Samuel Humphreys, naval architect

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Samuel Humphreys

Birthdate: (67)
Death: August 16, 1846 (67)
Place of Burial: Washington D.C., DC, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Joshua Humphreys, “Father of the American Navy" and Mary Humphreys
Husband of Letitia Humphreys
Father of Joshua Humphreys; Jane Murray McCrabb; Mary Yonge; William Humphreys and Brig. General Andrew A. Humphreys (USA)
Brother of Clement Humphreys

Occupation: U.S. naval architect
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Samuel Humphreys, naval architect

Samuel Humphreys (23 November 1778 – 16 August 1846) was a noted American naval architect and shipbuilder in the early 19th century. He served the United States Navy as the Chief Constructor for the Navy from 1826 to 1846.

Naval architect

Samuel Humphreys supervised the construction of the frigate USS Philadelphia, which was laid down at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1798, and launched in 1799. He later constructed ships at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and supervised the construction of the ship-of-the-line USS Franklin, the first ship to be laid down at the yard, in 1815.

In 1824, Humphreys turned down a very lucrative offer from Emperor Alexander I of Russia to create a Russian navy, saying: "I do not know that I possess the merits attributed to me, but, be they great or small, I owe them all to the flag of my country."

Humphreys was Chief Constructor for the Navy from 1826 to 1846. He designed America's first first-rate ship-of-the-line, USS Pennsylvania, which was laid down in 1821, but not launched until 1837. He also designed the supply ship USS Relief, which was laid down in 1835 and launched in 1836.

Around 1827, Humphreys took on John Lenthall as his apprentice to work as his assistant and draftsman, and in 1828 he nominated Lenthall for a position as one of the assistant naval constructors at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Lenthall would go on to serve as Chief Constructor for the Navy from 1849 to 1853 and as Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair from 1853 to 1871.


Humphreys's father was Joshua Humphreys (1751-1838), the naval architect for the first six frigates of the U.S. Navy. Samuel, and his wife Letitia, had sons Andrew (1810-1883) and Joshua (1813–1873) who served in the Union Army and Confederate States Navy, respectively, in the American Civil War (1861-1865). His other children were Jane Murray McCrabb (1813–1897), Mary Yonge (1823–1866), and William Humphreys (1828–1897).

Samuel Humphreys is buried at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., with his sons Andrew and Joshua.

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Samuel Humphreys, naval architect's Timeline

November 23, 1778
November 2, 1810
Age 31
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Age 34
Age 34
Age 44
Age 49
August 16, 1846
Age 67
Washington D.C., DC, USA