William H. Allen (AM0102)

William was born on October 6, 1826 in Lebanon CT. He was the son of Griswold Allen (born about 1797, died March 18, 1857) and Betsey Chappell (born about 1798, died December 3, 1875.) He married Georgiana  Bailey of Groton (born May 1836) on August 3, 1858. They had four children: Charles (died in 1864 at age 5), Ralph (1864 – 1922), Frank (1868 – 1941), and Ellen (Willard) (1879 – 1941). Census reports for Groton for 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 show the family living in Groton, William variously described as “seaman”, “ship captain”, and “mariner.” After he retired from the sea, William served for two terms in the Connecticut General Assembly and twelve years on the Board of Selectmen of Groton. He was an organizer and president of the Mariners Savings Bank. William died on February 3, 1907 in Groton; Georgiana died on February 7, 1922. They are memorialized on a headstone at Colonel Ledyard Cemetery in Groton.

​​According to Colby’s chapter on William (p. 124-130), William worked on a farm for his first 16 years, then served as cook on a fishing vessel. He began his whaling career serving on the crew of ROBERT BOWNE (AS2303) for two voyages (1842-1845 and 1845-1849) and BENGAL (AS0968) for one voyage as 3rd mate and log keeper (1850-1856). Colby says that he also joined the crew of CATHARINE (AS1054) in Honolulu during her 1850-1854 voyage, but he does not appear on a crew list for that voyage. He was issued Seamen’s Protection Certificate number 121 in New London on March 17, 1845 at age 19.

William was master of one voyage on each of two ships with New London as home port.

HARMONY (AS1541): (bark, 316 tons, built in New York NY in 1840, condemned and broken up in Honolulu in 1862). Departed 1852, returned 1856. The initial master was William Baker (AM0269), succeeded by Leonard Brownson (AM0701), then William, then Elias Hempstead (AM2555), all of whom left the ship. Colby says that William left CATHARINE in Hawaii and signed on HARMONY as first mate in November 1853. Starbuck does not record this voyage of HARMONY. Decker shows Thomas Fitch as master. Neither AOWV nor New London Crew Lists show a crew list for this voyage. MSM has the logbook for this voyage. AV06204.

NILE (AS0491): (bark, 322 tons, built in New York NY in 1826). Departed May 1858. She was captured and bonded for $45,000 (Starbuck) by SHENANDOAH in the Bering Straits and, with crews from other whale ships,arrived San Francisco in 1865. She arrived home in 1870, making this the longest voyage on record (Starbuck and Colby). NILE periodically returned to Honolulu from whaling, sent oil home in other ships, and changed masters and crews. AOWV shows George Destin (AM1579) as the outgoing master and six replacement masters, Allen of whom was the penultimate one. Starbuck reports that there were 11 masters. After returning to New London, NILE was converted to a barge there. Williams & Haves were her agents. AV10491.

William served as master for ten voyages on ships with a home port in New Bedford and one voyage of a ship with Stonington CT as home port.

For sources see sidebar and sources mentioned in the text.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) February 2024