When we talk about someone having “military” and “patriotic” service in the American Revolution, we generally mean that the individual provided support for the American cause by supporting the American Army. But that wasn’t the only option. Shoreline communities, such as Saybrook in Connecticut Colony, supported the cause by building ships.
The Oliver Cromwell was launched in Saybrook (now Essex) in 1776. It was constructed at the shipyard of Uriah Hayden, located near the site of the present of the Connecticut River Museum. According to the town of Essex, the Cromwell was the largest ship constructed on the Connecticut River to date, and the commission placed Essex at the forefront of shipbuilding in the new United States. In the end, the Oliver Cromwell served three years – and captured nine British ships – before being captured itself in July 1779.
Anyone associated with the construction of the Oliver Cromwell should qualify for “patriotic service” under the guidelines of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution. Hayden himself is already on file with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Those who served on the ship should qualify for “military service.”
If you think an ancestor may have been associated with his shipyard or the ship, there are a few places to start looking for their records:
The Connecticut River Museum has a file containing miscellaneous documents from the construction of the Oliver Cromwell.
The Mystic Seaport Library has reference books on the ship, as well as scattered manuscript items.
The Connecticut Historical Society has some of the vessel’s enlistment records.
Wick Griswold & Ruth Major wrote a history of the vessel in Connecticut River Shipbuilding. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2020.
To learn more:
“Brief History of Essex,” Essex CT (Brief History of Essex | Essex CT: accessed 21 December 2020).
“Oliver Cromwell Launched – Today in History: June 13,” Connecticut History.org, 13 June 2020 (Oliver Cromwell Launched – Today in History: June 13 | Connecticut History | a CTHumanities Project: accessed 21 December 2020).
“Walking Map of Essex,” Essex Historical Society (WalkingMapofEssex.pdf (essexhistory.org): accessed 21 December 2020).