“Stern Chase” Liverpool Packet off Massachusetts
18” x 24” | Oil on board
My wife, Mary, is from Liverpool and Halifax, Nova Scotia and has always wanted me to paint the famous Liverpool Packet. The Covid down time has given me the inspiration to paint this ship after doing much research. This is a difficult ship/ boat to paint as there are no plans or official paintings of her but we know she was a Baltimore Clipper schooner – so we worked from the clipper schooner lines even though the Liverpool was quite a bit smaller.
For those of you not from Nova Scotia and unfamiliar with her interesting history - here is the story:
Liverpool Packet was originally the American slave ship Severn, built at Baltimore (Maryland, USA) and rigged as a Baltimore Clipper style schooner and was captured by the British in 1811. The Halifax (Nova Scotia) Vice Admiralty Court condemned Severn as an illegal slave ship as both Britain and the United States had recently outlawed the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The court then ordered her sold at auction and Enos Collins and other investors purchased her in October 1811. They renamed her Liverpool Packet, although she sometimes bore the nickname The Black Joke, a name of several infamous slave ships. At first her owners used the small and fast schooner as a packet ship carrying mail and passengers between Halifax and Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
Upon the outbreak of the War of 1812, the owners of Liverpool Packet quickly converted her to a privateer. Under the command of Joseph Barss Jn, she captured at least 33 American vessels during the first year of the war. His strategy was to lie in wait off Cape Cod, snapping up American ships headed to Boston or New York.
She was a menace to New England shipping until the Americans captured her in 1813. American anger over their earlier losses to the Packet resulted in poor treatment of Barss, who languished in jail for months on a diet of bread and water until he was exchanged for American prisoners held in Halifax.
In American hands she was briefly renamed Young Teaser's Ghost, after the recently destroyed American privateer Young Teazer. Failing to take any British prizes, she was renamed again as Portsmouth Packet. Under this name and under the command of Captain John Perkins, she had a short, unsuccessful career failing to capture a single prize for the Americans.
The British recaptured Portsmouth Packet and she was brought into Halifax where her original owners repurchased her and restored the name of Liverpool Packet. Under a new captain named Caleb Seeley, she captured fourteen prizes before the year ended. In 1814, she captured additional prizes in May and June. Then in August, she took two prizes while acting in concert with HMS Shannon while they were sailing off of Bridgeport and New York. Liverpool Packet continued to work often with British naval vessels right to the war's end.
In all, Liverpool Packet had taken 50 prizes in her brief but successful career. Her captures helped launch the great fortune of Enos Collins. Two steamships from her old homeport of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, were named in her honour in the 20th century.