Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Clark G. Reynolds


A study was made of the William Lord Collection of business papers in the Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, Maine, relating to the activities of William Lord as a merchant and as a shipowner between 1820 and 1860. Lord ran a country store from 1820 to 1828 and from 1830 through 1840. He commenced to invest in ships in the early 1830's.

As a merchant, Lord sold goods shipped from Boston and returned some local produce for sale in Boston or for re shipment to southern ports. The Kennebunk offerings were mainly hay and lumber. Products purchased and sold were carried on coastal schooners running between Boston and Kennebunk.

In his shipowning endeavors Lord contracted for the construction of vessels at Kennebunk and sent them into the foreign trades, in particular the West Indies sugar trade and the combination New Orleans cotton—European emigrant business. His career as a shipowner was separated into three main periods, varying with changes in United States trade patterns. In the 1830's his ships carried much sugar and some cotton; the 1840's brought a decline in the sugar traffic and an increase in the cotton and passenger traffic which went on to the early 1850's. After 1855 and 1854 fewer passengers were carried; cotton remained with the supplement of heavy freights such as European coal.

Lord owned shares in primarily Kennebunk-bullt vessels in cooperation with their captains, with his own relatives, and with other business associates. His peak of ownership interests occurred in 1854 when he owned shares in eight vessels in service at once.

The study provided an illustration of how a business man in a small Maine port operated his local business and expanded to significant involvement in maritime trade routes.

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