George Billings (AM0434)

The genealogical information about George leaves several inconsistencies. The most likely information is that George was born in Griswold (possibly Preston City) CT on January 23,1825 and died at sea in 1862. His father was Peleg Billings, born September 24, 1800 in Preston, died May 1, 1838 in Griswold; his mother was Abby Ball (1798-1871). A family tree of George Frederick Billings appearing in lists Peleg and Abby with seven children, George being the oldest. No information is provided about any issue of any of the seven.

Like other information about George, the date of his death is uncertain. Connecticut Headstone Inscriptions (Vol. 24) records his death on August 1862. The text for the Find a Grave photo of his headstone in Gales Ferry Cemetery, Ledyard CT (Plot S49-5) records the date as August 18, 1862. The author examined that headstone but, because of the poor condition of the headstone and its inscriptions, was able to verify only George’s name (his first name appears only as GEO) and the year of his death (1862). Two whaling history sources (see below) report his death at sea in 1862 (Decker) and September 1862 (Dennis Wood Abstract 3-533).

There is also confusion in the records as to the identity of his wife. His will, dated in May 1860 reciting that he was of Ledyard, left his estate to his wife Frances. She survived him and served as executor of his will. Another source, the 1860 census for Ledyard, listed George aged 34 (“sea captain”), his wife Sarah and a daughter Fanny age 1. There is no record that George had any issue.

Before beginning service as a master, George served on the crew for four voyages on three ships with New London as home port: FLORA (AS1369) for her 1843-1845 and 1845-1846 voyages, MERRIMAC (AS1935) for her 1847-1850 voyage, and EXILE (AS1333) for her 1852-1859 voyage. During this period, George was issued a Seamen’s Protective Certificate on April 11, 1845 in New London, certificate number 122.

George was master for two voyages on one ship with a home port of New London. Richard H. Chapell was agent for both voyages.

​​SILVER CLOUD (AS2391): (schooner, 140 tons, built Gloucester MA 1853, lost September 1862). Departed on June 10, 1858 for Desolation Island (Antarctica) for elephant seals, returned on November 17, 1859. AV13180.

SILVER CLOUD: Departed again on June 13, 1860 for Desolation Island. Decker reports: “Lost 1862. When found, ship was waterlogged and masts were gone. Three bodies were in the cabin.” Wood Abstracts (3-533): “Wrecked at sea in Sept. 1862 and [indecipherable] home and supposedly all hands lost.”AV13181.

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

George Shaw (Museum Seaport Museum) October 2023