Joined a whaling expedition (1775 or 1776). Captured by the British in the English Channel; eventually escaped to London. Attempted to return home but was captured by a French privateer and committed to Havre de Grace prison. Twice appealed to Franklin to facilitate his return home (1778-79). Signed on as a midshipman on the Bon Homme Richard (April 1779).
Son of James and Mary (Pye) Potter of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Married Dorcas Perry; no issue. Potter’s father, grandfather, and elder brother were all sea captains.