GILL, MICHAEL, mariner of Charlestown, Mass.; b. c. 1673 at Dover, England; m. Relief Dowse on 26 May 1696 (o.s.); d. 14 June 1720 at Charlestown, father of at least ten children.
In 1698 Gill was trading with Canada in a 40-ton vessel, handling mixed cargoes. He traded also with the outposts at Bonavista and other parts of Newfoundland. On 18 Aug. 1704 (29 August, N.S.), when Bonavista was attacked by a French fleet under Jean Léger de La Grange, Gill was the only English captain to escape after a six-hour battle. An account of this incident in the Flying Post of London stated that “had they [the French] taken Captain Gill they would not have left house stage or goods in the harbour; all which is owing . . . to the courage and conduct of Captain Gill.”
Little is known of the extent of Gill’s trade with Canada, but he was active in trading with the southern parts of America, the West Indies, and Europe and owned shares in many vessels. He engaged in land transactions at Charlestown and at the time of his death he held, from Harvard College, a lease on one of the ferry boats going to Boston.
Gill’s eldest son, Michael (1699–1772), settled in Newfoundland in 1748 and rose to be the first colonel of the militia; Nicholas, another son, was chief magistrate at St John’s. A grandson, Moses, became lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts (1794–1800).
“Mass. Archives,” VII, IX. Mass. Hist. Soc., J. Davis Coll., 161.G.50 (Gill’s will). Charlevoix, History (Shea), V, 169. Harvard College records (3v., Col. Soc. Mass. pub., XV-XVI, XXXI, Boston, 1925, 1935), II, 444, 468. New Eng. Hist. and Geneal. Register, VII (1853), 149; XVI (1862), 38; XXIX (1875); XXX (1876); XXXI (1877). Prowse, History of Nfld., 239–41 (contains account from Flying Post, 10 March 1704/5). T. B. Wyman, The genealogies and estates of Charlestown in the county of Middlesex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1629–1818 (Boston, 1879), 408–9.