Papers of John Adams, volume 6

From William Vernon Sr.

John Paul Jones to the Commissioners

158 From Samuel Tucker, 27 May 1778 Tucker, Samuel JA From Samuel Tucker, 27 May 1778 Tucker, Samuel Adams, John
From Samuel Tucker
Sir Blaye May the 27 1778

I am ready for Sea and waiting for a wind after a teadious fatigueing Jobb. I heartily Congratulate you with the News of Capt. Jones takeing the Drake and make no doubt but any of us Could Compleat Such an Undertaking Was our People Unanimous but Sir their has bein a Consparicy Carred on board the Boston this three weeks Past betwen the English att Bourdeaux and my men to take the Ship to England but I Luckly Discoverd the Plot. I have Sent Mr. Livingston to town with the Evedence against them to Secure the Villians one by the Name of Wire another by the name of Watts and Mr. Munrow Who Deserted the Ship. This I done by advice of the majestrates and military offercers of this Place on Catching the Raskel with his Last Message to my People to know their minds. Those Deserters who had Run before had agreed by Perswations of the English Villians att Town to Come on board and ask my Pardon for transgresing with Pison Conceald about them and opeum. The Rascles where to Broach a Cask of water for forty Who were to be Concernd Pison the offercers by their Victles and to assasanate me by the way of a Sentenal Who was to be well Rewarded for his Vallour but thanks to god I am Seldom or Ever off my gaurd in war time Even in a family where well acquainted.

Prehaps Sir when the matter is finishd Mr. Bondefield1 will give you a Just account as my time will not Premit me to Stay my tarry has bein Long in Bourdeaux and I was almost ashamd to Write but I Cannot Boast of being well mand but my Ship is Extraordinary well fited att great Expence but hope nevertheless to pay my Country for all the Expence I Shall be att. Sir I have Received your trunk of Mr. Bondfield and hope to Deliver it with Pleasure and your Leter to Mr. Smith2 in Boston Where I hope to See your Honnour and Mast. Jack in the Course of two years but Soonner Sir you Cannot be Expected.

My Complements Sir to Mast. Jack and Mast. Jesse3 that I am Very well. Hopeing these may be Presented your Honnour and them in Like Situation. My Number of men on board is 182 men and Boys amongst which is 40 Seamen. Some of the before mentioned that I Shall take Very good Care off. Sir Your most Obedt. Humble Servt

Saml Tucker

Sir I have Just heard the Confirmation of Capt. Bidle being Sunk by the Seaford of 64 guns by Runing alongside her in the 159Night fired a broad Side into the Seaford taking her to be an Endiaman in the transport Service. The Seaford Returnd below and aloft blew up the Raindolph and all perrishd but two men one of which was Seen in Martinaco by a Gentleman in this Port Who Declares he had the account from that Seaman formaly of the Raindolph.4

I am Sir heartily Sorry for So fine a man—and Valliant Crew and my Contrys Loss.

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Captn. Tucker. May 27. 1778”; in another hand: “Capt Tucker Blay May 27. 78.”


See Bondfield to the Commissioners, 6 June (below). Tucker wrote to the Commissioners on 28 May (Adams Papers), giving them essentially the same information contained in this letter, adding only that he had lost several crew members who had died of “Pluricy fever.” For additional information on the conspiracy, see Philip Chadwick Foster Smith, Captain Samuel Tucker, Salem, 1976, p. 48–49; “Journal of William Jennison,” in Charles R. Smith, Marines in the Revolution, Washington, 1975, p. 349. Although the unrest among members of Tucker's crew subsided so as to permit him to embark on his planned cruise, it resurfaced when the Boston put into Port Louis on 2 July (see James Moylan to the Commissioners, 8 July, note 2 and references there, below).


This letter, presumably to Isaac Smith Sr., has not been found. For the trunk put on board the Boston, see John Bondfield to JA, 28 April, note 1 (above).


That is, JQA and Jesse Deane.


Tucker's description of the destruction of the Randolph differs from other accounts but may have some substance. The Randolph, apparently after some initial confusion over the identity of its opponent, fought the 64–gun Yarmouth, which reported picking up four survivors of the explosion (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution , 1:296–298; see also the accounts in William Vernon Sr. to JA, 20 May, above; William Bingham to the Commissioners, 29 May, below). That Tucker's account came from two survivors on Martinique is questionable in view of William Bingham's letter of 29 May from that island, which makes no mention of the two men. However, since the Yarmouth would not have taken the rescued men to Martinique, there could have been two additional survivors unknown to it and, perhaps, even to Bingham. Moreover, although it was more usual for Indiamen, because of their size and rows of painted gunports, to be mistaken for ships of the line, to reverse the mistake does not seem improbable.