The Boston was a brigantine, which in the industry is defined as a two-masted square-rigged vessel. This drawing shows us exactly what that means.
The last true brigantine in the world still sailing, is the Eye of the Wind. You can see a collection of videos of the ship in action here.
It now operates as a charter vessel for passengers to enjoy a hands-on vacation/education experience. In some of the videos you can see how immensely labor-intensive sailing such a vessel could be with all of its complicated rigging, the heights scaled and the constant maintenance involved. Along with giving a vivid picture of the sailing ship itself, some of the videos are almost comical in the sense of showing us exactly what it was NOT like on this voyage.... no clean functioning toilets or gleaming state-of-the-art galley facilities... no fancy navigation electronics and no one serving hors d'oeuvres on the deck at sunset! But other than that it is the last glimpse we have of this particular kind of ship and it gives us a vivid picture of what it might have been like for John R Jewitt.
The brigantine was larger than a sloop, which was generally the more popular ship design of the time, but the brigantine could handle more cargo and was more easily maneuvered even with the added weight. This design was the result of advancements in the intensely competitve technology that enabled faster more efficient transportation of goods around the world, and meant untold wealth for those who achieved success. Not unlike the entrepreneurs of today's tech industry, these adventurers were disrupting the merchants of the slow Old World and creating new, and daring ways to "push the envelope," bypassing the old limitations in order to make everything in the world more quickly and easily connected. Then as today, there were many benefits and many consequences to follow.
It is interesting that this model of ship with its utility, along with speed and flexibility, was popular with both the merchants and pirates of the day... which begs the question: was there a difference? We will have to save that debate for some other time should we ever get around to discusssing the effects of the 19th century merchant trade industry on the environment and indigeneous populations -- among other things... but let's not put a moralistic damper on the excitement of this particular moment in time when indeed for John R. Jewitt and his fellow voyagers to the New World, everything seemed possible.
Once established in Hull, John tells us that most of the customers for his father's blacksmithing trade were American sea captains...
"from whose conversation, my father as well as myself formed the most favourable
opinon of that country, as affording an excellent field for the exertions of industry,
and a flattering prospect for the establishment of a young man in life."
There was one American in particular, Capt. John Salter of the ship Boston out of Boston, Massachusetts who had arrived in Hull and employed the services of Jewitt's shop to prepare his ship for an extended voyage to the North West coast of America.
(And here, can't help but remark on the coincidence of all these "Boston's" --
the ship, the American city and of course John R. Jewitt's hometown.)
When the Boston arrived at Hull in 1802, it was during the height of a very lucrative merchant trading industry that encompassed a vast and sophisticated network of participants including London, New England, Hawaii (then known as the Sandwich Islands), Canada, Alaska and China. The network centered largely on the thriving sea otter fur trade on the North West coast of the Americas at Nootka Sound off Vancouver Island -- exactly where Capt. Salter was headed. While at Hull he intended to load up the Boston with a cargo of what was said to be the finest and most varied assortment of trading goods at the time. These included English cloths, Dutch blankets, looking glasses, beads, knives, sugar, molasses, cutlasses, pistols, muskets and about twenty hogsheads of rum which comes out to about 1,480 gallons -- yes, to be traded to the Indians, and not to be enjoyed by the crew!
The Jewitts struck up a friendship with Capt. Salter over the summer while the work was being done on his ship, and eventually the captain -- noticing John's interest -- proposed that he join the crew and offered him a job as armourer (or blacksmith). The voyage would proceed to the North West Coast trading goods for furs and from there to China where the furs would be traded for Chinese luxury items, finally ending up in Boston, Massachusetts where Capt. Salter promised John he would help him get started in a trade or business in America. Needless to say, his father was reluctant, but excited, recognizing the immense opportunity for his son, and John's eagerness to set out on an adventure with the chance to make his fortune, Edward finally (once again) gave in to John's entreaties.
The enormity of such a journey for a nineteen-year-old young man is just amazing when you stop to think about it.... and John's father had a few solemn prophetic words for him, upon his departure:
"The ship being loaded and ready for sea, as I was preparing for my departure,
my father came to me, and taking me aside, said to me with much emotion,
John, I am now going to part with you, and heaven only knows if we shall
ever again meet. But in whatever part of the world you are, always bear it
in mind that on your own conduct will depend your success in life."
Links to Related Sites
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
Rod Collins - Lincolnshire Thro' History, Life, Lens and Words
The Old Palace Lincoln - Elegant Bed and Breakfast
National Portrait Gallery - London
College of Arms
The Jewett Family of America
History and Geneaology of the Jewitts of America
Marvinas Bay Lodge
First Peoples of Canada