Martin Loy’s Arrival to America, 276 Years Ago Today

Benjamin Franklin, from a 1778 portrait painted in France by Joseph Siffred Duplessis.

Would you believe Martin Loy had a connection to good ol’ Benjamin Franklin?

In 1729 Franklin bought out a one-year-old newspaper, shortening its title to The Pennsylvania Gazette. This paper was published twice-weekly until 1800. It survived Franklin by ten years.

Ben wrote many of the paper’s articles and even did the typesetting. Among the various articles included in his paper were schedules of incoming and outgoing ships. Today’s comparison would be a news website that includes local airport flight schedules. But ol’ Ben didn’t stop there. Not only did he include incoming and outgoings ships, but detailed exactly when they left their European ports.

Thanks to ol’ Ben, he left record of when the St. Mark arrived in Cowles, England from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Shortly after the ship’s arrival in Cowles, The Pennsylvania Gazette mentions that Captain¬†William Wilson, master of the ship, arrived in Cowles on 3 September 1741, with eight hundred Palatines aboard, headed for Philadelphia. Martin Loy would have been among them. This has been the only source I’ve found which gives number of the¬†St. Mark’s passengers. Professor Isaac Daniel Rupp’s 1875 volume, A Collection of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727-1776, only names 98 males of those passengers.

Although the ship’s passengers disembarked on 26 September 1741, the ship herself would be delayed many weeks, unloading cargo while passing through customs. Captain Wilson was required to complete a full report of written documents on all cargo the ship carried into port. Any imported foreign goods were tallied and subject to British taxation. Besides “domestic” British goods, this ship originated her journey from The Netherlands, where other goods would have been taken aboard. The Pennsylvania Gazette lists the St. Mark among the ships going into the Philadelphia Custom-House in its 8 October issue, implying (since the paper was published twice a week) that the ship hadn’t even entered customs until early October. It apparently wasn’t entered out from customs until about a month later; mention of the St. Mark entering out of customs appeared in the 12 November issue.

As for the St. Mark and her captain, I haven’t found what happened to Captain Wilson after this journey. Perhaps he remained some time in the New World, waiting until Spring’s return of better trans-Atlantic navigation and a new ship to master. Or perhaps he returned to Europe as passenger in another ship. Or perhaps Philadelphia was his home port. Ol’ Ben did tell us, though, that after the St. Mark entered out from customs (and likely refitted), Captain Wilson was replaced by another ship master. In the article from 12 November mentioning St. Mark entering out of customs, Alexander Kelty was given as the ship’s new captain. The St. Mark would continue on to South Carolina.


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