John Crowninshield was born 19 January 1696 in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States to Johann Casper Richter von Kronenscheldt (bef1661-1711) and Elizabeth Allen (1672-1711) and died 25 May 1761 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Anstiss Williams (1700-1773) 27 September 1722 in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States.
In 1789 he went on the 63 ton schooner Richard and Edward with James Rob of Boston as Captain to the Ile de France and the Cape of Good Hope, which is on the tip of southern Affrica and 50 km south of Cap Town, South Affrica. John brother George Crowninshield, Jr. had saild their earler on the ship Washington, which was a privateer during the American Revolutionary War called the Rambler, with Capt. Michiel Haskel. Thy passed by the Cape of Good Hope without stopping and saw a French Brig from Madigasker with 50 slavees, no water and no provisions on it and was sinking. There was one person that died, one person that was born on the ship who were all rescued. Not only did John and the ship's captain feed them for four days, but they brought them back to shore. The cargo that they had brought on the ship Washington, which was from Salem, Massachusetts was worth 567 pounds. There was apprently Tar on deck which they sold at the Cape of Good Hope becasue they could not sell at the Isle de France.
From 1790 to 1791 John Crowninshield saild to St. Bartholomew, St. Martins, Baltimore, Maryland and then back to Salem, Massachusetts. From 1791 to 1794 John Crowninshield made five voyages on the schooner Polly & Sally. In 1791 he went Alexandria, Martinique, Santa Lucia, Aux Kayes and then back to Salem, Massachusetts. In the same year he went back to Alexandria, Philidalephia, Bassettere, New York and then back to Salem, Massachusetts. In 1792 he went to Point Peter and back to Salem, Massachusetts. In 1793 he went to Calcutta, India, Isle de France and then back to Salem, Massachusetts. From 1794 to 1798 he made three voyages on the ship Bellisarius. In 1801 he was the Commander of the privateer America III to India and Sumatra. The ship America III was originally called the Blonde, which was French and in 1803 John sold it back to the French for $28,000 who renamed her back to Blonde. On 1 Oct 1803 he arrived at Bordeaux, France and lived in France for the next two years at a boarding housse with other American ship captains; the woman who operated the house had signed her name Veuve Beauvais. Later in that year he travelled to Eau de Barer where he stayed from June 30 to September 19. In 1804 he was staying in Paris, France at the Hotel de l'Empire and possible attended the coronation of Emerpor Napolean I of France on December 2nd at the Cathedral Notre Dame. If John Crowninshield did go this event the sword that he wore is now at the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
John Crowninshield had agents in Cpenhagen, Denmark; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Brodeaux, France; Cronstadt, Russia; Archangel, Russian and in England. Most of his business was done with the neutral ports in the Baltic See which made a good spot for him to bring the produce of George Crowninshield & Sons from the Far East back to Salem, Massachusetts. Trading duing this time was difficult between England and France, because there was always a possiblity of being captured by enemy nations. Also nomatter who you were or what type of ship you were on, there was always the possiblity for your ship to be serched or seized. In 1807 to 1808 came the hard times of the Orders in Council of the Berlin and Milan decrees which were difficult times and the same time that John Crowninshield lost the cargos of the ships Margaret and the Golden Age. John owned 5/6ths of the Magaret whichwas built by the Derby family of Salem, Massachusetts and was purchased around the same time the ship Ameirca III had been launched. The Margaret was also suppose to be the best ship out of Salem, Massachusetts at that time. John owned 2/3rds of the ship Golden Age and was captured by a French privateer off of Tunis, then taken into Naples, Italy where her cargo was condemned. the other third of the ship was owned by the skipper, William Fairfield and another man named Dodge.
In the summer of 1809 John Crowninshield had the famoush ship builder Retire Becket of Salem, Massachusetts build a him a privatteer called the Diomede. She only made three voyages but they were to Christiansand, Archangel and then to Madras, India and then she was captured off of Cape Ann, Golucester, Massachusetts by a British frigate and taken to Hailfax as a prize. Eventhough John had lost these ships and their cargos, his moral was not lost; he was rather anctious to get back to sea and try to make up for what he had lost while the American Revolutionary War was still in progess. This is exactly what he did as he built another ship call the Diomede, however instead of being a privateer this time she was a schooner. On 16 Jul 1813 John wrote to his bother Richard who was in New York at the time and again one month later on August 16th. On October 16th he wrote to Messrs. Bailey & Willis who were Crowninshield agents in New York, askin them to find out how much it would cost to build a schooner just like the schooner Teazer. The teazer was a schooner contracted and built at Killingworth, Connectticut.