John Paul Jones was a famous American naval officer during the Revolutionary War. In 1779 he fought in one of the great naval battles of the American Revolution off the coast of Yorkshire. His ship, the Bonhomme Richard, engaged in a nighttime battle with the English ship, the Serapis. When asked to surrender to the English, he replied, “I have not yet begun to fight”. And fight he did, eventually accepting the surrender of the British.
Surprisingly, the John Paul Jones House did not actually belong to John Paul Jones! The house was built in 1758 for Gregory Purcell, a merchant and sea captain. After the death of her husband, Purcell’s widow turned the house into a boarding home. In 1777, John Paul Jones was believed to have rented a room in the house. Hence, the John Paul Jones House. The Portsmouth Historical Society took ownership of the building in 1920 and has since operated it as a museum.