Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: November 19, 2019

The sixty-ton schooner Liberty, mounting four or six guns, was known as the William Robbins before it was purchased for $3,500 by the Texas government and rechristened Liberty in January 1836, the first purchase for the Texas Navy. As the William Robbins, the vessel had been used as a privateer by its master, Capt. William A. Hurd, as early as November 1835, although the owners did not obtain a letter of marque until December 5. In January 1836 Capt. William S. Brown took the Liberty on a cruise seeking Mexican warships. On March 5 the Texans captured the three-gun Mexican merchant schooner Pelicano, which was taken to Matagorda Bay and found to be carrying munitions concealed in barrels of flour. In May 1836 George W. Wheelwright became captain and was in command when the Liberty convoyed the Flora to carry the wounded Sam Houston to New Orleans. The Liberty was detained in New Orleans for repairs and had to be sold in July 1836 to pay the claims for repairs. In later years the crew from the Liberty petitioned the legislature for a share of the prize of the Pelicano. The Judiciary Committee ruled that in as much as the District Court of Brazoria, having admiralty jurisdiction, had condemned the Pelicano, the crew be awarded a just share of the prize.

Alex Dienst, "The Navy of the Republic of Texas," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 12–13 (January-October 1909; rpt., Fort Collins, Colorado: Old Army Press, 1987). Jim Dan Hill, The Texas Navy in Forgotten Battles and Shirtsleeve Diplomacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937; rpt., Austin: State House, 1987). John Powers, The First Texas Navy (Austin: Woodmont Books, 2006).

Time Periods:

  • Republic of Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Liberty,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 03, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 19, 2019