Lt Jonathan Maltbie 1744-1798Leave a Comment
Birth: 17 Dec. 1744, Stamford, Ct. to Jonathan Maltbie (d. 1745) and Abigail Holmes (d 1747). He was an only child and orphaned at age 3 when his mother was struck by lightening and died.(1)
Death: 11 Feb. 1798 at Fairfield, Ct. in his 54th year.(1) Buried in “Ye Old Burying Ground.”
Marriage: 23 Oct. 1768, Fairfield, Ct. to Elizabeth Allen daughter of David Allen and Sarah (Gold) Allen. Elizabeth died 14 Mar. 1799 at Fairfield Ct.(1) Buried in “Ye Old Burying Ground.”
Children: 1. Jonathan, b. 1770, d. in infancy. 2. Sarah, b. 1772. 3. Elizabeth, b. 1774. 4. Jonathan, b. 1775. 5. Abigail, b. 1782. 6. William, b. 1784. 7. Nancy, b. 1787. (1) 8. Hannah, b. 7 Apr. 1789, d. 8 Apr. 1871. Buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Military Service: The first reference to Jonathan Maltbie’s service is on 13 January 1776 when he boarded the Sloop Lizard as a 2nd Lt. under Captain Gurdon Saltonstall who used the Lizard for Continental purposes, that of picking up recruits from N. Carolina and transporting them back to Connecticut. Upon completion, 13 Feb. 1776, Jonathan Maltbie was assigned to the Continental Ship Alfred (30 guns, 200 men). This was under the command of Dudley Saltonstall with one of the other lieutenants being John Paul Jones.(2) There is record of Jonathan Maltbie serving on several court martial boards, along with Jones and others, in May of 1776.(3) On 12 Oct. 1776, although he had an earlier rank, he was on the list of Commissioned Lieutenants presented to Congress.(4)
Jonathan Maltbie was then assigned 1st Lt. of the Frigate Trumbull under the command of Capt. Dudley Saltonstall.(5) After a very troubled launch – it could not get out of the Connecticut River – a new commander was assigned, Capt. James Nicholson. In May of 1780 she finally sailed into the Atlantic. On 1 June 1780 the Trumbull was challenged by the British 32-guns letter-of-marque, Watt. After two and one half hours of some of the most fearsome fighting at sea both vessels were totally disabled and both retired from the scene of battle. Captain of the Marines, Gilbert Saltonstall, noted: “We were literally cut all to pieces; not a shroud, stay, brace, bowling, or other rigging standing. Our main top mast shot away, our fore, main mizzen, and jigger gone by the boards…” (6)
After being refitted in Connecticut, on 8 Aug 1781 the Trumbull – the last remaining frigate of the original 13 authorized by Congress in 1775 – eventually left the Delaware Capes. On 28 Aug. 1781, after a severe storm which damaged the Trumbull’s fore-topmast and main top gallantmast she encountered the Frigate HMS Iris (the former Continental Frigate Hancock), and the General Monk (the former Continental Privateer General Washington). Trapped, Nicholson engaged in battle, however, three-quarters of the crew failed to respond, and the battle was fought mostly with the officers and few remaining crew. The Trumbull, almost a wreck, was eventually captured and towed by the Iris to New York.(6)
Cincinnati: There were no Naval Officers in the original formation of the Connecticut Society. Under the Rule of 1854 he was first represented by Edward Barringer Lynes (1927),(7) GG GS, and again by Hereditary Member (2008), GGGG GS.
Occupation: Before, during and after the war, until his death, Jonathan Maltbie was sailor and Naval officer.
Discussion: Prior to the War Jonathan Maltbie was a sea captain in the East India trade and lived in Fairfield Connecticut, where his house still stands. After the war Jonathan Maltbie resurfaces in 1791 when he was appointed Captain (Master) of the United States Revenue Cutter Argus by President George Washington(1) (text of which is extant). The US Revenue Cutter Service is the forerunner of the US Coast Guard and In 1790, Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, formed the Revenue Cutter Service to collect customs duties and tonnage taxes, counter smuggling and favor U.S. goods and ships.(8)
The Argus, one of the first ten cutters, was a sloop, built in New London, for service along the Connecticut and Rhode Island waters.(8) Jonathan Maltbie was the Argus’s first Master, he died while still in command on 11 Feb. 1798.
Maltby/Maltbie Family History by Dorothy Maltby Verrill, Published by Birdsey L. Maltbie by the authority of the Maltby Association, 1916, 435 pages.
Naval Documents of the American Revolution(NDAR), Colonel Gordon Saltonstall to Silas Deane,” III, 939-940
American Archives, A Documentary History in Six Series, Peter Force, Washington DC, 1843, Volume IV, pages 552, 553.
List of Officers of the Continental Navy and Marine Corp. Published by the Department of Navy.
Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution (CMR),Hartford Ct, 1889, pg. 598
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships(DANFS), Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center, Washington DC, 2011, Website keyword “Trumbull”
Original Members and Other Officers Eligible to The Society of the Cincinnati, Bryce Metcalf, 1938, page 207.
”Argus”, 1791, US Coast Guard website – http://www.uscg.mil/history/webcutters/Argus1791.asp