According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 99, "...the South Carolina's prisoners encountered different fates over the following weeks in New York. A handful (eight or less) chose to enlist in the British navy. Considering the reputation of the prison ships in the harbor, it is remarkable how few did this..." This brief entry is all the Dr. Lewis says on the subject of defection among the crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina. He does not name the "handful (eight or less)" of men who signed on with the Royal Navy. According to Middlebrook's work, The Frigate "South Carolina", page 17, "...another coterie were 'pressed' by the three captors and entered on the ship's books..." By making use of the prisoner lists contained in Middlebrook's work, The Frigate "South Carolina", pages 18-25, the writer of this blog feels he has identified these men. These men and any information that can be recorded for them will be the subject of this post.
As indicated in the passage from Middlebrook cited in the above paragraph, at least some of these men may have had pressure placed on them to join the Royal Navy. Nothing is known of these men but, they may have been singled out for impressment for any number of reasons. They may have been native-born to British Isles. They may have had previous service either in the Royal Navy or the British army and were offered a chance to return to their former allegiance. They may have been deserters who feared being placed on the prison "hulks" and identified themselves as such to escape this hellish fate. There are a possible kaleidoscope of reasons for this decision on the parts of these men but, ultimately we will more than likely never know what factors went into the decisions each of these men made.
Again, using the captive's lists of each of the three British men-of-war, we can identify these men. The HMS Diomede carried at least three of them into New York City harbor. These men are as follows:
They are all three cited as being "Discharged 26 Dec 1782 Ships Books". This would have been two days after the arrival of the last man-of-war in New York City harbor on December 24, 1782. The citation referred to in the first sentence of this paragraph indicates that these three men chose to sign on with the Royal Navy and thus had their names entered on the roster (hence the reference to the "ship's books") of the HMS Diomede. In the section of Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", pages 135-170, all of these three men have no "position" cited for them. According to Ross's work, Roster, none of these men filed claims against the state of South Carolina after the close of hostilities in 1783. Likewise, Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, pages 385-386, cites nothing for these three men. All we seem to know of these three men are their names from a roster compiled by the enemy when they signed onto the HMS Diomede as crew members.
Evidently, the HMS Astrea did not carry any of these men who signed on with the Royal Navy in the days after their arrival in New York City harbor. This assumption is made due to the fact that none of the prisoners-of-war whose names are contained on the captive's list for the HMS Astrea have the citation "Ship's Books" entered next to their names. Then again, all men, officers as well as NCOS and enlisted personnel, carried on board this British man-of-war are cited as being "Discharged 27 Dec 1782 Prison Ship New York". Again, as cited in the post dated "03/26/2015" dealing with the prisoners-of-war on board the HMS Astrea this would have been an unusual fate for the officers and "gentlemen" from the captured frigate South Carolina who would have been normally paroled or quickly exchanged. But, even with these glaring discrepancies in evidence on the captive's list of the HMS Astrea, there appears no citations of "Ship's Books" beside any of the names contained on the captive's list for that man-of-war.
The case of the HMS Quebec is rather unusual. The captive list of the HMS Quebec begins with seven names that are bracketed together with the additional citation of "23 Dec '82 [Apparently taken on Ship's Book]". Whereas the HMS Diomede's captive list has the names of the men taken onto the ship's books scattered through out the list, the HMS Quebec's captive list has them all concentrated together at the very beginning of the captive list. The names of these men are:
The cited date of their being taken onto the "Ship's Book" is December 23, 1782, which would mean that the HMS Quebec was one of the first of the small prize convoy to arrive in New York City harbor. In the section of Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", pages 135-170, all seven of these men's names appear but, as with the three men on board the HMS Diomede, there is no "position" cited for any of them. Again, according to Ross's work, Roster, none of these men filed any claims against the state of South Carolina after the cessation of hostilities between Great Britain and the United States. And, likewise, Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, pages 385-386, cites nothing for these seven men. These seven men seem to suffer the same fate as the three men who signed onto the roster of the HMS Diomede - all we know of them today comes from a roster compiled by the enemy at the time they signed on with the HMS Quebec as crew members.
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 99, "a handful (eight or less) chose to enlist in the British navy." Yet, ten names appear here, not "...eight or less..." Still, as also cited in this passage from Lewis's work, "considering the reputation of the prison ships in the harbor, it is remarkable how few did this..." A post entitled "Just Another Name on the Roster" and dated "03/20/2015" cites all the men whose names appear on the roster of the frigate South Carolina cited in the section of Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", pages 135-170. These are men who nothing else is known of them except that their names appear on the roster. The list contains one hundred and sixty-one names. A later post entitled "Just Another Name on the Roster: A Reprisal" and dated "04/21/2015", decreased the number to seventy-two. These are men who have no "position" cited for them in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, as well as no other information from any other source sheds any further light on them. But, the names of these ten men are not found on either of these lists. First, because their names appear on one of the three captive's lists of the British men-of-war that captured the frigate South Carolina on December 20, 1782 off Cape Henlopen, Delaware. Yet, now we know a bit more about these ten men - in British captivity, they were "pressed" or persuaded to enlist in the Royal Navy and took the opportunity to do so. Since nothing else is known of them after they took this step, one can assume that they never looked back. They may have died on board one of the two British men-of-war they signed on with as crew members, the HMS Diomede or the HMS Quebec. They may have completed their time in the Royal Navy, been discharged, and settled either in England or a British-held territory. Or, they may have quietly returned to the United States, taken up their old lives, and continued onward. We may never know for sure.