J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

“Overset in the Storm near the Isle of Sholes”

In the Boston newspapers printed on Thursday, 15 Sept 1735, we can watch the maritime town struggle to gather and digest news of a calamity at sea. First, the Boston Post-Boy:
Last Monday Night we had a hard Storm, the Wind from N. E. to S. E. in which sundry Vessels were drove on Shoar in the neighbouring Ports . . .

We hear, that a Sloop belonging to Newbury, one Offin Boardman Master, bound from Casco-Bay to this Place, having a Raft of Masts at her Stern, was overset in her Passage, on Monday Night last, and thirteen People drown’d, being all the Persons on board, Nine of them were Passengers; she was carried into the Isle of Shoals last Wednesday.
This Offin Boardman (1698-1735) was the grandfather of a man of the same name who commanded a privateer during the Revolutionary War and lived on Historic New England’s Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm after 1796.

Here’s the 15 Sept 1735 Boston Gazette:
Monday Night last in the Storm Offin Boreman bound from Casco to Newbury in a Sloop laden with Lumber, was overset in the Storm near the Isle of Sholes she had on board 8 or 10 Passengers, some belonging to this Town, among whom were three Married Women, all lost; we have heard the Names of some of ’em but not with the certainty as to mention ’em. Mr. Boreman has left a Wife and 3 or 4 Children, and had on board with him a valuable Negro.
That evening came the Boston Evening-Post:
Monday Night last we had a very severe Storm of Wind at N. E. which did some Damage to the Shipping in our Harbour . . .

The same Night a Sloop coming from Casco-Bay, Offin Boardman of Newbury Master, was overset near the Isle of Shoals, and all the People drowned. ’Tis said there were on board, (besides Three Men belonging to the Sloop,) Ten Passengers, some of which belonged to this Town, but tho’ several Sloops came in Yesterday from Casco-Bay, yet we cannot get a particular Account of their Names. We hear that the Sloop has been since found, and is towed into the Isle of Shoals.
A week later, the 22 Sept 1735 Boston Post-Boy finally provided specifics:
We have now certain Information, That in the Sloop which was overset in the violent Storm we had last Monday Night was Se’n-night, as mention’d in our last, there were but Eight Persons, all of whom were drowned, viz. Offin Boardman, Master, Thomas Coker and Edmund Pilsbury, all of Newbury; a Man belonging to the Sloop, whose Name was cannot learn; Mr. James Jackson of Boston, Founder; the Wife of Nathaniel Lock, the Wife of John Sweet, and the Wife of William Bucknam, all of Casco-Bay.
At the Sign of the Brazen Head in Boston, Mary Jackson was left a widow with two sons. William was four years old, and James was only four months.

COMING UP: Picking up the pieces.

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