William Barnes (Barns or Bearns) (AM0412)

Despite a diligent search, and facing a common and possibly three name spellings, no definitive record was found about the birth, death or other facts concerning his life. New London Crew Lists records three William Barnes but the information is sufficiently scanty not to be helpful. The sources related to his one voyage contain no information about his personal life.

The otherwise unidentified William was master for one (or possibly two) voyageson one vessel with New London as home port:

LEONIDAS (AS1789): (ship, 282 tons, length 93’, built in Hanover, MA in 1806, sold 1809). Departed 1807 for Patagonia, returned June 23, 1808 AV08357

Other sources provide conflicting information about the dates of LEONIDAS’s voyage(s). Starbuck reports two departures for her with ” _____ Barns” as master for two voyages (1806-1807 and 1807-1808). Caulkins (p. 641) reports that in 1806 Capt. Laban Williams sailed as master of LEONIDAS from New London; Colby and Decker are to the same effect. Colby later says (p.26) that LEONIDAS sailed under William in 1807.

Starbuck contains the following note with respect to his second voyage:Crew of Leonidas sick with scurvy; sent boat ashore at Trinidad for supplies, and were unable to return for her. The men were rescued by schooner Experiment, sent by the United States Government for that purpose.

Caulkins (p. 641) records this event, somewhat differently: The Leonidas (Wm. Barnes) arrived June 23, 1808. The Leonidas left six of her crew on the uninhabited island of Trinidad: they had landed for refreshment, and the weather becoming very boisterous, the wind blowing off from the island, and so continuing for many days, the vessel sailed without them. In July, the schooner Experiment (S.P. Fitch) was sent to bring them away.

The Connecticut Gazette (August 3, 1808) reports “The schooner Experiment, Samuel P. Fitch master, will sail in a few days for the Island of Trinidad, in the South Seas, for the purpose of bringing home the men left there by the ship Leonidas, WilliamBarnes, master.”

.William was later master of two voyages of the bark HERO (AS0778, home port Westport MA) departing in 1811 and 1812 Starbuck shows “_______ Barns” as master of the 1811 voyage but does not report the later one.

Sources: see sidebar and sources cited in text, also Caulkins, Frances, History of New London.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) June 2023