Tag Archives: mariners

There and Back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(from The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost)

Earlier this month, watching my daughter board a plane for the first time to head overseas for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder about all of the Rocketts who boarded boats in England bound for colonial America. Who saw them off on their voyages? Who paid for their voyages? Were they motivated by wanderlust or money?

Since some of the colonies started out as money-making ventures, perhaps many families in England assumed their relatives would eventually come back. There must’ve been moms, sisters, or aunts who cried many tears seeing their family members get ready for their voyage, and like me, they must’ve wondered every day what new and exciting adventures were awaiting their child, brother, or niece. What new ideas, gifts, or illness would they bring back with them?

Many Rocketts, including my colonial Virginia line, were captains and mariners. My earliest Rockett ancestor in America, Baldwin Rockett, had 5 sons: Ware, appears to be a mariner who married and settled down in VA; Francis, a mariner who left VA later in life to spend his final days in the port area of Wapping, London, England; Baldwin Jr., a bachelor and mariner who lived in VA with no family of his own; John, a mariner who eventually left VA for NY; and Richard, my ancestor, who was a vestryman settling down in VA and who was a power of attorney for all of his brothers whenever they set sail! Baldwin’s estate inventory lists 6 Mapps (sic), which ended up in Richard’s estate inventory years later.  So, ships and the sea were part of their lives, whether they captained a ship or not.

Recently, it occurred to me that all of the research on these early Rocketts has been focused on church records, land records, wills, and court records, but none has been focused on maritime records. Having reached a bit of a dead-end on finding out more about Baldwin, I am hopeful that the sea and this new-found source type will reveal even more.