A Blupete Biography Page


Admiral Peter Warren
(1703-1752)

Peter Warren was born into an aristocratic Irish family. On his mother's side, there were at least two admirals in the family (Aymer and Norris); and, so, it will be no surprise to see Warren, at Dublin, being signed up as an "ordinary seaman" at the tender age of 13 years; and further, not surprising to see him advance through to midshipman (1719), lieutenant (1723), and post captain (1727). By the 1730s he was off to the America colonies in command of a station ship and was calling in at British ports along the eastern coast of America, including: Boston; New York; Charleston; and, of course, Annapolis Royal and Canso. Thus, Warren was to gain a good knowledge of the coastal waters right up to the objective of his attention in 1745, Louisbourg. So too, Warren had a familiarity with colonial politics and an appetite for investments in colonial land.1

Up to the 1740s, it seems, British war ships which cruised North American waters returned to England in the fall of the year leaving the colonies to fend without naval support until the spring of the following year. In 1742, the admiralty took Warren's suggestion to employ at least some of the North American station ships during the winter in the West Indies. Conveniently, the admiralty appointed him as the squadron commander: it was to be based at Antigua. And, it was to be at Antigua that we first pick up on Warren and his involvement in The Louisbourg Siege of 1745.

Warren2 married, in 1731, Susannah (1707-71), eldest daughter of Etienne (Stephen) DeLancey (1663-1741), a Huguenot, and sister of James (1703-60), chief justice and lieutenant governor of New York. By this marriage Warren became firmly entrenched in the social and commercial life of New York.3

Warren was a careful officer, and, always conscious of not putting "his Country to Expense, and probably himself to shame." He took his time and consulted wide; but, like so many other successful men, once he made up his mind he acted with conviction and vigor. He was consistent in his dealings with others; a patient man; and a man of foresight.

Because of the system of prize money back in those days, Warren was made into a very rich man.4 "Warren's income from war prizes amounted to at least 126,000£, of which not less than 53,000£ came from prizes taken at Louisbourg. Next to Anson's prize fortune, Warren's was probably the largest ever accumulated before the Seven Year's War."5

Warren, in 1747, moved his family6 to England and there to settle. While on a trip to Ireland during 1752, Peter Warren came down with an "infection" and died within four days. He was buried handy the family estate in Ireland.7

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] Among the lands (much of it was on the lower west end of Manhattan Island) owed by Warren, was "a large tract of virgin land on the Mohawk river frontier" of New York. In order to manage his trading ventures among the Iroquois (as were then located in and around the Finger Lake District) Warren brought over from Ireland two of his nephews, one of which was William Johnson. Johnson, a natural leader of men, was to bring the nations of the Iroquois under the influence of the English. The Iroquois, as it turned out, was the only Indian group that was to be counted in, as being on the English side during the English/French conflicts in America. [See Julian Gwyn's work, The Enterprising Admiral: The Personal Fortune of Admiral Sir Peter Warren (Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 1974) at p. 30.]

[2] The portrait scanned in is one by Thomas Hudson, the original being at the Greenwich Museum.

[3] Stephen DeLancey "was active politically, serving in the assembly for twenty-six years. As a successful merchant he accumulated a large fortune, and at the time of his death was one of the wealthiest men in America." ["The Life of Loyalist Colonel James Delancey", NSHR, vol. 3 (1983), No. 2, p. 39.]

[4] Warren, as so many rich men were and are, was a philanthropist: "His most enduring act of philanthropy was in New England. In 1749 he was given a commission of 900£ by the Massachusetts government for helping secure reimbursement of 182,649£ for its expenses at Louisbourg in 1745 and 1746. Warren wanted to put his commission to some 'Publick Use in the Province,' and first intended to help the building fund for a new townhall at Cambridge. In the end he used 150£ to buy and ship to Boston two stallions for the improvement of the breed in New England. The remaining 750£ he used for the education of Indian children." (Gwyn, op. cit., p 24.)

[5] DCB. Gwyn, op. cit., writes that Warren's estate was valued at the time of his death at 159,000£. His wife, Susannah, who settled in England, and her heirs, were to systematically sell off the American holdings of the Warren estate and thus avoided the confiscation which ruined so many of the royal supporters at the conclusion of the American revolution. At Susannah's death in 1771, the estate was valued at 205,000£.

[6] From Gwyn, op. cit., we learn that the Warrens had six children. An epidemic which occurred in New York, in 1744, just months before he went off to Louisbourg, was to carry off two of his children, including his only son.

[7] It was said that Warren's health was broken at Louisbourg. In Gwyn's work, op. cit., p. 5, we see where the site of his grave is "lost in the tangle of a ruined Irish graveyard."

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Peter Landry
1999 (2013)