Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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O'BRIEN, Jeremiah, patriot, born in Scarborough, Maine, in 1740; died in Machias, Maine, 5 October. 1818. His father, Morris, a native of Cork, Ireland, settled in Scarborough, was a volunteer in the expedition against Louisburg, and removed in 1765 to Machias, where he was engaged with his six sons in the lumber business when the Revolutionary war began. When the news came of the collision at Lexington the people of Machias erected a liberty-pole. A few days afterward a British armed schooner, the "Margaretta," entered the harbor, convoying two sloops that were to be freighted with lumber for the British defensive works in Boston. Captain Moore, of the "Margaretta," ordered the pole to be taken down, threatening to fire on the town if it were not done. The citizens concerted a plan to seize the British officers while they were at meeting on Sunday, but they saw the band approaching, and, hastening on board their vessel, dropped down the river. A company of sixty volunteers, which included the O'Brien brothers, gave chase on the following morning in one of the lumber sloops. Jeremiah O'Brien was chosen captain. While the "Margaretta" lay becalmed in the bay, the sloop was towed up by boats, the English commander allowing her to come alongside, although he had sixteen swivel-guns and four-pounders. Some of the Americans had muskets, but only three rounds of ammunition; some were armed merely with pitchforks; yet after a sharp hand-to-hand combat they were victorious, having mortally wounded the English captain and killed the helmsman in the first fire. Their loss was fore" men killed and nine wounded, and that of the enemy ten killed and ten wounded. This was the first sea-fight of the Revolution. The armament of the "Margaretta" was transferred to the sloop, which was rechristened the "Machias Liberty." O'Brien took command, and captured the "Diligence," a British coast-survey vessel, and her tender, which had been sent out from Halifax to retake the "Margaretta." The "Liberty," with Jeremiah O'Brien as captain and his brother William as lieutenant, and the "Diligence," on which his brother John was lieutenant, were commissioned by the provincial government, and ordered to intercept supplies for the British troops. Captain O'Brien cruised on the coast for a year and a half, taking several prizes. He then assumed command of a privateer called the "Hannibal," that his brother John and others had built at Newburyport, but shortly afterward, while cruising off New York, his vessel was chased by two frigates and captured. He was confined for six months in the "Jersey" guard-ship, and then sent to England and detained in Mill prison, from which, after a few months, he succeeded in escaping. He resided for some time at Brunswick, Maine, and at the time of his death was collector of the port of Machias. His daughter was the mother of John P. Hale. His brother, JOHN, while in command of a privateer called the "Hibernia," captured an English armed vessel, the "General Pattison," having on board a number of officers of the British army who were returning from New York to England. 0'BRIEN, John, Canadian R. C. bishop, born in Loughboro, Canada, in 1829; died in Quebec, 1 August, 1879. He studied philosophy and theology in the seminary of Quebec, and after his ordination was made president of Regiopolis college. He was afterward sent to Brockville, where he built the church of St. Francis Xavier, and was appointed its pastor. He was made coadjutor to Bishop Horan, of Kingston, 18 April, 1875.
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