Mostly Trapping

Maritime Museum To Present Talk On William Sturgis
Jan 3, 2020 09:42 ET

(Reprinted from above link)

Barnstable’s own William Sturgis first made a name for himself in the late 18th century with his youthful adventures in the fur trade and fighting Chinese pirates.

There’s a lot more to his story, however, and guest speaker Gregory Williams will be talking about it at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum’s presentation of “William Sturgis: Barnstable’s Adventuring Merchant,” Sunday, January 12, from 2 to 4 PM.

William F. Sturgis was born in 1782, in the middle of the American Revolution, in what is now Sturgis Library in Barnstable. He went to sea at age 16, needing money after his father, shipmaster William E. Sturgis, was killed by pirates in the Caribbean.

Sailing around South America, goods including blankets and clothes were brought from Massachusetts to the Pacific Northwest, where they were sold to the natives there in exchange for sea otter pelts. These were then taken and sold in China. In China, merchants would acquire goods such as tea and porcelain, then sail back home around Africa. The trade route from Massachusetts to the Pacific Northwest to China took years to complete. Mr. Sturgis made this trip four times in his life between the ages of 16 and 28, eventually starting his own trading company and amassing great wealth.

During a raid by Chinese pirates on the ship Atahualpa, on which he was the captain, Mr. Sturgis miraculously managed to save the ship, his men and the silver on board.

Mr. Williams is a retired lawyer, assistant attorney general and judge. He retired from the bench, where he served 10 years as First Justice in Edgartown District Court, in 2015. An avid history buff, he is giving talks in various venues on various topics, including historical Massachusetts crimes, World War II poetry and Cape Cod historical figures. He is currently president of the board of directors for Sturgis Library.

The talk will take place in the Community Room at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, 135 South Street, Hyannis. The cost for members is $10; for nonmembers, $15.