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Born about 1744 in County Donegal, Ireland, Gustavus Conyngham commanded the merchant brig Charming Peggy in 1775. When his ship was interned in Europe, Conyngham sought and on 1 March 1777 obtained a captain's commission in the Continental Navy. As commanding officer, successively, of Surprise, and Revenge, he became a terror to British shipping, taking some 60 prizes in 18 months. As a privateer he was captured in 1779, escaped to Europe, and was recaptured while returning to America in 1780. Exchanged a year later, he was in France preparing to cruise against the British when the war ended. He returned to the merchant service and commanded the armed brig Maria during the Quasi-War with France. As a member of the Common Council of Philadelphia, he assisted in the defense of that city during the War of 1812. Captain Conyngham died 27 November 1819 at Philadelphia, Pa.
(DD-58: dp. 1,090, 1. 315'3", b. 30'7", dr. 9'5"; s. 30 k.;
cpl. 99; a. 4 4", 8 21" tt.; cl. Tucker)
The first Conyngham (DD-58) was launched 8 July 1915 by William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia, Pa; sponsored by Miss A. C. Stevens, great-great-granddaughter of Captain Conyngham; and commissioned 21 January 1916, Lieutenant Commander A. W. Johnson in command.
Conyngham joined in tactics and war maneuvers off the coast in 1916 and in the beginning of 1917 sailed to the Caribbean for war games and fleet maneuvers. Returning to Norfolk 23 March she joined 5th Naval District Patrol Force and with Wadsworth (DD-60) and Sampson (DD-63) patrolled the approaches to Chesapeake Bay.
On 24 April 1917 Conyngham sailed from Boston with her division for Queenstown, Ireland, the first destroyers to join English forces for duty after the entry of the United States into World War I. This force patrolled off the Irish coast and escorted convoys through the danger zone where German submarines attacked in force, also providing rescue services. When the British ship Karina was torpedoed and sunk 17 August 1917, Conyngham sped to her assistance and rescued 39 survivors. A similar distress call from the British ship Hartland 22 November resulted in the rescue of her 30 man crew by Conyngham.
The destroyer came to grips with the underwater menace on 19 October 1917 while on convoy duty. When the British ship Orama was torpedoed, Conyngham made a depth charge attack which brought debris to the surface. Her commanding officer was commended for his prompt and effective action.
Conyngham sailed from Queenstown 14 December 1918 for Boston and overhaul. Except for fleet exercises and division maneuvers in the Caribbean during February April 1919, she renamed at Boston in reserve until 1921. In June of that year she convoyed a Cuban man-of-war from Key West to carry the body of ex President Gomez to Havana. She returned to Newport for summer exercises with her squadron, and after wintering at Charleston, reported to Philadelphia Navy Yard in March 1922 for inactivation. She was decommissioned there 23 June 1922. Transferred to the Treasury Department 7 June 1924 for use by the Coast Guard, Conyngham was returned to the Navy 30 June 1933 but remained in noncommissioned status until sold for scrap 22 August 1934 in accordance with the London Treaty.