Thomas Chew’s Telescope
This telescope, owned by purser Thomas John Chew, represents the type used by mariners during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is a personal telescope, small enough to be slipped into a pocket, and was perhaps used by Chew to detect enemy ships on the horizon.
Chew was appointed purser in the U.S. Navy 1809. As purser, it was his duty to manage the money and supplies needed to make the ship an effective fighting force. Chew saw considerable action in the War of 1812. He served on USS Constitution during the battle with HMS Guerriere, and was aboard USS Chesapeake when the frigate was captured by HMS Shannon. He continued as a purser after the war, resigning his commission in 1832. He died in Brooklyn, New York in 1846.