Originally, a small, sharp-built vessel, with two topsails on one or both masts and was called a topsail schooner. About 1840, longer vesels with three masts, fore-and-aft rigged, came into use, and since that time vesels with four masts and even with six masts, so rigged, are built. Schooners with more than two masts are designated three-masted schooners, four-masted schooners, etc.
The fist schooner ever constructed is said to have between built in Gloucester, Massachusetts, about theyar 1713, by a Captain Andrew Robinson, and to have received its name from the following trivial circumstance: When the vessel went off the stocks into the water, a bystander cried out,O, how she scoons! Robinson replied, A scooner let her be; and, from that time, vessels thus masted and rigged have gone by this name. The word scoon is popularly used in some parts of new England to denote the act of making stones skip along the surface of water. The Scottish scon means the same thing. Both words are probably allied to the Icel. Skunda, skynda, to make haste, hurry, AS. Scunian to avoid, shun, Prov. E. Scun. In the new England records, the word appears to have been originally written scooner. Babson, in his History of Gloucester, gives the following extract from a letter written in that place Sept. 25, 1721, by dr. Moses prince, brother of the rev. Thomas Prince, the annalist of New England: This gentleman (Captain Robinson) was first contriver of schooners, and built the first of that sort about eight years since.