December 5, 1938
Fish Industry Loses Another Able Mariner
Capt. J. Robertson Giffen,
successful master mariner, passed away at 3.45 o'clock yesterday morning at the Baker
Memorial hospital, Boston, at the age of 59 years, following a lingering heart ailment.
His most recent command was the auxiliary sch. Isabel Parker
out of Boston, in which he went market fishing and halibuting.
Known to thousands along the waterfront of
both this country and the Provinces, he was beloved as a loyal conscientious master, a
dynamic personality who was versatile in the industry, able to engage in any branch and
make good. His greatest financial success occurred in the market winter fisheries,
and in halibuting.
His record for heroism was unquestioned, and
climaxed by that occasion a quarter of a century ago, when in command of the Gloucester
sch. Conqueror, market fishing, he led in the rescue of a crew
whose vessel went to the bottom and came close to taking the men with it. For this
brave feat, he received the Livingston medal, presented by Mrs. Helen Livingston
McCormack, local summer resident, for having performed the most heroic act for
"Strings," as he
was known to all, proved himself an able skipper from his youth, when he entered the game
at the age of 15 years. Born near Shelburne, Nova Scotia, he came to this port in
his teens, and was given his first command, the sch. Monarch out
of John Chisholm company, when he was but 21. Afterward he had the Conquerer
for years, then the only electric Diesel driven beam trawler mariner out of Davis
Brothers, the sch. Hesperus, which went to her doom during a
winter of four years ago. All hands were saved after a hard fight with the elements.
Other vessels he commanded were the Newcastle, and the Aeolus,
and more lately, the Isabel Parker. He owned several of
He is a member of Acacia lodge, A. F. & A.
M., and a former member of the Gloucester Master Mariners' association. He is
survived by his widow, Jennie (McCue) Giffen, and a brother, Ronald
Giffen of Somerville. The funeral will be from his home in Swampscott,
tomorrow afternoon at 2, with burial at Swampscott cemetery.