Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)


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Eleven O'clock whaling boats from Nantucket ran aground off Little Hastings Rustico Harbour", adding to the evidence that indeed. Lawrence whale grounds. The descendents of the first Coffins to arrive in this country followed different callings, with many of them involved with the sea. Many became ship owners, captains and master mariners. During the later part of the 18th century when whaling was flourishing, many Coffins were involved with that trade.

Whaling can be credited with bringing the Coffin family to the shores of the Gulf of St. The Government of the day offered bounties to all vessels that brought home a designated amount of whale oil. The cargo had to have been obtained by honest means by the crews of the whalers. The bounty was not to be paid for oil that was not produced from the toil of each ship's crew.

To protect the government from deception, an affidavit had to be signed by all crew members upon their arrival home. One such vessel, sailing out of Nantucket, in or about the year , carried two crew by the names of Coffin and Davis, who were cousins. The hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence whaling grounds, was not a very successful one, and by the time they were ending their hunt, the hold was half empty. Not having enough whale oil to collect the bounty, and with another whaler within sight, the Captain sought a gam with the other Captain. After some negotiations, the two Captains settled on a price and the whale oil was transferred onto the Nantucket whaler.

Shortly after, the Captain asked the crew to swear to the false claim that all whale oil was taken only by the ship's crew. Coffin and Davis had a problem swearing to the false oath, having being of the Quaker faith. The Captain became annoyed with his reluctant crew members and threatened them with abandonment on the nearest shore unless they could come to terms with his lie. Fearing God more than the Captain, Coffin and Davis stood their ground. The Captain ordered the ship to head for shore. Once ashore, the two made their way to Peninsula Point where they set up camp for the night under a very large tree.

History would later show that Jacques Cartier camped at the same spot on his first voyage to Canada. After a short time in the village, Coffin set out in a northerly direction along the shoreline where he came upon large cove. Having the right conditions to start a home, Coffin staked out about a mile of shoreline in which he started his new life.

Over time he built a cabin and married a beautiful 16 year old woman named Hannah Ascah. Finding themselves lonely, Coffin soon asked his cousin Davis to come and settle near them. Davis agreed and bought part of Coffin's claim. To the French fishermen, this area was soon named L'Anse aux Cousins or in English, Cove of the Cousins, in recognition of Coffin and Davis, and today the name remains the same.

Benjamin, their eldest child, had a large family and settled at L'Anse aux Cousins. Abraham Jr.

Coffin technologies that protect you from being buried alive!

On January 22, they were married. The Island was finding much prosperity from the money coming in from the whale and fishing trades, however, along with the prosperity came many new problems for the tiny community. Some of the problems came as a result of the many new faces appearing on the Island.

Nantucket was unable to supply enough crews from their own people to crew all the boats involved in the trade. As a result whalers from the mainland were recruited. Many ships returned home with crews eager to spend their hard earned pay on wine and women. This was in direct confrontation with the Quakers' lifestyle. The Island meetings tell tale of these concerns. The meetings resolved to hiring watchmen to patrol the streets at night and keep civil peace.

In , Elisha Coffin was hired for a one year period to be the Master of the Watch. The new arrivals also brought with them the threat of disease, which in struck Nantucket's population hard as a ship from Ireland brought with it the dreaded Yellow Fever. This disease hit the Indian population of the Island especially hard, killing many. With the rising problems on Nantucket and the war ending between the French and British, Elisha and Eunice started looking beyond the shores of Nantucket to start a new home.

During , proclamations inviting new settlers to come to Nova Scotia appeared on notices throughout New England. Between and , about 4, settlers arrived from the Colonies to the fourteen newly established townships in Nova Scotia. Research has shown that these families arrived as early as However the same research shows the family of Elisha Coffin as having four children upon their arrival, which would have been quite an achievement for the newlywed couple.

Their children continued to have their birth place recorded as Nantucket right up to their son Kimble who was born there August 8, , and given this evidence, I conclude that Elisha's first property entitlement in Nova Scotia would have been his fish lot while his home remained in Nantucket. It wasn't until the census of that this family appear as residents for the first time.

Many of the New England fishermen found it convenient to come to the Barrington Nova Scotia area in the spring, fish during the summer and return back home in the fall. Elisha's property was located on the southern most tip of the territory of Nova Scotia, which was called Cape Island, also known as Cape Sable Island.

The record does not address. The Mog Book also states, "The Coffin's, after their arrival from Nantucket built and operated fishing vessels". John's Island PEI. There has been confusion about Elisha based on conflicting dates re his arrival on St. Johns Island.

Documention to clarify the family history: the Barrington Propietors Book p. In when town lots were drawn Elisha received Lot 1. There is a record book for but no records for or and the period up to when minutes were kept again. On page there is a notation re the second division of land of Elisha Coffin "purchased by Hezekiah Smith". Also of interest is the fact that the Queens County Deed Book 1: p. This was once where his fish lot was located. The town of Coffinscroft, formerly known as "the town", south of Barrington, Nova Scotia, was named in recognition of descendants of John Coffin's family and most likely named in honour of Hon.

Thomas Coffin, a federal member of parliament in the 's. Today one can visit "The Old Meeting House" museum in Barrington, which was erected by the Coffins and others in The building served as a religious meeting place for all preachers of the gospel as well as a place to hold community meetings and elections. Nearby lies the graveyard where many of the early townspeople are buried. Perhaps the migration of Elisha from Nova Scotia to St. Patterson wanted to recruit new settlers for his sparsely populated Island less than 1, residents so that he could form the Island's first Government.

About settlers responded throughout the territory, settling on the sandy shores around Hillsborough and Bedeque Bays. Another possibility was that the Coffins from Cape Sable were invited to come to St. Callbeck was a brother-in-law and business associate of Nathaniel Coffin of Boston. Nathaniel Coffin was Elisha's second cousin. The reason behind the invitation might have been in attempt to establish a fishing industry on the Island. Callbeck would have been aware that the Nantucketers were familiar with the waters and skilled in this trade and could offer the industry their experience.

It is also probable that Callbeck had met Elisha in previous years had Elisha worked his trade in the waters off Prince Edward Island, Callbeck owned the only outfitters store on the Island and Elisha would have needed provisions from time to time, therefore the two could have become aquainted.

In Elisha arrived upon the Island during the formative years of St. John Island's first government and just a decade after the British had taken the Island from the French. Elisha Coffin's family which now consisted of five children along with Elisha and Eunice, settled along the Hillsborough River at a place called Worthy's Point.

Uriah came to the Island in and settled at the New London colony where he was a sawmill operator. Perhaps Uriah was the saw mill operator mentioned in a diary written by Thomas Curtis, who visited New London near Christmas , Curtis writes. When I entered his house my heart ached to see his distressed family, a wife and eight or nine small children, the oldest not more than ten years. They informed us they had but a small stock of provisions for the winter.

Mellish who was with me , informed them that they should have plenty of fish sent to them soon. We had a drink of water with them and returned home". During these years Chappells Diary mentions many Nantucket ships visiting the Island, the captain of one of the visiting ships was Uriah's brother, Bartlett. Uriah and Bartlett were the brothers of Elisha's mother Rebecca. Bartlett was the captain of the ship "Elizabeth". It is generally accepted that Elisha and Uriah were the first Quakers to settle on the Island.


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Shortly thereafter the newly formed Assembly made special provisions to allow Quakers to make an "Affirmation", rather than to swear upon the Bible. Uriah's family settled on lot 47 near East Point, where he died in Another Coffin on the Island was a lady named Ann Coffin who came from a very prosperous and important family in Boston.

Her father was Nathaniel Coffin who was a high ranking customs agent for the Crown. Her brothers were about to find fame as high ranking officers during the American Revolution. Elisha's relationship to Ann was that of being second cousins, once removed. Ann and her husband, Philip Callbeck, lived just outside of Charlottetown on a farm that is now the present location of the St. Elizabeth Hospital. If one was to give a brief history of the Island, they would have to go back hundreds of years when the first inhabitants, the Micmac Indians came during the spring time from the mainland's of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

They would travel up the Hillsborough River to the east side of Savage Harbour where they would set-up their summer camps to hunt and fish. Savage Harbour was given its name in recognition of its first inhabitants, the Micmac Indians. Geological evidence brought forth by Abraham Gesner in shows of a mass grave site of Indian remains being found on Canovay Island on the south shore of the Harbour.

Years later the "Examiner" newspaper reported that a Mr. Coffin came across this site and had to rebury some skulls after time and erosion had exposed the graves' contents. Evidence on the eastern shore of the harbour indicates where the Pow Wow's took place as well as the location of their summer camps. The first white explorer to site the Island was Jacques Cartier in the 's. He recorded the experience as "Discovering the fairest land that one would ever see". The French named this Island Ile St. Jean and after a considerable amount of time established the first settlement at Port Lajoie in After some failed attempts due to crop failure, lost supply ships and ships lost to privateers, they did manage to start a few settlements such as Brudenell Point and St.

Pierre on the. The on going conflicts between Britain and France in the 's and 50's saw the Island change hands a few times before the fall of the great French fortress at Louisburg and the French defeat on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec. Shortly after the French defeat, the British took control of the Island. During the Seven Years War the British proceeded with a plan to expel the french settlers, but were stalled to a certain degree by the lack of British transport ships and the ability of the French settlers to hide in the woods.

They dispatched Captain Samuel Holland, who served with General Wolfe at the Plains of Abraham, to survey and map out the Island so that a plan of settlement could be drawn up. The Island was annexed to Nova Scotia and Captain Holland divided the land mass into sixty seven lots of roughly 20, acres each, as well as dividing the Island into three counties, Prince County on the west side, Queens County in the middle and King County on the east side.

Back in London a lottery was held for those who found themselves in favour with the King. Each lot was drawn individually by mainly rich land barons and officers of the Crown. The conditions set upon their entitlements, such as progressive settlement over a designated period of time, were in large part, ignored over the following years. The new immigrants to the Island found the struggle through the first few years of settlement to be of the utmost challenge. Some of the lots had farms on them that were abandoned by the French, however they were in decrepit shape due to the years of neglect after the french expulsion.

Other lots had no previous settlement at all. The book, "History of Mount Stewart", speaks of one settler's account of "intensely cold winters, where one could easily perish outdoors in a mere 15 minutes if left without shelter". In the summer, "the flies and mosquitoes are of the greatest inconvenience, darkening the air around one". The threat of starvation due to crop failure was an ongoing concern. Field mice and locusts often destroyed their crops. The only guaranteed source of food came from the rich fishing grounds that surrounded the Island along with the berries and small game on the Island.

In , Governor Patterson informed Lord Dartmouth, the Governor of Canada, that the population on the Island had increased enough to warrant a Government of its own, for a session. With Lord Dartmouth's permission, Patterson went ahead and scheduled an election for July 4, Patterson decided to limit the Members of this newly formed Assembly to 18 representatives. In his words, "I want to have the members as respectable as possible", and thought that there were only about 18 or so on the Island that would even qualify.

The Island's first Parliament was elected on schedule on July 4th and included Elisha Coffin, who was now the age of In attendance with Elisha at the first sitting was Nathaniel Coffin, Ann's brother, who was a lawyer for Ann and her husband, Philip Callbeck. Some feel that the Nathaniel Coffin who attended the first sitting was really Ann's father, Nathaniel Sr. Today, a plaque marks this location in downtown Charlottetown. The first order of business dealt with overdue rents for properties, mainly farms. It appears that the settlers were in no hurry to pay landlords that lived thousands's of miles away, especially when there laid little hope of ever being able to purchase their properties.

This problem persisted for close to one hundred years and was the main reason why the Island developed so slowly. The first session of. Parliament lasted ten days and was summed up by the doorman, Edward Ryan, as a "Damn queer Parliament". In , Governor Patterson decided that there were enough new settlers to call a second election.

Elisha was once again elected and elected again in Between sessions, Elisha was farming and fishing. His family now consisted of sons, Latham 15, Elisha 13, Kimble 8, Benjamin 4, Rueben 3 and Andrew 2 and their daughters Eunice 16 and Margaret age unknown. The early farmers on the Island mainly used oxen to pull their ploughs with the harvest being laboriously cut with a reaping hook used on wheat and barley and a scythe used for cutting oats. Threshing was done by means of flail and the grain was taken to markets on a two wheel cart on paths too hazardous for anything more.

As shown in their final wills and testaments, farm animals such as cows, pigs, oxen, sheep and horses were most valued possessions. Often their wills would designate which animal would go to a certain son. Other problems for the farmers was the back breaking task of clearing land, for much of the Island was covered in forest, wild tea and ferns.

Farmers would quite commonly leave the stumps in their fields rather than remove them. Farms along the shorelines often had to deal with drifting sand and erosion and the soil quality was poor. The fertilizer of the day was mainly manure from the barnyard and in later years mussel mud extracted from river bottoms at low tide. It would take approximately 40 cart loads to fertilize one acre. Peace on the Island was broken on the morning of November 17, The American Revolution was beginning to spill over the borders into parts of Nova Scotia and Quebec. These two schooners which carried men had been sent by General George Washington to intercept two english brigs carrying weapons and supplies to Quebec.

The Captains of these ships ignored orders from George Washington not to engage with anyone but the enemy. The American Captains could not resist the temptation that the unarmed colony presented to them. Not sure if they were in danger, the residents of Charlottetown carried on with their day but kept a watchful eye on the ships anchored in the harbour.

The acting Governor Philip Callbeck, became somewhat more nervous when the glint of weapons could be seen from the shore as landing parties embarked into smaller boats. Callbeck immediately sent his wife Ann Coffin, to their farm four miles away along the Hillsborough River. He then proceeded down to the landing area to meet with the unwelcome visitors.

Little did Callbeck know that he was about to be involved in a military milestone, for it was this encounter that would mark the first ever American invasion on foreign soil. His greeting was one of disrespect to say the least. He was struck across the mouth and abruptly ordered off the Island on to one of the waiting ships. The Privateers then proceeded to ransack homes and businesses including Callbeck's office and stores. They stripped his house and stores of all provisions and made their way into his wine cellar.

After emptying one cask to the. Others had made their way into the quarters of his wife Ann, and proceeded smashing and looting. It was here that they came across her private letters that revealed she was none other than the daughter of the hated and despised Loyalist, Nathaniel Coffin, the collector of taxes in Boston. Enraged and drunk they immediately began a search of the town in the hopes that they could find her to cut her throat. It was only the quick thinking of her husband having sent her to their farm that saved her from a nasty demise.

After a while the search was abandoned and they headed back to their boats but not before they grabbed a Surveyor General named Mr. Wright and brought him along to their ship. Once on board, the two schooners prepared to sail and were shortly out of sight of towns people. Two weeks later the ships arrived at Winter Harbour, one hundred miles east of General Washington's headquarters. Somewhat annoyed that his men had disobeyed orders, Washington dismissed the Captains from their command and released the prisoners, but kept the stolen property.

Callbeck and Wright returned to Nova Scotia aboard a fishing boat glad to escape with their lives, however, Callbeck's financial losses exceeded 2, pounds. It is also noteworthy to mention that the provincial seal of the Island has never been seen after this incident, and to this day, a reward stands for its return. Another attack in Canada during the Revolution also involved a member of the Coffin family.

John Coffin who was an uncle to Ann and brother of Nathaniel, reluctantly found himself involved in the conflict. As it turns out John was a wealthy distiller and businessman in pre-revolution Boston. With the conflict erupting in Boston, John decided to remove his family and business to Quebec City for their safety. Shortly after his arrival, word of an American attack on Quebec forced John to fortify his warehouse located at the base of the cliffs.

He armed his building with cannons from a British warship that was wintering in the harbour. General Benedict Arnold approached Quebec from the Maine coastline, the two were to meet up for an assault on Quebec City. On New Year's Eve, before dawn, the Americans attacked in a blinding snow storm. General Arnold was to advance from the North with General Montgomery's troops advancing along the base of the cliffs from the South.

Cautiously advancing past one set of barricades Montgomery raised his sword and yelled "Quebec is ours brave boys", and proceeded forward. The Americans were now becoming visible though the swirling snow and on Coffin's orders the cannons fired grapeshot into the advancing army, instantly killing Montgomery and others and sending the rest into retreat. John Coffin's actions were later praised by the Governor of Canada, Sir Guy Carleton with the following testimony: "The watchfulness of John Coffin, in keeping the guard at the Pres de Ville under arms, awaiting the expected attack, the coolness with which he allowed the Rebels to approach, the spirits which his example kept up among the men and to the critical instant when he directed Captain Barnsfare's fire against Montgomery and his troops, is to be ascribed the repulse of the rebels from that important post where, with their leader they lost all heart'.

There can be no question but that the death of Montgomery and the repulse of this attack, saved Quebec and with. There are many famous paintings portraying Montgomery's final moments during his attack on Quebec, however there has been little acknowledgement of the fact that John Coffin was instrumental in his defeat.

As a last note about the Revolution in America, it should be remembered that the war caused much fragmentation of the various Coffin families in Colonial America. For example, the before mentioned family of Nathaniel Coffin, the Cashier of Customs in Boston had his brothers remain loyal to the Crown while his sisters were loyal to the Rebel cause. In Nantucket, many Coffins were disowned by the Quakers for helping the rebels with sixty enlisted to fight for the Rebels. Was this our Elisha? I can't imagine it was but I found it interesting that he enlisted on September 16, for a expedition against Nova Scotia.

Most of the Boston Coffins were loyal to the British and as a result lost vast fortunes in holdings, but most escaped to safety, either to Nova Scotia or back to England. Many of the Coffins fled with rewards for their capture being offered by the Rebels. Another member of note was Captain George Burns, who in later years helped Elisha secure property. Three days after the election the Assembly met for the first time at The Cross Keys Tavern, which was located in wanted for their provocative vandalism.

It appears the Coffin boys couldn't sit by and watch the Rebels organized their rebellion. When the Rebels wanted to meet in Boston, they would hoist a flag on what became known as the "Liberty Tree". The Coffin brothers had a simple solution to end this. With the help of a negro friend, the three set out one night and disposed of the trees with an axe.

The Next Voice You See

They fled to Nova Scotia in the nick of time, with the smell of tar and feathers lingering in the air back in Boston. Their father Nathaniel went to England in and spent some years seeking some form of compensation from the Crown for his family's loyalty to the King. Having argued he lost everything in Boston, he expected some form of compensation, but his pleas fell on deaf ears and he decided to return to America where he died at sea of stomach gout one day before his arrival in New York.

During this period, the information on the whereabouts of Elisha is sketchy. It is recorded that he was a member of the Legislative Assembly in and that his son, Joseph, was born in , but as to where his residence was located is a bit of a mystery. Many records suggest that he did not even come to the Island until the early 's and that he was a United Empire.

American Sam. Hambleton 1 1 1 3 6 6 6 Eldad Nickerson 1 3 1 5 10 10 10 Sam. Pinkham 1 2 1 3 7 7 7 Solomon Smith Jr. Kenwrick Jr. Smith Jr. Atwood 1 - 1 1 3 3 3 Widow Eliz. Godfrey 1 3 1 5 10 10 10 David Smith Jr. This information is inaccurate and does not stand up to even basic challenges. On September 5, , Elisha's fellow Legislative Assembly friend, Captain George Burns of Stukely, sold to Elisha Coffin of Nantucket Island, acres of land for the consideration of five shillings and the rental of ten pence per acre per year to be paid half yearly.

The property is situated on the west side of Savage Harbour on lot 38, beginning at the first cove above the Island known as Governor DesBrisay's Island, thence to run west rods, thence north to the sea, then along the sea coast to the bay to the cove mentioned. This land sale shows that at least some of the landlords were attempting to keep the terms of their original agreement which stated that they would settle at least one Protestant on every acres within ten years.

It also shows that the settlers had to pay dearly for every acre. Today there are still some Coffin descendants owning property at Savage Harbour. One such person, Mrs. Upon our conversation I had with her in , it was learned that the original deed for this property was misplaced and lost only recently by Mrs. Coffin's law firm. Shortly after Elisha settled his family at Savage Harbour, things turned for the worst. On October 29, , Elisha Coffin died of undisclosed circumstances. He was 45 years old at the time of his death. The location of his grave is a mystery, but seeing that there were no established grave yards in the area at the time, it is presumed that he was buried on his property, perhaps on the hill that was located between his house and the sea, or perhaps he was lost at sea and his body was never found.

This anthology of rare stories of crime and suspense brings together a selection of rare tales by masters of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction for the first time in book form, including a newly discovered Agatha Christie crime story that has not been seen since This intricate mystery from a classic writer is set in a superbly evoked London of the s.

In a small Scottish university town, what links a spate of murders, a targeted bomb explosion and a lecturer's disappearance? Who is pulling the strings? Having returned to Castletown intending to win back his estranged wife, DCI Jim Carruthers finds himself entrenched in the investigation. DS Andrea Fetcher assists him in the hunt for the perpetrators. They need to work fast. But can they truly rely on Jim's old adversary?

In the winter of , young Charles Dickens is a journalist on the rise at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at the estate of the newspaper's co-editor, Charles is smitten with his boss' daughter, vivacious year-old Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the evening. Charles, Kate and her father rush to the neighbours' home, where Miss Christiana Lugoson lies unconscious on the floor.

By morning she is dead. When Harold Merefield returned home in the early hours of a winter morning from a festive little party at that popular nightclub, the Naxos, he was startled by a gruesome discovery. On his bed was a corpse. There was nothing to show the identity of the dead man or the cause of his death. On the shocking discovery of a passenger's body on the Great Western Railway excursion train, Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and his assistant, Sergeant Victor Leeming, are dispatched to the scene. Faced with what initially appears to be a motiveless murder, Colbeck is intrigued by the murder weapon - a noose.

When it emerges that the victim had worked as a public executioner, Colbeck realises that this must be intrinsically linked to the killer's choice of weapon. Seymour Merriman's holiday in France comes to an abrupt halt when his motorcycle starts leaking petrol. Following a lorry to find fuel, he discovers that it belongs to an English company making timber pit-props for coal mines back home. His suspicions of illegal activity are aroused when he sees the exact same lorry with a different number plate - and confirmed later with the shocking discovery of a body.

When newly-promoted detective John Coffin is called to investigate the body of a young woman floating down the Thames in , he is drawn into a grim mystery surrounding a suspicious murder. The victim, who has suffered significant physical trauma, comes bearing a note: "Present for my mother", a sentiment directed at an actress whose son drowned 17 years earlier.

A crisp, upright narration from voice actor Nigel Carrington brings a dignity and gravitas to prolific British writer Gwendoline Butler's atmospheric mystery, part of the John Coffin series of crime novels. British writer Butler has crafted a grim tale that unsuccessfully blends murder with social commentary. In , newly promoted detective-constable John Coffin arrives in Greenwich to take up his post. Soon after, the body of a young woman floats down the Thames to South London. At this point the boat would close in for the final kill. As the boat came along side of the exhausted whale, the header would have the honours of the final blows.

Using a lance, he would continue to thrust it into the whale's vital organs. This was known as "tapping the claret bottle" and the whale would usually have one last flurry, colouring the ocean waters red, before rolling over dead. Once the hunt was over the whalers had the task of returning the dead carcass to the ship. If the winds were calm, the boats would have to row the whale, all forty tons or so back to the becalmed ship,. Once the whale carcass was secured alongside of the ship, a procedure known as flensing would begin. With a hook firmly placed just at the back of the head of the whale, the crew would hoist upward on the rope attached to the hook.

Meanwhile, a few of the crew on the whale itself would use flensing spades to cut along the body of the whale toward the tail. The result would be the removal of strips of blubber being stripped off the carcass. These strips would then be lowered below deck to the blubber room. The remaining carcass had the jawbone removed along with the teeth, sperm whales had as many as 46 teeth. The bone and teeth were used for carving or scrimshawing as it was often called. The spermaceti was removed from the head cavity and stored below deck.

Often, during the processing of the whale the crew would break into song, happy to know that their families would be looked after once their share of the money was given over to them. One such song entitled "Nantucket Whale Song" sang out; Oh, the rare old whale, mid storm and gale In his ocean home will be A giant in might, where might is right And king of the boundless sea.

After the process of cutting the slabs of blubber into smaller pieces was complete and the weather and seas permitted, the trying out process would start. The tryworks would be lit on the decks and once ready the blubber would be gradually boiled down to extract the whale oil. This process would go on into the night and held a special fascination with the whalemen.

The old book, "Etchings of a Whaling Cruise", by J. Ross Browne describes what he witnessed; "I could see the works in full operation during the night. Dense clouds of lurid smoke are curling up toward the tops of the rigging. The oil is hissing in the trypots, with some of the crew sitting on the windlass watching. Their rough weather beaten faces, stare, shining in the red glare of the fires, clothed in greasy duck forming a savage looking bunch as one would ever see. The cooper and one of the mates are raking the fires with long bars of steel and wood.

There is a murderous appearance about the blood stained decks with the huge masses of flesh and blubber lying here and there, which inspire in the mind of myself, the novice, a feeling of mingled disgust and awe. Both stories mention the Coffins. Melvilles story has Peter Coffin as the inn keeper at " Spouter's Inn" while the true story that the book was partly based on was about two seperate events involving a Nantucket whale ship named the "Essex" and a white whale named Mocha Dick. The Essex was hunting whales on November 20, , miles north-east of the Marquesas Islands in the south Pacific.

Early in the day the crew spotted sperm whales a short distance off and three boats were sent to give chase. Shortly after the hunt began a large whale turned on the Essex and rammed the ship near the bow, sending a shutter through the ship. Badly damaged, the crew tried frantically to fill the hole the whale had made when out of the blue a second crash shook the crippled vessel,. First mate Owen Chase later commented in his diary, how the whale calculated his attack.

They grabbed what little they could before the ship heaved to one side and rested almost fully submurged. Many of the crew were staring in disbelief on the fate that lay ahead. They were miles from land with three small whale boats and next to no food or water. After a day of making makeshift sails the three boats set off for South America. As the days past by, hunger and thirst set in causing squabbling among the crew. On the fourth week a small island was spotted however upon their arrival they found little in the way of food or water, so all but three continued on. Five weeks later a storm separated the boats.

By early Febuary with all food and water gone they decided to draw straws to determine who was going to be their next meal. The short straw pointed to Owen Coffin, who by now was past the point of caring.

My Father's Shoes - Our Coffin Story, Pg.

With a show of courage he lay his head on the gunwale and commented, "I like it as well as any other" in reference to his unfortunate pick of the losing draw. Then a shot rang out killing the boy instantly. The boy's sacrifice saw his mates successfully through their ordeal until their rescue by another Nantucket whaler a short time later. In the end, eight of the twenty crew were eventually rescued including Owen Chase who kept a diary of the ordeal. Thirty years later, Chase's son lent the diary to Herman Melville during a whale voyage, and from this diary the foundations of Moby Dick were written.

The period from to the end of the American Revolution in was a most eventful time for the whalers. Not only were they venturing further from Nantucket than ever, they also had to avoid French frigates and later British war ships. This period of conflict was a most akward one for the peaceful Quakers. They believed that any form of violence against man, was violence against the god within. They were not permitted to have guns, join militia or pay war tax.

They rejected rank and titles and could drink but not get drunk. If ever there was a more perfect ship to attack, the French would have to look hard and wide. Often the Nantucket whalers were attacked and either killed, enslaved or left in a single row boat to die among the elements. By the mid 's, Benjamin and Rebecca had nine children, five sons and four daughters. Of their sons, four of them, Elisha, Eliakim, Seth and Bartlett all became whalers. One son Eliakim died at sea in at the age of twenty-three. Another son, Bartlett married his brother, Eliakim's widow, Judith Macy.

Elisha and Seth became sea Captains early in life. Elisha carried his trade to Nova Scotia and P. In , aboard the ship Minerva, Seth was involved in an incident that reflected the dangers of the whale trade. During a whale chase off the Brazil Banks, Captain Coffin's leg was crushed by a large sperm whale. Coffin quickly realized that his leg had to be removed or he would die. With no one on board with any knowledge of medical skills, Coffin commanded the most reliable mate on board to fetch a flensing spade and return to his quarters.

Upon the mates return, Coffin took the spade and was reported to have said, "My leg has got to come off or I will die. I know how it. If you flinch one bit, I'll send this instrument through you. Now begin". The mate began the procedure, carefully following his Captain's instructions. As the last bandage was properly administered completing the amputation, Coffin fainted followed shortly after by the mate.

Seth Coffin later went on to live to the ripe old age of seventy-seven. Rebecca's brothers, Uriah and Peleg also took advantage of this opportunity. Nantucket was changing rapidly with the success of the whale trade, however, with the trade came an influx of new ships and crews and with these new settlers came problems such as civil disobedience and disease.

In yellow fever hit the Island, taking the lives of many, especially in the Indian population. It is impossible to know if yellow fever was responsible for the death of Benjamin's wife, Rebecca, during this time, but the records show her death occurring on October 12, at the age of forty three. Benjamin was left with his children ranging in ages of three years to twenty four. It stayed this way for only a short period of time.

Benjamin and Hannah resided in the town of Sherburne. As the 's approached, all was not well in Colonial America. A movement against Britain was threatening peace in America. Many mainlanders wanted independence from Britain and were embarking on acts of disobedience. At the heart of the matter was the issue of taxes being levied on the Colonists. This conflict was escalated by an incident involving three Nantucket whale ships. Since , the Nantucket whalers were shipping their whale oil to Britain. On the return voyage they would often carry goods back to America.

On one such voyage, three Nantucket whalers, the "Dartmouth", the "Beaver" and the "Eleanor", returned from Britain with a load of tea, destined for Boston. The Beaver was owned by Hezekiah Coffin. Hesekiah was the son of Benjamin's first cousin, Zacheus. The three Nantucket ships arrived in Boston Harbour in early December On December 16th, they were boarded by angry Revolutionists from Boston, who were protesting against the British government's high taxes without representation. The mob seized the cargo of tea and emptied the tea into the harbour. Today this event is remembered as the "Boston Tea Party".

Boston during this period had many Nantucket Coffins living there. Most were descendants of Benjamin's Uncle, Nathaniel Coffin and a Coffin history would not be complete without their mention. Nathaniel was a sea Captain. His son William relocated to Boston and became a wealthy ship owner and merchant.

His brother, John, also came to Boston where he opened a distillery and shipping business. Nathaniel was a despised man by many of the Revolutionists and became an enemy to the rebels, as were most of. As the conflict erupted in , two of Nathaniel's the cashier sons, John and Isaac, entered the British Navy.

John Coffin's sailing skills put him in command of a British frigate soon after his entry into the service. As the British were scrambling to get troops from Britain to Boston, to quell the rebels, John was ordered by General Howe, the Commander of the British troops in America to help take him and his army to America. Meanwhile, the British troops in America had their advance inland from Boston halted at Concord, thanks to the warning to the rebels by Paul Revere, that the "British were Coming".

From Concord, the British were put on a defensive and had to retreat back toward Boston, being ambushed and slaughtered all the way to a location just north of Boston, known as Bunker Hill. It was here at Bunker Hill that the British troops had to wait for reinforcements from Britain. As they waited, 10, Rebels were taking up positions around their encampment. The British fleet, including Coffin's ship landed in Boston on June 15th, and shortly thereafter on June 17th, Coffin landed his regiment at Bunker Hill.

It was on the request of his Colonel to "come and watch the fun", that Coffin found himself fighting hand to hand combat with the Rebel forces. After three charges, the British took control of the battle and of Boston and so the long seige began. After the battle, Coffin was rewarded for his bravery and presented the rank of "Ensign on the Field", by General Howe. Shortly afterwards, he was promoted again to a Lieutenant. His men became known as the "Orange Rangers" and consisted of mainly mounted rifle soldiers.

By , Coffin found himself in the south, namely Georgia, where he commanded a calvary unit made up of loyal planters. His bravery in the battles of Savannah and Hobkirks Hill, along with the battle of Cross Creek, won Coffin high praise from his superiors as well as respect from the Rebels. Major Coffin opened the battle at Eutaw Springs, when he and a few of his men, while out digging up yams came across the advancing Rebel forces of Gen. His fire drew the attention of the British troops and averted a surprise attack by the Rebels. At the end of the fighting in Virginia, Lord Cornwallis awarded Coffin with a sword and a letter informing him of his new rank of Major.

As the war was coming to a close and the British found themselves on the defensive, Coffin fought valiantly for Cornwallis, but with the French and American troops surrounding Yorktown, the British army's fate was all but sealed. During these last days before the surrender and with the British troops facing starvation, Coffin and his men staged daring raids behind enemy lines to find food for the British soldiers. One account tells of a raid on a wealthy planter, whose home was being prepared for his daughter's wedding. Coffin walked up to the door, knocked and waited until the head of the house appeared.

Calmly he informed the man of his intentions on taking some of the wedding meal back to his troops and warned the man that any resistance would be met with force. While Coffin's men gathered up the food, Major Coffin sat and spoke with the host, later he danced with the bride before slipping away into the night with his men back into the woods. During the closing days of the war, the Rebels posted a 10, dollar reward for Coffin's capture, but it was never collected. Coffin headed back north through enemy lines and presented himself to the Commander and Chief of the British forces, Sir Guy Carleton.

Carleton appointed him Major of the Kings American Regiment. As the war came to an end, the British Government secured Coffin's safety to New Brunswick, where in October of , he landed at a trading post now called Saint Johns. At the young age of 28, he laid down his sword and started his new life in a new land. His new home was located twelve miles north of Saint Johns in a town now called Westfield.

Coffin was named Magistrate for the county and later became a member for the Provincial Parliament. Coffin's honour saw him involved in no less than four duels during his years in Parliament. He was injured once in the arm but other than that came through unscathed. One such duel was held at sunrise, across the Saint John River, from Fredrickton, in the woods. In , Coffin raised a regiment for the war with the Americans, but was too far from the battles to contribute. At the end of the war he was promoted to General.

Coffin died in at the age of 82 and was remembered as the oldest General in the British Army. Johns River in Westfield, New Brunswick. The humble gravestone is shaded by a huge oak tree that was planted as a sappling at the head of the General's grave by his friends and relatives during the burial. Today, the same towering oak now stands as a monument to General Coffin, and the years that have gone by since his death. In Nantucket the war was a severe blow to the whaling industry as well as the Quaker faith.

Many Quakers supported the Rebel cause and even helped them out financially. Many were disowned by the Quakers for this position. One list I came across has a "Benjamin Coffin" listed as being disowned by the Quakers for financial support to the Rebels cause. Was this our Benjamin? We'll probably never know. By , Nantucket had many Benjamin Coffins among their population, and not enough information on who was who.

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During the Revolution the whale trade had come to a halt. Of the whaling boats in Nantucket, were captured by the British and French with 15 never being heard from again. Some estimates put the losses of Nantucket men as high as , nearly one third of the population. Eight of the men were listed as Coffins. One of Benjamin's sons, Eliakim, survived the war only to die a year later aboard a whaler off the Brazil banks in As the war ended the whale trade eventually regained its steam and later, in the 's, would see itself regain its rightful place as the leader in American.

Benjamin Coffin continued to live out his final days in the town of Sherbourne where his will, dated January 4, , was first drawn up. Benjamin died in Nantucket on December 28, at the age of 75 and is more than likely buried in the old Quaker burying ground where as many as 7, Quakers lie in unmarked graves. Most were simply wrapped in cloth from sails and buried. Elisha Coffin was born in Nantucket on March 21, John Island P.

Elisha died October 29, Rebekah Coffin was born March 4, in Nantucket. Rebekah died in October of Luranna Coffin was born April 12, She married Zebdial Coffin, son of Peleg Coffin. Luranna died on December 5, Susanna Coffin was born in Nantucket on September 6, Susanna died on July 1, Seth Coffin was born on June 25, Seth was a Captain of a whale ship named Minerva. He lost his leg during a hunt off the Brazil banks. Seth died on January 16, Ruth Coffin was born on May 15, Bartlett Coffin was born on June 14, on Nantucket.

His second wife was Judith Starbuck, widow of his brother Eliakim Coffin. Bartlett was a whaler. He died at sea on February 9, Eliakim Coffin was born April 29, Eliakim was lost at sea in It has come to my attention during recent research that a probable error of facts, has put a portion of my previous research for my essay, My Father's Shoes, into question. Recently, I was able to purchase a copy of Barrington Township by Edwin Crowell, a book I have been wanting for some time.

As some of you know Crowell stated that Elisha Coffin sen. This statement however small, was important to Coffin researchers, seeing as it provided a link to the path of the first Coffin to come to P. Further research showed us that Elisha Coffin landed in Barrington N. In or about , as Crowell stated, Elisha Coffin left for P. The problem is that the Elisha Coffin that landed in in Barrington was not the same one that came to P. This became apparent after studying the first census of Barrington dated July 1 The census shows Elisha Coffin with 5 in his family.

For some time I thought this was a mistake seeing as our Elisha had only been married for 1 year. After some years of accepting that this was a mistake, I recently had a whim to check my copy of the Coffin Family for any other probable Elisha Coffins that may fit the bill. In a few minutes I had my answer.


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While double checking I discovered that Elisha's daughter, Rachel married Edmund Clark the son of a Barrington fisherman. The Elisha Coffin that came to Barrington did have children. Our Elisha, son of Benjamin and Rebecca, therefore, as far as I can tell, had no known connection with the Nantucketers who went to Barrington N.

Crowell also stated that Peleg Coffin also came to P. I have never seen anything to back up this claim. As far as I can tell he went to Liverpool N. Leaving Nantucket for the North Land. Elisha Coffin was born on March 21, , in Nantucket. Elisha grew up on the Island of Nantucket during an interesting time, for both the Islanders, and also for the Colonies.

The hostilities between Britain, France and Spain were flaring up along the Colonial coastline. This conflict was a danger to the industrious and peaceful people of Nantucket. The Islanders depended on farming, fishing and whaling as a way to make a living. Their religion forbid them to go to war, yet their boats were continually being harassed, confiscated and sunk by their enemies. The French and Spanish ships often chased the smaller, unarmed fishing vessels down and then proceeded to seize the vessels and steal the catches along with capturing the crew.

Many times the crews were taken prisoner back to Europe while others were either cast adrift, or murdered in cold blood. The worst of the conflicts for the Islanders was during the 's when many Island boats were destroyed by the French. In they lost six ships that were either heading toward the fishing grounds or home from them. Elisha, during this period, would have likely been a young man learning the skills of a mariner.

Boys as young as twelve would often serve on the ships in a limited but necessary capacity. Many of the Captains were as young as twenty. According to a poem written in , by Thomas Worth, it's revealed in one verse that there were six Captains named Coffin sailing out of Nantucket. The fishing fleets would often set out for six to eight weeks in search of sperm whales.

As the years went by the fishing limits grew farther and farther from home, they soon found themselves as far south as the Brazil Banks, off South America and as far north as Greenland in the Davis Inlet. The pursuit of the whales not only brought these hearty Nantucketers fame and fortune, but it was also responsible for some of the migration off the Island. Many left to further explore lands that had been seen during their years with the Nantucket fleets. In the early part of the year, the boats would pursue the whales.

At the end of the hunt, after a short stay in port, many ships were refitted and then headed off to the Grand Banks off of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to continue their trade among the schools of cod. Many Nantucket mariners were often pursuing the pods of whales and schools of fish in these waters. The Drummond journal of by William Drummond of P. Eleven O'clock whaling boats from Nantucket ran aground off Little Hastings Rustico Harbour", adding to the evidence that indeed.

Lawrence whale grounds. The descendents of the first Coffins to arrive in this country followed different callings, with many of them involved with the sea. Many became ship owners, captains and master mariners. During the later part of the 18th century when whaling was flourishing, many Coffins were involved with that trade. Whaling can be credited with bringing the Coffin family to the shores of the Gulf of St. The Government of the day offered bounties to all vessels that brought home a designated amount of whale oil.

The cargo had to have been obtained by honest means by the crews of the whalers. The bounty was not to be paid for oil that was not produced from the toil of each ship's crew. To protect the government from deception, an affidavit had to be signed by all crew members upon their arrival home. One such vessel, sailing out of Nantucket, in or about the year , carried two crew by the names of Coffin and Davis, who were cousins. The hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence whaling grounds, was not a very successful one, and by the time they were ending their hunt, the hold was half empty.

Not having enough whale oil to collect the bounty, and with another whaler within sight, the Captain sought a gam with the other Captain.

Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18) Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)
Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18) Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)
Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18) Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)
Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18) Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)
Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18) Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)
Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18) Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)
Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18) Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)
Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18) Coffin on the Water (John Coffin Mystery, Book 18)

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