Esther (Whiting) Shipman, 1753-1781.

Esther Shipman

She was the wife of Elias Shipman. In the period of 1784 to 1800, there was great prosperity in New Haven. Broome & Platt were the leading merchants, but there were fify-six smaller, successful stores, among them was Shipman’s. After the War of 1812, Elias was granted a virtual monopoly for ten years in “refining and manufacturing Loaf Sugar.” He was often chosen for positions of responsibility in town. In 1789 Shipman was appointed by the Town Council to be foreman of the company in charge of the two city-owned fire engines. He kept the engine in a shed in front of his barn in the western section of the city. The company of volunteer firemen numbered seventeen. Elias was one of the five committeemen appointed to carry on the business of the new burying ground on Grove Street. In 1797 Elias joined with Jeremiah Townsend and others to form a marine insurance company. It was dissolved thirty-five years later.

When in 1808 President Jefferson proclaimed an embargo of coastal ports because of the growing conflicts with France and Great Britain, New Haven declined drastically: “farmers markets disappeared, sailors and shipwrights were idle and merchants were in despair.” The town appointed a committee to prepare an address to the president asking for moderation or suspension of the embargo, Elias was on this committee, which in the end did not alter matters.

My own research shows that Esther was the daughter of Dr. Elisha and Esther (Harpin–sometimes spelled “Herpin”) Whiting of Milford.  Her father Elisha graduated Yale in 1747 and lived from 1729-1766.  He was the son of Colonel Joseph and Hannah (Trowbridge) Whiting of New Haven (both also interred in the crypt).  Esther married Elias Shipman on March 13, 1777.  A daughter named after her is buried next to her.


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