William was born in Stamford, one of three sons of James and Sarah Weed Selleck. His father, James (1742-1809), was a Revolutionary War soldier. William and his two brothers, James and Hezekiah, carried on their father’s successful shipping business, James Selleck and Sons in New York City and Norwalk. Some of their boats were the Perseverance, Delight, Rosetta, Victory, Farmer, Minerva, Rising Sun, Enterprise, Waterford, Thomas, Charlotte, Rose and Washington.
James and William were partners in the ship Enterprise and the brig Perseverance.
The Enterprise was a three-masted ship, built in Norwalk in 1801. It was 90’ long and carried 235 tons.
The Perseverance was a 73’ brig which carried 143 tons. It had been built in Norwalk in 1802 and was declared a castaway in 1812, perhaps as part of the practice of sinking old boats during the War of 1812 to blockade ports against the enemy. In her ten years the Perseverance sailed between Norwalk, New York and the West Indies, transporting among other things, passengers, hogsheads of Antigua rum and fresh fruit.
On May 2, 1811 William married Charlotte Gregory of Norwalk. They had eight children and in 1817 moved to Wilton, Connecticut. Captain Selleck died September 9, 1846 and, according to the donor, his great grandson, he is buried in the Sharp Hill Burying Ground in Wilton.
It has been suggested that the portraits of William, James, and Charlotte were commissioned at the same time to the same artist. However, William and Charlotte’s portraits are painted in oil on canvas while James portrait is an oil on panel and is the only one currently attributed to the well-known portraitist, Charles Loring Elliott.
Image © Stamford Historical Society