The ship Angel Gabriel was a 240-ton English passenger galleon. They journeyed from England to Massachusetts in a fleet of five ships, the Angel Gabriel joined by the James, the Elizabeth (Bess), the Mary and the Diligence. They left Bristol England on 4 June 1635.
The Angel Gabriel was captained by Robert Andrews of Norwich, Norfolk, England. The voyage took a little more than 12 weeks. As they approached the coastline of New England, an unusually powerful early season hurricane struck, which came to be known as the “Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635“. This was a Category 3 hurricane that was moving faster than 30 mph, with winds as high as 130 mph. The larger and heavier James and the Angel Gabriel were forced to ride out the mighty storms of hurricane force just off the coast of modern-day Hampton, New Hampshire. The three smaller ships, bound for Newfoundland, were able to outrun the storm, and safely reached their destination on 15 August 1635.
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 on board surviving. But the Angel Gabriel did not fare as well, it was wrecked off the coast of Maine. 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.
Among the passengers on the Angel Gabriel were my ancestors John Cogswell, aged 43, and his wife Elizabeth (Thompson), along with their children: Mary, William, John, Hannah, Abigail, Edward, Sarah, Elizabeth, and servants. Their son William Cogswell is also my direct ancestor.
John Cogswell was considered one of the principal passengers. He was from Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire, England. His occupation in England was noted in some records as a “clothier” and that he was a London merchant. He was a man of wealth and standing, married to Elizabeth Thompson, a daughter of the Vicar of Westbury parish. John Cogswell left a very comfortable existence in England to come to America. They embarked with eight of their nine children on the Angel Gabriel accompanied by his servants and many of their belongings bound for the new settlement at Ipswich. It is recorded that he had with him “…several farm and household servants, an amount of valuable furniture, farming implements, housekeeping utensils, and a considerable sum of money…“
“The storm was frightful at Pemaquid, the wind blowing from the northeast, the tide rising to a very unusual height, in some places more than twenty feet right up and down; this was succeeded by another and unaccountable tidal wave still higher.”
John Cogswell and his family were swept from the deck but were able to be transported to the shore, some say they washed ashore. More than £5000 worth of his property, including cattle, furniture, and money were lost to the sea, but they were able to salvage some of their property as the waves brought it ashore.
But they came away from this harrowing experience with their lives. Five people died including crew and passengers who had stayed onboard the Angel Gabriel.
The list of famous descendants of John Cogswell and Elizabeth Thompson is a lengthy one. To name just a few:
U.S. Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Calvin Coolidge, Nathaniel Hawthorne, J.P. Morgan, Jr, Tennessee Williams, First Ladies Mamie (Doud) Eisenhower and Lou (Henry) Hoover, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and via her mother’s American ancestors this list includes Princess Diana and her sons Prince William and Harry.
The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel – Historic Ipswich
The Cogswells in America : Jameson, E. O. (Ephraim Orcutt), 1832-1902 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
Remarkable providences illustrative of the earlier days of American colonisation : Mather, Increase, 1639-1723 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
The Angel Gabriel 1635 (packrat-pro.com) – Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600’s
The Wreck of the Angel Gabriel: Colonial Pemaquid: History: Discover History & Explore Nature: State Parks and Public Lands: Maine ACF
Family History Stories – The Wreck of the Angel Gabriel – My Ancestors who Crashed into America | GREENERPASTURE
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Fantastic! How wonderful this story has survived the test of time, so many are forgotten or lost. Thanks for sharing!
Great historical content to your story. Thanks for sharing.
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