John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones
The Bonhomme Richard vs. The HMS Serapis

John Paul was born in the small fishing village of Arbigland, Scotland on July 6, 1747. To his parents John Paul and Jean MacDuff he was the fourth child. They had seven children but unfortunately all but two died in infancy. The family was originally from Fife but John Paul's father had taken the family and moved to Arbigland where William Craik, the owner of a large estate their had met him and hired him to be his gardener.
John Paul grew up on this estate and to those who watched him grow up, it seemed that he always had a fascination and a passion to sail something. Whether it was a leaf as a child or a bit of wood blown by a small paper sail, John Paul was a seaman from birth. He attended Kirkbean School but spent much of his time at the small port of Carsethorn on the Solway Firth. As he grew up others often found him teaching his playmates to maneuver their little boats to mimic a naval battle, while he, taking his stand on the tiny cliff overlooking the small river, shouted shrill commands at his imaginary fleet.
At the age of thirteen he boarded a ship to Whitehaven, which was a large port across the Solway Firth. There he signed up for a seven year seaman's apprenticeship on The Friendship of Whitehaven, whose captain was James Younger, a prosperous merchant and ship owner. His first voyage took him across the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados and Fredericksburg, Virginia at which he stayed with his older brother William, a tailor, who had left Scotland for America over thirteen years before, and who now was living comfortably and flourishing.
John Paul was released from his apprenticeship at age 17 after which he went straight into the slave trade as third mate on King George of Whitehaven. After some time he became disgusted with the slave trade and returned home. John Paul had become a captain at the age of twenty-one. When on one of his missions, John Paul was accused of assaulting and killing one of his sailors, and was then arrested but found not guilty by the Tobago courts because of lack of evidence and testimony on his behalf. Because of this he fled to America and changed his name to John Paul Jones of which he was called for the rest of his life.
He arrived in America just as the Revolutionary War was starting and joined the revolution effort. He was made a first lieutenant on an American ship and gradually, through his almost unbelievable successes, became captain of his own ship. He successfully completed many missions and raids against the British and as a result they considered him a full-blooded pirate. Some of the ships he commanded were Alfred, Providence, Ranger, and without doubt, the most famous of all Jones' ships, Bonhomme Richard.
One of the most famous naval battles of all time for Americans and infamous for the English was led and initiated by John Paul Jones. On September 21, 1779, John Paul Jones, aboard Bonhomme Richard, along with the rest of his fleet, which consisted of Pallas, Vengeance, and Alliance, were sailing off the coast of Flamborough Head, Britain. They spotted two ships and without delay took up chase. The enemy ships split up one sailing Northeast and the other Southwest. Pallas set off in pursuit of the northern bound ship while The Bonhomme Richard and the Vengeance went after the southern one. As Bonhomme Richard quickly captured and sunk the southern ship, John Paul Jones saw through his looking glass another fleet of ships coming from the south. He thought at first that they were some sort of convoy heading toward Leith from London but as he gazed upon his prey he noticed that two of the ships had pendants hoisted, classifying them ships of war.
All of the ships except the two that appeared to be armed headed for shore by some sand bars which would be hard for the Americans to attack, while the remaining two made way for Bonhomme Richard. John Paul Jones sent a signal to the British ship and after a time, two small boats from the opposing ships came and informed Captain Jones that they were armed British merchant ships. In addition, they