Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MANLEY, or MANLY, John, naval officer, born in Torquay, England, in 1733; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 12 February, 1793. He was a sailor from his youth, settled at Marblehead, Massachusetts, and became master of a merchant vessel. On 24 October, 1775, he received a commission from General Washington to cruise in the vicinity of Boston, and intercept supplies that were intended for General Thomas Gate's army. He went to sea in the schooner "Lee" before the commanders of the other cruisers, sailing from Marblehead near the close of November. On 29 November he fell in with and captured the brig "Nancy," which had on board a large mortar, several brass guns, muskets, ammunition, and various military supplies. He captured three other transports on 8 December, and succeeded in bringing into port all his prizes. The guns and ordnance stores were of great assistance to General Washington in the siege operations. Captain Manley continued to cruise during the rest of the winter. He was chased into Gloucester harbor by the "Falcon," and, running inshore, inflicted damage on his pursuers. Manley was given a captain's commission in the Continental navy on 17 April, 1776, and on 22 August was assigned to the command of the frigate "Hancock," of thirty-two guns, then building at Boston. Of the captains in the navy, as it was regularly organized after the Declaration of Independence, he was the second in seniority and rank. Soon after putting to sea in the "Hancock" he engaged, and after a sharp contest captured, the " Fox," a British war vessel carrying twenty-eight guns, but the prize was afterward recaptured by the "Flora." On 8 July, 1777, the " Hancock" and the "Boston," which was commanded by Captain Hector McNiel, fell in with the "Rainbow," of forty-four guns, accompanied by the brig " Victor." Captain Manley intended to engage the enemy, but when the "Boston" sailed away, attempted to escape and was overtaken and compelled to surrender to Sir George Collier in the "Rainbow." He was confined on board that vessel and in Mill prison, Halifax. His conduct was made the subject of an investigation that fully exonerated him from blame, while Captain McNiel was dismissed the service for not assisting the "Hancock." Having been exchanged, Manley was again captured while commanding the privateer "Pomona," and held a prisoner at Barbadoes until he made his escape, and took command of the privateer " Jason." In July, 1779, being attacked by two British privateers, he ran between them, and poured a broadside into both at once, which compelled them to strike their colors. In September, 1782, Captain Manley was placed in command of the "Hague" frigate, and sailed for the West Indies. After calling at Martinique his vessel was descried by a British seventy-four, which gave chase. To avoid capture he ran his ship aground on a sand-bar Manley succeeded in getting his vessel off the bank, and, firing thirteen guns as a signal of defiance, made his escape. This occurrence took place after the preliminaries of peace had been signed, and ended, as Captain Manley's first exploit had begun, the regular naval operations of the Revolution. After Manley's return to Boston, where he was received with distinguished honors by the citizens, charges brought against him by his subordinate officers were investigated, and so far justified that he was not retained on the naval establishment after the peace.
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