference to Samuel Dunn, Jr. of 1743.
No Dunn or Dunne family shows up in the 1770
List of Providence taxpayers. This could be
expected, since he
his home life on Block Island. It appears, that
is almost unique amongst his fellow Gaspee raiders in
not being related
to others by blood. It is more probable, however,
that he was
by the nature of his employment. As a sea captain,
that he operated a packet service between Block Island
probably had been personally harassed by the Gaspee,
to be in the town of Providence on the night when the
to rid Rhode Island of the British menace.
In 2018 we were contacted Barry Smith who submitted the following wrench into any of our conclusions:
The main points:
I have seen no analysis of the cases for each of these men, but I think it would be hard to rule out three of them conclusively.
|We conclude that it was Captain Samuel Dunn, 1710-c1790 of New Shoreham (Block Island), RI that took part in the attack on the HMS Gaspee, and later went on to service in the Revolutionary War. The Gaspee Days Committee therefore recognizes Captain Dunn as a true American patriot.|
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