Alexander Coffin, Captain (1740 - 1839)

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Death: Died in Hudson, Columbia, New York, United States
Managed by: David Coffin
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About Alexander Coffin, Captain

Alexander Coffin Mayor of Hudson. He Removed to Hudson or thereabouts. He was born on 21 September 1740. He married Eunice Bunker, daughter of David Bunker and Elisabeth Gorham, in 1761. Alexander Coffin died on 11 January 1839 at age 98; A. 98. Family Eunice Bunker b. 1741, d. 22 Jun 1803 Children

   Merab Coffin+ b. 25 Sep 1762, d. 2 May 1846
   Alexander Coffin Jr.+ b. 16 Nov 1764, d. 1 Nov 1836
   George G. Coffin+ b. 23 Jan 1768, d. 10 Feb 1836
   Judith Coffin+ b. 28 Jul 1770, d. 18 Nov 1800
   Frederic H. Coffin b. 14 Apr 1773, d. 17 Mar 1832
   William H. Coffin+ b. 11 Nov 1778, d. 1809
   Charles Coffin+ b. 9 May 1784, d. c 1812
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Excerpt from Potters American monthly V2 1973 https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=k0UJAAAAIAAJ&rdid=book-k0UJAAAAIAAJ&rdot=1

THE COFFIN FAMILY

The Hudson Branch


Captain Alexander Coffin of Hudson died in 1839 in the ninety ninth year of his age He was one of the thirteen original proprietors who founded that city in 1783 and held many positions of honor and trust under it He was Mayor of the City for several terms and also held the office of Post Master for nearly thirty years His portrait occupies the place of honor in the Common Council Chamber and his remains with a plain marble headstone simply recording his name birth and death marks where he sleeps in the Burying ground on Prospect Hill The late Gorham A Worth for many years connected as Cashier and President with the City Bank New York in his Random Recollections of Albany and Hudson from 1800 to 1808 thus speaks of him And there in the same circle with other prominent fathers of the city sat my old friend Captain Alexander Coffin one of nature's noblemen a man open and above board in all things frank generous warmhearted and brave as Caesar But withal hot as a pepper pod and fierce as a Nor-Easter yet neither rude aggressive nor implacable Yes sir said he to a young man who to explain some matter then in hot dispute laid his hand on the Captain's shoulder and asked him to step to the door with him Yes sir repeated the old man when over eighty mistaking the object of the call I m ready for you fists or pistols I don t care and which The absurdity of the thing set the whole room in a roar and the captain catching the idea and coming down in an instant 4sTV joined heartily in the laugh Such was Captain Coffin a man whose name I never hear and of whom I never think without a feeling of deep respect for his many noble and manly qualities He was in fact the noblest Roman of them all Captain Coffin was of the fourth generation from Tristram as the following table shows

Tristram 

1 James the son of Tristram

2 Ebenezer the s of James

3 Alexander the s of Ebenezer

4 Alexander of Hudson the s of Alexander

Born Sep 21 1740 married Eunice d of David Bunker Dec 17 1 761
He followed the sea and was in the East India trade until 1800 when he left it being then sixty years of age On his last voyage from Europe he brought the news of the battle of Marengo 

He died Jan nth 1839 When the Admiral was in Hudson he left with his kinsman a leather bag containing fifty of the Coffin medals in white metal and bronze to be distributed by him among his descendants The writer of this article well remembers them and also the pleasure he used to take when with his great grand father the captain he engaged in pitching them at a fork stuck into the floor Although then over ninety years of age the Captain was hale and hearty and fond of frolicking with his great grand children who used to delight in sitting upon his knees climbing on the back of his great arm chair and stroking with their little hands his silvery locks Although the Coffin medals were so plentiful in those days as to be used as playthings the writer is not the possessor of one but would be glad to obtain one if he could learn of any person having one who desired to dispose of it

Alexander Coffin of Hudson had seven children viz Merab, Alexander, Gorham, Judith Frederick William, Henry, and Charles.

Wm Henry commanded an East India merchant man and died at sea in 1808 when in his thirtieth year under suspicious circumstances It was believed that the crew mutinied and murdered him for though his effects under charge of a black boy whom he had in his cabin were transferred to a passing vessel and sent home yet the ship he had commanded never returned to port although it was heard of by the owners long afterward as cruising in the India seas The account of the sickness of his master as given by the black boy who was only half witted was that the Captain was confined for but a few hours to his berth that there were spots of blood on the clothing and that there had been a fight on deck.
Captain Wm Henry Coffin married Martha daughter of Ebenezer Allen and had two children William Henry Jr who succeeded his grand father Alexander Coffin of Hudson as Post Master in 1825 and held the office until 1833 and Robert B who entered the U S Navy in 1818 and sailed first on the frigate Congress under the command of his cousin Lieut William Howard Allen While a midshipman on board the Franklin 74 he was drowned by the upsetting of a boat off Valaparaiso 12th March 1822 at the age of fifteen years The following extract from a letter written by Lieut Allen to young Coffin's mother at the time of his first leaving home is interesting as showing how the young midshipmen of those days fared 

Dear Aunt As mothers rather impatient Frigate Congress October 31 1818 are generally I find when inquiring about 5 their babies whether large or small and as I have carried away your son and bound you will say of course to account for him I presume the only way I have to escape your censure is to answer all your questions as you have propounded them and take the other subjects of your letter under consideration as they may occur In the first place therefore respecting his lodging Mr Bob since his arrival has accommodated himself sometimes in a hammock sometimes in a cot sometimes a chest and sometimes upon deck as the case might be He stands his regular watch when it comes round does what he is ordered is attentive and active on duty subordinate and correct eats heartily looks well and in short is an excellent good boy But I would by no means have you tell him so for he might relax in his endeavors to be deserving of such praise I have ordered him a mattress which he will receive to morrow or next day His blankets you may send round and a callico pillow case or two Sheets he has learned how to dispense with A few more shirts say three which will bear a salt water washing and three handkerchiefs after which whatever may be necessary can be procured here.>

Lieut Allen afterwards commanded the US sloop of war Alligator and was mortally wounded on the 6th of November 1822 in an action with the pirates near Matanzas in the Island of Cuba His mother a few hours after hearing of his death died literally of a broken heart It was on the occasion of the death of Lieut Allen that Fitz Greene Halleck wrote those memorable lines commencing He hath been mourned as brave men mourn the brave 1 Asister of Lieut Allen in a letter written shortly after receiving the news of his death says Our beloved brother died in performing duties which in his station he owed to his country but the chiefest of all the sources of consolation is his life was spared for four hours after he received his wounds with the possession of his reason for this let us bless the Lord Mr William Allen Butler the poet lawyer of New York is a nephew of Lieut Allen Captain Coffin of Hudson had a son also named Alexander around whom is ALEXANDER COFFIN JR woven a certain historical interest because of his having been on two occasions during the Revolutionary war a prisoner on the notorious prison ships the Jersey and the John in the harbour of New York He was born in Nantucket Nov 15 1764 and when the Revolutionary war broke out he was at school near London where he had been placed by his father who was then I believe sailing out of London in command of an East Indiaman A son or nephew of David Garrick was at the same school and on one occasion young Coffin accompanied   

him to London where he breakfasted at the table of the great tragedian In his later years he used to speak of the person and appearance of his distinguished host of whom he entertained a distinct recollection He remained at this school until 1779 when he found means to return home being then fifteen years of age In the Spring of 1780 he again went with his father to Europe and was placed in a counting house at Amsterdam His strong predilection for the sea however led him to procure through the elder Adams then minister at the Hague and with the consent of his father a position as midshipman on the new frigate South Carolina built and fitted out at Amsterdam In her he cruised until she arrived in Philadelphia in 1782 He sailed from Baltimore in September of the same year for the Havanna and was captured by the English frigate Ceres brought to New York and incarcerated in the old Jersey prison ship where he remained in confinement for about six weeks when he was released and returned home to Nantucket In February 1783 he sailed in an armed brig Betsey and Polly from Newport bound for Virginia and Europe and was captured off Hatteras by the English privateer Fair American carried to New York and again consigned to the Jersey but afterwards was transferred to the John where he remained until just before the news of peace was received in March of the same year when he obtained his liberty and returned home being then less than nineteen years old In after years he used to relate the following incident in connection with one of his captures After his vessel was brought to and ran along side of the capturing frigate he was on the yard arm furling the sail He heard the firing and the whistling of bullets around him but paid no attention to them and finished his work Afterwards when with his comrades he was mustered a prisoner on board the frigate an officer observing him recognized him by the green baize jacket he wore which made him conspicuous among the crew He asked him if he were not laying out on the fore arm hauling up the sail a few moments before being answered in the affirmative he remarked you had a narrow escape my boy for your stern presented such a fair target to our marines that an officer noticing it and regarding you as fair game and the matter a good jest ordered a platoon to fire at you This was the whistling of balls he had heard Luckily for him the aim of the marines was not of the best Young Coffin early engaged in the East India trade and in 1804 5 commanded the ship Penman bound on a voyage to the Persian Gulf but was captured by the English under some of their orders in Council and his ship and cargo confiscated During the war of 181 2 he started on a voyage to France but his vessel was captured and carried into England and he was confined in Dartmour Prison from which he was liberated on parole through the interposition of his kinsman Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin After the war he was engaged in the mercantile pursuits in the city of New York In 181 5 he was appointed to the office of agent of the old State Prison which position he held until 1824 In 1829 he was appointed an Inspector of Customs and filled the place until his death which occurred February 1836 nearly three years before that of his father's He was seventy one years of age and his remains were placed in the grave yard in Christopher street He wrote and published two thin volumes of poems both of which appeared in 1814 They were The Death of General Montgomery or the storming of Quebec and The Battle of Bunker Hill or the death of Warren He was not a great poet but several of his minor pieces possess considerable merit The writer of this article would like to obtain copies of the volumes of poems above named and would be obliged to any one who could put him on the way of so doing For a further account of Capt Alexander Coffin Jr in connection with his experience in the prison ship I refer the reader to a pamphlet printed but not published a few years ago by Mr Charles I Bushnell of No 425 Fourth Avenue New York and to whose courtesy I am indebted for the cut of the prison ship and also for much valuable information A large portion of the matter embraced in this sketch is taken from a manuscript volume of genealogy compiled by a gentleman connected with the Coffins by marriage his wife being a grand daughter of Alexander Coffin of Hudson and a daughter of Alexander Coffin Jr of New York The present article treats of but a very small part of the Coffin family and it is far from being complete even as regards the Hudson branch of the family by this I mean those of the name who settled in Hudson during the latter part of the last century I have confined myself in this sketch as relates to the Hudson Coffins simply to Alexander and some of his descendants The descendants of Tristram are scattered over the entire country Branches of the Coffins are found in Boston Martha's Vine yard New Bedford North Carolina South Carolina Georgia through the Western States and on the shores of the Pacific and each is a power and an authority

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Cptn Alexander Coffin, Mayor of Hudson, NY's Timeline

1740
December 21, 1740
1762
September 25, 1762
Age 21
1764
November 16, 1764
Age 23
1768
January 23, 1768
Age 27
1770
July 28, 1770
Age 29
1773
April 14, 1773
Age 32
1778
November 11, 1778
Age 37
1784
May 9, 1784
Age 43
1839
January 11, 1839
Age 98
Hudson, Columbia, New York, United States