William Fagins, Seaman

William Fagins. This Fagins may be the William Fagins, Jr. who served in Capt John Stanton’s Groton Company in the Fourth Regiment of Connecticut Troops Commanded by Eleazer Fitch Esq in 1759 with Abel Spicer and 2nd Lieutenant Robert Niles. Reuben Godfrey in his pension application #S-15152, well recalls “a coloured or mulatto man on board the Cromwell by the name of William or Will Fagins and thinks he was a substitute for one of the young men from Stonington.” Daniel Frick, a declarent in the same application, describes William Fagin as an Indian and “first rate seaman.” He testified, “I was well acquainted with Capt. William Coit, who commanded the ship Oliver Cromwell which ship lay for a long time in the harbour of New London under the command of said Coit. While said Coit was in command of said ship as aforesaid there was a very heavy draft made from the militia to join the main army, three young men of my neighbours & acquaintances were drafted from the militia to join the Army, their names were Phineas Munsell, John Trant & Notemiah Williams, said Munsell was a brother in law of mine & the other two were my neighbours, all were married men & industrious farmers, these three young men ascertained that by shipping on board the Oliver Cromwell they could get clear of said draft from the militia and have time to get in their harvest before they should be called for to go to sea in the Oliver Cromwell, as they were not bound to go on board the Cromwell till notified they were wanted. These young men were notified that they must be on board the Cromwell on a given day. These young men had never been to sea, they hired three substitutes to take their places on board the Cromwell, two of whom, William Fagins & Peleg Zacus, both Indians, were first rate seamen, the third, Joseph Hewitt had been some at sea; these three young men applied to me to come to New London to see Capt. Coit of the Cromwell, to see if he would not take these three substitutes and release them, Capt. Coit knew all these substitutes and that two of them were first rate seamen, I came to Capt Coit who said he would take the substitutes, but not until the three young men who had shipped, should come on board the Cromwell and present themselves to him on board the ship, I sent for the young men & they came over, Capt. Coit gave them a severe lecture, then accepted the substitutes and discharged the young men, Capt Coit lectured them with great severity on the subject of their want of patriotism.” According to New London’s Indian Mariners by Jason R. Mancini adapted from his article in Perspectives on Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Power in Maritime America, Mystic Seaport (2006); “A number of the workers (on the Confederacy) were associated with the Mohegan community directly across the river. Many of these men, including Peter Neshoe, Thomas Mosset, Turtle Hunter, Gurden Wyaugs, Ebenezer Tanner, Daniel Uncas, Dennis Mohegan, Simeon Ashbow, and James Jeffrey, were almost exclusively employed as ships riggers between October 1778 and February 1779. The nature of this work, which involved detailed knowledge of ship engineering and operation, suggests that these men were all by this time experienced mariners and recognized as such. Furthermore, men from various Indian communities, including some of those involved in the construction of the Confederacy, later sailed as crew members: Simeon Ashbow and Daniel Uncas as marines, Ebenezer Tanner as a cook’s mate, and William Fagins, Jonas Peege, and Turtle Hunter as seamen.” William Fagins is listed with other crew of the Confederacy in Silas Cleveland’s pension file #S-12486.

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