Thomas
Haines
Dudley


THOMAS H. DUDLEY had a long and interesting career, both in service in Camden and in service of the Federal Government. He was born in Camden on October 9, 1819, the son of Evan and Ann (Haines) Dudley; grandson of Thomas and Martha (Evans) Dudley; and great-grandson of Francis and Rachel (Wilkins) Dudley, who emigrated from the parish of St. Peter, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England, about 1730, and settled in New Jersey.

Thomas H. Dudley was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1845, he was serving as Camden County Clerk when called upon to write a City Charter for Camden. The "Dudley Charter" would serve Camden until 1871. A member of the Whig Party until it dissolved, he became a Republican when that party formed. Thomas Dudley was a delegate to the Republican national convention in Chicago in 1860, and was instrumental in securing the presidential nomination for Abraham Lincoln. 

In his own words, Thomas Dudley wrote,  "I was appointed Consul for Liverpool by Mr. Lincoln in 1861, and remained there for eleven years, when I resigned and came home. I am a lawyer by profession, and was in the convention that nominated A. Lincoln in 1860."

Thomas Dudley went to Europe when the Civil War broke out, returning in the fall of 1861. He was then appointed as the United States Consul at Liverpool, England. In this capacity he was charged with stemming the flow of military supplies to the Confederacy from ostensibly neutral England. With a force of 100 agents he covered the United Kingdom, often traveling incognito as he was a marked man in certain pro-Confederate quarters.

In 1862 Dudley brought legal action in British courts concerning the steamship Alexandra, being built in a Liverpool shipyard with private funds and intended for the Confederate Navy. The attention attracted in this case gave cause to the British government to somewhat more strictly enforce their own laws regarding neutrality.  

Dudley and his agents noted all activity in shipyards in Liverpool ant its environs, and reported such activity to United States naval authorities. Of 324 ships built either to run the blockade of the Confederacy or as commerce raiders, 126 were sunk, in great part to the intelligence reports of Thomas Dudley. 

After the war Thomas Dudley returned to America, only to be sent back to Europe to settle the Alabama Claims, where the arbitration decided the extent of British liability for damage done by the U.K.-built commerce-raiders CSS Alabama and CSS Florida during the Civil War. He finally came home in 1872. He was elected a member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1886, and was a member of the council in the American Philosophical Society in 1887,1890 and 1893.

Thomas Dudley owned a large estate along Federal Street in what is now East Camden, centered by his mansion and known as Dudley Grange.  A small village, known as Dudley, sprang up in the late 1870s and early 1880s within the bounds of Stockton Township.

Thomas H. Dudley passed away on April 15, 1893. Parts of his estate were sold to real estate developers, who build many residences along Federal Street and Westfield Avenue. The remainder of his estate, lying between those two roads and east of Dudley Street, in which lay his home, was eventually acquired by Victor S. King, who served as Camden's Mayor in the years 1923 through 1927. He sold the land to the city, and it became Dudley Grange Park. The Dudley home was converted into use as a branch of the Camden Free Public Library during the 1920s. Sadly, the home of Thomas Dudley was neglected by city government and allowed to burn in 1980.


THE HISTORY OF CAMDEN COUNTY
NEW JERSEY 
George Reeser Prowell - 1886

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THE HISTORY OF CAMDEN COUNTY
NEW JERSEY 
George Reeser Prowell - 1886



Dudley Grange

as it appeared in 1926

Click on Image to Enlarge


Marauders of the Sea, Confederate Merchant Raiders During the American Civil War
Alexandra. 1862-1863
Alexandra, a line engraving published in Harper's Weekly, January/June 1863.
Alexandra

The question over ownership of the 300 ton steamer Alexandra goes to Court.
Ever since Captain James Bulloch, Naval Agent of the Confederate States, had moved into England to facilitate ship building for the South, he had been constantly dogged by the agents of the American consul at Liverpool, Thomas H. Dudley.

As 1862 was drawing to a close, Dudley was convinced that he had found yet another Confederate ship being built at Liverpool in the yards of W.C.Miller and Son, it must be remembered that this yard had built Florida, and in Thomas' mind were guilty by this association.

This ship, Alexandra , was a small 300 ton screw steamer, and bore very distinct lines to that of Florida.

In fact, Bulloch had nothing to do with the commissioning of the construction of this ship, nor anything to do with her, and was unaware of the owner's intentions.

A Charles K. Prioleau had signed the contract to build her at his expense, and his intention was to run the blockade, sail her to Charleston, and make a gift of Alexandra to the Confederate administration.

Three of Dudley’s agents had signed sworn statements to the effect that Alexandra was a new Confererate Cruiser, in turn Dudley harried his US Minister to England, Charles Adams to act.

Adams, had long been a public critic of Britain’s failure to curb their ship building yards assisting the Southern cause, he now petitioned the British Foreign Secretary to bring a test case to trial.

Britain on one hand, needed to protect their legitimate ship building industry, and on the other hand it had to properly discharge its obligations under International Law.

There was conflicting advice emanating from the British Foreign Office personnel, Edwards, the Customs Collector, stated he believed this ship: “ Was intended for the Confederate Government.” and should be officially detained.

But, treasury inspectors thought “ the ship more strongly built than customary in merchant vessels,” but violated no rules, there being no law forbidding the construction of specially reinforced vessels.

Two of Britain’s leading legal minds carried the day, Roundell Palmer and Robert Phillimore both recommended: “ The Alexandra be seized, the ship’s structure providing suitable grounds.”

There were no precedents to guide any legal action on behalf of the British Government, and the Foreign Enlistment Act thus needed to be tested in court.

Lord Russell now acted and ordered “The ship be seized on suspicion that her owners intended to use Alexandra against the United States.”

The Surveyor of Customs at Liverpool, on the 5th. of April 1863 ordered that “ The King’s Broad arrow be marked on one of her masts, and that Alexandra be seized under the Foreign Enlistment Act.”

The Times now got into the act, reporting: “ The ship is a fine tidy looking craft, nicely coppered and copper fastened, projecting an impression of speed, but no gunports or shell room. The engines had not been fitted, but she presents the appearance of a fast schooner-rigged steam yacht.”

Adams was delighted, and expressed his “lively satisfaction,” to Lord Russell, he also sent off a note to Secretary Seward in the States: “ I think we may now infer from this act that the government is really disposed to maintain its neutrality.”

Liverpool ship builders were not enamoured with their government’s actions, viewing it as a threat to their livelihood, and the government moved the court case to London.

Until this case was tested in court, Naval contractors throughout Britain paused, unsure about continuing to carry out work on any contract for the Confederate South, for four months there was a stalemate, until at last, on the 22nd. of June in 1863, the British Court of the Exchequer opened the trial of the Alexandra, at Westminister, charging Fawcett, Preston and its agents with violating 96 counts of the Foreign Enlistment Act.

The Court told the Crown to prove, first, that the vessel was built for the purpose of being equipped for war, second, that she was intended at some stage of her construction for the service of the Confederate States.

This would appear to be a difficult assignment for the Crown, and as the trial rolled on, so it proved.

Sir Hugh Cairns a gifted attorney and George Mellish, a well known trial lawyer appeared for the defence, the Crown case essentially relied on the evidence of the three spies on Dudley’s pay roll.

Sir Hugh soon demolished any credibility of the evidence submitted by any of these three witnesses, and by the time he had destroyed the last of these, Clarence R. Yonge, who had worked for Bulloch and Semmes, the latter discharging Yonge for embezzlement, the case for the Crown was well and truly lost.

After a three day trial, the Judge, Sir Jonathan Pollack instructed the jury:

“ If you think the object was to build a ship in obedience to an order, and in compliance with a contract, leaving it to those who bought it to make what use they felt fit of it, then it appears to be that the Foreign Enlistment Act has not been in any degree broken.”

The only possible verdict was an acquittal. The chief juror declined to accept a trial transcript, and:“ Without hesitating more than half a minute, returned a verdict against the Crown.”

Fawsett, Preston made an application for the restoration of Alexandra, but the Crown had filed an appeal with the House of Lords.

A year after the ship’s seizure, this appeal failed, and her owners settled for damages, accepting the sum of 3,700 Pounds, although their original claim was for 6,370 Pounds.

Alexandra never sailed under that name , she was sold, renamed Mary, and modified as a blockade runner.

Although Dudley lost his case against Alexandra, he did succeed in alerting the British government to the multitude of Confederate ship building going on in British shipyards.

Two ironclad cruisers only identified at Birkenhead as 294, and 295, but known locally as the Laird Rams, were part of a number of ironclads being constructed for the South in both British and French ship yards.

These ships were capable of attacking, and hopefully for the South, destroying the Union blockading fleet, the last Confederate hope of keeping open Southern ports, so they might receive essential war supplies to maintain the war against the North.

For Britain, if the South lost, these ships and others under construction, loomed as a potential time bomb.

Another potential cruiser, a larger ship, based on the Alabama, was being progressed in the Scottish yard of J. and G. Thomson and Company of Glasgow.

It was the intention of Lieutenant George T. Sinclair to commission her as CSS Pampero.

As she was nearing completion, the American Consul at Glasgow began agitating for her detention.

The British Foreign Secretary, on learning that this ship had yet to apply for a Certificate of Registration, and a Declaration of Nationality, ordered two gunboats alongside her, waiting for someone to make the required disclosure to comply with the Merchant Shipping Act. Nothing happened, so he ordered the Glasgow Collector of Customs on the 10th. of December 1863 to seize the ship, and hold it until the case was brought to court.

This hearing was now delayed until after the war was lost to the South.

In fact Alexandra, acted as the factor in hardening the British stance against the Confederates, it looked as if they might lose, Russell and the British government were placing their bets on the Unionists winning the Civil War.

Under her new name of Mary, after arriving in Halifax, was reported to be seeking out arms, but went off to Nassau, here revenue agents detained the ship, after finding a 12 pound rifled gun, plus cases of shells in a hold. This gun was embossed “Fawsett, Preston and Co.1862.” and had been placed aboard during a stop at Bermuda.

The court at Nassau, took a look at the case against Mary, released the ship, all too late, the war was now over.


Thomas Haines Dudley led a remarkable life....
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Click on Images to Enlarge


Philadelphia Inquirer - August 26, 1884
Thomas DudleyFrank Turner - William Parker - Charles Wolverton
J. Willard Morgan -   Frederick A. Rex - Daniel Johntra - Richard H. Lee
George Doughten -
Charles Henry Peters
Joseph B. Green
- Amos Richard Dease - Robert Gilmore - Jesse Pratt

Philadelphia Inquirer
September 4, 1888

 

Thomas DudleyIsaac Shreeve - William T. Bailey - Christopher A. Bergen
Isaac Githens - George Barrett - Frank Welch -
Howland Croft - Samuel Bakley
David Freeman Sr. -
Albion Lane Christopher Mines Jr. - William Ireton
Howard Lee - Amos R. Dease - John Brothers - James Hewitt - John C. Edwards
 
Malachi D. Cornish - J.Willard Somers - Frank C. Somers - John Wells - W.H. Day
Dilwyn Pettit - J. Milton Powell - George Denny - Everett Ackley - Samuel M. Gail
Joseph Brown - Frederick Parker - John H. Milton - David Rankin - Samuel Roach - James Brown - Isaac Robinson - William K. Price - Reuben Gaskill - 
John W. Everman - Samuel H. Mour
ey - William H. Smith
Herman Heimbold - Thomas Watson - E. Thompson

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