High Court of Admiralty
Public Record Office
This is a sworn statement taken from Benjamin Wells, sailmaker on the
Prince of Neufchatel.
The answers he gives are in response to a standard set of questions,
34 in this case, known as the Standing Interrogatories
which should be read in conjunction with this document.
The answers here deal mainly, with the ownership of the vessel, but
also have details of her final voyage.
1. He was born at Boston in the State of
Massachusetts where he has always lived until within about three months
before he embarked in this ship and he now lives there with his wife and
family when at home. That he is a citizen of the Untied States of America
and has always so been and has never been admitted as a Burgher or Freeman
of any city or town but has a right to vote for the different officers
and members of the American Government as possessing property which qualifies
him so to do.
2. That he was present at the time of the taking and seizing
of the ship and goods concerning which he is now examined and that the
said ship was duly commissioned as a private ship of war by the President
of the United States.
3. That the said ship was taken off the coast of America but
in what latitude he is unable to set forth not being himself a mariner
on or about the twenty ninth or thirtieth day of December last by three
English Frigates of War [unclear] the Leander, Newcastle and Acasta on
board of which the whole of her crew were distributed the Deponent excepted
and the ship having been manned by English sailors with three officers
as Prize Masters was ordered to accompany the frigates to the Western Isles
but parting company with them about three days afterwards she was brought
to Falmouth and from there to the Port of London. That the said seizure
was made by reason of the Deponent's ship being an American Privateer and
sailing under American colours. That she had also various other colours
on board but for what reason he knows not And that no resistance was made
to the capture That several guns were fired from the Newcastle and from
the Leander as he believes during the chase but none were fired from the
deponent's ship. That no other ships were in sight at the time of capture
except the three English ships aforementioned.
4. That Nicholas Millin with whom he became acquainted about
a fortnight or three weeks only before his ship was taken is the master
of the said ship and was appointed to the command of her by Captain Ordronaux
her principal owner who formerly commanded her himself and who gave the
possession of her to Captain Millin at Boston when the said Ordronaux (who
he believes to be a Frenchman by birth resided at the time the deponent
left Boston That he has heard that Captain Millin is a native of New Orleans
but knows not where he resides nor of whom he is now a subject nor whether
he is single or married
5. That the ship taken is of the burthen of three hundred and
twenty tons and had one hundred and thirteen mariners on board besides
officers which mariners were all hired at Boston by Captain Ordronaux and
Captain Millin in the month of December last That he knows not what countrymen
they are having had little communication with them but believes most of
them belong to Boston
6. That neither himself nor any of the officers or mariners belonging
to the ship taken had any interest in her but that he believes Captain
Millin may have had a share of her That he belongs to the said ship at
the time she was taken in the capacity of a sail maker has known her only
from the first day of December last when he first saw her at Boston That
he believes she was built at New York
7. That the name of the ship taken is the Prince of neufchatel
and that she has never bourne any other name to his knowledge That she
had not any passport on board except the Commission aforesaid granted by
the President of the United States That she sailed from Boston on the twenty
second day of December last and was taken as aforesaid on the twenty ninth
day of the same month without having put into any other port That she was
destined from Boston on a four months cruize against the enemies of the
united States and was to have returned again to the said States at the
end of her cruize That the deponent believes the aforesaid Captain Ordronaux
had the sole control of the ship taken but he the Deponent has never [unclear]
with him nor any other person on her concerns
8. He answers that the ship taken had not any cargo on board
her provisions stores and water excepted
9. That be believes the aforesaid Captain Ordronaux Peter E.
Frevall and Joseph Beylle the persons mentioned in the ships register and
respectively resident citizens in the United States of America were the
owners of the ship concerning which he is now examined but he also believes
that they may have granted certificates whereby other American citizens
were constituted owners of certain parts thereof having heard that shares
of five hundred dollars each have been sold.
10. That the aforesaid Captain Ordronaux purchased the said ship
taken at Boston some time in the beginning of September last and further
to the said interrogatory he knows not to answer.
11. To the 11th, 12th and 13th, he answers that there was not
any lading on board the said ship taken, her provisions, stores and water
excepted as already stated.
14. He answers that there are not to his knowledge in Great Britain
any papers relating to the said ship.
15. That the said ship had not any charter party to his knowledge.
16. That he knows not what papers were on board the ship taken
at the time she took her departure from Boston her last clearing port before
the capture except her commission, muster roll, Register and clearance
at this port That no papers whatsoever were burnt, torn or thrown over
board destroyed or cancelled concealed or attempted to be concealed to
his knowledge or belief.
17. He answers that the ship concerning which he is now examined
has never been seized and condemned as Prize to his knowledge.
18. That he has not sustained any loss by the seizing and taking
of the ship concerning which he is now examined neither has he received
or been promised any indemnity for any loss he may sustain thereby
19. He answers that he does not think any insurance has been
effected as interrogate.
20. To the 20th, 21st and 22nd he answers that the ship taken
having been fitted out as a privateer for the purpose of war only had no
cargo on board.
23. He answers that there are not to his knowledge in any country
besides Great Britain or on board any other ship any papers or documents
relating to the ship concerning which he is now examined.
24. He answers that no papers were taken out of the said ship
save those delivered up to the captors.
25. He answers that bulk was not broken as interrogate.
26. He answers that there were not any passengers on board the
ship taken nor any officers or soldiers or mariners secreted on board and
further to the said interrogatory he knows not to answer.
27. He answers that he believes all the papers found on board
the ship taken were entirely true and fair and he knows of no matter or
circumstance to affect their credit That the commission was obtained upon
the oath of the owner but he knows not what fee was paid for it nor how
long it was to last.
28. He answers that he has not written or signed any letters
or papers concerning the ship taken.
29. He answers that the ship taken was lying to when she first
discovered the three English ships by afterwards taken and from which she
endeavoured to make her escape by setting sail.
30. He answers that he knows of know no sale or transfer of the
ship taken save that made as aforesaid to Captain Ordronaux which he believes
was a true sale having been present when it took place and he believes
the said ship will belong if returned to him and his co-partners therein.
31. he answers that the ship taken mounted eighteen guns and
was provided with small arms and ammunition in proportion to the guns and
numbers of men she had in her service That no warlike naval stores or things
were thrown overboard to prevent suspicion at the time of the capture.
32. He answers that he has declared and set forth the whole which
he knows or believes according to the best of his knowledge and belief
regarding the real and true property and destination of the ship and cargo
at the time of the capture.
33. He answers that he has never sailed under convoy of any ship
or vessel of war.
34. He answers that when the ship taken entered the port of Boston
prior to the present voyage it was blockaded by the Newcastle as he believes
and she was he has heard aboard chased into the said port by that ship.
Repeated and acknowledged
Before Benjamin Wells