O'BRIEN, JEREMIAH. (1744–1818). American naval officer. Maine. Born in Kittery, Maine, which was then in the province of Massachusetts, in 1744, O'Brien and his family moved to Machias, Maine, in 1765. He became the first naval hero of the Revolution in the action off Machias in May 1775. Commanding a small fleet of the Massachusetts navy, he took a few prizes before his ships were put out of commission in the fall of 1776. As a privateer he was captain of the Resolution in 1777 and captured the British-owned Scarborough. His Hannibal was captured in 1780, and he was imprisoned by the British, first in the Jersey prison ship at New York, and then in Mill Prison, England. After suffering considerable hardship, he escaped. Free again, he commanded the Hibernia and then the Tiger. For the last seven years of his life he was collector of customs at Machias, where he died on 5 September 1818.
SEE ALSO Machias, Maine.
Sherman, Andrew. Life of Captain Jeremiah O'Brien. Morristown, N.J.: G. W. Sherman, 1902).
revised by Michael Bellesiles
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