History and Legend | By the Bay of Fundy |Life Before the SprayReturn of a Legend | Lost At Sea

Anthony Slocombe, an English Quaker, arrived as a colonist in Taunton, Massachusetts, in the mid-17th century. His descendants migrated to Wrentham by the outbreak of the American Revolution, and the Slocombe family experienced division not uncommon among New Englanders of the time. Young John Slocombe was a Loyalist – he and many other New Englanders choosing to remain loyal to the English crown went into exile across the border into Canada and settled in Nova Scotia.

On February 20, 1844, Joshua Slocum, great-great grandson of John Slocombe ‘the Exile,’ was born in Mt. Hanley, Nova Scotia, by the Bay of Fundy at the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine. The family moved south to Brier Island when Joshua was eight years old.

Life on Brier Island for was dreary for young Joshua. He was the fifth of eleven children, and pressed into apprenticeship in his father’s boot shop. Boot making paled in comparison to the life Joshua was drawn to on the Bay, just outside the shop window. The boy Joshua once made a model of a sailing ship, only to have his stern father smash it underfoot for taking his attention away from  work.

Joshua Slocum first ran away at age twelve, fleeing from his father, the bootshop, and dry-land life to begin a sea education while serving as a hand on the schooners fishing local waters. Four years later, after the death of his dear mother severed his only ties to Nova Scotia, Joshua signed on to a deep-sea merchant ship bound for Dublin. Thus began his lifetime at sea.