John Manley (naval officer)

John Manley (c.1733 – 1793) was an officer in the Continental Navy and the United States Navy.

From Boston, Massachusetts, Manley was selected for command of the schooner "Lee" on 24 October 1775. As Captain of "Lee", on 28 November, he captured one of the most valuable prizes of the American Revolutionary War -- the British brigantine "Nancy" carrying much ordnance and military stores for British troops in Boston that proved invaluable to George Washington’s army. In January 1776, for his "great vigilance and industry," Manley was appointed commodore of "George Washington's fleet", a group of small armed ships fitted out by him to harass the British and to seize supply vessels.

Commissioned captain in the Continental Navy 17 April 1776, he sailed in "Hancock" until the frigate and her prize, HMS frigate "Fox", were taken in July 1777. Imprisoned in New York until March 1778, he then entered privateer service to command "Marlborough", "Cumberland", and a prize, "Jason", until 1782, except for two more periods of imprisonment, one for two years in Mill Prison, England.

On 11 September 1782, he returned to the Navy with command of frigate "Hague". On a West Indies voyage, he made a spectacular escape from a superior naval force and, in January 1783, took the last significant prize of the war, "Baille". Regarded as one of the outstanding captains of the young Navy, he had captured 10 prizes singlehandedly and participated in the seizure of five others.

Captain Manley died in Boston, Massachusetts in 1793.

Three ships have been named USS "Manley" for him.

Further reading

*Peabody, Robert E. "Naval Career of Capt. John Manley of Marblehead," "Historical Collections of the Essex Institute," Peabody Essex Museum, Vol. XLV, No. 1, January, 1909, pp. 1-27 (online at

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