Friday, November 20, 2009

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 5

The Shipwreck of the “Angel Gabriel”

The Great migration was an exodus of Puritans from England to New England between 1620 and 1640. During this time John Winthrop sailed on the “Arabella” and wrote his famous sermon about the “City on a Hill” during the voyage. Most of my ancestors arrived in this period, on many ships, mostly unrecorded by passenger lists. One ship carried the most ancestors (besides the Mayflower), and that was the galleon “Angel Gabriel.”

She was a galleon built for Sir Walter Raleigh, and carried him on his last trip to the New World in 1617. For eighteen years she carried passengers to America, but in 1635 she was shipwrecked in Maine. I’m descended of two of the families who survived: Andrews and Cogswell. “Angel Gabriel” had been blown off course by a hurricane, and came ashore at Pemaquid Point, Maine, which was a fortified military outpost. When the passengers disembarked for the night, the ship was caught at anchor in the harbor by another hurricane and disappeared. Although many have searched for her wreck, none have found any evidence of the “Angel Gabriel.”

The survivors were stranded at Maine for a short time, eventually made their way to Boston, Massachusetts and left a large number of descendants. Today there is a museum at the recreated fortress near the harbor, and plaques commemorating the shipwreck of the “Angel Gabriel” by the lighthouse. The gift shop maintains several three ring binders where many descendants have deposited family trees and genealogical information. Several of these families have associations with newsletters and annual reunions.

We visited Pemaquid Point a few years ago, to see the harbor and wooden stockade fortress. You will recognize Pemaquid lighthouse from the Maine state quarter that began circulation in 2003. It was a beautiful summer day, and the view from the top of the lighthouse was spectacular. But I’m sure that my ancestors didn’t appreciate the view as I did (well, there was no lighthouse in 1635 either!) Several ships were lost in this storm, and the “Angel Gabriel’s” companion ship “James” was blown to the Isles of Shoals. The passengers lost all their possessions (the Cogswells were reported to have lost five thousand pounds of money and much property) and valuable time in getting to their destination. Thankfully, only three or four of the passengers and crew, and most of the cattle, lost their lives since the passengers had all disembarked for the night.

There is no official passenger list that has survived the wreck. According to a book written in 2001, this is the recreated list of passengers. The possible list of passengers should be much larger, since the “James” had at least 100 passengers.

• Capt. Robert Andrews, Ship’s Master,Ipswich, Massachusetts
• John Bailey, Sr., Newbury, Massachusetts
• John Bailey, Jr. b. 1613
• Johanna Bailey (possibly came on a later ship)
• Henry Beck
• Ralph Blaisdell of Lancashire, settled in York, Maine
• Mrs. Elizabeth Blaisdell
• Henry Blaisdell
• William Furber
• John Cogswell, age 43, settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts
• Elizabeth, (Thompson) Cogswell about age 41,
• Mary Cogswell, about age 18,
• William Cogswell, about age 16,
• John Cogswell, about age 13,
• Hannah Cogswell, about age 11,
• Abigail Cogswell, about age 9,
• Edward Cogswell, about age 6,
• Sarah Cogswell, about age 3,
• Elizabeth Cogswell, infant
• Samuel Haines, about age 24, Greenland, New Hampshire
• William Hook
• Henry Simpson


For more information see:

“Angel Gabriel: The Elusive English Galleon” by Warren C. Riess, published by 1797 House, 2001

The Journal of the Reverend Richard Mather (who was aboard the “James”) published 1850

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Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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