Hopley Yeaton

Lieutenant Hopley Yeaton, Continental Frigate Raleigh

Hopley Yeaton was born in 1739 at New Castle, New Hampshire. Hopley Yeaton married Comfort Marshall, the daughter of George and Thankful (Weeks) Marshall at South Church in Portsmouth on November 15, 1766 and had issue.

He was a leader of the Sons of Liberty at Portsmouth in 1775-76. Hopley Yeaton joined the Raleigh on September 28, 1776 and remained with the ship until her capture exactly two years later.

Afterwards, he served on the continental frigate La Hague (or Dean) in 1779 and 1780.

On 26 September 1789, Hopley Yeaton married secondly, Elizabeth Gerrish. On March 21, 1791 President Washington commissioned Hopley Yeaton as Captain and the first commissioned officer in the United States revenue cutter service (a precursor of the United States Coast Guard), in command of the cutter Scammel, the first one built. Scammel was stationed at Portsmouth and patrolled the New Hampshire and Maine coasts. It is said that Captain Yeaton most likely brought along his slave, Senegal, during patrols as this practice was permitted by the Treasury Department at that time. Captain Yeaton helped establish a Masonic Lodge in Eastport and urged the government to build a lighthouse at West Quoddy Head. He resigned from the service on September 30, 1809 and settled on a farm in North Lubec, Maine, where he died on May 14, 1812.

In 1975 his burial site was threatened by development and the Coast Guard Corps of Cadets sailed the Barque Eagle to Lubec where his remains were exhumed and removed to Groton. His tombstone reads, “Here lies the first officer commissioned under the Constitution by George Washington into the Revenue Cutter Service which is the forerunner of the modern day Coast Guard.”

Sources: Douglas Kroll, A Coast Guardsman’s History of the U.S. Coast Guard, (Annapolis, 2010); United States Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, The Best of the Bulletin September 1996, (New London, 1996), 74-78; “Hopley Yeaton, First Commissioned Officer of the Revenue Cutter Service,”; Selected Wartime Service Records of Lieutenant Hopley Yeaton.