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First Name: John

Last Name: Shaw

Birthplace: Mountmellick, IRL

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Date of Birth: 1773

Date of Death: 17 September 1823

Rank or Rate: Captain

Years Served:
John Shaw

•  Quasi-War (Franco-American War) (1798 - 1800)
•  1st Barbary War (1801 - 1805)
•  War of 1812


John Shaw
Captain, U.S. Navy

John Shaw was born in 1773 in Mountmellick, County Laois, Ireland. He moved to the U.S. in 1790, where he settled in Philadelphia and entered the merchant marine.

Shaw was appointed as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy on 3 August 1798. He first served in USS Montezuma in Commodore Thomas Truxtun's squadron in the West Indies during the early part of the Quasi-War with France. On 20 October 1799, he was given command of the schooner USS Enterprise in which, during the next year, he captured seven armed French vessels and recaptured several American merchantmen. By the time he was relieved of command due to ill health in October 1800, he had made Enterprise one of the most famous vessels of the Navy.

During the First Barbary War, Shaw commanded frigate USS Adams in the Mediterranean under Commodore John Rodgers from May to November 1804.

Shaw helped suppress the 1811 German Coast Uprising. During the War of 1812, Shaw commanded the New Orleans naval post as well as the frigate USS United States.

Captain Shaw died at Philadelphia, where he was interred in the Christ Church Burial Ground, along with Benjamin Franklin and other signers of the Declaration of Independence. His epitaph reads:

In Memory of John Shaw

Late a captain in the Navy of the U.S.
For courage and humanity
Discipline without rigor
Skill with good conduct
Integrity above suspicion
And honour without a blemish,
He gave to the world a noble spectacle
Of a man who without patronage raised
Himself among men of the highest merit
To be the first rank in the service of
His adopted country
Enjoying the confidence of the Government
Beloved in a rare degree by those
Under his parental command and
Blest with friends of kindred worth and feeling.
He died as he lived
Without fear and without reproach

On the 17th day of September 1823 aged 50 years


Two destroyers have been named after John Shaw: DD-68 and DD-373. In an odd coincidence, both destroyers lost their bows in action, yet were repaired and continued their service. DD-68 had 90 feet of her bow cut off by HMS Aquitania during a collision in 1918 and DD-373 is best known for its spectacular explosion during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Shaw Island, San Juan Islands, WA, was named for him.


Shaw's daughter was married to Francis Hoyt Gregory (1780-1866), an officer in the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812 through the Civil War, serving then as a Rear Admiral.

Death and Burial

Captain John Shaw died on 17 September 1823 in Philadelphia, PA. He is buried at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.

Honoree ID: 3069   Created by: MHOH




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