Christopher Allyn (AM0119)

​Christopher was born February 7, 1793, probably in Gales Ferry, son of Alexander Allyn and Sarah Latham Allyn. He grew up in a house at the head of the lower wharf on the Thames River in Gales Ferry. He had three siblings, Sarah Allyn Brown, Latham Allyn, and Lyman Allyn. He is described in New London Crew Lists as 5’8” tall, of light complexion and light hair. He married Maria Stoddard on November 19, 1820 in Groton. They had three children: Maria Allyn Larrabee (1827-1898), Flora Lyman Allyn (1835-1927, and Noyes Billings Allyn (1835-1927). Christopher died on January 10, 1871 in Gales Ferry. His wife Maria died in 1878. The probate papers for Christopher’s estate valued his assets at $33,800 ($710,000 in current dollars).

​The year 1820 was eventful for Christopher: he married Maria, he acquired the sloop THAMES, and he bought the 1803 Allyn Williams house on Hurlbutt Rd. in Gales Ferry up the hill from the upper wharf. This became the family homestead.  Now a private residence, it is a Historic District Property on the National Register of Historic Places. He was at sea on and off for the next two decades, making five trips as whaling captain between the years 1831 and 1843. Legend has it that Maria always kept a man’s hat and coat hanging by the door while he was away to give the impression of a man in the house and when asked how many men she would include male cats to pad the number.

​​In 1821 he and Norman Brown (who was married to his sister Sarah and was the local postmaster) bought site #1 at the lower wharf on which there was a shop/store/post office. Christopher left his half interest in the lower wharf and the homestead to his son Noyes who lived the rest of his life in the homestead. Noyes sold much of the surrounding family land.

​In the family plot of the cemetery on Hurlbutt Rd are buried Christopher and Maria, his mother and father, his daughter Flora and her husband, his son Capt. Latham, his brother Noyes and his wife, and his brother Lyman.

​Both of Christopher’s brothers were mariners. Lathem’s gravestone recites he “died on board the Sloop Cherub in Charleston, S.C.” at age 27. Lyman (AM0121) was a whaling master but should not be confused with the Lyman Allyn, also a whaling captain, whose daughter later founded the Lyman Art Museum. The two Lymans were born within three weeks of each other; the “museum” Lyman died four and a half years after Christopher’s brother.

​Christopher was master of five voyages on three vessels with New London as home port:

​FLORA (AS1369): (ship, 338 tons, built Mystic CT 1811). Sailed 1831-2/21/1832to the South Atlantic. N.&W.W. Billings 4/10/1831 letter of instructions at beginning of cruise is in MSM Manuscript 233 Box 12/21. AOWV records that FLORA was built in Mystic CT in 1811; the Connecticut Ship Database shows that she was built in Groton CT. Peterson’s Mystic Built does not list FLORA in the index. AV04960.

FLORA: Sailed 1832-1833 to the South Atlantic (N&WW Billings 5/1/1832 letter of instructions at beginning of cruise is in MSM Manuscript 233 Box 12/21) AV04961.

​PHOENIX (AS2188): (ship, 404 tons, built Philadelphia 1811, part of Stone FleetNo. 1). Sailed 3/24/1834-5/18/1837 to the Pacific. N.& W.W. Billings, were her agents. AV11620.

​​​  ​JULIUS CAESAR (AS1737): (ship, 347 tons, built 1812). Sailed 1839-1840 to the South Atlantic. AV07948.

​FLORA: Sailed 3/30/1843-1845 to the Indian Ocean. Dennis Wood Abstract 1-181 records her returning to New York on January 28, 1845. AV04970

​In addition to being master of these vessels, records in the Bill Library in Ledyard show that he owned the THAMES from 1820-1 and was master of the schooner ANN HOWARD from 1840-2, the sloop OLIVE BRANCH, and the ship SUPERIOR in 1838. Connecticut Ship Database shows one vessel named ANN HOWARD but several ships by the other names with no link to Christopher. The Old Sailor’s Story by Gurdon L. Allyn records that in 1819 Gurdonshipped as mate on two voyages on the sloop THAMES under Christopher as master.

​Sources: See Sidebar. Also, books on Gales Ferry history at Bill Library in Ledyard, gravestones at Gales Ferry Cemetery. MSM Manuscript 233 (records of N&WW Billings) contains numerous letters of Christopher to the Billings firm, many of which are routine and difficult to read.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum), December 2019