Edwin J. Ames (AM0136)

Edwin was born about 1815 in Norwich CT according to one source, but New London Crews records two voyages showing him born on Fisher’s Island NY.  No records could be found concerning his parents other than they lived in Colchester CT.He was married to Charlotte, possibly Ames, about whom little is known. Most crew listsshows him as of light complexion with dark hair.

Before becoming a master, Edwin served on the crew for four voyages on two ships with New London as home port: STONINGTON (AS2437) 1837-1831 and CLEMATIS (AS1112) 1839-1840, 1840-1841, and 1841-1843.

Quoting from the newspaper article cited below, “By his intelligence, fidelity and enterprise [Edwin] made his way up to the command of the Clematis, in which ship he sailed from New London – on his last voyage”. CLEMATIS (AS1112) home port New London: (ship, 311 tons, built Duxbury, MA 1826, lost in the Solomon Islands in September 1861). Departed for the Indian Ocean on 5/9/1843, returned 4/15/1845 under Joseph Bailey (AM0235) as replacement master following Edwin’s death (see below). Williams & Barns was the agent. AV02962.

Edwin died at sea November 11, 1843 while serving as master of CLEMATISThomas Bailey, a member of the crew, wrote to Williams & Barnes, the agent, on November 24, describing in detail the circumstances of the incident leading to the death of Edwin and Gilbert Beebe of Waterford CT. The letter, printed in The People’s Advocate (New London) on April 17, 1844, records that in the process of harpooning a right whale, “the whale knocked him [Edwin] about twenty feet from the boat, and he lay on the water a few moments, but before the other boats could get to him, he sunk to rise no more. – Gilbert Beebe was killed outright, but not knocked overboard.” Another crew member, James Fowler, was injured. The boat itself was not damaged. Thomas’s letter: “This accident happened in Lat. 31, Long. 67, placing it in the Indian Ocean midway between the bottom of South Africa and Australia. Starbuck and Dennis Wood Abstract #1-122 also report this incident. Thomas went on to be master of the following voyage of CLEMATIS (AV02964).

Edwin’s estate was probated in the New London Probate District in 1845. Reciting herself as his husband, Charlotte declined to serve as administrator of his estate. The inventory of his estate shows several items of value to a sea captain: sextant, sea books, chronometer, and charts, as well as cash representing the proceeds of his voyage ($473).

Sources used: see sidebar and sources cited in text.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) December 2019