The information presented in this post is taken from the following sources:
Ervin, Sara Sullivan. South Carolinians in the Revolution: With Service Records and Miscellaneous Data, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1965.)
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1999.)
Moss, Bobby Gilmer. Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983.)
Navey, William, copier and indexer. "South Carolina - Federal Pension Report - 1835", (USGenWeb Archives, posted - March 9, 1999.)
Revill, Janie, copier. Copy of the Original Index Book: Showing the Revolutionary Claims Filed in South Carolina Between August 20, 1783 and August 31, 1786, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969.)
Wates, Wylma Anne, editor. Stub Entries to Indents: Issued in Payment of Claims Against South Carolina Growing Out of the Revolution, (Columbia, SC: South Carolina Archives Department, 1957.)
Pension Application of George Fisher S46036
At this point in his pension application, George Fisher, "Captain's Steward", on board the frigate South Carolina, goes "silent" in that he does not record any events or occurrences of significance until he notes that the ship-of-war was nearing Philadelphia, PA on June 5, 1782, as he recorded it. The previous entry in his pension application (and thus in the "pocketbook" still in his possession on October 29, 1833 from which he was copying these entries) was that of "...May 10 ..." with the next entry being dated "...June 5 ...". In other words, George Fisher did not record any of the final voyage of the frigate South Carolina from Nassau, New Providence in the Bahama Islands to Philadelphia, PA from May 14 to May 29, 1782.
Some of the "silence" can be filled in by Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, pages 77-78. This is included here so that some sort of "continuity" of the story line might continue to connect the recordings in the "pocketbook" of George Fisher.
(Note: The writer of this blog would like to refresh the memories of the readership that the logbook of the frigate South Carolina, ostensibly under the care of George Fisher, "Captain's Steward" on board the frigate, had not been kept up to date since the patriot ship-of-war had left occupied Charleston, SC on or about January 1, 1782 and had sailed toward Havana, Cuba.)
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, pages 77-78, the following account of the voyage of the frigate South Carolina from the now Spanish-held island of New Providence on May 14, 1782 until she entered Philadelphia, PA harbor on May 29, 1782 is given:
"For nearly a week [after the official surrender of New Providence on May 8, 1782] Commodore Gillon and his American escorts cruised the northwest and northeast channels leading to New Providence. Lookouts sighted nearly a dozen unfamiliar sail, some large enough to be threatening. Most were chased, and one was captured. She was a small Bahamian schooner, which Gillon turned into a tender for the South Carolina. On May 14, exactly eight days after the conquest of New Providence and at the end of the contractual period agreed upon by the Spanish treasury with the American sea captains, the Commodore called out the other American ships anchored in the port of Nassau and sailed away from his Spanish allies. There was some apprehension over whether Captain-General Cagigal would release all these escorts, but he did...
The small fleet of American escorts saw the last of the Bahamas on May 15  and headed north. The prize captured by the South Carolina a few days before was sent by Gillon into Georgetown with letters for Governor John Mathews. Off the Chesapeake the American ships began to separate, those going to Baltimore bearing west while those heading further north continued straight ahead. At least one ship joined the South Carolina in her approach to Delaware Bay, which she reached on May 28 . By this time even the Philadelphia part of the fleet had scattered somewhat, one having been captured by British ships without the knowledge of the Commodore. There is some evidence that the giant frigate captured a prize off the Chesapeake Bay and a second at the entrance to the Delaware. On May 29 , Gillon docked at the City of Brotherly Love.".
This bit of background information brings this narrative to the penultimate entry in George Fisher's pension application, "Pension Application of George Fisher S46036" and, ostensibly, in his "pocketbook":
"June 5  - [We] got aground near mud fort in the river Delaware.".
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 79, "...one crew member records that the frigate went aground on June 5 at 'Mudfort', a site near Philadelphia, possibly Fort Mifflin on Mud Island...". An investigation into the footnote section for this portion of the text reveals that this is a direct reference to the "pocketbook" information being shared by George Fisher in his pension application. This is almost certainly a reference to Fort Mifflin, located on Mud Island in the Delaware River, near Philadelphia.
(Note: Some sources note that the island is sometimes referred to as "Deep Water Island" in modern times. The original island was located just southwest of the confluence of the Delaware River and the Schuykill River by approximately 1000-1200 yards. During 18th century, it was an actual island known as Mud Island. Today, the back channel between the island and the main bank of the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania side of the river has been filled in. The fortification was originally known as Fort Island Battery and later as Mud Island Fort. It became known as Fort Mifflin during the American Revolution. There is no further indication, either in George Fisher's "pocket book" or in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, of the amount of time it took to get the frigate South Carolina free of this predicament and continue on towards the port of Philadelphia, PA.)
The "Pension Application of George Fisher S46036" concludes with the very brief, ultimate (final) entry of:
"[June] 18  - [We] Arrived at Philadelphia. Here ends the remarks in the Pocket Book.".
(Note: As quoted above, in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 78, "...on May 29 , Gillon docked in the City of Brotherly Love [ie, Philadelphia]...". It appears that here at the end of the maiden voyage of the frigate South Carolina that George Fisher seemed to become even more "random" with his dates regarding this first cruise itself. The "Pension Application of George Fisher S46036" states that the patriot frigate ran aground "...near mud fort in the river Delaware..." on June 5, 1782 and finally reached Philadelphia on June 18, 1782. The note cited immediately above clearly states that "Mud Fort" is not even a mile below the city of Philadelphia. According to George Fisher's account, the time lapse between the frigate South Carolina running aground and reaching Philadelphia is thirteen days. The text cited above and taken from Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 78, clearly states that the patriot frigate reached the Capes of the Delaware on May 28, 1782 and that the frigate actually docked in Philadelphia, PA on May 29, 1782. There is some type of serious chronological discrepancy here. The writer of this blog has a tendency to believe that the frigate only ran aground instead of running "hard aground" and that the crew and marines working for several hours probably freed the frigate with no damage done to her hull and continued on to the harbor of Philadelphia, docking that same day.)
As stated by George Fisher, "Captain's Steward" on board the frigate South Carolina, here ended "...the remarks in the Pocket Book...". But, the narrative of the "Pension Application of George Fisher S46036" does not end there. Immediately following this final entry is the statement by George Fisher that:
"...the declarant having under his care of [the] furniture, stores &c of the Commodore and the Capt., he was detained on board at least 2 weeks after the frigate's arrival in Philadelphia; he then received a certificate signed by Capt. John Joiner [Joyner] specifying the sum due him and addressed to Gov. Mathews [John Matthews] of South Carolina; no written discharges were given to [that] he knows of; The precise date of this certificate is not recollected, but the declarant believes it was within 3 or 4 days under or over the first day of July 1782.".
Here, in the harbor of Philadelphia, PA, George Fisher, "Captain's Steward" on board the frigate South Carolina, ended his services and enlistment on board of that patriot man-of-war. According to his pension application statement cited immediately above, he had to remain on board the frigate "...at least 2 weeks after the frigate's arrival in Philadelphia...", it would seem primarily because "...he was detained...". But, this detention was not of a disciplinary nature at all but, was due to his having very important items under his care and watchfulness - "...[the] furniture, stores &c of the Commodore and Capt.,...". George Fisher them received "...a certificate signed by Capt. John Joiner [Joyner]..." and was discharged for the frigate South Carolina. Lewis's work records no individual discharges from the frigate, so there is no manner in which the writer of this blog might be able to corroborate the date of George Fisher's discharge. This important document might also provide us with a more accurate date of the arrival of the frigate South Carolina in Philadelphia's harbor. By the time that George Fisher nears the end of the entries in his pocketbook, he is almost two weeks in advance of the actual date of the events recorded. George Fisher states in his pension application that he received the certificate from Captain Joyner "...within 3 or 4 days under or over the first day of July 1782...". This would have placed the date of the issuance of the certificate at somewhere between June 27-July 4, 1782. In reality, George Fisher probably received his certificate from Captain John Joyner around the middle of June 1782. The further investigation of the pension application will explain the reason for George Fisher not being able to accurately date the certificate.
According to the "Pension Application of George Fisher S46036", the very next paragraph addresses exactly how much he was recompensed for his services on board the frigate South Carolina and the ultimate fate of his issued certificate. The text of this paragraph reads as follows:
"The sum specified as due was sixty-two Pounds some odd Shillings Sterling; as his pay was three Pounds Sterling per month, had the purser's account against him been mentioned, it would have afforded sufficient data to ascertain his time of service, which was a little upwards of two years on board said frigate in the revolutionary war. One fourth of this Certificate, was paid in Philadelphia by an agent of the State: shortly after the declarant entrusted it to a person who promised to endeavor to get something for it in Carolina, but he has never seen it since nor received any thing arising from it.".
Thus, George Fisher was not able to accurately ascertain the date of the issuance of his certificate due to an unnamed individual persuading George Fisher that he was capable of securing the amount of the certificate In South Carolina who, evidently, then disappeared with the certificate. The new country was full of promise and possibilities and men seeking those opportunities. But, these were those certain men who were not above cheating their fellow men and veterans out of their share and attempting to personally profit thereby. Most men, like George Fisher, were honest and trusting men. Others were not as good as these men who had fought to gain the new liberties all newly-minted Americans now enjoyed.
It seems that George Fisher does not accurately recall the exact amount of the certificate he was issued by Captain John Joyner in Philadelphia, PA when he was discharged from the frigate South Carolina. According to his pension application, George Fisher remembers the amount as being "...sixty-two Pounds and some odd Shillings Sterling...". But, according to Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, page 385, on October 6, 1784, George Fisher received 60p/16s/71/2d from the state of South Carolina for his services on board the frigate South Carolina. A more complete account is found in Wates's work, Stub Entries to Indents, Book C, page 93, and is as follows:
"Book C, No. 528 -
Issued to Mr. George Fisher late of the Frigate South Carolina (Captain's Steward) the 7th of October 1784 for Sixty Pounds 16/71/2 Sterling Ballance of wages due him on board of said Ship, as per Certificate from the Auditor General dated 6th October 1784.
The remainder of the "Pension Application of George Fisher S46036" seems to be an attempt to convince the Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, B. J. Earle, that he did indeed serve on board the frigate South Carolina. George Fisher did this by citing numerous details about the frigate and its personnel who served while he was on board the same ship-of-war. He cited the dimensions and armaments of the frigate. He named several of the passengers who took passage on board the frigate South Carolina and how they had a disagreement with Commodore Gillon concerning his handling of the ship-of-war and that they left the frigate in Corunna, Spain. He briefly accounts for all the prize vessels taken by the frigate as she crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He even names individual officers and crew members who served on board during the maiden voyage of the frigate South Carolina. And, as is frequently the case with pension applications from the American Revolution, George Fisher included several supporting statements from respected members of the community where he had settled or who had served on board the frigate South Carolina during the same time frame. These documents were provided by "...Hansford D. Duncan, a clergyman, a resident of the District of Barnwell South Carolina..."; by "...the honorable Angus Patterson Senator from this district to the State Legislature..."; "...John Mayrant a Lieutenant on board the South Carolina frigate in the service of this State in the Revolutionary War..."; and "...Mr. Richard Wall of the City [Charleston, SC], formerly an officer on the "South Carolina" Frigate in the service of this State in the Revolutionary War...". These were all respected and noted members of post-war South Carolinian society whose veracity would not be questioned.
(Note: Lieutenant John Mayrant and Midshipman Richard Wall both stated that George Fisher entered the service of the frigate South Carolina "...at Amsterdam about the month of May or June in the year 1780...". Also, that George Fisher served "...in the capacity of Captain's Steward..." and was honorably discharged at Philadelphia "...in June 1782...". This serves to corroborate the dates already given by George Fisher for his services on board the frigate South Carolina.)
But, as is so frequently the case with the passage of so much time, these former fighters for our American liberties had lost the proofs that would have verified their former services and made them subject to receive the desired pension from a grateful country. George Fisher filed his pension application on October 29, 1833, when he was already seventy-five years old. According to the "Pension Application of George Fisher S46036", the following statement appears towards the end of the application:
"The declarant regrets that he has been unable to procure any documentary evidence; In a healthy season of the year he visited the secretary of states office, there was no paper or documents in that office relative to the South Carolina frigate.
Through the medium of a friend he had the other branch of the secretary of states office in Columbia searched; The state Treasurer wishing as he said to serve an old Revolutionary character, assisted in the search, the results of this search ended like that in Charleston: his friend had the Controller General's office searched also, the Controller responded that on searching his office, there were no books or papers relative to the South Carolina Frigate, except some papers in an old Box rleative to the claim of one Delosier, against the South Carolina Frigate, the declarant knows nothing of this Delosier, the Controller General further reported that 8 to 10 years past, the portage bill Book of the South Carolina, was taken out of his office by a committee of the Legislature, and never returned nor did he the Controller, know where it was or what had become of it.
The declarant failing to procure any documentary evidence has been the more particular in relating so many occurrences and circumstances, with a view to enable the department to judge of the degree of credit due to his declarant.".
Thus, George Fisher, "Captain's Steward" on board the frigate South Carolina was forced to include as much detail as he could remember concerning the frigate and her personnel to compensate for the lack of physical documentation that would have made his case for a pension so much easier and sure for him. As stated in an earlier post on George Fisher, the writer of this blog has never yet encountered a pension application as lengthy as George Fisher's application. It fills seven pages of text and is thorough, to say the least.
But, George Fisher's efforts were not without reward. The pension application of George Fisher concludes with the follwoing statement:
"Veteran was pensioned at the rate of $120 per annum commencing March 1, 1831, for service as a seaman in the South Carolina Navy.".
According to Navey's work, "South Carolina - Federal Pension Report 1835", page 30, the following information appears concerning George Fisher:
South Carolina Militia
$120.00 annual allowance
$360.00 amount received
December 14, 1833 pension started
(Note: This same information is recorded in Ervin's work, South Carolinians in the Revolution, page 46. In fact, the information is identical and may be the source of the information used by Navey's work cited immediately above.)
Even though he is cited as having served in the "...South Carolina Militia...", this is the same George Fisher, "Captain's Steward" on board the frigate South Carolina. He successfully began to receive his pension on December 14, 1833, only two months after he appeared before Judge B. J. Earle of the Court of Common Pleas of the State of South Carolina Barnwell District. The pension was retroactive back to March 1, 1831, so George Fisher received $240.00 for the two years previous and then a further $120.00 for the current year of 1833, making for a total of $360.00 received by him.
It is almost antithetical that for George Fisher who had the responsibility of recording everything about the frigate South Carolina from June 1780 to June 1782 that almost nothing is known of his subsequent life after his discharge from the service of the frigate in June 1782. Literally, all there is are statements made in his own words and contained within his pension application. In the concluding paragraph of his pension application, George Fisher stated that:
"Since 1783 the declarant has resided in South Carolina, Except for four years that he lived in Georgia, and near two years on his late visit to England, for the last twenty-seven years, he has been a resident of Barnwell District, Except the two years visit to England and one year he lived in Orangeburg District, he now lives about three miles from the line that separates the two Districts he is yet several miles nearer of the Court House of Barnwell, than that of Orangeburg: his age and imperfect sight keep him almost constantly at home, so that he is but little known in Orangeburg District, where he believes it would be impracticable for him to procure the testimony of the clergyman, and other respectable Inhabitant as required by the department. He therefore thought it most advisable to make his declaration in the Court of Barnwell District, where he is well-known, rather than that of Orangeburg where he is scarcely known at all.".
In short, George Fisher, "Captain's Steward" on board the frigate South Carolina and former native of England, moved to and resided in South Carolina from 1783 to the point in time when he filed his pension application in October 1833. He added that for four years he lived in Georgia. There is no indication as to when exactly he lived in Georgia or even the location of his residence there. George Fisher also stated that for two years he was in England. His intention in travelling to his home country of England was to collect information he needed to verify his life to the authorities here in the United States, such as his baptismal records from the church in England where he and his twin sister were baptized on January 27, 1758. The time span of 1783 and 1833 is a span of fifty years total. George Fisher stated that he lived in Georgia for four years, was in England for two years, and had lived in the Barnwell District of South Carolina for twenty-seven years at the point he filed his pension application. All total that amounts to thirty-three years. That leaves seventeen years that George Fisher lived somewhere else in South Carolina other than in Barnwell District. There again is no indication from the "Pension Application of George Fisher S46036" as to where he lived within South Carolina prior to moving to Barnwell District. He does allude to one year lived in Orangeburg District but, that is all that is stated by George Fisher. It is rather confusing but, it seems from the wording contained in his pension application that George Fisher had relocated to Orangeburg District shortly before he filed his application. When he filed his pension application, George Fisher listed himself as "...a resident of Goodland Swamp near Edisto in the County or District of Orangeburg and the State of South Carolina...". Yet, he filed his pension application on October 29, 1833 in Barnwell District for the reasons he enumerates in the paragraph above. It is completely possible that George Fisher lived in Barnwell District in South Carolina for all of his life but, that a latter re-drawing of district lines had placed him barely within Orangeburg District lines. He alludes to this in the section where he states that he is geographically closer to the courthouse in Barnwell District than that in Orangeburg Distirct and that he is better known among the residents of Barnwell District than among those of Orangeburg District.
Usually, an individual filing for a pension from the government would mention an elderly or infirm wife or frequently numerous children that need to also be supported. This was done in the hope that the state might take more pity on the Revolutionary War veteran and award him an increased pension. But, within the pension application of George Fisher there is no reference to a wife or any children as being dependent upon him. There is even no reference to George Fisher being a widower or his children having all died. Even this type of circumstance would warrant reference in a pension application. So, it would appear that George Fisher never married or had a family at all while he resided in South Carolina. There appears to be no other corroborating evidence or information to shed light on the latter life of George Fisher after he left the frigate South Carolina. Even the final resting place of the mortal remains of George Fisher is unknown. Most probably, he was buried in Barnwell District, South Carolina where he had chosen to reside and was better known among the inhabitants. But, there is always the possibility that he was laid to rest in Orangeburg District where his home had been "relocated" to due to the re-drawing of the district lines. This may be the reason for his burial plot being unknown.
But, one final piece of information casts a bright light latter years of the life of George Fisher. He had determined to depart his homeland of England because he did not want to serve in the local militia. His destination of choice was America. He found the frigate South Carolina readying herself In Amsterdam, Holland to depart for her maiden voyage to that very land. He signed on board as the "Captain's Steward" and experienced all that has been recounted in the past three posts. Once he landed in Philadelphia, he must have made his way south to South Carolina. The reason for choosing this particular geographical location within the newly-freed United States is unknown and unrecorded. But, on November 1, 1824, he made the following declaration in the Clerk's Office of Barnwell District of South Carolina before Orsamus D. Allen, Clerk:
"November 1, 1824
I George Fisher do solemnly swear that I resided in America in the year 1782 & have resided in the United States & in the State of South Carolina mostly ever since & particularly for eighteen years, last past and I will be the most of my power & ability support the Constitution of the State and the Constitution of the United States and I do hereby solemnly freely & voluntarily renounce & forever abjure all allegiance to any foreign King, Prince, Potentate or Power & particularly all allegiance to the King of Great Britain whose subject I formerly was so help me God.
S/ George Fisher
Sworn in open Court before me November 1, 1824
S/ Orsamus D. Allen, Clerk"
This declaration indicates that George Fisher, "Captain's Steward" on board the frigate South Carolina was no longer an "Old Countryman". He had officially become an American with the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart.