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Lydia J. Sampson Dawes

Voyages: 1857, 1871

Ship: Sicilian, Matchless

Lydia J. Sampson was born in Duxbury, MA to Rufus Sampson, Sr. and Sally Gibbs. She was married to her first husband, Samuel Bradford, Jr., a shoemaker, for ten years before he died of consumption. She and Samuel had three daughters, Mary (1846-1848), Anna (1849-1876) and Clara (1853-1856).  After Samuel’s death, Lydia married Capt. James H. Dawes (1827-1905) in 1857. He was also widowed at the time and had two surviving children by his first marriage, 6-year old John and 3-year old Flora. Once they blended their families, Lydia and James had one child together, Laura May Dawes (1866-1941).

Shortly after their wedding, Lydia joined her husband on a “honeymoon” trip aboard the Sicilian. According to a note found in the Dawes Family Collection, the ship was caught in a horrific hurricane. Capt. Dawes, believing that the ship was doomed, chose to give Lydia a tumbler of whiskey so that when the worst happened, she would be senseless. Fortunately, the Sicilian made it through the storm. When James went to check on his wife, he found that she had been up all night, the whiskey having had no effect. Lydia traveled on at least one other voyage, in 1870 took a steamer across the Atlantic and joined her husband’s ship, Matchless, in Antwerp. The ship was loaded with coal and iron in England and then sailed for San Francisco.

Capt. James and Lydia Dawes built a house in Kingston, MA at 272 Main Street. The house still stands; today it is the rectory for St. Joseph Catholic Church. Lydia Sampson Dawes died in 1901 at the age of 73, she is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Kingston, MA.

Lydia’s sisters-in-law, Sally Freeman Dawes and Lydia Bates Dawes, also appear on this list, as does Abigail Chandler Dawes, the first wife of Capt. James Dawes.


Dawes Family Collection, DAL.MSS.004

Moore. W. J. Down East Captain. Devon, UK: Arthur H. Stockwell, 1967.

Dawes House, 272 Main Street. Image source: Digital Commonwealth.
Ship “Sicilian,” from Jones, Henry. Ships of Kingston. Plymouth, MA: Memorial Press, 1926. Collection of the Drew Archival Library, DRHS.