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Keziah Coffin's Geni Profile

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Keziah Coffin (Folger)

Also Known As: "The notorious she-merchant of Nantucket"
Birthplace: Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Daniel Folger and Abigail Folger
Wife of John Coffin
Mother of Kezia Fanning
Sister of Judith Macy and Daniel Folger, Jr.

Occupation: Merchant, smuggler
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Keziah Coffin

From Kezia Folger Coffin Nantucket's "She Merchant"

A "Mary Starbuck with an attitude," says Nathaniel Philbrook in his book Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, 1602-1890 Chapter 12.

This Keziah Folger, who married John Coffin, built the John Cartwright house on Centre Street, owned the farm* and old house at Quaise, and was at one time a great merchant and owner of vessels; was the heroine of Col. Hart's book, " Miriam Coffin; or, The Whale Fishermen."

She fell down-stairs at the Morris house on lower Main Street, and died suddenly March 29,1798.

This woman was undoubtedly possessed of superior ability. It is generally believed that Keziah Coffin and others rendered assistance to the British during the Revolution, and that she was guilty of smuggling to a very large extent. F. C. Sanford, Esq., says: "She had her ships in every sea, and was a famous smuggler in her day, as can be found by the Colonial Records in Boston which were made at the time of her trial in Watertown, this State, a copy of which I have. Her town residence was unequalled when it was built in 1770. It stood on what is now the elegant green.


During the eighteenth century, the whaling industry became Nantucket's primary economic resource. When the American colonies declared war on Britain in 1775, few Nantucketers supported the effort. Between the Quaker tenet of pacifism and the island's reliance on the British whale-oil market, there seemed little reason to upset the status quo. However, not all Nantucketers remained neutral, and as the war raged on pressure mounted from both sides for island residents to take a position. Kezia Coffin's (1723-98) reaction became symbolic of Nantucket's pro-British tilt for many mainland rebels. Coffin made herself a profitable business smuggling supplies to Nantucket during the Revolution, causing controversy on both sides of Nantucket Sound.


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Keziah Coffin's Timeline

October 9, 1723
Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States
October 4, 1749
Age 25
Of, Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts
January 5, 1759
Age 35
Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States
March 29, 1798
Age 74
Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States