Saturday, January 7, 2012

American Prisoners in Cork, Ireland

On Jan. 5, 1776, Commodore Sir Peter Parker's American-bound fleet stopped for provisions in Cork, Ireland. American prisoners, including Ethan Allen were captive on the Solebay, Thomas Symonds, Captain.

In a letter dated only January 1776 from Cork, an anonymous writer informed a friend in Philadelphia, "When Colonel Ethan Allen, with about fifty other prisoners, arrived in the Solebay, two gentlemen went on board to inquire into their situation, and to assure them of the disposition of several gentlemen in this city to alleviate their distresses. Colonel Allen was so affected with this instance of unexpected generosity, that the expression of his gratitude could hardly find utterance."

The author was probably one of the Cork merchants who started a subscription for the benefit of the American prisoners: "A subscription was begun this morning among some friends of the cause, and near fifty guineas collected to buy clothes for his men, and necessaries for himself; and, if liberty can be got of Captain Williams to put live stock on board, I can assure you Colonel Allen will be extremely well provided. We this day sent a hamper of wine, sugar, fruit, chocolate, &c., on board for his immediate use, and to-morrow intend to prepare the sundry articles of which he sent a list."

The author indicated the popular support for the American Cause in Cork by noting, "I have not been refused by a single person on the subscription."

For the date of Parker's arrival at Cork, see David Lee Russell, Victory of Sullivan's Island: The British Cape Fear/Charles Town Expedition of 1776 (Haverford, PA: Infinity, 2002), 79; for William Williams as the captain of the Active, another ship in Parker's fleet, see Peter Force, American Archives, Series 4, Vol. 6, page 1209, available online. For similar subscription raised, later in the war, for Americans detained in England, please see the post for November 11, 1780.
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