The Great Hurricane of 1635
Originally published 31 Dec 2013
Today I organized some genealogy documents I have been promising myself for months that I would file. In the stack was a Daughters of the American Revolution, American Spirit magazine I had set aside. One of the articles, entitled "The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635" (1) was of particular interest to me because Nicholas Robbins arrived in America on the Blessing that year. Naturally, I wondered whether Nicholas Robbins had experienced this storm.
In the Fall 2013 Nicholas Robbins Family Newsletter, Christopher Robbins discussed the Blessing passenger list dated 17 June 1635 (2). Additionally, the The Winthrop Society website indicates ship passenger lists were prepared weeks in advance of the departure date, and the Blessing eventually sailed in mid-July 1635 (3). A search of the Internet indicates the length of passage for other ships in the Winthrop Fleet was about 90 days. If one applies the same trip duration to the Blessing, the ship arrived about six weeks after the hurricane on August 26th. Thus, Nicholas Robbins may have been near the half way point of his trip to the Massachusetts Bay Colony when the storm struck. But while he may not have experienced the storm directly, he would have certainly seen terrible after effects as chronicled by John Winthrop and William Bradford.
Winthrop wrote that the storm, "blew with such violence, with abundance of rain, that it blew down hundreds of trees, near the towns, overthrew some houses, and drove the ships from their anchors." Bradford recalled a 20 foot sea swell that, "made many of the Indians to climb into trees for safety." Bradford also noted "many hundred thousands of trees" were blown down.(4)
What could Nicholas Robbins been thinking when he arrived in America and learned of the storm? Did he feel blessed by his circumstances or did he wish he had never left his European home? Did he understand the nature of passing storms or did he attribute the storm to ill doings?
1. Nancy Mann Jackson, "The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635," American Spirit, May/June 2013, pages 20-22.
2. Christopher Robbins, "New Evidence for the English Origins of Nicholas Robbins," The Nicholas Robbins Family Newsletter, Vol.7, No.2: 1-5.
3. "Passengers of the Blessing," The Winthrop Society, accessed December 30, 2013,http://www.winthropsociety.com/ships/blessing.htm.
4. Jackson, "The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635," 22.