Andrews, John Lennell, Jr. South Carolina Revolutionary War Indents: A Schedule, (SCMAR, 2001).
Hancock, Audrey (Lehman-Shields). "Laboyteaux...Families of North America and Beyond", (rootsweb.ancestry.com, Created: 26 February 2008, Revised 06 May 2008).
Hancock, Audrey (Lehman-Shields). "Laboyteauxs Seving in the Revolutionary War", (rootsweb.ancestry.com.,Created: 17 February 2005, Revised: 08 May 2005).
Kaminkow, Marion and Jack. Mariners of the American Revolution, (Magna Carta Book Company, 1967).
Kellow, Ken. "American War of Independence at Sea - Officers, entry for John Laboyteaux", (awiatsea.com,, 6 August 2014).
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina During the American Revolution, (The Kent State University Press, 1999).
Moss, Bobby Gilmer. Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983.)
Revill, Janie. Copy of the Original Index Book: Showing the Revolutionary Claims Filed in South Carolina Between August 20, 1783 and August 31, 1786, (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969).
Robinson, Douglas H., M.D. "The Continental Frigate Confederacy", (No Source Named, Vol. 8, No. 2, March-April, 1956, pp. 31-46).
Ross, Joseph. "Alphabetical List of Officers and Men of the Frigate Confederacy (1779)", (continentalnavy.com, March 24, 2010).
Through out the collection and recording of information for this blog, this writer has encountered pairs of brothers who both served on board the frigate South Carolina. These have been usually officers and always of the lower ranking officers on board the frigate - midshipmen and lieutenants. Also, another similarity is that both brothers of each pair seem to have entered the frigate together and at the same time and, usually, left it's services in the same manner. For instance, there has been Richard and Gilbert Wall, Matthew and Luke Matthewman, and Nicholas and Jonathan Bartlett. To this list of officers of the frigate South Carolina, we can now add the names of John and Peter Laboyteaux. But, interestingly enough, their father and one other brother, Samuel, also served on board other ships than the frigate South Carolina and thus seem to have formed a bit of a American Revolution maritime tradition in the Laboyteaux family of the 18th century.
Let us begin in a most likely place for the Laboyteaux family - the beginning. According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteaux...Families...", page 1, as far as their residence here in America is concerned, the patriarch of the family, John Laboyteaux, was born in New York City about 1740, possibly of Dutch descent, even though the last name appears to be French. He is recorded as marrying Hannah Smith at Trinity Church in that city on November 4, 1762. Initially, according to Hancock's article cited immediately above, page 4, he was a tailor in New York City but, may have had some knowledge of the sea and seafaring ventures due to "...the family's probable early enterprises, as Grandfather Gabriel Laboyteaux owned one or more ships."
(Note: There is some degree of discrepancy and argument as to whom he actually married, the date of this marriage, and the actual maiden name of the woman. According to the genealogies of the Pearsall families, he married a Hannah Pearsall. But, he is cited in the "Records of Trinity Church Parish" as marrying Hannah Smith on November 4, 1762 in Trinity Church in New York City. According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteauxs Serving in the Revolutionary War", page 1, cites that "John Laboyteaux, (Captain), (about 1740-1780) married Hannah Smith, October 22, 1762". Several possibilities exist here - there could be two "John Laboyteauxs" in question here, Hannah Pearsall could have married a Mr. Smith and been a widow using the last name of Smith at the time of her marriage to John Laboyteaux, or the names could possibly have been recorded inaccurately.)
Prior to his sea service, John Laboyteaux seems to have done more land service. According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteaux...Families...", page 4, in 1775 and 1776, John Laboyteaux served in both the 1st and 2nd New York Regiments of Foot, Continental Line as a captain. Due to his patriot leanings, when the British Army occupied New York City in the summer of 1776, the Laboyteaux's were forced to leave the city, becoming refugees. John Laboyteaux moved himself, his wife, and their ten children to Philadelphia, PA where they chose to settle. Once there, John Laboyteaux continued to support the patriot Cause by engaging in more land service. According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteaux...Families....", page 4, there is record that John Laboyteaux served in the Pennsylvania militia in 1777 in Captain Lazarus Pine's Company of the Fourth Battalion.
(Note: According to Ross's article, "Alphabetical List of Officers and Men...", page 8, John Laboyteaux was in command of a company of grenadiers while he served in the New York forces prior to his relocation to Philadelphia, PA. This same article also mentions that John Laboyteaux was of French Huguenot descent rather than of Dutch descent and that their last name was originally spelled "La Boitteaux".)
At some point after this, according to Kellow's article, "American War of Independence at Sea - Officers", entry for "John Laboyteaux", John Laboyteaux became a "Captain of Marines" on board the frigate Aurora, a privateer ship-of-war out of Philadelphia, PA, at some point in early 1780. It was commissioned on May 12, 1780 under Captain Woolman Sutton and carried 20 6-pounder guns and a crew of 71-75 men. According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteaux...Families...", page 4, the frigate Aurora "...departed from Philadelphia loaded with tobacco about the 24th of May..." and began to drop down the Delaware River towards Delaware Bay. On May 25, 1780, the Aurora encountered and retook a patriot sloop loaded with corn that had been seized by Loyalists along the river. According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteaux...Families...", page 5, the delay caused by this successful seizure would bode ill for the privateer frigate Aurora for the very next day, May 26, 1780, as she entered the broader area of the bay, the Aurora was sighted by the HMS Iris, returning from Charleston, SC to New York City, which gave chase. Eventually, after about half an hour, the HMS Iris drew alongside the Aurora and fired a broadside. According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteaux...Families...", page 5, "...a twelve-pound shot came from the frigate and, striking a parcel of oars lashed upon the starboard quarter, broke them all in two, and continuing its destructive course struck Captain Laboyteaux in the right thigh, which it smashed to atoms, tearing part of his belly open at the same time with the splinters from the oars, he fell from the quarter deck close by me and for some time seemed busily engaged in setting his leg to rights. He died about eleven the same night and the next day [May 27, 1780] was sewed up in his hammock and sunk." There are numerous accounts of the death of Captain of Marines John Laboyteaux but, all of them recite these same basic details, including his subsequent death and burial at sea.
(Note: Towards the end of the above account of "Captain of Marines" John Laboyteaux's death occurs the phrase "...he fell from the quarter deck close by me..." According to Kellow's article, "American War of Independence at Sea - Officers", entry for John Laboyteaux, the narrator of this account is Philip Frenau, an early American poet, who also wrote the poem entitled "The British Prison Ship" which recounts the conditions on board the various different prison "hulks" moored in Wallabout, Bay, NY, the most infamous of which was the Jersey. In the text of the poem, Frenau refers directly to the death of "Captain of Marines" John Laboyteaux in the following lines:
Twelve pounders from the foe our sides did maul;
And, while no power to save him intervenes,
A bullet struck our captain of marines;
Fierce, though he bid defiance to the foe
He felt his death and ruin in the blow,
Headlong he fell, distracted with the wound,
The deck distain'd, and heart blood streaming round.
Attribution for the above quoted lines is Kellow's article, "American War of Independence at Sea", entry for "The British Prison Ship", posted 21 September 2014. The prose account given two paragraphs above of the death of "Captain of Marines" John Laboyteaux is taken from Frenau's account entitled, Some Account of the Capture of the Ship "Aurora". The privateer frigate Aurora, out of Philadelphia, PA, had been commissioned on May 12, 1780 and was captured exactly two weeks later on May 26, 1780 by the HMS Iris, formerly the patriot frigate Hancock. John Laboyteaux had been a captain of ground troops before this sea service but, this was his first cruise as far as this blog writer can discern. He was killed in action less than 72 hours after departing the harbor of Philadelphia, PA, where he had brought his family to settle after their ejection from New York City. It also appears from the prose accounts of the action between the privateer frigate Aurora and the HMS Iris, "Captain of Marines" John Laboyteaux was the only fatality on board the patriot vessel as a result of the overall action. He served his country well to the end.)
According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteaux...Families...", page 5, John Laboyteaux had written his will on May 21, 1780 and then set sail from Philadelphia, PA three days later on May 24, 1780 for his ill-fated meeting with the HMS Iris. His will was probated over a year later on June 29, 1781. But, according to Ross's article, "Alphabetical List of Officers and Men...", page 9, the will of "Captain of Marines" John Laboyteaux "...was probated just over one month later on 29 June 1780..." It would make sense that if he wrote the will on May 21, 1780 and was killed in action less than a week later, that if his family received definitive word of his death, they would have moved to have the will probated as soon as possible. So, the question stands as to when they received word of his death in action on board the privateer frigate Aurora. But, his will, as is common, cites the names of all of his living children at the time of his having written it. The next portion of this post will address his first and oldest child/son, John Laboyteaux, and his third child/son, Peter Laboyteaux as these two brothers indeed did serve on board the frigate South Carolina.
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, the section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 153, cites both of the Laboyteauxs in the following manner:
John Laboyteaux midshipman
Peter Laboyteaux midshipman
There is no further mention of either of the Laboyteauxs in the text of Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia. But, there does exits other bits and pieces of information so that we can develop somewhat of a picture of their patriotic service while on board the frigate South Carolina. For instance, neither John nor Peter Laboyteaux appear on any of the captive's lists of the three British men-of-war that carried the captive crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina into New York City harbor on December 23-24, 1782. This would indicate that they were not members of the crew or marines of the frigate South Carolina on its final, brief cruise. They are not mentioned specifically as leaving the frigate prior to its docking in Philadelphia, PA on May 29, 1782 and thus must have departed the frigate South Carolina after this date but, prior to its departure from Philadelphia, PA on December 19, 1782.
(Note: The list of the HMS Diomede is contained in the post entitled "Bound for New York - Captive Americans on board the HMS Diomede - December 20, 1782" and is dated "03/24/2015". The list of the HMS Quebec is contained in the post entitled "Bound for New York, Pt. II - Captive Americans on board the HMS Quebec - December 20, 1782 and is dated "03/25/2015". The list of the HMS Astrea is contained in the post entitled "Bound for New York, Pt. III - Captive Americans on board the HMS Astrea - December 20, 1782" and is dated "03/26/2015". Each of these three British men-of-war carried midshipman as their prisoners-of-war complement but, neither of the Laboyteauxs appear among their prisoners-of-war.)
According to Moss's work, Roster of South Carolina Patriots, page 547, both John and Peter Laboyteaux are cited as having provided services to the state of South Carolina and are recorded in the following manner:
John Laboyteaux - he served as a midshipman aboard state ships during 1783. A.A.4389C; Y293
Peter Laboyteaux - he served as a midshipman aboard the South Carolina during 1780. A.A.4389D; Y292
As far as the two reference numbers cited immediately after their names, these are the numbers of "stub entries" for amounts of money paid to them by means of an issued "indent" for their individual services to the state of South Carolina. The "A.A." means "Audited Accounts" with John Laboyteaux having a number of 4389C issued to him and Peter Laboyteaux having a number of 4389D issued to him. It is worth noting that their numbers are identical and only the letters at the ends of their stub indent numbers differ and are indeed consecutive - "C" and "D". The "Y" indicates that these "stub entries" can be found in "Book Y" of the series of volumes for the state of South Carolina for the "stub entries" to the "indents" issued to John and Peter Laboyteaux for their services to the state of South Carolina resulting from the American Revolution. Again, it is worth noting that their numbers are consecutive, being 293 for John Laboyteaux and 292 for Peter Laboyteaux. According to Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, page 191, both John and Peter Laboyteaux filed their claims against the state of South Carolina as a part of Return Number 84, which was passed onto a legislative committee for final approval on November 8, 1785. These consecutive numerations would seem to indicate that John and Peter Laboyteaux filed their claims together and at the same time and were thus issued "stub entry" numbers that were consecutive in order. It would seem that these claims were honored by the state of South Carolina because according to Andrews's work, South Carolina Revolutionary War Indents, page 78, John Laboyteaux appears having been granted "midshipman's pay" for services on board the "Frigate South Carolina". The amount issued to him was "45p/0s/0d". But, interestingly enough, there is no citation in Andrews's work, South Carolina Revolutionary War Indents, for Peter Laboyteaux at all. Even if Peter Laboyteaux had died in the interim, his heirs would have been issued his "stub entry" for his services. But, there is no indication that they were issued any amount of his back wages for his patriotic efforts on behalf of the United States. Yet, according to Hancock's article, "Laboyteauxs Serving in the Revolutionary War", page 2, both John and Peter Laboyteaux served on board the frigate South Carolina as also indicated in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 153. This "issue" of their wages for service during the American Revolution might be cleared up with more research.
But, there is another "issue" concerning both John and Peter Laboyteaux. This "issue" stems from their brief individual citations just above the previous paragraph. These might seem like minor discrepancies but, nonetheless, they do exist as cited above. For instance, John Laboyteaux is cited as having "...served as a midshipman aboard state ships during 1783." The frigate South Carolina was certainly a "state ship" but, by 1783 was in British hands and was being operated by the British against patriot forces. Yet, the Andrews's work, South Carolina Revolutionary War Indents, John Laboyteaux is specifically cited as receiving "45p/0s/0d" for services on board the "Frigate South Carolina". As cited much earlier, neither John nor Peter Laboyteaux appear on any of the three captive's lists of the three British men-of-war - HMS Diomede, HMS Quebec, and HMS Astrea - that captured the frigate South Carolina on December 20, 1782 and carried her captive crew and marines into New York City harbor as prisoners-of-war between December 23-24, 1782.
The citation for Peter Laboyteaux states that "...he served as a midshipman aboard the South Carolina during 1780." At least for a significant portion of 1780, the frigate South Carolina was technically still known as the L'Indien until the final contract was signed between Commodore Alexander Gillon and the Chevalier du Luxembourg in May 1780. Only then was she renamed by Commodore Gillon in honor of his adopted state. If Peter Laboyteaux served on board the frigate South Carolina only during the year 1780, he would have finished his service on board the frigate and left its service before it actually set sail from Amsterdam, Holland for America on August 4, 1781. This is a possibility but, if John and Peter Laboyteaux filed for their "stub entries" for their "indents", as indicated above, together then it is more than likely that they actually served together on board the frigate South Carolina. It is completely conceivable that the year citation sin both cases are incorrect for one reason or another. This is another facet of the Laboyteauxs that might be cleared up through further research.
Thus far, this post has examined the services, both on land and sea, as well as the death of the older John Laboyteaux, "Captain of Marines" on board the privateer frigate Aurora, out of Philadelphia, PA. It has also examined the services of his two sons, John and Peter Laboyteaux on board the frigate South Carolina, a state ship serving in the patriot Cause. All of these individuals are referred to in the title of this post. But, there is one, final facet of this family that lends itself to a sort of "patriot maritime tradition" being attached to this family. This feature has not been mentioned as of yet and addresses services of an individual who did not serve on board the frigate South Carolina but, was definitely a member of the same Laboyteaux family as the previous three individuals already referenced in this post. The writer of this blog feels that this individual should be mentioned briefly as he also served and fought for the patriot Cause in the course of the American Revolution. These refer to the services of the second son of John Laboyteaux, Samuel Smith Laboyteaux, midshipman on board the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy.
According to Hancock's article, "Laboyteaux...Families...", page 5, lists in the will of John Laboyteaux, Samuel Smith Laboyteaux as his second son/child after John Laboyteaux as the oldest son/child and just before Peter Laboyteaux as the third son/child. These last two Laboyteauxs are the two that served on board the frigate South Carolina. All the family information we know of him seems to come from either early in his life or as a result of the death of his father, "Captain of Marines" John Laboyteaux, and the probating of his father's will. According to Ross's article, "Alphabetical List of Officers and Men...", page 8, Samuel Smith Laboyteaux was "...born on February 22, 1766 in New York City and baptized two days later at First Presbyterian Church." In the text of his father's will, which was either probated on June 29, 1780 or 1781, he is directly mentioned,"...I leave all to my wife and children, John, Samuel Smith, Peter, Gabriel, William, Hannah, and Mary..."
These are the only direct references to the life of Samuel Laboyteaux and do not address Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux and his services on board the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy. One must look to the life and ultimate fate of the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy for some light to be shed on the life of Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux. According to Ross's article, "Alphabetical List of Officers and Men...", page 9, there is some implication that Samuel Laboyteaux signed on board the frigate Confederacy after the death of his father in late May 1780 and the sailing of the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy on her last voyage from Cape Francois (Haiti) to Philadelphia, PA on March 15, 1781. According to Robinson's article, "The Continental Frigate Confederacy", page 39, one month after setting sail from Cape Francois and at that moment off the Capes of the Delaware, she was "...intercepted by [HMS] Roebuck...and [HMS] Orpheus... Claiming that resistance was useless because of the superiority of forces against him, [Captain Seth] Harding surrendered at once without firing a shot. Confederacy in fact had never fought an action against an enemy warship, though she was more powerful than the average frigate of her rate in the Royal Navy." According to Kaminkow's work, Mariners of the American Revolution, there is no citation for a "Samuel Laboyteaux", or any "Laboyteaux" for that matter, anywhere in his text. But, contained in his "Appendix I: List of American Ships Captured by the British During the Revolutionary War", page 221, Kaminkow does cite the capture of the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy in April 1781 and her crew as being committed to an unidentified British prison in February 1782. A reference to the two mariners who might have sailed on board the frigate South Carolina who may have earlier sailed on board the Confederacy, Seaman John Maxwell and Midshipman William Nourse, the reader finds that Maxwell was committed to Old Mill Prison on February 27, 1782 and Nourse was committed to Forton Prison on August 9, 1781. Since Samuel Laboyteaux was a midshipman, and captured officers had a likelihood of being committed to a British prison together, it is possible that he was committed to Forton Prison on the same date that William Nourse, another midshipman on board the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy, was also committed to the same prison. More than likely, if this was the path of fate taken by Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux, he would have returned to America by means of a prisoner-of-war cartel and would have arrived in Philadelphia, PA at some point after May 1782. Unlike his colleague-fellow midshipman, William Nourse, who signed on board the frigate South Carolina while she was in Philadelphia, PA harbor and was captured on board the frigate on December 20, 1782 and taken as a prisoner-of-war into New York City harbor, Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux seems to have said farewell to a seafaring life. There is no indication that he served on board any subsequent patriot ships-of-war for the remainder of the American Revolution until the definitive peace treaty was signed.
(Note: There is supporting evidence for some of the suppositions of this blog writer concerning Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux contained in the pension application of William Nourse, also a midshipman on board the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy. The following information is primarily taken from:
Pension Application of William Nourse W6845
and much of this information is cited previously in the post entitled "William Nourse - Another Midshipman on board the South Carolina" and dated "11/10/2014".
As an aside, William Nourse's pension application is designated as "W6845". Each pension application was given a number but, these numbers were preceded by one of three letters - "S" for actual survivor/veteran of the American Revolution; "R" for a rejected pension application; or "W" for a widow of a veteran of the American Revolution who was applying to receive the veteran's pension even though he was deceased. William Nourse's pension application number is preceded by a "W" meaning at the time of his pension application filing, he had died and his pension application was being filed by his widow. William Nourse's pension application, near the end of it, has this small addendum:
On July 18, 1853, in Boyle County, KY., Rebecca P. Nourse, 61, made application for a widow's pension as the widow of William Nourse, a pensioner at the rate of $144/annum, stating that she had married him in May 1813 in Mercer County, KY; that he died August 30, 1836 in Mercer County, KY.... In a later document, the widow states that her name was Rebecca P. Kyle prior to her marriage to William Nourse, on the 2nd May 1813; and that they were married by Thomas Kyle, Minister.
William Nourse cites that immediately after the capture of the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy, the captured crew and marines of the Confederacy were taken into New York City harbor and confined "... and suffered for many weeks the most cruel and vigorous treatment on board the Jersey Prison Ship then lying in the Walabough [sic, Wallabout Bay] near the harbor of New York. That your Petitioner when scarcely recovered from a Putrid fever which raged with great mortality on board the said prison ship, was sent with about 40 others from on board said prison ship , a prisoner to a fleet then lying near the Hook bound for England and put on board a British Ship of War and confined down to the hole or cable tier of said Ship (for the enemy in those trying times made no distinction between officers and men)and on its arrival at Portsmouth England, he was put on board the Admirals Ship in that Harbor, and afterwards with others his fellow prisoners taken before a civil magistrate, and after examination was committed to Forton Prison near Portsmouth on suspicion of high treason, agreeable to an Act of Parliament passed about the beginning of the Revolutionary War where your Petitioner was confined for 7 months, and during the long and tedious winter of 1781 and beginning of 1782 without any fire or other comforts of life much to the injury of his health and very detrimental to his constitution which he sadly experiences to this day. Your Petitioner would further beg leave to state -- that after the capture of Lord Cornwallis at York in Virginia (at which time your petitioner was in Forton Prison above mentioned) and the change of the British Ministry , he was sent back in a Cartel to Philadelphia with about 300 American prisoners and arrived in the City in August 1782..." Nourse's pension application confirms that he was captured on board the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy and eventually returned to Philadelphia as part of a prisoner cartel in August 1782. William Nourse through out the pension application keeps the focus on himself and the hardships he experienced and mentions no one else by name. But, Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux could easily have been among those that Nourse obliquely refers to as having been "..sent with about 40 others from on board said prison ship..." and later when Nourse "...was sent back in a Cartel to Philadelphia with about 300 American prisoners..." Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux may well have experienced these same misfortunes, holding the same rank as William Nourse held. He, too, may have spent "...the long and tedious winter of 1781 and beginning of 1782 without any fire or other comforts of life..." in Forton Prison. But, while William Nourse is cited in Kaminkow's work, Mariners of the American Revolution, page 142, there is no citation for Samuel Laboyteaux at all. Yet, according to Ross's article, "Alphabetical List of Officers and Men...", page 9, Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux was indeed on board the Continental Navy frigate Confederacy for her final cruise which ended in her capture off the Capes of the Delaware on April 16, 1781. So, it is feasible to assume that Midshipman Samuel Laboyteaux may have indeed experienced some of these same hardships and trials while prisoner-of-war of the British, possibly in the same prison as William Nourse. Ironically, this area of sea known as the "Capes of the Delaware" would be about the same section of ocean where the frigate South Carolina would be captured almost eighteen months later.)