Portsmouth Marine Society

Announcing New 2019 Title:

Maritime Portsmouth:
The Sawtelle Collection

Edited by Richard M. Candee, with Appreciation and chapter intros by J. Dennis Robinson
Portsmouth Marine Society Number 31

31- Maritime Portsmouth

Catalog of the
Maritime Portsmouth Exhibit
June 4-August 31, 2019
at the
Discover Portsmouth Center

The Portsmouth Marine Society

Welcome history buffs, visitors to the Piscataqua Region, lovers of books on the local history of all things maritime in the seacoast New Hampshire and southern Maine area.

We hope you enjoy your visit!

Our books are listed here.

Thank you for your interest!

Visit the
Maritime Portsmouth Exhibit

June 4-August 31, 2019
at the Discover Portsmouth Center

Order Portsmouth Marine Society Books


Historical Note

The Marine Society was incorporated by the State of New Hampshire on June 6, 1808. The society was formed with two primary goals in mind: to provide relief to old and disabled seamen, their widows and orphans, and to collect and disseminate nautical information and ideas which might improve the maritime industry. The members were separated into two categories, maritime (active and retired ship captains, who made up about two-thirds of the membership) and honorary (men who weren’t seafarers). Five-sixths of all funds were required to be used for the relief of members and their families while the final sixth went into a permanent fund to help pay for the administrative costs of the society itself.

The society was presided over by a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and a thirteen-member board of managers. All of these positions were filled annually by a vote of all the members. The entire society met semi-annually on the second Tuesday or July and January and attendance was strongly encouraged. All members were required to report any nautical information to the society immediately upon their return from sea.

The first meeting of society was held on July 12 th, 1808 in the State House in Portsmouth, with Thomas Thompson, president; Thomas Manning, vice president; George Long, treasurer; and George Smith, secretary. There were only five secretaries over the society’s history: George Smith, 1808-1811; Enoch Parrott, 1812-1815; Sam Hutchins, 1816-1836; William Shackford, 1837-1875; and Charles Rollins, 1876-1893. The Portsmouth Marine Society originally had eighty-one maritime members and nineteen honorary members with forty-five maritime and five honorary members being added over the next eighty-seven years. Meetings of the society were held in many locations throughout Portsmouth, until 1824 when the society began to hold its meetings in the Portsmouth Athenaeum.

In 1895 the members, feeling that the society had outlived its usefulness, requested that the society be dissolved, its holding sold and the proceeds distributed to the stockholders. This request was granted and the funds were distributed from January to April 1896.

In January of 1982 the society was reincorporated to underwrite the research and publication of books related to the Portsmouth of Portsmouth’s maritime heritage and to cooperate with other groups who share that goal. The society was reincorporated with one hundred sixty-seven members.

Historical Timeline

1808 Portsmouth Marine Society incorporated by the state of New Hampshire to aid seaman and their dependents and to disseminate nautical information. Thomas Thompson is elected President; Thomas Manning, Vice President; George Long, Treasurer; and George Smith, Secretary. The society meets at various locations throughout Portsmouth.

  • 1812 Enoch Parrott elected Secretary
  • 1816 Samuel Hutchins elected Secretary
  • 1824 The society begins holding its meetings in the Portsmouth Athenaeum
  • 1827 The society passes a motion to require all of its members to fly a white flag with a number on it in order to conspicuously identify themselves as members
  • 1837 William Shackford elected Secretary
  • 1876 Charles H. Rollins elected Secretary
  • 1893 Vote taken to repeal the articles of incorporation
  • 1895-1896 Payment of final dividends to members
  • 1982 Reincorporated with 167 new members, to promote study of maritime heritage in the Portsmouth area