CHARLES W. MORGAN: Captains’ Wives

Captain and Mrs. James A.M. Earle and son Jamie on deck of the Charles W. Morgan.

Captain and Mrs. James A.M. Earle and son Jamie on deck of the Charles W. Morgan.

In the 1820s, American whaling vessel captains began bringing their wives to sea with them for the long voyages away from home. For some wives, their time at sea was an ordeal. For others, it was a very enjoyable experience.

During the course of her 80-year whaling career, the Charles W. Morgan was home to five such women: Lydia Ann Goodspeed Landers; 20-year-old Clara Tinkham; Mrs. Charles S. Keith, on board for the Morgan‘s longest and most challenging voyage; Honor Matthews Earle; and the Morgan‘s assistant navigator Charlotte Ott Church who had already been “around the Horn” in a whaler when she accompanied her husband in the early 20th century.

The lives of these “sister sailors” were very different from those of women ashore, and their presence, as well as that of their children, made life aboard the whaler a very different experience for the captains and crews.