Dates of Service: -
Birth Date: 1790
Shaw was born about 1790, but his place of birth is unknown. He evidently received some schooling, because he wrote with a strong hand. He had knowledge of arithmetic and record keeping.
Shaw served as purser’s steward on board USS Nautilus prior to the outbreak of the War of 1812. On July 16, 1812, scarcely a month after the United States declared war on Great Britain, Nautilus was captured by a British squadron off New York after a six-hour chase. Shaw was taken as a prisoner to Halifax, Nova Scotia but was exchanged on September 3. He arrived in Boston on board the cartel ship Dart on September 12, 1812.
Shaw joined Constitution’s crew as purser’s steward sometime between September 12 and October 28, 1812. He re-enlisted on June 24, 1813 and finally left the ship sometime after September 10, 1815.
The purser hired as steward to help with the distribution and administration of the ship’s provisions and slop stores. His primary duty was to issue rations to the mess cooks every day and to keep track of other goods received on board and issued to the men. Steward Shaw was an “idler” and stood no regular watch. Officially, a steward was paid $18.00 per month, but a wise purser paid more out of his pocket to get and keep a trustworthy man. Shaw served under Pursers Robert Crommelin Ludlow (until February 1813) and Robert Pottinger.
Battles and Engagements
Shaw was on board for the engagement with HMS Java on December 29, 1813. He also participated in the victory over HMS Cyane and HMS Levant on February 20, 1815.
He shared in the prize money awarded for the capture of Java and received $126.93 for Levant, as well as an equal portion for Cyane. At quarters, he was stationed at the wardroom scuttle to oversee the men passing cartridges from the after magazine.
Shaw’s date and place of death are unknown.