Scope and Content:
The Captains Amasa and Samuel Delano, Jr. Collection is comprised of over 360 items spanning the years 1769-1853. The material was found in two trunks in the attic of a house on Plumfield Lane in Duxbury. The trunks were presumably owned by Lucy (Winsor) Delano, the wife of Samuel Delano, Jr.
Included in the collection are 87 pieces of correspondence (1783-1846), the majority of which were created by or written to Samuel Delano, Jr. There are also 14 letters written between the brothers, Amasa Delano and Samuel Delano, Jr. Of special note are the letters written by Amasa Delano during his first circumnavigation of the globe, specifically one dated 1792 to George Partridge. Many of the letters written by Samuel Delano, Jr, especially those to his sons, reflect the religiosity of the Second Great Awakening.
The Collection also contains five log books of Samuel Delano, Jr. including one from the Pilgrim (1803-1805), the vessel used during a sealing expedition to the South Seas. The Pilgrim’s voyage is chronicled in Amasa Delano’s autobiographical Voyages published in 1818. Also of interest is the log book of the brig, Grace (1791) on which Samuel Delano, Jr. explored the Pacific Northwest. Passages in this log book chronicle the death and burial of the Grace’s captain, William Douglas. Along with the log books there are many shipping related documents belonging to both Amasa and Samuel Delano, Jr.
The finances of the shipbuilding and shipping businesses run by the brothers are illustrated in the over 345 financial papers (1786-1839) in the Collection and the many Account Books, Ledgers and Day Books.
There are 22 printed or published items in the Collection, including a copy of Amasa Delano’s A Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: Comprising Three Voyages Round the World; Together with a Voyage of Survey and Discovery in the Pacific Ocean and Oriental Islands published in 1817. Also of note are 3 pages from Reverend Wright’s Complete British Family Bible (1792); The Mariner’s Compass Rectified (1763) and other early 19th century works.
Captain Amasa Delano (1763-1823) was a master mariner, shipbuilder and author. He was born in Duxbury, MA to shipbuilder Samuel Delano, Sr. and Abigail Drew. During the American Revolution, Amasa, despite his young age, served in the militia under General Heath. In 1779, at age 16, Amasa first went to sea in the privateer Mars. The experience was not a wholly pleasant one and Amasa did not return to seafaring until 1781 when he joined the merchant ship Russell on a voyage to the West Indies.
In 1790 Amasa embarked on the first of his three circumnavigations of the globe. He left Boston, along with his younger brother, Samuel Delano, Jr., aboard the Massachusetts on a voyage to China and the South Seas. Upon reaching China, the Massachusetts was sold and Amasa and Samuel were forced to find other means to return home. Amasa joined the crew of the English East Indiaman, Panther, under the command of John McClure, as a visiting officer. His odyssey home would also find him on the ships Endeavor, Hector and Three Brothers. In his travels he visited many places including Canton, the Palau Islands, Sumatra and Java, Mauritius, Madras, Calcutta and Holland before returning to Boston in 1794.
In 1799 Amasa began his second voyage to the South Seas by way of Cape Horn in the Perseverance, a ship built by the Delano brothers. The object of this voyage was the acquisition of seals skins off the coast of Australia for trade with China. The Perseverance also spent time in the Hawaiian Islands (1801-1802) before heading to China. Once trading was complete Amasa departed Canton in April, 1802 and arrived in Boston on November 1. Shortly after this voyage, in 1803, Amasa married the widow Hannah Appleton (d. 1823) in Providence, RI.
Amasa Delano’s final voyage to the South Seas began in 1803, again in the Perseverance, followed by Samuel Delano, Jr. in the Pilgrim. Another brother, William Delano, went along as first mate on the Perseverance. It was on this voyage that Amasa encountered and captured the Spanish ship Tryal. This episode later became well known through Herman Melville’s fictionalized account in “Benito Cereno.” This trip also led Amasa Delano to the Galapagos, the Hawaiian Islands and Macau. He returned home on July 27, 1808.
In 1817 Amasa Delano published the account of his voyages in A Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: Comprising Three Voyages Round the World; Together with a Voyage of Survey and Discovery in the Pacific Ocean and Oriental Islands. In addition to detailing Amasa’s own adventures, Voyages is one of the first published accounts of the H.M.S.Bounty survivors on Pitcairn Island.
Amasa Delano died at age 60 in 1823.
Samuel Delano, Jr. (1769-1853) was born in Duxbury, MA to Samuel Delano, Sr. and Abigail Drew. In 1794 he married Lucy Winsor (1775-1867), the daughter of Joshua Winsor and Olive Thomas. The couple had eight children: Olive Thomas (b. 1795); Alexander (b. 1796); Lucy Winsor (b. 1797); Samuel (b. 1800); Almira (b. 1802); Henry Toland (b. 1809); Benjamin Franklin (b. 1811) and Nancy (b. 1813).
Like his brother, Samuel Delano, Jr. had a successful career as a shipbuilder and sea captain. After leaving his brother in Canton, China in 1791, Samuel Delano, Jr. voyaged throughout the Pacific and the Northwest coast on the brig Grace under Captain William Douglas. His later adventures aboard the Pilgrim (1803-1807) are chronicled in Amasa Delano’s Voyages. Samuel Delano, Jr. also received recognition for rescuing the ship Russell in 1794 as it was stranded off the coast of Duxbury during a severe storm.
Samuel Delano, Jr. was a product of the early – mid 19th century religious movement known as the Second Great Awakening, becoming a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Duxbury and an advocate of Temperance. His letters often reflect his devotion to religion.
Samuel Delano, Jr. died in 1853 at the age of 84.
The Delano Collection is organized into eight series.
Series I Correspondence (1769-1846)
Series II Shipping Documents (1787-1822)
Series III Legal Documents (1794-1820)
Series IV Financial Documents (1786-1839)
Series V Log Books, Account Books and Day Books (1794-1819)
Series VI Books, Pamphlets and other Published Material (1780-183)
Series VII Ephemera (c.1780-1836)
Series VIII Miscellaneous (c. 1787-1840)