Giles Bailey (AM0231)

Giles Bailey was born in New London or possibly Groton CT on March 5, 1803.He married Meribah Merritt (born December 12, 1801) on June 27, 1824 in Groton. Giles and Meribah had three daughters (Ann, Emeline, Augusta) and one son, Giles Jr., three of whom died prior to reaching age five. Giles Jr., their third child, who died before reaching three, is memorialized by a gravestone in Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London where his parents are buried. Only Augusta survived infancy and she died at 14. The only indication of Giles’ life after his years at sea is an 1860 census report listing him as a shoemaker. Giles died on June 24, 1877 in New London; Meribah died thirteen years later, on August 31, 1890.

New London Crew Lists records his early years at sea beginning at age 20 crewing on ten voyages on seven different vessels over the next nine years. Only three of those vessels are listed in Starbuck, indicating experience beyond whaling. With that experience behind him, he became a master in 1833 and served in that capacity for nine voyages on four vessels with New London as home port.

JOHN AND EDWARD (AS0325): (ship, 318 tons, built in Glastonbury CT in 1807, withdrawn in 1859, burned in 1860). Giles was master on her for five voyages:

1833 1834 destination not located, voyage not listed in Starbuck. AV07644.

1834 January 31,1835 to the “East Cape”. Starbuck reports that the firstmate died in 1834, presumably during the voyage. AV07645.

May 29,1835 – March 23,1837 to the South Atlantic,  Agent N&WW Billings; logbook at MSM. AV07646.

May 28,1837 – August 29, 1838 to the South Atlantic. Agent: N&WW Billings. Starbuck records “crew mutinied.” AV07647.

November 28, 1838 – January 11, 1840 to the South Atlantic. AgentN&WW Billings. Starbuck records that she was sold to New Bedford. AV07648

CERES (AS1060): (bark, 176 tons, built Duxbury MA in 1828, condemned in Rio in 1847). Giles was master on her for two voyages: ​​October 12, 1840 – July 2, 1842 to the South Atlantic. AV02507. August 23, 1842 – September 1, 1844 to the South Atlantic. Agent for both voyages: William Tate. AV02508.

EMMA (AS1298): (schooner, 181 tons, built New York NY in 1833). Departed for the Falklands on July 2, 1845 and was lost on the coast Patagonia on October 26, 1845. Agent: William Tate. AV04418

ZERVIAH (AS2647): (schooner). Departed on August 25, 1848 for the coast of Patagonia with five crew members. Vessel not recorded in Starbuck or in Colby. AV15925.

Records of issuance of Seamen’s Protection Certificates show certificate #190 issued to Giles Bailey, age 22, in June 1846 in New London. That information, if correct, is inconsistent with Giles’s birth in 1803.

As will be evident from looking closely at the dates for the voyages of the approximately 25 years of Giles’ maritime career as crew member and later as master, he had limited time ashore between voyages. All of his children were born between 1826 and 1839, during all of which years Giles was mostly at sea. Only his daughter Augusta survived beyond the end of this career at sea. One can wonder how well Giles knew any of his children, particularly the three younger ones, and conversely how well they knew him.

Sources used: see sidebar and sources cited in text.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) April 2022