Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s

Benjamin Williams

Born 1839, Fishgard, Wales; Died March 4, 1884 at sea

Captain Benjamin Williams.1863-1864: Andes, Caldera, Iquique

1865: Swordfish, Valparaiso, 2nd mate:
January 7, 1865 Daily Alta California lists the Swordfish as arriving from Hong Kong with "No mark, 1 mat Sugar."

1866-1869: Cormorant, San Francisco, 2nd mate

1869-1874: Cape Clear, San Francisco to Sydney, mate

  • British Ship Cape Clear, 860 tons, arrived San Francisco August 17, 1866, Captain Keller, 129 days from Liverpool. Merchandise to Hellmann Bros. & Co.
  • Cape Clear sailed from San Francisco October 25, 1866, Captain Keller (Liverpool)

1874-1875: Cordillera, Captain (San Francisco)

January 16, 1875, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Br. Ship Cordillera, Capt. Williams, from Liverpool, will commence discharging at Greenwich wharf on Tuesday, January 19th, 1875. Consignees will please call at the office of the undersigned, pay freight and receive orders for thier goods. All merchandise when landed on the wharf will be entirely at the risk of the owners thereof (without regard to weather) and if not removed before 5 o'clock P.M. of each day's discharge will be stored at their risk and expense.

j15. Rodgers, Meyer & Co., Consignees

January 17, 1875, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Br. Ship Cordillera, (607 tons) Capt. Williams, from Liverpool. Neither the Master nor the undersigned Consignees of the above-named vessel, will be responsible for any debts that may be contracted by the crew.

jl4 RODGERS, MEYER & CO, Consignees

January 19, 1875, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

British Ship Cordillera Ad January 19, 1875.

  • January 19, 1875: The ship Cordillera goes to the foot of Sacramento street today.
  • February 6, 1875: British ship Cordillera, 885 tons, has been taken for Wheat to Cork; private.

February 15, 1875, Daily Alta California, San Francisco
Br. Ship Cordillera, Capt. Williams, from Liverpool. All claims against this vessel must be presented (in dupliate) at the office of the undersigned on our before Saturday, February 13, 1875, or they will not be allowed.

f12 Rodgers, Meyer & Co., Consignees

  • February 22, 1875: The Cordillera has been moved to Front-street wharf to load wheat.

March 6, 1875, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California: The number of vessels in San Francisco loading wheat on ship's account is unusually large, embracing the Britannia, Cultivator, Cordillera, Hoogley, Kirkwood, Monmouthshire, Prince Oscar, Respigadera, Vancouver, Van Dieman and Wasdale.

  • July 23 1875: The ship Cordillera arrived at Queenstown from San Francisco.
  • October 22, 1875: Vessels Loading: Cordillera, Williams.

1875-1880: Cormorant, Captain


March 29, 1878, Daily Alta California, San Francisco: British ship Cormorant, 1116 tons. Flour to Liverpool. 2, 7s, 6d.

May 14, 1878, Daily Alta California, San Francisco: Cormorant To Liverpool: Copper Ore, ctls 744; Wheat, ctls: 18,924 from Vallejo, Starr & Co.; Flour, hf sks, 15,000; Value: $77,940.

July 10, 1879, Daily Alta California, San Francisco: Tonnage Engaged and Disengaged: Wheat charters are quoted on a basis of 43s fid for wooden vessels to Liverpool. The Cormorant was "disengaged" as of this writing: Cormorant, 1,116 tons.

August 20, 1879, Daily Alta California, San Francisco: British Bark Cormorant, 1116 tons, Wheat to Liverpool, home charter.

August 28, 1876, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California:
FLOUR: The Cormorant will load a full cargo at Vallejo for England, the first full cargo of the kind this season. No change in quotations.

On Board.

1881-1884: Pizarro, Australia

January 28, 1882, Pacific Rural Press: British iron ship Pizarro, 1,392 tons, Liverpool or Havre, 3, 7s, 6d.

Vessel not heard of since March 2, 1884. Supposed drowned
(Late of Goodwick, PEM, died March 4, 1884 at sea.)

September 6, 1884: 693 to widow Mary Williams.

Rounding the Horn.New York to Cape Horn to San Francisco.
Rounding the Horn: Being the Story of Williwaws and Windjammers, Drake, Darwin, Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives--a Deck's-eye View of Cape HornNew York to Cape Horn to San Francisco.
Dallas Murphy
Fifty-five degrees 59 minutes South by 67 degrees 16 minutes West: Cape Horn—a buttressed pyramid of crumbly rock situated at the very bottom of South America—is a place of forlorn and foreboding beauty that has captured the dark imaginations of explorers and writers from Francis Drake to Joseph Conrad. For centuries, the small stretch of water between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula was the only gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It’s a place where the storms are bigger, the winds stronger, and the seas rougher than anywhere else on earth. In Rounding the Horn the author brings the reader along for a thrilling, exuberant tour. Weaving together stories of his own nautical adventures with long-lost tales of those who braved the Cape before him—from Spanish missionaries to Captain Cook—and interspersing them with breathtaking descriptions of the surrounding wilderness,

Around Cape Horn Sailing DVD. New York to Cape Horn to San Francisco.
Around Cape Horn: Capt. Irving Johnson Sailing DVDNew York to Cape Horn to San Francisco.
Few will ever experience such adverse conditions especially considering 1920's square rigger design, the technology and lack of meteorology available to assist the crews manage four masted ships with huge sail plans. Along with the challenging seas, this highly-regarded film was shot when cameras were bulky. Captain Irving is engaging. Actors were not used. This is real footage with real people.

The Authority to Sail.The Authority to Sail: The History of U.S. Maritime Licenses and Seamen's PapersThe Authority to Sail.
Robert Stanley Bates, George Marsh (Editor), John F. Whiteley (Forward) (Batek Marine Publishing, 2011; Nominated in 2012 for a Pulitzer Prize)
This book depicts important aspects of our maritime history as a result of original research done by the author, Commodore Bates, the holder of an unlimited master's license who has enjoyed a distinguished fifty-year career in both the Coast Guard and the American Merchant Marine.

The U.S. Coast Guard issues all Captain Licenses for U.S. Ports.
Note: Other countries have different regulations, i.e. the RYA (Royal Yachting Association), conducts certification for Britain and Ireland. As of 2011, they did not recognize the USCG certification; certification through their courses was required.

Master Unlimited is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of a vessel any gross tons. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws. All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his or her ultimate responsibility. The STCW defines the Master as Person having command of the ship.

The Sea Chart
The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational ChartsThe Sea Chart.
The Sea Chart.The Sea Chart.
John Blake
The sea chart was one of the key tools by which ships of trade, transport and conquest navigated their course across the oceans. Herein is a history and development of the chart and the related nautical map, in both scientific and aesthetic terms, as a means of safe and accurate seaborne navigation. 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by 13th-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as 18th-century charts that became strategic naval and commercial requirements and led to Cook's voyages in the Pacific, the search for the Northwest Passage, and races to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Get Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition Get Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition. Charlie  Wing.
Charlie Wing
Considered the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to prepare for the U.S. Coast Guard captain's ratings exams required for anyone who takes paying passengers on a boat, and useful for serious boaters who want to save money on insurance. 350 pages of seamanship and navigation tutorials. More than 1,500 questions and answers from the Coast Guard exams. Includes an interactive CD-ROM with all 14,000 questions and answers in the USCG database, so you can take an unlimited number of practice exams

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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