Blessing of the Bay

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Name: Blessing of the Bay
Owner: John Winthrop
Builder: Robert Molton, Mistick (now Medford, Massachusetts)
Launched: July 4, 1631
General characteristics
Class and type: Barque
Tons burthen: 30 tons

Blessing of the Bay was the second oceangoing, non-fishing vessel built in what is now the United States, preceded only by the Virginia, in 1607.[1]


The Blessing of the Bay was a thirty-ton barque or a pinnace, built largely of locust tree wood. According to John R. Spears, Blessing of the Bay was not a bark except as the term was used to designate any sailing vessel at the time. He also stated that she had one mast.[2] William H. Clark calls the Blessing of the Bay "primarily a trading vessel, but armed and designed to fight." He also stated, "she was high-bowed with one mast,[3] although another source describes her as having two masts.[1]

The ship was built for John Winthrop at Mistick (now Medford, Massachusetts), by Robert Molton and other shipwrights sent to New England in 1629 by the Massachusetts Bay Company, and was launched July 4, 1631 under the command of Anthony Dike.[4]

Coastal voyages to New Amsterdam[edit]

Blessing of the Bay was built "for the use of the Massachusetts Colony at the insistence of Governor Winthrop, and was finished under his eye, the object being to open communication with the Dutch at the mouth of the Hudson and to trade to various parts of the coast."[1]

She went to sea August 31, 1631, and carried on a coastal trade as far south as the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (New York City). "She traded regularly along the entire New England coast and around Cape Cod and Long Island and with the Dutch on Manhattan Island. She carried to the Dutch salt from sea water, maple sugar, and probably clapboards, in exchange for molasses, sugar from the West Indies, and the spices and tea that the Dutch ships brought from the East via Amsterdam."[3] Hall says that she sailed to "Long Island and other settled localities."

On November 21, 1632, according to Perley's History of Salem, Governor Winthrop called a council with Captain Neal of Portsmouth, New Hampshire to use the Blessing of the Bay to apprehend the pirate Dixie Bull, but unfavorable weather conditions prevented their pursuit.

Loss of the ship[edit]

According to Hall, Blessing of the Bay traded for only a short time. She "disappeared from view, and it is possible that she was the unfortunate vessel sent by Winthrop and others from Boston to Virginia in 1633 with a load of fish and furs and was wrecked on the capes when near her destination."[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Hall, Henry, Special Agent (1884). Report on the Ship-Building Industry of the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Office. 10th census, 1880. [Census reports]. p. 46. OCLC 5035739. 
  2. ^ Spears, John R (1930). The Story of the Merchant Marine. Macmillan. pp. 17–19. 
  3. ^ a b Clark, William Horace (1938). Ships and Sailors: The Story of Our Merchant Marine. Boston: L.C. Page & Co. pp. 15–17. 
  4. ^ Davis, Ethel Bradford; Dike, Clarence Sheldon (1965). The Dike and Dyke Family, A Genealogy Compiled by Ethel Bradford Davis and Clarence Sheldon Dike. Pawtucket, RI: Quintin Publications. p. 7. OCLC 39174748.