The Great Seal of Prince Edward Island

From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry on Theophilus Desbrisay (emphasis mine):

Theophilus Desbrisay’s appointment as governor’s chaplain for St John’s (Prince Edward) Island was obtained for him in 1774 by his father, the lieutenant governor. A student at Trinity College, Dublin, Theophilus was already in deacon’s orders. He was ordained to the priesthood by the bishop of Waterford on 3 July 1775, although he was not yet of canonical age, and he then set out for Charlottetown. In the Strait of Canso the vessel on which he was a passenger was captured by American privateers who had just plundered Charlottetown. Following his release, he arrived late in the year at the capital only to discover that there were no funds for his support and the £3,000 allocated by the crown in 1772 for construction of a church, court-house, and jail had been appropriated by Governor Walter Patterson to pay government salaries.

You’re on your way to Charlottetown when your ship is captured by pirates who had just plundered Charlottetown.

What are the odds!

It was on that same plundering trip that the original Great Seal of Prince Edward Island was stolen, never to be returned, a tale summarized well in Canadian Symbols of Authority: Maces, Chains, and Rods of Office:

During the American War of Independence, two American schooners, the Hancock and the Franklin, sailed into Charlottetown Harbour. On 17 November 1775, the Island’s administrator (acting governor), Phillips Callbeck, along with the surveyor general, Thomas Wright, immediately went down to the beach to meet what they assumed were two fishing vessels. To their surprise they were promptly taken prisoner by Captain John Selman and Charlottetown was sacked by the Americans.” Everything ofvalue was purloined, including the island’s massive Great Seal, which was made of sterling silver. Callbeck and Wright were released in January 1776, and George Washington apologized for their ordeal.” The Great Seal, however, was never returned.

Callbeck and Wright’s letter to George Washington provides a complete account of the attack; Washington wrote to John Hancock about it as well.

If you are an American reader of the blog, and have privateers in your family history, could you please check your attic for the Great Seal.