The C.W. Morgan’s Sister-Sailors

The Charles W. Morgan, whaleship; is Mystic Seaport’s pride and joy and is currently undergoing a four-year renovation project.  It is hoped the multi-million dollar project will be completed by 2013, at which time she will travel up the northeastern coast to temporarily return to her home port of New Bedford, MA.  She was originally built by the Hillman Brothers’ New Bedford shipyard and was launched in July 1841. For the next eighty years, through 1921 and thirty-seven voyages, she traversed the seven seas in search of whale product(spermaceti, whale oil, whalebone, and ambergris). During her whaling career that spanned nearly a century, she earned well over $1,400,000 from whale product.  Her most lucrative years occurred during her fourth and sixth voyages: her fourth from 1853-1856, earning $76, 183.64, under Tristan P. Ripley, Master; and the sixth (1859-1863), mastered by James. A. Hamilton with cargo valued at $165,405,74. During her eighty years at sea, the Morgan was a “home at sea” for more than 1,000 crew members, over two dozen captains, five wives and two children.

Of the numerous CW Morgan whaling masters’ wives, the first wife to brave the seven seas with her husband, was Mrs. Lydia Ann (Goodspeed) Landers, married to Captain Thomas C. Landers. She lived aboard the Morgan from 1864-1867. During this voyage under Captain Landers, her cargo was valued at $50,014.13.  The second wife wouldn’t follow in Lydia’s footsteps for another ten years. She was Mrs. Clara Tinkham, wife of Captain John M. Tinkham, lived on board from 1875-1878. That three-year voyage, the tenth for the Morgan, the cargo was valued at $25,000.40. From 1883 through 1884, Mrs. Charles F. Keith and son called the Morgan home.  This twelfth voyage of the Morgan lasted five years (1881-1886), but only earned $26, 545.05. Loyal wife number four was Mrs. Honor (Matthews) Earle and later, their son, Jamie; the family of Captain James A.M. Earle. They set up housekeeping at sea from 1890-1896.  But it should be noted that during this near-decade time frame, the Earles made six different voyages that lasted only about one year each. By then, the Morgan called San Francisco her home port, not New Bedford. During those six years, the Morgan’s cargo totaled approximately $107,686.00.  Mrs. Charlotte “Lottie” (Ott) Church was the last Charles W. Morgan wife to live at sea with her husband, Captain Charles W. Church. She lived aboard for only one year, 1913. During her husband’s tenure (1911-1913) as master, the value of the Morgan’s cargo was $44,225.76. 

Sources for above information is based on a compilation of primary documents of the Charles W. Morgan: Journals, New Bedford Whaling Newspaper-Whalemen’ Shipping Lists, forty-seven logbooks, information from the National Archives and numerous non-fiction authors; found primarily in John F. Leavitt’s publication, The Charles W. Morgan




  1. Hello,my name is Brian and my girlfriends’ family has a scrimshaw looks to be about a yard long,it has on it MS MORGAN and it’s dated 1843,so I was researching it and came across this PAGE and others trying to find out more,I know from watching programs on television that there are a lot of fakes out there,it was purchase about 40 years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia ,Canada.
    Was just wondering if anyone was interested, in helping me find out more about it I could send some pictures if that would help. Thanks Brian

    • Although I’m quite knowledgeable regarding scrimshaw, I am by no means an expert. Therefore, I suggest you contact the Research and Collections Dept. at Mystic Seaport Museum – I’m sure someone there will be more help. If you go to the museum’s main website at, there will be a main phone number; from there ask for the Collections Dept. and ask to speak to someone who has some knowledge of scrimshaw. If they can’t help you, I’m sure they will direct you to someone who can.

  2. I have a family connection to the Charles W. Morgan. My great-grandfather, Benjamin R. White, sailed on the Morgan as 3rd mate with Capt. Thomas C. Landers. And Capt. Lander’s wife is my great-great Aunt. My father and I have been researching these people for years. I have a copy of the book by John F. Leavitt, that helped some in our research. My father grew up in Fall River, Massachuetts and remembered playing on the Morgan while it was at Colonel Green’s Estate, not knowing then it had ties to his family. My Father has pasted away and I am still working on our family history. I have a question that I hope you can answer. I know that Lydia Goodspeed Landers want across the country to San Fransisco to meet up with the Morgan so she could sail with her husband. Do you have any documentation on how she traveled across country, a women alone. She was one brave woman. My Dad said he had been told she stayed at the Cliff House in San Fransisco while she waited for the ship. But I haven’t found anything in his papers that confirm this. Ant information would be great, Thanks, Diane Faltus Reed

  3. My great aunt sailed and help navigate the Morgan ship with her husband Charles Church as the captain.

  4. I’ve been on that ship! It was back in 1986 at Mystic Seaport, when they had done an earlier restoration. It was nice to see the newest renovation where they actually took the ship out to sea to various New England Ports. The ship was so dark and small below deck, I cannot imagine living on it!

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