Sailors protection certificates


American seaman William T. Skiddy (1795-1870) spent part of his boyhood in Stamford, Connecticut, the home of his ship-captain stepfather John R. Skiddy. William went to sea in 1805 at the age of ten and remained in the merchant service until 1812. In 1796, Congress had passed An Act for the Protection and Relief of American Seamen, which called for the issue of protection certificates to verify the identity and nationality of American sailors to prevent their impressment by the Royal Navy. New York Customs Collector David Gelston issued Skiddy’s protection certificate in 1810, when impressment was a particularly contentious issue. (© Mystic Seaport, William T. Skiddy Collection (Coll. 304), Mystic, CT)