Privateers' records  1740-1767
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During the colonial period, privateering -- the authorized capture of foreign shipping for personal gain -- played an important role in the economy of many maritime cities in British North America and was an important method of waging economic, as well as military warfare. During times of war, ship owners were permitted to apply to the government for a license (letter or marque) to carry out activity that, without a license or at other times, would have been considered piracy.

The sloop Stephen & Elizabeth , owned by Richard Langdon, was among the Anglo-American ships receiving letters of marque during King George's War, and in June, 1740, was successful in the capture of a French ship off Hispaniola. Even more successful was the New York-based Oliver Cromwell , owned in part by Charles Nicoll, which received letters of marque during the French and Indian War.