52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2021 – Week 45: Stormy Weather. My ancestors John Cogswell / Elizabeth Thompson – The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 – The Ship Angel Gabriel

Photo from the Pemaquid Museum. From: My Maine Ancestry: Wordless Wednesday

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.

Likely track of the Great Colonial Hurricane of August 26, 1635, with hourly positions and central pressure in millibars. Source: Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

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…

One of the memorial plaques commemorating the shipwreck of the Angel Gabriel.

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.

My 2nd great-grandfather Bradford Carroll Armstrong – the 6th great-grandson of John Cogswell and Elizabeth Thompson. 5th great-grandson of William Cogswell who was also 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

If you’d like to learn more about the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project, please visit here:

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Or join the Facebook group Generations Cafe.

If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source, please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2022. All rights reserved. Thank you.

About Anna Kasper, ACDP

I am an avid Genealogist. I am currently a student at Phillips Theological Seminary (one of the few Catholics!). I am an ACDP - Associate of the Congregation of Divine Providence (Sisters of Divine Providence of Texas). If you are unfamiliar with what a Religious Associate (also called an Affiliate, Consociate, Oblate, Companion) is exactly, visit my about me page for more information. In community college, I majored in American Sign Language/Deaf Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies when at university.
This entry was posted in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Famous Kin, Genealogy, Religious and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2021 – Week 45: Stormy Weather. My ancestors John Cogswell / Elizabeth Thompson – The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 – The Ship Angel Gabriel

  1. Barb LaFara says:

    Fantastic! How wonderful this story has survived the test of time, so many are forgotten or lost. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Tonya Ferguson says:

    Great historical content to your story. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Pingback: My Ancestor Maria Thomas Badie, Donor of Two Silver Communion Beakers to The Reformed Church of Breuckelen (Brooklyn, New York) in 1684. 52 Ancestors March Theme: Females. Week 10: Worship. | Anna's Musings & Writings

  4. Pingback: 52 Ancestors – Week 30: Teams. My Kin Mitchell “Mitch” Nutick. Dancer on Broadway and Founder of the West Hollywood Tennis Association. | Anna's Musings & Writings

  5. Pingback: 52 Ancestors – Week 30: Teams. My Cousin Mitchell “Mitch” Nutick. Dancer on Broadway and Founder of the West Hollywood Tennis Association. | Anna's Musings & Writings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s