Samuel Starbuck

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Starbuck Archive. Photo: Catherine Southon Auctioneers.

“In his notes, Starbuck (1762-1829) wrote: “Not only the floors and the platforms are entirely covered with bodies, but the bodies actually touch each other, how wretched must have been their situations…” His descendant said it was likely that, as a young man in whaling, Starbuck had witnessed aspects of slavery first-hand. “It would have been almost inconceivable for them not to have come across slavery in some form or other in various ports that they visited.””

“The Starbuck family were prominent in the Anti-Slavery movement both in the UK and the USA. Having been involved in the founding of Nantucket, members of the family emigrated to Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, South Wales after the American Revolutionary War and continued their successful Whaling business. The family who were Quakers were active abolitionists throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.”

“The Starbuck family, originally from Derbyshire, emigrated to Dover in the North American colony of New Hampshire in about 1635. The island of Nantucket, off Massachusetts, was granted to Thomas Mayhew and his son in 1641; they combined with others to buy the island from its Indian owners. By c. 1660, Nathaniel Starbuck was one of the associates. In 1725, Nathaniel Starbuck of Sherborn, blacksmith, granted land to his son Paul, including land that had formerly belonged to his brother Barnabas. Paul Starbuck described himself in his will of 1759 as a glazier; Samuel Starbuck described himself as a mariner in 1745, as a glazier in deeds dated between 1751 and 1763, and as a merchant, 1772-1783. In 1791 Samuel Starbuck, now of [Dartmouth], Nova Scotia, merchant, sold Samuel Starbuck & Co. to William Hussey of Sherborn, merchant. Samuel Starbuck’s will was proved at Canterbury in May 1805. Samuel Starbuck of Nantucket, mariner, bought the sloop Unity in 1745, with all appurtenances, except for some whaling equipment. The first American Quaker whalers arrived in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, from Nantucket in 1792. The Starbuck family is said to have sailed to Milford Haven on the whaler Aurora. By 1800, Daniel Starbuck held land in Milford and Steynton, and had goods distrained for the non-payment of tithes in four of the six years 1810-1815. Samuel Starbuck probably died in 1819, when his estate included half of the stock in trade of Daniel & Paul Starbuck, joiners (£5,020), the lighter Upton Castle, and the brig Diligence. The Starbucks were related to the Penrose family of Waterford, Ireland, merchants, who were fellow Quakers.”