Capt. Nathaniel Lord and Phebe Walker of the Kennebunkport Lord Mansion fame were married in 1797. The young couple settled in a house on a sizable lot of land at the corner of Pearl and Pleasant streets gifted to them by Phebe’s father, Captain Daniel Walker. You might know the house as Captain Gould’s house. Nathaniel and Phebe Lord had nine children, the first born in 1798 and the last born in 1814. Between Phebe’s 3rd and 4th child Nathaniel also had a son William with their 15-year-old housekeeper Sarah (Sally) Perkins. That “illegitimate” child is the subject of our story today.
Sally’s embarrassing condition in 1803 prompted Nathaniel Lord to hire the girl a husband who died shortly after their marriage. Sally’s second husband was a humble Kennebunk farmer, Nathaniel Day, who died in 1840. Capt. Alden B. Day was a product of that union. At the age of 12, William Lord -or Bill Perkins, as he was then known- approached his biological father’s cousin, Capt. George Lord of Kennebunk for a job. When George Lord learned of the boy’s parentage, he took him into his home and under his wing. He educated the boy and restored to him his rightful surname, Lord.
William Lord, Jr. did not squander the opportunities associated with the surname, Lord. He became a sea captain before the age of twenty and a wealthy investor in ships, banks, and railroads by the age of 30. His private life, though, was wracked with heartache. He was married to his first wife, Jane Larrabee for only 4 years. Jane bore and lost two children and then passed away in 1829 at the age of 24. In 1830, William married Sarah Little. Within a few weeks she accompanied her new husband on a sea voyage. Sarah died on that voyage at the age of 25. Twice widowed William married Elizabeth Frost in 1832. She would bear him 5 children.
Capt. William Lord, Jr. assumed financial responsibility for his widowed mother Sally and his much younger half-brother, Alden B. Day. With William’s help, Alden achieved the title Captain at the age of 21. Together the half-brothers purchased the very house on Pearl Street in Kennebunkport where, as a servant, their mother Sally had been so disgraced. She lived there in relative luxury with her son Capt. Alden B. Day and his family until her death. Right next door on Pleasant Street was the 1814 Nathaniel Lord Mansion. While William was still a boy, his biological father Nathaniel had fallen ill soon after he started building the Lord Mansion. He was bed-ridden by the time the mansion was finished in October 1814 and died in early 1815. His widow, Phebe Lord lived in the mansion off and on for the rest of her life.
Captain William Lord, Jr and his family lived at the Storer Mansion in Kennebunk. One of his 5 children died in infancy. His first-born son George was the apple of his father’s eye, but he was always of fragile health and temperament. When George was 18 years old William sent him on a voyage to England and Scotland hoping it would do him some good. Instead, the boy’s health and spirits deteriorated sharply. Before the ship sailed for home, George hung himself in his stateroom with his silk handkerchief. The captain of the vessel placed his body in a lead coffin and brought him home to Kennebunk. Captain William Lord, Jr. once told diarist Andrew Walker that of all many afflictions he had suffered nothing afflicted him more than the death of his young son George.
Elizabeth Frost Lord died in 1856 at the age of 46. William’s 4th and final wife, Miss Annie W. Littlefield was 21 years old when they married in 1857. Captain William Lord, Jr., gave a steeple clock and a very expensive organ to the Unitarian Church in Kennebunk. Both have since been replaced. He also gave an organ to Christ Church on Dane Street where his young wife attended. When he died in 1860 at the age of 57, William Lord, Jr. was the richest man in Kennebunk. He was remembered in Andrew Walker’s Diary for his iron will and his need to control every aspect of his every endeavor.