Collection of Fred Erving Dayton

Manuscripts Collection 296

Overview of the Records

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Dayton, Fred Erving
Title: Collection of Fred Erving Dayton
Dates: 1777-1809
Extent: 263 pieces
Abstract: Facsimiles and transcripts of port records in Kingston Jamaica for sailing vessels seized by the British during the Revolution.
Identification: Coll. 296

Biographical Information

Fred Erving Dayton conducted extensive research on American vessels seized by the Royal Navy for violation of British neutral trade policies during the period preceeding the War of 1812.

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Scope and Contents of the Records

The collection consists of copies of handwritten notes taken from High Court of Vice Admiralty records in Kingston, Jamaica, detailing alleged violations in the Caribbean and West Indies of twenty-four American ships associated with the Connecticut River and Connecticut port towns, and seizure of those vessels by the Royal Navy from 1777-1809. Records of subsequent legal proceedings reveal types of cargo carried aboard seized ships, crew makeup, ports of registry, where built, names and residences of owners, and in some cases the disposition of cargo. The economic effect of vessel seizure upon owners and ship masters and methods used to minimize the risk of loss in the event of capture are evident in court depositions and various ship’s papers.

Significantly, the justification for seizure was rooted in an 1800 Admiralty Court proclamation which allowed European or Colonial trade by American ships provided that the voyage was interrupted or “broken” by importation into a neutral country. The goods would be off-loaded and inspected by customs, then reloaded and shipped to another port, effectively barring the American ships from using the best trading routes. The Connecticut vessels carried goods to the West Indies and Caribbean ports, and the Admiralty records provide insight into the relationship between merchants, ship owners and captains who faced strict enforcement of international merchant marine laws every time they went to sea. Eventually, in 1812, the United States went to war with Britain because of the resulting violations of neutral rights, the seizure of its ships and the impressment of its sailors.

The High Court of Admiralty in Jamaica, a British province, was in Kingston, thus all foreign vessels captured by the British in the West Indies and Caribbean were brought before this court. Documents in the collection provide the prize’s name, commander, owner, crew, rig, burthen, length, port of registry, and construction location and date. Also included is the name of the British vessel which captured the prize, date of capture, allegations against the cargo, and the intended voyage of the cargo before capture. Cargoes are carefully enumerated as are, in many cases, depositions of the commander of the prize. In some cases the depositions include a petition from the commander to the Vice-Admiralty court judge to land and sell the seized cargo.

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division.

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Corporate Entities (including Vessels):

Great Britain. Admiralty


Kingston (Jamaica)


Seizure of vessels and cargoes

Document Types:

Court records

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 296, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Index to Vessel Names

NOTE: The fraction(s) indicate the Box and Folder numbers where that particular reference can be found. For example, the researcher will find information about the schooner ALERT in Box 1, Folder 7 of the collection.
ALERT (Schooner) 1/7
BETSY (Brig) 1/3
BETSY (Schooner) 1/6
CAESAR (Ship) 1/2
CHARLES CARROLL (Schooner) 1/9
DEFENCE (Brig) 1/1
ELIZABETH (Sloop) 1/1
FANNY (Schooner) 1/1
FRIENDSHIP (Schooner) 1/1
GUSTAVUS (Ship) 1/8
HOPE (Brig) 1/2
HOPE (Schooner : Middle Haddam) 1/1
HOPE (Schooner : New York) 1/3
INDUSTRY (Schooner) 1/3
INDUSTRY (Sloop) 1/2
JULIUS CAESAR (Schooner) 1/4
LADY GREEN (Brig) 1/2
LUCY (Sloop) 1/1
MOLLY (Brigantine) 1/1
OLIVE (Schooner) 1/1
PEGASUS (Schooner) 1/5
RECOVERY (Brig) 1/4
ROMEO (Brig) 1/9
SALLY (Brig) 1/5
UNION (Schooner) 1/3

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Detailed Description of the Records

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


Records and notes; 1777-1809
Box Folder
1 1 Papers relating to the vessels DEFENCE, ELIZABETH, FANNY, FRIENDSHIP, HOPE, LUCY, MOLLY, and OLIVE; 1777-1780 (27 pieces)
2 Papers relating to the vessels CAESAR, HOPE, INDUSTRY, LADY GREEN, and MIDDLETOWN; 1782 (43 pieces)
3 Papers relating to the vessels BETSY, HOPE, INDUSTRY, and UNION; 1793-1794 (38 pieces)
4 Papers relating to the vessels JULIUS CAESAR and RECOVERY; 1797-1798 (12 pieces)
5 Papers relating to the vessels PEGASUS and SALLY; 1799 (38 pieces)
6 Papers relating to the schooner BETSY; 1806 (20 pieces)
7 Papers relating to the schooner ALERT; 1808 (56 pieces)
8 Papers relating to the ship GUSTAVUS; 1809 (13 pieces)
9 Papers related to brig ROMEO, schooner CHARLES CARROLL, and misc. papers related to Saybrook, Connecticut; 1811-1863 (15 pieces)
10 Letter from Fred Erving Dayton to Langton Haldane-Robertson; 1940 Aug 8 (1 piece)

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