Sunday, August 16, 2015

Joseph Marlow "Sailor Boy"

From The Ancient Port of Whitby and Its Shipping, accessed on Google Books
My first cousin once removed, Ruth Marlow Peacock, in her biographical sketch of my great grandfather, Joseph Marlow, stated that Joseph had joined the “British Navy” at the age of twelve, and later the U.S. Navy.  He was born August 16, 1853 in Stainsacre, North Yorkshire, near Whitby, so this would mean that he would have joined the navy in 1865 or 1866. I did not not believe her, but this did seem somewhat extraordinary. I recently discovered his obituary in the Carlington Free Democrat, in which it was stated that he had been a “sailor boy”. The evidence was starting to mount.

Last week I was watching “What’s New at Ancestrywith Krista Cowan on YouTube for August 2015, and she mentioned that a database called, UK, Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy, 1824-1910, was now available. I had always wondered if Joseph had been in the Merchant Navy, and decided to see if I could find him. Immediately, this popped up:

On the date of his indenture, February 19, 1866, Joseph would still have been twelve, the age stated above! Unfortunately, the original image associated with this record was not available. It would have shown the length of time for which he was indentured and to whom. (I have reported this problem to Ancestry). Scanning some of the images available, I found that the boys listed were indentured for periods ranging from about three to five years. Their ages ranged from about thirteen to twenty, twelve if you include Joseph. One wonders if he needed parental approval, or if his father was behind the plan. Joseph may have been following a family tradition as I found his uncle Thomas indentured at the age of fourteen in 1852, also in Whitby.

I tried to see what I could find about the “Hippogriff” elsewhere on the net, and was unable to find an image, but was able to find a description in the book, The Ancient Port of Whitby and Its Shipping, on Google Books. It was described as a “brig” with a 196 ton capacity, built in 1832, and owned by “Thos. Mills, R.H. Bay”. (A brig is a two-masted, square-rigged ship with an additional gaff sail on the mainmast). It was “lost off Yarmouth” in March 1870, which could have been during Joseph’s period of indenture. I was able to find a newspaper notice on line from the London Times, dated March 5, 1870: “The schooner Hippogriff, Miller master, of Whitby, was totally lost on the Scroby Sands, near Great Yarmouth, yesterday, and it is feared that all the crew perished. A boat and medicine chest was washed ashore”. (The “Scroby Sands” is a sandbank off the coast of Norfolk, and the site of many shipwrecks). If there were no survivors, then Joseph could not have been on that ship at the time.

When I searched on the name of the ship, “Hippogriff”, in the same Ancestry database, I was able to find a total of thirteen boys indentured to it. The years ranged from 1831 to 1869. The last boy, the one after Joseph, Andrew Hunter, was indentured at the age of fifteen in 1869, for a period of five years to “W. Mills, R. H. Bay”. (I believe that “R.H. Bay” stands for “Robin Hood’s Bay”, near Whitby. It also appears that Thomas Mills was the owner, and that William Mills was the “master”). It is possible then that Joseph was indentured to the same man, however, it seems that he was probably not still indentured in 1869 as ships were required to have only one apprentice,  therefore Andrew might have been his replacement, and therefore possibly lost at sea. However, I couldn’t find a death record for him. I hope that Ancestry will put up the image related to Joseph now that I have reported the problem. I will let you know if it appears.

I still have no direct evidence of Joseph’s having been in the “U.S. Navy”, but it has been gratifying to confirm another element of Ruth’s story of the Marlows.

Of note is that Captain Cook also was indentured in the Merchant Navy, and also out of Whitby.

And, interestingly, the author Joseph Conrad was also in the British Merchant Navy, and wrote about his adventures while part of it. The usual name for his narrator was "Marlow". (I am not claiming any connection, however).

1 comment:

Haz said...

Can I suggest you investigate the site of the National Archives of the United Kingdom. They hold multiple records of the merchant navy and the royal Navy They have contracted work out to both Ancestry and Find my past and you can be directed to other naval records held out with the Archives.