About the Thatcher Magoun

The Thatcher Magoun is a medium sized American clipper ship that was built in 1856 by Hayden & Cudworth in Medford, Massachusetts for T. Magoun & Sons, who were prominent ship owners in Boston. The ship was named after Thatcher Magoun, the senior member of the firm and "father of shipbuilding on the Mystic River". He died the year the ship was launched at age 81. Used mainly in the trade between Boston, New York and San Francisco, the Thatcher Magoun's maiden voyage occured in 1856 and she sailed until the end of 1873. Shortly after Captain Nugent's one voyage in 1873 - 1874, she was sold to Norway as the "Hercules". It is reported that she was lost off the coast of Africa in the early 1880's.

Image Credit: Addison Gallery of American Art


"The Thatcher Magoun was a fine looking ship, conceded to be a fast sailer and credited with a record of 16 knots. Her entrance lines were concave below, merging into convex; the oval stern was very neat and handsome and was ornamented with gilded scroll work. She carried an image of Thatcher Magoun as a figurehead." American Clipper Ships, 1833 - 1858

Length of Keel - 173 Feet
Deck - 190 Feet
Overall Length - 200 Feet
Extreme Beam - 40 Feet
Depth of Hold - 24 Feet
Dead Rise - 18 Inches
Swell of Sides - 9 Inches
Sheer - 20 Inches
Tonnage, 1248, old measurement; 1155, new measurement
She had Howes' double topsails.
Mainmast Lengths:

Lower - 86 Feet
Topmast - 46 Feet
Topgallant - 23 Feet
Royal - 16 1/2 Feet
Skysail Mast - 12 Feet
Main Yard - 80 Feet
Lower Topsail Yard - 68 1/2 Feet
Upper Topsail Yard - 59 Feet
Topgallant - 48 Feet
Royal - 38 1/2 Feet
Skysail Yard - 22 Feet
It is said that she set no Studdingsails.
magoun2.jpg magoun3.jpg


The Magoun was a fast ship and made all except one of her outward passages from Eastern ports to San Francisco. The fastest voyage from Boston to San Francisco was 113 days, from New York the fastest was 117 days, and from Liverpool - 115 days. The Thatcher Magoun has beat such ships as the Sea Serpent, Flying Dutchman, Robin Hood and John Gilpin.

To see an entire list of the voyages of the Thatcher Magoun captained by William Peterson, please see the book The Thatcher Magoun: An American Clipper Ship, Her Owners, Captains, and Model.


"Though the evidence is in part conflicting, it is probable that her various captains were Captain Sylvanus B. Bourne, 1856, 1 voyage (maiden voyage), Captain Alexander Baxter, 1857, 2 voyages, Captain Asa Lothrop, 1858, 1 voyage, Captain Otis Baker, 1861, 3 voyages, Captain Albert H. Dunbar, 1865, 1 voyage, Captain William Peterson, 1866-1873, 19 voyages, Captain Nugent, 1873-1874, 1 voyage."

Important People in the Life of the Ship

MrMagoun.gif Thatcher Magoun - He was the first man to build a shipyard in Medford, creating a booming industry and opportunities for the community to grow.

Peterson.jpg William Peterson - The most prominent captain of the Thatcher Magoun.

Read more about the Thatcher Magoun

Books in the Phillips Academy Collection
The Thatcher Magoun : an American clipper ship, her owners, captains, and model

Books in the NOBLE Consortium
American clipper ships, 1833-1858
The American-built clipper ship, 1850-1856 : characteristics, construction, and details
Old Ships and Ship Building Days of Medford

Selected Websites
Detailed Specifications of the Thatcher Magoun of Boston

Links to other Clipper Ships in the Addison Collection

Ann McKim
Flying Cloud
Young America