Baffin of Liverpool: The Last Liverpool Whaler?


The Liverpool Whaleship, Baffin, by Francis Hustwick, c. 1834

I seem to be developing a minor obsession with whales and whaling. I’ve been reading recently about William Scoresby Jr, a Whitby whaler who built and sailed the Liverpool whaleship Baffin on a famous voyage to Greenland. Scoresby, besides being a whaler, arctic explorer and naturalist, designed the Baffin himself, overseeing her construction at Liverpool. In his Journal of a Voyage to the Northern Whale Fishery Scoresby describes the ship:

The voyage was accomplished in the ship Baffin, burden 321 tons, built at Liverpool, under my personal inspection, expressly for the whale-fishery, in the year 1820. No expense having been spared in the construction of this ship, every known principle calculated for producing strength, accommodation, sea-worthiness, and fast sailing, in so far as these properties were compatible, was adopted, and with such good effect, as to answer, upon trial, our highest expectations.

As far as I have been able to work out, Baffin was the only whale ship based in Liverpool in 1822*. Scoresby made one last trip to the Arctic before he gave up the sea and became a clergyman. The Baffin–almost certainly the last Liverpool whaler–also sailed out of  Leith, before being wrecked in the Davis Strait off Greenland in 1830. The ship with its bow towards us in the picture above is thought to be the Baffin. The painting is held at the Hull Maritime Museum.

*Text originally claimed Baffin was one of two whalers sailing from Liverpool in 1822, and that Lady Forbes was lost that year. In fact she was wrecked off Greenland in 1821.

Edited, December 17, 2009 and February 11, 2015.


7 Comments on “Baffin of Liverpool: The Last Liverpool Whaler?”

  1. The Baffin looks beautiful sailing on the sea in that painting. Maritime history is always very interesting.

  2. […] numbers of ships lost. Scoresby first moved to Liverpool from Whitby in 1819 and built his ship the Baffin there. He returned to the city as chaplain in 1827 and stayed for five years before moving […]

  3. […] Greenland, Rathbones by Chris Routledge In 1822 William Scoresby Jr., commander of the ship Baffin of Liverpool, spent the summer months in the Arctic, catching whales and mapping the coast of Greenland. It is […]

  4. […] of fifty men were preparing to sail from Liverpool to the whale fishery off Greenland in the ship, Baffin. Unfortunately the voyage was delayed for about a week because a westerly wind prevented them from […]

  5. […] fleet lost 19 ships out of 90 in the Davis Strait. These included Scoresby’s former ship Baffin, and the John, once captained by his brother in law, William Jackson. In 1830 the John was based […]

  6. […] luck. George Manby, who accompanied William Scoresby on his voyage from Liverpool on board the Baffin in 1821, observed harpooners weaving ribbons and garters, given by wives and sweethearts, into the […]