Published in the SGES Quarterly June 2010 Issue Volume 51, No. 214

Father of David Cutler Braddock

J. G. Braddock Sr.

Descendants of David Cutler Braddock and his son John Cutler Braddock abound in the Southeast, especially Florida. Both men were mariners of considerable note in Colonial and Revolutionary times. Their renown as iron men sailing wooden ships is not surprising. They came about their extraordinary skills as mariners honestly. John had acquired his while toiling on the decks of his father, David’s, ships. David had served his apprenticeship under his father, Captain John Braddick.

Captain Braddick’s last name is not misspelled. In almost all old historical records mentioning him, including his will, it is spelled with an “i” instead of an “o”. All his children spelled it that way except, for some unexplainable reason, his son David.

Captain Braddick lived in Southold, Long Island, NY. The house, or a many times renovated version of it, he lived in as early as 1700 still stands in Southold and is commemorated with a historical plaque listing the families who had resided in it—including “Braddick.” The town is considered to be the oldest community on Long Island, having been settled in 1640 by Puritans from the New Haven Colony of Connecticut who had come from England earlier. Predicated on the fact that his first child, John Henry, was born in 1701, Captain Braddick was born around 1675, much too late to have been part of the New Haven Colony. However, he did come from England. An old genealogy of the Christophers family of Connecticut, into which his oldest son married, has the comment about the son: “He was a son of Capt. John Braddick, late of London, Eng., and later of Southold, N. Y.” The comment is also in History of New London. The fact that Captain Braddick had a sister, Grace, who married John Vail in Southold, raises the possibility that the two were brought to America by their parents.

According to several old genealogies, Captain Braddick married Mary Dyer around 1700. On June 9, 1702, New York government declared Captain Braddick a freeman—one who has full rights as a citizen—for his service as a mariner at Fort William Henry in upper Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River, not to be confused with the later built upstate New York fort of the same name. He received payment February 17, 1704 from the governing council of New York “…for use of his sloop in the revenue service.”

On July 27, 1711, during Queen Ann’s War with Canada, the governing council of Connecticut ordered “…that 500 barrels of wheat, or more, aboard Capt John Bradick’s [sic] ship, now in this harbour, be forthwith bought or impressed to make bread for the sustenance of the men belonging to this Colony, now going to the expedition against Canada &c.”  The next day, the council ordered that Capt. Braddick be paid 183 pounds, 19 shillings for the seized wheat. The fact that the ship he owned and commanded would hold 500 or more barrels indicates it was no small vessel.

Captain Braddick’s wife, Mary Dyer, died sometime before 1715. By then, she had given birth to two more children, Mary and Alice.

While Captain Braddick operated out of Southold, most of his shipping business came from coastal Connecticut ports such as New London, which was 30 miles across Long Island Sound from Southold, and from Boston and foreign ports. Few official records of port arrivals and departures from the Colonial era exist to indicate the degree of his shipping enterprise. Of those, only a few have been found with any mention of him. The earliest found  concerned a 150 mile trip up the Hudson River to Albany,  which required a pass from New York’s governing council. He applied for the pass April 21, 1710. The Council granted it on April 28th. It is not known when he departed on the long trip; however, the book, History of New London, mentions his arrival in New London September 8, 1711 on his return. Albany, which would become New York’s state capital in 1797, was founded in 1614 as a Dutch trading post.

The book, Records Relating to the Early History of Boston mentions two arrivals in that city. In the first, he arrived March 17, 1715 from New London on the sloop John & Mary with passenger Col. Joseph Whieam of Southold aboard. In the second, he arrived June 28, 1716 on the sloop Revenge from New London with passenger Hannah Goodale, a spinster. In addition, “John Braddick for New York,” appeared in the outward bound column of the February 5th - February 12th 1722 issue of the New-England Courant. James Franklin, Ben’s older brother, founded the newspaper a year earlier. Ben, who was only 15, worked on the newspaper at that time.

Despite so few records of his maritime activities, the statements in his will, “I leave to my wife Mary 1/3 of all my estates during her life,” and “I leave to my son John all my lands and tenements,” indicate that Captain Braddick prospered economically in his thirty-plus-years as a mariner

Sometime after Mary Dyer’s death, Captain Braddick met Mary Cutler on one of his trips to Boston. She was the daughter of John Cutler, a noted surgeon in early Boston. When Dr. Cutler arrived in America from his native Holland around 1670, he changed his name from Johannes Demesmaker to its English equivalent. Historical records give no hint of how Captain Braddick met Mary. The meeting may have been arranged by her brother David, who also was a mariner. Romantic that I am, I like to imagine that David, on returning home one evening, told his sister, “I met the nicest man down at the waterfront today, a real gentleman. He captains his own commercial vessel. I’d like for you to meet him? Oh, and by the way, he is a widower.” Regardless of how they met, John Braddick and Mary Cutler were married April 24, 1715 by Reverend Sam Miles in the Presbyterian Church in Boston. The public record of their marriage spelled his name as “Braddock.” Mary was thirty-two at the time, having been born in 1682.

Their first child, Elizabeth, was born July 11, 1716, in Boston. Captain Braddick may have taken Mary there for her father to deliver the baby. Their second child, David, who was given the middle name Cutler, was most likely born in 1717. David was followed by Peter and Abigail, whose birth dates are not known.

Captain Braddick was to appear before the Court of General Sessions of the Peace in Boston in October 1718 for a hearing on a charge brought by Sarah Salter, a single woman, that he had fathered her child out of wedlock. He failed to appear for the hearing. The court rescheduled the hearing to the following November. After failing to appear for that hearing and giving the same reason, the court forfeited his bond. The reason he gave was he was hindered from attending “by the Providence of God.”  He brought his relatively new father-in-law, Dr. John Cutler, with him to court June 2, 1719, to stand surety for him. Dr. Cutler also testified on Captain  Braddick’s behalf that he had been prevented from appearing the previous two times due to reasons beyond his control. The reasons given by Captain Braddick were that while on his voyage from New York to Boston for the earlier hearing, his vessel ran ashore and was stuck for fourteen days before he could get it off, and that it being the winter season, it was extremely difficult to come from Long Island to Boston by land" with his evidences, who were with him in his vessel, by whom he could prove that the said Sarah Salter had had carnal knowledge of several persons about the time that she pretends that the petitioner lay with her;" In the June 8 session, the court ruled in Captain Braddick's favor, finding that he had been prevented from appearing “by the Providence of God.” No record of the final disposition of Sarah Salter's charge has been found.

In April 1721, Captain Braddick became entangled with pirates. The previous January, Bartholomew Roberts, who is considered to have been the most successful of all the pirates, captured a New England trading brigantine commanded by Benjamin Norton of Newport, Rhode Island at St. Lucia in the Caribbean. Some records infer that Norton’s ship was not captured, but that he was working in collusion with Roberts. Some weeks later Roberts, who also was known as Black Bart, captured a 250 ton Dutch vessel Porto Prince. He loaded it with large quantities of sugar, cocoa, other goods, and about 30 slaves and turned it over to Norton to sail back to New England to vend the cargo. Reaching Tarpaulin Cove on Naushon Island in Martha’s Vineyard in late April, Norton sent word out that he had goods to sell. Numerous New England vessels showed up to make purchases. Captain Braddick’s vessel was one of them. One of the slaves he purchased, in addition to a variety of goods, was a 12 to 13 year old boy. He took the boy to New London, where he delivered him to a Dr. Acourt of Saybrook, Connecticut. The New London County sheriff, enforcing a law against bringing anything from a pirate ship into the colony, took the boy into custody. The law had been enacted to prevent bringing smallpox into the colony.

The governing council of New York seized Captain Braddick’s vessels and charged him with complicity with pirates. In his deposition to the Council on June 19th, he said he had received ten Negroes, sugar, and cocoa from Norton but had made no bargain with him, and that he had reported the Negroes to Southold authorities and quartered them at his house in Southold. Depositions given by four of Norton’s crewmen painted a different picture. They deposed that Braddick had also purchased off Norton’s ship six hogsheads of white sugar, large quantities of cloth, apparel and all the slaves, and that he had since sold the slaves. The Counsel ordered him committed to jail. Apparently he did not serve long or the Counsel later reversed the order, as Joshua Hempstead’s diary has an entry of his sailing in 1723.

Captain Braddick, in command of his brigantine Recovery, sailed from Boston in late 1733 for the Island of Madera near Portugal. Later that same year, on December 24th, while returning to the Western Hemisphere, several crewmen, Ziggey John Witness, who was an Indian from Long Island, John Smith, master caulker John Main, and Thomas Parker, mutinied as the Recovery neared Salt Island in what is now the British Virgin Islands. Parker was a 16 year old youth from England who had previously served on two British men-of-war and had come aboard the Recovery at Madera. Captain Braddick and his son Peter were murdered in the mutiny. The mutineers were tried at Barbados. Based on the testimony of second mate Henry Peck, who took no part in the mutiny, the mutineers were found guilty. Two of them, Witness and Parker, were hung February 23, 1734. Their dying confessions were published in full in the June 29, 1734 issue of the English Observer:

As we have just received the dying sketches of John Wittness and Thomas Parker, who were executed at Barbadoes the 25th of February last, for the murder of their master Captain John Braddock, which we have before taken notice of, we did believe it might be acceptable to our readers to hear that those murderers were punished with death.

The last dying speech and Confession of Ziggey John Witness, so. called after the Indian manner. 

I was born in Long Island in the government of New-York, in North-America, 23 years of age come next May, and what little education I had, I took of myself, my mother being poor and not able to bestow any learning upon me. I was unwilling therefore to stay at home, but chose rather to go to sea. I bore a very honest character and was beloved in Long-Island by all that ever knew me, both by sea and land. The last and fatal voyage that I undertook was in the brigantine Recovery, Captain Braddock, with whom I was unwilling to make this trip, but he over-persuaded, and would not part from me, which has proved in the end my utter ruin and destruction, through my own wicked graceless courses, rash, unthinking, and remorseless proceedings; for which I heartily beg of God to be merciful to my poor soul, who alone knows the sincerity of my repentance; and may this prove a dreadful warning to all persons for the future, and more especially to all the spectators here present, whose prayers for mercy for me at the Throne of Grace I fervently implore.

We sailed from Boston in New England in the Recovery, in the month of [month was omitted] 1753, to the [destination was omitted] from thence to the Island of Madera, where we took in wines, which the vessel’s company, making very free with while we stayed there, regularly got drunk, which occasioned the master to discharge three of them, saying that he would never carry any Irishmen more with him. Afterward, meeting there with John Smith on shore, he shipt him, with a promise of paying his debts; upon which he went on board, but the master not performing his promise to John Smith, he and the chief mate could never agree. But one day having some words more than common, Smith swore that he would have an inch of the chief mate's liver out before the voyage was at an end. From the Madera we were bound to the island of Salt, and after being out at sea, we all seem'd to agree pretty well together; but as we were obliged to do a great deal of work, and were kept up all day, and were very scanty of provisions and bad withal, it occasioned a general grumbling among us all, and Smith first spoke of it to the master, at which he began to enquire who it was complained of the victuals? Answer was made, it was not one, but all. At which John Main and I being then on the main top, a letting up the top mast shrouds,. I came down, whereupon says the master to me, “In course, you must be one.” “Sir, (says I,) if I must tell you the truth, the chief mate was the first;” which indeed he did not deny. The master therefore reprimanded him very smartly and said, “If he was the first that complained, well might the rest;" and that it might be the means of the men’s knocking his brains out and running away with the vessel; at which says the chief mate, “Sir, do you mind what them damn'd sons of bitches say?” “Yes, (says the master) I do believe it, because it was spoke before your face.” The same day, the master having given John Smith some blows, seemed afterwards to be much concerned for what he had done to him, but towards night Smith declared he would be revenged of the master one way or the other; upon which, says I, “I'll stand by you as long as I live.” Then replies Smith, “And I'd stand by you.” Upon that says Smith to Thomas Parker, (the lad who suffers with me for the same crime) Are you willing to stand by us?” He replied he would. John Main, then at helm, was asked the same question by us, who resolutely answered, "Damn the sailers," and the murder must be done this night or not at all. In a short time after we made the island of Salt, upon which the chart was up, and we looked into it to see where the land made, as it was laid down therein, the cabbin boy then going into the cabbin, brought out a can of brandy and some sugar, and went forward with it unknown to the master. John Main seeing it, went forward, and taking a drink, wish'd for the night to come on, not being able to steer through eagerness to be committing the fact. John Smith was then sent to the helm by the master, and about six o'clock in the evening we laid the brigantine to. After supper the master and both mates went to sleep; we four, v/z John Smith, Thomas Parker, John Main, and myself, being forwards, where we drank the rest of the brandy made into punch: About ten o’clock John Main began to grumble at our backwardness and said he believed we had no mind to do it, and that what we had to do, we should do with all expedition, or else we should fall asleep, and neglect it. I myself handed the tools up and took a small hatchet for my weapon. John Smith took an iron maul, and giving Thomas Parker a wood ax, and John Main a caulking mallet, we all went together with an intention to kill the master and chief mate and save the second mate. I entering into the great cabbin went to the master, who was lying in the state room, and took him by the hand, who grasped me with it immediately (otherwise I should not have struck him) and then I let drive at him one or two blows with my hatchet, after which he tumbled out upon me; the noise of this awoke the chief mate, who coming out of his cabbin, John Smith struck him several times with his iron maul and brought him down, which being done, Thomas Parker laid at him with his ax. Supposing now they had effectually made an end of him, they went directly into the state room, in order to assist me, and finding the master not quite dead, Parker and Smith both struck him on the head, and concluding they had dispatched him likewise, they went next to the second mate, whom they found lying in his cabbin, John Main held him down, threatening him at the same time, if he made any manner of resistance, as he would serve him as the other two had been served. John Smith and I coming into the cabbin, hauled him out, and asked him, “Whether or no he would side with us,” or be served as the others were? He answered he would if we would spare his life; then going with us into the cabbin, he told us it would be the best way to read the Burial of the Dead over the captain, and throw him over-board, which being done, we made sail, our design being then for the Spanish Main.

The next morning as soon as I rose from sleep, I altered my resolution, being willing to bring the vessel into Barbadoes, for the good of the poor widow and family, which was agreed to by the rest; some time afterwards, the little boy lying along with the second mate, would be every now and then talking and laughing with him, which John Main observing, seemed much dejected; upon which John Smith asked hem what was the matter with him? Matter, says he, matter enough, why as long as this boy is alive, I never shall be easy for fear he should betray us at the first port we come into; to this it was answered that the first port we came to, he should be put on board of some vessel and sent to his friends. John Main said that it should never be. The next morning early as the little boy was lying in bed with the second mate, I went and took hold of him by the leg, and beat him, and by chance struck him on the eye with a rope, upon which he struggled and got loose, and run down into the hold and hid himself. Then I ordered Thomas Parker and John Smith to bring him up on deck, which being done, John Main left the helm, and coming upon deck, got a boom iron, and having tied it on the boy's neck, John Smith and he flung him over the side; the boy notwithstanding, finding himself over the side, caught hold of the boom tackle fall and held there till such time as I myself cut him down with a cutlass. These things being all done and over, we then sat down to drinking, and concluded in the journal, that the master had the misfortune to be knocked overboard in gybing; the mate died a natural death; and that the boy fell over-board in handing the fore-top gallant sail.

These are the horrid, barbarous and bloody facts truly set down with every circumstance, for which I am now condemned to die, and whereby it appears that I am not alone guilty, but the others equally involved in the same wicked and inhuman practices; and though Main has saved his Life by becoming an evidence for the king, yet that can surely by no means excuse him before the face of Almighty God, who knows the secrets of all hearts, Once he was as much a principal in the murder as we who are to die for it. His guilt will undoubtedly continually stare him in the face and his conscience be a perpetual fiend, haunting and afrightening him every thinking moment of his life till, like Cain, who slew his brother in the field, he will be forced to cry out, My punishment is greater than I can bear, or (as some translators renders it) Mine iniquity is greater than it can be forgiven; And there shall be no one to pity him. 

As for Henry Peck, the second mate of the brigantine, we do declare, in justice to him, that he was no ways aiding, assisting, or abetting in any part of this dismal tragedy.

We think this affair can be no unnecessary lesson to all masters of vessels, not to be so over eager of getting estates as to pinch it out of the poor men’s bellies, but to let them have sufficient allowance of wholesome provisions that they may have no room to complain. The want or neglect of this has been the occasion of this unhappy accident; and I beg that all sea faring men may take warning by us, least by some such hasty and rash mutinous proceedings they may be led to commit such scenes of blood and vengeance as will never go unpunished, either in this world or the next; for one sally of passion in most unthinking sailors brings on another, till at last they never know where to stop, till the measure of their sins is compleat.

I die in charity with all men, and resign my soul into the hands of a merciful Creator and Redeemer.

The last dying Speech and Confession of Thomas Parker.

I was born at a small town called Cannock, in the county of Stafford, in the year 1707, of honest parents; my father is a farmer there in good circumstances, my Uncle William Parker is an attorney at law, living within half a mile of Stafford Town. I had an uncle one John Parker, my father's elder brother, a Cheesemonger in London, who sent a letter to my father, desiring him to let me come up and live with him, which he consented to, I had not been with him past nine months before he died, my aunt removed from London, and went to my friends, desiring very much that I would accompany her there, which I declined, telling her that my inclinations led me to the sea, she observing me so determined for the sea, gave me five Guineas, with which I went directly to Chatham, and there entered on board the Windsor man of war, where I served upwards of two years, from thence I served on board the Namure, and another man of war for the space of one year. From her I was discharged and going to London, entered on board the brigantine Anne and Elizabeth, John Hurst, master, bound for Lisbon. leaving her I entered on board the ship Albany, William Maxwell, master, bound for Madeira. Being arrived there, his orders were to sell the vessel, upon which he discharged me, and being on shore with him when he fell in company with Captain Braddock, he asked him if he wanted any hands. He answered yes, for he had discharged three; then recommending me to him, occasioned him to ship me, little thinking then that it would be the means of my coming to so untimely an end. And I hope as I sincerely repent of this great and crying sin, that God Almighty will have mercy upon me, through the merits and mediation of our Blessed Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ, into whose hands I recommend my Soul.

N. B. As to the particulars of the facts, I can say no more, than that all that John Witness had confessed in his account of the several murders committed on board, and for which we deservedly suffer, is every tittle the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

A gruesome account of the mutiny appeared on page 4 of The American Weekly Mercury issue of Feb. 5 - Feb 12, 1734:

Philadelphia, Feb. 12.  We have advice from Barbardos, that Capt. John Braddock in a brig. bound from Madera to the Cape de Verde Island, was barbarously murder’d, together with his chief mate and boy, by his vessels crew.  The brig. was afterwards met off of St. Lucia by Capt. Walter Pemerton in a sloop belonging to Barbados, who upon information of the fact from one of their men, took the brig. and brought up two of the men prisoners to Barbados, who were committed to the gaol there, and left some of his men to bring up the brig. and the other two, which were all the men on board (one being shot in taking her).  The brig. was not arriv’d when this account left Barbados, she not going so well as the sloop.  The person who cut Capt. Braddock's throat was an Indian who had been some time with him; ‘tis said he was so strong that three men could not bind him, and they were forced to hamstring him before they could master him. They put the boy's eyes out and flung him over-board, but he swimming took hold of the vessel and they cut his hands off.

News of the mutiny also appeared in Peter Zenger’s New York Weekly Journal and Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette.

Captain Braddick had written his will less than four months before his death:

In the name of God, Amen. I, John Braddick of Southold in Suffolk County, mariner, being at this present time at Boston, in Massachusetts Bay, in good bodily health, I leave to my wife Mary1/3 of all my estates during her life. I leave to my son John, all my lands and tenements. To my daughter Mary£5. To Thomas Sandforth, of Southold, who is now my partner, £100. All the rest of my estate is to be sold by my executors, and the proceeds divided among my five youngest children, Alice, Elizabeth, David, Peter, and Abigail. I make my son John and Thomas Sandforth, executors. I have hereto set my hand and seal at Boston.

September 6, 1733. Witnesses, Stephen Boutineau, Gillam Phillips, John Payne. Proved before Brinely Silvester, Esq., September 6, 1734.

At some point after Captain Braddick’s death, his widow, Mary Cutler Braddick, went to live with one of her daughters, Elizabeth or Abigail, in New London. She died there December 6, 1739 at the age of 57.

Captain Braddick’s oldest child, John Henry, also was a sea captain. He married Lucretia Christophers June 19, 1726 in New London. She was the daughter of Richard Christophers, assistant to the governor of Connecticut. Of their seven children, only two, John and Christopher, survived to adulthood. Like all the known John Braddicks before him, John grew up to become a sea captain. He delivered supplies to John Paul Jones’ ship Alfred during the Revolution. After Lucretia’s death in 1748, John Henry married his widowed sister-in-law, Mary Christophers Coit.

Captain Braddick’s oldest daughter, Mary, married Nathan Moore of Southold. No record of children they may have had has been found. Daughter Alice married Abraham Cory of Southold. They had one child, Braddick Cory, born six month after his grandfather was murdered at sea.

Elizabeth, Captain Braddick’s oldest child by Mary Cutler, married William Salmon of Southold. They relocated to Mt. Olive, New Jersey. They had eight children: William, Peter, John who died in infancy, Elizabeth, John who survived to adulthood, Richard, Cutler, and Joshua.

David Cutler Braddock was Captain Braddicks’ second child by Mary Cutler. He may have been named after Mary’s mariner brother, David Cutler. I have no idea of how his last name ended up with an “o” instead of an “i”. I’ve researched him for over twenty years, and the closest I’ve seen to his name being spelled Braddick is as Braedick in the October 3, 1743 issue of the South Carolina Gazette mentioning his leaving on a cruise in command of the Charles Town galley. Other than being mentioned in his father’s will, absolutely nothing is known of him until 1741 when he was a 24 year old mate aboard the merchant ship Ancona. The Ancona, its hold full of rice bound for Cowes, England, was captured by a Spanish privateer off the coast of Charles Town, South Carolina and carried into St. Augustine. He escaped and made his way to St. Simons in Georgia where General Oglethorpe commissioned him commander of a military schooner. As commander of that schooner, he assisted in chasing back to Florida the Spanish fleet that had attempted to invade St. Simons in 1742.

David then commanded South Carolina’s galley Beaufort for a few years before moving to the Savannah, Georgia area and becoming commander of a privateer. While on a privateering mission, he made a well known chart of the Florida Keys, which is now in the Library of Congress. He also was elected twice to the Georgia Commons House of Assembly.

While still in South Carolina, he married Mary Lyford, daughter of his commander, William Lyford Sr., an intrepid mariner. He and Mary had two sons, John Cutler and Peter. Almost nothing is known of Peter. Son John Cutler Braddock commanded the Georgia galley Lee in the Revolutionary War and helped capture three British men-of-war at St. Simons. John married Lucia Cook. Their children are progenitors of a multitude of descendants, most of them in Florida.

Other than being mentioned in his father's will, no further record of Captain Braddick’s son Peter has been found. Captain Braddick’s youngest child, Abigail, married Richard Coit and had daughter Martha. After Coit’s death, Abigail married James Chapman.

For a version of the storiy with links to most of the sources, click here: John Braddick