The Mercer Affair

By R.J. Adam, published May 1994


In May 1777 the French bound 322 ton merchant ship Mercer was brought into the Cumberland port of Whitehaven, having been taken by her crew as a prize. This was an episode in the War of American Independence with those responsible for relieving the captain of his command being ‘Old Countrymen stranded on the wrong side of the Atlantic’. As the author shows, the Mercer was chartered to run the blockade out of Boston, carrying merchandise for France that could be exchanged for war supplies which, in turn, could be brought back to America. This article examines in detail the events surrounding the taking of the Mercer, the value of her cargo, the nature of some of the papers she carried and the implications these papers had for some of those in England who had sympathy for the American cause. Attention is also given to the outcome of legal proceedings of the Prize Court that adjudicated over the ownership of the vessel and prize rights that might be accorded to those responsible for bringing her to Whitehaven.

Join Today To Read The Full Article

Filed under: Atlantic | American Revolution | Mutiny & Discipline | Irish Sea
Subjects include: Administration | Merchant Marines | Pirates, Corsairs & Privateers

Join Today To Read The Full Article

Join Now

If you are already a member please login here.