William Babcock (AM0224)

William Babcock was born on May 1, 1816 in New London, son of Ephraim H. Babcock and Mary Ann Potter. He had a twin brother John. A crew list reported that he was 5’ 6”, light skin, and dark hair. He married Emily A. Green on New London on May 23, 1847. She died a year later, on May 23, 1847. He married Cornelia A. Hamlin (1834-1915) in Honolulu on January 7, 1857. They had two daughters, Ann Elizabeth (18571865) and Mary (18631944), both born in Honolulu. William died in Hawaii on August 3, 1899 and is buried in Hilo, Hawaii. Headstone can be found at Find a Grave. Mary married Frederick Snowden Lyman.

Before becoming a master, William served on the crew for three voyages: TUSCARORA (AS2518) 1835-1836, NORTH AMERICA (AS2056) 1839-1842, and BLACK WARRIOR (AS0987), subsequently becoming her master.

William was master for four voyages on three vessels with New London as home port. He was issued Seamen’s Protection Certificate #56 in New London on June 6, 1835 at age 19.

​​BLACK WARRIOR (bark 231 tons, built in Duxbury, MA in 1825, went ashore in Baja about 1859). He was master for two successive voyages. Departed on June 1, 1847 for the Indian Ocean and returned on August 20, 1849. The agent was Williams & Haven. AV01884. Departed on October 2, 1849 for the North Pacific and returned on May 10, 1851. Agent: Williams & Haven. AV01885.

​​​SUPERIOR (AS2448): (ship, 406 tons, built in Philadelphia in 1808).Departed October 4,1851 and was lost in the Arctic on July 11, 1852. She had 600 barrels of whale oil when lost of which 200 was saved. Agent: Brown, Benjamin F’s Sons. AV13562.

DOVER (AS1230): (ship, 431 tons, built Charlestown MA in 1828).Departed September 1851 for the Pacific, returned in May 1855. At some point during the voyage William replaced the original master, James M. Haven. Agent: Brown, Benjamin F’s Sons. AV03826.

William was also master of three other voyages on two ships not home-ported in New London:

PRINCE DE JOINVILLE (AS2241), home port San Francisco, 1856-   ). AOWV shows John C. Lawton as additional master

ITALY (AS2759), home port not shown. William was master of two briefvoyages, apparently out of Hawaii, 1857-1858 and 1858.

William became a spokesman for Messrs. Tracy & Brand’s Improved Bomb Lance and Whaling Gun “which has recently been so exclusively adopted in the whaling fleet. He wrote a lengthy letter in 1855 that appeared in several issues of the New London Daily Chronicle praising the results of his use of the gun that he purchased and used in the Sea of Ochotsk while master of DOVER. The article clearly describes the advantage of this gun compared with the traditional harpoon.

​​​Sources used in addition to those shown in sidebar: New London Daily Chronicle, April 25, 1857 (Vol IX, Issue 295, p. 4).

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) October 25, 2021