Hampton-Hamden Boat

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Charles P. Emerson

American Neptune, Vol. 1, 1941, pg. 173

HAMPTON-HAMPDEN BOAT. Owning an old Hampton boat myself, and never having been able to justify the spelling 'Hampden' locally, I have recently talked to a number of fishermen around Portland about the boats. They all agreed that the early Hamptons were double-ended and of lap-strake construction, but they knew very little about when the first Hamptons were built or where the name came from. They referred me to an old-timer at South Harpswell, over eighty years old, who told me that at one time the fishermen had their boats built at Seabrook, New Hampshire, and sailed them down to Casco Bay. He too described these boats as lap-strake double-enders. From all the stories there seems to be no question but that all the early Hamptons were of this type. As Seabrook is only about five miles from Hampton, New Hampshire, this was the first indication I found which showed that the name might have come from the latter town. Later I found that Mr. Alfred Elden of Portland, writer of fish and boat stories, has some notes which he took during a conversation with Mr. David Perry Sennett of Bailey's Island, who was generally credited as being the 'father of the true type Hampton boat.' At that time Mr. Sennett was an old man, and had been building Hamptons for over thirty years. He said definitely, according to Mr. Elden, that the Hampton boat got its name from Hampton, New Hampshire, where the first boats were built. All Mr. Sennett's early boats were of this same familiar double-ended lapstrake construction, but later he built a square-sterned Hampton. Then in 1877 he built the first strip-planked square-sterned Hampton ever seen in Casco Bay. This boat was such a great improvement that practically all the Hamptons from then on were strip-planked and square-sterned. It is interesting to find that the name of boats built in Hampton, New Hampshire, stuck in spite of the fact that the boats, as they were developed in Casco Bay, were a far cry from the original type. As the development of the Hampton has been going on for the past eighty-five years or so exclusively in this relatively small bay, it is no wonder that today few suspect its name originated in Hampton, New Hampshire.


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