The Mayor's Blue Ribbon Cemetery Committee of Portsmouth, New Hampshire


Thomas Thompson

New Hampshire
Continental Navy
February 22, 1809
of Artillery
State of N.H. 1785

Thomas Thompson was Captain of the Continental Navy Frigate Raleigh, which is depicted on New Hampshire state seal.

"On December 11, 1775 the Continental Congress decided to build thirteen frigates. One of the largest class, a thirty-two, was assigned to Portsmouth. John Langdon arrived in late January with a memorandum of dimensions for the vessel, later to be named the Raleigh. Acting as agent for the Continental Congress, Langdon awarded the contract to Messrs. Hackett, Hill, and Paul. James Hackett was Piscataqua's most renowned master-carpenter of the day. Thomas Thompson, a well-known Portsmouth shipbuilder and master who was later to become captain of the ship, was appointed to supervise the work. Although the complete plans and specifications were still lacking at the end of February, Langdon reported that they were

'going on with one of our own Drawing, by the Dimentions which I bro't down. Pray Bring me down every Necessary from the Committee. Don't Cramp my Genius, and the ship shall be launched soon.'

...On August 12, 1777, the Raleigh, still short-handed, got to sea. Accompanied by the twenty-four-gun ship Alfred, a converted merchant vessel, Captain Thompson was under orders to proceed to France to secure military stores. After a few uneventful days, the Raleigh captured the Nancy, a small schooner under convoy which could not keep up with the fleet. From her, Captain Thompson obtained the signals of the fleet and made chase. On September 3, unable to separate any merchantmen from their naval escorts, he flew the enemy code signals and beat, quite unrecognized, through the whole fleet toward the vessel of war farthest windward. Having worked gradually above her, the Raleigh ran out her guns, hoisted her ensign, and demanded the enemy to strike. The whole fleet was immediately thrown into confusion. Not being obeyed, the Raleigh poured in a broadside of sixteen guns loaded with round and grapeshot; twelve broadsides were fired into the Englishman in the space of twenty minutes. This left H.M. fourteen-gun brig Druid in a 'smatter'd' condition, but as three other war vessels and armed merchantmen were approaching, the Raleigh ran off to protect the slow-sailing Alfred. "

Proceeding to L'Orient, Captain Thompson picked up a cargo of much needed military stores. On the homeward voyage the Alfred, separated from the Raleigh , was captured by two English vessels. In consequence of this loss, Captain Thompson lost his command to Captain John Barry. In September, 1778, after a seven-hour running fight with two English frigates, the Raleigh was run ashore on Wooden Ball Island, off the Maine Coast."

He was also elected first President of the Portsmouth Marine Society at their first meeting on July 12, 1808, Grand Master of the Grand Masonic Lodge of New Hampshire 1801 - 1807, and Master of St. John's Masonic Lodge in 1801.

*image used with permission from






*image used with permission from





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