After extensive research it is time to put together the bits and pieces of information that make up the story of the Elizabeth Bonaventure (EB2) that sailed from Yarmouth in 1633 under the command of Captain John Graves. (note; Possibly Rear Admiral Thomas Graves).

The name of the ship is that of a famous warship that fought several battles as the flagship of Sir Frances Drake, but given the 70 years that span the time in records from when she was first built it is highly unlikely that the EB2 is the same ship. The EB1 is noted with rescuing the first American colonists at Roanok in 1586, fighting the Spanish Armada in 1588, and attacking the port of Cadiz in Spain the year before destroying most of the Spanish fleet at that time. There is even a recent popular work of fiction called Ship of Fire that is set on board the EB1 during the attack on Cadiz.

This research was far from fruitless, with many possible avenues that could lead to clues to Ralph Smith’s movements or origin. Paperwork is more likely to be found using the ship masters name than the ship itself. Logs, cargos, stores, passenger lists, port authority papers (fines, fees, taxs, orders), licences to pass beyond the seas, repair bills, would be directed to the ship master. Vessel descriptions can single out an individual ship among many with similar names. There is no description at this point of the EB2, but relative data can possibly fill in the blanks.

First is the distinction placed upon vessels named Bonaventure which is Italian for good fortune. It actually means more than that, because it was the rigging description for the rear two masts that carried lanteen sails. The rear mast was called the bonaventure mast. The EB1 had significant improvements over traditional hull designs making her a faster vessel. It seems probable to me that the EB2 was built and rigged the same way as the original EB. Shipwreck Historian Serena Cant of English Heritage has even suggested the wood used to build the second EB could be from the first. She also says that 15 to 25 years is an average life for a ship, and that they are often rebuilt rather than just broken up. New information on Captain Graves family opens the possibility that the ship had been built (or rebuilt) by the Graves family who were ship builders.

"She (EB1) is flagged up as “last mentioned” in 1611 (1), which may indicate that she was sold out of naval service to become or return to being a mercantile vessel – quite a common fate – but (2) and (3) state that she was broken up that year – also a very common fate.

 (1)   The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Vol.1, 660 – 1649, N A M Rodger, London, 1997, p479, [and passim, relating her adventures as a naval ship]

(2)   Lists of English Men of War 1509 – 1649, ed. R C Anderson, Society for Nautical Research Occasional Publications, No.7, 1959, p13, No.156, [bought 1567] and No.168 [rebuilt 1581]: in both entries she is called the (ELIZABETH) BONAVENTURE

(3)   Ships of the Royal Navy, Vol.1, Major Ships, J J Colledge, Plymouth, 1969, p186" Serena Cant

We know from records that the  EB2 carried 95 passengers where as the EB1 had a ships compliment of 250 men with fifty cannon, and was a vessel of 448 wine tons. This would be about half the size of the largest English ships that fought the Spanish Armada. Most English merchant vessels capable of crossing the Atlantic would be well armed, and could be transformed into warships during times of war. On top of this privateering was commonly practiced in the world at that time. Dutch and Spanish merchant vessels were often captured for prize money.

ELIZABETH BONAVENTURE, John Graves, Master, left Yarmouth, Norfolk, the first week in May and arrived at Boston on June 15, 1633 `with ninety five passengers. The following emigrants from Hingham, Norfolk, who arrived this year probably came in this ship:


Passenger         From            Destination

Edmond Hobart        of Hingham, Norfolk county          Charlestown
Mrs. Margaret Hobart
Nazareth Hobart
Edmond Hobart
Thomas Hobart
Joshua Hobart
Rebecca Hobart
Sarah Hobart

HENRY Gibbs         of Hingham, Norfolk county          Charlestown

RALPH Smith       of Hingham, Norfolk county          Charlestown

Nicholas JACOB   of Hingham, Norfolk county          Watertown
Mrs. Mary Jacob
John Jacob
Mary Jacob

Thomas Chubbock  of Hardingham, Norfolk county     Charlestown
Mrs. Alice Chubbock
Sarah Chubbock
Rebecca Chubbock

Mrs. Elishua Crowe                                             Charlestown

Simon Huntington    of Norwich, Norfolk  county         Roxbury
Mrs. Margaret Huntington
Christopher Huntington
Anne Huntington
Simon Huntington
Thomas Huntington

In a genealogical book on the English Ancestry of Thomas Stoughton of Windsor, Conn. It states that Simon Huntington died at sea on this same voyage that lasted from the first week of May 1633 and arrived at Boston on June 15, 1633. About a six week trip.

The following year (1634) the EB2 came over a second time with a Fleet of 7 ships out of 14 ships that came over that year.

" The ships names were; Clement and Job, Reformation, True Love, Elizabeth Bonaventure, Sea Flower, Planter, and Neptune. These ships bound for New England & now lying in the river of Thames, were held by order of the Privy Council on Febuary 22nd, until further order. On Febuary 28th they were released under bond of a hundred pounds to conform to certain 'articles'. It is probable that most of them came to Boston during the week of May 12-17 (1634) with store of passengers and cattle. Winthrop said they had enjoyed a short passage. Of the store of passengers less than a score is known."

Documentation for these voyages is in Planters of the Commonwealth by Charles E. Banks who in turn was quoting from; The Winthrop Journal pages 1, 102, 125, 127.

The 1634 voyage of the Elizabeth Bonaventure is recorded in the Ladd Family genealogy pages

"Passage was arranged on the "John and Mary" of London and sailed for New England. The ship made many voyages between 1620 and 1640. On this trip it sailed with the "Clementine and Job", the "True Love", the "Elizabeth Bonaventure", the "Sea Flower", the "Planter", the "Elizabeth and Dorcus", the "Hercules", and the "Neptune".....The ships lay offshore of Massachusetts Bay and docked in Boston. Daniel and Joseph went with friends to Ipswich, MA on the coast about 30 miles from New Hampshire."