Learning About the Ship or Brig "Charles Doggett"

Yankee Ships Cover-thumbIn the 1970's when I went by the name "Charles Doggett" and still worked at the Baptist Brotherhood Commission in Memphis, fellow worker Lee Holloway brought me a book titled Yankee Ships in Pirate Waters. It chronicled stories of adventure upon those 1700's &1800's merchant ships that sailed from New England around the world bringing rich cargoes back home. Chapter 7 is titled "Children of the Sun" and is summarized as "How the men of the 'Charles Doggett' angered a witch-doctor, fought Fiji cannibals, and saved a sister-ship from yellow pirates in the gulf of Tongking." Lee had picked it up at a used book sale for $1. It became an intersting treasure for me as I wondered who the ship was named after. (And still would like more information.) The book was copyrighted 1931 by author Rupert Sargent Holland.

Then in the 1990's or early 2000's Jack Benz at First Baptist Nashville approached me one day and asked if I knew anything about the ship Charles Doggett? All I could tell him was the above story of an adventure story book. Then he revealed something even more interesting. He is related to Captain William Driver, the Captain of the Charles Doggett Ship who is buried in our own Nashville City Cemetery. He like me was interested in knowing who the ship was named after. But he also was the first to tell me that William Driver was the one who gave the American Flag the nickname "Old Glory" after hiding it inside a quilt during the civil war to avoid destruction by rebels. After the war his family donated it to the Smithsonian Institute. In 2006 that flag was on display in Nashville at the Tennessee State Museum for 8 months and soon many people knew about the Brig Charles Doggett. See newspaper article linked at right. Both this display and the story book also reveiled that it was the Charles Doggett and Captain William Driver that rescued the survivors of the famous mutiny on the HMS Bounty in 1789. Wow! What fun this is! I learned later that Jack's family has also done a lot of research and have submitted a movie script which is yet to be fiananced and filmed. I have seen the proposal and script and boy would this make a great movie! Sure hope it is someday! Hey! they haved made several movies about Mutiny on the Bounty! the latest in 1984. 

For years I searched all over the internet for namesake of Captain Driver's ship to no avail. In late 2012 I contacted the TV show "History Detectives" to see if they are interested in tackling this challenge. Haven't received a response from them yet. Then in January 2013 I finally found a web page that gives a logical explanation of the name. The first owner of the ship was Charles Cole. His grandson was named after him but with the middle name "Doggett," - Charles Doggett Cole. And Grandpa named his whaling vessel after his grandson, using first and middle names, possibly what they called him; "Charles Doggett." (Which happens to be my name.) The grandson's middle name could have also come from Noah Doggett II who was in business with Charles Cole building ships as Doggett, Merritt & Cole. Thus it could also be that Noah Doggett was honored twice by a child's name and a ship's name. See the link in right panel ("Named After") for the full description and sources. It makes sense to me. If you know anything else, please email me - I would particularly like an image of the ship.


William Driver Grave & Tennessee Historydriver-grave

5618144 125596219159An excellent article with multiple photos is on "Find A Grave" website

See also the Nashville City Cemetery site with a nice page on William Driver and the nearby historical marker

The Tennessee Encyclopedia article

The William Driver page on Wikipedia

The Tennessean newspaper articles listed in left panel

William Driver Papers Index - Tennessee State Archives & Library



"My ship, my country, and my flag, Old Glory."
"There is no such thing as zero risk."

No Images of Brig Charles Doggett are Yet Found

2009-2201This model shows the typical outfit and gear for a deepwater whaling ship of the mid-1800s, when the industry was at its peak. From  http://amhistory.si.edu/onthewater/exhibition/3_7.html 

New Zealand Postage Stamp


Around 1825 the population of Pitcairn had risen to 66 from 35 some 17 years earlier. John Adams, the leader of the community was concerned about the dwindling food, water and timber supply. He sought permission from Britain to move the population to Australia and this was granted in 1831 even though Adams had died in 1829 and the welfare of the inhabitants had improved. 
On 28 February 1831 the HMS Comet and the Colonial Barque Lucy Anne arrived to remove the Pitcairners, not to Australia but to Tahiti. The Islanders reluctantly left, arriving in Tahiti on 21 March. They were kindly treated by Queen Pomare IV and her people but the new arrivals did not feel at home or adjust to this different way of life. They longed to return to their own island, especially when infectious diseases, to which they had little immunity, began to kill them. Within two months 12 people had died and the plight of the Pitcairners became worse when attempts to return failed.
Captain William Driver captained the brig Charles Doggett and was based in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1831 he was departing Salem on one of his many world voyages when friends presented him with a flag bearing 24 stars. As his ship met the open sea, the ocean breeze unfurled the famous stars and stripes for the first time. “Old Glory” exclaimed Driver and history was created. 
 This particular voyage took the Charles Doggett to Tahiti where he was able to offer the Pitcairn Islanders passage for $500, which was gratefully accepted. The funds, raised by selling blankets and other necessities, enabled the community to board the brig and set sail from Papeete on 14 August 1831, reaching Pitcairn on 3 September. 
In a 2017 email Mark Wiener wrote to say,
"The Pitcairn Government claims the Charles Doggett some time after 1835 was wrecked at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands."