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Steven J. Niven

whaling master, was born in Barbados, the eldest of eight children of a Scottish sugar planter named Shorey, and an African Caribbean woman, Rosa Frazier, whom the younger Shorey's biographers have invariably described as a “beautiful creole lady” (Tompkins, 75). Some biographical sources incorrectly suggest that William was born either in Provincetown, Massachusetts, or in India. Although he was born free twenty-five years after slavery was abolished in the British West Indies, Shorey's prospects as a black man in Barbados were limited. He apprenticed for a while as a plumber on the island, but sometime in the mid-1870s, when he was still a teenager, Shorey found work as a cabin boy on a ship headed to Boston, Massachusetts. The English captain of the vessel quickly took to the eager, quick-witted, and adventurous lad and began to teach him navigation.

Upon arriving in New England Shorey ...