The Oliver Cromwell

Site of Connecticut’s First Warship
Oliver Cromwell, Essex

ocAs I write this sentence, my brain is already fretting about where to slot it in on CTMQ. It’s not a US First – although it’s close – and there are no ruins or remnants of it remaining here in Essex. All that exists are an interpretive sign and an old brown state tourism sign. “But,” I tell my fretting brain, “it’s cooooooool.” And so here it is: A page pretty much about nothing! Enjoy!

(Although, this beautiful model of the ship was stolen from this Flickr set.)

On January 31st, 1776, the Colony of Connecticut authorized the building of its first warship for the Revolution, the Oliver Cromwell. Charged with this mission was shipbuilder Uriah Hayden of Essex (then known as “Saybrook”) who quickly hired tradesmen and contracted with suppliers to outfit the vessel. Essex, perfectly situated for shipbuilding, suddenly experienced an economic boom as the Hayden’s housed the shipyard workers, and provided food, spirits and lodging to the suppliers, politicians and other patriots who would visit: the Oliver Cromwell was successfully launched on June 13, 1776.

ocaIt was a full-rigged 300 ton vessel with an 80 foot keel, 27 foot beam and 12 foot depth of hold, she carried 20 guns with a 130 man crew and took 9 enemy prize ships during the Revolutionary War before her capture in 1779. The Hayden shipyard, along with seven other yards in Essex built over 500 ships, creating a prosperous maritime village by the 1790’s. Heck, Connecticut shipyards built over 4,000 vessels for trade and war in the 18th and 19th centuries.

My word.

Anyway, you must visit the Connecticut River Museum right next to the site of the Oliver Cromwell building if you haven’t already. (CTMQ Visits here.) In the meantime, since I’ve already visited the museum a couple times, I’ll be up the street at America’s oldest continuously operating tavern/inn/thing, The nearby Griswold Inn. (CTMQ Visit here.)


9 responses to “The Oliver Cromwell”

  1. Cheryl Ferri says:

    My fifth great grand aunt’s husband John Hale was one of the first to served as a private on this ship.

  2. Dorothy Chapman says:

    my ancestor William Holt of Danvers Ma signed on as a member of the crew under Capt Barr in the summer of 1778. William was 15 yrs at the time. He stated this at the time of His application for a Revolutionary War pension in 1818. I have a copy of the application. William died in Hermon Maine. he had service under gen Glover and in the War if 1812. In Machias Me.

  3. Maitiú says:

    How shamefully disgusting. I can’t believe that they would name a ship after that murderous piece of scum.

  4. Edzizlemizzle says:

    Did you know the Oliver Cromwell model is at CHS these days in our Making Connecticut exhibit? Have you come by to see it yet?

  5. Tim says:

    Maitiu obviously you don’t know the whole story of Oliver Cromwell. the 12 years he ruled England were the most peaceful year in English history.The pilgrims after landing in America molded their constitution (some what) around the laws Cromwell initiated. He started the house of commons to let the common people have a say. I could go on but if you want more look it up yourself.

  6. Gerald Hayden says:

    Uriah Hayden, the builder of the Oliver Cromwell was my fifth great grand Uncle. His Father, who is my 6th Great Grandfather, was Nehemiah Hayden. Its great to see the History of Connecticut be kept alive. Gerald Hayden

  7. Janet Thompson says:

    I have an ancestor who received 18 shillings from the Oliver Cromwell account on 16 Jan 1779, so he must have served on her. Where can I find the documentation that lists crew members at this time?

  8. Marlaine Chrystal says:

    Uriah Hayden was my ancestor also. On my mother’s side Uriah Hayden is my forth great grandfather, if I have counted back correctly from family notes. My great great grandfather was Capt.Charles Damon Hayden. All of the Hayden’s built and owned most of what is now Essex, Connecticut

  9. gary zinsser says:

    is there a list of ships company. my wifes ancestor john Easton olcott was a marine serving on her during the revolutionary war. any info would be of great help. thank you.

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