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.