Josiah Shackford, Lieutenant

Second Lieutenant Josiah Shackford (2/7/1745-7/26/1829) of Portsmouth joined the Raleigh on 5 August 1776 and probably remained on board until her capture in 1778. According to British shipping records, Josiah Shackford was master of a number of ships trading in the West Indies immediately prior to the Revolution. In 1772, he commanded the 110 ton ship Middlesex built in Piscatagua in 1769 for owner John Langdon on a cruise to Montserrat. He travelled to St. Christopher’s and Montserrat again in 1772 and 1773 as master of the newly built 200 ton Montserrat Planter for owner John Langdon. Shackford cruised to Nevis in 1775 as captain of the 120 ton ship Marlborough built in Piscatagua the previous year for Woodbury Langdon. After serving on the Raleigh, in 1780 Shackford was master of the New Hampshire privateer ship Diana of ten guns owned by Thomas Martin and George Wentworth of Portsmouth. Shackford married his stepsister Deborah Marshall (d. 16 February 1826) on 21 February 1771. It is said that during one absence at sea, his father Josiah Shackford, Sr. married Madame Eleanor Marshall and moved into the mansion built by her father Nathaniel Mendum on the South side of State Street opposite Mulberry. “When he returned home, he sought the residence of his father. He met Deborah at the door. As soon as he saw her he fell desperately in love, and determined in his mind to make her his wife: but on making a declaration, she refused him, saying she had no heart to bestow, as hers was engaged to another. He however persisted in his suit, declaring she was the one who was raised up before him by an astrologer in Europe, and he should marry her or nobody. She being naturally of an amiable and condescending disposition, like a dutiful child took her parents’ advice and married him.” He sailed ships out of New York for many years. It is said, “He wished his wife to move to New York, but she refused to leave Portsmouth, and for several years she did not hear from him, when he returned suddenly to Portsmouth, put up at the hotel, took tea with his wife, and left the town next morning, never to return.” “In the Essex Journal and New Hampshire Packet of 2 May 1787, we find the following, related by a gentleman at New York, “A Mr. Shackford, sometime since, from Piscataqua, having the misfortune of discontent with his wife, left that place for Surinam. On his arrival there, he left the vessel he first sailed in, and took the command of one for Europe. He performed his voyage and gave such satisfaction to his owners, that they gave him a cutter-built sloop of about 15 tons. With her he returned to Surinam ALONE, after a passage of 35 days. When he arrived, the novelty of the expedition excited unusual surprise, so far as to induce the government to take notice of the fact. Suspicions prevailed of his having dealt unfairly by the people who were supposed to have come out with him. But he produced his papers and journal, and proved his integrity so far to the satisfaction of his examiners, that they permitted him to take another man on board and proceed to St. Bartholomews, where he arrived in safety, and now follows the coasting business from that Island.” We have understood that the place in Europe which he left was Bordeaux, in France. The vessel appears to have been a personal gift to him. He engaged a man to accompany him, who becoming fearful when he put to sea, jumped on board the pilot’s boat, and left Capt. Shackford with no other companion than his dog. He was a man of too stern materials to turn about, so he undertook the voyage of three thousand miles alone.” Moving to Alexandria first in 1802, Shackford “was next heard of in Ohio, where he purchased a large tract of land when that State was almost a wilderness, laid out a township, and in commemoration of the place of his birth called it Portsmouth. He erected mills and stores, and built several houses. He lived alone, excepting a boy, and never would suffer a woman to enter his house, having his washing and sewing sent out and brought home by his boy. His wife, after her mother’s death (at age 91), offered to go and live with him. She wrote him several letters, but received no answer. He wrote to his nephews in Portsmouth, and said if one would come out and settle there, he would make him his heir. The late Samuel Shackford, about forty years ago, went and visited his uncle, but returned, not liking well enough to remove there. At his death he left his property to strangers. He died about forty years since (on 26 July 1829), over 80 years old, living to see his town, so beautifully situated at the junction of the Scioto and Ohio rivers, become a place of note and the chief county town. He was a studious man, intelligent, but of an eccentricity which to some minds bore marks of insanity–but those who recollect him in Ohio will not allow that he was any other than a sane man.” Shackford was a freemason.

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