William Branford Shubrick (1790 - 1874) MP

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Birthplace: Belvedere Plantation, Bull's Island, South Carolina, United States
Death: Died in Washington, D.C., United States
Occupation: United States Navy
Managed by: Henrik Sætness
Last Updated:

About William Branford Shubrick

William Branford Shubrick (31 Oct 1790-25 May 1874) was the son of Col. Thomas Shubrick and Mary Branford. He married Harriet Cordelia Wethered. He was born in South Carolina but lived most of his adult life outside of the South. As a consequence, he was a Union sympathizer and opposed secession. He died in Washington, D.C.

He was an officer in the United States Navy. His active-duty career extended from 1806 to 1861, including service in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War; he retired in the early months of the Civil War. A summary of his career is included below. Three of his brothers were also officers in the United States Navy: John Templar Shubrick (1788-1815), Edward Rutledge Shubrick (1794-1844) and Irvine Shubrick (1798-1849).

For the 1860 census William and Harriet Shubrick were living in Washington with their daughter Mary and her husband George Clymer (Jul 1804-Apr 1881), who was himself a surgeon in the navy, two grandchildren and four servants. William described himself as a Commodore in the Navy and disclosed assets of $20,000. In the 1870 census William and Harriet were still in Washington with their daughter's family and a similar sized household. However, their assets had increased to $70,000.

Harper's Magazine printed an article about his career written in Aug 1876 by Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894), the eldest daughter of James Fenimore Cooper and a distinguished writer and naturalist. The article was later republished as a separate booklet. Susan's father, James Fenimore Cooper, had also mentioned the career of John Templer Shubrick in his 1845 book titled: "Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers".

Military Career

William Branford Shubrick served in the Navy from 1806-1861. His active-duty career included service in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War; he retired in the early months of the Civil War. Since the death of Admiral William Branford Shubrick, he has had a steamer, a torpedo boat, and two destroyers named for him [see links below].

  • In 1806, he served in the Mediterranean on the USS Wasp. It was aboard this ship where he met his life long friend James Fenimore Cooper.
  • In 1809 he served aborad the USS Argus along the Atlantic coast of the United States.
  • In the War of 1812, he served first on the USS Hornet, then the USS Constellation. While that frigate was at Norfolk, Virginia, he led a party of bluejackets in beating off a British boat attack against Craney Island on 22 June 1813. He subsequently won a Congressional medal for service in Constitution during her capture of HMS Cyane and Levant.
  • He directed operation of the West Indies Squadron from 1838 to 1840
  • He headed the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing from 1845 to 1846.
  • At the outbreak of the war with Mexico, Shubrick requested sea duty and, commanding the USS Independence, sailed for the California coast to relieve Commodore John D. Sloat in command of American Naval forces there. However. Commodore James Biddle brought his East India Squadron to Monterey, California, on 2 January 1847 only a week after Shubrick's arrival, and assumed command. In April, Shubrick sailed for the coast of Mexico to head the blockade of Mazatlán and Guaymas. Early in June, Shubrick was recalled to California where Biddle restored him to overall command on 19 July and sailed for the East Coast. Under Shubrick, the Navy successfully conducted the closing operations of the war on the Pacific coast. Highlights were the capture of Guaymas in October and of Mazatlán in November. San Bias fell in January 1848.
  • As Commander Shubrick of U.S. warship "Independence" he held a conference with King Kamehameha III of Hawaii on 11 Sep 1848.
  • He took command of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1849
  • Beginning in 1853, he headed the Bureau of Construction and Repair.
  • In October 1858, Shubrick sailed in command of the fleet sent to South American waters to support diplomatic efforts to resolve differences with Paraguay resulting from the firing upon USS Water Witch.
  • He was Chairman of the Light House Board from 1852-1871.
  • Pursuant to a resolution of Congress (February 22, 1816), (Shubrick) received a silver medal as one of Stewart’s officers. In 1834 the Legislature of South Carolina presented him with an elegant sword in testimony of their appreciation of his gallant services in the Constitution when she captured the Cyane and Levant." Since the death of Admiral William Branford Shubrick, he has had a steamer, a torpedo boat, and two destroyers named for him [see links below].

Links to additional material:

United States Navy ships named Shubrick:

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Rear Adm. William Branford Shubrick, USN's Timeline

1790
October 31, 1790
Bull's Island, South Carolina, United States
1815
September 21, 1815
Age 24
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
1819
May 17, 1819
Age 28
1823
September 25, 1823
Age 32
1827
July 23, 1827
Age 36
1852
1852
- 1871
Age 61
Light House Board
1874
May 27, 1874
Age 83
Washington, D.C., United States