Table of Contents
The Continent was built in Bath, Maine in 1850. Carrying 1032 67/95 tons, the ship measured 175 feet by 36 feet by 25 feet 4 inches. The ship contained three decks, three masts, a square stern, round tuck and a female figurehead. It was registered on July 5, 1854 in Philadelphia, but it sailed out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Continent carried cargo to many locations including Singapore, Akyab, and Hong Kong. The ship was owned by George Hussey, John P. Thomas, Thomas A. Green, Augustus P. Hamlin and B. Perkins. Copartners in the ship’s ventures were William A. Rotch, Leander A. Plummer, and William G.E. Cope, all of New Bedford, Massachusetts and Alexander Winsor of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The Continent was mastered by John L. Gibbs as well as James E. Howland.
The ship records of the Continent consist of 41 folders, spanning 1861-1864, which contain crew lists, clearance papers, receipts, desertion lists and death certificates. During the years in which the records consist, the Continent, captained by James E. Howland, was traveling between Singapore, Hong Kong and Akyab, Burma, now known as Sittwe, Myanmar. The records also show that the ship made brief stops in Melbourne, Australia and Manila, Philippines. Most of the records are authorized by the United States Consulate in the countries visited by the Continent and show the procedures ships had to go through to legally enter ports and do business.
Many of the records in the collection are receipts from the United States Consulates acknowledging that Captain Howland had turned in a crew list, the ship’s register, and other articles. This was the first step toward legally entering a port. When the time came for the Continent to leave port, the ship was issued clearance papers from the Consulate stating that the ship had been cleared by authorities. In addition, before leaving port, the Consulate also kept track of men from their port joining the crew. Because of this, there are several crew lists of varying lengths included in the Continent’s records. The crew lists differ in description with some including physical descriptions, ages, countries of origin and wages.
The Continent’s records also include desertion papers and death certificates. There are several desertion records in the collection. The first acknowledges Thomas Pearson of Melbourne as a deserter in Singapore. The second was issued Hong Kong and lists the nine men who deserted there. The third lists Robert Jones as a lone deserter, and the fourth was issued in Singapore and lists the three men who deserted in Akyab. The records also contain death certificates for crew members who died on board the Continent. The first member to perish on the ship’s voyages was Robert Chesnutt. According to Captain Howland, Chesnutt died on or about June 9th, 1863 on the passage between Akyab and Singapore. The second member of the crew to die on board was S. Treadwell who fell from aloft on December 14, 1863. One record in the collection also acknowledges the finding of a stowaway named Horatio de Loasano after leaving an unspecified port.
Arrangement of Collection
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 161, Series A, [Folder]
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Materials in this collection were purchased by the New Bedford Whaling Museum in 2017. Accession #2017.24
Processed by: Angela Farias, 2017
Encoded by: Angela Farias, 7 July 2017
Akyab (Burma: District) -- Commerce -- United States
Bassett, Benjamin E.
Cope, William G. E.
Coppin, Albert Edward
Gibbs, John L.
Green, Thomas A.
Guam -- Commerce -- United States
Halich, Edward D.
Hamlin, Augustus P.
Hong Kong (China) -- Commerce -- United States
Howland, James E.
Locke, Horace B.
Manila (Philippines) -- Commerce -- United States
Melbourne (Australia) -- Commerce -- United States
Merchant seamen -- Mass. -- New Bedford -- Salaries, pensions, etc
Merchant ships --Mass. -- New Bedford
New Bedford (Mass.) -- Commerce
Olney, Charles H.
Plummer, Leander A.
Prince, Henry Gray
Rotch, William A.
Shipping -- Mass. -- New Bedford
Singapore -- Commerce -- United States
Thomas, John P.
United States -- Commerce -- Akyab (Burma: District)
United States -- Commerce -- Guam
United States -- Commerce -- Hong Kong
United States -- Commerce -- Manila (Philippines)
United States -- Commerce -- Melbourne (Australia)
United States -- Commerce -- Singapore
United States -- Diplomatic and consular services
Van Camper, E.L.
de Loasano, Horatio
- The Grand Panorama
- Herman Melville
- Captain Paul Cuffe
- Joshua Slocum
- Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast