Whaling in Greenland 1820's

Geoff Spink
31st March 2011, 17:30
Dear All,
The 1820 & 1823 whaling logs of my forebear William Brewis, Captain of the whaler Eagle from Hull to Greenland leave me wanting to know the answer to a couple of questions.
1) The log for Fri 30th June 1820 reads "Struck a fish but lost a Jolly Boat and 3 Lines; crew saved by one of the ‘Resolution’s boats. Sent all hands to rest. Captain, Cook and Mate went in pursuit of fish – no success."
It surprised me that William actually left the mother ship to pursue the whales, especially as he took the mate with him. I may be wrong but it seems a foolhardy thing to do when the safe return of the crew and ship would have been compromised. Was the practice of the Captain leaving the mother ship common or not ?
2) Hull whalers often took on additional crew from Lerwick, Shetland Islands and then drop them off on the return journey. There are several pages missing at the end of the 1823 season but it seems that after a poor trip Capt Brewis decided to go across on the 1st September from Lerwick to St Petersburg to pick up timber (mainly Deal) because a few figures alluding to his disbursements there are at the back of the log. This course of action makes sense to me as Hull is a big importer of Baltic timber, but was it a normal practice ?
I would welcome any comments.

31st March 2011, 22:41
The Whaling trade of North East England;Tony Barrow, ISBN 1 87 37 57 83-2 is an excellent book on the Greenland and Baffin Bay fishery. The book concentrates on Tyne and Whitby ships but is relevant to the Hull ships visiting the fishery. The Eagle has one mention when in the 1830 season the wreck of the William and Ann was witnessed by the crew of the Eagle of Hull. There is also a picture of the Resolution.
My interpretation of the fishery is that the profit margins were so narrow and whales hard to find that each would be of such a value that it is not surprising that the Master and Mate would both take out whale boats if other mates were physically unable to.
The Whalers would depart for the Whaling grounds March/April and would return late summer. The timing would allow a coal cargo to to the Baltic/ Russia and a return cargo of Timber to Hull before the ice season. An opportunity 19th century ship owners would not pass up.
Barrow lists a number of references on the subject if you wish to research the subject further.



Roger Griffiths
1st April 2011, 00:02
Arthur Credland is the man to talk to regarding Hull's whaling trade.
His book "The Hull Whaling Trade an Arctic Enterprise" is considered to be one of the best volumes on the subject.

Also this list



Maureen Maybank
12th June 2016, 18:02
I am descended from William Brewis and heard from Melville Downie that someone had the logs of the Eagle! (My mother was Beryl Bruce.) It would be interesting to hear anythings you have gleaned from the logs as to his character etc.

Melville and I went to Trinity House to see the Elk Horns given to Captain Brewis in 1818 by a governor (of Whale Island possibly). Do elk even live in Greenland? It all is very mysterious - why. They are on the wall over a photocopier.

best wishes

John Dryden
12th June 2016, 20:56
Interesting that you went to Trinity House to see the elk horns(sic).Did you go to the maritime museum too?