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Death of William Hines

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II.  Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

June 14.—This morning, died in Forton Prison, near Portsmouth, England, Mr. William Hines, an officer of the General Gates’ private ship of war, from Danvers, near Boston, Massachusetts; after having with much patience, and with the most irreproachable conduct, sustained a three years’ captivity. He was a man of eminent religion and virtue. Finding death swiftly advancing, he called to him his two sons, Francis and William, the one in the eighteenth and the other in the fifteenth year of his age, and said: “My dear boys, I cheerfully submit to my lot, for it is appointed for all men once to die. I meekly resign unto the Providence of God, for I see infinite mercy toward me in this dispensation. Indeed, why should I repine? I shall now speedily obtain that release which my eyes have often failed me in looking after. Oh! wretched man that I was! that my faith had almost failed me, as to my temporal deliverance, at the moment my God was about to give me my grand discharge’! Who, or what shall now confine me! I shall soon be free as a celestial. Farewell, farewell bolts, bars, and prisons! Adieu ye dungeons! adieu ye tents of clay! welcome fair daylight and liberty! The time of my redemption draweth nigh. But, my dear boys, how shall I bid farewell to you? That final parting which would have been easy, which would have been blissful in our cottage at Danvers, gives pungent grief to my spirits. I leave you, alas! in this abode of sorrow and of wretchedness, but I charge you ‘to pray unto God from this far country and cry unto him from this strange land.’ I hope it will be given to you to revisit the land of your nativity, and to enjoy peace and prosperity for the days wherein ye have seen evil. Let a high and genuine sense of liberty direct and animate your whole conduct. I give no directions concerning my bones. They indeed must lie in this region of oppression and cruelty. O that I had been buried in some part of the American world! – then would the clods of the valley have been sweet to me. It is done—my children, weep not for me, ‘but weep for yourselves, and for the slain of your people.’ If ever you mourn, let it be for the calamities of your country, highly beloved, because greatly injured. Francis, give me thine hand—slender as thine arm is, it may shield thy brother. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bless the lads.”1


1 New York Packet, November 1.