Cleaveland Alexander Forbes


Cleaveland Alexander Forbes (Newark, Essex, New Jersey, United States; July 21, 1780 - Perth Amboy, Middlesex, New Jersey, United States; November 3, 1857) was an American captain who sailed during the War of 1812 as a privateer and commanded the Francis Depau between New York and Havre, France, from 1833 to 1836.


Cleaveland Alexander Forbes was the eldest son of Susanna Gifford (1756-1816) of Newark, New Jersey and British Captain Alexander Forbes (1743-1799), who were married on December 1, 1776 in Perth Amboy and together they had 3 children.

Cleaveland Alexander Forbes married Susannah Foster (1784-1865) on May 12, 1800 in Middlesex, New Jersey and together they had 14 children: Susan Forbes (1801-1846), Sarah Forbes (1802-1823), Maria Forbes (1803-?), Alexander Forbes (1805-1831), Catherine Forbes (1807-?), Anna Forbes (1808-1891), Elizabeth Forbes (1811-1900), Louisa Forbes (1812-1845), Cleaveland Alexander Forbes (1814-1857), John Forbes (1816-1835), Thomas Gifford Forbes (1817-1906), Joseph Dunderdale Forbes (1818-1867), Gifford Forbes (1820-?) and Andrew Bell Forbes (1824-1902).

It should be noted that Cleveland's wife, Susannah Foster, was the great-great-granddaughter of Hannah Jackson (1658-1727) and Richard Foster (1648-1730), an Ossett cloth worker who died after suffering severe strangulation pains for a considerable time due to their religious beliefs.


During the War of 1812, Captain Cleaveland Forbes sailed as a privateer and from 1833 to 1836 commanded the Francis Depau, a 595-ton fully rigged ship built in New York in 1833 by Bell and Brown, for the New York-Havre trade. While it was slow, it is known for having one of the longest westbound passages of its time. In 1849 she was sent to California for the gold rush and her history from that point on is unknown.

Captain Forbes also carried cotton and passengers between Liverpool, Savannah, Mobile, and New Orleans on the Francis Depau from 1836 to 1843.

This second generation also became a ship captain and it was probably this captain who commanded the SS California on its historic passage from New York to San Francisco from October 1848 to February 1849.


Cleaveland Alexander Forbes died on November 3, 1857 in Perth Amboy, Middlesex, New Jersey in the United States.


  • Coll. 293, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.