The Whaleboat Raiders visit William Swezey

Whaleboat Raiders visit William Swezey

During the American Revolution Long Island was under British and Tory control. Those Patriots wishing to continue their opposition to the British fled to Connecticut. Whaleboat raiders crossed the sound and made attacks on British and Tory possessions. As the war went on the actions of these raiders became blurred as even those sympathetic to the American cause complained of having property taken from them by the raiders.

Below is an account of such a raid on Middle Island resident and Patriot William Swezey.
This account comes from the notebooks of Richard M. Bayles of Middle Island

“William Swezey of Brookhaven in the county of Suffolk and state of New York of lawful age deposetts & saithe that Simeon Crossman, Asel Crossman, Jacob Arnold and sundry other men under the command of sd Simeon Crossman commander of a whaleboat from Norwalk Conn. on Sunday evening of about 9 of the clock being August 26, 1781into my dwelling house in said Brookhaven in a manner riotous , hostile manner with arms and demanded of me English goods. I told them I had few they then demanded where my watch was, I told them I had none, they then proceeded to search me for money feeling in all my pockets, the waistband of my breeches& in the lining of my clothes, in every part and in the facing and collars of my coat & jacket and found about L 3 only which was in my breeches pocket. They then pointed to my chest asked what was in it. I told them no English goods, they commanded me to unlock it but I omitted to obey them therein until they cursed and swore at me at a terrible rate they then proceeded to break the lock of the chest. I then did by compulsion & through fear unlock the same in which I had an no article. I had for sale that it contained nothing, but what was for my own private use. of which they took out of said chest the following articles about 28pounds of NY currency in silver and gold money including $13 in a coat pocket hanging over said chest1 pr silver plated spurs, 2 silk handkerchiefs. Not much worse for wear our Led Morrocco pocket book with valuable accts in it  & 1 eight guinea, 2 pen knives 1 of coles Latin dictionaries and 1 book wrote by Aristotle. 1 paper of ink powder, 1 brass ink stand, which had been used by my father in his life time ever since I can remember 1 ½ yd swiff colored broadcloth which was intended for my own use, 1 pr moving wales and weights. 1 pr silver knee buckles, 1 silver hat buckle, 1 roll  2 Jappand snuff boxes, 1 tobacco box  & sundry other small things also a quill of writing paper all of which took out of my chest & from sundry parts of my house. They took the following articles belonging to me and my family. Being articles of necessary use and not intended for sale. Viz 1 mans saddle with furniture and & silver washed oval round buttons & large stirrup irons the saddle not being much the worse for wear, I other man’s saddle with brass mail straps  staples which saddle leg been used a little but not much & c having furniture complete 1 hunting horsewhip about ¼ worn dark snuff colored or rather London brown cloth coat & vest trimmed witt yellow gilt smooth buttons., 1 watch coat of light colored coating with velvet cape & basket buttons the _4 lined thoout? With green gauze 1 fine linen shirt, 3 pr stockings, 1 black velvet coat 3 with handkerchiefs that had been worn by my father in his lifetime  & others of the family, 2 linen or cotton handkerchiefs part worn, 1 brass mounted fedora gun  about 1  powder & 3 or more pounds of fine shot & musket balls. 5 yards corduroy which had been bought on purpose for a jacket & breeches for my own weare. 3 yards green surge? Intended for the wear of a blind hired laborer of mine. 8 yards fustion intended for my own wear. 2 hats bit worn, about 4 lbs paper & 2 papers/ of tobacco kept for the use of self and family, 1 pr tin scales & lead weights about 8lbs. Loaf sugar & about 4 lbs. tea being my family store. About 6 rails or family logs? Some of them home made & 1 ____ of sale cloth. 1 ____ tooth ivory comb part _____ & sundry articles of household furniture, accounts clocks & articles of necessary farming use & make of the foregoing articles were intended or held for sale. They also then took the following articles of goods, wares misc chandlier intended for sale for the use of my neighbors & the half of which articles was purchased by the direction of my particular neighbors who had particularly spoke to me for to purchase the same for their own use viz. two Dillworth spelling books, 22 yards black Callumaneo, 21 yards cotton check & part of it intended for our family use other ______ name of

 The commander of their conduct toward my person during the time of their stay which was about 2 hours while collecting & packing my said goods was as follows. Viz As they had compelled me to open my desk they ordered me into another room & then compelled me  to unlock my desk & then to my other chests, draws and trunk, compelled me and my aged Mother to open all of them that were locked & then before they took my goods above named they took me into my kitchen & set a guard over me & deprived me of my liberty in a great measure of seeing what they took from me by which means cannot tell how much more of my property they took besides the above named articles. I not having as yet missed any more though I judge it is very probable they took from me many more articles. They also threatened and abused me much because I had shown them no more money then the above sum, which was in the chest.

They said I had the day before sold a quantity of clover seed & demanded the money I had received for said clover seed. I told them I had not yet received  the pay I had some time before then paid L300 to my sister in silver & gold but chiefly guineas being legacies given them in my Father’s last will and testament. They appeared to know that I did have that some of money &  and demanded it of me & I told them I had no more money than what they had got & they not believing me they then by very high  ordered and compelled me to hold up my right hand toward heaven & swear in the name of the living God that I had no more money which oath one of them named Dibble profanely administered __________ said Simeon Crossman tied me with a rope and swore by God if I ever followed them to Conn. they would kill me & burn my house while they were carrying me from room to room as before mentioned looking and observing what there was to be seen said Crossman told his men to take nothing but British goods. After they had taken the above mentioned articles of my clothing & saddle I remembering what I had heard of said Crossman say I mentioned to tell him they had got my clothes and saddles I urged hard for my watch coat before mentioned which I saw one of them have on that they refused to return it & carried all the above articles away with them 7 though my neighbors had given me orders to buy for them many of the above named articles yet none of them sent any money by me when I went to New York to buy them nor had paid me for any of the articles before they were taken from me & as I expect a profit upon them I am the only loser and therefore all the above named articles taken from me were my own private estate for a considerable part of the time they were at my house I expected they were Tory refugees from Llyods neck which expectation together with their rage anger and profane abusive threatening language made me afraid to ask them who they were or by what authority they meant to act. They threatened the life of my aged Mother and abused her by pushing and shoving her & would not let her go with them into the several rooms to see what they took

Wm. Swezey
Sept. 19, 1781
Sworn to at Fairfield town and county _____
Before Abraham Andrews
Justice of the peace

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