The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18th 2015 is (understandably) getting a lot of coverage in the British press at the moment. For most British adults at the time, living in a state of war was all they knew, so the end of hostilities must have come as a great relief. It … Continue reading How Arctic Whalers Heard about Waterloo
The forgotten history of Arctic whaling had something of a boost from the British Library in the form of a blog post by Philip Hatfield on the contribution of William Scoresby Jr. to the exploration of the Northwest Passage. Hatfield is a curator of the Lines in the Ice exhibition at the British Library and his … Continue reading Why Arctic Whalers Did Not Become Explorers
I don’t usually respond to news reports here, but I have to note that today the Canadian government announced the discovery of one of the two ships Sir John Franklin took to the Arctic in 1845, and which has been lost ever since. The discovery confirms Inuit oral histories of ships in the same area … Continue reading Sir John Franklin and the Hull Whalers
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, whalers left their home ports in England and mainland Scotland in late February or March heading for the Arctic fishing grounds. Many of them stopped at Shetland, which is about a third of the way between ports such as Whitby and the edge of the ice where … Continue reading Shetland Sixareens and Arctic Whaleboats
Thanks to everyone who came along to my public lecture about William Scoresby Jr., Liverpool whaling and Arctic exploration yesterday. That was the first public airing for my Scoresby project other than the Letters to Elizabeth blog and it was good to put it out in front of an audience [Update June 5th, 2013: the … Continue reading Moby-Dick Lecture Series
There seem to be three main, and sometimes overlapping, trends in the self-image of British brewers: the traditional, the modern, and the ill-advised. Of these, the older brewers usually go for the first. They like to be seen as brewers of traditional ales, and it helps to let everyone know just how long they have been … Continue reading How old is Liverpool’s Cain’s Brewery?
Over at my Letters to Elizabeth blog, a short extract about how the streets of Liverpool were lit around the time that William Scoresby lived there.
The ‘fishery’ was both a dangerous place, and an uncertain one. On Monday April 29th both the Hope, and the Vigilant struck whales, and in the afternoon, as the wind fell, the sea began to freeze. Scoresby, for whom the problem of accurately deteermining longitude became a longstanding obsession, set about taking measurements, taking advantage … Continue reading Refraction: April 29th, 1811
In 1811 William Scoresby Jr. sailed to the Greenland sea in command of his own ship for the first time. He was 21 years old and had by then spent nine summers in the Arctic, first as apprentice to his father, and later as chief mate on the Resolution, his father’s ship. In 1806, the … Continue reading Monday 11th March, 1811
The question of food on board an Arctic whaler is a matter of some mystery. While there are accounts of the proceedings on board ship in the act of pursuing and catching whales, little is known about the lives of the whalers themselves. William Scoresby Jr. documents the provisions loaded onto a whale ship in … Continue reading Sea Pie, Stale Beer, and a Catchup to Keep 20 Years