SANFORD, ESBON (Ezbon Sandford), HBC captain; b. 25 Jan. 1645/46 at Portsmouth R.I.; d. 6 Oct. 1682 of unknown causes in the Port Nelson area of Hudson Bay.
He was the son of President John Sanford of Rhode Island by a second marriage; his mother, Bridget Hutchinson – who was a daughter of Anne Hutchinson, the famous religious disturber in Massachusetts – later married William Phillips, whose own daughter by a previous marriage, Phoebe, became the wife of Capt. Zachariah Gillam in 1659.
Esbon Sanford entered the service of the HBC in 1672, undoubtedly through his connection with Capt. Gillam. That year he sailed for James Bay as mate of the Messenger dogger (Capt. Robert Morris) and wintered there. In the summer of 1674, he returned to James Bay, this time as mate to his kinsman, Zachariah Gillam, captain of the Prince Rupert.
Sanford must have left the HBC some time afterwards, for he is not mentioned again until 1681. In January of that year, when the plans for the establishment of Port Nelson were being prepared, the HBC committee offered him employment. But it was only after his “extraordinary demands” had been cut down that he was engaged as captain of the Albemarle and deputy to Governor John Bridgar. Sanford sailed a few months later, in the summer of 1682, arriving in the Port Nelson area on 18 September. He died there on 6 October and accordingly took little or no part in the intrigues brought about by the presence of the interloper, Benjamin Gillam*, his step-sister’s son. Because of his kinship with Gillam, however, he was suspected of having been concerned with the venture, and the committee, before they learned of his death, cancelled his instructions, recalled him to England, and sent orders to Boston for his arrest, if he should come there.
Sanford married before 1674. On 6 August of that year he made a will in favour of his wife Sarah, signing himself “of Ratcliffe, Stepney parish, mariner.” In December 1683, the HBC ordered that his wages be paid to his widow, and added £3 10s. for charity as he had died in the Company’s service. Sanford’s mother, Bridget Hutchinson Phillips, in her will dated 20 Sept. 1696, left a legacy to his daughter “in England.”
For the genealogy of the Sanfords and Gillams see: James N. Arnold, Vital records of Rhode Island, 1636–1850, first series: births, marriages, and deaths (20v., Providence, 1891). J. O. Austin, The genealogical dictionary of Rhode Island (Albany, N.Y., 1887), 171–72. G. A. Moriarty, “Captains Gillam and Sanford of the Hudson’s Bay Company,” Genealogists’ Mag., X (1947–50), 568–71; “President John Sanford and his family,” N. Eng. Hist. and Geneal. Register, CIII (1949), 212–13. Sybil Noyes et al., Genealogical dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire (Portland, Me., 1928–39), pt.iii, 262; pt.v, 607. Records of the town of Portsmouth, R.I., ed. Clarence. Brigham (Providence, R.I., 1901). For his career with the HBC see: HBRS, VIII, IX (Rich); XI (Rich and Johnson); XXI (Rich).