Graph from article in the Boston Globe about the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635.
On the last Wednesday of May, 1635, the Angel Gabriel, a 240 ton ship set out from England, bound for New England. The ship had been commissioned as the Starre for Sir Walter Raleigh’s last expedition to America in 1617. It was stout and built for combat armed with 16 guns, but on this final journey, it would cross paths with the most intense hurricane in New England history.
Alan Dunham of the National Weather Service office in Taunton reviewed accounts from mariners and settlers of New England and pieced together an estimated storm track and surge pattern for the Great Colonial Hurricane of Aug. 25-26, 1635, which reportedly “caused ye sea to swell about 20 foote,” and had the highest storm surge in recorded U.S. history.
Plaque at the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Maine
The Angel Gabriel was captained by Robert Andrews of Norwich, Norfolk County, England and was joined on the journey by the James, the Elizabeth (Bess), the Mary and the Diligence. As they approached the North American coastline, the unusually powerful early season hurricane struck. The Category 3 hurricane was moving faster than 30 mph with maximum winds of 130 mph. The three smaller ships were bound for Newfoundland and outran the storm, safely reaching their destination,
The larger and heavier James and the Angel Gabriel were on a course for New England. The James anchored off the Isle of Shoals but all three anchors were lost. It managed to limp into Boston two days later, its sails ripped apart, with all one hundred-plus passengers surviving. The Angel Gabriel took refuge in Pemaquid Bay and most of its passengers managed to disembark before the ship broke apart and sank with the loss of several lives. A bark commanded by Captain Gallop made several trips to Boston transporting the survivors, many of whom made their way to Ipswich and became prominent founding members of the community. A new commemorative plaque was installed at Pemaquid in 2010.
The principal passenger was John Cogswell from Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire, born in 1592. He was a man of wealth and standing, married to Elizabeth Thompson, a daughter of the Vicar of Westbury parish. They embarked with eight of their nine children on the Angel Gabriel accompanied by his servants and many of their belongings for the new settlement at Ipswich. Cogswell and his family were swept from the deck and washed ashore, and more than £5000 worth of property, including cattle, furniture, and money were lost to the sea. Cogswell and his family were eventually transported to Ipswich, where he acquired a sizable estate in an area called Chebacco, which is now Essex. A house on that property, Cogswell’s Grant in Essex, is owned by Historic New England and is open to the public. Cogswell’s reputation and his comparative wealth gave him a leading position in the town.
The Burnham-Giddings house on Argilla Road was built by Thomas Burnham, descendant of the Thomas Burnham who survived the wreck of the Angel Gabriel.
Also among the survivors of the Angel Gabriel who managed to eventually reach Ipswich were Deacon John Burnham, Robert Burnham, and Lt.Thomas Burnham, who was made Selectman in 1647 and was Deputy to the General Court from 1683 to 1685. In 1667 he was granted the right to erect a sawmill on the Chebacco River. He owned land both in Chebacco and in Ipswich, which was divided between his sonsThomas and James upon his death.
The Burnham-Patch house at the corner of Poplar and Turkey Shore Road was probably built on the foundation of an earlier Burnham family dwelling.
One of the many historic properties associated with this family is the Burnham-Patch House at 1 Turkey Shore Road in Ipswich. Although it dates to the 1730’s, it appears to have been built on the floor plan of an earlier house from the 1670’s. Heavy quarter-round chamfered framing timbers in the cellar provide evidence of the earlier structure. The large ell on Poplar Street was added in the early nineteenth-century. The Burnham Patch house and the Heard-Lakeman dwelling across the street have two of the original covenants established with the Ipswich Historical Commission, featured in the book “Something to Preserve.”
The David Burnham house in Essex
The David Burnham House on Pond Street in Essex is said to have been built c. 1684 by David Burnham, son of Thomas Burnham, and remained remained in the Burnham family for almost 150 years. It was the subject of restoration work in the early 20th century by the Essex Institute under the auspices of George Francis Dow. The kitchen fireplace was the largest known to have been uncovered in Essex County at that time.
The White Horse Inn on High Street was built by Corporal John Andrews, son of the captain of the Angel Gabriel.
Captain Robert Andrews and his three nephews who had accompanied him also settled in Chebacco. Land records from 1635 show that his house lot adjoined the properties of Thomas Firman, John Perkins Jr, John Cross, Richard Hoffield and Thomas Hardy. Andrews apparently decided he was through with the maritime industry, and was allowed to sell wine by retail, “if he do not wittingly sell to such as abuse it by drunkenness.” His son Corporal John Andrews built the large house on High street, where he operated the White Horse Inn.
The Tuttle-Lord-Shatswell house on High Street
About John Tuttle, age 17, there is considerable confusion. It is reported that he settled in Chebacco but eventually moved to Dover, New Hampshire, where he became known to locals as “Shipwreck John Tuttle.” Other oral history suggests that he walked from Pemaquid to Dover. He is apparently not the same John Tuttle, age 39, who arrived with his family in the “Planter” in 1635, but went to Ireland a decade later and never returned. Town deeds record that John Tuttle purchased a lot along the Ipswich River cove near the present County Street in July, 1638 but sold that property three months later to Reginald Foster. His son Simon Tuttle built a portion of the Tuttle-Lord-Shatswell house which still stands on High Street.
The Angel Gabriel was similar to the Mayflower but a couple of feet longer and carried four more guns.
Many other ships and lives were lost in that storm, including 21 passengers on a small bark who had set out from Ipswich on August 21. As they rounded Cape Ann they were suddenly met by the force of the winds. Reverend Avery, his wife and nine children and his cousin Antony Thacher, his wife and six children were on board, bound for Marblehead where Rev. Avery was to become pastor of that church. Mr. and Mrs Thatcher were thrown onto the rocks on the place now known as Thatcher’s Island and were the only survivors. He recorded the terror:
Thatcher’s Island off of Cape Ann
“And as my cousin, his wife, and my tender babes sat comforting and cheering one the other in the Lord against ghastly death, which every moment stared us in the face, and sat triumphing upon each others’ forehead, we were by the violence of the waves and the fury of the winds (by the Lord’s permission), lifted up upon a rock between two high rocks, yet all was one rock, but it raged with the stroke which came into the pinnace. The waves came furiously and violently over and against us.”“Now look with me upon my distress and consider my misery… my goods and provisions swimming in the seas, my friends almost drowned, and mine own poor children so untimely… before mine eyes drowned and ready to be swallowed up, and dashed to pieces against the rocks by the merciless waves, and myself ready to accompany them.”
Read more about the Great Colonial Hurricane