Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jerome Nadelhaft

Second Committee Member

Warren Riess

Third Committee Member

Marli Weiner


The important topic of loyalist privateering during the American Revolution has remained unaddressed. The intention of this study is to examine the activity's developmental period between 1775-1778. Relying predominantly on primary source materials such as newspapers, admiralty court records, ships papers, correspondence, memorials, diaries, journals, and minute, account, and log books, this work analyzes the participants and assesses their role in the war. There are three key focuses. The first is on the activities of loyalist mariners during the war's first half, prior to official recognition of privateering by the British. Loyalist service on various types of vessels is examined to view the growth of maritime involvement, analyze crews and vessels, and ascertain levels of success. Also discussed are the obstacles imposed by the British which loyalist privateers were forced to overcome to gain acceptance. To explain the developing situation within the scope of the North Atlantic world, related events in East Florida, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, and the West Indies are also examined. Ultimately, the study shows that privateering was strongly supported loyalists, and their activities at sea during the early part of the conflict resulted in significant contributions to the British war effort. The second focus is on the development of the participants, themselves, as loyalists and privateers. Individuals from different maritime regions are identified and profiled according to social, economic, occupational, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, experiences, and motivating factors. The regional groups are then compared to discern similarities and differences. The third key theme is closely associated. Considerable attention is paid to the situation and activities of one family, the Goodriches, who became leaders in the privateering enterprise. Interrelated is the issue of how British trade restrictions negatively affected loyalists, prompting them to become privateers. The work shows that loyalist Americans involved in privateering, though dominated by the merchant/mariner classes, reflected a cross-section of the populace, were generally motivated by legitimate, honorable factors, and constituted a previously unrecognized, significant, highly unified sub-community within the loyalist community.

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