Some background information is in order here. In Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 15, it states that "the rupture with Great Britain presented South Carolina with all the military problems that the other states faced." One of these commonly-held problems was how to protect the coast of South Carolina. All thirteen on the original colonies had at least a portion of coastline along the Atlantic seaboard. Even the New Hampshire Grants (future Vermont) had to deal with the sizable Lake Champlain along most of her western border. The Continental Navy had been established by the Continental Congress in 1775. These ships would be under direct control of the Continental Congress and officers appointed by that same Congress. But, many of the states felt the need to develop their own state navies in order to specifically protect their own coasts. South Carolina was one of these states that began to develop their own state navy.
In Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 15, it states that "while armed privateers and spur-of-the-moment arrangements might handle many maritime threats, only large warships permanently stationed in Charleston could provide the comprehensive security that South Carolina's trade and population required. As a result, the state sent a large and distinguished delegation to Europe to acquire the necessary ships - three frigates being the original objective." The reasoning behind the state leaders desiring frigates was that they "...considered frigates just the right size of warship for South Carolina's needs. Fast, versatile, and mobile, they could be used for a variety of duties, from escorting convoys to sweeping the coast free of enemy privateers and raiders. They were also, of course, the cheapest of the large ships to acquire and maintain."
With the rank of Commodore of the Navy of South Carolina, Alexander Gillon headed this delegation bound for France. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 15, among the members of the delegation "...there were three captains, John Joyner, William Robertson, and John McQueen, obviously one of each of the anticipated frigates." Thus, we come to an examination of these three men.
The information contained in this post is drawn from the following sources:
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina During the American Revolution, (The Kent State University Press, 1999).
Middlebrook, Louis F. The Frigate "South Carolina": A Famous Revolutionary War Ship, (The Essex Institute, 1929).
Moss, Bobby Gilmer. Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, (Genealogical Publishing Company, 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).
John Joyner - He served as Commadore [sic, Commodore] of the frigate South Carolina. (Joyner, William, S20419); V125; Moss, page 517. In Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 152, he is cited as a "captain". In Revill, p. 386, he is cited as receiving 6,122p/11s/8d in Return 93. In Middlebrook's work, The Frigate "South Carolina", page 24, he is cited as being on board the HMS Quebec as a captive being transported to New York City harbor. He is cited as "captain".
Much has already been written on John Joyner on this site. The primary information post concerning him is dated "10/06/2014". The post concerning his actions on December 20, 1782 and the subsequent capture of the frigate South Carolina is dated "03/23/2015". Quite a bit is known about John Joyner and his family in colonial and Revolutionary South Carolina. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the other two "Captains" in Commodore Gillon's delegation.
John McQueen - There is no "John McQueen" cited in Moss's work, Roster, who is associated with the frigate South Carolina but, interestingly, there is a "------- McQueen" whose citation reads: He served as a captain in the navy. S.C.H.&G., LIII, 233; Moss, page 643. In Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, there is no citation at all for "John McQueen" in the section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina". Likewise, Revill and Middlebrook are silent concerning this individual.
The only mention of John McQueen as one of the captains who accompanied Commodore Gillon to France is on page 15 of the main text. Yet, the text of Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, provides his first name - John. If this man and the man spoken of in Moss's work, page 643 are indeed the same man, then for the very first time, an individual cited whose first name is unknown has had their name identified. Thus, it may be that "------- McQueen" is indeed "John McQueen".
William Robeson - In Moss's work, on page 822, it states that "he was commissioned as a captain in the Navy under Com. Alexander Gillon. A.A.6505A". In Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, there is no citation for him in the section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina". But, in the body of Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 15, a reference to a "William Robertson" is made along with the same reference to John McQueen. Again, Revill and Middlebrook are silent concerning this individual. In Moss's work, there is no citation to a "William Robertson" at all. Thus, the citation to "William Robeson", along with the cross-reference to "Com. Alexander Gillon" , indicates that this is the individual in question and that this is most probably the proper spelling of his last name.
Also, because only a single frigate, the South Carolina, was the result of this distinguished delegation's efforts and work in France and due to John Joyner becoming the captain of the frigate South Carolina, then the other two captains were without ships to command. Thus, at some point in time, either by release granted by Commodore Gillon or by their own volition, these two men, William Robeson/Robertson and John McQueen, returned to America by some other, unidentified ship. That is the reason for their names not occurring in the section of Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina" - they were never members of the crew or marines on board the frigate South Carolina.