Sen. William Rotch

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Sen. William Rotch

Also Known As: "Friend Rotch"
Birthdate: (93)
Birthplace: Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: May 16, 1828 (93)
New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Joseph Rotch and Love Rotch
Husband of Elizabeth Rotch
Father of Elizabeth Rodman; William Rotch, Jr.; Benjamin Rotch; Susanna Rotch; Lydia Dean and 4 others
Brother of Francis Rotch and Joseph Rotch, Jr.

Occupation: whaling and shipping business
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sen. William Rotch

He had a large whaling and shipping business in Nantucket.

For William Rotch Sr.'s autobiography of the years 1775 to 1794, see []. To read letters from William Rotch Sr. to his son Thomas Rotch, go to [] - Rotch-Wales collection.

1785-1800 Dunkirk, France Between 1768 and 1772, whale oil accounted for fifty-three percent of all sterling earned by direct exports to Great Britain from the New England colonies and most of that whale oil was gathered by Nantucket-based ships. Nantucketers maintained strong ties to the mother country during the colonial period, relying on the English market for whale oil to support their existence on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many British ships employed Nantucket captains and seamen. However, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 were devastating to Nantucket's whaling industry. Both wars cut off trade between Nantucket and Britain, creating serious economic hardships for islanders.

While Kezia Coffin supported British interests during the Revolution, William Rotch (1734-1828), a prominent Quaker and one of Nantucket's most powerful whale-oil merchants wanted no part of the war. At the beginning of the conflict, it was Rotch's ships, including the Beaver, that were attacked in Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party. Rotch's beliefs in pacifism and unrestricted international trade influenced his neutrality stance. After the American Revolution, and the resulting closure of the British whale-oil market, islanders needed to find a new outlet for their primary export. Rotch reached an agreement with the French to organize a whaling port in Dunkirk. Approximately twelve island families moved to France and created a duty-free market for whale oil through Nantucket, eventually allowing the island to regain leadership in the whaling industry. Other settlements established by migrating Nantucketers in search of a more favorable economic climate in the wake of the Revolution included Dartmouth, in Nova Scotia, and Milford Haven, Wales.

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Sen. William Rotch's Timeline

October 4, 1734
Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States
Age 20
December 9, 1757
Age 23
Nantucket, Nantucket County, Massachusetts, United States
November 29, 1759
Age 25
Nantucket, Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA
Age 27
Age 29
July 13, 1767
Age 32
Nantucket, Nantucket, MA, USA
Age 35
Age 42