Henry Freeman (29 April 1835 13 December 1904) was a Whitby fisherman and lifeboatman.
Born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, Henry worked in his youth as a brickmaker. He was successful at his work rising to the position of manager. With the decline of the brick trade Henry turned to the sea and fishing.
He moved to Whitby and became a fisherman and a lifeboatman. He was the sole survivor of the 1861 Whitby lifeboat disaster when a freak wave drowned all his companions. It was his first mission and he was the only member of the crew wearing the newly developed cork flotation jacket.
Henry was a lifeboatman for more than 40 years, 22 years as coxswain. He participated in many rescues and saved many lives and became a respected ambassador for the lifeboat cause and a prominent spokesman for his fellow fishermen.
Late in life he married his deceased wife Elizabeth's widowed sister Emma, an action that was illegal at that time. He died on December 13, 1904 at the age of age 69. His story is retold in Storm Warrior by Ian Minter & Ray Shill.
This is one of the famous early photos of Whitby folk by the renowned Whitby photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, who took many photos of the port, the people and the surrounding area in the period 1875 to 1910. There is still a very good Sutcliffe Gallery shop in Flowergate, Whitby, with copies of all the photos available for sale, in various forms.
And without wishing to be pedantic, I understand from the Gallery website that the copyright of all of Sutcliffe's sepia photos, which are in the gallery, including these two, still belongs to the Gallery, so I suppose the source should be acknowledged beneath the photos.