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Worldbuilding 5 – My Antagonist, an Historical Person August 12, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in Worldbuilding.
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If you don’t know the story of the Mary Celeste you’re missing out on one of  the largest maritime mysteries in recorded history.  The brigantine was found abandoned in the North Atlantic between the Azores and Portugal on the 4th of December, 1872.  Missing were the captain, Benjamin Briggs, his wife Sarah, their two year old daughter, Sophia, and the rest of the ships crew of seven.  Briggs’ seven year old son, Arthur, was left at home with his grandmother.  Briggs had a brother, Oliver, who often sailed with him but did not make the trip bound for Genoa, Italy.

The Mary Celeste was discovered by the Dei Gratia, a Canadian vessel under Captain David Morehouse, a personal friend of the Mary Celeste‘s Captain, Benjamin Briggs.  The Dei Gratia left New York City on the 15th of November, eight days after the Mary Celeste set sail on her voyage.  Dei Gratia discovered a ship under full sail which was obviously in trouble.  She tried to hail the ship but received no response.  As she advanced on the ship her crew realized the endangered vessel was the Mary Celeste.

Once aboard the Mary Celeste, the Dei Gratia crew found the ship completely deserted.  The only lifeboat on the vessel was gone although it looked as if it were launched, not ripped away.   You may read varying accounts of the conditions aboard the Mary Celeste but the facts are as follows:

The ship was in good order, and had not suffered severely from the weather, although some of the sails were slightly torn.  A meal was cooking on the stove but the dishes were properly washed and stored.  A vial of oil was supposedly sitting upright on a sewing machine, indicating that the seas had been calm, and a clock was still ticking on the wall.  The captain’s personal effects were on board, and toys were on his bed, as if a child had been playing there.  The cargo of 1,700 barrels of alcohol was intact, although there was three and a half feet of water in the hold.  However, the ships papers, except for the captain’s logbook, were missing, as were the navigation instruments.  A sword was found hanging on the wall with blood (or rust) stains on it.  A six months’ supply of food and water was still on board.

The last log entry on November 24th put the Mary Celeste 100 miles west of the Azores.  By the time it was found eleven days later, it was 500 miles to the east.

Today the fate of the occupants of the Mary Celeste is as much a mystery as the day the ship was found deserted at sea.

The Bermuda Triangle Mystery – Solved by Larry Kusche

History has passed on to us rather small amounts of information concerning Benjamin Spooner Briggs, Captain of the Mary Celeste.  We know that Captain Briggs was an able seaman and an excellent ship handler.  Well respected by those who sailed with him, Briggs’ fairness and ability were never brought into question.  He captained four other ships before signing on with the Mary Celeste.  A humble, religious man himself, he married Sarah E Cobb, daughter of Reverend Leander Cobb, and bought the Rose Cottage in Marion , Massachusetts.  Sarah accompanied Captain on many of his sea voyages.  There is also a letter, written by Briggs to his son, Arthur, just before the Mary Celeste left New York City.  It shows the devoted father Briggs was to his family.

I wanted a man of strict discipline and outstanding moral character for my antagonist.  Captain Briggs filled the bill quite handily.  There is little question of how the man managed to travel from Earth to Erde but there are many questions concerning how such a man as Briggs managed his way in the Empire of Uppsala.  The entire first part of my novel sets out to answer these questions.

Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs would be my antagonist.  Briggs

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