POTE, WILLIAM, surveyor, ship captain; b. 15 Dec. 1718 at Marblehead, Massachusetts, son of Captain William Pote and Dorothy Gatchell; date of death unknown, but dead by October 1755.
William Pote became a sailor and by 1745 held command of the merchant vessel Montague. In that year John Henry Bastide, chief engineer at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, engaged him to carry supplies there. Pote’s vessel was boarded at Annapolis on 17 May by a mixed party of French and Indians, part of a force headed by Paul Marin de La Malgue. Pote was captured with five of his crew, and was later allocated to a group of Hurons from Lorette, near Quebec. He was taken to Quebec via Chignecto, and the Petitcodiac, Saint John, and St Lawrence rivers. Along the way he was badly beaten at different camps by the Indians. At Aucpac (near Springhill, N.B.) on the Saint John River, some Malecites wanted to kill Pote and other captives in retaliation for the slaying of members of their tribe by Captain John Gorham’s rangers the year before.
After four months of travel Pote reached Quebec, where he was kept in confinement and had little freedom of movement over the next two years. During the voyage to Quebec and throughout his imprisonment Pote kept a journal of his experiences which includes first hand accounts from fellow prisoners of events in King George’s War. There was much sickness among the prisoners and Pote’s journal is full of notices of their deaths; over 75 prisoners died during his stay in Quebec. Pote also described in part the defences of Quebec and commented on the mood of the French settlers, who were “Under Continual aprehensions of ye English paying them a Vissite both By Land and Sea. . . . Several farmers have made no Scruple to Let us know they would turn to ye English In Case they Should Come against ym Rather then Loose their Estats as they have no Intrest In old france nor are their Indians much to be Depended on for they have often told me in Case ye English Should Come they would be on ye Strongest Side.”
Early in June 1747 Pote and some of his companions learned that they would soon be sent home. Before departing he gave his journal to a woman prisoner to carry to Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island (Île Royale) “Under her peticoats,” lest it be confiscated. Pote left Quebec on 30 July 1747 aboard the Saint-Esprit and in mid-August reached Louisbourg, where he reported to Bastide for employment. He continued his life at sea, commanding a merchant vessel as late as 1752. Neither the place nor the circumstance of his death is known.
N.B. Museum, Webster coll., pkt.242. [William Pote], The journal of Captain William Pote, jr., during his captivity in the French and Indian war from May 1745, to August 1747, ed. J. F. Hurst and Victor Paltsits (New York, 1896). New Eng. Hist. and Geneal. Register, XIV (1860), 146. W. O. Raymond, The River St John, its physical features, legends and history from 1604 to 1784, ed. J. C. Webster (Sackville, N.B., 1943). G. T. Bates, “John Gorham, 1709–1751: an outline of his activities in Nova Scotia, 1744–1751,” N.S. Hist. Soc. Coll., XXX (1954), 49.