Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Privateers' Records, 1740-1767

Hubert S. Smith Naval Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, August 1997

Summary Information
Title: Privateers' records
Creator: Nicoll, Charles and Langdon, Richard
Inclusive dates: 1740-1767
Extent: 122 pages (3 volumes)
The three volumes of manuscript records of colonial privateers that comprise this collection include two volumes relating to the sloop Stephen & Elizabeth , and one from the sloop Oliver Cromwell .
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1996. M-3234.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Privateers' Records, Hubert S. Smith Naval Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


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.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The three volumes of manuscript records of colonial privateers that comprise this collection include two volumes relating to the sloop, Stephen & Elizabeth in June-September, 1740. These volumes include an itemization of provisions used on board ship during their cruise off Hispaniola, as well as an inventory and list of prices realized during sale at in "Charlestown" (Charleston, South Carolina). The third volume lists seizures by the New York-based Oliver Cromwell , during and immediately after the French and Indian War.

The value in these volumes lies more in the immaculate inventories of the prizes taken and prices realized, than in the rather slender documentation of privateering.

Subject Terms

    • Atlantic Coast (U.S.)
    • Logbooks.
    • Oliver Cromwell (Ship)
    • Privateering.
    • United States--History--King George's War, 1744-1748.
    • United States--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763.
    Genre Terms:
    • Logs (records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Privateer records,  1740-1767 [series]
    Volume   1  
    Record book of Stephen & Elizabeth ,  1740 September 8-September 25 (32 pages)
    Volume   2  
    Record book of Stephen & Elizabeth ,  1740 June 8-1741 April 29 ( 10 pages)
    Volume   3  
    Record book of Oliver Cromwell ,  1758 March 1-1767 December 17 ( 80 pages)