Ship Ahoy

The following story is told of Capt. Henry Briggs Sampson1 , great-great-great-grandson of Pilgrim Henry Samson, in John Adams Vinton’s 1864 The Sampson Family. It is slightly paraphrased here.

His name was originally Briggs, without the Henry. He was master of the brig Sampson, owned in part by his father Job Sampson. On one occasion when he met another vessel at sea, as was the custom, the two shipmasters held a friendly parley. “What brig is that?” inquired the stranger. “Brig Sampson,” was the reply. “What is her captain’s name?” “Briggs Sampson,” was the answer. This response, seeming identical with the former, the question was repeated –“What is the captain’s name?” and again the answer was returned as before—“Briggs Sampson.” The misunderstanding continued, and the question was asked a third and fourth time—“What is the captain’s name?” Of course the reply was the same as had been given—“Briggs Sampson.” The vessels separated; the other captain highly displeased that a civil answer was not returned to a civil question; and Capt. Briggs Sampson resolving to preclude such a misunderstanding in the future, by prefixing Henry to his name.
The given name Briggs is probably derived from the surname Briggs that entered the Sampson/Samson line through a Delano line. Capt. Henry Briggs Sampson’s bachelor uncle Briggs Sampson (b. 1772 and who “died before the meridian of life”) is apparently the first in the Sampson/Samson family to have it as a given name.
1(Henry Briggs6, Job5, Chapin4, David3, Caleb2, Pilgrim Henry Samson1), son of Capt. Job and Betsey (Winsor) Samson; born in Duxbury, 14 July 1787; married Nancy Turner, daughter of Col. William Turner of Scituate, MA.

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