Boston , September 3, 1813


In answer to your inquiries respecting captain William Nichols, I have to state, that in eighteen hundred and eleven and I think in the month of August, captain Nichols was master of my brig, Alert, belonging to Newburyport, engaged on a voyage to Bordeaux, that two or three days after sailing from that port, on his return home, he was taken by the frigate [ HMS Semiramis taken on the 6 th July 1811 as reported in Lloyd’s List 23 rd July 1811 column 1] having a cargo of wines, brandies, silks, and nothing which could possibly be construed as contraband of war; and his vessel was ( after a prize-master and six men were put on board) ordered for England.

He and his mate only, with two small boys, being permitted to remain.
About three days after, he and the mate rose on the crew, tied their hands behind them, and hoisted out the long boat, being only forty miles from land, (and summer time,) rigged her, placed sails and oars, put in two barrels of bread, plenty of beef, two casks of water, a keg of wine, keg of brandy other small stores, all their clothes, and such conveniences as would be necessary; supplied them with a good compass, quadrant, and then put the six men in the boat, in which they proceeded to and safely landed in France.

Captain Nichols and the mate then called on deck the two small boys, who remained below during these transactions, and proceeded on his voyage, but six days after, he was again captured by the English frigate Vestal, to whom he related the foregoing circumstances, and the captain and officers of this frigate did not treat him as though they thought his conduct either criminal or reprehensible - he was carried in this vessel to Portsmouth, in England, and after being on board the frigate in harbour a few days, he came on shore, went up to London, thence proceeded to Liverpool, and there took passage and returned to Newburyport.

A short time after, I gave him the command of another of my vessels, namely the brig Dolphin, a new vessel, then lying in Newburyport: and he proceeded on his voyage, laden with fish, for Bordeaux; but on his passage out, being at sea thirteen days, he was taken by a British frigate, in company with a sloop of war [ reported in Lloyd’s List 11th February 1812 column 1 as being taken by the Rosamond S.W. ]

The captain of the frigate asked captain Nichols, if he was the person who retook the Alert? Captain Nichols replied in the affirmative: the British captain replied, “it was a brave act, and he should be treated as a brave man deserved: “ and after experiencing the best of treatment while at sea, this office delivered, on his arrival, to captain Nichols all his private adventure, the proceeds of which passed through my hands from my correspondent in England; and captain Nichols was not restrained on his arrival in England, but was suffered to be at large and come home passenger in the ship Aurora, by the way of New York, about six weeks prior to the declaration of war between this country and England.

Directly on the declaration of war, I purchased (with my friends) the brig Decatur, and captain Nichols was selected as a suitable character to take command; as he proceeded on a cruise against the British, took eleven prizes, and returned into port: the Decatur refitted, proceeded on a second cruise, during which he was taken by the Surprize frigate, and carried into Barbadoes, [ Lloyd’s List 9 th March 1813 column 1 reported the capture but said the Decatur was taken to Antigua ] and there paroled for nearly two months, when the Vestal frigate arriving at that island, he was arrested, sent onboard the prison ship, placed in close confinement in a room, built purposely for him, of five foot broad and seven wide, and no person allowed, but his keeper, to speak to him. After remaining in this unpleasing situation nearly six weeks, he was sent on board the British frigate Tribune, and ordered for England, since when we have not heard from him.

Touching the character of captain Nichols as a citizen, a man, and a neighbour, he is modest and unassuming, yet brave and decided; warmly attached to the constitutions, federal and state, of his native country; eager to resist and cool to defend those rights for which the independence of his country was established, and which no unjust pretensions of the enemy will lead him to submit to, however great his personal sufferings. As a man he is strictly moral and sincere, as a husband, parent, and neighbour, tender, indulgent, and affable. His connexions are highly respectable, and are among the first of out citizens. Universal assent among all classes and parties may be had, that captain Nichols is truly an honest, brave and useful citizen.

I hope this information will be the means of restoring him to his family, his friends, and his country, and I can pledge myself for correctness of the statement.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,