William Benjamin (AM043)

William was born on March 29, 1819 in Preston CT, son of (Capt.) Ephraim Benjamin (11/18/1785 -1/23/1859) and Sarah Green (178412/25/1876). Ephraim and Sarah had four sons who sailed on New London-based whaling vessels: William and George as masters, Charles and Asa as crew members. William married Cynthia Palmer (born on October 27, 1820) on May 29, 1848 in Mystic. They had four sons, Benjamin (b. 1850,) Charles (b. 1852), William C. (b. 1854, d. 1890) and Charles (b. 1858). William died on March 10, 1875, Cynthia on April 29, 1903. They and their son William are buried in New Poquetanuck Cemetery in Preston. Their gravestone can be found at Find a Grave. William’s brother George (AM0431) was master of five voyages on three whaling vessels with New London as their home port. Both were masters of a voyage on CLEMATIS.

William may have been master for three voyages on two ships with a home port of New London. AOWV and Colby show William as master of both voyages of CLEMATIS, Decker shows William’s brother George as master of both, Starbuck shows only _______ Benjamin as master of both.

​​​CLEMATIS (AS1112): (ship, 311 tons, built Duxbury MA 1826, lost off Solomon Islands, September 1861). Departed on July 2, 1851 for the North Pacific, returned on May 8, 1853. William’s older brother Charles (b. 1817) served on the crew. AOWV contains a scan of the log book of this voyage and the following one of CLEMATIS, the original held at Providence Public Library. AV02966.

CLEMATIS: Departed on August 30, 1853 for the Pacific Ocean, returned on August 12,1856. AV02967. Williams & Barnes were agents for both of these voyages.

GENERAL WILLIAMS (AS1445): (ship, 419 tons, 116’ long, built Stonington CT in 1831 (not listed in Peterson), captured and burned by SHENANDOAH in Bering Strait in June 1865, the crew taken aboard GENERAL PIKE). Departed on October 4, 1862 for the Pacific Ocean and did not return.William’s brother Asa (b. 1823) served on the crew. Dennis Wood Abstract 4-309 describes the end of the voyage: “Burnt by the English Rebel Pirate Steamer Shenandoah June 26, 1865.” AOWV contains a scan of an account book of this voyage, the original held at Providence Public Library. AV05535.

William also served as master of SHERHERDESS (AS2385) with a home port in Mystic CT on its voyage to the northwest coast from1848 – 1851.

Sources: see sidebar and sources cited in text. Also, William Peterson, Mystic Built.

George Shaw (Mystic Seaport Museum) October 2023