Benjamin Whipple (November 17, 1754-April 30, 1819)

The Illustrated History of the Whipple Family in America, 1631-1987

Benjamin Whipple

(November 17, 1754-April 30, 1819)

by George Carroll Whipple III

Benjamin Whipple was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island November 17, 1754 the ninth child of David and Martha (Read) Whipple. The Whipple family did not change location; rather Cumberland, Rhode Island, was set off from Attleborough, Massachusetts, in 1754.

Benjamin married Susanna Hall in Wrentham, Massachusetts on January 8th, 1783. She was born January 14, 1766 and died at Albany, New York May 13, 1840. She was 2l years old when she married, bore Benjamin ten children and departed life 14 years before he died.

Benjamin Whipple served under Commodore Abraham Whipple during the Revolutionary War. Commodore Whipple was a relative as both Whipples were descendents of Captain John Whipple of Providence. Benjamin Whipple served as a marine in the Continental service. His service has provided his descendents with eligibility to join The Society of Sons of the Revolution and The Society of Sons of the American Revolution, an organization of direct descendents of fighting men of the American Revolution.

Benjamin served on the ship Providence. Commodore Abraham Whipple led a squadron from Boston on a war cruise. Commodore Whipple, known as the "Informal Commodore," led the group in the Bowers-built 28 gun frigate Providence on which Benjamin Whipple served. The Providence was the flagship of the squadron.

The Providence was built by Sylvester Bowers at Providence, Rhode Island. It was a 632-ton vessel, approximately 126 1/2 feet long, with 33 3/4 foot beam, 10 1/2 foot depth of hold. The Providence was launched in May of 1776 and was completed and at sea by the following autumn.

Whipple's squadron consisted of Providence and the French-built Queen of France. He was later reinforced by the frigate Boston. Whipple was sent south to bolster Charleston against a new invasion threat. In February 1780, Admiral Arbuthnol and the Red Coat army caught Whipple's squadron in Charleston Harbor. Whipple's four war ships (he had been joined by the sloop Ranger) faced seven British war ships. When H.M.S. Reknown, Roebucj and Romulus pushed past Port Moultrie, Whipple's squadron was captured. Along with the loss of the ships Benjamin Whipple was taken prisoner and the muster rolls were all destroyed.

Benjamin Whipple's name appears in a pamphlet published by "Society of Old Brooklynites," Brooklyn, New York. 1888, p. 58--styled "A Christmas Reminder," from records in possession of the British.Government (a facsimile of which appears below).

After Benjamin Whipple's capture he was made prisoner and confined on the British prison ship Old Jersey. This wormy hulk was moored in Wallabout Bay, Brooklyn. American war-prisoners were packed like sardines in this ship. It is reported that hundreds, many of them sailors, perished of madness and starvation. Benjamin Whipple survived the ordeal. However, due to cruel and unusual punishment he was released an invalid and was a cripple for the rest of his life.

This cruelty to captured seamen spurred John Paul Jone's raids on Nova Scotia and England. In referring to the prisoners on the Old Jersey, Jones said, "justly indignant at the barbarous treatment they suffered, I resolved to make the greatest efforts to succor [the British]." It is most interesting to note that 200 years later (1976) the records office of the British government denies that the Jersey was a prison ship, maintaining rather that it was a hospital ship. If it was a ship of mercy it must have been a poor one as Benjamin Whipple's health was ruined on board.

Benjamin Whipple served as door tender at the New York State Constitutional Convention which was held in Poughkeepsie, New York October 13-27, 1801.

Through the influence of Governor Tomkins and others, Benjamin was appointed door keeper of.the New York Assembly in 1802, he was reelected annually up to the date of his death in 1819. About 1810 his health was so feeble that his son John Hall Whipple, a mere lad, was allowed to serve as deputy.

Benjamin Whipple died at Albany, New York April 30, 1819.

© 1999 George Carroll Whipple, III. All rights reserved.