British Southern Whale Fishery
For 350 years, until the early 1960s, the British were involved in several types of whaling. This involvement was divided into three distinct trades: the northern whale fishery between 1610 and 1914; the southern whale fishery or ‘south seas trade’ from 1775 to 1859; and the modern whaling trade, from 1904 to 1963. Each of these trades was distinguished by the geographical location in which it was undertaken, the types of whales pursued and to some extent by the methods and techniques used to capture whales. The northern and southern whale fisheries were even differentiated and defined by law.
The databases contain Voyage and Crew information for the British Southern Whale Fishery, which operated from 1775 to 1859. The Voyage database, which is primarily the work of A G E (Joe) Jones, documents the events of around 2550 voyages, whaling or sealing, to the south of Britain in over 930 different vessels. The Crew database, which is primarily the work of Dale Chatwin, lists nearly 14,000 entries for men who sailed in the ships in the British Southern Whale Fishery.
Information is usually available on the vessel and master, owners, and where the vessel went. Cargo information is available for around 60% of voyages. Crew information usually includes at least surname, role and place of birth. Unlike the American whaling trade, sources for the British Southern Whale Fishery are “scrappy and scattered” which is why these databases are so valuable.
More detailed information is available from these web links and books:
Explanatory Notes to accompany the British Southern Whale Fishery Voyage and Crew List databases (updated December 2020)
Ships Employed in the South Seas Trade 1775- 1861 [Volume 1] by A G E Jones. Indexes by Ian Nicholson
Ships Employed in the South Seas Trade 1775- 1859 [Volume 2] by A G E Jones
Ships Employed in the South Seas Trade 1775- 1859 [Volume 3] by A G E Jones. Edited by Dale Chatwin
Ships employed in the South Sea Whale Fishery from Britain: 1775-1815: An alphabetical list of ships by Jane M. Clayton
Shipowners investing in the South Sea Whale Fishery from Britain: 1775-1815 by Jane M. Clayton and Charles A. Clayton