Thanks for your question. First, let me request that if any of the
following is unclear or if you require any further research please
dont hesitate to ask me for a clarification.
You requested information about William Clark of Vriginia who was held
POW on Prison Island in Canada from 1780 to 1782, as well as about the
POW camp known as Prison Island.
Following is the information I have managed to uncover -
"Sprague Families in America", by Dr. Warren Vincent Sprague, page
John Sprague was of Milton, NY; a farmer. He was captured about 1780
by the British and Indians and imprisoned at Montreal, Canada, until
October, 1781, when he with others was removed to Prison Island, 45
miles above Montreal. From this place he, with about 20 others,
escaped on the night of September 10, 1782, and with William Clark of
Virginia, Simeon Belknap and Azdock Steel, both of Randolph, VT.,
reached Ft. Pittsford, Vt., in October, 1782, after 22 days of
suffering in the wilderness. This episode is fully narrated in the
Steele's Indian Narratives, pub. Claremont, NY 1854.
About 1850 he sailed for Jamica, WI as supercargo and his family heard
no more of him. They dwelt at Milton until 1796-8 and then settled on
Lot no. 17 in Pompey, where Polly died.
So, there seems to be a manuscript somewhere titled Indian
Narratives, written by at least a couple of authors with the last
name Steele and published in Claremont, New York in 1854. This
manuscript would include considerably more information on this event.
Lets try and figure out who William Clark is -
We learn that William Clark was born in Hanover County, Virginia on
September 4 of 1760. He died in 1800. This snippet of information
also tells us he married one Judith Woodson Cheadle as it will turn
out, she was his second wife.
The birth date is confirmed. Note that the age is a perfect fit with
someone who was a soldier circa 1780-82. We learn that William first
married Elizabeth Allen, and then likely some time in 1782 he married
Judith Woodson Cheadle.
WILLIAM CLARK, b. September 04, 1760; d. 1800, Albemarle Co. Va.; m.
(1) ELIZABETH ALLEN; m. (2) JUDITH WOODSON CHEADLE, Abt. 1782.
Another pointer to this second marriage is at
This last page also provides a key linkage to Francis Scott Key
(national anthem) as well as to Lewis & Clark.
A history of the Clark family of Virginia can be found here
This is actually quite extensive and will provide you with a lot of
great information about William and his family.
Now that we know something about William Clark, lets try and
understand something about Prison Island
One Stephen Hawkins was imprisoned on the island at the same time as
William, although he did not escape, per the account at
(A) few days before the expiration of his term of enlistment of six
months, Stephen Hawkins, with his company, was taken prisoner at Fort
Ann by a corps under Maj. Carlton, conveyed to Montreal and kept in
confinement for one year. They were then taken to Prison Island and
confined, part of the time in irons, for another year. Were then
taken to Boston and set free, having been exchanged at Montreal.
However, this at least gives some sense of the harshness of
imprisonment on the island.
The story of Joseph Brant provides a brief description of the island
In the month of November, 1781, the prisoners were transferred from
Chamblee to an island in the St. Lawrence, called at that time Prison
Island-situated in the rapids some distance above Montreal.
As well as some accounts of prisoner life on the island and attempted
Here are some additional accounts of Prison Island; mostly, they are
concerned with escapes and attempted escapes
Account of an escape from Prison Island, July 13th 1782
John Fitch, inventor of the steam boat, was also imprisoned on Prison
Island, albeit several years later
This last account is key, because it provides us with the French name
for the island Coteau du Lac that allowed me to identify the
location today (see more below).
This historical sketch of the Fisher families also provides some
account of Prison Island
As does the account of Frederick Sammons, who was also imprisoned on
Prison Island and eventually managed to escape
Prison Island Today
According to the Fitch account, Prison Island is also called Coteau du
Lac the following ties the two together
Coteau-du-Lac (National Historic Site)
(1779 - 1780's, 1813 - 1840's?), Coteau-du-Lac
An earthwork fort with two wooden blockhouses. A new octagonal stone
blockhouse was built in 1813, along with a cloverleaf earthwork
bastion, to protect the canal. Restored in 1965. On Prison Island was
Prison Island Blockhouse (1780, rebuilt 1814), used to guard a POW
camp during the American Revolution and the War of 1812.
Finally, the Parcs Canada Web site provides a plethora of information
including period paintings and a history of the fort
I hope this response adequately addresses your request. Please let me
know if you are in need of additional information concerning this
"coteau du lac" prison
"coteau du lac"
"prison island" montreal "st. lawrence"
"prison island" "revolutionary war" montreal st. Lawrence
"prison island" montreal
'Azdock Steel" "william clark"
"Simeon Belknap" "william clark"
"John Sprague" "william clark"
"elizabeth allen" "william clark" Virginia
"judith woodson cheadle"
"william clark" "judith woodson"
"william clark" virginia -"lewis and clark" "hanover county" caroline
"william clark" Virginia
"william clark" "prison island"