Samuel Burke was a free person of color, born in Charleston, South Carolina about 1755. He was baptised and raised in Cork, Ireland, becoming a fluent Irish speaker. Given the circumstances of his birth and upbringing it is likely that he was the son of an Irish man though it has not been possible, as yet, to identify his Irish parent. In 1774 he became the servant of Montford Browne, the royal governor of British West Florida. Montford Browne was the son of Edmund Browne, New Grove, Co. Clare and Jane Westropp of Attyflin, Co. Limerick. Assisting Montford Browne, Samuel Burke became a recruitment officer for the British among Irish-speaking dockworkers in New York. After a time in prison in Hartford Connecticut during the American Revolution, Samuel Burke moved to New York, and married a widow, 'a free Dutch mulatto woman' the owner of 5 Dutch St. He served in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War and was evacuated from Charleston in 1782. In 1783, he was living in Greenwich, London, England and applied for compensation for his military service, and the loss of his home at 5 Dutch St., New York, sustained in the war. He was awarded £20 in full and final settlement of his claim.
1 'Free person of color' was the American term applied to those enslaved people who had acquired their freedom before 1862 therefore the American spelling is used.
2 Ruth Holmes Whitehead, Black Loyalists: Southern settlers of Nova Scotia's free Black communities (Nova Scotia, 2013); Kerby Miller, ‘"Scotch Irish", "Black Irish" and "Real Irish": Emigrants and Identities in the Old South’, Andy Bielenberg (ed.), The Irish Diaspora (Longman, 2000). p.148; Nini Rodgers, ‘The Irish in the Carribbean: an overview 1641-1837’ Irish Migration Studies in Latin America, 5:3 (Nov 2007), p.153.
3 Claims and memorials: Decision on the claim of Samuel Burke of South Carolina 1 Sept. 1783. Great Britain, Public Record Office, Audit Office, Class 12, Volume 99, folio 357 (http://www.royalprovincial.com/military/mems/sc/clmburke.htm) (accessed 30 Apr. 2021).