Capt. Phipps of the Schooner Ranger

A news item in the Pennsylvania Gazette of 13 March 1766 refers to a ship arriving at Ocracock on the 26th “ult.,” in other words on the 26th of the previous month. The ship was the schooner Ranger, and its captain was Capt. Phipps.

The ship had sailed “from this Port,” apparently Philadelphia, and had arrived at Ocracock on 26 February 1766. A brig from Casco Bay was said to have arrived in the same place on the same day. No mention is made of where the ship the Ranger was from, or of what Capt. Phipps’s first name was.

Ocracock is in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina, east of New Bern. As this map shows, it is situated with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Pamlico Sound on the other. Emptying into Pamlico Sound near here are the Pamlico River and the Neuse River.

A 1733 map shows “Ocacock” Inlet. That map was drawn by Edward Moseley. This may be the same as, or at least related to, the Edward Moseley who, in 1731, deeded property as Edward Moseley of Princess Anne County, Virginia to Nathaniel Tatum of Norfolk County, Virginia, as witnessed by John Phipp. The Tatum family was closely connected to the Reeves and Epps families.

Further, the 1776 will of Anthony Walke, closely associated with Matthew Phripp of Norfolk, Virginia, refers to his friends Edward Moseley and “Mathew Phipp.”

The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Volume 4, shows on page 706 a list of persons who were admitted to “prove their Rights” in New Bern on 20 November 1744. This was before members of the royal council, including Edward Moseley. The names included William Phipps of Beaufort and Col. Edward Moseley of North Hanover.

Are we already referring to three different individuals named Edward Moseley? Are the same person, or were they at least related? One online map associated with Edward Moseley refers to a person of that name who was acting governor in 1724, president of the Council, speaker of the Assembly, and a leader of the popular party. (In other words, he was not a Tory.) That map is focused around, in very rough terms, the same part of North Carolina as mentioned above.

As far as this William Phipps of Beaufort County is concerned, we’ve dealt with him before. We’ve also discussed how this same family spills over into adjacent Craven County. (See also here.)

So, to return to the beginning of this article, who was Capt. Phipps of the schooner Ranger? That voyage of the Ranger was dated, again, 1766. One clue might (or might not) come from a Wikipedia article on the HMS Camilla (1776).

The Camilla was a British ship which sailed for America at the time of the Revolution, in August of 1776. The Camilla managed to capture a couple American ships.

Then in January of 1777, the Camilla was under the leadership of Capt. Charles Phipps. Under his command, the Camilla captured the American sloop called the Fanny.

In the next month, February 1777, Capt. Charles Phipps was replaced by Capt. John Linzee. In that month, with the Camilla under Linzee and a companion ship, the Perseus, under Capt. George Keith Elphinstone, the ship Adventure was captured in the Caribbean, off Antigua.

A few days later, the Camilla captured the Ranger. Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether this was the same Ranger. At the time, the Ranger‘s master was William Davies. The Ranger was coming from St. Lucia in the Caribbean. The Ranger was then condemned and sold at Antigua.

In April 1777, the Camilla captured a ship bound from the Caribbean to Ocracoke.

Was the Charles Phipps who commanded the Camilla for a time in 1776 the same as the Capt. Phipps who was over the Ranger in 1766? Nothing seems to suggest that. Regardless, it would seem ironic that the Camilla would capture the Ranger, if the same as that at one time under Capt. Phipps, even if no Phipps was involved at the time.

Charles Phipps was a Royal Navy officer who was heavily involved in Revolutionary War battles in America. He was born in 1753 and was a son of Constantine Phipps, who was baptized in 1722. He was the father of the Constantine John Phipps (born 1744) who attempted to reach the North Pole and who was godfather to Betty Tayloe Corbin of Virginia.

As already discussed a few times, this Betty later married George Turberville, with a Benjamin Phipps marrying a woman of a variant form of this name in Brunswick County, Virginia in 1791, and with some of this surname appearing prominently among the South Carolina Indian traders in the same century.

Unfortunately for our purposes, there were evidently several ships named the Ranger. One had been a pirate ship. Another was associated with John Paul Jones.


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