Monday, March 17, 2014

Naming the Liberty Ships - Part Seven

Note: This is part of a series of posts on odd bits of history as memorialized in the names of World War II Liberty Ships.  I am organizing them, after a fashion, around proposed artwork for imaginary "ships' insignia"  For a more complete explanation and background: Part One


A sad bit of art to serve as the emblem of the S.S. Virginia Dare.  

In 1587 Virginia Dare became the first child born to English parents in the New World.  Her grandfather was Governor of the Roanoake Colony in present day North Carolina.  Her name seems so apt, her parents being among that hardy bunch of souls who abandoned the civilized world of London for the New Wilderness.  Of course it is just coincidence that their surname was Dare.

This was the so called "Lost Colony".  When a re-supply mission arrived it found the colonists gone, the buildings carefully dismantled and the enigmatic word CROATOAN carved into a tree trunk.

Virginia's fate will never be known.  The colonists may simply have been dispersed peacefully among the Native American tribes, or they have met a violent end.  It was natural to hope for the former, and in the generations that followed any fair skinned or light eyed Indian was felt to be a possible descendant of Virginia Dare.  

The very words "lost child" give us all a brief squirm of fear, so lets hope she had a life that was simple, but still long and decent.


The namesake of the S.S. Peregrine White sure did.

Peregrine was the first child born to the Pilgrims in New England.  Offshore in fact, as they anchored off Cape Cod in November 1620.  The fact that William White was able to persuade his very pregnant wife Susanna to take ship for America tells me that both husbands and wives were made of much sterner stuff back then.

And they needed to be.  Peregrine - delightfully named for that far wandering bird - lived to the ripe old age of 83 but his father died in that first hard winter.

I rather enjoyed reading Peregrine's obituary:

Capt. Peregrine White of this town, Aged Eighty three years, and Eight Months; died the 20th Instant. He was vigorous and of a comly Aspect to the last; Was the Son of Mr. William White and Susanna his Wife;’ born on board the Mayflower, Capt. Jones Commander, in Cape Cod Harbour. Altho’ he was in the former part of his Life extravagant; yet was much Reform’d in his last years; and died hopefully.”

Regardless of prior extravagances, may we all be Reform'd in our last years - but not too soon - and die hopefully.

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