HMS St John (1764)

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Fort George plaque on Goat Island (Rhode Island) commemorating the attack on the St. John

HMS St. John was a Royal Navy ship attacked by American colonists in Newport, Rhode Island in 1764.


Rhode Islanders were violently opposed to the passage of the Sugar Act in 1764, because the colony's main industry was producing rum from molasses. To collect the tax the British sent several ships to New England including HMS Squirrel.

In 1764 crew members on another British ship, HMS St John had allegedly stolen goods from Newport merchants. Therefore, a group of Rhode Islanders took control of Fort George on Goat Island in Newport harbor and fired cannon shots at the British ship. The shots were one of the first open acts of rebellion against the British government in America.

The Rhode Islanders were acting under orders from local officials, but dispersed before HMS Squirrel, a twenty-gun ship, arrived at the scene. St. John successfully fled the harbor.[1]

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