Mary Ann Brown Patten

Mary Ann Patten c. 1857

Mary Ann Brown Patten was the first female commander of an American Merchant Vessel, and the hospital at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point, N.Y. is named after her.[1]

Patten, the wife of Captain Joshua Patten, faced down a mutiny during a voyage with him in 1855 and safely navigated the ship to port,[2] while pregnant with his first child.[3] According to the New York Daily Times, she also learned medicine on the voyage to better care for her injured husband, and is credited with keeping him alive during the voyage. While the 1st Mate, who had been discharged from his duties by Captain Patten, implored her to reinstate him, she refused and took responsibility for the ship and its navigation.[4]

The ship's insurers, recognizing that Mary Patten had saved them thousands of dollars, rewarded her with $1000 in February 1857. In her letter responding to the gift, she said that she performed "only the plain duty of a wife." [5]

Captain Patten died in July 1857, less than two years after his last voyage.[6] Mary Ann Brown Patten was given $1399 from a fund for her relief set up by the Boston Courier.[7]

Mary Patten's voyage was the inspiration for a novel by Douglas Kelley titled The Captain's Wife.[8]


  1. "The Troubled Voyage of Neptune's Car". Baker, Julie. American History, 10768866, February 2005, Vol. 39, Issue 6
  2. "Mary Patten: A Heroine of the Seas". The Mariners' Museum. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  4. "A Wife Worth Having". New York Daily Times, January 21, 1857, page 3
  5. "Mrs. Patten and the Insurance Companies". New York Daily Times, March 7, 1857, page 5
  6. New York Daily Times, Jul 31, 1857, page 2
  7. "Personal". New York Times, Sep 23, 1857, page 5
  8. The Captain's Wife: a Novel. Google Books. Retrieved 2012-09-06.

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/10/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.