Nathaniel Messerve

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Nathaniel Messerve ( -1758), of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was the second son of Clement Messervy and Elizabeth Jones. His grandfather, Clement Messervy, had emigrated from Jersey to America before 1675, when he appears on the roll of Portsmouth taxpayers. He was probably the son of Jean Messervy of Gorey and Marie Machon.

Louisbourg

Nathaniel became a prominent shipbuilder at Portsmouth and a man of wealth. In 1745 he was made Lieut-Col of Col Moore's New Hampshire Regiment, gathered for the reduction of Louisbourg, "the Gibraltar of America", then held by the French.

Between the landing-place of the troops and a commanding position in the rear of the fortress was a morass supposed to be impassable. But Messervy conceived the idea of making wooden floats, on which cannon could be dragged across the swamp. Sledges 15 feet long and 5 feet wide were constructed, and for 14 nights under the cover of fog his men, up to their knees in mud, dragged the guns to a height commanding the city.

This manoeuvre took the French so entirely by surprise that they surrendered with little resistance. In the following year Messervy was one of the 12 purchasers of the Mason Patent in New Hampshire, which was the origin of his vast ownership of land. In 1749 he built at Portsmouth for the British Government the frigate America.

In 1756 a regiment of 700 men was put under his command to operate against the French near Lake Champlain, but the attack was not made, and the regiment was disbanded. He seems to have distinguished himself during this campaign, for his family preserved a pair of silver sauce-boats, inscribed: "From the Right Honourable the Earl of Loudoun, Commander-in-Chief of his Majesty's Forces in North America: to Col Nathaniel Messerve of New Hampshire in testimony of his Lordship's approbation of his good services at Fort Edward in the year 1756".

In 1758 he went again to Louisburg in command of a company of carpenters, probably to build a log-road across the swamp. Here most of his men caught smallpox, and he and his son Nathaniel Loth died on 28 June.

He had married Mary Jackson, and then Jane Libby, with whom he had four sons and seven daughters. One of his sons, George, was Collector of Customs at Boston, when the tea was flung into the harbour. After the Revolution he left America and settled in England.

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