Monday, March 26, 2018

Nathaniel Copeland: The Misfortune of Dying Young ~ 52 Ancestors #12

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Misfortune.

Since I wrote about my 4th great-grandmother, Mary (Page) Copeland last week, I thought I'd share the little bit I know about her husband, Nathaniel Copeland.

Although some secondary sources suggest that he was born in Boston, Massachusetts, according to the Vital Records of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, he was born 28 December 1765, in Liverpool, to Abraham and Elizabeth Copeland. His older sister, Mary and next younger brother, Abraham, were also born there.

According to the Copeland genealogy (The Copeland Family by Warren Turner Copeland, 1937), his father, Abraham, was a sea captain, which helps to explain why there are records for him in Nova Scotia and Boston. (In fact, it's unclear as to whether he died in Maine or at sea.)

Nathaniel apparently settled in Boston and by the age of 24 in early 1790, he was working as a shoemaker in his own shop "in Fish Street, nearly opposite Proctor's Corner." I found several newspaper advertisements between 1790 and 1799 at GenealogyBank that indicate that he was a boot and shoe maker and moved his shop several times during the 1790s.

On Sunday, May 24, 1801, two of his sons were baptized and a notice of the baptism was published in the Impartial Register, out of Salem, Massachusetts.

BAPTIZED, On Sunday last, by the Rev. Dr. Lathrop, two children of Mr. Nathaniel Copeland, one by the name of Thomas Jefferson, the other Benjamin Franklin; as a token of respect for the virtues, talents and Patriotism of the two greatest Philosophers and Statesmen America has produced.
This was also published in the Concord, New Hampshire, Republican Gazette.

Thomas Jefferson Copeland, my third great-grandfather, was just a month old and his brother, Benjamin Franklin Copeland was  2 1/2 years old at their baptism. Nathaniel must have had great aspirations for these sons.

However, just two and a half years later, on November 28, 1803, Nathaniel Copeland died, a month before he would have turned 38 years old. He left a wife and six surviving children, the three youngest of which likely had no memory of him. (Another son, Charles Copeland, was born after Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.) His brief obituary in the November 30, 1803, Gazetteer of Boston, Massachusetts, noted that he was "an honest man and industrious mechanic."

I do not know where Nathaniel Copeland is buried.


  1. Not everyone would merit an obituary highlighting honesty and industriousness. This is a fitting tribute. But I wonder what caused his death?

    1. Marian, I have done quite a bit of searching over the years for Nathaniel, but don't have any idea what his cause of death was. Thanks for the comment!

  2. How sad! And, with the names of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, I wonder what Charles' full name was. Or maybe, since his mother might have named him after her husband's death, it wasn't a political name.

    1. Charles was about 3 months old when his father died. Perhaps naming him was less important than Nathaniel's health at the time?
      Thanks for reading and commenting.