William Camper

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- I found your web site after a search for information about Camper and Nicholson. I wonder if you know any more about my great great Uncle William Camper of Camper and Nicholson fame, He died I believe in 1867 shortly after retirement from Camper and Nicholson, but this is all I know about him from my family tree. He was five years older than my great grandfather Richard Camper. One of the seven children of whom the oldest was William. I think I have the great's right..

There is no mention of his being married on the family tree. I am interested to know if you have any more information about him other than that on your web site regarding the company history. Some years ago I was led to believe there was a wife? But no children? But such information is vague.

My interest is simply that I enjoy sailing and found the link to him from my family tree compiled by a second cousin now long dead sadly. He was something of a compiler of family information I believe. Such information is lost and I now regret not taking on the task of tracing the family when he asked me to back in the 1970s. A P Camper Brighton

"William Camper was born circa 1795  in Shadwell, East London. I don't know who his parents or siblings were. It appears that he married Mary Ann Murray at St  James, Aldgate area, Aug 23 1818. They had three daughters that I know of. Mary  Ann died between the 1841 and 1851 Censuses.

In 1809 Camper was apprenticed to his  great uncle Frances Calense Amos, a Londoner, about whom I know nothing except  that he had started building and repairing small vessels in Gosport in 1782 (or  perhaps 1792). Camper took over the lease of the site in 1824 and by the mid  1830s he had earned a reputation as a yacht builder counting amongst his clients  members of the Royal Yacht Squadron (founded 1815).

In 1842 Camper took as apprentice  Benjamin Nicholson (1828-1906) who was born and died in Gosport.

Sometime between 1851 and 1861  (census records) Camper moved to Curdridge, Hants, where he died on Feb 8 1863.  His will (proved Winchester March 10 1863) shows that he was wealthy, with seven  properties in Gosport and ten in Curdridge. His daughters, all married, were the  only beneficiaries.

It does not seem that any of Camper's  descendants joined the C&N firm. This was carried on to great success by  Nicholson's sons and grandsons, remaining a family business until quite  recently.

I'm not related to the Campers. My  interest is in local history, particularly the story of Burney's Academy which  flourished in Gosport, just around the corner from C&N, throughout the 19th  century."

Peter Gawn, Sechelt, B.C.,  Canada.

- I am trying to do a family tree for the STOREY  connection to the CAMPER's

As you may know, William Camper had 3 daughters. Mary Ann b=1820, Susannah b=1822, Amos (a female, called Amy) b=1824 --all in  Alverstoke. My connection is with Mary Ann who married a Robert  Storey from Northumberland. Robert Storey and Mary Ann had  5  children.  Robert Ralph b=1845; William Camper b=1846; George Bainbridge  b=abt 1849; Frank Ernest b=1848; and Shedden Robertson b=1850 and  d=1851.  

Robert died in 1851 and Mary Ann ran a school in  Alverstoke called (at)   Alvercliff.  She then met and married John  EARLE and lived at Edgware House school in Little Stanmore,  Middlesex.  (Sorry if I have the wrong discription of the area but I  am very confused about the districts in England.) Two of Mary Ann's sons  married 2 of John Earle's daughters.

Susannah married 1) Ralph Hunter, ironmonger,  of Northumberland.¬ He died. 2)  Anthony Harvie, esq. from  Devon. Amos (Amy) was probably named in recognition of  Frances Calenese Amos, London, who started the shipyard in 1782, and took his  great nephew, as an apprentice in 1809.  Camper took over the yard in  1824. Her legal name was Amos but was called Amy.  She married Ernest  Smallfield, timber merchant.

William Camper married Mary Ann Murray in London in  1818.  Wm was from Shadwell in London. Mary Ann died in  1851. William died Feb 08, 1863 at Curdridge, age 63  years. When he died the ships in port all¬ raised their flags in  respect for him. He had been ill for awhile.

I have a lot of info on this family and  there is a lot more to discover.  This is just a brief  history. Does this sound like the family you were enquiring  about?

I would like to trade info with you. Maureen in Canada

Preliminary, if sketchy information  suggests that William Camper came from a family of shipbuilders at Wapping or  Shadwell, East London. This is consistent with the pattern  that saw other Thames-side shipbuilders move to Hampshire during the heyday of  wooden-ship building in the county that spanned the period of the American War  of Independence and the French wars, say 1775 to 1815. Several of these new  shipyards, they were all fairly small, went to the wall in the slump after 1815  & most of the rest failed during the transition to steam-powered iron ships  which required a¬ much¬ bigger infrastructure and ready access to coal  mines, foundries and factories than did wooden ships that could be built with  rudimentary infrastructure in any suitable creek or river. This shipbuilding  boom is well described in A.J. Holland's book "Ships of British Oak: The Rise  and Decline of Wooden Shipbuilding in Hampshire", David & Charles, Newton  Abbot, 1971, 204 pages although Holland does not mention  Camper.

The history of Camper &  Nicholsons is covered in John Nicholson's book "Great Years in Yachting",  Nautical Publishing Co., Lymington, 1970, 232 pages. Nicholson was frustrated in  his attempt to uncover the origins and early history of the firm because of a  fire at C&N in 1910 which damaged or destroyed both company and family  records. Accordingly he has no information on William Camper's background, or on  that of his great uncle Frances Calense Amos who is thought to have started the  Gosport operation in 1782 and who also came from London. C&N survived the  post-1815 downturn in shipbuilding by catering to a new niche market,  luxury yachts, that flourished from about 1830 until the onset of World War  II.

Feel free to post these two  paragraphs to Gosport.info, along with my name & email address. Peter Gawn pgawn@dccnet.com 22nd Feb 2009


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