Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Brigantine "Lebanon"

The Brigantine "Lebanon"

What we know about the Trumbull family's merchant vessel, the brigantine "Lebanon".

According to written sources, after the brigantine "Lebanon" was lost at sea, Joseph Trumble Jr's younger brother Jonathan, took his brothers place in the Trumbull family business with his father, and settled the estate of his late brother (who had no will). I have yet to see any probate documents regarding the estate of Joseph Trumble, Jr. Also, without any of the early records of the Trumble family business, circa 1720's, we can only speculate at this time. From the Lebanon land records Joseph Trumble, Jr. did sell most to all of his property to his younger brother Jonathan days before he set sail aboard the brigantine "Lebanon". Joseph Trumble, Jr. may have invested everything he had in the ship and cargo.

"On the 23d of December, 1731, their eldest son Joseph left home, and sailed from New London, Conn., on the 28th of the same month, bound for London in a ship which, with the entire cargo, was owned by the Trumbull family. Two years later, June, 1733, the vessel, with all on board, was lost at sea. The family hoped until hope died upon the possibility that their son might have been rescued, but no tidings of comfort ever reached them -- the sea never gave up its dead."[1]

In some later written accounts there is some confusion over where the brigantine "Lebanon" was bound. Some say London, others say the West Indies. The 1735 New London court record mentioned below clearly states that the brigantine, "was bound for the Island of Barbadoes from there to Sal Tortuga and so back to this Port of New London."[2] This date of June 1733 may also be a clue. It's possible that June 1733 is the date that the brigantine "Lebanon" was declared legally missing, and Joseph Trumble, Jr., declared legally dead?

"The bereavement of losing their first-born son, Joseph Trumbull, Jr., in 1733, who was his father's business partner, was accompanied by other trials of no ordinary moment. The financial loss of  both ship and cargo proved a most serious matter in the family fortunes, and the severity of the double blow -- the loss of his son under such sad circumstances, with the long strain of watching and waiting which followed, and the loss of his property -- quite unfitted Captain Trumbull for further business activities. The mental strain proved too great for the power of his mind to endure."[3]

The only legal document that has been found referring to the brigantine Lebanon by name is a petition for Divorce from Ann Griffin, wife of Samuel Griffin, mate on the brigantine called "Lebanon":

"To the Honorable Superior Court holden at New London legal term 1735. The humble request of Ann Griffin of New London in New London County: follows in these words (undecipherable word here) whereas your honorable petitioner husband Samuel Griffin sailed out of this port of New London as mate on board the Brigantine called Lebanon whereof Mr. Benjamin Shapley of said New London was then Master on the 29th day of December 1731. to which said vessel was bound for the Island of Barbadoes from there to Sal Tortuga and so back to this Port of New London. fore of which vessel masts master & mariners there hath been no intelligence since their departure from New London aforesaid except what was heard five days after such their departure concerning this report by one Captain Boulder till then accompanying them in their passage. But left them in great distress in a storm. Since with no account is given of them. When now is almost four years. Why it is now beyond doubt that your honorable petitioner husband is dead.
Wherefore the news to this Honorable Court that according to one certain law of this Colony page 224/225 – she may be esteemed single and unmarried and may have the liberty with and by said statute this Honorable Court are authorized to grant and your honorable petition as is duty bound with due prayer.

Mrs. Griffing"[4] 

Divorces must have also been granted to Sarah (Bulkeley) Trumble, wife of Joseph Trumble, Jr. and Esther (Rogers) Shapley, wife of Benjamin Shapley also, because they both re-married? As in the case of Ann Griffin, their husbands had to be declared legally dead before they could re-marry.

Who was the Captain Boulder mentioned? What was the name of his ship? I have only seen one reference to a Captain Boulder on the internet, and I have not yet been able to verify the source. The source mentions a Captain Boulder who commanded the ship "Arent" in 1748. The name Boulder is not a common name, and I have not been able to find any information on this family? I would assume this is probably the same Captain.

Where was the last physical sighting of the Brigantine "Lebanon"? How far south could a brigantine sail in 5 days?

We know three of the crew by name:

JOSEPH TRUMBLE JR., Owner/Co-Owner, Lost at Sea aboard the Brigantine Lebanon; son of Captain Joseph Trumble Sr., Patriarch of the Trumbull family of Lebanon, Connecticut.

"Here, in this same year [1705], was born his [Joseph Sr.’s] eldest son Joseph, destined to a short career with a sad ending; for at the age of twenty-seven, on a foreign voyage in the interest of  his father’s growing business, he was lost at sea, leaving a widow with two daughters. Doubtless he had become, at this time, his father’s right-hand man, and doubtless too, much of the father’s success and prosperity were due to this son."[5] 

We know the wife of Joseph Trumble, Jr. was Sarah Bulkeley, daughter of Rev. John Bulkeley of Colchester, Connecticut. She would marry (2) John Welles of Colchester, Connecticut. The two daughters of Joseph Trumble Jr. were Sarah Trumble and Catherine/Kate Trumble. As shown in "The Lost Trumbull", Sarah Trumble would marry (1) Elijah Johnson and (2) Deliverance Watrous. Catherine/Kate Trumble would marry Benjamin Burnham.

Joseph Trumble Jr. was in partnership with his father, Joseph Trumble, Sr., the business being called, "Trumble & Son."  "Mr. Trumbull (Joseph Trumble Jr.) was a merchant in company with his father (Joseph Trumble Sr.). He left New London for the West Indies on 23 Dec. 1731, and five days after “was not seen or heard of."[6] His brother Jonathan Trumbull became the famous "War Governor" of Connecticut, and a cousin, John Trumbull, was the Revolutionary poet."[7] 

BENJAMIN SHAPLEY, Master, Lost at Sea aboard the Brigantine Lebanon; b. New London, Connecticut, 09 Sep 1702; m. New London, Connecticut, 18 Aug 1730, ESTHER ROGERS, she re-married ca. 1733, John Seabury, Jr. (1704-1744). 

SAMUEL GRIFFIN, Mate, Lost at Sea aboard the Brigantine Lebanon; m. New London, Connecticut, 16 Nov 1727, ANN AVERY.

It is also interesting to note:

"1688, "Ralph Townsend, mariner, now resident at New London, owner of the brigantine called Ralph's Adventure," charters it for a voyage, Benjamin Shapley, master."[8]

Is it possible that the brigantine "Ralph's Adventure", is the same brigantine later purchased by the Trumble family and renamed the "Lebanon"? It appears that Benjamin Shapley, Master of the brigantine "Lebanon" was the Grandson of Benjamin Shapley, Master of the "Ralph's Adventure" mentioned.

It is my hope that with this blog and further research, we will be able to answer many of the questions proposed here.

1. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, pages 108-109.
2. Superior Court Divorce, New London County 1719-1875, Gates to Houghton, MF RG 3, Connecticut State Library.
3. The Higleys and their Ancestry, An Old Colonial Family, Mary Coffin Johnson, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1892, page 109.
4. Superior Court Divorce, New London County 1719-1875, Gates to Houghton, MF RG 3, Connecticut State Library.
5. Jonathan Trumbull, Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut 1769-1784 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1919), 8.
6. Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records, from Lebanon Vital Records, 168.
7. Donald Lines Jacobus, The Bulkeley Genealogy; Rev. Peter Bulkeley… (New Haven, Conn.: Tuttle, 1933), 171.
8. Notices of Early New-London Vessels, The Family Repository, and Horticultural Cabinet: Devoted to the Family Circle, Education, Literature, Horticulture, Floriculture, and  Domestic Economy, edited by William H. Starr, New London: Published by William H. Starr, No. 4 Main Street, 1862, 66.