Burgess, Edward (1848-1891) USA


BurgessPuritanVEdward Burgess was a son of Benjamin F. Burgess, a sugar importer of Boston. He was born in Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, June 30th 1848. After his graduation from Harvard College in 1871, he took up the profession of a naturalist. A year after his graduation he was an instructor in entomology at the Bussey Institute, connected with Harvard College. He resigned this position to become secretary of the Boston Society of Natural History, ...

... which position he held for fifteen years. In 1877 he married, Mrs. Burgess being a member of the Sullivant family of Virginia and Ohio. Two children were born to them. While devoting himself assiduously to the pursuits of a naturalist, and establishing himself as an authority in entomology, Edward Burgess nevertheless possessed a strong love for the sea, the result of early associations, which he indulged freely, dividing his time between his work as a naturalist and the pleasures of a yachtsman on the Massachusetts coast.

One of the oldest yacht clubs in the country, the Beverly Yacht Club was organized in 1872 by Walter Burgess, a younger brother of the famous yacht designer Edward Burgess. Walter and Edward Burgess were ardent sailors and were unhappy that the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead had refused to recognize yachts under 26 feet long at the water line in its races that summer.
At the suggestion of Benjamin F. Burgess, the father of Walter and Edward, the men invited their young friends on the north shore of Boston to a dinner at their home at 62 Beacon Street in Boston on February 24, 1872, where the new club for racing smaller yachts was formally launched.

The summer of 1883 Mr. Burgess spent in England with his family, having a house at the Isle of Wight. His love of yachting had led him into the study of yacht designing as an amateur, and his residence in England presented an opportunity for close observation of the type of cutter yacht then used in and near The Solent, in which he became deeply interested. This season had an important influence on Mr. Burgess' life. On his return to the United States he found himself obligated to engage in business, his father having met financial reverses, and in 1884, with his brother Sidney, he established himself in Boston as a designer of yachts.

02840SDespite a lack of experience, the firm promptly established a winning reputation in the Boston area. Recognizing this reputation, and tired of New York dominance of the Cup races, General Charles J. Paine and J. Malcolm Forbes came to Burgess looking for a narrow beam, deep draft "compromise sloop" that would compete for the America's Cup.
The news that a Boston group was going to build a yacht designed by a man who studied insects was treated a something of a joke in the New York papers. The joke was on them when later in 1885 an innovative 02841SPURITAN with her heavy outside keel, large centerboard and newer lines sang the virtues of her insect loving designer as she sailed past the British Challenger GENESTA.
Burgess proved that the 1885 defense was no fluke by winning the 1886 challenge over GALATEA with his "better all around yacht" MAYFLOWER. He improved on his own work still more, producing VOLUNTEER, a boat superior to both PURITAN and MAYFLOWER that went on to defeat THISTLE in the 1887 America's Cup defense.
At the conclusion of the America's cup races of 1887, 02843SMr. Burgess having designed three successful cup defenders which were enrolled in the Eastern Yacht Club, a subscription fund of $11,500 was presented him by members of the club and other New England yachtsmen. Another fund of $10,172 was presented him at this time by members of the New York Yacht Club, for which his vessels had defended the cup. He was also presented with various loving cups and other marks of appreciation by yachtsmen. In 1889 Harvard College conferred on him the unique honor of the A. M. degree for excellence in ship designing.

Success brought not only honors and emoluments to Mr. Burgess, but an inevitable increase of labor, to which his strength, unhappily, was not equal. As a result of overwork his system fell easily under the influence of an attack of typhoid, from which he died, at his home in Boston, July 12th, 1891, at the age of 42. After his death a popular fund of $30,000 was raised in Boston and presented to his family.

Mr. Burgess, in seven years of active work as a designer, produced the lines of 137 vessels, of which there were 38 cutters, 35 steam yachts, 29 catboats, 17 sloops, 11 fishing-vessels, 3 pilot-boats, 3 working-vessels, and 1 yawl. His profession as a designer is followed by W. Starling Burgess, a son. His designing business was continued by Stewart & Binney, and is now carried on by Arthur Binney, in Boston.