118. Col. George CLAGHORN (380) (381)(382) (383)(384) (193) (photo) was born on 6 Jul 1748 in Chilmark, Martha's Vineyard, MA.(192) [Judy Goldbaum's data gives birth place as New Bedford, MA.] He died on 3 Feb 1824 in Seekonk, MA.(192) (385)(194) (193) [Tim Cushman's and Judy Goldbaum's data, as well as the Cushman Family Group Sheets, give death date of 5 Feb 1824; Judy has marriage place as Seskank, RI; several sources have Seekonk, RI; one source had Leekonk; Nat. Soc. of DAR, Vols. 52 & 54, have his death at Rehoboth, MA. Today there is a town of Seekonk, MA, which lies close to the RI/MA boarder, just southeast of Providence, RI. The town of Rehoboth, MA, which lies just a few miles further to the east, was originally called Seekonk, encompassed a much larger territory, and in the early days was described as being "in the southwest corner of the (Plymouth) colony, touching the Massachusetts and Rhode Island borders." (Plymouth Colony, p. 77)
This area changed its name to Rehoboth in 1643. Later, Seekonk, MA, was set off from Rehoboth and incorporated as a separate town Feb. 26, 1812 (12 years before his death), according to the 1883 book, History of Bristol County Massachusetts, which is now on-line at: This book further states, "The territory embraced within the present town of Seekonk originally formed a portion of the ancient town of Rehoboth, where the record history, names of early settlers, etc., will be found." (Chapter XXXVII)
In 1862 the western part of Seekonk was transferred to Rhode Island by the establishment of a new line between the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This western part of Seekonk is now mostly East Providence, RI, but also includes Pawtucket, RI.]
U.S. Navy "Fact File" on the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") has "Builders: Col George Claghorn, Edmond Harrt's Shipyard, Boston, Mass (1797)," Constitution further described as "Wooden hull, three-masted frigate. The oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy. One of six frigates authorized to form the United States Navy for use against the Barbary pirates."
A Memo of unknown origin states the following:
"George Claghorn of New Bedford, Mass., was Colonel of a Massachusetts regiment during the War of the Revolution. He was the master builder of the New Bedford vessel 'Rebecca' said to have been the first American whaler to double Cape Horn. She sailed from New Bedford September 28, 1791 and returned Feb. 22, 1793 with a full cargo of whale oil. Claghorn was appointed a Constructor in the US Navy and ordered to take charge of the building of the CONSTITUTION at Boston assisted by Mr. Hartley. The deal and plans for the ship(?) had been prepared by Joseph Humphreys, the first US Naval Constructor. The construction was commenced November 1794. She was ready for launching September 20, 1797, but stuck on the ways. A second effort to launch her was made two days later; this too was unsuccessful and Constructor Claghorn reported to Hon. James McHenry, Secretary of War Department, that the reason for the ship's not taking the water successfully was owning to the settling of the wharf from which she was to be launched and that this would be remedied and the launching would take place in October. October 21, 1797 the CONSTITUTION was successfully launched. Of Constructor Claghorn's subsequent career nothing has been found of record; but his name is found number two of the Naval Constructors in Goldsborough's Naval Chronicles."
Excerpts from the Claghorn Study are as follows: "George Claghorn was in the Battle of Bunkerhill and shot in the knee. Went lame ever after. ... At a town meeting at the town of Dartmouth, Mass. Jan 12th 1781, George Claghorn was appointed one of a committee to enlist the soldiers for three years for the Continental Army, pay bounties, etc. ... George Claghorn assisted in establishing American Independence in capacity of 1st Lieu., Capt., and Major and was breveted Col. ... He was considered a rich man in the times worth about $30,000. He had a ship yard at New Bedford, and employed many hands. He was ruined financially by a wayward son, and his heart was broken. ... He died of cancer on the lip, eating an artery he bled to death."
Major Massachusetts Militia in 1781.
"Architect and builder of the US Frigate Constitution (launched 1797) known as 'Old Ironsides'" (Yellow sheet) (This is partially in error as he was not the architect.)
At the Waterfront Park in New Bedford, MA, there is a memorial to Col. Claghorn. The following is from the New Bedford Area Visitor Guide's web page (
Col. George Claghorn was a Revolutionary war patriot, Naval Constructor, and master shipwright. He was a New Bedford resident and had a shipbuilding operation on the New Bedford waterfront in the 1790's and early 1800's. Col. Claghorn's most notable accomplishment came between 1794 and 1797, during which time he moved his family to Boston to build the U.S.S. Constitution. The U.S.S. Constitution is the the US Navy's oldest commissioned warship and celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1997. Among other vessels, Col. Claghorn's shipyard also built the whale ship Rebecca, the first whaler to double Cape Horn. The Claghorn memorial was first dedicated in 1936 by the Daughters of the American Revolution, New Bedford chapter. The plaque was taken down in the late 1960's during New Bedford's urban renewal period and placed in storage. It was rediscovered in 1997, and on July 6th, 1997 the memorial was rededicated with proper ceremony. In addition to the Daughters of the American Revolution and local dignitaries, several of Col. Claghorn's own descendants were on hand for the rededication.
Vol. II of "A History of Bristol County Massachusetts," F.W. Hutt ed., 1924, quotes an old manuscript that gives the following: "The ship 'Rebecca' was the first ship built in New Bedford. She was launched in the spring of 1785. George Claghorn, who afterward built the frigate 'Constitution,' the pride of our navy, was the master carpenter. The 'Rebecca' was owned by Joseph Russell and his sons ... She measured about 175 tons, which was considered so immensely large that she was the wonder and admiration of the surrounding country. ... was the first American whaleship to double Cape Horn. She ... made a successful voyage, obtaining a cargo of sperm oil on the coast of Chile, returning in about twelve months. The 'Rebecca' finally made a disastrous end. She sailed from Liverpool for New York in the autumn of 1798 ... and was never heard from." (courtesy of a "lookup" by Ann D'Amore, DE)
DAR information indicates that he entered the service as lieutenant in 1776 under Capt. Manassah Kempton and commanded a company at Dartmouth Alarm; served as captain, 1779, and as major, 1780, under Col. William Turner, in the sea-coast defense; later promoted to colonel (other information indicating that he was a "breveted Col." would indicate that he was commissioned a colonel but did not receive that rank's pay). The following is a quote from "Colonel George Claghorn, Builder of Constitution," Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches, Jan 1931, No. 56: "Claghorn's highest military title did not come from his Revolutionary service. Some years later he was commissioned a colonel in the militia, commanding the Second Regiment, Second Brigade, Fifth Division. It was considered a great honor to attain such high military rank. In the issue of the New Bedford Medley of May 29, 1793, was printed a set of regimental orders issued by Colonel Claghorn. ... An inference has been given up that he did not bear his honors modestly. Eventually he sold his property (in New Bedford in 1804)... Colonel Claghorn and his family removed to a farm in Seekonk, where he lived for nearly twenty years until his death, Feb. 3, 1824, in his 76th year. He had seen fulfilled the hope expressed in his utterance of 1797 that the Constitution would 'become the pride and ornament of the American race,' or as perhaps might be better said, of the American Navy."

He was married to Deborah ??? BROWNELL on 20 Dec 1769 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA.(383) (192)(81) [Claghorn Study has marriage date of 16 Dec 1769 at New Bedford; J. Goldbaum's data has marriage place as Bristol Co., MA (New Bedford is in Bristol Co.); Bonnie Hubbard has marriage date of 20 Dec 1769; a CD-ROM of Bristol Co., MA, vital records indicates that both George and Deborah were "of Dartmouth" when they married there on 20 Dec 1769. (This latter CD-ROM information from a e-mail response dated 10 Mar 1999 from Linda Mathew volunteering to do "lookups" on the Bristol Co. Internet site of the Massachusetts US GENWEB Project.)]

119. Deborah ??? BROWNELL (386)(193) was born on 8 Oct 1749 in Little Compton, Newport Co., RI. NOTE: SOME CONFUSION/DISAGREEMENT SURROUNDS THE IDENTITY OF THE WIFE OF COL. GEORGE CLAGHORN.
Most researchers have the Colonel's wife as Deborah Brownell, daughter of Jeremiah Brownell and Deborah Burgess. Most, including Bonnie Hubbard, have her birth date as 8 Apr 1721 at Little Compton, RI. This fits well with the data that has her the sixth born of 13 children born to these parents from 1713 to 1734. However if this Deborah was born 1721, this would make her 27 years older than her husband George; she would have been about 49 at the birth of her first child, 55 at the birth of our Polly, and 70 at the birth of her last child. This is highly unlikely. Other researchers give her birth date in or about 1746 or 1749. Tim Cushman has her birth date as "abt 1749;" another source has her birth in 1746 at Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA. These later birth dates would fit better with the age of George Claghorn and his children, but would make her mother, Deborah Burgess Brownell, age 52 and 55 respectively at Deborah's birth. Either of these later dates would also not fit well with the birth dates of the other children in Jerimiah's family. In response to this problem, Judy Goldbaum, in an e-mail dated 14 Feb 1999, has suggested that the Deborah that married George Claghorn might be the daughter of David & Grace (Church) Brownell, Deborah being born 8 Oct 1749. This Deborah would be the granddaughter of Jeremiah & Deborah (Burgess) Brownell. In an e-mail from V. Westhaver 24 May 1999 it is reported that the "Little Compton Families" book published in 1967 by Wilbur indicated that Jeremiah Brownell and Deborah Burgess had a daughter Deborah b. 8 Apr 1721 but that she was listed as unmarried. This latter information would lend additional support to the thesis that Jeremiah's daughter Deborah was not the one that married Col. George Claghorn.
Without further proof, I have chosen to indicate that the wife of George Claghorn and the mother of our Polly was the daughter of David Brownell and Grace Church. I welcome any comments and/or data that would shed more light on this problem. I hope that some day we might have definitive information on Deborah's identity.
If our Deborah Brownell Claghorn is the daughter of Grace Church, there exist a large volume of information on the Church line. [See LDS Individual Record, FamilySearch® Ancestral File, for Richard CHURCH (AFN: J52R-X3) at: and a brief summary of the Church ancestors given in the notes for her grandfarther, Richard Church.]
Children were:

child i. Henry CLAGHORN(81) (193) was born about 1770 in MA.(193) [WFT Vol. 9, #3749, 2-8-1997. Cushman Family Group Sheets indicate that he was born 17 Sep 1801.] He died on 17 Sep 1801 in New Bedford, Bristol Co., MA.
child ii. Tim CLAGHORN(193) was born before 1 Feb 1771 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA. He died on 1 Feb 1771 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA. Died an infant.
child iii. Benjamin CLAGHORN(193) was born on 8 Feb 1772 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA.(194) He died on 23 Feb 1789 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA. (383)(194) Died "aged 17 years and 15 days." Claghorn study has death at Acushnet, MA.
child59 iv. Polly CLAGHORN.
child v. Deborah CLAGHORN(383) (193) was born in 1776 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA. (194) Married Abial Hathaway 18 Jul 1801; both were "of New Bedford." (Claghorn Study)
They had at least one son, "David Hathaway b 19 Feb 1804 New Bedford Bristol Co, married Ann S. Eldredge 5 Jul 1828 New Bedford Died 16 Dec 1851" (Post by Marsha Bybee,, on Bristol County Ma. Query Forum on 24 Feb 1999)
According to Bybee's data file #21639 (accessed Dec 1999), Deborah was first married to Peter De Louis, but no children are recorded for this marriage. Deborah and Abiel Hathaway had 3 children: Clarissa, William B. (1804-1851) and David C. (1804-1851).
child vi. George CLAGHORN Jr.(383) (193) was born about 1779 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA. (194) Married Amy (or Almy) Ingraham 17 Dec 1795; both "of New Bedford." Amy or Almy was born in 1775 and died 4 Jan 1833 according to "Don & Jeannine Inbody's Family Home Page" at (on 15 Feb 1999). Almy was the daughter of Timothy and Sarah Ingraham. Vital Records of New Bedford - Deaths, p. 42, gives Almy's death date as 1 Jan 1833 at age 57.

child vii. Charles CLAGHORN(383). "married Ingraham no issue"
child viii. Grace CLAGHORN(383) (193) was born on 10 Nov 1782 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA. (194)(383) She died on 27 Nov 1883 in Plainville, Norfolk Co., MA.(387) died "aged 101 years and 16 days." "married (at age 19) Wm. Beebe Oct 7th 1802. Grace Claghorn was the mother of Eliza Beebe, wife of Channing Smith 1st and grandmother of Albert Edward Smith." (apparent family connection to A. K. Smith, author of Claghorn Study) At the time of Grace's marriage to William Beebe, she was "of New Bedford" and he was "of Nantucket." (Vital Records of New Bedford, Vol. II - Marriages, 1932, p. 118.)
The following came from a booklet booklet "Old Ironsides, Colonel George Claghorn, Builder of Frigate Constitution, (Fourth Edition, 1935)," page 3, column 2: "Within 24 years eight children were born to the couple, the last survivor, Grace, wife of William Beebe, dying in North Attleboro in 1883 at the age of 101 years, 17 days". (information and quote provided by Kris Mason, 8 Apr 2000)
child ix. Lydia CLAGHORN(81) (194)(193) was born in Feb 1791 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., MA. She died on 16 Aug 1863. Married Jeremiah Wheeler. (Tim Cushman & WFT Vol. 9, #3749, 2-8-1997) Kris Mason in an e-mail dated 20 Nov 1999 reported that the town clerk at Swansea, MA (508.678.9389) had a marriage certificate for Lydia Claghorn and Jeramiah Wheeler from 1824.

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