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This "raiders" division of the Gaspee. Info website is devoted to information about the Raiders as individuals.

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Joseph Brown
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Capt. Samuel Dunn
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Capt. Greenwood
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Joseph Harris
Capt. John Hopkins
Justin Jacobs
Joseph Jencks
Hezekiah Kinnicut
John Kilton
Abner Luther
John Mawney
Simeon Olney
Ezra Ormsbee
Benjamin Page
Capt. S. Potter
Barzilla Richmond
Nath. Salisbury
Capt. Chris. Sheldon
Capt. Shepard
James Smith
Turpin Smith
Capt Swan
Robert Sutton
Capt. Jos.Tillinghast
Capt. Abr.Whipple
Qualification for List
Boat Captains
Raider Connections
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Go to
Gaspee History
for history, overall facts, background, results, and analysis of the  1772 attack itself.

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Books: American Colonial and Revolutionary War history or the people involved. We have suggestions for you.

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Joseph Bucklin Society.

References in brackets [  ] or in curly brackets {  } on any page in this website are to books, or other materials, listed in the Joseph Bucklin Society Gaspee Bibliography, or to materials held by the Joseph Bucklin Society.

Captain Christopher Sheldon, master of the John Brown ship "Dolphin",  probably went on the Gaspee raid as one of the captains of a longboat. 

Brown had requested eight of the largest longboats available, which normally would have meant requests going to his own ships and ship captains.  Sheldon was the master of a ship of John Brown.  We believe that Captain Sheldon was one of the ship captains whose names Ephraim Bowen did not know.

 Sheldon had his own warehouse in Providence by 1770, and thus it would seem he was a substantial person with his own mercantile interests,  but using for those interests a ship for which he was master.  The way in which merchants of the day operated was that they brought a shipload of goods into their home port and sold the goods out of a warehouse.  A ship captain of a ship frequently had as a part of the bargain that he could use a portion of the ship to carry his own goods, or that he received a share of the goods he carried on the ship.  Often the principle character of the person's occupation was noted by his own designation of himself as either a "mariner" or as a "merchant."

Sheldon's warehouse was at 369 South Main.  A successor building he built in 1784 still stands and is in use as the law offices of Homonoff, Levine & Pulner.  The building construction details and some of its history is available in the Library of Congress website dealing with the Historic American Building Registry.  The original building complex at the site was cataloged by the town assessors as "Dwelling House, shop, warehouse Wharf 144 feet long to the head and other improvements." [Chase, Notes,  RIHS MMS]

Christopher Sheldon was a resident of Pawtuxet, R. I., where he was born in 1732. He married, in Providence, January 7, 1753, Rosanna Arnold. Christopher Sheldon died in 1799. The line goes like this (using the Sheldon Family Association S-numbers).

  • S8 John of Providence
  • S20 Nicholas (wife Abigail Tillinghast)
  • S60 Joseph (the Deacon)
  • S248 Christopher (warehouse Christopher)

Christopher Sheldon was a descendant of the John Sheldon line of Providence.  The descendants of John Sheldon have lived largely in the several towns created out of the original  Providence.  The Sheldons were allied by marriage with some of the first families of the commonwealth, among them the Williams, Arnold, Waterman, Potter, Anthony, Greene and Olney families. [See http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~rigenweb/articles/157.html   visited 27 Sep 2010. ] 

The oral tradition of the Sheldon family places Christopher Sheldon in the attacking party. Sheldons have lived in the same home in Pawtuxet, RI (the town to which the captured English sailors were taken) from 1740 to the 1900's. The scholarly psychologist William Sheldon (1898-1977) reported the family tradition that "On the night of June 10th, 1772, Christopher Sheldon had joined 8 rowboats full of Providence men who made their way with muffled oars to his majesty's ship Gaspee, sent to enforce the stamp act, and burned her."   [http://www.innerexplorations.com/catpsy/ws.htm , visited 6 Jul 2004.]  Another family member Hazard Knowles, a founding member of the Rhode Island Gaspee Days Committee reported the same oral tradition.  See article by Irving Sheldon,  Sheldon Family Association Quarterly, VIII:1, p. 262 (January 1993).  And thirdly, Keith M. Sheldon, in  John Sheldon of Providence and Records of His Descendants (1984, Whippoorwill Publishing, Evansville, IN,) at footnote, page 771, states: 

[11], p28 Christopher Sheldon, #1423, owner of the Sheldon Wharf in Providence, participated in rebellious action of June 10, 1772 which captured and burned the British revenue boat "Gaspee" at Gaspee point in Narragansett Bay.

Christopher Sheldon would have been 40 years old at the time of the Gaspee attack.  Too old to be a likely man taken for the use of force.  But he would have been of the right age to go along as a captain of a longboat. 

Captain Sheldon was a man of experience in commanding ships. [Source: Christopher Sheldon, a talk given by Irvin Sheldon at the Sheldon Reunion at Larchwood Inn, Wakefield, RI in 1979. Updated and printed in Sheldon Family Association Quarterly p. 260 1992 by Irving Sheldon and E. Mark Sheldon. View as a PDF document.]

  • Jun 1757 at age 25 master of snow "Dolphin".
  •  French & Indian War - Privateer., but two of his vessels (snow "Dolphin" and schooner "Rosanna") were captured in 1764.
  •  1767-1771 master of brig "George", sailing in molasses trade between Providence and Paramaribo, Surinam for Nicholas Brown & Co.
  • 24 Dec 1777 - August 1978 appointed to command for the Rhode Island Navy the captured British ship "Aurora".

At the time of his death his obituary notice appeared in the Saturday, Nov. 16, 1799 Providence Gazette:

Died: On Thursday morning, very suddenly, Cap't Christopher Sheldon, in the 68th year of his age, much and deservedly lamented. He was for many years an able and experienced nautical commander, and he sustained many offices of trust, the duties of which he discharged with that integrity and benevolence which marked his character through his life. He was universally esteemed as an honest man, a sincere Christian, and a highly valuable and useful citizen. His funeral will be attended tomorrow afternoon, immediately after divine service, when the friends of the deceased, and citizens in general, are invited to attend.

Capt. Christopher Sheldon was active in civic and religious affairs of the town and was well regarded by his peers.  At the time of his death,  even if he was a Gaspee Raider, it probably would not have been publicly mentioned.  First, there was the Rhode Island tradition of necessary silence started during the hostilities with the English.  Second, until after the 1812 war with England it was not felt safe to mention the Gaspee raiders' identities because those loyal to the Crown persisted in various harassments and because there still was a fear that the English might renew the war and again occupy Rhode Island as they had during the Revolutionary War..