Our Back Rhodes Genealogy Pages


From the book entitled: Recollections of the Jersey prison-ship: from the original manuscripts of Captain T. Dring, one of the prisoners
Author : Thomas Dring
Publisher: H.B. Dawson, 1865

Sylvester Rhodes, Sailing-master of the Privateer Chance, was descended from one of the early settlers of New England—Zachary Rhodes, who came from England to Plymouth at an early day, and subsequently settled, with his wife Joanna, daughter of William Arnold, one of the original settlers of the State, at Pawtuxet, Rhode Island1.

Malachi Rhodes, son of Zachary, had a son, who was also named Malachi ; and the latter had a son named James, who was born in 1710, and died on the ninth of October, 1797.

James Rhodes had three sons: Robert, who was born on the first of April, 1742, married Phebe Smith, on the seventh of April, 1763 ; and died on the twenty-fifth of March, 1821 ;2 Sylvester, the subject of this sketch ; and Malachi, who was born on the twentieth of July, I748, and died on the twelfth of February, 1832.

Sylvester, the second son of James Rhodes, was born at Warwick, Rhode Island, on the twenty-first of November, 1745 ; married Mary, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (fleranton) Aborn—the youngest sister of Captain Daniel Aborn of the Privateer Chanct, and was occupied, generally, us a ship-master.

He entered the public service at an early period of the war of the Revolution ; and he continued to serve his country, sometimes at sea, at others ashore, until his death, in 1782.

He was with Commodore Whiipple on his first cruise; and, as Prizemaster, he carried into Boston the first prize captured by that officer: in the military operations in Rhode Island, he also served with honor and usefulness.

He was subsequently one of the eight Prize-masters on board the Privateer General Wathington, which sailed in May, 1780; and he was at the head of the list of Prize-masters on board the Privateer Stlitariiu, when she sailed from Boston and was captured and carried to New York, in 1781.

In 1782, he was Sailing-master on board the Privateer Ohance, of which his brother-in-law, Daniel Aborn, was the commander; and, with the crew of that vessel, he was again carried to New York, and confined on board the Jersey, as has been related in the text of this volume.

When the crew of the Chance was exchanged, it is supposed that Sailing-master Rhodes was among those invalids on Blackwell's Island who were left in captivity,3 and his brother-in-law, Captain Aborn-, subsequently renewed his exertions to obtain his release, as he had done that of his shipmates.

As Rhodes was an officer in the army, as well as on the Privateer, the enemy refused to release him as they had released his associates— man for man ;' and not until his father had secured the interposition of a family in Newport whose connections in New York were friendly to the Government, was any progress made in effecting his discharge, notwithstanding the very feeble state of his health.

At length, through the kind offices referred to, his parole was secured, and Captain Aborn proceeded to New York to convey him to his family ; hut so far had disease performed its work, he never saw, in life, the home and family which were so dear to him. He died on board the cartel, while on her passage through the Sound, on the third of November, 1782; and his body having been taken nshore at New Haven, it was interred at that place.

His widow and five children survived, the former of whom, Mary (Aborri) Rhodes, was afterwards celebrated in the annals of Rhode Island, as the last original creditor of the State, for an unpaid balance of her Revolutionary debt—a liability, notwithstanding its character, which she has strangely repudiated, although it was duly certified, on the eighteenth of September, 1795, "agreeably to an Act made and " passed by the General Assembly of the State, at their January Ses" sion, A. d: 1795," by the General Treasurer of the State.*

She survived all her children, and died on the twelfth of April, 1852, aged nearly ninety-eight years.

The following were the children of Sailing-master Sylvester Rhodes and Mary (Aborn), his wife : 1. Joseph, born oil the first of June, 1772, died on the eighteenth of September, 1790; 2. Elizabeth, born on the twenty-seventh of September, 1775; married Thomas Abobn, and died on the eighth of February, 1812;' 3. Sally, born on the seventeenth of August, 1777, married John A. Aborn, and died on the eighteenth of February, 1800; and, 4. Sylvester, born on the twenty-fourth of July, 1780, married Harriet Knight, and died on the eighteenth of February, 1800.



Henry T. Drowne, Esq., of New York, and l!ev. T. Stafford Drowme, of Brooklyn, N. Y., are his great-grandsons: Sarah Arnold. the estimable wife of the former of these, a daughter of George C. Arnold, Esq.. before referred to, is his great-granddaughter.


1 Mr. Rhodes was "potentially banished" from Massachusetts, because he was "in tho way of dipping"—that Is, he was a Baptist (roger Williaus to the General Court of Massachusetts, 15th, 9 mo. 1655). Together with his brother, Stephen Arnold, he was admitted a freeman of the Colony, at May Term of the General Court, in 1668; and at the same Term, appeared as the Representative in that body for the town of Providence. In 1659, he was associated with Roger Williams and four others in the same office; and in 1661, 1662, and 1663, he waa in the some office, and discharged Its duties with evident honor and usefolness.

2 His granddaughter, Eliza Allen—a daughter of Qenoral Christopher Rhodes, of Pawtuxet, Rhode Island—married Hon. John Rurhell Bartlett, Secretary of State of Rhode Island, well known to every student of American history; another, S M.i.ii: Aborn, sister of the late Mrs. Baetlktt, married Hon. Henry b: Anthony, Senator of the United States from Rhode Island; and a third, Phede Rhodes, daughter of Colonel William Rhodes, married George C. Arnold, Esq., of Providence.

3 Vide page 117, ante.

*Miss Aniir.N. his granddaughter, thus writes concerning this difficulty in effecting his exchange:—

"The English refused to exchange him for a private; and the Americans rcfnsed tu ex•• change an ottlcer for him. kecnum la irot toktn Ok ii iiritoterr, saying they wanted all '• tin- otlHTrs to exelmiw for theirs In-longing to the regular army." Lttltr. lioteil ProvluYniv. A/irif.i. l-,to.