The Brig Maria

In Michael Martin’s confession, he relates a story about arriving in the United States at Salem, Massachusetts, outward bound from Waterford, Ireland aboard the brig Maria. Martin offers many details: the departure date, arrival date, number of passengers, and Captain’s name. Martin and others aboard threatened to mutiny if the Captain did not first reach a port in the United States instead of his announced intention of heading for St. John’s or Halifax–both British ports.

An item from the shipping news of the Boston Intelligencer of June 19, 1819 confirms many of the details that Martin related: departed Ireland April 12-13, arrived in Salem June 17, carrying 120 passengers, and heading next to St. John’s:

No other accounts have surfaced to suggest there was a near-mutiny, but the arrival in Salem and subsequent voyage to St. Johns suggests an unusual change of plans.

Martin’s accurate memory of the dates and details of the crossing have no import other than to lend credence to his narrative. Martin was also trying to impress his listeners with this example of his desperate willingness to use violence–or the threat of violence–to impose his will.

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