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V. Captain Henry Phelps, son of Henry Phelps, was born in 1745, and died in 1786. He was united in marriage with Betsey Herrick, of Beverly, Massachusetts. In October, 1786, Captain Phelps was lost at sea. When all hope of being saved had been given up, he wrote a letter to his wife, describing the terrible situation, and, sealing it in a bottle, cast it forth upon the waters. It was picked up by a Boston vessel, and forwarded to his wife, who, from the contents, learned the sad fate of her husband.
VI. Dr. Henry Phelps, son of Captain Henry and Betsey (Herrick) Phelps, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1766, and passed away February 15, 1852, at the age of eighty-six years. He graduated from Harvard College in 1788, and in 1795 married (first) Mary Forbes Coffin, who died in 1820. This union was blessed with ten children. In 1821 Dr. Phelps married (second) Mrs. Mary Elliott, who died in 1825 at the age of forty-two years. In 1826 Dr. Phelps married (third) Mrs. Mary Foster, who died in 1847.
Dr. Phelps early in life chose the profession of medicine, and after studying with Dr. Plummer, of Salem, was established by him as a physician and apothecary in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1790. He acquired some practice as a doctor, but soon abandoned that branch of the business. Before the establishment of a post office in the town of Gloucester, the people received their letters by a messenger, who was sent twice a week to Beverly to secure them. A post office was established soon after the adoption of the Constitution, and was at first, and for several years, kept in the shop of the postmaster, Henry Phelps, who was postmaster for many years, and principal acting magistrate in the town, being often employed as a scrivener. Dr. Phelps continued to keep this shop until he reached the age of eighty years, when, becoming dependent upon filial support, he resided with a daughter.
VII. Captain William Dane Phelps, son of Dr. Henry and Mary Forbes (Coffin) Phelps, was born February 14, 1802, at Gloucester, Massachusetts. He inherited a love for the sea from several of his ancestors, who had been mariners, and ran away from a boarding school, where he had been sent by his parents to prepare for college, embarking as a cabin boy on board a vessel sailing from Boston, and working his way through the different grades to that of master. He made many voyages to Europe and the Levant, around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, in command of some of the finest ships of the times. He was wrecked when a boy at the Cape of Good Hope, and also when captain at the entrance of Plymouth Harbor, in the winter of 1836, which was one of the most distressing shipwrecks known for many years on our coast. In one of his early voyages, when a boy, he was left with seven others on a desert island, in the Indian ocean, to procure a cargo of sea elephant oil and fur seal skins. The captain promised to return for them in nine months, but did not appear for twenty-eight months, when he hoped to collect his oil and furs without any men to pay off. But although they had lived Robinson Crusoe lives, replete with dangers and hardships, they were all alive, with a full cargo ready for him. He made several trading voyages, generally of three years' duration, to California, in the days when San Francisco was called Yerba Buena, and consisted of only three houses where the famous city now stands. With two of his boats and a part of his crew he explored the river Sacramento, displaying the Star and Stripes for the first time upon its waters. He commanded the ship "Alert," (which has been made famous in connection with the book entitled "Two Years Before the Mast," by Richard H. Dana, Jr.), the following year after Mr. Dana returned in it from California as a passenger.
In 1849 he was in California, at the time when gold was discovered, and on his return soon after he brought some of the first gold specimens to Boston, with reliable information about the mines. For his last voyage he went on a trip around the world, after which he retired in 1857, passing the remainder of his life in his pleasant Lexington home. He was well known for his dry wit and humor, and his family and friends spent many happy hours as he related to them his entertaining and strange experiences in many parts of the world. He was a ready writer and was the author of a book entitled "Fore and Aft, or Leaves from the Life of an Old Sailor," under the nom de plume of "Webfoot." He died August 15, 1875, at Magnolia, the summer home of Charles C. Goodwin, within a few miles of Gloucester, the place of his birth.
Lusanna Tucker Bryant Phelps, wife of William Dane Phelps, was born in East Lexington, July 11,1804. She attended the Young Ladies' Seminary at Ipswich, under the instruction of Mary Grant and Mary Lyon, afterwards becoming a very successful teacher. She married Captain Phelps in 1834. She accompanied him on one voyage up the Mediterranean sea, but the most of her life was spent in Lexington. Her memory of places and people was remarkably clear and exact, and she often entertained her friends with narrating her experiences. Both she and her husband were members of the Baptist church, and were actively engaged in promoting benevolent work at home and abroad. She died August 23, 1885. Children: 1. Lusanna Tucker, born November 18, 1836, died April 30, 1872. 2. Alice Dodge, born October 18, 1838; married Charles C. Goodwin, October 15, 1862. 3. Edwin Buckingham, born April 14, 1845, died September 4, 1849.
(The Coffin Line.)
Arms—Azure, semee of crosses crosslet or, two batons in saltire encircled with laurel branches gold between three plates.
Crest—On the stern of a ship or, a pigeon, wings endorsed argent, in the beak a sprig of laurel vert .
Motto—Extant recti factis praemia. (The rewards of good deeds endure).
Peter Coffin was the son of Tristram Coffin, of Newbury, where the family early settled. He came to Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1688, and occupied the large tract of land, of about five hundred acres, between Annisquan and Chebacco rivers, that his father had purchased the same year of Jonathan Willoughby, of London, England. How long he remained there is uncertain.
Peter Coffin, the grandson of Peter Coffin, took possession of his grandfather's property about the year of 1747, and resided there until his removal to the harbor. Soon after his arrival in Gloucester he began to take a part in public affairs, and continued upwards of forty years a prominent and useful citizen. In the earliest stages of the Revolution he embraced the Colonial cause with enthusiastic ardor, and ceased not to devote all his energies to the public good until independence was declared. As his farm was at an inconvenient distance from the village for an actor in the stirring events of the time, he took a house in town about the commencement of the war, and resided there until his death, which occurred February 14, 1796, at the age of seventy-two years.
The high estimate placed upon his services by his townsmen is sufficiently attested by his repeated election to offices of trust and responsibility. He served from 1753 to 1777, with the exception of two years, on the Board of Selectmen. In 1774 he was first chosen representative to the General Court, and filled this office several times between that period and the last year of his service, 1792. He also served as one of the Senators from Essex county, Massachusetts. He was the principal acting magistrate in Gloucester, Massachusetts, for many years.
Peter Coffin was united in marriage with Miss Mary Currier, of Amesbury, Massachusetts, and they were the parents of ten children, of whom three were sons, namely: Peter, William and Tristram. Peter graduated at Harvard College in 1769, and commenced studying law with Judge Sargent at Haverhill, Massachusetts, but conceiving a dislike for the profession, he abandoned his studies, and took up his abode as a shopkeeper in his native town of Gloucester. He died at the age of seventy-two years, on August 4, 1821. He was united in marriage with Miss Mary Parkman (Polly), a daughter of the Rev. Eli Forbes, further mentioned. She died in 1795, at the age of forty years. Mary Forbes Coffin, the daughter of Peter and Polly (Forbes) Coffin, became the wife of