Witchcraft (clipper)

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United States
Name: Witchcraft
Owner: S. Rogers & W.D. Pickman, Salem, MA
Builder: Paul Curtis & Taylor, Chelsea, MA[1][2][3]
Launched: Dec. 21, 1850[4]
Acquired: "Sold to T. Magoun & Sons, Boston, for $66,000", 1854[2]
Fate: Lost Apr. 8, 1861, "en route to Hampton Roads, VA, from Callao, Peru. Went ashore on Chicamanconic in sight of Cape Hatteras and Bodie Lights and was pounded to pieces."[4]
General characteristics
Class and type: Clipper
Tons burthen: 1310 tons OM[5]
Length: 193 ft. OA
Beam: 39 ft. 4 in.
Draft: 22 ft.
Notes: 2 decks [4]

The Witchcraft was a clipper built in 1850 for the California and China trade. She made record passages from Rio de Janeiro to San Francisco, and from San Francisco to Callao, Peru.


The Witchcraft was described as a very beautiful ship, with a figurehead of "a grim Salem witch riding upon her aerial broomstick."[5]


Witchcraft Curtis Taylor MIT.jpg

Witchcraft was commanded by Captain William C. Rogers, a son of one of the owners.

In 1852, on a voyage from San Francisco to Hong Kong, she lost her main and mizzen masts with all sails and rigging attached during a severe typhoon in the China Sea. [5]

Ports of call during her career included New York, San Francisco, Boston, Shanghai, Manila, Melbourne, and Mauritius. [2] On the 2nd of January, 1859, W.C. Rogers Company in Boston accepted the draft of Captain J.W. Booth in a letter sent from London for 358 pounds, paying for Captain J.W. Booth's appointment as captain of the Witchcraft.

Records set between Rio and San Francisco, San Francisco and Callao[edit]

In 1851 she sailed from New York to San Francisco in 128 days, of which 21 days was spent in Rio de Janeiro to replace the mizzen mast. [6]"The continued voyage from Rio de Janeiro took 62 days which is the fastest passage on record." [2] The Game Cock, a clipper "of similar tonnage" which had left New York for San Francisco one day earlier, was also pushing hard and spent 57 days in Rio for repairs to her mainmast, resulting in a 128-day passage. [6]

In 1854, she "sailed from New York to San Francisco in 98 days" and "San Francisco to Callao in 32 days. This is the fastest passage on record." [2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The New Clipper Ship Witchcraft, of Salem - Boston Daily Atlas, January 20, 1851
  2. ^ a b c d e Bruzelius, Lars (2000-01-12). "Clipper Ships: Witchcraft (1850)". The Maritime History Virtual Archives. Retrieved May 10, 2010. 
  3. ^ Clipper ships built in the United States
  4. ^ a b c Crothers, William L. (1997). The American-Built Clipper Ship, 1850-1856: Characteristics, Construction, Details. Camden, ME: International Marine. pp. xv, etc. ISBN 0-07-014501-6. 
  5. ^ a b c Clark, Arthur H. (1910). The Clipper Ship Era, An Epitome of Famous American and British Clipper Ships, Their Owners, Builders, Commanders, and Crews, 1843-1869. Camden, ME: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. pp. 136, 140, 302, 350, etc. 
  6. ^ a b Cutler, Carl C. (1960). Greyhounds of the Sea. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. pp. 179–180. 

External links[edit]