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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sunday June 29. 1777
I tried to get word of Guppy’s condition today but with no success.

Despite cold damp weather workers came into our yard today and installed twelve lamps around the walls of the yard. I guess our keepers feared we would attempt an escape over the walls in the dark of night. Forty soldiers of the 13th regiment have come to guard us with 13 soldiers on guard at a any time.

Through the fog we saw the Burford, our old floating prison, sail up the sound today after completing a cruise.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

June 28. 1777
Today the prison doctor examined Guppy and, as I feared, declared that he had small pox and must be sent to the prison hospital. We shall miss our friend but there is nothing more we can do for him and he should be better off in the hospital. Francis Little our officer of the Marines was sent there also by the doctor. Black Will, a negro from the Sally’s crew, volunteered to go with them to tend to all of our sick that are now there.

Captain Ross, a Dolton prizemaster received a gift of bread and cheese from someone outside of the prison today.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

June 27. 1777
Guppy Studley gets more sick with each day. He complains of pain in his head, his back and generally throughout his body. I fear he may have the smallpox. A man from one of the other ships crews was sent to the prison hospital today. Our weather has been wet these past few days with the cold dampness inside this stone prison making it unpleasant for the healthy men and torment for our sick.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

June 24. 1777
My friend from Portsmouth, Guppy Studley is not feeling well and has kept inside today.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sunday June 23. 1777
Fair weather today.

Will Horner, an Irish boy from our Dolton crew, has entered into the British service. There is murmuring among some of the others that they might do the same, especially among those not born on American soil. This does not sit well with we native-born Americans and begins to cause some diagreement in our ranks.

We find the sentries have placed a box on the outer prison gate to collect money from curious local people who wish to view us. These visitors were made to understand the collection was to be for our benefit but instead we hear that the guards are distributing it among themselves with none for us. Today being Sunday a great number of well meaning people came out to see us and the guards gained 15 shillings at our expense. We have since taken in our own charity box in protest. Our purser counted out the money in our box from which we will share a total of 17s. 4 1/2 which amounts to one penny per man when divided up.

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 19. 1777
One of our Americans has taken ill with the small pox.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

June 18. 1777
The weather has turned pleasant. Four packs of playing cards were donated to us today by someone from outside of the prison. These are well received by some while others were happy to receive several books also donated to us. Several of the men sold some of the wooden items they have worked on.

We have word that Robert Burgoyne, one of our crew from Boston, made his escape from the Blenheim on the tenth of June, swam for shore and has not been seen since. Some suppose that he drowned in his attempt.

We also have ten more prisoners brought here after release from the Royal Hospital. Our number held captive here has now reached 158.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sunday June 15. 1777
It has rained hard all day. Some generous person from outside the prison donated two fully cooked quarters of veal today. When divided among us all it amounted to very little but was still very welcome. We had some excitement last night as the sentry called out an alarm thinking he heard someone attempting to make their escape but it was all for nought.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

June 14. 1777
Raw and cold again. Ten prisoners are brought here from the Blenheim. They were part of the Lexington’s prize crew who were later risen upon by their prisoners and then brought here to Plymouth by the Fordryant.

Our prison yard measures about 250 feet by 150 feet. The yard slopes downhill to the south affording us a prospect of Plymouth Sound. Our two story Long Prison sits on the north side of the yard with windows facing on to the yard. We are all of us, officers and people all confined to this one structure.

There is a lamp post in the middle of the yard which is lit at night so that the sentries can make sure we do not make our escape over the wall. The walls are too high for a single man to make his own way over the top to escape. We are guarded by local militia men.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

June 13. 1777
There has been a bit of a break in the rainy weather today and we have spent some time in the yard although it is very muddy. We are now receiving contributions to our charity box which amount to very little yet are still better than nothing. We have elected one of our men to be our purser to watch over this money.

Today Mr. Cowdy read to us the regulations by which we are to abide, as drawn up by The Commission for Sick and Hurt Seamen. In summary we should behave properly and not insult our keepers, we should not fight or attempt to escape, we should not damage the King’s property within the prison, we should keep ourselves clean and we should keep the prison and the yard clean. It seems that violation of any of these regulations will result in a half allowance of food to serve as punishment for our bad behavior or to repay whatever damage might be caused. For the worst offenses, such as attempting escape half allowance of rations will continue for forty full days, and closer confinement (whatever that might be).

Monday, June 12, 2006

June 12. 1777
The weather continues wet and raw. We keep to our quarters much of the day. I am applying my carving skills whittling wood spoons and ladles. Many of us are employed at this work for which we hope to be able to sell our wares to visitors at the prison gates for a few shillings. This effort is certainly better than sitting by idle as some of our people do.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 11. 1777
Rainy weather. Some the men have constructed a charity box to place outside the gates of the prison to collect money for our relief.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

June 10. 1777
Ten more Americans were brought from the ship to prison today.

Friday, June 09, 2006

June 9. 1777
We stay inside the prison all day today as it rains and the yard is very muddy. I have taken up the making of wooden boxes with hopes that I can earn a few shillings with which to buy some extra food. Each mess assigns someone each day to draw the rations for the group. Our regular allowance for each man each day is ¾ pound of beef which boils down to a very small amount, a pound of bread, a quart of beer and greens. This is surely not enough to sustain me for very long.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sunday June 8. 1777
This being the Lord’s Day we could hear the church bells ringing in Plymouth this morning and afterwards a large number of well meaning people from town came to the prison gates to donate money for us. Many of our men are ill fed and some have already traded away nearly all of their clothing in exchange for food. Some our more industrious men have taken to carving wooden utensils and making boxes to sell. I too plan to take up this occupation to avoid the state that some of the men are in.

We are allowed out of the Long Prison to walk in the yard from ten to noon. The turnkeys lock us down in the Long Prison from noon until three when we are allowed back out until evening. However, yesterday before I arrived from my examination the men here were locked down all day due to one of the guards being insulted by an American. I have seen the Keeper of this Prison, William Cowdry, and I can tell that he will be trouble for us.

Our yard is quite large with the Long Prison making up a portion of the north wall. The Long Prison is two stories high with windows on both floors facing to the south with a good view of the Sound. We can watch the ships beating up and down the Sound from the Long Prison and from certain places in the yard. We are issued hammocks which hang from the low rafters on both floors of the prison. We are also dividing ourselves into messes as were were on our ships before our capture. The captains of our ships have already begun to impose shipboard discipline among the men.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006



June 7. 1777
This morning my name was called along with 11 others from the Dolton’s crew to go on shore for our examination. My friend Joseph Shillaber was also included in this number but Guppy Studley was not. We each gathered up our few belongings and were taken upon the quarter deck by the sentries. We were then carried by boat to shore at the town of Dock. At the pier the boat’s crew handed us over to some soldiers while several of the midshipman from the Blenheim continued on with us. We must have made quite a spectacle as they marched us up the sloping road to the Fountain Tavern where the examinations are conducted. People from the town would stop to stare at us and insult us as we passed them by. We did make a pretty picture with our ragged clothes, beards and, our stooped bodies from poor food and confinement below deck for so long.

Our guard ushered us into a small room on the tavern’s first floor where we waited to be called. After some time they called us to a large upper floor room where we stood before the three justices seated at a long table, dressed in their powered wigs. They asked us each where we were from, whether we were entered on the Dolton, whether we were captured by the Raisonable and whether our ship had a commission from the American Congress. We were then taken below to wait in the small room again. Then I was called up by myself to answer each of these questions again, as were the other men in our group. Lastly, they brought us back up as a body and our commitments read to us.

Jacob Nutter, your are guilty of the crime of high treason and committed to prison until the time of your trial. This same sentence was read to each of us.

Althogether these examinations took about four hours. Then two constables and ten soldiers marched us east on the road from Dock to Mill Prison, a distance of several miles through open rolling country void of any trees, where we arrived late in the afternoon. Near the end of our march we passed close by the Royal Hospital where many of our men had been sent and some had died. Mill Prison is located only about one quarter mile to the west of Plymouth Town. Six months ago I would have made this march in an hour but we are now ill conditioned after confinement below decks, poor food and recovering from sickness. When we started this march the sun was still visible but by the time we reached the prison gates clouds had moved in from the Sound carrying with them a heavy drizzle. The gloomy weather matched our gloomy dispositions. We were brought through the outer gates of the prison and then through an inner yard where we passed through another set of gates to a large inner yard to be greeted by our shipmates and those from the other captured American privateers. We are all quartered in a long, two story stone building, which is where I now sit writing this entry. I must be careful not to be found out having a pen and paper. How long shall I remain here and will I leave this place alive? God only knows.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June 6. 1777
Ten more prisoners sent on shore today. I believe my time to go on shore will be soon coming. We of us remaining on the Blenheim grow restless.

Monday, June 05, 2006

June 5. 1777
Pleasant weather. None of our people were sent from the Blenheim to the prison today. Instead some of the Sally’s crew who had been at the Royal Hospital were examined and committed to Mill prison. Some of the others from the Hospital were returned to this ship. We also hear that the Charming Sally has been purchased and converted to brig rigging, mounting 16 guns, and will be used as a privateer against America. She sailed today in company with the Prince of Wales which had recently returned to this port with sprung mainmast.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 4. 1777
This day being a holiday to celebrate King George’s Birthday no business was done and none of our company were sent on shore for examination. At noon cannons throughout the harbor were fired in salute to the King and bells were rung in the town of Dock

Saturday, June 03, 2006

June 3. 1777
Nine more of our Dolton’s crew were sent on shore for prison today including Samuel Cutler our clerk, John Knowlton – cashier, Henry Lunt, Cutting Lunt and five others.

Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2. 1777
This morning officers of our crew were sent on shore to Mill Prison including Captain Eleazer Johnston, First Lieutenant Anthony Knapp, 2nd Lieutenant John Buntin, Francis Little, Dr. Powers, Moses Cross, Joseph Brewster and Captain Boardman, all from Newburyport.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sunday, June 1. 1777
The weather was exceptionally nice today but little good it did for us as we continue our confinement below decks. It being Sunday none of our prisoners on board the Blemheim were sent on shore today.

We hear that the Experiment, 50 guns, Capt. Wallace commander sailed for Portsmouth today. She had been at dock in this port receiving repairs after having been badly knocked about by Fort Sullivan in South Carolina. She brought to Plymouth 19 prisoners who had been taken by the Fordroyant, 80 guns.

Twelve of the Privateer Freedom’s people were brought on board this ship today, they having manned a British prize which was then captured by the Fordroyant. Included in this number is Captain Thomas Brown of Marblehead. Captain John Adams was also brought on board the Blenheim today having been captured by the Fordroyant during passage from Boston to France. Six other prisoners were taken in a merchantman bound from France to So. Carolina.