The Bagpiper

A Newsletter for Erwin & Related Families

Volume 6, Issue 2                          Sub Sole Sub Umbra Virens                    June 2007

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John Paul Jones (1747-1792)


John Paul Jones was America's first well-known naval hero in the American Revolutionary War. He was born as John Paul on the Arbigland estate on the southern coast of Scotland. His father was a gardener at Arbigland, and his mother was a member of Clan McDuff. John Paul fled to his brother's home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1773 in order to avoid the hangman's noose in Tobago after an incident when he was accused of murdering a sailor under his command. He began using the name John Paul Jones as his brother suggested after the start of the American Revolution.


During his naval career in the Continental Navy he never rose above the rank of Captain, simply because he was not as good a politician as he was a naval commander, this in an era when politics determined promotion. It was during his engagement with the British ship Serapis, with his own Bonhomme Richard, that Jones uttered the legendary reply to a British officer's surrender demand, "I have not yet begun to fight!"


John Paul Jones remains the first genuine American Naval hero, and a highly regarded battle commander. His later service in the Russian Navy as an admiral showed the mark of genius that enabled him to defeat the Serapis. Though he was originally buried in Paris, after spending his last years abroad, he was ultimately re-interred at the United States Naval Academy, a fitting homecoming for the "Father of the American Navy."