Captain David Abeel, Revolution Patriot

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Capt. David Abeel

Capt. David Abeel, Patriot of the Revolution, eldest son of Col. James and Gertrude (Neilson) Abeel, was born Jan. 13, 1763, died Oct. 31, 1840. He early evinced a taste for a seafaring life, and volunteered to serve with Captain Barry (afterwards Commodore Barry, U. S. N.) on the ship “Governor General,” which sailed under letters of marquee during the Revolution.

He made a voyage to St. Eustatia in 1780, which lasted several months.  He next sailed as midshipman on the frigate Alliance, which took Col. Lawrence, our American minister, to France, in the early part of 1781.

After leaving France and cruising near the West Indies, the Alliance was attacked on the 28th of May, 1781, by the British sloops-of-war Atalanta and Tripassa. All three vessels were becalmed at the beginning of the action, the Alliance in consequence of her position being at a great disadvantage. Captain Barry was wounded early in the action and carried below, and the British made demand for the surrender of his ship, but a sudden breeze coming up at the moment the Alliance ran between the two British vessels, pouring a broadside from her starboard and larboard guns at the same time, disabling her antagonists and compelling their surrender.

Midshipman Abeel was wounded in the thigh during the action by a musket ball.

On reaching New York he received the public thanks of the Navy Board for his gallantry. His third cruise was on a letter-of-marquee vessel bound for Holland. She was captured by the British and Abeel was sent a prisoner to the Jersey Prison Ship at Brooklyn. Through friends who had influence with the British Commander he was soon after released and sent to New York, where he was introduced to the British Admiral, who offered him a midshipman’s warrant on his own ship if he would join the British navy.

Mr. Abeel replied that he was an American, and would hold in utter contempt any person who would thus turn recreant to the high claims of his country. The reply so provoked the Admiral that he would not allow him to be exchanged for one of equal rank, saying he was too great a rebel to let go, and Abeel was released on parole, which continued for about eighteen months, until the close of the war, for which time he received no compensation. He afterwards commanded a vessel in the merchant service.

He married May 10, 1789. Jane Hassert (born March 1, 1766, died March 2, 1842). They had issue.


  1. Mary Ann, who married Nov. 1, 1810, to Douw Ditmars Williamson, son of Nicholas, son of Garret, son of Nicholas, son of Willem Willemsen, the ancestor.
  2. Gertrude, born Dec. 24, 1792.
  3. David, born June 12, 1804, died Sept. 6, 1846.
  4. Johanna, born Aug. 18, 1807, died Oct., 1826.
  5. James, died in infancy.
  6. John, died in infancy.
  7. Jacob, died in infancy.
  8. James, died in infancy.


MLA Source Citation:

Whittemore, Henry. Abeel and Allied Families: Including the Famous Corn Plant, the Friend of the Whites. 1899. Web. 29 January 2015. - Last updated on Apr 20th, 2014

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