Chapter V


AFTER a season as Sailing Master of Gamaliel Smethurst’s schooner Rambler and several encounters with French-inspired Indians in Canada during 1762, Ashley Bowen secured a berth as First Mate of a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, ship bound for the West Indies.

It is unfortunate that details of his last active days at sea are so scanty, because we do not know what circumstances persuaded him to swallow the anchor and return to Marblehead without again going to sea for nearly fifteen years. He came ashore, nevertheless (and recalled the anniversary of it almost every year thereafter), in November 1763. There were to be some lean years ahead.

[May 1762]

8 This day I entered on board the schooner Rambler [Gamaliel Smethurst, owner], myself master, &c.126

9 Nothing remarkable. Mr. Baj [ ].

Monday, 10 This morning I went on board and brought the schooner to the wharf [at] Redstone Cove [in Marblehead]. Employed Mr. Morse, Caesar Homan, Cato Watts. Received from Watt 9 pounds of veal of Mr. Sanders, a quarter of bread, two [or] three pints of rum, and 12½ of pork.

11 This day employed Mr. Morse, Caesar Homan, Cato Watts. To expense: chocolate nine shilling, rum 2 quarts, sugar 2 pounds. Lay off S[kinner’s] Head.

12 This day I went to [the] Neck. Afternoon I took the laborers and weighed the large anchors of Mr. Smethurst’s. Finished caulking the main deck.

13 This morning weighed off 130 quintals of fish for Captain Derby [of] Salem. This afternoon I carried on board the iron.

14 This day employed Mr. Morse, Ben Homan, Caesar, and Cato Watts. Delivered Captain Derby 260 quintals of fish.

15 This day employed Mr. Morse, Ed Homan, Caesar Homan, Cato Watts, Tom Trevett. Weighed off 80 quintals of fish from Deacon Hooper’s and took on board schooner and moored for [ ].

Monday, 17 This day employed Mr. Morse, William Foster, Caesar Homan, Tom Trevett. Received on board the schooner Rambler 80 quintals of fish for Haverhill and 13–0/2 for Mr. Skinner.

18 This day employed Mr. Morse, Caesar Homan. Bent a new mainsail. Landed old mainsail and foresail. Got our stores on board.

19 This day sailed for Newbury.127 At evening came to at Newbury. Lay all night.

20 This day left Newbury. At evening came to Hulett’s Ferry. Lay all night. Much rain, thunder and lightning.

21 This day came to Haverhill. Some rain, wind easterly.

22 This day lay at Haverhill. Landed all our fish to Mr. Joseph Dow’s—one hundred and sixty quintals and four jars of oil.

23 This day I went to Bradford Meeting [House]. Some rain and thunder and lightning. Wind westerly.

Monday, 24 This evening unbent our sails, unrove our ropes, hauled our vessel to the place to do her.

25 This morning Caesar went home. Mr. Morse and I served the straps and overhauled the bloc[ks].

26 This day the carpenters at work but do little.

27 This day we got our cables on shore &c.

28 This day Caesar at work. Got our masts out and scraped. Our people a-fixing rigger [rigging].

29 This day our people employed a-fixing rigging, p.m. set both our masts and painted them. Go on very slow with our fixing it.

30 This day laying and [as] per last.

Monday, 31 This day rigged our mastheads.

[June 1762]

1 This day about rigging.

2 This day our people employed about rigging.

3 This day some rain. Our people employed fixing sails and Mr. Dow gone to seek caulkers.

4 This day came two caulkers and graved both sides. This a day at eight I haul to our berth again.

5 This day finished caulking. Our painter at work. Our joiner at work on our cabin.

Monday, 7 Lay as per last. Our painter at works as joiner and our people.

8 This day our painter finished the whole. Got all our work done for dropping down.

9 This day at noon were all ready to drop down. After dinner came Mr. Smethurst[?], and I went to get some wood. Got none. Lay all night as per last.

10 This day came to Newbury. Lay at the upper Long Wharf.

11 A caulker at work on our quarterdeck.

12 This day lay at Newbury. Received on board 5 cords of firewood. Lay all night and per last.

13 After dinner I came to sail and came over the bar. Stood to the southward all night. Wind SW.

Monday, 14 This morning at 4 a.m. tacked to the westward. Fetched Cape Ann. At 11 p.m. anchored at Marblehead.

15 p.m. hauled to the wharf and landed our wood. Employed Caesar Homan and Adam Webber, Tom Trevett 2 hours at 26.

16 This day I went on board and cleared our vessel and got on board some water cask for ballast.

17 This day we went a-frolicking. Evening foggy.

18 I went on board and cleaned her out.

19 Lay as per last. Mr. Smethurst went to Boston.

Monday, 21 This morning I went and brought the schooner to Colonel Fowle’s wharf. Got our cask out and cleared our hold out. Took our fireplace out of our forecastle. Employed Mr. Joseph Devereux as joiner.

22 This day lay at the wharf. Employed Nathaniel Goldsmith to build a cabouse.128 Mr. Devereux employed John Picket ½ day.

23 This day employed Mr. Devereux to build a bulkhead for our corn. Employed John Picket. Got our burton fixed.

24 This day received on board 7 barrel of red wine, 6 barrels rum, two hundred bushels of Indian corn. Employed Adam Webber one day, John Picket one day, Tom Trevett a half day.

25 This day laying at Fowle’s wharf. Received on board one cask of white wine, sundry others and cordage. This evening run above Skinner’s Head [and] lay. Employed John Picket and Adam Webber.

26 This day I went on board and cleaned her decks. Employed John Picket.

Monday, 28 This day I shipped Mr. Henry Roads as Mate. Employed John Picket.

29 Mr. Roads did not come. This day Mr. Smethurst went to Boston.

30 This day I ship Robert Dow, a hand. I went to Salem and cleared out. Employed Caesar Homan.

[July 1762]

1 This day we shifted our gaff and got our rigging to rights. Shipped John Comboson.

2 This morning we got our anchor off and all Mr. Smethurst’s things.

3 This day got all ready. At 3 o’clock p.m. came to sail for Quebec.

4 This day at noon Cape Ann bore W ½ S, distance 80 miles.

Monday, 5 This day at noon Cape Ann bore WbS, distance 158 miles.

6 At noon had an observation. Latitude 42 d 52m north. I judge Cape Sable to bear NbW, 60 miles.

7 This day stood in for the land. At noon saw it. Cape Nigger [Negro] bore NNW, 8 or 9 leagues. Saw a sloop bound to the west. Fine, smooth water. All well.

8 The last night small winds or calm. This morning saw two schooners on shore of us. Stood for the land, found [St.] Margaret’s Bay. p.m. close wind at SE. Run for a harbor. At 12 night came to in 12 fathoms at [St.] Margaret’s Bay.

9 This day at 10 came to sail. Wind ESE, and run into a fine safe harbor where we wooded and watered &c.

10 This morning at 4 came to sail and stood out along. At 10 wind at SE, turned to windward. All day and all night a short chop of a sea.

11 This day wind southerly. Turned to windward all day. At noon latitude by a good observation with a Hadley’s quadrant 44d-46m north.129 At 6 wind ESE, foggy. Stood for a harbor, run on a rock but soon slid off again. At sunset came to an anchor.

Monday, 12 This morning foggy. At 6 came past us a fishing boat and they told us this was Prospect. We lay till noon, then came full of fog. Lay all night, wind east.

13 This morning at 4 hove up and came to sail, small wind SW. At 6 calm. Came to again. At 7 hove up, came to sail, wind west. At 8 calm. Came to again. At 9 hove up and came to sail, wind NW. Now we have done it. Got safe out of our dull Prospect. Wind WbS, fair. At noon came past Cape Sambro. At 2 p.m. lighthouse bore NbW, 3 leagues. Saw two sail, a ship and a brig, to the westward of the Cape and two snows and a ship and two schooner and a sloop bound to the westward from Halifax. Wind SW. At half past two spoke a schooner from Halifax who informed us the French had invaded Newfoundland and that several vessels was already arrived from the land [Newfoundland] at Halifax.130 At 6 p.m. came past Chebucto Head. Ditto, passed the Northumberland. Received her boat. At sunsetting passed the island. At 8 anchored at the town of Halifax.

14 This morning I went on shore to make a report [at the Custom House and] found an embargo.131 I waited on the Governor, Collector, &c. No permission to sail. Came on board. p.m. much rain, wind SE.

15 This day as per last, embargo-bound. Employed in overhauling the hold to get some sails and cordage for a bonnet for foresail. Fair weather, wind southerly.

16 This day wind SW. Employed in making a bonnet for our foresail and making sennet. Lay as per last.

Sent on shore last week



July the 18 sent on shore

Neck [cloth]




W Waistcoat


Neck [cloth]






Foul clothes sent on shore July the 18



Neck [cloth] s




July the 22d sent on shore



Shirt 1 Pair of Stock[ings]

Pillow Case


Fustin waistcoat




Sunday the 18 to two books and a bas coat.

Monday, 26 At noon Chebucto Head bore WbN, 3 leagues.

28 Spoke a schooner from Salem.

31 I tried for Liscomb’s Harbor. It so foggy I could not find it. At 6 o’clock evening came on board two canoes with 5 Indians and they carried me in a fine harbor and lay all night. The next morning [a] Frenchman and an Indian come on board and turned [ ] out as far as I could wish, and I discharged them and paid the Frenchman in wine, the Indian in rum, but [the] wind dying away and flood tide [running] the whole of the Indian[s] came on board again.

[August 1762]

1 Abreast of Liscomb’s Harbor. At 10 a.m. came on board nine canoes with 2 or 3 Indians in each canoe. There came a breeze to the south. I a-turning out, the Frenchman came to take the helm from me, but so drunk I could cope with him and kept the helm myself. Our decks full of Indians with muskets. I mustered up my French and told the Frenchman that I would go into Liscomb’s Harbor and treat them all, as I saw three schooners go in the last evening. I was in hopes of assistance, but they seeing a brig I made them quit us and so I escaped this time and got off clear. Note: I left Mr. Smethurst at Halifax to go by land to Fort Cumberland.

Monday, 2 At noon I spoke a shallop direct from Newfoundland who saw a sloop which they said was a French privateer and had chase[d] three of our schooners and themselves and fired a shot at them. She was a black sides, white bottom, gaff topsail. The next morning at 2 o’clock a.m., the 3 day [of August] I fell in with Su[?] a sloop laying under her foresail. I jibed mainsail and got clear of her, so when the fog was off the sloop would be chasing our schooners so I could not speak one.

Thus I passed till the 19 [of August] before I could get at Bay Verte by fog and no pilot put off by the sloop and the back [of] our rudder gone. So the season for Quebec passes.

26 et seq. Sailed from the Bay Verte. Arrived at Carricutt the 30 where I find a French priest and a number of Frenchmen in ambush, as all Frenchmen were called in by the English government.132 On the 3[1 of August] at noon came on board a large birch canoe with eight as stout men as are commonly seen and examined our sails, cable, ropes, and all our accommodations, speaking all in French, but I understood all they said. The priest on board the same time. After they were gone I went on shore and acquainted Mr. Smethurst and found a large collection of men and women Indians, all painted. I hurried Mr. Smethurst off, and he persuaded a lad to take us out the northern wa[y?], which he did and so saved me the second time.

[September 1762 et seq.]

1 et seq. The last evening we got safe out of Carricutt, and finding the season so far spent I advised Mr. Smethurst not to attempt the River St. Lawrence, for we could not expect to get down again this winter, and we went for Bay Verte again.133 Landed our cargo, took oysters for Halifax, where we arrived the 27 [of September]. Sold my oysters, took what freight I could get and a good pilot for Fort Cumberland, and sailed October the 9 for Fort Cumberland, where I arrived the 31 [of October] and sailed from Cumberland November 29. December the 1 at Annapolis. The 10 left Annapolis. Beat and drove off as far as St. George’s Bank and arrived at Marblehead the 20 [of December] with eight men, neither wood, water, or pro[visions].

1763 This spring I engaged with Mr. Smethurst to carry the Rambler to Boston,134 and after I was discharge from her Mr. Smethurst recommended me to Captain George Dimon his chief mate in ship Atlantic at Portsmouth, owned by Mr. William Temple, and I went to Portsmouth in a brig with Captain William Whipple135 [as] a passenger, and I had charge of ship Atlantic, and I went to the Road at the Island of Shoals and took on board 2000 quintals of pollock and returned to Portsmouth again and completed all her loading and [then] left her.

1763 July. I engaged with Jonathan Warner Esq.136 to go in his ship Patty with Captain Monsieur Bunbury137 as Chief Mate to the Grenards, and if a freight should be had I was to carry the ship to London. And we sailed from Portsmouth the 9 and arrived at the Grenards [ ] of August. And Captain Bunbury sold [the] ship and cargo138 and I could not do better than to take passage with Captain [James] Gilmore on a brig [Success] of Mr. Warner’s.139

Plate XVII

H.M.S. Pembroke lying at Quebec, 30 September 1759.

The Marblehead seamen leaving H.M.S. Pembroke on 30 September 1759 at the expiration of their enlistments.

Marblehead Historical Society


Another view of the Marbleheaders leaving H.M.S. Pembroke on 30 September 1759. This painting forms the cover of Bowen’s Quebec Journal.

Marblehead Historical Society

Plate XIX

The transport Thornton, John Elkshaw, master, of New York, at Boston on 9 November 1759.

Shore profiles of Cape North on Cape Breton Island; St. Paul Island; and Cape Ray, Newfoundland, all in the Cabot Strait.

Marblehead Historical Society

Plate XX

(Upper left) 1760–61. Schooner Swallow, Ashley Bowen, owned by Joseph Weare of Old York. (Upper right) 1762–63. Schooner Rambler, Ashley Bowen, owned by Gamaliel Smethurst of Marblehead. (Lower left) 1763. Ship Atlantic, George Dimon, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Lower right) 1763. Ship Patty, Monsieur Bunbury, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Marblehead Historical Society

Plate XXI

Miscellaneous sketches by Ashley Bowen, enhanced from the originals.

Marblehead Historical Society

Plate XXII

Miscellaneous sketches by Ashley Bowen.

(Top) Essex Institute (Bottom) Marblehead Historical Society


Miscellaneous shipping sketches by Ashley Bowen.

(Upper right) Essex Institute (Remainder) Marblehead Historical Society

Plate XXIV

Miscellaneous shipping sketches by Ashley Bowen.

(Upper left) Essex Institute (Lower right) American Antiquarian Society (Remainder) Marblehead Historical Society

Note: an English sloop of war, the Beaver, came to the Grenards to winter. [I] very sickly at the Grenards. Captain Bunbury at [ ] self very sick. As soon as the brig was ready we sailed.