Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1814 to 1815
Location: Liverpool, Queens, Nova Scotiamap
Surnames/tags: Barss Freeman DeWolf
Profile manager: Jason Clark private message [send private message]
This page has been accessed 584 times.

... ... ... was a Canadian privateer in the War of 1812.
Join: War of 1812 Project
Discuss: war_of_1812


She was a successful privateer with a notable crew but sank with all hands in a gale off Cape Cod, probably the worst disaster ever to befall a Canadian privateer, instanly creating 22 widows and 60 fatherless children in her homeport of Liverpool, NS.[1]

Tons: 132
Armament: 5 carriage guns
Crew: 60
Letter of Marque Issued: June 8, 1814
Prizes: 9

The Rolla was Baltimore-built, an American privateer originally, captured December 10th, 1813, by H.M.S. Loire ; a sharp, narrow vessel measuring 117 tons American and 132 tons British, seventy-nine feet long, twenty feet two inches beam, and eight feet three inches deep in the hold. She had one long eighteen-pounder and four 12-pounder carronades ; too much gunmetal on deck, perhaps. Joseph Freeman, of the Sherbrooke, James R. De Wolfe, John Barss, James Barss, Benjamin Knaut, Enos Collins and Joseph Allison, all well-known privateer owners, had shares in her. She got British letters-of-marque June 10th, 1814 , and cruised successfully for six months, from Cape Ann down to Crane Neck in Long Island Sound, sometimes in company with the Liverpool Packet. Some of her prize-masters who brought in earlier prizes and who may have perished with the others on that last wild night were: Samuel Freeman, brig Hope, June 29th, 1814; Wm. Puttman, pinky Bee, July 3rd; John Mullins, pinky Boxer, July 8th ; Isaiah Barss, schooner Cynthia, December 2nd; Wm. Cook, sloop Gleaner, December 3rd ; James Freeman, jr., schooner Fair Trader, December 6th; Eli Page, who survived, through being sent home with Capt. Darrow was prize-master of her first prize, the schooner Charles, June 26th, 1814.[2]

Schooner ROLLA of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, June 10, 1814. In the year 1820 a weed-covered and water worn hulk was hurled on the beach of Essex County, Massachusetts, torn from the ocean's bed by a great gale and extraordinarily high tide. It was without spars and almost without shape; so long submerged that it seemed a sea growth rather than what had been a ship, but on one broken plank were the remains of carven letters—" R 0 L L 1 ." The last letter might have been an " I " or the left half of an " A." The broken plank was the first and only enlightenment upon an event which had devastated the Nova Scotian town of Liverpool five years before.

The pick of the privateering profession went out with the Liverpool privateer schooner Rolla when she sailed on her last cruise, in January, 1815. This was weeks after the treaty of peace had been signed, but two months before the news of it reached Halifax. Every third man on board was a captain. Fifteen in her crew of forty-five were masters of vessels, and most of them seasoned privateersmen. Capt. John Freeman, who gave up the Liverpool Packet early in her career, had later sailed the Rolla in two successful cruises. He went along on this occasion, apparently as a prize-master; for Capt. Joseph Bartlett, of the Lively, Minerva, and Saucy Jack in turn, had assumed command of the schooner. The Rolla on this cruise sighted an American schooner named the Comet on the 13th of January—date of ill-omen for pursuer and pursued—and, after a chase of nine hours, caught her off Martha's Vineyard. Capt. Bartlett selected Capt. John L. Darrow, Capt. Robert Slocomb, and Capt. Eli Page for the duty of taking her back to Nova Scotia, and in the winter's dusk the privateer and her prey parted company, the prize steering for Liverpool. It came on to blow hard that night, the wind developing into a furious gale as the Rolla's lights vanished. The captured coaster rode it out, and seven days later the three men of the prize crew worked her into Liverpool.

Weeks passed. No more prizes came in from the Rolla, and they began to fear she had been taken; months, and the war was over, and still no word. They sought in vain for news of her along the Massachusetts coast. Slowly twenty-two wives in Liverpool realized that they were widows, and almost a hundred children were orphans. The Rolla had been lost with all hands, forty-two privateersmen, and the nine men taken out of the Comet and kept as prisoners.

Capt. John Freeman's widow lived in Liverpool till she was ninety years old, always waiting for her sailor to come home from sea. Capt. Seth Freeman was another privateersman who perished. He had been prize-master in the Sherbrooke and the Liverpool Packet. Wm. Hayes was another veteran lost; and Nathaniel Gorham, a lad of eighteen, was yet another of the Liverpool victims. No privateering port had ever so severe a blow as this.


Allision, Joseph - Rolla co-owner 1814
Bartlett, Joseph - captain Rolla 1815


  1. Dan Colin [1]
  2. C.H.J.Snider, Under the Red Jack: privateers of the Maritime Provinces of Canada in the War of 1812 (London: Martin Hopkinson & Co. Ltd, 1928), 225-258[2]

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Send a private message to the Profile Manager. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
Comments: 1

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
Fantastic free page -- added the correct category for the War of 1812 Project.
posted by Terri (Reynolds) Rick