Shaw, Nathaniel

honorific(s): Mr.
Other names: Captain
Birth: September 26, 1703 in Fairfield, CT
Death: August 26, 1778 in New London, CT

Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America





  • New London, CT ( to 1778-08-26)
Marital status

Married Temperance Harris. They had six sons and two daughters.


Captain Nathaniel Shaw was one of the wealthiest merchants in New London during the mid-18th century. In the early 1730s, after building a fortune through sea trade with Ireland, he settled in New London to oversee his business. Captain Shaw was sympathetic to the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts Adjacent in America (often called the New England Company), and assisted them by transmitting money to Samson Occom in the 1750s, when the New England Company was providing him with financial support. Captain Shaw also had a private trade relationship with Occom, and sold him many household supplies and much of the equipment for his house at Mohegan. However, while Occom was in England (late 1765-mid 1768), Shaw refused to supply Mary Occom with goods, which put her in severe straits. Eleazar Wheelock hypothesized that Shaw was lashing out at Mary over Samson’s stance in the Mason Case, which, along with other circumstances, had turned the New England Company vehemently against Wheelock and Occom. However, it is perhaps more likely that Shaw refused to supply Mary because Wheelock had shown no indication that he planned to pay Occom’s debts (see 768114). During the Revolution, Captain Shaw and his son Nathaniel Shaw Jr., who took over much of the business around 1763, were noted patriots. They opened their mansion to wounded sailors, as well as to George Washington himself, helped to organize New London’s participation in the war, and turned their merchant ships into a privateering fleet.


Caulkins, F. M. History of New London. Excerpted in, History of New London County, Connecticut, with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men, D. Hamilton Hurd et al ed. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1882. Accessed via 4/23/14. “Nathaniel Shaw.” Accessed 4/23/2014. New London County Historical Society. Records and Papers of the New London County Historical Society, Volume III, Part I. New London: The Society, 1906. Accessed via GoogleBooks. Richardson, Leon. An Indian Preacher in England. Hanover: Dartmouth College Press 1933. Rogers, Ernest E. Connecticut’s Naval Office at New London During the War of the American Revolution. New London: New London County Historical Society, 1933. Accessed via Haithi Trust. Wyss, Hilary. English Letters and Indian Literacies: Reading, Writing, and New England Missionary Schools, 1750-1830. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.