William Pinkney (1764 – 25 February 1822) was an American sailor who served in the Continental Navy and later the United States Navy. He is best known for his actions during the Quasi-War with France and the War of 1812.

Early life

Pinkney was born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1764. He went to sea at an early age and served in the merchant marine for several years. In 1798, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Continental Navy.

Continental Navy

During the Quasi-War with France, Pinkney served on the frigate USS Chesapeake. He was wounded in action during the Chesapeake’s battle with the French frigate L’Insurgente on 9 February 1799.

United States Navy

After the Quasi-War, Pinkney remained in the Navy and served on a number of ships. In 1803, he was promoted to captain.

During the War of 1812, Pinkney commanded the frigate USS President. He was captured by the British frigate HMS Belvidera on 15 January 1815.

Later life

After the war, Pinkney returned to the merchant marine. He died in Annapolis on 25 February 1822.


Pinkney is considered one of the most distinguished naval officers in American history. He was a brave and skilled commander who served his country with honor.

The destroyer USS Pinkney (DD-237) was named in his honor.