Today I want to tell you about a young man born in Scotland where his father was a gardener. He was born John Paul and his older brother was William. William set out for Virginia to make his fortune. When John was a teenager he took to the sea. John joined the merchant fleet and worked hard; becoming a first mate by the time he was 18. When he was 20, he said aboard a ship named John.
During this voyage aboard the John, the Captain and ranking mate both became sick and died at sea. Twenty year old John Paul brought the ship and its cargo safely into port. Impressed and grateful to the young man, the owners made John Paul the captain of the John and gave his ten percent of the cargo as a reward.
During his second voyage he had a carpenter flogged. This incident lead to a charge of unnecessarily cruel punishment the charges were dismissed, but not before harm had been done to John Paul’s reputation. However, the carpenter died several weeks later. The carpenter’s family being politically connected in Scotland, Paul was brought up on charges and imprisoned. The cause of death was not related to the flogging and eventually Paul was released on bail.
Next, John Paul was in command of a ship headed to Tobago in the Caribbean. During this voyage there was an attempted mutiny and Paul killed one of the mutineers, a man named Blackton, with his sword. In the mean time his brother William had died in Fredericksburg, Virginia without a family of his own. So, John Paul decided to change his name and go to Virginia and settle his brother’s estate. He was not wanted for any crimes, but with the political influence of Blackton’s family he felt it was a good idea to change his name and home.
Shortly after settling his brother’s estate, John left for Philadelphia to join the navy. With help of a respected officer in the army and political connections, John was able to obtain a commission as a first lieutenant in the navy.
In “A Seasoned Salt: Part Two” we will look at the naval exploits of our young first lieutenant.