Guide to the David. G. Patterson Papers, 1887–1888

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Research Library at the Nantucket Historical Association. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the internet.


In 1844, whaling Captain David G. Patterson established a fishing and wrecking business on Nantucket. This collection contains Captain Patterson’s handwritten memoir including autobiographic facts, as well as accounts of the lifesaving, rescue, and salvage operations of shipwrecks around Nantucket.

Collection Details

Collection Number:
David G. Patterson Papers
Patterson, David G., 1811–1889.
Nantucket Historical Association
Material is in English.

Information for Users

Restrictions to Access: No restrictions. Open for research.

Restrictions to Use: No usage restrictions.

Copyright Notice: Copyright is retained by the authors of items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], in the David. G. Patterson Papers, Nantucket Historical Association.

Acquisitions Information:

Gift of Ezra Farnham (Acc. 1973.259).

Sensitive Materials Statement:

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Nantucket Historical Association assumes no responsibility.

Subject Headings

  • Corporate Name
    • Albion (Ship)
    • British Queen (Ship)
    • Brazillian (Brig)
    • Byzantium (Brig)
    • Castilian (Brig)
    • Centurion (Ship)
    • Forest Prince (Bark)
    • Halifax (Ship)
    • Jacob Perkins (Ship)
    • Laura (Bark)
    • Liverpool (Bark)
    • Liverpool (Ship)
    • Pedee (Schooner)
    • Salem (Bark)
    • Shenunga (Ship)
    • Shooting Star (Ship)
    • England (Ship)
    • Templar (Ship)
    • Venus (Brig)
    • William (Brig)
    • Society of California Pioneers of New England.
  • Topical Term
    • Rescue work -- Massachusetts.
    • Life-saving -- Massachusetts.
    • Shipwrecks -- Massachusetts.
    • Salvage -- Massachusetts.

Biographical Information

Captain David G. Patterson was born in Chatham, Mass., in 1811 and went to sea at 14 years old. He became captain of the schooner Compliance in 1835. In 1844, he moved to Nantucket and established a fishing and wrecking business, saving approximately 2,370 shipwrecked seamen. Patterson also served as a branch, then chief pilot for the United States Surveying Squadron. In 1849, he captained the Mary and Emma, the smallest ship to round Cape Horn. He continued whaling until 1866, when he and his wife moved to East Boston to re-establish his fishing and wrecking business. Patterson died in Boston, Mass., in 1889.

Scope and Content

Captain Patterson’s handwritten memoir includes autobiographical facts as well as accounts of the lifesaving, rescue, and salvage operations of shipwrecks around Nantucket, including the ship Albion, ship British Queen, brig Brazillian, brig Byzantium, brig Castilian, ship Centurion, bark Forest Prince, ship Halifax, ship Jacob Perkins, bark Laura, bark Liverpool, ship Liverpool, schooner Pedee, bark Salem, ship Shenunga, ship Shooting Star, ship England, ship Templar, brig Venus, and brig William. Also included is a certificate from the Society of California Pioneers of New England.


Folders 1­–4 Memoir, 1887

OP-167/1 Society of California Pioneers of New England certificate, 1888

Items Separated

  • OP-167/1 (oversize paper item)

Processing Information

Finding aid by Ashley Miller, 2022. This collection was reprocessed in August 2022.


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