Richard Dale, an American naval officer, born near Norfolk, Va., Nov. 6, 1756, died in Philadelphia, Feb. 26,1826. Appointed in 1776 lieutenant in the Virginia navy, he was captured by the English, and thrown into prison at Norfolk. Here he was induced by the royalists, some of whom were his old schoolfellows, to go over to their side. He embarked upon an English cruiser, and while serving upon it was wounded. Quitting the English service after the declaration of independence, he became a midshipman on board the Lexington, which was captured on the coast of France in 1777 and taken to Plymouth, where her officers and men were thrown into prison. In 1778 Dale with some of the others made his escape, but was recaptured and kept in prison another year. He escaped again and made his way to France, where he joined the squadron under Paul Jones, and was made first lieutenant upon the Bonhomme Richard, Jones's own ship. After the destruction of that vessel in the fight with the Serapis off Flamborough head, Sept. 23, 1779, in which Dale distinguished himself, he continued to act as first lieutenant under Jones, first on the Alliance and then on the Ariel. He arrived in Philadelphia Feb. 18,1781, and was regularly appointed lieutenant in the navy.
He was taken prisoner again the same year on the Trumbull, and exchanged, and during the rest of the war served on letters of marque and in the merchant service. After the war he was appointed captain, and hostilities having been commenced with Tripoli, he was placed in 1801 in command of a squadron and ordered to the Mediterranean. His vigilance was so great that no captures were made by the Tripolitans while he was in command. He returned to the United States in 1802, resigned his commission, and having accumulated a competence spent the rest of his life in retirement.