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for the two lower counties, the Whorekills and St Jones' which said deeds bore date 24th August 1682, and pursuant to the true intent, purpose and meaning of his royal highness in the same deed, he the said William Penn, received possession of the town of New, Castle the 28th of October 1682.”
November 21, 1682. - By the Commander-in-Chief and Council. “Whereas his royal highness hath been graciously pleased by indenture under his hand and seal, bearing date the 24th day of August last past for the consideration therein mentioned to bargain, sell, enfeoffe and confirm unto William Penn, Esq. bis heirs and assigns forever, all that the town of New Castle otherways called Dellowar, and all that tract of land lying within the compass or circle of twelve miles about the same, with all islands and the river and soyle thereof lying north of the southermost part of said circle, and all rents and services, royalties, franchises, duties, jurisdiction, privileges and liberties thereunto belonging. And by another indenture of the same date, for the consideration therein likewise mentioned hath also bargained, sold, enfeoffed and confirmed unto the said William Penn, Esq., his heirs and assigns forever, all that tract of land upon Delaware river and bay, beginning twelve miles south of the town of New Castle otherwise called Delaware, and extending south to Whorekills, otherwise called cape Inlopen, with all isles, rivers, rivulets, bays and inlets, royalties, franchises, powers, privileges, immunities whatsoever, and in and by the said indenture appointed and authorised John Moll, Esq., and Ephraim Herman, gentlemen, to deliver to him the said William Penn, free and actual possession of the premises, as by the said indentures here produced and shewn to us and by us well approved of and entered in the public records of this province doth and may more at large appear, and we being thereby fully satisfied of the said William Penn's right to the possession and enjoyment of the premises, have Therefore thought fit and necessary to signify and declare the same to you to prevent any doubt or trouble that might arrize and to give you our thanks for your good services done in your several offices and stations during the time you remained under his royal highness government. Expecting no further account than that you readily submit and yield all due obenience and conformity to the powers granted to the said William Penn, in and by the said indentures, in the performance and enjoyment of which we wish you all happiness. Dated in New York, the 21st day of November, annoq. dom. 1682.
Antho BROCKHOLLS. To the several justices of the peace, magistrates and other officers
at New, Castle, St. Jones, Deale (als) Whorekills at Delaware, or within any of the bounds and limits above mentioned. By order in Council,
Signed, John WEST, Clerk of the Court."
HENRY FISHER. Among the patriots of our war of Independence, there were many, who devoted their time and estate, wholly to the service of their country, without ever asking or receiving, the smallest pecuniary compensation. The destitute condition of the country at the time, put it out of the power of congress to be just to all. But they have also, in many instances been allowed to pass out of life, without any notice being taken of their gallant actions and personal sacrifices, in the history of that nation, they contributed to call into existance and place in a commanding position among the powers of the earth. Their descendants, it is true, cannot but look to the acts of their ancestors with proud satisfaction; but their joy at the same time is somewhat clouded by the melancholy consideration, that the securing the independence of their country, swallowed up what would otherwise have been theirs by inheritance, and left them poor instead of personally independent. Of this class of disinterested patriots, who made the cause of their country their own cause, and threw into its support the whole of their personal exertions, talents and means, was the subject of this memoir.
Henry Fisher was born in the town of Lewes in the State of Delaware, on the 22d of March 1735. He was the son of Doctor Henry Fisher, who emigrated to this country about the year 1725, from the city of Waterford in Ireland. The ship in which the doctor came passenger, after a tedious voyage, in which they encountered many dangers, anchored in the road off Lewes, and he and several other gentlemen landed at the town for recreation. He became so much pleased with the situation of Lewes, and the beautiful scenery of the Delaware bay, with the broad Atlantic ocean in full view, that he could not be prevailed upon to leave the first spot of earth he had set his foot upon in America, but sent off to the ship for his baggage, and made it the place of his future residence, He had left at home a young wife, and now that he was established, sent over for her to join him in his new place of abode. In a short time she arrived safely at New Castle, and from thence travelled to Lewes, all the way on horseback, for there was at that time, not a single pleasure carriage or public vehicle for the conveyance of travellers in all the three lower counties on the Delaware.
Doctor Fisher's practice was lucrative, and extended, into Maryland and the county of Kent, in most cases where superior ability and skill was required. He stood wholly without a rival in his profession; in fact he was the only regularly educated physician in Sussex county during his life. Governor Penn hearing of his fame as an eminent physician, wrote frequently to him to come up to Philadelphia, and offered to reward his compliance with many advantages, which would have insured him wealth and the enjoyment of the best society in the country. But he had formed so strong an attachment to the place of his first settlement, that no offers could induce him to leave it. He was a gentleman of much taste, and adorned his seat at Lewes in the English style, rendering it so pleasant and beautiful that his neighbors used to call it Paradise. He died in 1748 leaving to survive him a widow, two daughters and a son, Henry, a boy twelve years of age, whose life we are now about to delineate, in the best manner we can from such facts as are within our command.
Henry's father had begun his education with a view to his persuing his own profession; but after his father's death his whole mind was given up to a strong desire to make his march upon “the mountain wave, and his home upon the deep." His mother used every effort in her power to change his mind, and among the rest sent him to sea in a pilot boat, that he might have a just sense of the dangers and hardships of that kind of life, which only the more attached him to the boisterous element. Finally he became a pilot of the first order of excellence. His education had been carefully attended to, and by birth and conversation he was fitted for the first society, and was always well received by the best class of citizens in Delaware and Pennsylvania. He was highly esteemed by the merchants of Philadelphia, and whenever there was an important public service to be performed in his line of business, he was always applied to by the wardens of the port of Philadelphia as the most efficient person of his calling with whom they could advise.
At the time the building of the first light-house at Cape Henlopen, was in contemplation, in the year 1764, he was applied to by the wardens of the port of Philadelphia, to select the site; and by his direction, it was placed where it now stands, upon a hill, which bids fair to endure until the final wreck of all things shall destroy it; while what nearly all others then thought the most eligible location for the light house, has long since been surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. Again, in the year 1767, when the Philadelphia merchants determined to place bouys upon the shoals and obstructions to the navigation of the Delaware bay, they called upon Mr. Fisher to make the survey, and by actual soundings to ascertain the true channel, which service was performed in an able and satisfactory manner. Thus was he enabled in his humble occupation of pilot, to do perhaps as great good to his fellow men, as he possibly could have done in any other situation. His choice of profession was not the result of necessity, for he inherited from his father an independent estate, which would have enabled him to have pursued any other course of life he might have seen proper to adopt.
The early part of his manhood, we thus see passed in the useful but peaceful line of private employment. But in the year 1775, when the war trump was heard sounding throughout the length and breadth of the land, rousing the high hearted to the assertion of the rights of man, and affrighting the fearful, he nobly arrayed himself under the banner of his country, and took a decided stand
in opposition to the tyranny, and aggressions of the mother country; and from his superior knowledge of the navigation of the bay, he was enabled to render very important services, which perhaps could not have been done by any other person of his profession at that day. About this time he happened to be in the city of Philadelphia. Here, although the citizen of an obscure village, he was well known as was also his undoubted patriotism, and superior knowledge of his occupation. Consequently he was invited to attend the first committee of safety, convened for the purpose of devising plans and means for the defence of the city, and bay and river Delaware. By this committee Mr. Fisher was appointed, with written instructions signed by Robert Morris, to repair to Lewes and there to remain until removed by further orders, to superintend the defence of the entrance into the Delaware bay, and to receive and execute all orders which might from time to time be required of him. The whole business of receiving and forwarding to our ships of war, all orders from congress &c., was intrusted to his care. He also kept all the signals for the merchant vessels belonging to Philadelphia, and by his vigilence prevented many of them from falling into the hands of the enemy. He was ordered to take command of all the pilots and their boats, with a view to prevent any giving aid to the enemy—they were only allowed to act under his direction in all cases. His own pilot boat he used as an express boat, to look out at the capes and give intelligence to congress of the approach of the enemy, which duty he faithfully performed. He also kept two whale boats constantly employed; one to row up the bay with intelligence when the pilot boat could not go, and the other he kept on the beach ready to assist our vessels in distress, and when chased by the enemy.
It was thought necessary by congress to make Lewes a garrison town, by ordering the Delaware regiment and Col. Miles' battalion of riflemen to be stationed there to prevent a landing of the British armies. But when the war began to rage furiously at the north, they were ordered away. Mr. Fisher had before this time, received the commission of a major in the service, by our own committee of safety at Dover. He applied to congress for liberty to raise a company of one hundred men for the defence of Lewes, which was now by the withdrawal of the troops left unprotected; as most of the young men of the place had joined the ranks of the regular army, as members of the Delaware regiment, so well known for its immense suffering and important services, in the protracted struggle for liberty. Congress granted his request, and sent him blank commissions for officers of the company, to be filled up as he deemed proper. This company major Fisher raised and armed at his own expense, and for which no compensation was made him. Governor M.Kenley felt indignant at such a reward, for patriotism so devoted, and wrote to congress on the subject.
Congress gave major Fisher the entire command of Lewes and all the adjoining coast, and the sole control of the arrangement for
receiving and exchanging prisoners, of whom there were great numbers. Early in the year 1776, while major Fisher's pilot-boat was returning from carrying an express to congress, at Philadelphia, she was captured by the British, who made a tender of her. Some months afterwards, however, she was wrecked on the sea beach, and by that means he again got possession of her, and at the same time made prisoner the first officer of the Roebuck, a fifty gun ship, and the crew of the boat; whom he treated kindly, and sent on to Philadelphia, with a request that congress would allow lieutenant Ball to be exchanged for his friend, captain Bud, den and his son, who were prisoners on board the Roebuck; which request was granted, and the exchange made accordingly. One of his whale-boats was also taken, while on her way up the bay with an express, leaving during the remainder of the time of the war, but one boat; which was principally employed in putting pilots on board our vessels, by which many were saved from falling into the hands of the enemy. Among the vessels saved by Mr. Fisher, was the little sloop of Stephen Girard, while he was on board, on his way up the bay. If Mr. Fisher had relaxed in the performance of his duty only one short hour, it is probable, nay certain, that Girard would have been made a prisoner; which might have forever prevented the exercise of those energies, by which he amassed so large a fortune; and thus have deprived the city of Philadelphia, and State of Pennsylvania, of the great and important advantages they derive under his will. It was this little boat also and her gallant crew of pilots, which was sent by major Fisher, to the rescue of the French frigate La Gloria, which saved her from falling into the hands of a superior British force, which had chased the Eagle and La Gloria up the bay. They had got into the western channel, and the Eagle was on shore, when the pilots, after rowing eighteen miles, succeeded in getting on board the La Gloria. By sounding out an unknown channel they saved the ship. So testifies her commander, the chevalier de Vallougue, in a certificate he sent to Mr. Fisher, which is yet in the possession of the family. This ship had on board moncy, clothing, provisions, &c., for the French troops in our service. This supply so important, was landed on the beach below Dover in safety, under a heavy fire kept up by the enemy during the whole time they were em. ployed in its transportation.
Major Fisher was held in the highest estimation by the heads of the different departments of government; and when general Washington sent down to Lewes a deputation consisting of general Du Portail, Col. Hamilton and Mr. Halker, the French consul, to look out for the French fleet which was then expected, he desired them to call on him, and leave to his care and attention, the signals of the fleet. They invited Mr. Fisher to accompany them across the bay, and to choose for them some trusty friend to take charge of the signals of the fleet there, and send information of its approach to government. They took passage down in a privateer called the