Tories on the Bay

As I was researching the Island of the Bay, I came across two depositions taken in July 1776: I have decided to incluee them on the In Focus page for the month of April. - Gail M. Walczyk

NOTE: Spelling remains the same.

July 27th 1776

Joseph Mariman being sworn on the Holy Evangels of Almighty God deposeth and sayeth that about the 15th day of this Instant he with Moses Yell left the mouth of Hungar River in a Vessel bound to Potomac loaded with Plank and Tar, but being a hard gale and a large swell they were obliged to put back, but on their attempting to put back the tide headed them, they afterwards hove about and stood for the mouth of Potomack again, and about day break they espied Lord Dunmore's fleet at the distance of about a mile, they then hove about and stood for Smyth' s Islands and there came to an anchor they stayed there about two or three hours, the wind moderated, this Deponent went ashore to Smyths Island in order to buy some fish and to seek for a Canoe he had lost the night before, and to enquire if there was no inlet there to make a better Harbour, and to get some fire to cook with. Before he got ashore he saw two men in a Canoe making towards him, which he understood afterwards was Joseph Wheeland Junr and one Lazarus, a Mulatto, and by the time he got ashore they came up with him, this deponent says, they then asked him from whence he came, and what he had in, his answer was they had Plank and Tar, they were from Potomack loaded in Hungar river and bound to Potomack again. Wheeland then asked this Deponent if he did not belong to the fleet; this Deponent ask'd what fleet? they answered, the English fleet, this deponant answered he did not, he then asked him, who he was for, either the Country or the King, this deponant told him he did not choose to intermeddle with either side, he then asked him how many men he had on board, this deponant told him there was but one person besides himself, he then asked him, this deponant if he were a tory or not, he then told him he could not tell, the said Joseph Wheeland then told him he belonged to the English fleet and he must goe along with him, he then asked him if he was willing to stay with the fleet, he then told him the said Wheeland no, for he had a wife and children, and wanted to get home as soon as possable, the said Wheeland said he would not detain any person that had a family against their will, but if they had no family they should not goe, he then asked him for some victuals for he was very Hungry. He then ordered him to get in the Canoe with the Mulatto fellow Lazarus and goe up to the three Schooners that lay in the Creek, and tell some person to give him some victuals, and while he was giving orders there came two other persons in a Canoe with a Case of Gin & Rum and gave him a dram, he then got out of his Canoe and sent one of the other persons with him, and he the said Wheeland and one of the persons in the other Canoe proceeded on board

Capt Yell. We went some part of the way in the Canoe till they came to an anchor, they then took it in and ordered him to keep along shore, as this deponant was going along, he met with one of the Islanders and had some conversation with him till the said Joseph Wheeland came up with the said Capt Yell, and then took him aboard said canoe and carryd him the said deponant with the said Yell on board the Schooners that lay in the Creeks mouth afs'd in Smyth's Island, where there was like wise a Sloop dismasted as they understood belonged to one White up Nanticoke and when they came abord they saw about twenty persons sharing of plunder, and as they understood was all County born except one. This deponant with Capt Yell requested the said Joseph Wheeland to goe on Shore, he told them they might, but that Yell must leave his Cloths on board, they then went on Shore and got some victuals at Richard Evans', after some time Marmaduke Mister and sundry persons came to the af'sd House and took supper, some time after supper Marmaduke Mister told this deponant and Capt Yell that they must go abord, for they could not keep guard aboard & ashore too, they then ordered them on board, as they were going along he said (God damn you) do you goe before the guard. John Evans said it would make no difference, he the said Mister said they should not goe before the Guard, when they got aboard they ordered them down in the Cabbin where they remained all night, there were several on the Guard viz. Joseph Wheeland, John Evans, John Price, Robert Howith and one Dial, and several others, that he did not know, which said persons as mentioned above is under guard at Hoopers Straights except the said Dial. The next morning Joseph Wheeland ordered three hands to bring up the Vessel, they said when they returned that she was between two bars and they could not get her off. John Evans then persuaded the said Joseph Wheeland to let the men have the Vessel again, as she would not be of any service to them; Wheeland then told this deponant that Capt Yell might have the Vessel if they would get her off. This deponant and Yell then went down to the said Vessel, and when the said deponant and Yell returned, the said Yell told the said Wheeland that he could get her off, and wanted his said Cloths & money, he then refused him his cloths and Vessel, and said he must have the tar, but if he would waite till he was gone to the fleet he might have the residue of his Cargo and Vessel. The said deponent and Yell went to unloading the s'd Vessel

and took out six barrels of tar and put them on board Richard Evan's boat, and told the said Wheeland that he should have the residue as soon as he could come at it. Wheeland told the said Deponent that he had just received orders to come immediately to the fleet, and to burn that Vessel that was understood to be Whites; the said Yell then asked him for his Cloths & money, he then gave him part of his Clothes, and told him some person had stole his money, and that he might have his Vessel and all his load, this Deponant says that he

heard the said Joseph Wheeland tell the said Marmaduke Mister that if he would see the afs'd Sloop that belonged to White burnt he might have the iron of s'd vessel, upon which said Vessel was burnt, that the said Joseph Wheeland went off immediately the said Capt. Yell and this deponent hired hands and got off their Vessel and carrie'd her to the Creek afs'd in order to take in the remainder of her load and before he had got her loaded two Tenders came in with the Island and the said Deponant and Capt Yell went on Shore, and as

soon as they got on shore two persons came down the Creek and went on board the said Vessel and carryd her over to the fleet, one of the persons as this deponant was informed was Isaac Summers from Little Annamesick, the other a lad unknown; the afs'd Joseph Wheeland was as this Deponant understood esteemed the Commanding Officer of the said Vessels, and further sayeth not. Sworn before Hugh Eccleston.

Joseph Mareman lives in St Marys County near Leonard Town on Britons Bay.


[Yell's Deposition.]

July 27 1776

Moses Yell being sworn on the Holy Evangels of Almighty God deposeth and sayeth. That some time about the 15th of this Instant this deponent was going in a vessel to Potowmack River with Tar and plank but on seeing Dunmore's Fleet this Deponent returned and anchored under Smith's Island. About two or three hours after he had anchored Joseph Wheland with one other man unknown to the Deponent came on board the vessel this deponent was in, & Joseph Wheland asked this Deponent if he saw the Fleet, this Deponent answered he had seen the Fleet & returned in consequence of it. Joseph Wheland then ask'd this Deponent whence he came and where he was bound & who he was for, this Deponent answered he had not a design to kill any person but was a Friend to his Country. Joseph Wheland then asked this Deponent which he thought was right the King or the Shirt Men, this deponent answered he thought the Americans were right Joseph Wheland then told this Deponent he was for the Fleet, and had orders from Ld. Dunmore to take any vessels belonging to the Rebels and destroy such as he thought proper and carry the rest to the Fleet, the sd Wheland then demanded a sight of this Deponents papers which this Deponent gave him, the sd Wheland then took the papers, a pocket book about forty shillings cash and all the cloaths belonging to this Deponent that were in the vessel, except what he had on, and carried this Deponent together with the cloaths and money

on board a Tender which he informed this Deponent he had the command of, and likewise the sd Wheland inform'd him he had the command of the other two vessels that were with the one, this Deponent was put on board of. This Deponent sayeth Joseph Wheland told him he had taken a vessel belonging to White in Nanticoke and that he Wheland intended to fit her out with four four pounders, and twelve swivels to guard the Islands and keep the Shirt Men from going on to abuse the Inhabitants, the afsd Wheland told him he must take out the mast from his Yell's vessel and put in the vessel he had taken from White which was then driven

on ground and had lost her mast, but before he had got her over the Bar, he Yell understood from an old man on board the Tender that Wheland had recd an express from the Fleet ordering him to come up to Potowmac to assist the Fleet in getting water as quick as possible as orders were come to the Fleet to go out, as soon as they cou'd, part to Martinico to fight the French (as they expected a war there) & part to N York or Hallifax. Wheland soon after ordered fire set to White's vessel and one other which he had not got over the Bar, & put this Deponent on shore gave him part of his cloaths and told him he might take his Boat again, this Deponant sayeth that Marmaduke Mister was one of the Persons that kept guard over him one night while he was on

board the Tender, the afsd Mister ask'd this Deponent who he was for, whether King or Country, this Deponent answered he was friend to every person that behav'd well, the afsd Mr then commanded in the King's name to tell him the truth, this Deponent then told him he was born in this country and had a right to defend his Liberty, Mister then said what those damn'd Rebels call Liberty I call Slavery and so the people will find it, this Deponent further sayeth that Marmaduke Mister set fire to one of the vessels that was burn'd and was to have the Iron for doing it. This Deponent sayeth that John Evans Robert Howith, and one Price were likewise on board the same Tender under the command of the afsd Joseph Wheland (he supposes) as he often heard them call him Captn, this Deponent saith he heard John Evans say he was determined to have several of the principal people on the Islands either dead or alive, or get some of their negroes. This Deponent saith he has seen Joseph Wheland, John Evans, Robert Howith and Price the four persons above mentioned since they have been under Guard at the Streights and that they are the same persons he saw on board of the Tender above mentioned. This Deponent further saith on his asking Joseph Wheland for his cloths Wheland threatened to put him in Irons in the vessels hole, the Deponent likewise saith that John Evans told him not to be uneasy about his cloaths and money for Wheland would give them to him after he was ready to go from the Island, for the paper money wou'd be of no more use to him than Blank paper. Sworn before Hugh Eccleston. Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety,

_____.  Archives of Maryland, Vol. 12, Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety July 7, 1776 to December 31, 1776:152-155.

© Copyright 2006-2009 by Gail M. Walczyk