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Logbook for Brig “Grace” (1791)

Samuel Delano, Jr. (1769-1853)
Manuscript on paper, eastern-style binding with laminated limp paper covers
Dimensions: 368 x 275 x 28 mm
Gift of the Hoyt Family (Amasa and Samuel Delano Collection: DAL.MSS.014)
Conservation Funds (2019): Stephen & Anne Williams, Denise DeMore & Peter Keohan, Carolyn Ravenscroft, Chris & Mary Alisa Sherman, Sherm & Diane Hoyt, The Delano Kindred and The Felicia Fund.

Please Scroll down! Take a look at the new digital flipbook, with complete scans of the logbook and a partial transcription of the voyage.

The logbook for the brig Grace is the first-hand account of an American vessel trading successfully with Japan in 1791, long before Admiral Matthew C. Perry commanded the entry of American vessels in 1853. The American brig, Grace, sailed into the harbor of Koshimoto and traded with Japanese villagers on May 1, 1791. Onboard was a 22 year-old Duxbury sailor and shipbuilder named Samuel Delano, Jr. As clerk, Delano kept the log of voyage and it is the only English language version of this momentous first meeting between two cultures.

Historian Scott Ridley (author of Morning of Fire about the sister ship Lady Washington) has described the log as “a rare record of America’s first visit to the closed nation of Japan in 1791. The historic visit is noted in fragments in Japanese archives, but this book, written day-to-day aboard the brig Grace as it lay in the harbor of Koshimoto, is the only American document to emerge from the voyage. It is a remarkable artifact.” The Japan-U.S. Friendship Memorial Museum in Koshimoto is dedicated to this important first contact. Scott Ridley and Hayato Sakurai feature the logbook in their book, “America’s First Visit to JAPAN April 29-May 8, 1791: Voyage of the Lady Washington And the Grace.”

Logbook Conservation & Digitization

In 2019, the Grace logbook was professionally conserved at the New England Document Conservation Center and the scanned images incorporated in the digital flipbook below with associated transcriptions. This transcription project will be ongoing through 2020. If you have questions or comments about it, please contact Historian & Archivist, Carolyn Ravenscroft at cravenscroft@duxburyhistory.org.

All images and transcriptions are © 2020 Duxbury Rural & Historical Society and may not be used without written permission.

Logbook Transcription

2020 partial transcription of 1791 Logbook for Brig Grace, written by Samuel Delano of Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Locations of the journey transcribed: (April 29-May 10, 1791), port of Kushimoto, Japan.

Important notes:

  • For the purposes of this first transcription, only body text has been transcribed; mechanical or navigational calculations have not been transcribed, nor have drawn tables of numbers.
  • In cases where the word(s) is illegible a notation of [–] is used.
  • Original spelling and punctuation has been preserved but in some cases the modern spelling put in brackets for clarity.
  • This transcription is meant for information and research purposes only and although all care has been taken to ensure as accurate a transcription as possible, researchers are encouraged to examine the scans of the original document to verify information.
  • Questions or comments may be directed to cravenscroft@duxburyhistory.org

Remarks on Thursday >April the 28 1791

1 am Fresh breses with thick hazy sun

at 8pm haul’d to the eastward under easy sail fresh breses & rain

Squally with rain

Head to the eastward

At 5 AM made all sail

[–] saw the ship to over run the log 25 this 24 hours viz 10 for yesterday on too day NE course.

Remarks on Friday April 29th 1791

Fresh breses & thick cloudy sun.

Heavy squall from SW at

5 AM took in the main and F sail in 2 reefs ye main sail & handed it aft & in 2 reefs fore top sail hauled the FS up down fore TM stay sail at 4 bore away saw the land at 5 and haul’d up at 9AM came too & anchor in 17 fathoms water in the mouth of a bay seeming to run up narrow like a river the ships lay within ½ mile of the shore on the south sid and 1 ½ on the north w side the bay runs

Fridays Remarks April ye 29th 1791

Runs up about WSW saw a number of parate come close too the ship made all seigns for aus to go to sea would not come on bord seemed to be frightened at aus the Washington still in company sent 2 boats on shore to look for water which they found very handy and convenient to be filled the natives came and stood a distance on the top of a mountain and look’d at the boat and people but did not come nere they seemed to have long spears or some thing of the kind to defend them selves. At 6pm the boats came on bord again the wind at SW blowing hard in flows with rain. Continues to blow and rain all night.

Remarks on Saturday April ye 30th 1791

Begins with rain & heavy flows of wind at S Westerly at 10 AM the boats went on shore to get water filled all our empty water cask cut sum pitch pine wood the natives began to come nearer and nearer too some boat come a long side but could not get anything from them. At 2 o’clock PM the weather grows more moderate the wind haul’d round to NE latter part pleasant.

Remarks on Sunday May ye 1st 1791

Begins with pleasant run the wind at NE the natives flock onboard quite plenty brought of some wood and bags of rise & gave the Captain as a present at 2 o’clock the boat went up the bay & found the NE shore to be an island at 5 o’clock the boat came onbor weighed anchor Both vessels and run up to the SW round a point came too in 17 fathoms water a very good harbor ¼ of a mile of the shore a small village on shore The day ends pleasant.

Remarks on Monday May ye 1st 1791

Begins pleasant weather & light wind at ENE. Boats full of natives all around the vessels at noon Capt Kendrick & Chief Officer onbor to dine the brig laying clos along side at 1 pm began to rain…at 4 pm fired a salute from both vessels call’d the harbour Lady Washington Harbour the same name of Capt. Kendricks Brig the day ends with rainy weather.

Remarks on Tuesday May ye 3rd 1791

Begins Rainy wind NE the Natives came al long side & make all signs for aus to go to sea. They seem to want nothing we can offer them they give aus to understand that their Chiefs or head men will not a low them to trade or supply aus with any thing if they do they signify they shall be put to death for it.

Remarks on Wednesday May ye 4th 1791

Begins with Lowery [lowering] weather & variable winds in [–] Lady Washington Harbour lays a number of the natives shipping built mutch after the Chinese fashion & moddle [model] some apear to be 60 or 70 tuns powder with one most only the natives are mutch like the Chinese to appearance some small alterations in their dress.

Finding no probability of trading with the natives at 8 o’clock AM got under way mid day calm got out surveyor (?) got a for down the bay at the first anchoring place came too Washington in company PM fresh breese NE the natives keep a yard boat of close a long side that prevents all boats from coming on bord.

Remarks on Thursday May ye 5th 1791

Begins light winds NE [–] at ½ past 6 AM got under way with the Washington work’d out of the harbor at 9 the wind come in to blow fresh & look’d likely for bad W’r bore up as did the Washington run back into Lady Washington Harbour came too a brest of the Village in 22 fathoms water the wind blowing fresh drifted a foul of the brig got clear without damaging either vessel latter part fresh winds begins to rain

Remarks on Friday May ye 6th 1791

Begins fresh gales at NE with rain middle part freshens down T gal yard & MT sail yard latter part the rain & wind rather abates.

Remarks on Saturday May ye 7th 1791

Begins with cloudy lowering weather wind at NE middle part variable winds & possessing[?] unsettled weather Black’d the ships wales [gunwales] round, people imployed overhauling the riggin. Latter part moderate weather.

Sundays Remarks May ye 8th 1791

At 5 o’clock AM weighed anchor & got under way stood out too sea the Washington in company. A great number of boats came out the harbour steering the same course as we do. About lay the shore along the land to the N West of us

Remarks on Monday May ye 9th 1791

Light winds & clear weather the extend of the land from SWbW to ENE.

At 9 PM hauled the F sail up & handed the Mn T Sail stow’d the Jibb to wait for the Washington to come up she being 4 mile to the leeward, at 1 PM in 2 reefs F T Sail & set the fore sail Fresh breeses & clear weather.

Latt Ob’d 35 5 North

Remarks on Tuesday May ye 10th 1791

Light winds & pleasant weather stowed the guns down in the hold at 4PM hoisted out the jolly boat the Capt went on board Capt Kendricks at 6 PM Capt come onbord a Grace to part company with Capt Kendrick cheered each other & parted company our being the fastest sailor.

At 12 set F T Mast steering sail at day light the Washington in sight 3 or 4 leagues dist steering NW Light winds & clear

Latt Ob’d 34 =? North

The Delano Family Collection

The Logbook is from the Delano Family Collection, held at the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society’s Drew Archival Library:

Samuel Delano, Jr. (1769-1853) was born in Duxbury, MA to Samuel Delano, Sr. and Abigail Drew.  In 1794 he married Lucy Winsor (1775-1867), the daughter of Joshua Winsor and Olive Thomas.  The couple had eight children: Olive Thomas (b. 1795); Alexander (b. 1796); Lucy Winsor (b. 1797); Samuel (b. 1800); Almira (b. 1802); Henry Toland (b. 1809); Benjamin Franklin (b. 1811) and Nancy (b. 1813). His brother, Captain Amasa Delano (1763-1823), was also a successful shipbuilder and sea captain.  After leaving his brother in Canton, China in 1791, Samuel Delano, Jr. voyaged throughout the Pacific and the Northwest coast on the brig Grace under Captain William Douglas.  His later adventures aboard the Pilgrim (1803-1807) are chronicled in Amasa Delano’s Voyages.  Samuel Delano, Jr. also received recognition for rescuing the ship Russell in 1794 as it was stranded off the coast of Duxbury during a severe storm.

The Captains Amasa and Samuel Delano, Jr. Collection (DAL.MSS.014) is comprised of over 360 items spanning the years 1769-1853.  The material was found in two trunks in the attic of a house on Plumfield Lane in Duxbury.  The trunks were presumably owned by Lucy (Winsor) Delano, the wife of Samuel Delano, Jr.

Included in the collection are 87 pieces of correspondence (1783-1846), the majority of which were created by or written to Samuel Delano, Jr. There are also 14 letters written between the brothers, Amasa Delano and Samuel Delano, Jr.  Of special note are the letters written by Amasa Delano during his first circumnavigation of the globe, specifically one dated 1792 to George Partridge. Many of the letters written by Samuel Delano, Jr, especially those to his sons, reflect the religiosity of the Second Great Awakening. The Collection also contains five log books of Samuel Delano, Jr. including one from the Pilgrim (1803-1805), the vessel used during a sealing expedition to the South Seas.  The Pilgrim’s voyage is chronicled in Amasa Delano’s autobiographical Voyages published in 1818.  Also of interest is the log book of the brig, Grace (1791) on which Samuel Delano, Jr. explored the Pacific Northwest.  Passages in this log book chronicle the death and burial of the Grace’s captain, William Douglas.  Along with the log books there are many shipping related documents belonging to both Amasa and Samuel Delano, Jr. The finances of the shipbuilding and shipping businesses run by the brothers are illustrated in the over 345 financial papers (1786-1839) in the Collection and the many Account Books, Ledgers and Day Books. There are 22 printed or published items in the Collection, including a copy of  Amasa Delano’s A Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres: Comprising Three Voyages Round the World; Together with a Voyage of Survey and Discovery in the Pacific Ocean and Oriental Islands published in 1817.  Also of note are 3 pages from Reverend Wright’s Complete British Family Bible (1792); The Mariner’s Compass Rectified (1763) and other early 19th century works.

For more information on the collection, visit https://drewarchives.org/finding-aids/samuel-and-amasa-delano/