Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Captain John Laighton House

The Captain John Laighton House is on the south side of Court Street, between Pleasant and Washington Streets, just around the corner from the Governor John Langdon Mansion.

The house was built around 1795 and is best known as the residence of Captain John Laighton, a merchant sea captain who lived from 1784 until 1866.

Captain Laighton held the post of Navy Agent for the port of Portsmouth during the presidencies of William Henry Harrison and Andrew Jackson, and he also served as mayor of Portsmouth in 1851.

Two poets are associated with the house: Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who was born in this house on November 11, 1836 but better known for his days spent at the Aldrich House down the street, and Albert Laighton, the son of Captain John Laighton.

Albert Laighton began writing poetry at the age of fifteen. Compilatons of his poems were published in 1859 and 1878.  He also jointly published a book of poems called, Poets of Portsmouth, in 1865.

A lawyer and Portsmouth bank officer for much of his life, Albert Laighton served as a N. H. State Senator from 1883-1884. He died in this house on February 6, 1887.

The house looks wonderful after a recent exterior renovation. Interestingly, I believe the large tree in the right background of both photographs is the same! C. S. Gurney published the original picture in his 1902 book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, more than a century before I captured the scene on a fall day in October of 2011.

By the way, Albert Laighton’s first cousin, once removed, was another famous poet named Celia Thaxter, who was born on State Street. Her father, and Albert's first cousin, was Thomas B. Laighton, lightkeeper of White Island and namesake of the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company's MV Thomas Laighton.

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