William Scoresby was born on a small farmstead near Cropton, Pickering, on 3rd May 1760. Both he and his son were destined to become two of Whitby’s three most famous sea captains.
At the age of about 19, William apprenticed himself to a Whitby ship owner, the Quaker John Chapman. He served on the ship ‘Jane’ which was engaged in the Baltic trade. During the winters when the ships were laid up, he studied navigation to help him advance in the shipping world.
The spring of 1785 saw him on his first whaling ship the ‘Henrietta’. This was to be his first command when at the retirement of its Captain Crispin Bean, and on his recommendation, William was given the appointment as Captain.
1791 was a bad year for Whitby whalers. It was Scoresby’s first trip as captain and he, like many others, came back `clean`, that is with no whales caught. The owners of the ship however had faith in him and on the second voyage he brought home eighteen whales, a Whitby record.
Captain Scoreseby went on to be not only a well-respected captain and ship owner but also a prominent and much loved citizen of Whitby. He died on April 28th 1829 at 13, Bagdale, and is buried in St Mary`s Churchyard.
The Scoresby Chair is in St. Mary’s parish church next to Whitby Abbey. It is handsomely carved in teak taken from the wreck of the ‘Royal Charter’, a ship in which the Rev. W. Scoresby (jnr.) had undertaken a scientific journey to improve the effectiveness of the compass.
Two other remarkable but less known Whitby navigators, the William Scoresby’s, father and son, added greatly to seafaring knowledge. Their interest was primarily in whaling, but they made careful observations of Arctic phenomena and invented several nautical instruments. The father (1760-1829) pushed further North through the pack ice in 1806 than anyone had done before; and Scoresby Land, in east Greenland, and Scoresby Sound, are named after the son.
Scoresby Sr – Most successful whaling captain / invented crows nest / blue plaque house on Bagdale shows wealth
Scoresby Jr – snowflakes / sailed furthest north & south on globe/magnetism / ref to Whitby Museum