Charles Mary Wentworth (ship)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Career (Nova Scotia) British-Red-Ensign-1707.svg
Owner: Simeon Perkins, Snow Parker, William Lawson, Joseph Barss Senior
Port of registry: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Builder: Snow Parker
Launched: June 1798
Commissioned: May 1798
Homeport: Liverpool, Nova Scotia
Fate: Sank in West Indies, 1802
General characteristics
Type: Privateer ship
Tons burthen: 130 (bm)
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Crew: 80
Armament: 16 carriage guns (4 & 6 pounder cannons)

Charles Mary Wentworth was a privateer ship built in 1798 by local investors in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, the first privateer ship from British North America in the Napoleonic Wars. The ship was named after Charles Mary Wentworth, the son of then governor of Nova Scotia, Sir John Wentworth.[1] The ship Charles Mary Wentworth launched privateering in Nova Scotia during the Napoleonic Wars. Her success in capturing 11 valuable ships in her short two-year career led to the commissioning of a dozen other privateer ships from Nova Scotia.[2]


Sir John Wentworth was named Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia in 1792 after the death of Governor John Parr.[1] Wentworth is called the Loyalist Governor, so his allegiances can be tied to Britain. In 1801 Charles Wentworth was appointed to as a councillor of Halifax.[1] This can be seen by his licensing of over two dozen privateers between the years of 1797 to 1802.[3] Charles Mary Wentworth was licensed for privateering in the spring of 1798, the first British North American privateer to cruise for enemy ships in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.[4]

Charles Mary Wentworth was bigger than most colonial privateer schooners, although still a relatively small warship at only 130 tons. However she was rigged in the style of a small frigate as a full rigged ship, heavily armed with 16 carriage guns and a crew of 80 men provisioned for up to six months of cruising in southern waters.[5]

The first cruise was led by Captain Joseph Freeman, and his three officers Thomas Parker, Joseph Barss Jr., and Enos Collins. It began the cruise on August 15, 1798 with a crew of 67 men and four boys. It headed southward to the West Indies pursuing French and Spanish vessels. On this cruise they were able to take two prizes from a Spanish brigantine, Santisima del Carmen. The Spanish brigantine was carrying cocoa, cotton, and sugar when it was captured on September 4, 1798. It arrived in Liverpool on September 11. The cargo was auctioned off for £7,460 while the ship was auctioned for £871.10. The other prize was the American brig Morning Star, but it had been captured by French forces.[3]

A second cruise began on February 3, 1799. The Fly and The Victory joined alongside the Wentworth to cruise to the West Indies. The Spanish brig Nostra Seignora del Carmen was steered into Liverpool with a cargo valued at over £10,000. The Royal Gazette reported that on May 21, 1799 the Wentworth returned to Liverpool with four Spanish vessels following. The Royal Gazette says that the reported prizes were a "brig of 14 guns, and 140 tones of burthen, laden with Wine, Brandy and Flour’ a coppered bottomed schooner of 140 tons burthen, mounting 6 guns, laden with Cocoa; a schooner of 60 tons, and another 40 tons, coasters, laden with dry goods and sundry other valuable articles." The value of the cargo was £16,000.[6]

The success of the Wentworth led within a few months to six other privateer vessels being commissioned from Liverpool as well as one from nearby Shelburne and four more from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Several of these new Nova Scotian privateers were in fact French and Spanish prizes to the Wentworth which were now turned against their former owners.[2] Men who first served as officers aboard the Wentworth such as Joseph Freeman, Joseph Barss and Enos Collins would go on to lead Liverpool many privateers in the War of 1812, aboard such vessels such as the schooner Liverpool Packet.[7]

Charles Mary Wentworth had less success on subsequent voyages. Her owners converted her to an armed merchant ship. She capsized and sank in a South Atlantic storm in 1802, but her crew were rescued with no loss of life.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Cuthbertson, Brian. The Loyalist Governor: Biography of John Wentworth. Nimbus Publishing
  2. ^ a b "Privateer Entrepot: Privateering in Liverpool Nova Scotia, 1793-1805" Dan Conlin, The Northern Mariner Vol. VIII (April 1998), p.33
  3. ^ a b Stephen Schneider. Iced:The Story of Organized Crime in Canada. John Wiley & Son
  4. ^ Roger Marsters, Bold Privateers Formac Publishing (2004), p. 100
  5. ^ a b "Charles Mary Wentworth 1798-1800" Dan Conlin, Canadian Privateering Homepage
  6. ^ "Charles Mary Wentworth Returns with Four Spanish Prizes", Royal Gazette, May 21, 1799, Nova Scotia Archives Spoils of War virtual exhibit
  7. ^ "A Private War in the Caribbean: Nova Scotia Privateering 1793-1805" Dan Conlin, The Northern Mariner Vol. VI, No. 4 (October 1996), p.39