- King Caesar II, Shipbuilder
Ezra Weston, Jr., like his father, he was known as "King Caesar" for his success in shipbuilding and shipping business.
From 1820 to 1842 Ezra was the most widely known man in Duxbury, Massachusetts where his firm (E. Weston & Sons) ran the largest mercantile operation on the South Shore of Massachusetts. on 19 Aug 1841, U.S. Senator Daniel Webster, during a speech in Saratoga, New York, made the claim that Weston was, "the largest ship owner, probably, in the United States."
Both his father, Ezra I, and his uncle, Timothy Weston (1749-1783), were participants in the American Revolutionary War. He lived on his father's 100-acre farm in Powder Point until his mansion was built in 1809.
The Weston firm was established by his father Ezra Weston (1743-1822) who began building small sloops and schooners on Powder Point in Duxbury MA in 1764. Ezra I earned the nickname "King Caesar" due to his audacious character and his influence on local politics. After his death, the nickname passed to his son Ezra II who greatly expanded the firms activities, built up a fleet of large sailing vessels, and made the Weston name known across the Atlantic.
In 1798, Ezra was taken into partnership with his father in the family business. He took full control upon his father's death in 1822 until his own passing in 1842.
The firm experienced its heyday in the 1820s and 1830s during which Ezra Weston II presided as sole owner. The vessels built by the Weston firm varied widely in size and configuration, from the 25 ton schooner Sophia, to the ship Hope, launched in 1841 at 880 tons, the largest vessel built in Duxbury and the largest merchant vessel launched in Massachusetts up to that time. When the Hope visited Great Britain, she attracted great crowds to see her large size.
In 1830, the brig Smyrna was the first U.S. flag ship to sail through the Dardanelles into the Black Sea under a special permit from the Turkish Sultan.
Once out into the harbor, Weston vessels were typically brought to his wharf near the mouth of the river to be fitted out with upper masts, rigging and sails. The shallow water at the wharf’s edge could not accommodate the Hope. She was instead brought out to the Cowyard, an area of deep water in Duxbury Bay west of Clark’s Island. There she was fitted out by a crew who lived on board during the three month operation, John Bradford among them. He must have proven himself a capable hand. When the Hope sailed for Boston, her first master, Capt. Freeman Soule, permitted young Bradford to stay on board for her first run.
Although Ezra Weston II built many schooners for fishing and the coastal trade, the majority of his vessels were large brigs and ships which traded around the world. Over the course of three generations, the Weston firm built or otherwise acquired more than 110 sailing vessels. Lloyd's of London recognized Weston as the owner of the largest fleet in America,
After the death of Ezra Weston II in 1842, his three sons inherited the firm and continued to operate it until 1857. The firm's activities declined sharply after his death, however, and his sons evidently did not possess the same talent for business as "King Caesar."
King Caesar House
King Caesar House - the family home, was a Federal style house, completed in 1809, and built for Ezra Weston (1772-1842) and his wife, Jerusha Bradford Weston (1770–1833). Located at 120 King Caesar Road, Duxbury, Massachusetts. It is operated today as a non-profit museum by the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society.
From the King Caesar House, Ezra Weston II presided over the largest mercantile enterprise on the South Shore of Massachusetts in its day. Weston operated a large fleet of merchant vessels, a ten acre shipyard, a farm, a ropewalk, a sailcloth mill, and a large work force of sailors, carpenters and laborers.
Marriage and Family
Ezra and his wife Jerusha Bradford (1770-1833) were fourth cousins, both of direct descent from Mayflower pilgrims John Alden (c1599-1687) and Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680). Jerusha is alao a direct descendant of early Plymouth Colony governor, William Bradford (1590-1657).
- Maria Weston (1794-1804) - died young
- Ezra Weston (1796-1805) - died young - referred to as Ezra III
- Gershom Bradford Weston (1799-1869) - one of three sons to inherit the firm. Major recruiter for the Union in the Civil War. At a young age he sailed on his father's ships to Denmark, England and India, before taking on a managerial role in the family business. At age 28 elected to the state legislature, serving there for a number of years.
- Jerusha Bradford Weston (1802-1804) - died young
- Alden Bradford Weston (1805-1880) - one of three sons to inherit the firm. He inherited the house.
- Ezra Weston (1809-1852) -one of three sons to inherit the firm. Referred to by the family as Ezra IV.
|Offspring of Ezra Weston, Sr. and Sylvia Church (1750-1768)|
|Sylvia Church Weston (1768-1836)||13 May 1768 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States||1836 United States|| Sylvanus Sampson (1761-1848)|
|Offspring of Ezra Weston, Sr. and Salameth Wadsworth (1741-1815)|
|Ezra Weston (1772-1842)||30 November 1772 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States||15 August 1842 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States|| Jerusha Bradford (1770-1833)|
- Ezra Weston (1772-1842)/Immigrant Ancesters
- Weston, Edmund B. (1916). In Memoriam: Hon. Gershom Bradford Weston and Deborah Brownell Weston. Retrieved March 26, 2010. (Free on Google Books)
- Launching the Hope - Historical Digression Blog.
- Ezra Weston at Find A Grave #54927527
- King Caesar House - Wikipedia
- Tour Historic Duxbury MA - Notable Families of Duxbury
- History of the Town of Duxbury MA - Free on Google Books
- Alden Family Kindred Society
- Ezra Weston had some cousins, that were memorialized in a book, with lots more family genealogy, - The Weston Sisters: An American Abolitionist Family. They lived in Weymouth MA and their husbands worked in the Weston Shipyards.