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vital records sources
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John was the master of various trade schooners. He was probably the master Thissel who sailed the new schooner Lark, which arrived home from Martinique on 21 March 1785.1 He again sailed the boat for the "West Indies" in December of that year.2 By late 1786 a captain named Howland seems to have taken over the helm, but Thissell is again the captain's name when the ship arrived in port in March 1789.3 In July of 1790 John was master of the schooner Relief, registered by the owners Thomas and John Stephens.4 Nothing futher on this trip has been found, but surely involved the West Indies. Betsey was two-years old when registered in 1791 for owner Benjamin Lovett with John as master.5 A newspaper notice in July says that the schooner was in port after sailing from Point a Petre, Guadaloupe (French Guyana). John sailed St. Peter, another Lovett schooner co-owned by John Smith, shortly after it was registered in February of 1792.6 That trip took them to the West Indies, returning in May from St. Martin.7 A log for St. Peter places John at the helm in the Fall of 1793.8 This was a fishing voyage to the Grand Banks.
     John sailed for owner Thomas Stephens again, departing shortly after 18 August 1794 on the schooner John.9 He returned on 26 December with a lengthy report on military maneuvers in the West Indies.10
     The next and final ship John sailed on was Sally. It was built at Pembroke, Massachusetts, and registered on 28 November 1795 at 125 tons.11 John was one of the owners as well as master, the rest of the consortium being Benjamin Lovett, Thomas and John Stephens, William and Nathan Leach and Hale Hilton. The voyage was its first major trip, and John's obituary says it was one of only two Beverly ships to trade with the East Indies - the islands in the Indian Ocean. It was out of port by the 1st of December, heading for "India."12 The Salem Gazette reported that Sally, Capt."Bessel," was 120 days out from Salem for the "Isle of France" (Mauritius) when it was south of Port Elizabeth on the tip of Africa.13 On 5 August 1796 Capt. Nathaniel Silsbee reported Sally among the ships that were embargoed there "in consequence of the preparation of Six Frigates for a secret expedition, and was taken off as soon as they sailed."14 Capt. Felt of Boston sailed from Mauritius with Sally and other ships that were embargoed and arrived in Boston after 118 days.15 They would have sailed from the island about 4 September. Another report says that ships sailing eastward were allowed out of the port on 7 August, but by 29 August, Sally and others were "all ready to sail, but embargoed."16 The trip home is elaborated on in the Salem Gazette:17

The Schooner Sally, lately commanded by Capt. Thissel, arrived at Beverly on Tuesday last from the Isle of France...Capt. T., on his passage, a little to the S. W. of Bermuda, was boarded by a Privateer belonging to that Island, by the master of which he was very politely treated. The Captain of the schooner being very sick, was offered Poultry, and other articles, from the Privateer, but a squall coming on, prevented his receiving them. In the morning, when the Privateer was first seen from the schooner, she had in company a vessel, which Capt. T. was told was a valuable Spanish prize from the Havannah, that she had captured; but in the chase for the schooner almost lost sight of her. The Privateersmen were on board the schooner but very few moments and did not discover any disposition to molest them. They immediately made sail again for the Prize.

The embargo may have been to blame for the disastrously small cargo they brought back - although unconfirmed with other sources, supposedly £7 of indigo and a few dollars worth of other merchandise. No wonder the privateer rushed off after their prize. Sally arrived back at Beverly harbor on 17 January 1797. John's sickness en route had been fatal. The Salem Gazette reported his death in this way:18

     An inventory of the estate of Capt. John Thissel late of the town of Beverly...mariner, deceased, taken by Joseph Wood, administr'or at the appraisment of Richard Obear 2nd Malachi Woodberry and Jeffery Thissel, a committee duly appointed and sworn for that purpose as followeth viz

To real estate in Beverly

To the homestead containing about twenty three and a half acres togather with the dwelling house, barn and other buildings thereon standing...$1552

To a part of a dwelling house and garden that was your fathers formerly...100

To 2 common rights in the common adjoining to Woodberry and others...100

To about twenty four acres of pasture and woodland on the western side of the highway oppesite the above said dwelling house...250

To about 2 acres of land in the grate field so called...90

To 1/2 a foor pew in the publick meeting house in the first parish in Beverly...75

To one pew in the gallery in said house...50

To 4 acres of salt marsh in Ipswich...80

To 124 poles of salt mash in Manchester...20

2317.00 cents

personal estate viz

To o ne hat 1d 25c grate jackett 4d...5.25
To one coat 2d six under jackets 4d 35c...6.35
To 1 pair of breehes 5d to 14 shirts 15d...20.00
To 1 coat 2d 33c sertute [surtout] 2d 25c...4.58
To 1 hatt 40c broadcloath coat mixed 4.75...5.15
To 2 pair of drawers 60c sertute? 33c...0.93
To pair boots 3d two pair shoes 65c...3.65
To 1 straw hatt 1d...1.00
to 9 pair stockings 3d 48c three pair silk do 1 45...4.93
To 4 pair of trowses 3d 5c...3.05
To 1 trunk 1d gin case 1d gin case 1d...3.00
To 1 gin case 1d large trunk 3d...4.00
To 1 India quarter waggenor...8.0019
To West Inda map 25c six earth pllates 30c...0.55
To 1 waiter 15c ship master assistant 1d 30c...1.45
To 2 sea books 30c dictionary 75c...0.70
To 1 bible and sermon book 30c...0.30
To 1 Gunter scale 15c powder horn & sunderys 75c...0.90
To 4 glass bottles 50c part calf skin 70c...1.20
To 2 chist 1d 75c to 11 1/2 yards bedtick 5d...6.75
To 2 candle stands 60c six green chars 6d...6.60
To 10 kiching chairs 1d 80c one clock 48d...49.80
To 1 maple desk 3d dressing glass 25c...3.25
To 1 razer and cork screw 15c...0.15
To large looking glass 4d pine table 60...4.60
To one maple table and oil cloath...1.60
To shovel and togs 75c nine tumblers 75c...1.50
To 1 pair brass headed andirons 80...0.80
To set brown cups ad sausers & glass canester...2.0
To 6 coffe bowls and servers...0.70
To 3 small pichers 30c two decanters 1d 70c...2.0
To 1 platter 20c tin canester 10c...0.30
To 6 silver tee spoons 3d 50c money scales 70c ...2.0
To 1 pr shoe buckles 2d one pair knee buckles...3.10
To pair dog irons 80c cradle 20c...1.0
To 1 bed quilt 4d 50c bed blankett 1d 50c...6.0
To 1 feather bed bolter and pillow...15.26
To 1 underbed bedsted and cord...2.50
To 1 toster 50c gridiron 50c...1.00
To 70 wt cheese 8d to 20 lb hog fat 2d 50c...1.00
To 2 churns 1d 50c cheesetub 75c...2.25
To 2 caggs 25c three milk pans 18c...0.43
To 1 old cow 27d cow with white face 30...57,00
To 1 young cow 32d cow and calf 33d...65.00
To ox cart and wheels 9d including the tackle...9.00
To 1 hors 50d to 11 sheeps and lambs 22d...72.00
To 1/2 a sleigh & harnis...8.00
To 1 large plough 5d 50c small plough 5.50...11.00
To 1 iron tooth harrow 6d wheelbarrow 75c...6.75
To 1 slide 75c hors tackle 2d...2.75
To 1 iron shovel 30c & 2 hay rakes 25c...0.55
To 3 hay forks 35c tow dung forks 60c...0.75
To To 1 flax brake 1d 50c dry cask in barn 30...1.80
To 6 tuns of English hay...42.00
To 1 1/2 tuns of salt hay...5.00
To 1 crasent saw 3d broad ax 80c...3.80
To 1 narrow ax 75c hors fatters
[fetters] 50c...1.25
To 1 iron crowbar 1d grindstone & tackle 3d...4.00
To 2 hoes 18c three cyder barrels 1d...1.18
To 4 old cask 33d two tubs & a farkin 80c...1.13
To 1 brass kittle 1d 30c hencoop 20c...1.50
To cyder mill screws press & apparatus...30.00
To hors slide 25c lot of old iron 1d 75c...2.00
To oak joist 1d 25c to 5 block & sheeves 50c...1.75
To 9 iron trap hoops 1d coopers jointer 50c...1.50
To wooden truss hoops 75c to 3 barrels 40c...1.15
To 2 augers 33c two iron wedges 40c...0.73
To 1 handsaw 20c two cooper croes
[croze] 20c...0.40
To cooper ax 30c crocked shave 35c...0.55
To iron square and chisel 33c lot old iron 40...0.73
To coopers adds and one froe 45c to 3 planes 25c...0.75
To clasp and chain and betle rings...0.50
To 1 iron crowbar 2d 50c lot old iron 60c...3.10
To old dunage 2d wood at the door 16d...18.0
To 1 ox chain 1d 50c chains and harnice 40...41.50
To saddle and bridle 3d 50c one swine 8d 30c...11.80
To five cotten sheets 5d to 8 tow sheets 6d 50c...11.50
To 1 cotten sheet 1d beadcloaths 1 25c...2.25
To 16 pillow cases 13d 83c two pieces India muslin 8d...11.83
To 4 peices of Inda muslin 11d...11.00
To case of draws 3d 50c to one table 20c...3.70
To 1 pair dog irons 80c patch quilt 1d 50c...2.30
To 2 bed blanketts 2d 50c rag rug 1d 50c...4.00
To bedsted underbed and cord...2.50
To one feather bed 15d bed blankett 1d 50
To 1 rug 75 bedsted underbed & cord 1d 50c...2.25
To one coverlid 75c one blankett 1d...1.75
To 1 feather bed 24 wt...8.50
To 1 bedsted and under bed...0.75
To 8 tow sheets 3d 50c two woolling wheels 1d 75c...5.25
To a pair of weavers loombs 6d to 1/2 a slay 1d...7.00
To warping barrs quilin wheel swift & spools &c...2.50
To 1 fine slay 1d 33c lining
[linen] wheel 1d...2.33
To 1 stow
[stove] 30c to 18 lbs comd flax 3d...3.80
To 1 quilt 1d 20c bed blankett 2d 50c...3.70
To one feather bed 42 wt...12.43
Two tow sheets 1d 50c bedsted & underbed 2d...3.50
To 24 lbs of tallow 3d 25c old iron 1d 50c...4.75
To 1 lining wheel 75c to 3 pecks of beans 1d...1.75
To 15 jugg bottles 40c to 11 lbs of tow b1
To 43 wt of flax from the swingle & comb...7.00
To 30 bushels of corn 25d old line 75c...25.75
To 1 1/2 bushels of salt 1d warming pan 25c...2.25
To 12 wt of pewter 3d to 17 plates 1d...4.00
To 2 sass
[sauce] dishes & 2 peper boxes...0.35
To musterd pot and butter boat...0.17
To 2 1/2 minute glasses and two tumblers...0.38
To 2 wine glasses and 3 brown bowles...0.54
To 8 cups and sausers 14c teapott 25c...0.39
To 2 tin pepper boxes 12c to 7 case bottles 55c...0.67
To 2 jug bottles 10c coffy mill 20c round table 1d 25c...1.55
To 1 square table 30c looking glass 50c...0.80
To 1 pr and irons 1d 50c two tramles 1d 50c...3.00
To shovel and tongs 80c seales and weights 1d...1.80
To earthen mugs & potts and 4 milk pails...1.05
To 1 choping knife 50c to 14 spoons 40c...0.90
To 7 lbs old puter 1d 18c three tunnels 25c...1.43
To 1 cullender 20c one quart & 1/2 point measure &c...0.25
To 1 bras skimer and ladle 1...1.00
To 1 iron kittle 80c iron pot 1d 25c to 3 coffe pots 50c...2.55
To 1 1/2 case of knives and forks...0.60
To 2 bread troughs 50c seven pound of indigo 7d 75c...9.25
To 3 1/2 lbs of pepper 1d 20c pair flat irons 1d...2.20
To 1 spit 14c two water bucketts 20...0.34
To 1 pair of stilyards 1d one peck & half peck 40...1.40
To 2 milk bucketts 40c gallon cag 12c iton kittle 70c...1.22
To 1 3/4 houndred weight of suger...28---
To 178 lbs of coffe 44d fire arm 1d 75c...45.93
To 2 barrells of cyder 6d one cyder barrel 55c...6.55
To 6 bushels of potatoes 1d 50c to 70 lbs of pork 6d 80c...8.30
To 35 lbs of midlings pork 3d 96c six oil jarrs 71c...4.67
To frying pan 40c two tow sheets 1d 50c...1.90
To 3 cabben sheets 2d 88c to 2 table cloaths 50c...3.38
To 6 napkins 90c 1 table cloath 30c...1.20
To 4 napkins 20c to 129 lbs of cotten 43d...43.20
To cash in the house on hand...365.00
To one note from Malachi Woodberry dated December 19th 1795 of...60.00
To one note from James Thissel dated February 26th 1793 of L25.18.00 equal in dollars to...86.33
To interest due on the same up to the 26th Feb 1797...20.69
To one note from Daniel Wallis dated Decembr 2nd 1795 of L14.3.3 equal to...47.07
To interest on the same to 2nd Decebr 1796...2.83
To cash due on a note from Nathan Leech dated May 23d 1794...140.68
To intrest due on the same to 11th August 1796...8.44
To one note from Andrew Elliott dated November 27th 1795 of 38/ equal to...6.33
To inrest due on the same to 27th Novbr 1796...0.38
to one eighth part of the Schooner Sally and her cargo from the Isle of France in company and undivided...3341.59
To his adventure on board said schooner at the time of his deceace lying in common and undivided with the cargo on board @...1422.31<

The inventory is dated 22 May 1797 and was taken by Richard Ober, Malachi Woodberry and Jeffrey Thissel.20

The last two entries may refer to cargo sold in Mauritius and the value of the cargo they brought back to Beverly.

children of John Thissel and Lucy Lovett:

i. John b. 4 August 1773
ii. Hannah b. 24 November 1774
iii. Joseph b. 25 October 1776
iv. Lucy b. 10 October 1778
v. Anna b. 6 July 1780
vi. Margaret/Peggy b. 18 March 1783
vii. Joanna b. 22 June 1786
viii. Ezra b. 21 July 1788
ix. Elizabeth/Betsy b. 21 February 1791
x. Clarissa b. 10 July 1794
xi. Zilpah b. 28 July 1796

vital records sources: John's birth and marriage dates come from Vital records of Beverly, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849 (Topsfield, MA: 1907), 1:324, 2:299. He was married by Rev. Enos Hitchcock at the "Second Church of Christ" of Beverly, better known as the Second Congregational Church in North Beverly. His death was reported in numerous newspapers, most extensively in the Salem Gazette shown above.

1. Salem Gazette [hereafter SG], 22 Mar 1785, 3. He may have taken over master's position from (Humphrey?) Aubens, who was cleared to take Lark to Virginia within the week before 18 October 1784. Aubens arrived again by 20 Dec.
2. Massachusetts Gazette, 12 Dec 1785, 3.
3. Salem Mercury, 10 Mar 1789, 3.
4. A. Frank Hitchings and Stephen Willard Phillips, Ship registers of the district of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts, 1789-1900 (hereafter SRDS) (Salem:Essex Institute, 1906), 155.
5. Ibid, 21; cleared for West Indies (Thistle) by 13 March 1791, SG, 3.
6. Ibid, 164, cleared for sailing by the 28 Feb 1792 issue of SG (p. 3).
7. SG, 15 May 1792, 3.
8. John Duncan Phillips Library, Salem, MA, log book collection, microfilm 91, reel 68. Mentioned in Christopher P. Magra's The Fisherman's Cause: Atlantic Commerce and Maritime Dimensions..., etc.
9. The ship was registered on that date (SRDS, 98), and the 19 August 1794 issue of The Salem Gazette, 3, says that the ship had been cleared for sailing to the West Indies within the previous week.
10 SG, 30 Dec 1794, 3. Other articles say more?
11 SRDS, 167.
12 SG, 1 Dec 1795, 3.
13 SG, 21 June 1796, "Bessel" rather than Thissel, lat. 35, 40 S, long. 23 E.
14 Unsure of citiation, maybe SG and Massachusetts Mercury, 30 Dec 1796, 3.
15 Boston Price Current, 2 Jan 1797, 3.
16 SG, 21 Dec 1796, 3.
17 SG, 20 Jan 1797, 3.
18 Ibid.
19 a book of sea charts.
20 Essex County Probate file 27428.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted